Sunday, May 22, 2011

The Error of Pessimism II

[Warning: Some of you may find the photograph below, of a dead bird embryo, upsetting, so if you're squeamish, please don't look...]

I was walking in the woods earlier this afternoon when I saw the dead bird embryo next to its egg on the path in front of me. There was another nearby, but this one looked so vulnerable and pathetic that I had to take its picture. I imagine that it fell (or was pushed) out of a nest high above. After seeing this, I was depressed for hours, but the aesthetician in me (if such an ungainly word exists) liked the colour and composition of the photo enough to feel like posting it. And this is as much a part of Nature as the sweep of a landscape bathed in sunlight, or the beautiful intricacy of a flower. The photograph is below the video (so that the potential reader has a chance to read the warning before seeing it).


Claude said...

How I understand...You want to pick him up, and breathe life into him so that he can continue to grow to completion.

I was a student nurse of 21, when I saw a human fetus in a bedpan, in an hospital bathroom. It was still pulsating with life. I vowed that, from then on, I would fight with all my power for the rights of a child to be born. I'm still at it. Teaching, in schools and clinics, efficient methods of birth control, and the option of adoption in case of unwanted pregnancies.

Of course, I was never allowed, in catholic schools, to speak of the use of condoms. The only prevention (offered by the roman senile bishops) is abstention. Which is why you will still see, in the back alleys of overpopulated, predominantly catholic countries, pictures similar to the one you're presenting.

So infinitely sad and tragic..... whether it's a baby bird or a human child.

My thoughts are with you.

A Doubtful Egg said...

Thanks, Claude. I will respond in more detail at another time.

A Doubtful Egg said...

To be honest, the issue of abortion didn't cross my mind; it seemed more indicative of the harshness and indifference of Nature. After all, abortion is a choice, whereas this bird's death was simply part of the everyday violence that permeates the natural world, and if it had grown to full life it probably would have killed other creatures to survive. An earthworm has a far different view of a blackbird than I do. For me the forest is beautiful and restful, but that's because I'm the biggest thing on legs in it and there are no predators large enough to threaten me.
Thank you, however, for sharing your experiences with me. Abortion remains a very difficult and emotive subject, and one which, as a man, I don't feel entirely qualified to discuss. But I think we can agree on the revolting way in which the Catholic Church (and the soon-to-be St John Paul II (patron saint of cover-ups, perhaps)) has used its influence to promote ideas about contraception in AIDS-ridden Africa that are, in my view, a crime against humanity.

A Doubtful Egg said...

Regular commenter Claude left the following comment, last night, which due to a certain amount of confusion on my part was deleted. I apologise for this, and reproduce it here:

"Actually, D.E., we agree 99%.
So often, abortion is a choice simply because better choices (which would have prevented the pregnancy, or would have allowed the child to be born, and given to loving parents) have never been offered and explored.
My only problem is when abortion is chosen, not out of ignorance but out of laziness, as the easiest way to get rid of an unborn child. And sometimes in the 5th month of a pregnancy.
Having said that I blame the Catholic Church for, not only exposing a woman to sexually transmitted diseases, but for putting such a stigma on out-of-marriage pregnancies, and for condemning abortions so strongly. Many women are caught in an impossible situation. They put themselves in great danger by seeking privately (out of shame and despair) back-alley butchers to terminate the growing life.
Thank you for allowing me to share my thoughts and nursing experiences. We're far away from your poor little bird. As you said so well, it's a tough world! At every level...
Wishing you the best. Always."

Stan said...

You're right, of course, that this lost bird is as much a part of Nature as anything else. Most of us default to a particular aesthetic that doesn't include such sights; we might even recoil in horror and repulsion just because something isn't cute and fluffy the way it's 'meant' to be. And of course, it reminds us acutely of our mortality, and of the world's ultimate indifference to us. But these, too, should be embraced, or at least accepted squarely.

A Doubtful Egg said...

Accepted rather than embraced, I think! And, to a certain degree, fought against: it is despicable when the indifference of Nature is used to excuse human callousness, whether towards other human beings or, to a far lesser degree, towards animals.
But such images interest me precisely because they contradict the 'cute and fluffy' anthropomorphism which is fed to us regularly in books and films (as children especially) and it irritates me when people call them morbid or voyeuristic. It baffles me that many people would call such an image "tasteless" or "upsetting", then go off and tuck into a roast-chicken-and-ham dinner, without ever considering just how the meat on their plate went from being a feathered, breathing creature to a hunk of seared flesh.
Another time, near where I found the dead bird, I came across the severed leg of a rabbit while with my dog; it was most likely a fox who had torn the poor creature to pieces for food. But when I saw my dog sniffing it, his big teeth visible, it was clear that he would be easily capable of such destruction. This is why rabbits, when spotted, run like hell; because they live in fear.
Sorry for rambling, but it's a wet Thursday and I'm stuck at home!