Location: Liverpool (Birds)

The birds in Liverpool are as ubiquitous as in Hrisey. Today, on the plot of derelict land behind the Oxfam on Bold Street, was a mist of birds. It was like droplets of water expelled from a sneeze. There was no pattern to their movement, but they descended and curbed. They were free radicals, looking for that second electron. Nothing around them was sage while they made their search. There were seagulls and pigeons.

 

Unlike the birds in Hrisey, they felt no need to scream at each other. There was no need to project the ego. The ease of their coexistence was not a facade. These birds are all as starved and battered as each other. In flight, at least, they gain nothing from killing each other. On the ground the situation is different. I have often seen pigeons squabbling over the scraps of bread left for them on the damp concrete.  Sad nutritionally null scraps as a trophy.

 

***

 

The birds, the birds. I return to them like a foot on the clutch. Their intelligence is unknowable.  A crow appears as a post-war intellectual. The seagulls are romantic poets, of course, and are sprinkled with such disdain for the technological revolution that it makes them attack us and try to steal our chips. Wagtails are divas and love to dance to the sound of construction. Pigeons are grafters and survivalists. Magpies are like crows -intellectuals- but are intellectuals in the form of dandies. They love parties, both hosting and attending, and performing their intellectualism through dress and character. Owls are the stoner friend we all have who supersedes normalitythrough a complete removal of themselves from The System. Ducks are militant communists. They have violent tendencies but their vision, at least, is to be admired. Ravens are beyond categorisation: they are each excruciatingly individuated and intelligent in many differing forms. They can only be grouped together by their eloquence and strong sense of self.

 

Nutcrackers are artists. They hoard resources, claim territories. The Spotted Nutcracker is the intellectual artist: articulate, ambivalent, coolly dispassionate about the everyday. They jump straight to what matters. Their life is the embodiment of their ideas and they don't allow extraneous matters into their life. They're a sniper rifle. Clark's Nutcracker is the shotgun. They are a dabbler, following their passions as they arise. Their emotions take them where they need to be. Their aesthetic and practice is all-encompassing as their interest in the world swells. Nothing is sacred and all can be recycled or recombined.

 

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I like to play these metaphorical games. Assigning metaphors to objects/subjects is the best way to prove the limitations of analogies. It reveals the restlessness of reality when language attempts to buckle it into its seat. Perhaps in time a better analogy can be found with repeated attempts, but models are just that. Its a mode of play to attempt to arrest the real. Like children pretending to be chefs, we act as though we can capture the world. The accuracy will never be 100% but surely we can get close - like how children don't really become adults but just improve their skills. (We are all well-skilled children).

 

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But back to the birds (they, like the ping of a notification, punctuate my day and lasso attention towards them.) The birds are definitely subject to class distinctions. The Corvids are the intellectuals of course. That refinement of plumage is the uniform of the newly enlightened intellectual class. Pigeons are the anarchistic proletariat. They supersede gender norms. Their plumage is functional - with a hint of lavishness around the neck - as though beauty could protect those delicate structures within. They’re horrified when they procreate for inflicting this world on an innocent child. The squabs are rejected.  

But the squabs survive: street smart and savvy as they are. Familial ties are a hang-up of an old regime and instead alliances of power and outlook are much more functional. Ideology and power move too rapidly for the long-term commitment of family to cope with the strain. The family you can choose as needed is the family unit borne of capitalism, and these poor feathered creatures are the embodiment of the consumerist turn on blood ties.