Visited Down House today, the former home of Charles Darwin with the family and Sharon. Jacob threw a complete tantrum in Darwin's bedroom, screaming the house down, loud enough to wake the dead- which would have been nice as we could have met the man himself.
Of course a hero of mine (and of any naturalist) and such a man of his time. In many ways the collective objective of a mass mini-bourgeois, lots of mini Darwins, in mini gardens and houses, independently studying nature, recording, reporting, postulating, writing, exploring- all feeding into collective institutions - is a lofty and admirable ideology and in a way, the changes in society that led to people/families like Darwin having to sell their estates to collective charities and allow a redistribution of wealth and the rise of the empowered masses has been a success. For myself and friends I would say this has certainly been true and has been an incredible opportunity for us all. Considering I was born into poverty on a council estate I would never been able to have the amazing experiences of exploring, becoming a master of science, publishing papers and books etc if it wasn't for the foundations laid down by Darwin and the genuine great and good of the past.
However hasn't it all now become more of a failure than a success? Hasn't the aristocratic nightmare of ignorant and uncultured masses hijacking society, herded by capitalist lords, a pandering to the lowest common denominator, a paving over of gardens, astro-turfing, a destruction of nature, a de-civilisation and de-culturing, a decline, an over-exploitation, a rebellion against science - hasn't this nightmare also become true? Isn't this what the Victorians wanted to hold back freedom and democracy from?
Isn't there some kind of debt for those of us who have used that opportunity to empower ourselves to now take back control of that spiralling self destructive energy that is destroying everything? Don't we owe that to Darwin? I reckon I do. In a time where society has clearly been completely hacked by the great and the evil its no longer about the great and the good looking after us- more so about the low and the good taking up the mantle. Isn't that what the radical Victorians sacrificed themselves for and left legacies like Down House to give us a few ideas on how to do that?
Darwin's study- where he wrote the Origin of Species
150 years later, Darwinism and the ideology and values of the great Victorian naturalists has replicated millions of times into smaller and smaller fragments- here's a Darwin disciples outpost in a housing estate in South London (i.e. mine)
Meanwhile- back at the Beddington obs- up to 12 Jersey Tigers in the trap at the moment and seeing them around town too