Thursday, January 06, 2005

One of my presents over the holidays was the book Astonish Yourself! 101 Experiments in the Philosophy of Everyday Life by Roger-Pol Droit. It's full of all sorts of weird and cool exercises to help you see the world freshly. (The first exercise I found when I opened the book was "Drink while urinating"! The author promises "bizarre sensations almost immediately".)

I was very excited to stumble upon Exercise 35: Contemplate a dead dird. I have been contemplating dead birds--mainly fictional ones--for the last few years, of course, and never imagined that others would see fit to write about the experience of starting at bird corpses. I particularly like these two paragraphs:

"If you look closely enough, you'll probably find the sight a sad one initially. A life snuffed out. A body misplaced, a bird lying on the ground, all stiff. Something resembling defeat and failure. The experiment consists of going beyond that, by seeing more and more clearly and distinctly.

"You see that the bird will never live again. And also that it feels nothing. That this is how it is, beyond help and complain. Innocent of nostalgia or recrimination. The longer you look the clearer it should become that there is nothing, concerning this little corpse, that can be cause for regret. There is only the present. And you start to realize that it is perfect. Because it is the only tense there is."

I wish my character Ava could have seen the dead birds this way!

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