Tiger, bird, man

mon14may2007—20w134d36%— 05h06m00s—0utc

Tiger got to hunt, bird got to fly; Man got to sit and wonder, “Why, why, why?” Tiger got to sleep, bird got to land; Man got to tell himself he understand.

Kurt Vonnegut, Cat’s Craddle_^ WPCradle, AM^

El tigre tiene que cazar, el pajaro que volar; el hombre tiene que sentarse y pensar, “Por que, por que, por que?” El tigre tiene que dormir, el pajaro regresar a su nido; el hombre tiene que decirse que ha comprendido.

I read this in a great post, 15 Things Kurt Vonnegut Said Better Than Anyone Else Ever Has Or Will, soon after he WP died — which was, personally, surprisingly sad — SlaughterHouse 5^ WP, AM^ has got to be among the best books I’ve read. Anyway, I’m still fascinated by the phrase and particularly by the interpretation offered there (which seems obvious and inevitable now, but you never know so maybe you — virgin you — may want to make your own unadulterated meaning before reading the following):

[A] koan of sorts from Cat’s Cradle and the Bokononist religion (which phrases many of its teachings as calypsos, as part of its absurdist bent), this piece of doggerel is simple and catchy, but it unpacks into a resonant, meaningful philosophy that reads as sympathetic to humanity, albeit from a removed, humoring, alien viewpoint. Man’s just another animal, it implies, with his own peculiar instincts, and his own way of shutting them down. This is horrifically cynical when considered closely: If people deciding they understand the world is just another instinct, then enlightenment is little more than a pit-stop between insoluble questions, a necessary but ultimately meaningless way of taking a sanity break. At the same time, there’s a kindness to Bokonon’s belief that this is all inevitable and just part of being a person. Life is frustrating and full of pitfalls and dead ends, but everybody’s gotta do it.

So the songpiece has lived inside me since and served as an interesting flashlight ELZR. Hope it’s useful to you too.

Oh, and here’s an interesting elaboration on it, from, of all places, a Grey’s Anatomy writer (yup, I’ve become such a rabid fan I gobble up the writers’ blog…shut up already):

Real life — where terrible things happen to us, to our friends, and to the world around us without warning or explanation. And we’re human beings, most of us, so when terrible things happen, we want to know the reasons why. We want the suffering to mean something. And when the meaning isn’t immediately evident, we assign meaning as a way of comprehending, if not controlling, what seem like random acts of terribleness. When bad things happen, we make sense of them by calling them tests. Tests we either pass or fail before moving on to the next level of experience, but ones we hopefully learn from either way.

Grey Matter: From the writers of Grey’s Anatomy_, .html">Allan Heinberg on “Testing 1-2-3”

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