Alec Nevala-Lee

Thoughts on art, creativity, and the writing life.

Friedrich August Kekulé on an unusual dream

with 2 comments

I was sitting writing at my textbook but the work did not progress; my thoughts were elsewhere. I turned my chair to the fire and dozed. Again the atoms were gambolling before my eyes. This time the smaller groups kept modestly in the background. My mental eye, rendered more acute by the repeated visions of the kind, could now distinguish larger structures of manifold confirmation: long rows, sometimes more closely fitted together all twining and twisting in snake like motion. But look! What was that? One of the snakes had seized hold of its own tail, and the form whirled mockingly before my eyes. As if by a flash of lightning I awoke; and this time also I spent the rest of the night in working out the rest of the hypothesis. Let us learn to dream, gentlemen, then perhaps we shall find the truth… But let us beware of publishing our dreams till they have been tested by waking understanding.

Friedrich August Kekulé, on his discovery of the ring structure of benzene

Written by nevalalee

May 29, 2011 at 9:34 am

2 Responses

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  1. There’s actually a great comic version of this in, um, Expo 2002? Expo 2003? It’s been a while…

    Hi, when!

    May 29, 2011 at 9:54 am

  2. There’s a major riff on it in Gravity’s Rainbow, too.


    May 29, 2011 at 10:43 am

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