Archive for April 21st, 2018

The owl of Minerva flies at dusk…

Saturday, April 21st, 2018
Share

.The writer’s desk has acquired a sort of mystique in the popular imagination, although it generally attaches to writers more famous and celebrated than my humble self. Nevertheless, I snapped a photo of a corner of my work space the other day, and the reason was the watchful gaze of this small, solitary owl.

My mother’s totem was the owl. So she collected them, everywhere she could find them, from all parts of the world. And somehow I inherited the menagerie when she died thirty years ago. I have no room for them in my current digs, and so they are packed away in a box in the garage.

Nevertheless, during a major household upheaval, I rescued one of them from long hibernation. A tiny one, less than two inches high, from Denmark. And now it sits in a cubbyhole in my huge oak roll-top desk, watching me, guarding me, perhaps judging me, as I work well into the wee hours. My brain buzzes faster closer to midnight. So it’s a fitting totem for me, too, night owl that I am.

Ah well, as Hegel observed, the owl of Minerva flies at dusk. And somehow landed here…

Postscript on 4/22: But I also confess a particular partiality for the Hegelian owl at left, stooping slightly to read the small print on the spine of a neighboring book. This fellow normally sits on a bookshelf next to Gorbanevskaya and Cavafy. He rests atop a block of white marble, and was sculpted and cast in bronze by my father, as an owlish gift to my mother. One of our long family legacy of owls…