FLAMINGOS AND HEDGEHOGS
3/5/13 – 12/5/13
A groupshow with:
Ada Avetist (www.adaavetist.at)
Opening on 3/5/2013 at 19.00
Why do things have outlines?
D: Yes—with flamingos?
F: That’s right.
D: And porcupines for balls?
F: No, hedgehogs. They were hedgehogs. They don’t have porcupines in England.
D: Oh. Was it in England, Daddy? I didn’t know.
F: Of course it was in England. You don’t have duchesses in America either.
D: But there’s the Duchess of Windsor, Daddy.
F: Yes, but she doesn’t have quills, not like a real porcupine.
D: Go on about Alice and don’t be silly, Daddy.
F: Yes, we were talking about flamingos. The point is that the man who wrote Alice was thinking about the same things that we are. And he amused himself with little Alice by imagining a game of croquet that would be all muddle, just absolute muddle. So he said they should use flamingos as mallets because the flamingos would bend their necks so the player wouldn’t know even whether his mallet would hit the ball or how it would hit the ball.
D: Anyhow the ball might walk away of its own accord because it was a hedgehog.
F: That’s right. So that it’s all so muddled that nobody can tell at all what’s going to happen.
D: And the hoops walked around, too, because they were soldiers.
F: That’s right—everything could move and nobody could tell how it would move.
D: Did everything have to be alive so as to make a complete muddle?
F: No—he could have made it a muddle by… no, I suppose you’re right. That’s interesting. Yes, it had to be that way. Wait a minute. It’s curious but you’re right. Because if he’d muddled things any other way, the players could have learned how to deal with the muddling details. I mean, suppose the croquet lawn was bumpy, or the balls were a funny shape, or the heads of the mallets just wobbly instead of being alive, then the people could still learn and the game would only be more difficult—it wouldn’t be impossible. But once you bring live things into it, it becomes impossible. I wouldn’t have expected that.
D: Wouldn’t you, Daddy? I would have. That seems natural to me.
F: Natural? Sure—natural enough. But I would not have expected it to work that way.
D: Why not? That’s what I would have expected.
F: Yes. But this is the thing that I would not have expected. That animals, which are themselves able to see things ahead and act on what they think is going to happen—a cat can catch a mouse by jumping to land where the mouse will probably be when she has completed her jump—but it’s just the fact that animals are capable of seeing ahead and learning that makes them the only really unpredictable things in the world. To think that we try to make laws as though people were quite regular and predictable.
D: Or do they make the laws just because people are not predictable, and the people who make the laws wish the other people were predictable?
F: Yes, I suppose so.”
Excerpt from “Why do things have Outlines?”