Impassioned Seekers

In ‘The Mystery of the Hive’ published 1923 Eugene Evrard introduces the men whose obsession and dedication about the Bee changed our understanding –‘Only direct observation could ever reveal the truth’. It was the middle of the 17th century that Jean Swammerdam was visited by a ‘flash of genius which suddenly shattered the clumsy structure of the gross delusions of the past’.

He was the ideal type of scientist, and the first in time of the wonderful quartet of pioneers; a profound and glorious spirit, a worthy peer of those great-minded scientists and observers, those impassioned seekers, whose names were Reaumur, Huber and Dzierzon; as though all those who have taught us concerning the Bee must of necessity be alike by virtus of there unique qualities! Swammerdam was a Dutchman; Reaumur a Frenchman, Huber a Genevese Swiss; Dzierzon a German of Polish origin.’

I have a book about the creative process, published 1928 by Rebecca West called ‘The Strange Necessity’. When I did my PhD I spent considerable time hunting for research into creative processes – mostly I was located in Sussex University Library – this book was one of the oldest I could find and I love the language, so alive and so very different to anything one could find today. I place a quote below because these scientists, these impassioned seekers sounds much like the mindset and immersion into other worlds – similar to the artists journey.

‘It might be, of course, that in such works (of art) there are references to the conditions of another world which would be more friendly to us than this. There, most often, are these colours, these forms: there sounds sound most often like this music; there experience most often takes this turn. This universe must be real as ours, since it is weakening to brood on what is wholly fictitious… and the effect of this contemplation is strengthening. It must therefore lie parallel with this, our paradise from which we are exiled by some cosmic misadventure, and which we can re-enter at times by participating in the experience of those artists who are supposed by some mystical process to have gained the power to reproduce in this universe the conditions of that other. But the overwhelming argument against this theory is that people who prefer science to art appear to get precisely the same emotion out of contact with achievements, say in the sphere of mathematics or physics, which relate beyond all doubt to the universe of which we are a part and no other.’

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