Possible Origin for the Mad Scientist

Samuel Hahnemann

Jess Nevins posits a new possible origin for the mad scientist archetype. The following is from Christopher Smart’s 1745 poem “Temple of Dullness”

Next to her, mad Mathesis; her feet all bare,
Ungirt, untrimm’d, with loose neglected hair;
No foreign object can her thoughts disjoint;

Jess writes:

In this poem you’ve got: the phrase “mad Mathesis” (i.e., “mad science”); a scientist with “loose neglected hair” (and it’s de rigueur for mad scientists to have unkempt, wild hair); a scientist “arrogant and vain” (although numerous previous poems had assigned anti-religious scientists these qualities) (Smart is attacking anti-religious scientists here, not scientists as a whole–note his invocation of “great Newton”); and a scientist creating “trifling trinkets” and “gewgaw toys” (not a lot of distance from a mad scientist creating those to creating a death ray).

Jess Nevins: Possible Origin for the Mad Scientist

(Image is of Samuel Hahnemann, who wasn’t born until 1755)

1 Comment

  1. Some ‘smart people are crazy and bad and make bad machines’ quotes from an earlier source…

    For in much wisdom is much grief, and he that increaseth knowledge, increaseth sorrow. – Ecclesiastes 1:18.

    No man can find out the work that God maketh. – Ecclesiastes 3:11.

    See also…

Comments are closed.

© 2024 Technoccult

Theme by Anders NorénUp ↑