That was it, the longest night of the year. It’s over now. I didn’t send out a solstice greeting yesterday or last night because I was otherwise engaged. You might remember that last year on the winter solstice I hinted that we were involved in an obelisk improvement project:
Last night the birds and I were so anxious and excited you’d have thought we were landing a capsule on a comet! Our engineering feats were stone-age in sophistication, but considering the primary workmen were birds who have not evolved opposable thumbs, we are justifiably proud.
I think this is the coolest present the birds have ever given me, if you except the time black swan helped me get up here.
A niche! I’ve always wished I had a niche. Of course I’ve self-sequestered myself in an obelisk and an odalisque who shuns the world and makes a random scrapbook of fragments and bizarre conversations about birds, flinging that scrapbook out into a world where everyone is obviously sharing everything they make/do/think everyday in their very actual, materially measurable lives for un-anonymous readers to “identify with”, has no obvious niche. Once there was a niche, but it was unsatisfactory. It involved Moroccan tiles, a titillating fountain, perhaps a voluptuous urn, and a conspicuous absence of clothing around key body parts. Later, our niche was behind the heavy european draperies of studios and salons. Blessedly, we escaped those niches.
Where is the niche for an odalisque in an obelisk who converses with birds?
HERE IT IS. I have a niche. Right here in my obelisk. And this niche…it is VERY SPECIAL which is why I did not send you any solstice greetings to get you through that long dark night (at least it wasn’t so cold this year). I have been fixedly watching, with all birds, MY NICHE.
This is what happened when, from the longest long night, the sun crept over the horizon, slipping the first frugal but encouraging slivers through my single window:
Wait…what WAS that?
Don’t find your niche, make one. With the help of your friends.
Astronomically significant greetings to you and all your beloveds this winter season,
Side 2, Groove 3: [inaudible]
On New Year’s Day, crow became a parrot.
I asked him how he did this. Here is our conversation:
disregard the moon and all arrangements of stars.
if stones stand be sure light nowhere specially shines.
do not go to the great tree in the forest, the one that is itself and all its ancestors.
light no fire.
scatter no grain.
spill no milk no honey no blood.
do not mark yourself with stakes or nails or knives or thorns, the bones of dead creatures or the inks of poisonous flowers.
know who you are and choose
to behave differently.
i went to sleep on my usual branch.
it doesn’t matter what i dreamed. the dream was of myself.
when i awoke, i cracked one eye like crow. then i opened both eyes like parrot. i flashed my wings like parrot. i did not caw i squawked.
what is the difference between parrot and crow?
what do you know? i choose how i act.
pretty parrot pirate ship. squawking word mirror.
what do you know? i know crow
stole you something shiny to rob you of your lustre.
is that a mirror?
where where going
you are you
are you are
(read the last conversation with the crow here.)
Odalisque sits at her desk. “WHERE ARE YOU GOING.”
Odalisque steeps her tea. “WHERE ARE YOU GOING. HELLO.”
Odalisque leaps to the window when Hawk or Black Swan or anybird, anybird at all, blessedly arrives in the window to save her from Crow. “WHERE ARE YOU GOING,” says Crow.
“Hello,” says my bird guest friend. “HELLO,” squawks Crow. Shut up Crow! I don’t know where I’m going. I’m in an obelisk for solstice’s sake, and it was a lot of work to get up here. (as portrayed in my movie.) Leave me alone!
Despite the fact that I did not choose Crow’s vocabulary, Owl, in an attempt to be helpful, brought me this: Things to keep in mind when choosing your parrot’s vocabulary.
1. Avoid Profanity.
Profanity is the use of profane language, and profane language is that which is not concerned with religion, unholy because not consecrated, or that which debases what is holy. I was once considered profane, especially as compared to, say, a Madonna. So perhaps I should not try to teach Crow my name, The Odalisque.
2. Stay away from “catch phrases”
It’s always cute when talking birds chime in with something to say, but you want to make sure that what you teach them won’t get old or annoying after a while.
I take a book from my bed and flip the pages. How about:
I would like to step out of my heart, and go
walking beneath an enormous sky.
From you to you I go commanded. In between
the garland is hanging in chance; but if you
take it up and up and up look! All becomes festival!
For beauty is nothing but the beginning of terror,
which we still are just able to endure.
If drinking is bitter, change yourself to wine.
Is love: a murderer without a knife?
She moves the way clocks move.
I can’t imagine even lovely, ravenous phrases could preserve their dewy hunger if repeated as often as Crow says “Where are you going.” If I teach poetry, will Crow use it sparingly, with the wisdom & ken to perfectly brim a fine distillation into each moment’s goblet?
3. Think long-term!
There are many things that will remain constant in your bird’s life, and these are often the best sources for inspiration when trying to decide on the types of words and phrases that you’d like to add to your bird’s vocabulary. For example, your or your birds name…
CROW! squawks my parrot. ODALISQUE ODALISQUE ODALISQUE! No Crow, you can’t say that it is profane. OBELISK OBELISK OBELISK! Nor do I want to encourage any creature in my care to believe that anything in its life is constant. OCEAN OCEAN OCEAN. UNIVERSE UNIVERSE UNIVERSE. No Crow, all is in constant creative & destructive flux. MATTER MATTER ENERGY! MATTER MATTER ENERGY! I do not know, crow. I do not know. It is best to assume all, all will pass but nothingness, from which materiality and warmth may inevitably emerge.
4. Choose songs/music wisely
It’s best to select songs that are “classics.” Popular choices for many bird owners are nursery rhymes like “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star”, and various oldies from the 50’s and 60’s.
This guidance is very intriguing. It reminds me of Beckett who imagined mothers squatting to birth babies into their graves. Nursery rhymes & oldies…everything in between is tedium.
Twinkle twinkle little star how I wonder what you are, up above the sky so high. Like a diamond in the sky…
Crow before he was parrot would definitely have thought of the stars as diamonds, and coveted one for his stash. But Owl would bring us a book on astronomy, show Crow that the stars are luminous bodies of charged particles held together by gravity and fueled by thermo-nuclear fusion, and that would have been that for everybody but Phoenix who would know, as if in ecstatic vision, the nature of heaven.
True singing is a different breath, about
nothing. A gust inside the god. A wind.
5. Avoid alarming phrases.
Even if it seems like a humorous thing to do, there is a genuine risk that your bird could incite a fair level of panic given the right situation.
There are so many things that should incite a fair level of panic, but fail to. Related to number 3 above, perhaps I should teach Crow to regularly incite panic with words that remind me of my impermanence.
WHERE ARE YOU GOING WHERE ARE YOU GOING. HELLO.
Oh, hermetic Crow. Even as parrot, you outpace me.
Be ahead of all parting, as though it already were behind you, like the winter that has just gone by. For among these winters there is one so endlessly winter that only by wintering through it will your heart survive…
…To all that is used-up, and to all the muffled and dumb creatures in the world’s full reserve, the unsayable sums, joyfully add yourself, and cancel the count.
Fourth and final in my series of Immortal Portraits of my FASHIONable friends.
Crow insisted I make the first portrait. I’m sure it’s some kind of trick.
The second portrait is more representative.
Crow approved them both.
(Conversations with crow are indexed in the “Crow” category to your right.)