Wednesday, February 29, 2012

one more way of looking at a blackbird

I'm not sure if this fourteenth way of looking at a blackbird is a nod to Wallace Stevens' essential poem, but this rumination on blackbirds from Milan Kundera may help you put the Romneys, Santorums, Fox Newsies, and Tea Partiers in their insignificant places. 
"Over the last two hundred years the blackbird has abandoned the woods for the city -- first in Great Britain at the end of the eighteenth century, then several decades later in Paris and the Ruhr Valley. Throughout the  nineteenth century it captured the cities of Europe one after the other. It settled in Vienna and Prague around 1900, and journeyed eastward to Budapest, Belgrade, and Istanbul.
"Globally, the blackbird's invasion of the human world is beyond a doubt more important than the Spaniards' invasion of  South America or the resettlement of Palestine by the Jews. A change in the relationship of one species to another (fish, birds, people, plants) is a change of a higher order than a change in the relationship of one or another group within the species. The earth does not particularly care whether Celts or Slavs inhabited Bohemia, whether Romanians or Russians occupy Bessarabia. If, however, the blackbird goes against nature and follows man to his artificial, anti-natural world, something has changed in the planetary order of things.
"And yet nobody dares to interpret the last two centuries as the history of the blackbird's invasion of the city of man. We are all prisoners of a rigid conception of what is important and what is not. We anxiously follow what we suppose to be important, while what we suppose to be unimportant wages guerrilla warfare behind our backs, transforming the world without our knowledge and eventually mounting a surpise attack on us."
-- The Book of Laughter and Forgetting
(trans. from Czech by M.H. Heim, pp.196-197 of 1981 Penguin pbk)

Go out and watch the chickadees and cardinals by your bird feeders, or the pigeons on your stoop. There are truths there.  (There are probably none in anything you might find on TV tonight, or in a blog).

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