This is just a little piece of trivia that will probably be of interest to no one except me, but hey, I’m the one writing this so there’s not much you can do about it. Except leave, I guess. Hey, where are you… eh, whatever.
So back in 2009, I drew this comic, it had some candles and stuff in it, you’ve probably seen it around somewhere. Funny thing is though, even though it seems obviously inspired by Sagan’s The Demon-Haunted World, I hadn’t actually read that book yet when I wrote the comic. In fact, after I’d written the comic (but before I went ahead and drew it), I had a nagging thought that the idea behind it sounded strangely familiar, so in a fairly paranoid fashion I began googling about to see if I had accidentally stolen the idea from some forgotten source. Before long I came across the Sagan book, but I couldn’t remember having ever heard of it before, even though the familiarity was still lurking at the edge of my conscious mind, much like the shadows being chased down in the comic I was about to draw. Displaying even greater paranoia, I downloaded a .pdf of the book and quickly read it before drawing the comic, to ensure they weren’t too similar, despite sharing a common metaphor. Of course, a side-effect of this was that I greatly enjoyed the book, and started watching Cosmos on Youtube shortly thereafter, ensuring my rapid conversion to Sagan fanboyism. (I have since purchased legitimate copies of both Cosmos and Demon-Haunted World, incidentally.)
But I was never able to resolve that nagging familiarity. Had I happened across the book at some point in the past and forgotten about it, only for my brain to later resurrect the memory in the form of an “original” idea? Well a couple of days ago, it seems, I may have finally stumbled upon an answer to that question. I was looking through a drawer full of old books and sketchpads and other things I have created in the past, and I found a print-out of a speech by Michael Crichton, entitled “Aliens Cause Global Warming”. I winced, of course, recalling the time when I was most in need of the kind of clear-thinking skepticism I would later read about in The Demon-Haunted World. But as I glanced over the document, my embarrassment suddenly evaporated, because there it was: a reference to science being a candle in a demon-haunted universe.
Of course, this raises all kinds of fascinating questions about whether the human brain really could recall such details in such a fragmented way, or if perhaps it was just a coincidence or whatever. I’m sure Sagan himself would have had a few things to say about that. But it struck me as a Tumblr-worthy incident at least, and moreover I am glad to have that nagging feeling of familiarity resolved, so here we are.
'Snatches of song or foreign languages, images, events that we witnessed, stories that we overheard in childhood can be accurately recalled decades later without any conscious memory of how they got into our heads. “[I]n violent fevers, men, all ignorance, have talked in ancient tongues,” says Herman Melville in Moby Dick; “and … when the mystery is probed, it turns out always that in their wholly forgotten childhood those ancient tongues had been really spoken in their hearing.” In our everyday life, we effortlessly and unconsciously incorporate
cultural norms and make them our own.’
— Sagan, The Demon-Haunted World. (Haha I forgot about this too)