Friday, May 03, 2019
In the New Yorker, Karl Ove Knausgaard on being a bird.
Who would not cast away all concern and simply live, simply be? It’s a question that has divided philosophers. According to Søren Kierkegaard, to be present in the world—to be present to oneself in being today, as he put it—is barely distinguishable from entering God’s kingdom. To Martin Heidegger, animals are “poor in the world,” captives of their surroundings and functions, as if hypnotized by them. Their joy is that they know nothing else. But when I look at Gill’s birds again, this whole issue dissolves. It belongs to thoughts, to the writing desk and to books, whereas the birds are in the world, perched on a pillar above the grass, which is long and dry with summer. The air is warm and busy, as it so often is on this flat expanse of land. The bird, a pigeon, sits motionless, looking out into the landscape. Its eyes are as round as marbles, and while compared with our own eyes something much simpler shines in them, their light is nevertheless recognizable to us, for it is life itself.
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