15 April 2013

Knowing increases amazement

The starling I knew personally was Max...I think of the years of he lived with us, of his excitements and irritations, his swearing (of the serious but not entirely discernible sort), his sotto voce mutterings, the instant connection be brought to me with a long-ago past. I think of the nature of his character, the exquisite sweetness of his evening solos as well as the extraordinary beauty of the bird, the gilded feathers, the neatness of wing as he flew around the house. After I got to know him, I'd like anew each evening at the cloud of swirling starlings, understanding that each of them was a Max was. Knowing increased my amazement at their individuality, at the magical coordination of their movement, the singular, transcendent beauty of this turning, sweeping cloud of birds. I used to wonder if they looked down from their elevated high-flying towards those of us watching from the pavement, and see only undifferentiated members of another species.
-- from Field Notes from a Hidden City by Esther Woolfson, who I joined yesterday in discussion with Stuart Kelly at Aye Write!

"The purpose of science is not to cure us of our sense of mystery and wonder, but to constantly reinvent and reinvigorate it," writes Robert Sapolsky.

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