Alec Nevala-Lee

Thoughts on art, creativity, and the writing life.

Archive for April 19th, 2015

The way of Icarus

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Icarus by Henri Matisse

In ancient days two aviators procured to themselves wings. Daedalus flew safely through the middle air across the sea, and was duly honored on his landing. Young Icarus soared upwards towards the sun until the wax which bound his wings melted, and his flight ended in fiasco. In weighing their achievements perhaps there is something to be said for Icarus. The classic authorities tell us that he was only “doing a stunt,” but I prefer to think of him as the man who certainly brought to light a structural defect in the flying machines of his day.

So, too, in science. Cautious Daedalus will apply his theories where he feels most confident they will safely go; but by his excess of caution their hidden weaknesses cannot be brought to light. Icarus will strain his theories to the breaking point until the weak joints gape. For a spectacular stunt? Perhaps partly; he is often very human. But if he is not yet destined to reach the sun and solve for all time the riddle of its constitution, yet he may hope to learn from his journey some hints to build a better machine.

Arthur Eddington

Written by nevalalee

April 19, 2015 at 7:30 am

Posted in Quote of the Day

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