Were There Microbes Before Pasteur?
I want to share come of Bruno Latour’s writing with you – because it is such good writing, and – almost as a side-effect – because it is so profound. Bear in mind that his native language is French, but he must also be fluent in all the modern European languages – and feels comfortable in all of them – something few Americans can say. From page 145:
There is no avoiding the answer: “No they did not exist before he came along” – an answer that is as obvious, natural, and even, as I will show, commonsensical! As we saw in Chapter 4, Pasteur encountered a vague, cloudy, gray substance sitting meekly in the corner of his flasks and turned it into the spendid, well-defined, articulate yeast twirling magnificently across the ballroom of the Academy. That the clock has struck twelve many times since the 1850s and her coachmen still haven’t turned into mice does nothing to change the fact that before Prince Charming came along the Cinderella was a nearly invisible by-product of lifeless chemical processes.
He goes on to explain how his theory allows things to talk! Just as the yeast spoke to Pasteur, and through him to the rest of the world.
It said, in effect “I am here!” The same message all of us should be saying to the rest of the world all the time.
But most of us are not.