Abandon Text!

W. H. Auden once said: "Poems are not finished; they are abandoned." I have been abandoning writing projects for many years, since only the pressure of deadline and high expectations ever got me to finish, or even start, anything of merit. This blog is an attempt to create a more consistent, self-directed writing habit. Hopefully a direction and voice will emerge.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Static in 1700

It's been especially dry this winter, so there's a lot of static electricity in the house. Often I will be pulling off my clothes in a dark room, long after the rest of my family is in bed, and I will see a shower of little static sparks as I pull off my clothes. It's cool to see, even when you know all about static electricity and such . . . but what I want to know is, what did people think of that in the 1700's . . . before anyone knew much of anything about electricity?

I mean, yeah, sure, there was lightning in the sky. But that was in the sky, in the heavens, removed from the earthly sphere and slightly easier to accept as a divine force in action. But little static sparks from wool sweaters in the middle of the night? That's daily life, right here and now. Did they think they were fairies, spirits, what?

It's stuff like that, that bugs me so much that I think it must have bugged someone in 1700 as well. In fact, I'm almost willing to bet that it was sparks off someone's sweater that inspired the first systematic research into electricity. I'll have to look that up . . .


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