Saturday, December 1, 2007

American Eagle: Endangered Species

Way back in the dim reaches of history, the lofty, soaring, no-nonsense eagle won hands down as the spirit guide, the icon of America. To be sure, there were those robber barons and their ilk who saw this adaptation, this splendid rendition of semiotics, as an invitation to scope out manifest destiny with a sharp eye, a five-bladed beak, and fungus-free talons, the better to enrich their larders before Conscience caught up with them and coerced them into endowing philanthropic funding.

Simply put, the eagle is a splendid creature; even the sight of a drawing or photo of such grace and beauty is stirring. But it is time to retire the eagle as our national symbol, our spirit guide, our sense of lofty, unfettered agility and pluck.

Following the dictum that function determines structure, our national icon ought to be re-designated from eagle to, ta da! the mountain goat.

Mountain goats are almost entirely functional, which is not by any means a bad thing for a national symbol. Even at its Balkanized, screwed-up Congressional sessions and States' Freaking Rights best, America does manage to function. Mountain goats are shaggy, which is also a splendid protective coating. Mountain goats may not be as intelligent as eagles, but hey, they've been around for a while, withstanding the rigors of survival, flourishing at a time when individuals with serious ambitions to become the next President of the United States believe the construct of evolution had not been demonstrated.

All of which gets me to where I'm going.

Living on hilly tors and craggy outcroppings, mountain goats have learned the hard way to make precipitous, risky leaps. A mountain goat is a living embodiment of The Leap. Our current polity, many of our esteemed educators and guardians of public resources and other trusts, not to mention the men and women who ply the media also embody The Leap. The Leap is the leap of logic, allowing them to structurally alter the dimensions of the syllogism and otherwise create mixed-breed arguments that do not follow well-trod paths. They are able to start out with Proposition A, run it around the block of their agenda a few times until it begins to tire, then link it to a completely preposterous Proposition B, then come to the outrage of Proposition C, which was little more than their idiosyncratic agenda, whispering in their ear.

Our national motto would need some revision from E plurbus unum to something more on the lines of "I feel it in my_____,"with the various factions being able to democratically chose, providing a better national holiday than July Fourth, Name That Organ.

I, for one, feel it in my gut that we are living in the Age of The Mountain Goat Leap of Logic. Having lived through the dawning of the Age of Aquarius, which I don't think lived up to its billing although I don't believe it inflicted any particular harm, I am already more cynical than I would wish to be about the Age of The Mountain Goat.

One of the many internal versions of soccer hooliganism being enacted within the confines of my psyche is the battle of optimism versus pessimism. I quite understand some of the ways the aging process inflicts pessimism on an individual. Indeed, I am, to use the U.K. trope of the litotes, not unaffected. Nevertheless, it was my hope to drift into my dotage as a raging optimist. "Yonder before us," Marvell writes, "lie deserts of vast eternity/Thy beauty shall no more be found..." It would be fun to have Optimism as my companion through those deserts of vast eternity, but alas! before me now is a tsunami of Mountain Goats a leaping.

You might argue that seeing the absurdity inherent in all of life is a kind of optimism, a saving grace, and I would listen to that and nod. Humor, which is learning to cope with pain and humiliation, and loss, is a worthy companion through the Desert. It is a high-class problem. In the name, then, of the feather and the sin and the leaping goat...


x said...

Yes, the Season of Ten Mountain Goats A'Leaping, Nine Eagles Flying, Eight Monkeys Dancing, Seven Whales A'Spouting...Hmmm. Could be a meme in there somewhere.

Simple Blog Writer said...

I happen to be an Aries, the Ram. Is a ram the same as a mountain goat? I think so.

It's true I'm not the most intelligent of creatures, but I rather like my leaping quality. Quite optimistic, I think, a person to get things done without thinking about them too much.

Aha, I do see your point about the mountain goat being an apt symbol for our country. Not thinking is a leaping-goat quality. It fits.

Plus, there is that blaaaaaaa blaaaaaa blaaaaaa way of talking.

I found you through Smiler. I lept right over.

lowenkopf said...

TIV: You could find a meme anywhere.

SBW: Good to have you drop by.

Let's all go wake up Smiler.

Lori Witzel said...

I can't believe that closing pun...

Well, actually, since it's you, I can, and I'm just envious and a little pun-stunned.

You might say your talent for punning got my goat.


Must. Go. Write. More. Schoolwork.

Smiler said...

Yes? Did someone call my name? I agree with Lori, "father, sin and leaping goat" a good pun indeed. I'm sure Lee would appreciate it tremendously were she able to read your post today, so I am speaking for both of us in the meantime.

R.L. Bourges said...

smiler: that's my girl. i agree with everything she wrote (i just came out of a waterboarding session)

the other endearing trait of the ram is this: let's say you set up a door in the middle of a desert? with nothing but wide open space all around it? The ram will insist on ramming that door down if it's the last thing it does, cuz only sissies walk away from a challenge. Way to go.