Pigeon digest

There are days (today would be an example) when I file these modest Idleposts late, usually because I had something else to write, teach, or otherwise deal with, earlier in the day. By noon, I have lost confidence in anything I could say, on any topic, and so fall into “Schopenhauer mode.” That is to say, whatever topic I propose to myself, the only thought that comes to mind is along the lines of, “Whoo-hoo-whoo.”

By Schopenhauer, incidentally, I refer not to the author of the Parerga and Paralipomena, but to a pigeon who has been following me about. He is a darkie: deep indigo entirely, even across the tail bar and to the tips of his feathers — the classic “Andalusian chicken.”

I cannot be mistaken about his identity; I have seen no other like him around here, even among the crowd attending Parkdale Collegiate. I have wondered if he might be an escaped breed bird, who prefers human to avian company. But I don’t think there are any pigeon fanciers, in Parkdale.

Distinctly a loner. Or perhaps he is in bad odour with the rest of his flock; possibly because they find his aphorisms insalubrious: febrile and ungodly. Or maybe they are racists.

While I’m no expert in pigeon sexing, the one rather commonplace city pigeon who sometimes joins Schopenhauer on my railing is obviously a young hen. Willena, I have called her: “Willena Zumleben.” A sad case. She seems quite infatuated with Schopenhauer. He doesn’t care. The more he ignores her, the more she pines. And the more reckless she becomes, lifting her tailfeathers to get his attention. In disgust, he looks away.

I have pled her case: “A nice girl, Schopenhauer. She could make you happy.”

He only wobbles his head.

Why, gentle reader must wonder, has he attached himself to me? I have shoo’d him off repeatedly; he keeps returning. I have contrived to feed my finches in a pigeon-unfriendly way. The rest of the tribe have taken the message; but Schopenhauer will not be discouraged. I have even waved a broom at him.

But it isn’t food he wants. No, it is conversation. He considers me to be his intellectual equal. I’d swear he is manoeuvring to land on my shoulder, to get a closer look at my brain.

So what can I do?

We talk about books. For the most part, I talk and he listens. He seems especially interested in my views on “the art of not reading.” They are Schopenheuristic. Life is short, and a precondition for reading good books is not reading bad ones, I explain.

With age and wisdom one finds more and more things not to read, including Schopenhauer (the author). I flattered Schopenhauer (the pigeon) by observing, that in the wisdom of his age he has achieved a kind of perfection. For he reads nothing at all.

His only comment on this was: “Whoo-hoo-whoo.”