When van Leeuwenhoek's animalcules
are pathogenic, each meal becomes a gamble.
Steele's rhetorically pronounced awe of nature reveals itself to be merely obligatory; his invective against "insects, reptiles, and animalcules
," continues a literary trope of devalued small "natural" (as opposed to commodified) objects.
In vain do we aspire to assign limits to the works of creation in space, whether we examine the starry heavens, or that world of minute animalcules
which is revealed to us by the microscope.
But Emerson's revised argument is tricky: "Our planet," he writes, "before the age of written history, had its races of savages, like the generations of sour paste, or the animalcules
that wriggle and bite in a drop of putrid water.
In April 1676, in what might have been an attempt to discover "the cause of the hotness or power whereby pepper affects the tongue," Leeuwenhoek placed some pepper in water Three weeks later, on April 24, 1676, he discovered an incredible number of very little animalcules
, marking the first sighting of bacteria.
56) To comprehend this relation is perhaps to write a poem such as William Carlos Williams's Paterson, (57) which turns from life as "Rolling up, rolling up heavy with / numbers," "so that never in this / world will a man live well in his body / save dying--and not know himself/dying," to "shells and animalcules
/ generally and so to man, / to Paterson"--that is, to human life and identity as one with the place of a city and its history:
Phylum 1 Actinopoda ("Sun Animalcules
," Marine Planktic AxopodFormers)
However, DNA studies of these microminiature animalcules
is still in its infancy, and the pharmaceutical industry isn't talking.
Leaves by themselves seem to be animalcules
, shell-like in the ginkgo leaf, flame-like in the maple, given a gliding shape in the chestnut leaf, a sharp, quick one in the pine needle.
Given that each sperm cell (animalcule
or, popularly, "homunculus") was a potential being, and that male semen contained numerous animalcules
, the obvious explanation was that some animalcules
would suffer injuries in the battle for access to the egg.