Morley Martin: Another Juan Rodolfo Wilcock Portrait.


This time I thought that I would add one of my translations of Wilcock’s ‘The Temple of the Iconoclasts’  (or as the title is in Italian ‘ The Synagogue of the Iconoclasts’). It is entitled Morley Martin. (I translated it in late 1991 and can’t check the original so it is sure to be a rather poor translation). It is one of Wilcock’s portraits of strangely obsessed scientists who either had a fixed idea or made some entirely absurd new discovery. Here is the portrait.

In 1836 the Englishman Andrew Crosse had the pleasant surprise while carrying out a number of electrical experiments of witnessing the birth of several minute insects from a mixture of minced minerals. Crosse saw the following through the lens of his microscope:

On the fourteenth day of the experiment I observed a number of whitish protuberances, nipple-like, that appeared on the electrified mineral. On the eighteenth day these protuberances grew on the optic field and on each of the nipples there were six or seven filaments. On the twenty-first day, the protuberances grew clearer and longer and on the twenty-sixth day each of them assumed the form of a perfect insect, upright on the bundle of hairs that formed its tail. Up until this moment I believed it was merely a case of mineral formations but on the twenty-eighth day there clearly appeared small creatures which began to move their legs. I was most astonished.”

In this way he witnessed the birth of hundreds of midges. As soon as they were born the midges abandoned the microscope and went flying around the room and then would hide themselves in dark spaces. As soon as he had heard of this discovery a friend of Crosse- a certain Weeks from Sandwich, also a researcher and microscopist, decided to repeat the experiment obtaining an identical result. One may read of the exact circumstances of this strange experiment in the ‘Memoirs of Andrew Crosse‘ collected by a relative in 1857, in the ‘History of the Thirty Year Peace‘ by Harriet Martineau (1849) and in ‘Oddities: Unexplained Facts and Events‘ (1928) by the Second Commander Ruper T.

In 1927 in his private laboratory in Andover, the Englishman Morley martin took a piece of Archeozoic rock and subjected it to a process of calcination until it was reduced to ashes: from these ashes via a secret and complicated chemical process, he extracted a certain quantity of primordial protoplasm. Carefully avoiding any contact with the surrounding air, Martin subjected the substance to X-rays and slowly witnessed the emergence on the optic field of an incredible quantity of living microscopic animals and vegetables and above all small fish. In a few squared centimetres, the researcher succeeded in counting fifteen thousand minute fish.

This obviously meant that these organisms had remained in a latent life-state for billions of years from the Archeozoic era until 1927. This dismaying discovery was published in a pamphlet entitled ‘The Reincarnation of Animal and Plant Life from Protoplasm Isolated from the Mineral Kingdom‘ (1934). To this discovery the writer Maurice Maeterlinck dedicated a chapter of his book ‘La Grande Porte‘ (1939). Nowadays, the booklet of Martin is almost impossible to find but one is able to read a description of this remarkable experiment in the Maeterlinck volume:

  Grown in size under the lens of the microscope, one could glimpse the appearance of certain globules inside the protoplasm: several vertebrae were formed in these globules, these then formed a column in which there clearly appears the member, the head and the eyes. Usually such transformations took place very slowly requiring days but at times they would take place under the eyes of the observers. A crustacean, for example, hardly had it developed its legs would leave the microscopic field and disappear. These living forms move at times and grow as long as they find sufficient nutrition in the protoplasm that has given birth to them. Afterwards, they either stop growing or else devour each other. Morley Martin has, however, succeeded in keeping them alive thanks to a secret serum of his.

This discovery of Morley Martin, unfortunately since unrepeated, was acclaimed by the Theosophists especially since it confirmed Madame Blavatsky’s Theory of the Archetype of Primordial Life as arising from the period of earthly fires and gasses from which the evolutionary process has developed today’s well-known forms. Several years later, on the tracks of Martin, Wilhelm Reich discovered in the warm Norwegian sands a myriad of azure vesicles also alive and bursting with sexual energy and named biones by Reich. These biones are formed in bunches and then organize themselves into protozoe, ameboe and parmecli bursting with sexual desire and libido (Wilhelm Reich ‘Biopathy of Cancer‘, 1948).




About afoniya

I am a translator, language teacher, independent film scholar who is interested in many aspects of culture. I have my own blog on Russian and Soviet cinema at and I have also written for journals such as Film Philosophy and Bright Lights as well as Ribbed magazine. Outside of film my interest runs to language, politics, literature and my world is centred around the Meditteranean, Russia, Southern Ukraine as well as the UK.

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