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The Paradise Paradox

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Connections linking probability theories to improbable variables turn out to be the way of the world, from the slaughter of sheep on islands in the North Atlantic, to the animal’s reincarnation in the van Eyck brothers’ Ghent Altarpiece, to another favorite son of Ghent, Leo Baekeland, whose research into terpenes and synthetic resins would contribute to the proliferation of plastic pollution throughout the world, but also help the very conservators working to restore the van Eyck brothers’ masterpiece.


  • Ghent Altarpiece
  • Jan van Eyck
  • Faroes
  • St. Kilda
  • Bakelite

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  • DOI: 10.1007/978-3-030-64526-7_12
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  2. 2.

    “Firefighters Rescue Fat Rat From Trapped Sewer,”, Accessed March 1, 2019.

  3. 3.

    See Island on the Edge of the World – The Story of St. Kilda, by Charles Maclean, Taplinger Publishing Co., New York, 1980, pp. 11, 108, and 142.

  4. 4.

    See Paradiso – The Illuminations to Dante’s Divine Comedy by Giovanni di Paolo, by John Pope-Hennessy, Thames and Hudson Ltd., London, 1993, p. 33.

  5. 5.

    From the Cassell & Company, Limited edition, Edited, With Notes And A Life Of Milton by Robert Vaughan, London, Paris, New York & Melbourne, 1890, p. 329.

  6. 6.

    Exodus 12.1-4.

  7. 7.

    John 1:29 – See Preacher’s Institute, “About the Paschal Lamb,” by Fr. John A. Peck, May 7, 2013, Accessed March 1, 2019.

  8. 8.

    Landmarks of the Plastics Industry. England: Imperial Chemical Industries Ltd., Plastics Division. 1962. pp. 13–25.

  9. 9., Accessed January 24, 2020.

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    See “Plastic Pollution,” by Hannah Ritchie and Max Roser, September 2018, Our World In Data,, Accessed January 24, 2020.

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    “The Nilgiris battling to stay plastic free,” Staff Reporter, The Hindu, December 24, 2018,, Accessed January 25, 2020.

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    “Map reveals ‘scourge’ of Scotland’s coastal litter problem,” BBC News, 28 August 2018, n.a.,, Accessed January 25, 2020.

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    See “Seabirds and marine plastic debris in Scotland -A synthesis and recommendations for monitoring,” by Nina J O’Hanlon, Neil A James, Elizabeth A Masden, Alexander L Bond, Circular Ocean, Environmental Research Institute, North Highland College,, May 2017, Though this was a somewhat preliminary study, researchers found that 20% of the 69 common Scottish seabird species had ingested various levels of plastic.

  14. 14.

    See WebMuseum, Paris, “Gothic Innovation in the North,”, © 19 Sep 2002, Nicolas Pioch.

  15. 15.

    See “Ghent Altarpiece: latest phase of restoration unmasks the humanized face of the Lamb of God,” by Hannah McGivern, 18th December 2019, The Art Newspaper,, Accessed January 24, 2020. See also, “Unsettled by the Dead Animals in Your Paint? Welcome to the World of Vegan Art Supplies,” by Dylan Kerr, August 8, 2017, Art World,,of%20things%20to%20forget%20about. See also, “The Bad Vegetarian Artist: Animal Products In Watercolour Supplies,” by Lee Angold, November 24, 2017,; and, “Kaia Natural Watercolor – Animal derived ingredients in paint and art supplies,” September 14, 2019. Taken collectively, animal deaths involved in the overall painter’s arsenal may include: Cochenille lice, animal bones, cuttlefish, chicken eggs, Murex snails, human remains (at least during the Renaissance), cow livers, ox gall, animal glycerin, animal fats, animal collagen, rabbit skin glue, mink, camel and sable hairs. See, Accessed July 8, 2020.

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Tobias, M.C., Morrison, J.G. (2021). The Paradise Paradox. In: On the Nature of Ecological Paradox. Springer, Cham.

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