Wednesday, April 3, 2013
Meditations on the Urvogel
Between is a state of being for Archaeopteryx. No mere transitory stage, this; even at maturity, with greying feathers and dulled claws, the Archaeopteryx is always between, with attributes that may serve some future incarnation but now are more hindrance then help.
No matter. When between is your birthright, you learn to live with it. Predators on the ground, predators in the air, and between them is Archaeopteryx, sometimes falling prey to one, sometimes to another, destined to outpace them all. Daylight sees it beginning its everlasting quest for food, a quest that has it, as always, traversing every element, before night falls languorously over the lagoon and it retires to the tree branches to sleep.
Archaeopteryx is a jack of all trades, and a master of none. Battening on the insects that swarm over warm Jurassic waters, pursuing lizards up trees, plunging wildly into the shallow sea in search of fish, Archaeopteryx yearns for it all. Earthworms, dragonflies, beetles, lizards, small mammals, the fish of the lakes and seas, seeds, flowers, fruits, and the harvests of the mightiest trees. Straining its imperfect wings, Archaeopteryx jumps high, falls slowly, and glides long, but can never come out from between, and is always stopped at the threshold of great success.
Urvogel. Not just the old bird, but the original bird. The platonic ideal of transition. Noble, clumsy, ravening, starving, living, slipping from birth to death in a wild tumble of claws and feathers and new, new wings. Half one thing, half another, and yet, somehow, entirely its own.
Archaeopteryx offspring will be between as well. But in the long coming years, as the family splits and splits and splits again under the inexorable hand of chance, its descendants will finally step out and find a state of being to call their own, and no longer be forced careen through all of them.
(An old peace of writing I found and polished up. Probably heavily inspired by William Service, who's narration in The New Dinosaurs made a heavy impression on me as a kid.)