Sunday, January 23, 2005

In praise of coots

Stranded in California! Have finished Home Land and The Maltese Falcon and am halfway through The Hamilton Case -- all of these are excellent. Last night I picked up Tanizaki's In Praise of Shadows, an essay of about 40 pages, and read it straight through. I first heard of it while reading the terrific In Praise of Blandness (about the sublime "bland" element in Chinese thought and aesthetics) last year; I'd also read In Praise of Slowness, a disappointing treatise-cum-self-help-book on how we should slow down and savor life. Is there a copy of In Praise of Folly somewhere in this house?

Remember the dream I had where I walked on water? Feeding bread and assorted non-bread leftovers to the birds at the manmade pond, I noticed that coots actually manage to Jesus-strut in dramatic fashion. Their strange feet are apparently adapted for this purpose. I have not seen coots flying, and wonder if they are, like hens, more or less flightless (in terms of being able to propel themselves through the air).

Your friend,
Charles Darwin


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