Sunday, November 01, 2009

Vulgar Pelican Error

Well, folks, you are not going to believe this! Nor care in the least. But you know how a book flap will often tempt you to make the huge mistake of actually opening and reading part of a book? Well, it just happened to me. I opened the Thomas Browne (subject of my daily flap) to the promised "Vulgar Errors." Here is the part you will not believe! Or care about! Just this Friday in my undergraduate fiction writing seminar we were talking about how it is always awesome to include an owl in all your short stories. Then someone brought up the scariness of the pelican, which caused me to mention to the boredom of all present an ancient belief about the pelican. Well, guess what? When I opened the Browne to a random page, what should I find but the "vulgar error" which was the exact same pelican belief I mentioned in class on Friday - namely that (as Browne puts it) "And first in every place we meet with the picture of the Pelecan [sic], opening her breast with her bill, and feeding her young ones with the blood distilling from her"? Later in the chapter, Browne allows "A possibility there may be of opening and bleeding their breast; for this may be done by the uncous and pointed extremity of their bill: and some probability also that they sometimes do it, for their own relief... that is by nibling [sic] and biting themselves on their itching part of their breast..." Clearly it is time to go back on my recent promise and find a proper illustration for this "post." "Blogging" is my life! I only wish I could be YOU, reading about old pelican beliefs on my "blog"!