So Long And Thanks For The Fish

Conclusion (as above so below)

While the development of Genius remains to be determined, the deployment of Newton as a detector of science myth clearly has a history that extents beyond recent arguments on the mythical nature of genius.

“many assert that fishes have not that part called the meatus auditorius, and are quite deaf. Others are quite of a contrary opinion. However by the first proposition of the second book of Newton’s Principai, it is  proved that water is a non-conductor of sound…….. Naturalists observe a world of wisdom and design in the structure of fishes, and their conformation to the element they reside in.”

A Newton provides authority to an argument.

Training fish to respond to a bell when feeding has been an old staple of behaviourism and forms part of the history of its study of memory.

Here some mythical debunking related to goldfish. The belief that goldfish have a memory span of less than three seconds is questioned by a 15 year old who believes  that it is a form of myth intended to make gold fish owners feel less shame about keeping goldfish in small tanks.

Belief here presented as the motivational pull and reward behind the experiment. If we can no longer describe this impulse to scientific experiment in the thought of a 15 year old as a science prodigy or genius at work, it would seem safe to make the claim that he is a debunker of myth.


Myth seems to be occupying a similar space in description as genius once did.What has altered is the measure, a movement from positive to negative. Science here is defining itself in relation to what does not want to be (unkind to goldfish).

Destruction of genius see’s something phoenix like emerging and the identification of what science is forms in its ashes. It appears to be something close to a form of love.

Rory Stokes, a student at the Australian Science and Mathematics School in Adelaide, placed a beacon in a fish tank at feeding time each day and measuring the time it took for fish to swim to it to obtain food.

The time taken reduced dramatically over a three week period, from a minute to a few seconds, after which Rory removed the beacon.

Six days later, he put it back in the water and, despite not seeing it for almost a week, the fish swam to it in 4.4 seconds, showing they had remembered the association between food and the beacon for at least six days.

“We are told that a goldfish has a memory span of less than three seconds… I wanted to challenge this theory as I believe it is a myth intended to make us feel less guilty about keeping fish in small tanks,” Rory said.


Best’s Art of Angling

The Telegraph ‘ fishes memory last for months say scientists, 7/1/09

Leaving The Water

I am going to cast fishiness aside for the moment. I can speculate it may give me an insight into underlying folk models that may have a relationship with genius.

I can also use it to evaluate the strengths and weakness of a historical argument. That the alteration in these beliefs is related to changes in the processes of production.

Fishiness  is presented as altering as fishing becomes an industry. The Skipper increasingly becomes associated with the concept. Industrial scale and alteration in social hierarchy is the explanatory vehicle used to understand how a sense of Icelandic fishiness alters through time.

Does the model work can it be applied also to genius?

Empirical Me

The increasing interest displayed in the art and craft of fishing as an individual activity also provides a vehicle for examining how fishiness becomes related to the sense that an empirical self can be experienced in every-day situations.

If I can find examples where it occurs as a flash of insight in ‘special moments’ then great genius may also have a lesser genius associated with ponds and rivers.

Can I find anything in the modern landscape that may help me come to an understanding of a medieval sense of genius and its relationship with demons?

I suspect if I look at the development of the term and its association with poetry and allegory I am on certain ground and will be able to trace a clear historical trajectory.

Going to start instead on utterly uncertain ground with the ‘fathers’ of psychology.

Not sure if I will get anything directly relevant but I may learn how to shape the questions I ask of medieval material a little better.

Prefer to start in ignorance of how contemporary historians see the development of modern genius. Any error or subjects I may be missing I can pick up down the road.


Easy (Pull Out You’re Heart To Make The Being Alone)

“begotten after a certain manner with man”

The God under whose protection each man lives when he is born is called genius.

This Latin definition is one of the most repeated in the twelfth century in relation to genius.

Its in this area, the relationship with fate and skill that genius seems somewhat fishy.

It’s tempting to speculate that Genius may not be a complete Latin borrowing, but may have attached and become entwined with existing concepts already live in the population relating to craft activities and chance.

Its meeting once more a part of where it came from as it moves from classical text into medieval culture.

Its not a movement into an empty cultural space.

Day Two Bias

I am developing the distinct idea that the problems I have with reading  History of Science seems to conform to a pattern I am familiar with in a different context related to Nationalism and history.

Exceptionalism. I get the feeling as I read that I have been here before, its a common issue in aspects of history I have more familiarity with.



Apple Tree (Confirmed By Actual Experience)


Day two of reading. I find myself in 1787. The art of fishing has been rationalized. Fishiness glows with the enlightened concept of perfectibility. It is a subject transformed.

Fishing now has an identified ‘father’ or begetting spirit. Fishiness a direct means of experiencing and evaluating natural philosophy through the contemplation of natural objects. It even manages to introduce Isaac Newton’s Principia, into it’s first paragraph.


Thomas Best, A Concise Treatise on the Art of Angling. Confirmed by actual Experience; Interspersed with several new and recent discoveries forming a complete museum for the lovers of that pleasing and rational recreation; To which are added prognostics of the weather independent of the barometer and a new chapter containing rules, how best to form a competent judgement of the changes that take place, in that useful instrument.

Ninth Edition