The talk on fossils seemed to go well yesterday. There were some good questions – on the issue of resemblance; whether Bergson’s notion of fossilisation could be related to this; on Leibniz’s notion of possible worlds; on Philip (father of Edmund) Gosse; on the world/earth relation or distinction; and some I am sure I am forgetting. A few helpful references were passed my way. People seemed to like the images – lots of illustrations taken from the source books, including some particularly wonderful ones from Cuvier’s papers that Martin Rudwick translated and presented. The ones of the dinosaurs from Crystal Palace – both historical and contemporary – were quite good too (you can find some images of them here).
Given the work that went into the visual presentation, as opposed to just the writing of the talk, I did think it would be a shame if this was its only outing. But I’ve just agreed to give a version at the University of Macau in May on my way home. Macau/Macao is one of most remarkable places I’ve ever been. The juxtaposition of the different elements of an old Portuguese city, modern China and the huge casinos, all in a tiny space, is quite something, so I’m happy to be going back.