Homunculus

Had any of you heard of the Zika virus before about a month ago? I sure hadn’t. But now, understandably, it’s all over the news. I always find this quite disconcerting, when information seems to pop up everywhere all at once, fully formed, as if there’s this mind-speak going on, and we all have the same thoughts at the same moment.

I remember the exact day when credit card swipe machines appeared at cash registers. The day before I ran several errands and no one had them. The next day, every store I went to had them, and the first one had to instruct me how to operate this newfangled contraption. It was as though the entire world turned a financial corner simultaneously, and these machines popped up like mushrooms overnight.

It was the same thing with tilapia. One day I didn’t even know such a fish existed, and the next, it was displayed prominently in the grocery store and on a restaurant menu, and after that it seemed like you couldn’t sling a dead cat without hitting a tilapia.

I was thinking about all this last night because I couldn’t sleep, and that brought on the vague memory of an old belief that it’s possible to be born as a fully formed (albeit tiny) human being. So of course I googled it (and that made for some weird search terms) and came across this Wikipedia article on the homunculus.

Sure enough, in the 16th century, some people believed that a man’s sperm contained itty-bitty, teeny-weenie versions of that man, each one called a homunculus, and he simply planted them inside the woman and one would grow. (Of course, that didn’t explain why children often looked a great deal like their mothers, but this fact was conveniently overlooked.)

So there you have it. The Zika virus was not the first fully-formed thing to spring from the mind of man. Kind of makes you wonder what’s coming next. I hope whatever it is is a triumph, not a tragedy.

(Incidentally, I learned something else that is totally weird while researching the homunculus, but it deserves a blog entry all its own. Stay tuned tomorrow!)

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[Image credit: wikipedia.org]
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11 thoughts on “Homunculus

  1. lyn sutton

    When information seems to pop up everywhere all at once, fully formed…it feels like manipulation to accept or fear a thing before the theories and data have been cross checked and verified. Wonder how long it took before enough facts dispelled the homunculus manipulation. 🙂

  2. Some info which pops up is fun and interesting! In this centennial year of the Lake Washington Ship Canal, Seattle’s historical groups will bring out some crazy historical trivia. I thought of you on Saturday when I was in Fremont trying to take photos of the bridge and the canal!

      1. I took a couple of photos and put them on my article about John Ross, a pioneer of Fremont. I tried to find the spot on the canal closest to where he lived, and while I was standing there a girl’s crew rowed past me in the canal. Then I went to the bridge and found a piece of artwork I had not noticed before next to Yellow Dot Cafe. I will be writing more articles about Fremont so stay tuned!

  3. Pingback: Homunculus II – The View from a Drawbridge

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