The Horrendous Eyeball

(Newton Drawings, continued…)

This is a drawing Newton made of an experiment where he pressed his own eyeball with a “bodkin”–a kind of blunt needle–to see what colors appeared in his field of vision.

Don’t ask me for details, but somehow, he made himself do it because he so wanted to understand where colors came from and how they worked.

Once I got over the full strangeness and wonder of this drawing, the thing I also really like about it is the little hand.  I like how Newton draws hands.  Below are closeups of another page from one of his notebooks.

I don’t know of any surviving drawings where the strange, reclusive Newton showed more of his fellow humans than just a disembodied hand. But how I would love to see some!


Link to eyeball drawing at Cambridge University Digital Library is here.

Link to the Newton notebook page with the two additional hand drawings is here.

Thanks as always to the Cambridge Digital Library for allowing social media sharing of its cool images!

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