Science and sentiment: off topic
There is a feeling I can recall from earliest childhood.  Adults never seemed to speak of it, so I thought it was something I would outgrow.  I’m sure I was not alone in feeling it.  Sometimes it would come with a memory, usually of some inconsequential event. In that case you would call it nostalgia, a sentimental longing for the past.  But that really means the pain of memory, and this was anything but painful.  It would come with the memory of a dream, sometimes, or certain scenes that were fanciful; I do remember a scene with a rabbit sitting on its haunches on a big long with some small confers and as stone wall.  The rabbit was looking up at the moon.  I later learned that the rabbit looking at the moon was sort of an ancient icon.

Some tunes would do it, “Londonderry Air,” or “Greensleeves.”   That last one was claimed by Henry VIII, who definitely does not make me feel wistful or longing.  It was always the bare melody or maybe a voice and one simple instrument.  Throw a bunch of notes at me and really it’s just noise. 

I’m sure I was not alone.  Sometimes the romantic poets Byron or Keats could bring it on, never Shelley.  Romance is an odd word.  Somebody, actually hbd chick, if you want to peruse her blog, said that in the countries with romance languages – Latin derived – marriages were generally determined by family connections, as indeed biology would dictate.  It was in Britain and the Teutonic countries that “romantic” love was king. 

The Whitman poem, “Oh, Captain, my Captain,” used to give me the chills, but that was different.  “Sonnet to Science,” by Poe was the most explicit in pointing it out.  He contrasts the dreamy state with hard facts of science.  In fact it is generally true that in his stories if the hero starts out wandering aimlessly it is going to be a sweet and dreamy tale, but if he starts out being analytic, expect a nightmare.  That’s not strictly true, but it seems to be a pattern. 

I have heard the feeling called “death wish,” but that’s stuff and nonsense.  It rings no bells for me. 

So as I have mentioned, there’s this Newton project.  Surely nobody before and precious few since have been as analytic as Newton.  Poe, maybe, Einstein surely, but I think Newton was far more drawn to whatever that wistful feeling is than authors have said.  Of course there’s no way I know to document it.  Malthus, also very analytic, gives us a very strong hint that he sensed it and, as I did, placed a high value on it.

I was surprised to find that the feeling did not fade with adolescence or even adulthood.  I would be up to my ears in the most demanding professional activates, and all unbidden it would whisper at my elbow, the call as strong as ever.

But you know what?  It has now been many years.  I think I can finger the moment.  It was when I first realized beyond peradventure of a doubt that love of kindred was vital to survival.  The evidence I found stunned me, and the whisper left, never to return. 

I do miss it, although not with the same intensity and longing that it used to bring.  Somehow I think the thought and feeling are intertwined. 

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