“The Diamond Lens,” Fitz James O’Brien, 1858

“The Diamond Lens,” Fitz-James O’Brien, 1858 – A scientist discovers another world in the slide of a microscope. He becomes obsessed with an alluring female form, that of Animula, perhaps even more so because her life is entirely under his control.

Comments: The male gaze and the scientist’s gaze converge.  See H. Bruce Franklin’s commentary in Future Perfect: American Science Fiction of the Nineteenth Century.  Franklin comments on O’Brien’s use of the Adam and Eve myth (Adam “creating” Eve from himself) and the myth of the “archetypal hermaphrodite,” Hermaphroditus, and Salmacis from Ovid’s Metamorphoses, and Greek and pagan beliefs that asserted that humanity was originally hermaphroditic; the psychological phenomenon of projecting (like Aylmer of “The Artist of The Beautiful,” the narrator is “fascinated with an image of ideal femininity projected from his own mind”); the intersection of subjective and objective perception; and voyeurism.  He notes that this story is remarkable “because here O’Brien subordinated his brilliant invention to a profound exploration of the diseased psychology of one of the main figures of his age, the would-be lone genius of scientific creation.”

Author: Wikipedia: “Fitz James O’Brien (also spelled Fitz-James; December 31, 1828 – April 6, 1862) was an Irish-born American writer.”

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About jennre

Lifelong sf fan, first-time blogger
This entry was posted in 1926 and earlier, aesthetics/beauty, gender, myth, photo/film/image, psych/mind/madness, sex/reproduction/sterility, spectatorship/voyeurism, the gaze, the Other, the scientist. Bookmark the permalink.

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