As Black As A Crow

I should have put some captions on the pictures of my last post to clarify their ornamental and explain their non-contextual function. First of all they showed a further sampling of my project to document the subtle transformation of the landscape in front of my office with a view, compliment of our adventure of living normality in an every man’s flat in the heartland of Switzerland. Then you were able to witness the many curious faces of a sunflower field plus some sights of my work related out of town stints with my students: the peaceful morning view over Lago Maggiore from Locarno and the burning midday sun over the Piazza del Duomo in Milan. I guess my wish was to share with you that little pearl of wisdom, which says that looking without knowing is very much closer to seeing, and certainly a good bit healthier than knowing without looking.

My office with a view is a very stable point of view and I have become in many ways a full-fledged member of normality. This would certainly be a scary think to look in the eye, were it not for the tranquilizing fact that there is a time limit imposed on this adventure of all adventures. Its end is now slowly coming in sight. Our rental agreement with the property management firm administering the three apartment towers at the Waldhofstrasse is coming to an end on September 30, where we will once again disengage from a sizeable chunk of ordinary life, rid ourselves of the thousand pieces of accumulation that inevitably happens where the external has to compensate for extinct internal riches and (finally!) get moving again. On September 18 I should have (finally!) fulfilled my contractual duties with the Education Department of the Kanton Bern, and the first days of the merry month of October will see us hoping across the Atlantic Ocean for a stopover in the Caribbean to get a first hand impression of the tireless works my good friends a the Kido Planet are doing. Then there should be time for a quick family visit in Colombia, before finishing our premature circumnavigation of the globe by jet planning down to the slim coastal stretch of Chili, from where the big pond of the Pacific will pass below our feet to end up at the beginning of the austral summer back aboard our trusted home and travel vehicle Aluna.

In the meantime another phenomenon of the Swiss airspace has caused ripples in my attention. It happens to take place the lower regions of the Helvetic atmosphere and it is of the opposite color when compared to the angelical white appearances described in last weeks post. As you will see it also lives closer to home and has caught the ever-vigilant eyes of the guardians of orderliness in this country’s highly structured public realm.

It’s the rooks, my friends! My friends, the rooks! They have been growing in numbers and hugely expanded their presence since I last lived here. And they sure are an unruly bunch! From our human perspective with its fast and thoughtless judgments their abrasive call feels vulgar, offensive, rude, almost barbaric or at the very least bad-tempered and ill humored. It generates anything else but sympathy.

These birds sharp intelligence on the other hand we cannot help to admire. They are tool-savvy and clear-sighted. You’ll find them ever attentive and hardly ever you can catch them off guard. But their survival strategy seems to serve a ruthless pack mentality and their blackness is on the verge of turning blue. I have never seen them helping anybody else but their own kind and even amongst themselves there seems to be very little in terms of gentleness and a good lot in terms of ruffles and rookies. In fact their unruly reunions while perched dozens strong in the crown of the highest apple tree right around sunset keep many a curious onlooker wondering about the civility of these pitch black avian denizens.

crows - 1 crows - 2

It is not astonishing then that this invasion of almost film noire dimension might soon disprove those who say that Sir Hitchcock was merely fantasizing when composing his intrinsic scripts. It would certainly approve of those who say that this trail-blazing flick was the fruit of clairvoyant premonition. It doesn’t astonish anybody then that this expansive tendency has been cause for great concern amongst some other two-legged beings: These ones have no feathers! Human beings are after all really order-loving folks and they are very much in charge of their lands. The resident local’s concern about this latest avian invasion has grown consistently along the lines of rook population density and many times there have been calls in the newspapers for outright culling campaigns to reduce the rook’s growing numbers. A short while ago the humble local zoo, Langenthal’s very own “Tierpark”, was granted an official permission to shoot the invaders down one by one, as long as it might be considered necessary! Bigger cities like Bern, where the rooks congregate during the breeding season, have seen legislative motions of their own promoting ways to combat the invasion.

crows - 4

crows - 3

Intriguing to me is the different reaction of our own kind. When others are invading our space we look to resist the change, while when we invade, and be it our very own space, we promote the change and herald it as healthy growth and progress. And of course, color seems to be important. Had those rooky rooks a couple white feathers in their plumage, like for instance the magpie or the venerable stork, they wouldn’t be looked down upon as much, at least here in the hemisphere dominated by Christian ideologies. But what made this relatively harmless avian theme sizzle in my conscious is its eerie resemblance to the profound human drama presently unfolding around the Mediterranean Sea, where the exodus of African people from the many festering wounds the neoliberal market forces has slashed into that ancient continent hits the wall of the old world, where the European Union’s almost humane sounding dogma of the free movement of persons writes its border line in the sand with considerable force.

I’m not terribly sure where the parallels between the birds and the refugees start and where they end, and I’m extremely tired of discussing things based on the shady reporting and yet darker opinionating in the media, who, left of right, all want us to think in certain ways. What I can second is my good and by now old but by no means weary friend Konstantin Wecker, who said poignantly in a televised interview, that we have to stop looking at the situation through numbers, and see the refugees as human beings. Then they become what they really are, beings like you and me, beings desperate to make ends meet in a desperate world, where, should you allow yourself to stand still, despair will sneak up on you and put you in shackles for good.

And along the same lines and in tune with the proposed purpose of this post, let me sing a song with my friends the rooks, cause my voice sounds just as hoarse as theirs!

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One Response to “As Black As A Crow”

  1. Beatriz Restrepo Says:

    Rooks, love to get together and chat about the neighbours 🙂
    Beautiful voice, keep going singing!!!! I love it!!! Makes my body move!!!

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