Endangered Species

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“Am Not I a Fly Like Thee?”, 2018, Alexandra Eldridge

While Trump’s Department of the Interior has its sights set on rolling back the 1973 Endangered Species Act  the noblest of the landmark environmental statutes enacted in recent history, it seemed like a good time to work on a modern bestiary.  A Kinship with All Things with paintings by Alexandra Eldridge, evokes another department of the interior, the imagination and unconscious perception —  by which we experience empathy with other beings. And empathy with is more important than sympathy for — because sympathy can quickly become paternal or maternalistic, hierarchical and compartmentalized.

“The Fly”, by William Blake

Little fly,
Thy summer’s play
My thoughtless hand
Has brushed away.   

Am not I
A fly like thee?
Or art not thou
A man like me?

For I dance
And drink and sing,
Till some blind hand
Shall brush my wing.

If thought is life
And strength and breath,
And the want
Of thought is death,

Then am I
A happy fly,
If I live,
Or if I die.

This cool little learned Mistress of the Bugs seems to know that life depends on multiplicity, that we live in a co-op of complexity that reaches past the simple idea of ‘my’ or ‘your’ identity. Insects can bug us and creatures of the underworld can hurt us, but the holes they leave as wounds and the fears they provoke in our dreams, startle or even terrify us into a lived  awareness of the swarming, buzzing reality of nature and psyche’s imagination. An invitation into metamorphosis.

 

 

 

 

 

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