Open letter to John Banville about Copernicus: 
I wrote this, but having no address I am sending by “nobabies express;” after all everybody comes by here, right?  Here is what I wrote.

Dear John Banville,
A cursory google hunt gives no email address for you, so I take the note-in-a-bottle approach.  Some day somebody you know may run across this and see fit, if he or she thinks it would be pleasing, to point it out to you. 

I have just read your book Doctor Copernicus, printed by Vintage Books of Random House, New York.  I see it was originally copyrighted in 1976.  While I was reading it I bethought me, “How very strange.  Nobody these days has this kind of command of the language, “seel” and “bolter,” indeed.  The little collateral reading I have done mentions “cold, forensic prose” and Henry James.  Well that might describe James, but what I was thinking was “James Joyce, Dylan Thomas, Edmund Spenser, Camus, Poe.”  The book is a splendid accomplishment, and I heartily congratulate you on it.

Someone dear to me gave me this copy.  Perhaps there was a hint of, “Copernicus was a crazed old reprobate with no social skills who just happened to be a genius who cracked an ancient mystery, just like you.”  Pish, tush.  There is no evidence that people studied the sky beyond two hundred thousand years ago.  I have cracked a mystery that goes back two million.  He merely recast the frame of reference of the solar system but really had no great break with Ptolemy.  For both it was pure geometry with no real cause.  Tycho Brahe improved the resolution and changed the frame of reference again.  Kepler kept Brahe’s resolution and recast the frame of reference yet again.  Newton changed resolution, frame of reference and accurately explained the course of comets and explained the precession of the equinoxes.  What Newton gave us was gravity, so it made sense for once.  It wasn’t just geometry.  And then Einstein made it all geometry again, improved resolution and changed the character of the reference frame.  Yet for all this, even when we navigate in space it is by the trial and error of the toddler.  Real life plodded along as reference frame followed reference frame into the bin.  It just didn’t make much difference.

Yet I tell you my own insight bears directly on the lives, choices and fates of individuals and societies and has been grinding away unseen since Homo habilis.  Check what I posted on March 2, 2015.


M. Linton Herbert MD

I am pulling out of my slump.  Actually I had written this a couple of weeks ago, but wasn’t up to posting it.  Thanks again for dropping by.

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