On Lice

AK Blakemore at Granta:

With all due respect, lice and fleas have changed the world more than you ever have, or will, reader. They are part of the unwitting ensemble cast of human history, like Alexander the Great’s Bucephalus, or Karl Lagerfeld’s Choupette. This is because they are now understood to be ‘vectors of disease’, making other bodies’ business your own. But even before this was properly understood, their reputation wasn’t great.

Galileo was probably the first person to see into a flea’s face. While modifying the compound telescope that would situate humanity in a universe that frankly didn’t care for it very much, he fucked around and invented a compound microscope as well. ‘I have observed many tiny animals with great admiration’, he wrote, ‘among which the flea is quite horrible’.

more here.