or, Why most of you will never read this book.
From the journals of the Kirk - (November *1988)
I had an odd thought today. The birds are a swarm of peppercorn – long, like cirrus clouds or bunched long like floating Italian bread. Could these be the same birds that I’ve seen lift from the ground like little ball-clouds--all as one; They seem to be millions, traced by a membrane. They fly in unit, this time something like an undulating string of sausage. What kind of "brain" unites their flight – Who knows? I counted one bird-ribbon that must’ve taken ten minutes to pass. Maybe Tulsa is like a river-bed of bird flight …
Or could it be that if we saw our nation from above it would look like a damaged negative all scratched and spattered with bird stream. Deep grooves and gashes trailing north to south across the states.
This morning I lay on my back, and considered the birds as if underneath me, flying on their backs with bellies up. I lay on the ceiling of the world and saw the birds like swarming fish, deep within thin water. School after school of minnow-bird, all black in silhouette.
And then it struck me. I never saw a single bird!
In fact, what I took for bird, in flap and form, was really just where the sky failed to penetrate my eye. So what did I see?
All the sky not shaped like birds!
If I were to project a slide of some really black birds in flight against a screen, the black forms on that screen would result in those places where no light fell. If I were to take a picture of the birds in flight, only the light around the silhouette of birds in flight would strike the film. As the birds were absolute black, no light sped from their form into my eye or camera. No light from any bird (except maybe a glint on wing or something) ever shocked a film grain -- or the rod or cone field in my eye. And as no light ever fell – for that brief moment – on the film plain of my eye – no message poured down the optic nerve to the brain. In fact, each time that a bird-shaped void passed across my inner eye, that section of retina got a brief rest from the act of seeing. So what do black birds do? They provide quick rest for rod and cones!
Come to think of it, I’ve never read a word of type. As the black letters absorb light like a well and bounce none of it back at me (unless perhaps the ink is gray or has a gloss) no light from that letter ever stirs a cone to action. I only think that I am seeing the type, but I am really reading the white where the type is not. So all this staring at print is a sustained focus on peculiar shaped voids. And when we read a book, we really read everything but the book!
If by "night" means not to see,
and birds of darker-blacken be,
Does their flight impress the eye?
Or is it only sky,
or rushing to their Void that does?