Thursday, August 30, 2012

Hit and Myth

Last weekend I spotted this beautiful crow hanging out on a trash container on the corner of U and 14th St NW.

Crows are always difficult to photograph, because they seem to delight in perching so that their dark bodies are silhouetted against the sky, turning them into black-paper cut-outs, inky and featureless.

This time I was lucky in the lighting, and so was able to capture the iridescent color variations in its feathers, the saurian scaly-ness of its feet, and the sharp look in its eyes.

I’m fascinated by corvids—by their look, their intelligence, their ingenuity in tool-use and improvisation—but I don’t know much about them beyond what I learned from the few examples I read about in animal-behavior textbooks and a documentary I saw on PBS a couple of years ago.

They’re yet another example of species that have managed to adapt to human environments and are, as usual, disdained (rather than admired) for having done so—and yet crows and ravens have a mythic history that lends them a degree of dignity that’s lacking in poor, much-maligned pigeons.

This makes me want to raise two questions: 1. What do you associate crows and ravens with? Cities? Pine forests? American Indian or Norse mythology? Scavenging? Edgar Allen Poe?

And 2. How can I create some nice mythic themes surrounded pigeons so that they get more respect?

{A note: I do write all text and take all pictures. Please do not reproduce either without my permission.}


Joseph JG said...

Cities! I'm from London so I associate them with eating the eyeballs of beheaded people, Beefeaters and the Ravens of the Tower of London. All sorts of olden darkness type stuff which is probably a modern version of the exact same feeling that got them into mythology in the first place.

As for pigeons... good luck! They just don't have the large beak and intense gaze to really get people talking.

Olivia V. Ambrogio said...

Okay, well, maybe not majestic, but eating eyeballs is definitely impressive... and dark...

As for pigeons: I guess you're right--their gaze isn't exactly *intense*--but it's such a great orange! Plus, they walk so purposefully! That's got to count for something.

biobabbler said...

1. My father would have SO loved the title of your post. =) Lovely.
2. saurian scaley-ness? swoon.
3. Re: your 2nd question, CLEARLY, it is up to YOU to write some amazing tome or poem (obv. richly your-photos-laden) that imbues the pigeon with its rightful substance, complexity, and depth. THAT will become a classic, and thus will the mythology follow. Easy, right? So... ready, set... GO!

Olivia V. Ambrogio said...

Okay, pigeon myths, my next project... But once I come up with them, I will rely on YOU to disseminate them so widely that they will seem to have always existed!

Judith Gustafson said...

Pigeons? Well, there's always ON THE WATERFRONT. And are there no heroic pigeons whose message carrying saved a nation, or at least the day?

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