Remember a few (months longer than I remembered them being) back when I asked whether I'd knocked your socks off?
I take it all back.
The punchline to the Wharton introduction was supposed to be that the famous metaphysical philosopher's true talent lay in the biological sciences. He'd discovered the importance of amphioxus notochords long before anyone else thought to look at them ... but because my head's jammed full of junk, I missed the significance of Wharton's reference.
The amphioxus was not just some fish—it was an important fish-type-thing. Possibly the most important fish-type-thing of the late 19th Century.
Because the amphioxus had long been considered one of those all-important missing links. To quote the I-can't-emphasize-his-importance-enough-type-person Ernst Haeckel—referenced by Wharton in the very paragraph I cite—the amphioxus is important "because it fills the deep gulf between the Invertebrates and the Vertebrates" (76).*
The amphioxus is—quite literally—a liminal figure in the history of science. Given that my argument in this chapter concerns Wharton's reluctance to wed any particular evolutionary theory because of the excess of liminal figures and ambiguous conclusions, I find your silence on the issue quite alarming.
You're supposed to be helping me. (In case the subtext of the earlier posts/presentations/roundtables was unclear.) Yet here I am stuck doing all this work myself.
I can't say I'm not disappointed.
Because I am.
That's where I've been the past week: in the archives, reading about these almost-fishes and the many debates they engendered. This didn't have to happen. I could've been reading the 3,000 odd posts in my RSS reader. But you people had to let me down. Don't think I'll forget this.
Because I won't.
(Unless something more important comes up. There's only so much trivia a mind can contain ... and petty grudges concerning non-issues are typically the first overboard.)
*Eddie Izzard is a bad influence.