Wednesday, August 03, 2016
A Quincunx for Sir Thomas Browne
Kenneth Jackson has directed a brief documentary about Sir Thomas Browne, in conjunction with an upcoming exhibition at the Royal College of Physicians. (The poster of the video has disabled embedding, so you'll have to click through the above screenshot to watch.) The exhibition, which opens in January 2017, is also intended to coincide with a project to issue a scholarly edition of Browne's complete works.
For me, the highlights of the film are the surprising number of words Browne added to the English language (they include "ambidextrous," "electricity," "hallucination," and "coma," among many others), and, of course, his firm debunking of the once widely-held notion that badgers had shorter legs on one side of the body in order to facilitate walking across slopes. Science moves slowly, perhaps, but it marches on all the same — though its legs may be a bit wobbly and uneven.