Archives for the month of: May, 2010

More than the other goats, Misty likes to explore

every opportunity

to get hold of branches

of young leaves.

It’s not always easy.

But, on the other hand,

she’s not really

that busy.

I suspect these are young midges, small mosquito-like insects that swarm in the evening.  If you click on the picture, you’ll see they came out as dots and straight lines, and if you were a midge you would probably think that cameras are rubbish.  Imagine if people came out as either dots or straight lines.

To the left, the cabin Wittgenstein built near Skjolden, in Norway (the graphic reconstruction was done by me). It was at the head of the enormous and dramatic Sognefjord, on the west coast.

Sognefjord in Russian (it has the best pictures).

I got an interesting letter from Rik Kabel about the title of the blog:

I recently came across your blog at abadguide and noticed the line attributed to Wittgenstein. The date given is 1946. You can probably move that date back a bit after reviewing the page (taken from Wittgenstein’s Lectures On The Foundations Of Mathematics, Cambridge, 1939 by R. G. Bosanquet and others, edited by Cora Diamond, U Chicago Press 1976, 1989). It does appear that he used the metaphor in various forms.

I suppose that he said it in English, although I get the impression that he relied on native English speakers for more careful, idiomatic translations from German, as Ogden for_Tractatus_. If you know of a German statement of it by him, I would enjoy learning of it.

Rik explained his interest:

I have a thing about quotations (and pretend to be writing a book about it). I find many are inaccurate in body or attribution, including many in the standard quotation dictionaries. I also don’t really think that translations should be considered quotation as much as allusion. So, I just had to check out the Wittgenstein. It is a bad habit, but like all bad habits, it provides great pleasure.

I like to see the quotation in a slightly different form like the one Rik links to, but that he was repeating the same metaphor years later — isn’t that a little disappointing?  Middle-aged Wittgenstein is usually portrayed biographically as a man rethinking his ideas and coming to bold new conclusions, but this seems more like the bloke down the pub who says “Stop me if you’ve heard this one…”.  I don’t like to think of him repeating himself — however, Wittgenstein was a university teacher and he probably did.  And the truth is I’m quite happy to be rereading it a year after I first put it at the top of the page.  It implies that I might have a master plan that will reveal itself over time; and who knows, perhaps I do and perhaps it will.  At the moment I’m very interested in Language Hat’s recent Goats From All Over; there’s no connection, but they complement quite well, say, our three-day binge of ice cream shop naming.  The Wittgenstein quote reassures me, and hopefully others, that it’s quite okay.

To return to Rik’s question; in a note about the book, Wittgenstein’s Lectures, it says:

For several terms at Cambridge in 1939, Ludwig Wittgenstein lectured on the philosophical foundations of mathematics. A lecture class taught by Wittgenstein, however, hardly resembled a lecture. He sat on a chair in the middle of the room, with some of the class sitting in chairs, some on the floor. He never used notes. He paused frequently, sometimes for several minutes, while he puzzled out a problem. He often asked his listeners questions and reacted to their replies. Many meetings were largely conversation. These lectures were attended by, among others, D. A. T. Gasking, J. N. Findlay, Stephen Toulmin, Alan Turing, G. H. von Wright, R. G. Bosanquet, Norman Malcolm, Rush Rhees, and Yorick Smythies. Notes taken by these last four are the basis for the thirty-one lectures in this book.

I believe that at this stage in his life Wittgenstein did his own translating.  Yorick Smythies — one of a long line of Yorick Smythies, according to google — typed  some of Wittgenstein’s handwritten notes, possibly those  translated by the author into English for the postwar version of Philosophische Untersuchungen. Unfortunately he died in 1978.  Like Rik, I’m interested to see if anyone knows of an earlier attribution of Wittgenstein’s “bad guide” metaphor in either English or German  There will be a special prize for German, perhaps a guided weekend tour of A Bad Guide’s technical workshops and studios, culminating in a working lunch with the goats at the reservoir, where any day now they are due to start their summer job…

One advantage of Norway’s state religion is the remarkable series of public holidays we have in May:  there’s Mayday, Ascension day, 17th May (the anniversary of the drafting of the Norwegian constitution), Whitsun.  Holiday mondays and fridays dissolve into weekends and there are some three-day work weeks. Yesterday was Whit Monday.  We went to try out a horse called Lady Macbeth — known as Betty — she is a young Welsh cob, 144 cm high.

We were in a flattish region very close to the Oslofjord.  Growing raps, or rape, is a recent development in Norway according to my wife.  I saw lots of it in Germany twenty years ago.  It’s only May, it has grown so quickly.

I liked the idea of this rather nice little house directly overlooking a paddock.  It’s an ideal home for a teenaged girl, but the horses must be a pleasant distraction for the whole family:

After walking round and round, other gaits were tried out:

Lady Macbeth has a shiny chestnut-coloured bottom and three white socks.

There was more toing and froing:

and some galloping:

Later I saw these, there are lots of wild violets at the moment:

Picture by Klem

“I have not got a bean to my name.  I’m a taxpayer, a British taxpayer, and I left the royal family for freedom, and in freedom it means I am bereft. I’m hopeless.”

Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York.

The first of our late-flowering tulips is out, next to the out-house.  I’m not much good at flower photography.  Studiolum very kindly gave me some tips yesterday — his and Kata’s pictures of their Hungarian garden are superb — and I’m going to try some new moves (this isn’t one of them, obviously).

I spent a couple of hours this afternoon pulling up stinging nettles in the goats’ part of the garden  I had heard that goats eat nettles, but they’ve never done so here until today.  I found that Misty, who’s the most willing to experiment with new foods,

would eat them once I’d pulled them up .  Maybe there’s less stinging that way, I don’t know.  I get very stung and it still tingles, but I take a primitive delight in finding the red and yellow shallow roots and ripping them out.  It’s approximately the same satisfaction as I’d have if I were George Smiley and I’d discovered a nest of Soviet spies.  This is more like Studiolum’s marvelous technique:

although he takes them by the dozen and crops them much more.  Oh, well.

Yesterday evening we finished shearing the last goat, Misty.

My daughter says the clippers are now completely blunt.

I’m guessing that both Misty & Holly are feeling much better.

This is the sheared Holly:

I don’t think we’ve ever been this late with the shearing before.

My daughter did some work on Holly and Misty yesterday. She’s planning to finish it today. She’s very busy with school at the moment.  Unlike my Australian forebears who could have done them both in five minutes, each goat takes us several hours to shear.

After she’d finished they looked pretty odd, but they seemed pleased to be less warmly dressed.

We had seen a beautiful afghan hound earlier in the day, and I think that may have been the look that the hairdresser was trying for:

Holly as a scary monster:

It’s two weeks since Vesla was sheared.  She’s looking better now her coat has grown out a little bit.  Here she is about to …

… butt Holly:

She’s a good little runner:


A picture of a picture of a polar bear at night.

I got an email from my friend Jamessal of  Caviar And Codfish:

…Robin and I [just] decided to start an ice cream business.  The woman who runs the wildly popular Stockton Farmers Market said that a restaurant  was selling an ice cream maker for about twenty percent of its value and that if we wanted to buy it and learn how to make good ice cream  […] tomorrow we’re going to wake up and start calling plumbers and electricians.   More details to come. Right now, we’re desperately trying to come up with a name for our business. Feel like helping? Relevant info: the market is on Bridge Street, it’s right next to the Delaware River, we’ll be using mostly local ingredients, and of course the town is Stockton.

Any suggestions?  I like The Jersey Cow (it’s in New Jersey) and we’ve discussed Scoop Til You Poop, but rejected outright my daughter’s suggestion, Frozen Fat.  Since Robin is a gourmet cook, I kind of think the name ought to mention the homemade angle, but that’s only my opinion.

I figure the winner should at least win an ice cream cone in the mail.

Two weeks ago right after we had sheared Vesla she came inside for a shower.  Then we toweled her dry and gave her some oats as a reward for being tolerant.  As always she had shown passive resistance to being sheared by lying down and going all floppy, like Gandhi.  But she enjoyed the shower.

Her horns got very clean.  The blue marks are gentian violet; we applied it because she’d been taunting Misty on the other side of some wire fencing and the horns had got a bit scratched.  You can see her worn-out-looking knees; goats develop hard skin there from kneeling (I think we’ve discussed it before).

She ate quite a lot of oats.  Then there was the sound of the front door,

and Topsy the dog bounced in.  Vesla wasn’t expecting this.

She’d had enough fun and games for one day without being confronted by a bloody dog.

Topsy didn’t know what she’d missed, she’d been out shopping.

So Vesla made her aware.  It wasn’t a very hard butt.

But Topsy wondered what the hell was going on.

Vesla presented horns again, but Topsy was already scampering over to me sitting on the sofa.

So, while Topsy figured out what food was being passed out …

Vesla stumped out.

1st prize

1st Prize: Koukichi Sugihara's Impossible motion: magnet-like slopes (Meiji Institute for Advanced Study of Mathematical Sciences, Japan).

2nd prize

2nd Prize: Counter‐intuitive illusory contours, by Bart Anderson (University of Sydney, Australia).

Here are a couple of interesting little projects devised by mathematicians — and when I say “little”, there’s one project that illustrates a man’s life’s work.  Anyway, these are two entries in a Scientific American magazine competition called “Illusion Of The Year”. Here are the winners,  I found the first two quite intriguing; especially the second one, because nobody knows why it happens.  You’ll have to use my link to go and play the videos to find out what they’re about.  You can find out more about Koukichi Sugihara’s work at his website.

For the past couple of years we’ve had windflowers growing in clumps, one or two metres in diameter, in our garden.

As you can maybe just make out below on the left, they seem to have spread from the meadow and woods next door.

Windflowers are a kind of anemone.  According to Wikipedia they’re deadly poison, but the goats love them.

Once we had so many, I was able to see that they got their name from the way the white flowers shake and shimmer in the slightest breeze.

Like a Futurist manifesto on Pop art, these Japanese kimono textiles from the 1930s are both every schoolboy’s dream outfit and at the same time quite shocking.  Even though it’s on the television news every day, the juxtapositions of cuddly toys with exploding missiles are, nowadays, blatant  provocation to our refined sensibilities.  If we learnt anything from graphic art during the twentieth century it was that sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words.  James Rosenquist, who was an advertising billboard artist in the ‘fifties before he painted F1-11 during the Vietnam war, knew this *:

F1-11 (detail). 1964-65. James Rosenquist.

Although on one level the textiles also remind me of works by Jeff Koons or Takashi Murakami — to mention just one of the current Japanese artists who’re using comic imagery for their own purposes — the difference is that these earlier artists were pushing war as a good thing, just as some comic genres have always romanticised  and aestheticised warfare **.  One irony of this, compared to the deliberate irony in Rosenquist’s F1-11, is that the work was made in 1937; in other words, it’s exactly contemporary with the Japanese army’s Rape of Nanking.

It’s extraordinary that they managed to get the images to work so well as textile designs.  It’s difficult to print or weave large figurative images and still be able to call the end product a piece of cloth and not a painting.  I’ve tried it myself and I know what I’m talking about.  These Japanese kimonos work by combining the pictures with flat colours and small patterns made into bold stripes and circles.

They are from an exhibition in St Petersburg, but if you can’t get there very many of the extraordinary images (better than these, even) can be seen at Poemas del rio Wang.

* Not to belabour Rosenquist’s point, but some of the same companies that were producing light bulbs and hair dryers and plastics for the American market were also bombing the shit out of Vietnamese children and making nuclear weapons.

** There’s also a lot of Tin-Tin-like imagery, including a couple of dogs next to the lower image that you can see properly at Poemas del rio Wang.

August Kleinzahler has written a short piece  in the LRB blog about a movement to replace the image of President Grant on the obverse face of the $50 bill with one of Ronald Reagan.  He shows an artist’s impression of what this change might look like.  The Republican congressman who is pushing Reagan said, according to Kleinzahler, that “every generation needs its own heroes”.  It’s not a bad idea, and I propose reworking the entire US monetary system’s hall of fame, starting with Thelonius Monk on the dollar bill:

He will be replacing George Washington, a man with wooden prosthetic teeth.  You can see that Monk had a brilliant smile, and why should spending money be a miserable experience?  This change could encourage spending; it might in a small way help the US economy.

Recent pictures of the Queen meeting with Mr David Cameron at Buckingham Palace expose the enormous height discrepancy between the monarch and the new prime minister.  Experts who believe that the Queen is shrinking say that it is


Artist’s impression of the shrinking monarch.

still too early to predict whether she will vanish and collapse in on herself, creating the first Royal Black Hole.  A spokesman for the metropolitan police expressed “cautious optimism” today over hopes that the Royal Black Hole could ease rush-hour traffic in the vicinity of The Mall and Constitution Hill.

"Nice day."

"Mmm. Delightful."_____________ "Holy crap! What's that up there?"

"What are we staring at?"___"Sinéad O'Connor, I presume?"____ "Is this some kind of sick joke?"

"Are you talking to me!"__________________"Never mind."____"Never mind."

__________"No, but seriously. Can I have another look?"__ "This is nuts. I'm off!"

We’ve been having a very good scilla year in our garden.

They are wild, as are the beautiful groups of windflowers in the lawn, which goes to show that you must never put weedkiller or anything like that on your grass (or anywhere else); heaven knows what you’d be killing off.  These pictures are for m-l, who said she hadn’t ever seen them in France or Canada.

The column of Saint Theodore of Amasea, in Venice. Teodoro is standing on a crocodile or dragon.

You might think I’m in competition with Studiolum, what with the crocodile and the bestiary.  His latest post at Poemas del Rio Wang is called Bestiary, and I recommend it to everyone, but I’m thinking of Kenneth Rexroth’s poem that Jamessal sent me today.  Here’s one verse:


G stands for goat and also
For genius. If you are one,
Learn from the other, for he
Combines domestication,
Venery, and independence.

Here is some more:

for my daughters, Mary and Katherine

The lion is called the king
Of beasts. Nowadays there are
Almost as many lions
In cages as out of them.
If offered a crown, refuse.

Someday, if you are lucky,
You’ll each have one for your own.
Try it before you pick it.
Some kinds are made of soybeans.
Give it lots to eat and sleep.
Treat it nicely and it will
Always do just what you want.

The raccoon wears a black mask,
And he washes everything
Before he eats it. If you
Give him a cube of sugar,
He’ll wash it away and weep.
Some of life’s sweetest pleasures
Can be enjoyed only if
You don’t mind a little dirt.
Here a false face won’t help you.

The trout is taken when he
Bites an artificial fly.
Confronted with fraud, keep your
Mouth shut and don’t volunteer.

Uncle Sam
Like the unicorn, Uncle
Sam is what is called a myth.
Plato wrote a book which is
An occult conspiracy
Of gentlemen pederasts.
In it he said ideas
Are more nobly real than
Reality, and that myths
Help keep people in their place.
Since you will never become,
Under any circumstances,
Gentlemen pederasts, you’d
Best leave there blood-soaked notions
To those who find them useful.

St. Thomas Aquinas thought
That vultures were lesbians
And fertilized by the wind.
If you seek the facts of life,
Papist intellectuals
Can be very misleading.

Let Y stand for you who says,
“Very clever, but surely
These were not written for your
Children?” Let Y stand for yes.

I’m not sure where to find the complete poem except, as Jamessal says, in Rexroth’s Complete Poems.  Jim added “He’s not big on cat owners”, which certainly makes me want to find the whole thing.

Remember: If offered a crown, refuse.

Marie-Lucie  told me about this goat tower.  It’s at a South African vineyard:

It was built in 1981 with room for six or seven goats.  There are more pictures of the tower & its residents, as well as a short video, here and you can read about the herd here. I’m sure that goats would love to live in a tower; I wonder if there are fights about who gets to live at the top?  Perhaps the goats climb up every evening, stopping when they reach the first empty room; though that kind of order seems too fastidious for your average goat.  Although there are 750 female goats, it’s only billies who live in the tower, I’ve no idea why.  It could be that the males prefer sleeping on their own; we’ve never kept males, so I don’t know.

Since 1981 more goat towers have been built; there’s one in Norway and one in the United States.  There was a recent outbreak of serious illness at the Norwegian one, I’m not sure if it’s still going.  The American farmer who built his own goat tower claims to have the tallest goat tower on earth: thirty-one feet to its peak, with the potential to install a revolving observatory in the roof (I’m guessing we shouldn’t hold our breath waiting for this, for some reason he just seems to be preoccupied with not letting birds roost in the roof).  I like the South African one the best, they are milking goats (it’s the only one where your landlord doesn’t end up eating you). Here are some more milking goats who live, if not in a tower, at least upstairs.

One interesting structural feature that the American man mentions is that his steps are made of (sort of) reinforced concrete, which stiffens the tower sideways against the wind.  He used 5,000 hand-made bricks, no two of which are alike.  It’s not clear to me that there is any advantage in that.

The first three look exactly the same.  I think the next builder could work on the appearance of his or her goat tower.  There are precedents for this building type:

I’m surprised to see that Plains Indian Drawings 1865-1935, Pages From A Visual History, edited by Janet Catherine Berlo (1996 Abrams) – a wonderful book – is out of print, so I’ll show a few of the pictures here.

I know very little about the history of the Plains Indians, but it seems that after the US civil war many of them were imprisoned at Fort Marion camp, near St. Augustine, in Florida.

Poster, 1938. The Spanish fortifications were completed in 1695.

In a guide to Florida published in 1875 the poet Sidney Lanier wrote about Fort Marion:

For, alas ! and alas! the old lonesome fort, the sweet old fort, whose pyramids of cannon-balls were only like pleasant reminders of the beauty of peace, whose manifold angles were but warm and sunny nooks for lizards and men to lounge in and dream in, whose ample and ancient moat had converted itself with grasses and with tiny flowers into a sacred refuge from trade and care, known to many a weary soul,—the dear old fort is practically no more: its glories of calm and of solitude have departed utterly away. The Cheyennes, the Kiowas, the Comanches, the Caddoes, and the Arapahoes, with their shuffling chains


and strange tongues and barbaric gestures, have frightened the timid swallow of romance out of the sweetest nest that he ever built in America. It appears that some time about the middle of 1874 the United States Government announced to the Indians in Northwest Texas that they must come in and give a definite account of themselves, whereupon a large number declared themselves hostile. Against these four columns of troops were sent out from as many different posts, which were managed so vigorously that in no long time the great majority of the unfriendly Indians either surrendered or were captured. Some of these were known to have been guilty of atrocious crimes ; others were men of consequence in their tribes; and it was resolved to make a selection of the principal individuals of these two classes, and to confine them in old Fort Marion, at St. Augustine.

And so here they are—”Medicine Water,” a ringleader, along with “White Man,” “Rising Bull,” “Hailstone,” “Sharp Bully, “and others, in the terrible murder of the Germain family, and in the more terrible fate of the two Germain girls who were recently recaptured from the Cheyennes; “Come See Him,” who was in the murder of the Short surveying – party; “Soaring Eagle,” supposed to have killed the hunter Brown, near Fort Wallace; “Big Moccasin” and “Making Medicine,” horse-thieves and raiders; “Packer,” the murderer of Williams; ” Mochi,” the squaw identified by the Germain girls as having chopped the head of their murdered mother with an axe. Besides these, who constitute most of the criminals, are a lot against whom there is no particular charge, but who are confined on the principle that prevention is better than cure. ” Gray Beard,” one of this latter class of chiefs, leaped from a car-window at Baldwin, Florida, while being conveyed to St. Augustine, and was shot, after a short pursuit, by one of his guards. “Lean Bear,” another, stabbed himself and two of his guards, apparently in a crazy fit, when near Nashville, Tennessee, en route, but has since recovered and been sent to join those in the fort. One of the Kiowas died of pneumonia shortly after arriving at St. Augustine, leaving seventy-three, including two squaws and a little girl, now in confinement. Their quarters are in the casemates within the fort, which have been fitted up for their use. During the day they are allowed to move about the interior of the fort, and are sometimes taken out in squads to bathe; at night they are locked up.*

* The Indians were released in May, 1878, by order of the War Department and turned over to the Interior Department, by which the older ones were sent to Fort Sill, Indian Territory, and the younger ones to Hampton (Va.) Normal Institute to be educated and taught different trades—an experiment that has so far proved very successful.

They have a passion for trying their skill in drawing, and are delighted with a gift of pencil and paper.


Criminals as they are, stirrers-up of trouble as they are, rapidly degenerating as they are, no man can see one of these stalwart-chested fellows rise and wrap his blanket about him with that big, majestic sweep of arm which does not come to any strait-jacketed civilized being, without a certain melancholy in the bottom of his heart as he wonders what might have become of these people if so be that gentle contact with their white neighbors might have been substituted in place of the unspeakable maddening wrongs which have finally left them but a little corner of their continent. Nor can one repress a little moralizing as one reflects upon the singularity of that fate which has finally placed these red-men on the very spot where red-men’s wrongs began three centuries and a half ago; for it was here that Ponce de Leon landed in 1512, and from the very start there was enmity betwixt the Spaniard and the Indian…

They were turned much against their will into respectable members of society.

Inspection of Indian Prisoners, Fort Marion, Fla 1876-77. Artist: Making Medicine (Cheyenne)

Here is one of the saddest pairs of before-and-after pictures you’ll ever see:

Tom Torlino (Navajo) 1885.

I confess I’ve never read the text, I love this book for its pictures. They depict the lives that the artists and their fellow tribesmen had led including their recent encounters with the United States soldiers.  The first ones here are Cheyenne:

Cheyenne warriors count coup on Sioux women & a Crow counts coup on a Cheyenne 1890

Here’s the Wikipedia explanation of the phrase “to count coup”:

Counting coup refers to the winning of prestige in battle by the Plains Indians. Warriors won prestige by acts of bravery in the face of the enemy, and these acts could be recorded in various ways and retold as stories. Any blow struck against the enemy counted as a coup, but the most prestigious acts included touching an enemy warrior, with the hand or with a coup stick, then escaping unharmed. Counting coup could also involve stealing from the enemy. Risk of injury or death was required to count coup. Coups were recorded by notches in the coup stick, or by feathers in the headdress of a warrior who was rewarded with them for an act of bravery.

The artists are known to us collectively as Ledger Artists.  They were drawing in army accounting ledgers, sometimes on pages that already had sums or lists of supplies scrawled on them.  The names of some artists aren’t known.  Of those names we know we have either the English version of their actual name or the incongruous English name they were assigned instead. “Frank Henderson”  is an example of the latter.

A close encounter with a soldier 1878-81 (Cheyenne) Artist unknown.

Attack on a teamsters’ camp 1878-81 (Cheyenne) Artist unknown.

A Cheyenne Warrior Confronts The Pawnee c.1890

Counting Coup on a Crow Man & Woman 1871-76 (Cheyenne) Artist Unknown

Last Bull Captures a Horse 1871-76 (Cheyenne)

Here are three Arapaho drawings:

Artist: “Frank Henderson”. 1882 (Arapaho).

Little Shield. c.1876 (Arapaho).

Kiowa portraits, 1877. By Wohaw.

Warrior Engages Enemy. 1871-76.

I probably ought to read the text.  Some overlapping of images and the even continuous lines around the horses (most of them) make me think the artists were cutting out stencils and tracing their outlines.  They got more movement into their battle scenes than many European artists have achieved.  Uccello’s horses are chess pieces or rocking horses by comparison.

Paulo Uccello. Niccolò Mauruzi da Tolentino at the Battle of San Romano, c. 1438–1440

I have photographed pages from the book here.  There’s a dreary greyness in the reproductions that isn’t helped by the work having been drawn in old accounts ledgers. Try and imagine the work as it was when it was first made 140 years ago: the colours were brighter and the lined brownish paper wouldn’t have intruded on the image, making it look a bit like a palimpsest.

There’s a 1997 article by Janet Catherine Berlo here.

On the influence of the Plains Indians’ ledger drawings, MMcM directed me to Paul Tsosie’s delightful “Horse Race”, made sixty years later. I believe it’s in the collection of the Museum of Indian Arts & Culture’s Laboratory of Anthropology as item #53970/13 (though this reproduction of it is from a Santa Fe cookbook).  It’s so much a 1930s American  image as well as being in the tradition of the ledger artists.

Horse Race, by Paul Tsosie (Navajo). 1937.


Thanks to Language Hat, we have this great poem by the great Australian, John Kinsella.  Kinsella is a vegan.  It is published in this week’s New Yorker magazine.

Goat gone feral comes in where the fence is open
comes in and makes hay and nips the tree seedlings
and climbs the granite and bleats, through its line-
through-the-bubble-of-a-spirit-level eyes it tracks
our progress and bleats again. Its Boer heritage
is scripted in its brown head, floppy basset-hound ears,
and wind-tunnelled horns, curved back for swiftness.
Boer goats merged prosaically into the feral population
to increase carcass quality. To make wild meat. Purity
cult of culling made vastly more profitable. It’s a narrative.
Goat has one hoof missing—just a stump where it kicks
and scratches its chin, back left leg hobbling, counter-
balanced on rocks. Clots of hair hang like extra legs
off its flanks. It is beast to those who’d make devil
out of it, conjure it as Pan in the frolicking growth
of the rural, an easer of their psyches when drink
and blood flow in their mouths. To us, it is Goat
who deserves to live and its “wanton destruction”
the ranger cites as reason for shooting on sight
looks laughable as new houses go up, as dozers
push through the bush, as goats in their pens
bred for fibre and milk and meat nibble forage
down to the roots. Goat can live and we don’t know
its whereabouts. It can live outside nationalist tropes.
Its hobble is powerful as it mounts the outcrop
and peers down the hill. Pathetic not to know
that it thinks as hard as we do, that it can loathe
and empathize. Goat tells me so. I am being literal.
It speaks to me and I am learning to hear it speak.
It knows where to find water when there’s no water
to be found—it has learned to read the land
in its own lifetime and will breed and pass its learning
on and on if it can. Goat comes down and watches
us over its shoulder, shits on the wall of the rainwater
tank—our lifeline—and hobbles off
to where it prays, where it makes art.