Wombats and nineteenth-century opinion

Wombats were admired for their stumpy strength, their patience, their placid, not to say congenial manners, and also a kind of stoic determination. Occasionally they were thought clumsy, insensible or even stupid, but these isolated observations are out of step with the majority of nineteenth-century opinion.

Angus Trumble

In The Public Domain Review, Trumble recounts how Pre-Raphaelite artists were obsessed with wombats and attempts to suss out how they’d learned about them in the first place. Fitting the possible sources into the timetable of modern philosophy, it occurred to me that Kant might have known nothing at all about wombats.

A ridiculous wombat drawn by Edward Burne-Jones.

Wombat facts

A. The name “News For Wombats” is a reference to a Monty Python bit.

B. Wombats poop cubes. There’s a recent study that’s been discussed widely on the internet about the mechanism by which they do this.

C. When I picked it as my Twitter handle, I didn’t realize how hard it would be to draw a wombat. The shaggy wombat sketch was my only successful attempt for the longest time. My attempts would end up looking like a bear, a monkey, or (sometimes) a pig.

After much practice, I’ve gotten a bit better. So today I updated the header graphic.

shaggy wombat sketch
The sketch that served as the blog header for a long time.