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Apollo's Laboratory - continued...

Table five (vol. 2, part 2) shows a young man seated before a galvanometer at a simple table, busily adjusting his experimental set-up. The young investigator has the idealized bodily form of classical sculpture. Since Du Bois-Reymond never revealed anything about this illustration, either in Thierische Elektricit├Ąt or anywhere else, one is left with a simple question: what message is conveyed to the reader through this illustration of a graceful, classical experimenter that is not written into the main text? Because Du Bois-Reymond evidently intended the reader to interpret this image, I will attempt to do so in this essay. To support my argument, I will use a classical reference popular in Du Bois-Reymond's boyhood: the Greek image of the ever youthful Apollo.

My interpretation of this "classical" experimenter draws upon the following Apollo motifs: Apollo as heroic dragon-slayer, Apollo as ideal athlete, and Apollo as the god of harmonic order. To avoid misinterpretations, I do not propose that Du Bois-Reymond's representation of a young experimenter is necessarily an illustration of Apollo. Still, the figure of Apollo can serve as a point of departure. Relying on the Apollo motif, I will argue that Du Bois-Reymond represented himself in Thierische Elektricit├Ąt in the pose of the young male hero, as an athlete who worked out with laboratory instruments and as a form-giving artist who combined classical aesthetics and the contemporary notion of Bildung with experimental physiology.

Reference: Dierig, Sven. 2002. Apollo's Laboratory.. The Virtual Laboratory (ISSN 1866-4784), http://vlp.mpiwg-berlin.mpg.de/references?id=art8&page=p0004