pbs Digest, Vol 46, Issue 15

Max Withers maxwithers@gmail.com
Tue, 14 Nov 2006 11:10:43 PST
Jim McKenny and other systematists will enjoy an essay by Borges, in 
which he writes:

    These ambiguities, redundancies and deficiencies remind us of those
    which doctor Franz Kuhn attributes to a certain Chinese encyclopedia
    entitled /The Celestial Emporium of Benevolent Knowledge/. In its
    remote pages it is written that the animals are divided into
    a. belonging to the Emperor
    b. embalmed
    c. trained
    d. pigs
    e. sirens
    f. fabulous
    g. stray dogs
    h. included in this classification
    i. trembling like crazy
    j. innumerable
    k. drawn with a very fine camelhair brush
    l. et cetera
    m. just broke the vase
    n. from a distance look like flies

It is on the web:

I would only add that although molecular phylogeny can establish a 
taxonomy that is more objectively true than the Chinese encyclopedia's, 
the categories relevant to gardeners more often resemble the latter. 
E.g., the relationship of a Lachenalia sp. to other Hyacinthaceae 
(genetic) is not as useful to know as its relationship to, say, Protea 
cynaroides (habitat).

Max Withers

> Message: 7
> Date: Mon, 13 Nov 2006 17:57:31 -0500
> From: "Jim McKenney" <jimmckenney@jimmckenney.com>
> Subject: Re: [pbs] Taxonomy help
> To: "'Pacific Bulb Society'" <pbs@lists.ibiblio.org>
> Message-ID: <000601c70777$1a14ec70$2f01a8c0@Library>
> Content-Type: text/plain;	charset="us-ascii"
> ...
> And once more people loosen up about this and realize that these family
> assignments are not an objective reality but rather informed opinions, then
> we gardeners might stop worrying about getting it exactly "right".   

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