Ah, blogging memes. I’m not a huge fan in general, but Secundum Artem has tagged me with one, and I’ll dutifully follow along. The memeceedure here is:
1. Go to page 123 of the nearest book.
2. Find the 5th sentence.
3. Write down the next 3 sentences.
The actual nearest book to me was Medicine in Cleveland and Cuyahoga County, 1810-1976, but unfortunately page 123 lacks enough full sentences and is merely an extremely dry recitation of institutions in any case. Lest you think the book is a total waste though, it does include a long and amusingly sage and serious discussion of homeopathy, as well as recounting the 1881 gynecological lectures of one Dr. Henry Justus Herrick, in which he apparently attributed women’s uterine problems to, among other things, the “overwork of the brain and excessive development of the nervous system.” You’ve come a long way, medicine!
The book also has a fabulous picture, very similar to the one below, of an advertisement for an old timey 1900s X-Ray-based fluoroscopy machine in which radiation is shot directly through the patient and into the doctor’s face.
The text of the ad reads:
“In the Bottom of Your Heart… you feel you need a Wagner Mica Plate Static Machine. They Do Not Change Polarity While In Operation….”
(But they will deliver potentially lethal doses of radiation straight into your face)
They Do Not Deteriorate with Age…
(Not at all true: mica plate technology lasted longer than previous X-Ray generating tubes, but still did not last very long)
They are unexcelled for X-Ray work…
(Definitely true for the time)
They have five Times the generating capacity of any static machine of the same size…
(i.e. five times the amount of radiation into your face)
They Work in Damp weather.
(A must in Cleveland!)
I’m cheating here, of course. So I’d better find the next nearest book, which happens to be The Metaphysical Club, by Louis Menand (a truly great work of American intellectual history, by the way). I was almost irritated that, out of a book which deals principally with the fascinating development of post-civil war American philosophies like pragmatism, page 123 is, coincidentally enough, about Darwin and evolution, a subject most of my readers must be absolutely sick of hearing about by now. Those are the rules though, and here is the passage:
A way of thinking that regards individual differences as inessential departures from a general type is therefore not well suited for dealing with the natural world. A general type is fixed, determinate, and uniform; the world Darwin described is characterized by chance, change, and difference–all the attributes general types are designed to leave out. In emphasizing the particularity of individual organisms, Darwin did not conclude that species did not exist. He only concluded that species are what they appear to be: ideas, which are provisionally useful for naming groups of interacting individuals.
I’ll tag Murder of Ravens and Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub, who hopefully have more accidentally interesting passages to offer and haven’t already been tagged before (which is the other irritating issue with these memes).