Friday, July 18, 2014
A Nocturnal Bird
Lee Durkee's and we were talking about this and that, and Lee recalled that we had been discussing John Lyly recently and he had a Lyly book he wanted to loan me. Up until now I have only known the works of John Lyly through the vivid descriptions of my friend McNeil. (Ha ha, I just looked at a McNeil email from some years ago about one of Lyly's plays: "It's about this guy who falls in love with the moon, and there's this message written at the bottom of a well, which may or may not be filled with water - on the surface of which this dude and his lady friend see the reflection of the moon. I'm not sure that's completely accurate...it's been about 10 years since I read it.") So I sat there on Lee's couch and opened up the book Lee had loaned me at random. To page 69, by chance. Now, Lee is quite aware of - and maybe even a little sick of, who knows? though he has been known to aid and abet me in this matter - my uncanny ability to find the owl in every book. And friends, he witnessed it happen. I OPENED THAT JOHN LYLY BOOK RIGHT TO A PAGE WITH AN OWL ON IT. The footnote informed me that the owl is "a nocturnal bird." I was like, ha ha, thanks for nothing, footnote! (See also.) But it went on to say that the owl was "thought unfit to see by day and hence associated with monstrosity." And Lee and I were like, "Hmm!" We had never heard that before, exactly. But it explained why Lyly, in his little prologue, is setting "before our owl Pallas' shield." I mean, the owl represents Lyly's play... maybe... and Lyly is being... modest...? Like, "Here's a nice little prologue to distract you from my ugly owl, by which I mean my play." I don't know. I don't know what the hell Lyly is talking about. I've decided not to think about it too much. Then Lee and I started trying to remember if we have ever seen owls hanging around in real life. Lee told stories of two owls he has seen and so did I.