A collage of copperplate illustrations from Hooke’s Micrographia. A microscope, cells in mimosa leaves, dray drone fly, blue fly, flea that he saw through his microscopes and drew.

5 Telescopes, Microscopes, Spectacles, and Speculations (TPE Hyperlinked Endnotes)

Chapter 5, “Telescopes, Microscopes, Spectacles, and Speculations,” brings There Plant Eyes into the world of Early Modern science. Galileo, Bacon, Hooke, and Descartes are just some of the authors we meet in this chapter that makes connections between technologies of seeing, our inherent human sensory limitations, and the roots of Western culture’s pervasive  ocularcentrism. (#DownWithOcularcentrism!)

Endnotes for Chapter 5

  1. In Greek “prosthesis” simply means “addition” and here signifies how reliant modern science is on such devices—much more crucial to our perceptions as a society than a glass eye is to an individual, as the latter is merely As will be seen, glasses or contact lenses are to an individual what telescopes and microscopes are to our society.
  2. Galileo, Sidereus Nuncius, 64–66.
  3. Galileo, Sidereus Nuncius,
  4. These opening paragraphs on Galileo, as well as the passages on Hooke and Swift, are loosely based on portions of my 2009 dissertation, “The Spectator & the Blind Man.”
  5. Bacon, New Organon,
  6. Bacon, New Organon,
  7. Bacon, New Organon,
  8. Hooke, Micrographia, “Observation I: Of the Point of a small sharp ”
  9. Hooke, Micrographia, “Observation V: Of watered Silks, or ”
  10. Pope, Essay on Man: Epistle I, lines 153–56.
  11. Dug is a term for a mammalian breast, similar to teat or udder, and thus Gulliver is making a brave attempt to dehumanize his giantess
  12. Swift, Gulliver’s Travels, Part II, Chapter
  13. Swift, Gulliver’s Travels, Part II, Chapter
  14. Swift, Gulliver’s Travels, Part II, Chapter
  15. A long knife or short sword that hangs from the hip, like a cutlass worn by sailors and
  16. Swift, Gulliver’s Travels, Part II, Chapter
  17. Eliot, “The Love Song of Alfred Prufrock,” lines 55–61.
  18. Johnson, “Life of Swift.”
  19. Galileo, Sidereus Nuncius,
  20. Galileo, Sidereus Nuncius,
  21. Jay, Downcast Eyes,
  22. Jay, Downcast Eyes, 69–70.
  23. Jay, Downcast Eyes, Jay uses this as an epigraph to Chapter 1, and analyzes it on page


“I was frequently rallied by the queen upon account of my fearfulness; and she used to ask me whether the people of my country were as great cowards as myself? The occasion was this: the kingdom is much pestered with flies in summer; and these odious insects, each of them as big as a Dunstable lark, hardly gave me any rest while I sat at dinner, with their continual humming and buzzing about mine ears. They would sometimes alight upon my victuals, and leave their loathsome excrement, or spawn behind, which to me was very visible, though not to the natives of that country, whose large optics were not so acute as mine, in viewing smaller objects. Sometimes they would fix upon my nose, or forehead, where they stung me to the quick, smelling very offensively; and I could easily trace that viscous matter, which, our naturalists tell us, enables those creatures to walk with their feet upwards upon a ceiling. I had much ado to defend myself against these detestable animals, and could not forbear starting when they came on my face. It was the common practice of the dwarf, to catch a number of these insects in his hand, as schoolboys do among us, and let them out suddenly under my nose, on purpose to frighten me, and divert the queen. My remedy was to cut them in pieces with my knife, as they flew in the air, wherein my dexterity was much admired.” –Jonathan Swift, Gulliver’s Travel’s

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