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What a Little Bird Tells Us: Unamuno, Origami and the Modern World

Edited by Patsy Wang-Iverson, Laura Rozenberg, Robert J. Lang, Anne LaVin, and Zander Bolgar

Imagine that before 1900 you’re sitting outside at a cafe in Salamanca, meditating on what the new century may bring. By the way, it won’t matter what the waiter’s language is, since by age twenty you were already fluent in eleven languages, are currently a professor of classics, about to become rector of the University (to remain for thirty years) and to publish the first of many works of fiction – and are also philosophical, for your famous The Tragic Sense of Life will appear two years before the first world war reveals part of what that century would bring. Fortunately, besides melancholy, other streaks in your nature include a sense of humor (“Some people will believe anything if you whisper it to them”), and a delight in paperfolding – typically shared with children passing by, as it returns you to your own childhood. But today, besides variants from what would later be called the ‘blintz base’ of your beloved, traditional, Spanish pajarita, you are considering a new, intriguing model from Asia: a crane.

Here, as an exercise, was Miguel de Unamuno’s project: by what original folds and twists to turn this Japanese flying (maybe flapping) crane into something like the Spanish standing, not flying, pajarita (little bird): a sort of ‘pajarita.1’ – but, literally, on another base. As we know, the bird base that Unamuno would have discovered by unfolding the exotic model differs from his familiar blintz in being radial, rather than box-like. How did he do it? Sources (as below) report that he developed a ‘star’ from a bird base, allegedly called ‘Star of the Sea’, also that he used a “sideways turn”. As for the exercise, besides the comic depiction of Unamuno astride the result (Figure 1), a last hint is that, in his brief commentary, he stresses angles of “the fourth part of a right angle . . . 22.5°.” This should make it easy; still, it is interesting to note what sequence of folds he actually used.


Fig. 1. Unamuno astride his 'new' Pajarita. Fig. 2. Traditional Pajarita.

According to the late paperfolding historian David Lister, Unamuno’s project was important, indeed: “as important to the history of paperfolding as the discovery of the bird base itself, over two hundred years before.” In this comic image, from a letter by Unamuno to an Argentinian magazine, we have proof of Lister’s thesis that not only had Unamuno done so before 1902 but that he had by then begun developing the bird base into variant models, including standing animals, partly through his informal ‘school’, which spread to South American practice and even book publication, well before the second world war. Belatedly, full English translation of Unamuno’s brief letter appears for the first time here in THE FOLD, with commentary and notes. As an introduction, let us consider what the ‘little bird’ illustrated in the letter might tell us of our history. How would it be “important”?

Introduction: Unamuno’s “On a Pajarita” Letter1

Miguel de Unamuno’s one-page ‘On a Pajarita’ appears to contain his only public, published claim to paperfolding innovation. It is a bold one, and it appeared in an unlikely place: as an ironic letter to the editor, in the puzzle pages of a Buenos Aires popular magazine, Caras y Caretas (Faces and Masks) in March 1902.

According to David Lister, the implications of the letter’s contents are significant, notably for our understanding of origami as we know it today. Lister held that paperfolding as the organized, open-ended, international activity now termed ‘origami’ – that is, as distinct from a scattering of popular cultural practices, such as paper airplanes, napkins, printers’ hats, and even such fixed cultural forms as the Japanese ‘crane’ and ‘noshi’, the Spanish ‘pajarita’ began with Unamuno, whom he called “the pioneer of modern creative paperfolding, whether in the West or in the East.”2. It was developed through Unamuno’s Spanish ‘school’, thence – with the self-immolation of Spain in the 1930s –partly passing to Argentina, where it further greatly developed, awaiting postwar communication with international movements, notably a new Japanese creative approach.3 “Paperfolding in Spain and Argentina”, Lister maintained, was “transformed by the innovative influence of one of the giants of paperfolding,... Unamuno, the Rector of Salamanca University.”4

Specifically, Lister argued that as long as Unamuno thought in terms of his beloved Spanish pajarita he, like others, was “still locked in the same preoccupation with ‘blintzing’ (folding the corners of the square to the centre) which had stultified European paperfolding for over a century, [yet] Unamuno stands pre-eminent because it was he who broke out of the bonds of the blintz.”5 He did so by treating a Japanese ‘crane base’ (perhaps migrating to Europe in the guise of a ‘flapping bird’) not only in an innovative manner, but with a distinctly modern spirit: that is, not of instantiating rather fixed cultural forms, but rather, free of culture, freely exploring a field of fresh experimental opportunities.6

“Exactly when he made his great advance, we do not know, yet we can be sure,” Lister had added, “that Unamuno discovered the bird base because within a few years of the new century he was creating paper animals and birds, the like of which had never been seen before. The secret of most of them was that they made use of the ‘sideways turn’ of the bird base which creates a four-pointed star, a discovery as important to the history of paperfolding as the discovery of the bird base itself, over two hundred years before.”7

Technically, as mentioned, this makes a crucial break with the ‘blintz’ approach that had dominated European folding, including that spread worldwide by Friedrich Froebel through his ‘Kindergarten’.8 Yet there may be an even greater significance to Unamuno’s open, exploratory approach out of a traditional technique: a significance exemplified by these very pages. The existence of organizations such as OrigamiUSA, Lister’s own British Origami Society and so forth –with their far-flung memberships sharing a sense of identity through publications and meetings, communicating news, new models and techniques—we all know to be a recent development, whose history has been traced in detail (see for example ‘History’ on this website). Likewise the spirit that such organizations embody: of an open, international community of people of many kinds, sharing a passion for appreciating and inventing new models, techniques and approaches, while respecting differing cultural traditions, conceptions and uses of paper-folding—also for applications to education, the arts, mathematical topology, engineering—but most of all for the joy of it.

So far we have considered only the significance of the comic illustration for “On a Pajarita”, not the letter itself, not even the picture’s legend, “Unamuno y la pajarita de su invención”, which seems crucial to understanding most of the letter. So let us turn to the text, here translated.

That may appear progressively unrewarding. First, most of it seems simply lifted from Unamuno’s well-known, longer, tongue-in-cheek appendix, “Apuntes para un Tratado de Cocotologia”, to his satirical novel Amor y Pedagogía, which was to appear in Madrid the month following the letter’s publication in Buenos Aires. Also, since “Apuntes” (‘Jottings’) focuses on the classic pajarita (Figure 2), with no indication of bird bases, for Lister, this “humorous and gentle burlesque of pedantic treatises which purport to elevate their subject matter beyond . . . reasonable significance” was disappointing, for it “makes no mention of the advanced foldings” (Lister, “Unamuno”, p. 16). Second, since Unamuno’s voice in the letter shifts alarmingly from his own to that of the increasingly nutty one of his fictional ‘don Fulgencio’ of “Apuntes”, its rapid-fire, obscure, and unrelated references to religious, scientific and metaphysical sources may hardly seem worth tracing.

Some interest in translation and further interpretation of Unamuno’s letter may arise from the paragraph in which his self-portrait appears, and where his ironic don Fulgencio tone becomes marked. That paragraph not only refers to Spanish pajaritas “as they are on a modern conception”, but also asserts Unamuno’s tongue-in-cheek claim to them: “I am most proud of . . . having invented . . . the most perfect paper pajarita known, of which I herewith send a signed example, so that no one steals my glory”—before describing his ‘sidewase turn’ of the bird base. Later, in the Fulgencio voice he asserts, “I am certain that I have invented it”, concluding that he is “one of the first, if not the first, cocotólogo”, after asking rhetorically whether it “has a future”. All this amounts to Unamuno’s published claim that (as Lister argued) he was the Western source of the development of the bird base.

Still, some may still wonder about the form and purpose of the wry letter, and why, while bringing don Fulgencio’s voice into it, Unamuno would puzzle later origami scholars by excluding the bird base from “Apuntes”, which was written in the same fictional, absurd ‘don Fulgencio’ voice. One clue would seem to be that in the letter Unamuno begins warmly and engagingly in his own voice, regarding his childhood love of paperfolding, only to let it be steadily overtaken by his mad character’s--while still writing in first person. Another clue is the dogmatic, reactionary nature of the latter voice, satirized as polar opposite to his own. What could be the reason for this abrupt change of tone? It seems that by adopting a ridiculous tone in his letter to the left-wing, popular monthly, Caras y Caretas – whose “main features were political satire, humor and topical issues, visually displayed through cartoons and photographs” 9 – Unamuno was able to accomplish several things, without appearing ridiculous.

First, he corrected the magazine’s misrepresentation of the traditional pajarita, while, in a charming manner, expressing his abiding affection for it. Next, he was able publicly to declare his claim to a progressive and expressive development out of that cultural tradition, without seeming absurd or egoistical, by assuming the voice of one who is. Meanwhile, it would not have done to introduce that evidence into Don Fulgencio’s disquisitions on the perfect, timeless truth of the traditional pajaritan form in his later “Apuntes”. This would solve the historians’ puzzle of why he left the bird base out of it.

I suggest that there may have been a third, more serious, point. By exploiting that voice Unamuno was able to send up a variety of reactionary, humorless forces who opposed change, personal freedom and internationalism, both at that time and—as it proved—until the end of his life, under house arrest by Franco’s oppressive Falange. Thus, typical of that philosopher, he spoke out against stultifying dogmatism paradoxically, by assuming its own voice.10

This article is a belated tribute to our philosophical folder, and to our historian David Lister, from those to whom David referred to as “the gentle fellowship of world-wide paperfolders”, and for whom he wished, “May the tradition and the fellowship grow and flourish.”11

Following is the English translation of Unanumo's article.

ON A PAJARITA12

Circumstances of late have obliged me to appear serious, but would you were to see how, from time to time, the waters of childhood that spring from the earth refresh my spirit! Now when I see myself in my children and, especially, when I start to make for them paper pajaritas of the many kinds whose production I have mastered, I recall my best years. That is because those same pajaritas became the favorite, almost the only, toys for over two years of my early childhood. We made them in legions, invented a country, wrote its history, made dangerous expeditions – in a small holding my family owned in a village near Bilbao. As that did so much to form my mind, I hope to dedicate a work to pajaritas, for I admit that my admiration for them borders on worship. Just as, according to Ihering, 13 fired brick was the basis of Babylonian and even human civilization, the paper pajarita was the basis of my civilizing. Among other things, at barely eleven, with my cousin, Doctor Aranzadi14 – today a professor at the University of Barcelona – I wrote a quite complete and learned treatise on the analysis of paper pajaritas. Imagine, then, the effect that the pajarita that appeared in number 167 of Faces and Masks would have on me: a pajarita drawn with good intentions, but in great ignorance of pajaritan anatomy.

It is an absurd pajarita, since extensions of its edges don’t meet in precise articulations.15 To see the difference, compare the enclosed one from that issue—cut from it—with one I draw here, as to agreement in anatomy.

As you see, the analytical pajarita – that is to say, the scientifically correct one – is inscribed in a geometrical square, outlines coinciding with geometrical lines. This is something that cocotología (a word no more hybrid than ‘sociology’, composed of the French ‘cocotte’—paper pajarita—and logia, from logos), which we could also call “papyrornithologia”, teaches us.

It’s clear that nothing in pajaritas made by hand, and under the precarious conditions our modern life imposes, comes up to the standard of perfection of being inscribable in a geometrical square, because such would be the ideal cocotte or super-cocotte, the super-pajarita. Furthermore, would a super-pajarita be advisable? For you will observe that the super-pajarita by itself would only exist at the price of its individuality, since all pajaritas would be the same in all aspects excluding size.

These imperfections that the impurities of reality inflict on ideal geometry–-such as the thickness of the paper, that is, the flesh etc.—are due to the pajaritan individuality and to each pajarita having its individual signature.16

As the folds increase, so does their individuality: I mean to say, their deviations from the geometric type, which is something like the cosmopolitan type (the featherless biped committed to Jean-Jacques’ social contract17) of pajaritas.18 Take up some paper, make a pajarita of a single folding, then another of two foldings (in this second degree ribs appear), then another of three foldings, in which you will see that with growth of thickness, of flesh, pockets appear.19 You who are subtle and in the know will have an inkling of all the philosophy can be drawn from cocotología—no small amount.20

I’ve now explained why seeing the faulty image in your magazine summoned childhood memories and struck a blow to my worship of the pajarita. Only the goodness of the intention excuses.

Indeed such importance do I give these works—as they are on a modern conception—that one of the things I am most proud of is having invented (pulling it myself out of my head, as Jupiter Minerva) the most perfect paper pajarita known, of which I herewith send a signed example, so that no one steals my glory.21 It would be tiresome to get into providing here an analysis of this pajarita, more complicated than that for the other, still it is necessary to say that in this, too, all is subject to rigorous principles. Its head and tail are of the fourth part of a right angle, that is to say, 22.5°, and in all its folds it is necessary to seek the complementary angles.22

But at this point there arises the serious question regarding such perfection and elegance of form, similarly set by the strictest geometry, whether this is owing to chance or to final causes.23 Do we not have to see and to admire Providence in the paper pajarita? There are those who say that in folding paper one can hardly fail to produce such angles, but that, I suggest, is an impiety, like those who say it was not God who made river stones round better to follow the current in the riverbed, or that the hexagonal cells of a hive – that shape closest to a circle which does not increase in area when a number of them are packed together24– are of the form that several tubules, cylinders, would naturally yield if taken in a bundle and squeezed together, thereby bringing about hexagonal prisms.25 We need to reject these and other impieties that the vain modern sciences have put in circulation.

As of today, also cocotología suffers from Darwinian leprosy: there are even those who would try to prove that the pajarita I send you emerged by evolution. But I am certain that I have invented it – although, to be sure, starting out from other figures.

I am convinced that the Supreme Creator, to test our faith, as he tested our original parents by the tree of knowledge of good and evil, has arranged things in such a manner that everything induces human reason to believe in evolution and the mutability of organic forms, for which he has with divine astuteness placed in this and that species atrophied organs, ancestral forms,26 cases of atavism and everything that this science refers us to, in order to say to us on the day of reckoning: “It is true, I disposed everything in a way that would lead your reason naturally to this doctrine of transformation and to deny that I created man as Genesis recounts, but you should believe more in me than in your reason, and now I punish you for your lack of faith.” Do not be surprised by Jehova’s conduct (I use this name, though it’s incorrect, as it was given us and so for a long time we have used it, above all in verse), do not be surprised by this conduct, as you already know about the hardening of Pharaoh’s heart—as it was called: as, since he did not heed, God punished him—which allowed Calvin to flash his wit.27

Judge therefore, whether cocotología has a future, and whether I have reason to be satisfied to be one of the first, if not the first, cocotólogo.

MIGUEL DE UNAMUNO28

NOTES TO INTRODUCTION

1 In the spirit of this publication, we acknowledge the crucial contributions to this English translation of Unamuno’s intentionally obscure Spanish, by philosophical colleagues Pablo Fernandez Velasco, at the Institut Nicod (Paris) of the ENS, and Professor Norma Goethe, at the National University of Córdoba, Argentina – and also by Pablo and Professor John Kulvicki (Dartmouth College), at the Institut, for encouraging completion of the project. [back]

2 David Lister, “Miguel de Unamuno: Paperfolder”, FOLD (1994), rev. March 2011. Texts of this and the next paper are from typescripts generously sent me by Mr Lister. In quoting them here I have only corrected his spelling of the word ‘blintz’. (FOLD was his privately circulated magazine, not to be confused with today’s OrigamiUSA publication, The Fold.)[back]

3 A very brief but informed account of the postwar development of origami may be found in David Lister, “A Miscellaneous Collection of Jottings on the History of Origami”, The Lister List.[back]

4David Lister, “The History of Paperfolding in South America”, FOLD (1996).[back]

5For his account of Froebel and the blintz base, see Lister, The History of Paperfolding: a German Perspective, The Lister List.[back]

6Significantly, that this is the essence of what we have come to call ‘origami’, was expressed by the great post-WWII folder, Akira Yoshizawa, who independently also exploited the bird base: “When we have children we always try to recollect and teach them the [childhood] foldings we used to know”, thus origami “was handed down generation after generation” in “something like a dreamy world.” In what did that consist? Yoshizawa continues: “our traditional origami is more imitative than creative. Whoever folds them, the works always look alike.… I cannot agree with any of our traditional origami, which is nothing but a craft of imitation and has no value from the viewpoint of creative art education.” Akira Yoshizawa, D[T]okuhon (Creative Origami) I (Tokyo: Ryokuchi Sha,1957), pp. 3, 20. Still, the qualification “rather fixed” in Yoshizawa’s text acknowledges innovative uses of traditional forms, as with the ‘thousand cranes’ of Sadako Sasaki: q. v. David Lister, The Sacred Cranes, The Lister List.[back]

7Lister, “Miguel de Unamuno: Paperfolder”, p. 15. Lister there cites the correct date of the Caras y Caretas issue.[back]

8Lister. Friedrich Froebel, The Lister List, informally provides some more detail.[back]

9Caras y Caretas (Argentina), Wikipedia.[back]

10In his famous, dangerous Columbus Day 1936 confrontation with the Falange at his University of Salamanca, Unamuno is reported to have stated: “having spent my life writing paradoxes that have provoked the ire of those who do not understand what I have written”.[back]

11Lister, “History of Paperfolding in South America”, concluding line.[back]

TRANSLATOR’S NOTES

12The letter was given a full page in the Buenos Aires magazine Caras y Caretas (Faces and Masks) no. 178 (March 1, 1902) under the title, “Por una Pajarita”, with the editor, ‘Fray Mocho’’s (José Ciriaco Alvarez’s), preface:

The publication of a puzzle in our magazine’s ‘hobbies’ section has provided a topic for the notable writer and rector of the University of Salamanca, don Miguel de Unamuno, to write us a witty letter about, from which we print a few paragraphs, in the confidence that reading them is sure to be interesting to a public that relishes the acute observations and elegant style of the author of Peace in War. Although in fact the pajarita that motivated Señor Unamuno’s letter does not stand up to the least critical analysis, we are happy about the ineptitude that prompted it, since it has given rise to the original study of cocotología that we reproduce below. [This transl. is from Laureano Robles, ed., Epistolario Americano: 1890-1936 [University of Salamanca, 1996], pp. 129-131; also available online at the website of the Asociación Española de Papiroflexia.]

For the “witty” aspect, Unamuno’s letter contains ideas more fully expressed by his fictional philosopher, don Fulgencio de Entrambosmares, in a thirty-page, pedantic Apuntes para un tratado de cocotología, itself a satirically fictive appendix to his comic novel Amor y Pedagogía, published in Madrid the next month. Although Unamuno expanded this section in the 1934 edition of the book, references here are to the original edition – available online – with the abbreviation Apuntes.[back]

13Apparently Rodolfo von Jhering (1818-1892), a famous German jurist, also sociologist.[back]

14Telesforo Aranzadi (1860-1945) was an eminent Spanish life-sciences professor, who researched in anthropology, botany and zoology at the universities of Granada and Barcelona.[back]

15 Note that Unamuno’s correct drawing is not a folding diagram. Rather, with eight straight lines, he draws a correctly proportioned, flat pajarita – whereas the standing model draws its alert character from the physical paper’s opening out. He then extends those lines (save the central diagonal) with dotted ones, showing that five of them touch vertices of the drawn figure, while the remaining two, intersecting outside the figure (top right), pick out the fourth corner of a square, by which the whole is then inscribed. (To produce a folding diagram, we need ten lines, only five of which the drawing’s lines [partly] fall upon.) As Unamuno states, no such operation is possible with the magazine’s original figure, only one of whose line extensions would even meet a vertex.[back]

16The simple phrase “birdlike individuality” introduces perennial metaphysical issues, as Unamuno’s presentation becomes increasingly both tongue-in-cheek and metaphysical. “Birdlike” refers to something shared with others, “individuality” to what makes a thing unique. But in reality, and in our appreciation of concrete particulars, how do those opposed factors blend?

As in the more elaborate “Apuntes” discussion (pp. 251f), Unamuno begins with a central Platonic theme of distinguishing the ideal model from its space-time, concrete, instantiations – using Plato’s leading case, geometry (in which any physical model barely approximates what it gets us to think about). He then moves to the Aristotelian issue of how matter distinguishes particulars that share forms, an issue that became prominent in medieval philosophy, debated by Avicenna, Averroes, Duns Scotus, Ockham and others. The problem of individuation was later taken up by Leibniz and others. In Apuntes (251) don Fulgencio uses both size and spatial location as individuators.[back]

17Unamuno writes “Juan Jacobo” for Jean-Jacques Rousseau, author of The Social Contract (1762). His “cosmopolitan” may refer to Rousseau’s insistence that individuals should do their best to think in terms of the good of all: the opposite of factionalism.[back]

18Eleven years later, the first page of Unamuno’s Tragic Sense of Life reads: “[H]ere is another thing … also called man, . . . the subject of not a few lucubrations, more or less scientific. He is the legendary featherless biped, the zoon politikhon of Aristotle, the social contractor of Rousseau, . . . homo sapiens of Linnaeus, or, if you like, the vertical mammal. A man neither of here nor there, neither of this age nor of another, who has neither sex nor country, who is, in brief, merely an idea. That is to say, a no-man. The man we have to do with is the man of flesh and bone – I, you, reader of mine, the other man yonder, all of us who walk solidly on the earth. And this concrete man, this man of flesh and bone, is at once the subject and the supreme object of all philosophy, whether certain self-styled philosophers like it or not.”[back]

19I translate “folding”, assuming Unamuno intends three kinds of actions, more elaborately developed in don Fulgencio’s mad excursus on the “Embryology” of the pajarita, Apuntes, pp. 246-249—although that is taken through five stages, with more indicated. Here we find the initial ‘blintz’ creasing of the square, producing a “blastotetragon”; next, the standard ‘pinwheel’ manipulation of the folds, whose “gastrulation” result, while flat, is thicker (note emphasis on material); third – at least according to David Lister – a further blintzing of the thickening model, to produce a strongly 3-D, standing ‘pocket’ form. (See Lister, “Miguel de Unamuno: Paperfolder”, FOLD 1994/ rev. March 2011, p. 12.)

For (sane) explanatory history of ‘pajarita’, word and thing, we have at least two careful studies. According to Vicente Palacios, Papirogami: Tradicional Arte del Papel Plegado (Barcelona: Miguel Salvatella, 1972), the term’s root is the Roman passer, sparrow, extended to small perching birds generally—thus passerine—possibly moving through an old Spanish game of paxara pinta, but in any case spreading through Europe and becoming part of Spanish culture, in which paperfolding in general is traditionally termed hacer pajaritas. David Lister’s conclusion is less definite: see his Pajarita, The Lister List.[back]

20A number of important themes—technological, artistic and metaphysical—are introduced here, as Unamuno continues joking and serious at the same time.[back]

21“Modern conception”: in this paragraph Unamuno crucially broadens “pajarita”’s traditional extension to a variety of “modern” paper-fold forms—notably his own pájaro sabio (so named by the Catalan Noel Clarasó) and related models based on the Japanese bird base. (For an explanation of this generalization and the Clarasó reference, see Palacios, Papirogami, pp. 19-22, 27.)[back]

22Since ‘head’ and ‘tail’, unlike ‘wing’, points of bird bases are formed by halving 45° angles, how could Unamuno claim originality? One answer is that his claim here is only for his ‘pajaritas’, which, unlike traditional cranes, stand on the ground, absent wings for spreading or flapping, thus opening on a wider group of standing models. Furthermore, the model shown in his photo is no simple variant of a bird base – and even, in Palacios’ diagram (Papirogami, p. 122), is formed crucially by further “rigorous” 45°/2 angle sideways turns for its legs.[back]

23With a shift from matters of design form to those of designing, Unamuno’s philosophical mischief passes from issues of formal and material causes to those of final (purposive) and efficient (effector) causes (to use Scholastic terms), thus to topics of purpose or design versus material or ‘accidental’ causes. Thereby they pass from metaphysical issues of individuation within forms, essences, to that of the evolution of the forms themselves – which old, conservative orders resist.[back]

24Circles packed tightly together always leave spaces between. The regular figure closest to a circle (i.e. not a triangle, rectangle, rhombus) that will pack without leaving such gaps (i.e. not a pentagon) is the hexagon – as we find in tessellations of hives, crystals, convection currents and so forth. The next note describes how Darwin invoked this geometrical fact to show why beehives of tessellated hexagons provide the most economical use of space and wax, conferring survival advantage.[back]

25 Unamuno here refers to a crucial argument of Darwin’s Origin of Species, ch. VII, “Instinct”, where Darwin shows how bees and wasps willy-nilly (without purposes) automatically construct hexagonal cells in hives, given their regular procedures of (a) simultaneously forming a number of (b) adjoining cells, of approximately (d) same-sized, (e) cylindrical shapes in soft wax. This section of the letter compresses the last pages of Apuntes” where don Fulgencio, dismissing Darwin’s model as a modo de cigarrillos en paquete [!], exclaims: ¡Oh ceguedad [blindness] de la razón humana, y á qué extremos conduces á los infelices mortales! ¡oh astucias [tricks] del Enigmo malo [the Evil One]!” (pp. 263f). The mischief of Unamuno’s satire continues as his fatuous author furnishes comparative diagrams, with which Darwin might have demonstrated how hexagons save an enormous amount of space and wax.[back]

26Another brilliant argument inOrigin of Species, ch. XIII, against not only the forceful Aristotelian functional-design biology but also earlier approaches to evolution, is via embryological evidence of functionless forms: e.g. calves exhibiting rudimentary molars of ancestral forms not preserved in mature cattle. Embryonic development has recently become an important area of evolution science (as ‘evo-devo’).[back]

27 With reference to Exodus 7.12, predestination apologist John Calvin wrote with casuistic ingenuity, regarding Romans 9:17-18, on “Pharaoh’s predestination to destruction”: “[His] character was given him by God …. Paul’s purpose is to make us accept the fact that it has seemed good to God to enlighten some in order that they might be saved, and blind others in order that they might be destroyed …. Paul does not inform us that the ruin of the ungodly is foreseen by the Lord, only that it is ordained by His counsel and will” (Commentary on Romans, 1539). Cp Apuntes, p. 265.[back]

28That folding pajaritas, also his sense of humor, may somewhat have consoled our philosopher, even during his last, difficult days thirty-four years later, with the rise of Fascism and civil war, is indicated by his signed and dated model of an avechucho (ugly bird), dated a month and half before his death during house arrest (Palacios, Papirogami, p. 122; from an existing, signed model). We may wonder whether the variant Unamuno signed and dated then depicts a vulture.[back]