Tuesday, 25 August 2009

What the parrot says, and what it means

When the woman, her name is Violet, went to the funeral to see the girl and to cut her dead face they threw her to the floor and out of the church. She ran, then, through the all that snow, and when she got back to her apartment she took the birds from their cages and set them out the windows to freeze or fly, including the parrot that said, “I love you” [Tony Morrison, Jazz]

The pathos here is all to do with the fact that though the parrot might say “I love you”, it does not mean it, and in fact it cannot even know how to mean it, any more than a dead woman can feel the cut of your revenge. This gap between our tendency to invest the world with our own emotional intensity and the actual indifference of the world is one of the key things that informs Morrison's fiction.

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