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Thursday, April 10, 2008

Six Word Birding Meme

I've been tagged by BirdingGirl. What is birding, for me, in six words?

Grasping the glorious fourfold of being.

Lets take this as a rough draft. If you are into Heidegger, this might mean something for you. For the rest of us, a little explanation is in order.

In his later writings German philosopher Martin Heidegger described the world in which we live as the interplay between what he calls the fourfold: earth, sky, divinities, and mortals.

So lets look at my six word definition of birding, word by word.

Grasping: Tough to find the right word here, but in birding, I do think that we seek to possess or somehow seek a connection with the birds. And if we are really into it, not just birds, but the whole everything that birds are, including all of their connections. But more on that in a minute. To grasp is not to hold delicately. Birding is not a delicate operation. It is a visceral activity that somehow connects my inner soul to...well, the glorious fourfold!

The: this might seem like a wasted word, but it somehow conveys the unity that underlies all things. Being, if you will.

Glorious: There is something about birds, and everything around them, that radiates, that goes beyond their merely being present for us to see. A glory, power, electricity, energy--something that charges you up and shakes your whole soul.

Fourfold: So here we go--birds unite earth, sky, divinities, and morals.
Earth: Birds are of the earth. Earthy. They have solid substance, feathers, bones, sinews. Their colors reflect their surroundings, they are tied to the ground that gives a support for the places they build the nests from which they emerge.
Sky: Birds more than many other creatures seem to embody the sky as well, through flight. Who doesn't like to watch birds soar through the air, or hasn't dreamed of joining them there?
Divinities: In some cultures, birds are messengers from the Gods. In some of the Mayan communities, the word for bird is the same word for spirit. Regardless of your views on that, I see something eternal, a spark of the divine, when I stare into the eye of a bird. A reflection of a shared eternal existence.
Mortals: And birds are mortal. Like us, they die. We can kill them. In rare cases, they might even kill us. Just as we share a spark of the divine, we share a mouldering future as our bodies slip back into that from which we came.

Of Being: We are all part of the all, of being, mere reflections of each other and parts of the whole. The Cooper's Hawk crashing through the tree in pursuit of the robin is in some sense myself. As is the robin. And the tree. Bound together. Birding is just a recognition and celebration of that. Through birding we embrace, in a dance of being. Wrestling together. Its not about the birds. Its about us. All of us. Sealed together for the eternities.

So, how's this for my 'final' draft--what is birding?

Embracing earth, sky, divinities, and mortals.


Image: avians.net

5 comments:

Paul Ennis. said...

Nice post. They make for a nice example of Earth since animals, at least in the Heideggerean sense, are without world. That is a bugbear of mine since they seem to open up their own, albeit, limited world. Of course animals also do not have being (only Da-Sein does) so the 'the' works quite well. They are part of a referential totality to which we do not belong and so they make the perfect messengers.

birdchaser said...

Thanks Paul. Yeah, there's still a lot to do to explore animal worlds. I was working on this a bit with my Master's degree, but lost support for that when one of my committee members left, so haven't been wandering Heideggerean paths for awhile. Hope to pick it up a bit more sometime. Meanwhile, I bird!

PA-Birder said...

Sounds like a good basis for a doctoral thesis, but I prefer Descartes, "I Bird, therefore I am." Only 5 words though.
Vern

birdchaser said...

I thought it was "I bird, that's why I'm late."

BirdingGirl said...

Rob, this is great! This is really interesting for me because one of my best friends is actually a Heidegger philosopher. Nice work- I think you certainly developed your meme more than any other participating bird blogger.

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