Log in

No account? Create an account
07 August 2008 @ 09:38 am
Film at 11: Virus Infects Other Viruses  
Great fleas have little fleas upon their backs to bite 'em,
And little fleas have lesser fleas, and so ad infinitum.

-- Augustus DeMorgan, 1872

Thanks to returntonull.

I feel: chipperfascinated
McGuffinhitchkitty on August 7th, 2008 09:13 pm (UTC)
I'd always assumed that was one of Odgen Nash's. Per Wikipedia, the idea was posed mockingly -- as the man did everything -- by Jonathan Swift.

First encountered that poem, or a mangled variant thereof, in an issue of the by then DC-published Captain Marvel. King Kull, the Beastman, had declared war upon the written word itself via a peculiar variety of worm that devoured book paper.

The Marvel Family desperately hoarded the world's rapidly dwindling supply of printed matter, guarding against both worms and arson, while a scientist attempted to find a way of getting rid of the worms. Passing out from exhaustion, he muttered, "Fleas have little bugs."

Captain Marvel recognized the poem and -- no doubt applying a little Wisdom of Solomon -- realized that it should be possible to create a parasite that would destroy the worm menace.

And, borrowing a chemistry set from a local university and working from a text on microbiology, the Marvels manage to so do. The Captain delivers the (admittedly anvilicious) Aesop that the world was saved because of what one scientist read and what others wrote down -- that is, because of the written word.

...I seem to have gone rather off-topic. To return: Neat!
Your Obedient Serpent: big ideasathelind on August 7th, 2008 09:51 pm (UTC)
I'd thought it was Nash's, too, but his ode to fleas is pithier:


I did find the Swift references, but thought DeMorgan's was the superior verse.