Unreal Nature

February 23, 2019

Self Conscious

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 5:55 am

This is from The Patch by John McPhee (2019):

… The Liberty Science Center’s declared purpose is [ … ] to educate many and, with luck, to inspire a few. And how does a museum do that? In the words of management: “First, don’t scare them off.”

… Close by, second graders are digging in a mound of dirt in search of weevils, pill bugs, springtails, scorpion-fly pupae, centipedes, and small local millipedes. Don’t scare them off.

The African millipedes are longer than hot dogs and call to mind segments of BX cable. Would I like to handle one? In this company, what choice do I have? Nina Zitani, of the museum staff, lays a Kenyan millipede on my open palm. Curled like an ammonite, it covers the palm. “In a minute,” says Nina, “she’ll begin to move.”

She begins to move. She uncurls, stretches from my wrist to beyond my fingertips — her touch is tentative as an art restorer’s brush. She seems self-conscious. …

-Julie

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