…I also enjoyed Victoria Alexander’s Chance, Nature’s Practical Jokes, and the ‘Non-Utilitarian Delights’ of Butterfly Mimicry. “The chance that mimics choice, the flaw that looks like a flower” as Nabokov described how nature seems to do more than it needs to do merely for survival. While some of the science is quite technical, her writing is clear and also lyrical.
“One of the most revealing essays in the volume is Victoria N. Alexander’s examination of the way Nabokov’s views on butterfly evolution enlivened his imagination.”
Fine Lines Nabokov’s Scientific Art
My contribution to the volume is an essay entitled, “Chance, Nature’s Practical Jokes and the ‘Non-utilitarian Delights’ of Insect Mimicry.” See more at http://www.newyorker.com/tech/elements/vladimir-nabokov-butterfly-illustrator?intcid=mod-latest
Jim Coffman mentions The Biologist’s Mistress in the above named article.
Jim is co-author with Don Mikulecky of Global Insanity: How Homo sapiens Lost Touch with Reality while Transforming the World (Emergent Publications, 2012)
Here’s a snippet:
“…we humans find it extremely hard to accept that our existence is an accident of history. You might say that the very notion drives us mad….
“But random chance is clearly fundamental to life, as much so as physical necessity. It is fundamental in a reductionist sense, as in the ontological indeterminacy of quantum events; but also in a phenomenological sense, as in the inherent unpredictability of specific events taking place in any complex system that is far from thermodynamic equilibrium (e.g. the outcome of a coin toss or roll of the dice, or the coincident convergence in space and time of independent trajectories such as occurs in an automobile accident). Indeed, as Victoria Alexander has argued in her book The Biologist’s Mistress, chance, in its many guises, is essential to life’s purposefulness….