Lichen metaphor in Frankenstein!

Dear Siblings in Lichen Enthusiasm -

I am reading Shelly's Frankenstein, coming up later in a class for which I am team-teaching. If I ever did read this book back when I was young, I have no memory of it, and am finding it both more interesting and more tedious than I thought I would. But I bolted to attention with this poetic description of knowledge (from Chapter XIII):

"Of what a strange nature is knowledge! It clings to the mind when it has once seized on it like a lichen on the rock."

I believe this means that Knowledge is a crustose lichen, and hence unidentifiable to species without a complete chemical kit. But I am adding this to my favorite quotes!

Posted on 31 October, 2018 18:36 by gyrrlfalcon gyrrlfalcon


Absolutely BRILLIANT!!!!! Maybe unknowable in the long run, but worth every effort.

I once read the memoirs of of Oliver Gilbert - titled, The Lichen Hunters. Anyway, if I remember correctly, he had a nice piece he added at the end in which he explains the 5 stages of a lichenologist. It all starts out in Stage 1 - Amazement. Through successive stages, the lichenologist seeks more diversity, seeks to be able to find and name a species, Idunno, something else. Anyway, we complete the evolution at Stage 5 - Amazement.

I copied the following directly from Amazon: "The Lichen Hunters is an enthusiastic account of the early years of a burgeoning ecological movement - The British Lichen Society. Formed in 1958 the society created a complete listing of all British lichens. Lichens are like a multitude of small watchmen recording the progress of pollution across the countryside. They are indicators of air-quality, traffic pollution, fertilizers and acid rain. They are also, as far as Oliver Gilbert and his fellow lichenologists are concerned, things of incredible beauty and mystery. His enthusiasm is infectious. Lichenologists bear comparison with the original Victorian plant hunters in their willingness to travel widely, and endure extreme weather in their pursuit of a rare specimen. Part travelogue and part social history of the British Lichen Society, The Lichen Hunters will charm readers and be a valuable addition to the ecological canon."

Posted by jwalewski over 5 years ago

Will acquire! Thanks!

Posted by gyrrlfalcon over 5 years ago

Terrific addition to the list of lichen quotes (?!) I was doing some historical research on an early 20th century Swedish neurologist last year and came across a description of his AMAZEMENT of lichens. He reminisced about hunting for lichens in the arctic tundra with his lichen mentor. I should dig this up again, as I belive there is a lichen named after him! Will acquire too.

Posted by metsa over 5 years ago
Posted by metsa over 5 years ago

Be sure to add Trevor Goward's essays. Here is a connection to "Twelve Readings on the Lichen Thallus"... good stuff.

Posted by jwalewski over 5 years ago

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