Wednesday, March 25, 2015

líexte se léoma ofer landa fela

In these festivities tonight in your Blue Hall, we honor the vitality of this great tradition, not just the few of us fortunate to receive its bounty. For those whose exploits are being sung here, Grendel is a symbol for other dangers (as doubtless he has always been): for disease and ignorance, for human greed and brutality. As Mike Bishop and I listen to your praise and music, accept your art and gold, and enjoy your food, drink, and good company, we recognize that, unlike Beowulf at the hall of Hrothgar, we have not slain our enemy, the cancer cell, or figuratively torn the limbs from his body. In our adventures, we have only seen our monster more clearly and described his scales and fangs in new ways - ways that reveal a cancer cell to be, like Grendel, a distorted version of our normal selves. May this new vision and the spirit of tonight's festivities inspire our band of biological warriors to inflict much greater wounds tomorrow.

- Harold E. Varmus, Nobel banquet speech, 1989