The index card was a product of the Enlightenment, conceived by one of its towering figures: Carl Linnaeus, the Swedish botanist, physician, and the father of modern taxonomy. But like all information systems, the index card had unexpected political implications, too: It helped set the stage for categorizing people, and for the prejudice and violence that comes along with such classification.
On the categorization of imaginary beings and what it all means.
As defenders of the supernatural will be quick to point out, many arthropods have six limbs; squids, skunks, bombardier beetles, and plenty of other real creatures spew strange things; nature sometimes contrives to recombine old animals in new ways (see the half-striped zedonk—part zebra, part donkey—or the recent emergence of the coywolf: part coyote, part wolf); and, considering the many kinds of metamorphoses exhibited by animals—tadpole to frog, caterpillar to butterfly, baby-faced to bearded—how far-fetched is it, really, for a bat to turn into a man?
And then down the rabbithole of reality it goes:
Most of us understand that our perceptual systems, far from passively reflecting the world around us, actively sort, select, distort, ignore, and alter a huge amount of information in order to construct reality as we experience it. But reality as we experience it also departs from actual reality in deeper ways. In actual reality, space and time are inseparable, and neither one behaves anything like the waywe perceive it; nor does light, and nor does gravity, and, in all likelihood, nor does consciousness. Yet all the while we go on experiencing space like a map we can walk on, time like a conveyor belt we travel on, ourselves as brimming with agency, our lives as mattering urgently.
See this – “Back in 2006, a Massachusetts court heard a case that determined the legal definition of a wrap. Panera Bread, which had been granted exclusivity over all things sandwich at a suburban mall, charged that an encroaching Qdoba — with its signature burritos — was, in fact, serving sandwiches. A quick look at Webster’s Dictionary and a few expert witnesses later, and the judge ruled in favor of Qdoba.”
The soy milks versus the cow milks, the definition of milk is being fought over.
The world of bird taxonomy can get a little crazy, apparently.
“We’re just trying to make the best of a bad situation. That’s all taxonomy is,” says James “Van” Remsen, the SACC’s chairman.
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