The third and last part of Adam Rutherford's account of the cell refers to the "prebiotic soup" where life is supposed to have originated in the extremes of heat, lightening storms and concentrations of chemicals found on earth 4 billion years ago. Although this theory about the origins of life go back to the early days of then last century, as the programme shows, things have become more dramatic in the intervening and especially in the last few years. It teases us out of mind to think that, as the presenter of the series puts it, a
"second genesis" is at hand, as scientists are on the point of creating a living cell from lifeless matter, for only the second time in the history of the Earth. A good or bad thing? Rutherford seems to have no doubt. The medical and technolgical opportunities, he clearly believes, can offer only hope for the human race. Looked at another way, we have got ourselves and our environment into such a mess that we can only dig deeper to find a way out. As I finish watching episode 3 of the Cell , I feel a little more optimistic about the future of human beings on earth than I did before. Though precisely why I am not sure.
A couple of months ago, I posted an account here of a poet called Weldon Kees, whom my bother Ken, (aka Lucas) drew my attention to. Kees was quite new to me (and I gather not widely known) and like Ken I was much taken with him. When Ken showed me Kees' collected works, I opened the book at random and read aloud a poem which contained the lines "I want to get away somewhere and re-read Proust". Yesterday I begin to read some of the poems in the series entitled The 40 poems you should know published in three parts as a supplement the Spectator. Not only did the compiler of this mini-anthology, published over the last three weeks, include a poem by Weldon Kees, but in her introduction to the Kees poem, chose to quote the lines about re-reading Proust. I am still enjoying the coincidence.