My recent posts have showcased breathtaking scenery in the USA’s national parks, but I’m ready for a little side trip. I promise to come back with more scenery. There are still heaps of great views of the parks, but today I’m going to revisit a blog post I wrote five years ago.
It was a simple enough post, featuring the many butterflies we saw at the magnificent Iguazu Falls that straddle Brazil and Argentina.
So why revisit a post?
Turns out two of those butterflies are a bit special.
In 2015, Derryl Rice from Parmenides Publishing posted a comment, asking if they could use the image of a red and black butterfly—a Dryas iulia. He wrote ‘It would be for a philosophy book cover. It’s a wonderful shot that would fit the cover perfectly. Time is of the essence as we are going to press, if you could let us know soon it would be appreciated.’
I sent the photo off straightaway and, in due course, I was sent a copy of the book. It is part of a series about the The Six Enneads—the collection of writings by Plotinus, a major Greek-speaking philosopher of the ancient world.
Having never studied the subject, I didn’t know butterflies are significant in philosophy. So I went exploring and found an article by Raymond Tallis in Philosophy Now about Zhuangzi. Tallis says this great classical thinker ‘fell asleep one day and dreamed that he was a butterfly. When he woke up, he did not know whether he really was a man who had dreamed he was a butterfly or whether he was a butterfly now dreaming he was a man. The story is intended as more than a charming episode in the life of a sage: it is meant to make a philosophical point about what we take to be real. Our dreams are utterly compelling, and so long as we are dreaming, we think they are real.’ If you are interested, Tallis’ full article is here.
I was thrilled to have my photo used (plus they paid me a little for the right and named me as the photographer). At the time, I meant to write about the book and pic, but got sidetracked with other travels.
Then a little earlier this year, I got more interesting messages on that blog post. Roberto R. Greve wrote and identified all the butterflies. In my original post, I identified only two by name (turns out I was wrong about both) and the rest by colours.
Greve asked specifically about one specimen. ‘I am a butterfly researcher, this beautiful orange butterfly is an Emesis fatimella. I would like to ask where and when it was photographed, was it on the Brazilian or Argentine side of the falls? Congratulations, it’s a new record for Iguassu!’
I was gobsmacked. To think I had photographed a butterfly not seen before in the area. I replied with the date and location of the photo—December 2012 on the Argentine side.
Greve replied, ‘Thank you very much. This information is very important for us, to know in what time of year this butterfly can be seen in the region. You guys were really lucky to be photographing this. I’ve done research in the area for almost 11 years and I’ve never seen it!’