Friday, September 24, 2010


Yesterday I read about the birth of a zebra at Auckland zoo during a violent storm. Apparently that’s usual. On the veldt stormy weather lowers the odds of a predator finding and killing the newly born foal. Zoo staff were surprised how quickly the youngster got his balance and could run.

This morning’s news has an item about scientific research into the odours of our native birds. Apparently some, especially the kakapo and kiwi, have considerably more than imported forest birds. Before human settlement there was less need for protection from ground predators. The scientists hope that by learning more about those scents they can produce baits that will lure stoats and rats into traps more easily.

Last evening we watched a DVD, ‘Creation’ – a BBC biographical drama about Charles Darwin. It was good drama, not great or compelling but interesting and well worth while. I accept the convention that drama adapts historical figures for its own use. But I’m interested to know whether the portrayal of his religious wife’s demand that he publish ‘The Origins of the Species’ is factual or made up. The ideas of the book certainly put a ferret into the warren.

At one time I’ve have gone to the library. We have the novel ‘Mr Darwin’s Shooter’ on our shelves but it is of little help in this instance though a good read. But I’ve been searching the net. Not much joy on the particular question. Lots of fascinating material re Darwin’s life and work. Before he proposed he drew up two columns – one for marriage, one against. The Anglican wedding service had already done this job for him but Darwin liked to follow his own thoughts.

I’ve begun reading Holman’s ‘The Best of Both Worlds: The Story of Elsdon Best and Tutakangahau’. It’s decades since I read Best. While I was researching 19th century New Zealand poetry a life of Edward Tregear came out. I read it with interest – especially the application of ideas of race and evolution. I put this down to Tregear and author Howe’s own interests.

Here are some lines I wrote after reading Howe’s book.
… All that talk of racial purity,
19th century gobbledegook, spilling into
the next. Maori appeared Aryan. They
fought well. Just as a boy sorts marbles,
so do scholars sort races, creeds, rank
them good or bad. People from an isle
considered blessed seek another isle also
to be blessed, another seat for Mars.

Holman’s book draws attention to an obvious link I’d missed. Sinclair’s idea of ‘ideas as a minefield’ for Maori was not confined to Christianity. The evolution of the species theory created an intellectual ferment throughout the literate world. New Zealand was not exempt. Holman makes another obvious point. Maori by this stage were literate. There was cross-fertilisation between cultures. Maybe osmosis may be a more accurate term scientifically. Anyway I’ve not advanced into the Holman enough to comment further.

The natural selection of the zebra and the kakapo is a miraculous story. The history of ideas is as always a stimulating study. Story and Study combine this morning in a creative way. The human mind at search is a marvellous occurrence. Would it be pride to admit admiration. When I was teaching this internal monitor ran all the time - good question, bad question, why are the boys not responding, this isn't working, that girl's upset. Of late that monitor has been dormant. Maybe I should try to activate it more often? I might write more poems if I did.

No comments:

Post a Comment