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October 14, 2009

you're a parrot

From Alex and Me by Irene Pepperberg (which I'm not reading, but my wife Laura is):

I have no idea what was really going on in Alex's brain, but I do believe I understand why this story seems so touching. Alex learns that he happens to be a parrot. I happen to be a human being--and not just any human being, but exactly the one who happens to look back at me in mirrors (and who's about as gray as Alex was). It all seems a matter of luck. You could be you, you could be someone else, you could be a very smart African gray parrot, or you could be a sea slug. I imagine a creature walking, crawling, or flapping through life until the point when it is suddenly told what it is. What a blow that could be! Our identity seems completely vulnerable to the whims of chance, not even slightly under our control. I only hope that Alex--if he really learned what he was--was glad about it. That's about the best we can hope for.

October 14, 2009 9:00 AM | category: none


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