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The Language of Crows

Night-black; void-black; black as December-seas – crows can be encountered like silhouette cut-outs on a sunny day; you can’t expect them to move, to soar, to have life. They sit sentinel and watching. Maybe that is why this effusive bird has garnered such a dire reputation through the ages, from being the harbinger of death and the herald of war to even having the title ‘carrion’ appended to its name.

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Winter Visitors

Outside my [optimistically titled] office there is a field and a tree, and the tree is a regular host to the visitors coming to pick through our garden. Here is just a few of them. A young buzzard looking rather maudlin for itself – note how well the dun colour of its coat camouflages with even the winter-denuded tree.

Young buzzard, Wales

An older buzzard, looking rather svelte.

Mature Buzzard, Wales

These are all terrible pictures, but I love this one as it shows some of the amazing overlay of feather-geometries the larger bird has to have to keep it warm.

Young Buzzard, Wales

And of course, our good friends the crows.

Crow gang, Wales

Although there are a number of crow colonies in the area that I live, it is only three that regularly come to this sitting-tree (the same tree that the buzzards like to perch on). I like to think that they must be a family group – or young adolescents perhaps?

Crow Gang, Wales.

Lucy Parsons, The Principles of Anarchy

And what of the glowing beyond that is so bright that those who grind the faces of the poor say it is a dream? It is no dream, it is the real, stripped of brain-distortions materialized into thrones and scaffolds, miters and guns. It is nature acting on her own interior laws as in all her other associations. It is a return to first principles; for were not the land, the water, the light, all free before governments took shape and form? In this free state we will again forget to think of these things as “property.” It is real, for we, as a race, are growing up to it. The idea of less restriction and more liberty, and a confiding trust that nature is equal to her work, is permeating all modern thought. […]

[…] We judge from experience that man is a gregarious animal, and instinctively affiliates with his kind—co-operates, unites in groups, works to better advantage combined with his fellow men than when alone. This would point to the formation of co-operative communities, of which our present trades-unions are embryonic patterns.

Written somewhere between 1905 and 1910 (after the first thwarted uprising in Russia, amidst the many libertarian pushes and reactionary crackdowns), this pamphlet is prescient in some ways, but speaks to its time in others. In some parts we might criticize the suggestion of enlightenment progress – that demon of modernity – that man grows past the institutions that shackle him. We could question that sort of ‘glowing future destination’ that validates all that came before it – but I think that Parson’s herself might be aware of this tension, because she matches that transcendental progressivism with a notion of ‘return to true’. That we seek to strip away the distortions so that;


“It is nature acting on her own interior laws as in all her other associations.”


From my understanding, and linking this in with Bookchin’s work – this isn’t to suggest that ‘natural systems’ [sic] aren’t complicated and conflicting systems themselves – but perhaps that without the massive skewed distortions of capital and authority we could finally get to really inhabit those systems: to feel and to see what needs to be done, in order to respond creatively rather than through the filter of labor/debt/wealth.

[The Principle’s of Anarchy Full Text]


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