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A daily record of what I'm thinking about what I'm reading

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Saturday, May 2, 2015

What does the hawk think?

Helen MacDonald moves into the next phase, in H Is for Hawk, that being training her goshawk to fly across a distance (still on leash or creance) and land on her gloved wrist. It's a totally exasperating process full of frustration - and for counterpoint she recounts TH White's experience training his hawk and using all the wrong methods confusing frightening and even maybe hurting his poor bird. As HM notes White was a sadist and tho he did not take this out on his students thank god he may have enjoyed abusing the poor bird. But what about MacDonald herself nips she's pure? She spends a good deal of time talking about how her falconry has something to do w mourning her father but I'm not convinced. Gradually she let's on that Mabel is not the first hawk she's worked with - so father's death is not sole motive - she seems to get some great pleasure being the eccentric (even by British standards!) who is also unapproachable. But what would draw someone to this arcane hobby? In her case it does not appear to be class aspiration - falconry is no longer the purview of the elite - but former it's not the control so much as the dominance - when Mabel doesn't come to her she obsesses about her failure as a person instead of realizing: this is a goddamn hawk a wild creature and you're turning it or her if you prefer into something she's not meant to be. Why would you do this? If you want an animal to love you and depend on you get a dog. She likes to think of a bonding between her and the hawk but what does the hawk think?

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