I Saw Many Beautiful Things: QBarrows
Seeing through a microscope for the first time is much like seeing anything for the first time. It can be exciting and confusing. In the glorious sixth episode of Noel Fielding’s Luxury Comedy, he opens the show with a pineapple on his desk and eyepatches on his eyes then asks his pineapple friend, Alfie, “What do you see?” Alfie says “I saw many beautiful things” then goes on to describe a list of sights that the average person might take for granted.
When I was reading Micrographia, I could not get this scene out of my mind. Although the modern person does not witness the details of the objects Hooke saw in his microscope every day, we are educated to know about what is beyond our unaided vision and It is not unusual to stumble across images of microscopic organisms on the internet or in a magazine. The average person is no longer shocked or impressed by these sights because they are so common. When Hooke looked at a series of mundane, possibly gross, objects through his microscope, it was almost as if he had received a new set of eyes that could see the world in a completely different way. He was thrilled and excited over things that the 21st century person might find silly. With his microscope, Hooke was like a child who asks a million questions because everything is new.
Much like Alfie used Noel’s eyes to experience a sense that was brand new to him, Hooke used his microscope to enhance his vision and see a world he could not have possibly imagined. Alfie marveled at the color of the clouds and the enormity of a full moon. Both are nice but appreciated much more by someone who is seeing them for the first time. Hooke was enraptured by the threads in a linen, the details of a flea which are boring things in daily life but incredible when seen under a microscope for the first time.
Hooke and Alfie were enthralled by the strange and the beautiful in our world and wanted to tell the everyone about it (sometimes with a few too many details) and both can remind us that it is okay to be enthusiastic about life and sometimes it is fun to notice the details.