Proud to Be Froward

This has been a curious year. Repeatedly for the past several months I keep running into essays and poems from the fairly distant past which more or less anticipate every thought I've ever had. I mean, I'd always hoped for and assumed I was working from first principles, and yet find nothing I've arrived at is novel. Well, okay. At least I can claim to be in good company.

As you look over this blog, you'll see I've been pipped at the post by Shakespeare, Wilde, Byron, Shelley, Keats, de Sade, Crowley and then closer to our times, Russell, Fry, Hitchens and Dawkins. Goddamn it you guys! Can't you at least let me claim one original idea! I want to leave a mark too, you know!

Tonight it was this brilliant poem from Aldous Huxley, entitled Fifth Philosopher's Song:
A million million spermatozoa
All of them alive;
Out of their cataclysm but one poor Noah
Dare hope to survive.

And among that billion minus one
Might have chanced to be
Shakespeare, another Newton, a new Donne--
But the One was Me.

Shame to have ousted your betters thus,
Taking ark while the others remained outside!
Better for all of us, froward Homunculus,
If you'd quietly died!

-- Aldous Huxley (1920) 
A question for the more learned: just who are the four other philosophers implied by Huxley's title to this piece?

I've always been fond of the chap, if for no other reason than what a couple of arks previously wrought: his grandfather had a nice name, and was a bulldog to boot! Or, moving forward adrift a couple other arks: his granddaughter. Also with a nice name. I'd liked to have known her. I've always been a sucker for hippie chicks.

Back to the poem, though. I have so often given credence to its import, and that theme is inherent in On Patience, whose ideals date back to my start in life. Those flaps of a butterfly's wings! For some of us, life is not deterministic, but purely stochastic.
But strangely, Huxley treats this process strictly as pure biogenesis, never mentioning orgasm, the key ingredient which actually imbues life into the Homunculus. Then again, he wrote the piece in the era of D. H. Lawrence.

It was a fun retrospect tonight to find this poem again, though.

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