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The Animal Kingdom

Assignment: The Conference of the Birds by Farid ud-Din Attar  – Penguin Classics (July 3, 1984)

Please read pages 39-174 – AND 229-235.

NPR Discusses an Illustrated Version of the Book!

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-EoV7fg_Juw] [youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hQD1HWGNauE] [youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F0e0_I7zMS0]
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9 thoughts on “February 26

  1. the poems i felt were actually kind of beautiful at times. i wasnt expecting much to be honest because i feel a few of the recent readings havent been all too inspiring to me. it was a refreshing bit of poetry. they did get a bit over the top at times and i had to re read them one or two times some references went over my head. but over all it was a nice little reading, i know nothing of the cultre so i cant comment on it too much. the plays however look terrible, the trailer posted was just awful.

  2. Conference of the birds was a poetic story of a bunch of birds trying to find their bird king. However, they were in search of the Simorgh. This struck me as odd since the Simorgh is not even a bird at all (or I don’t think of it as a bird). It is a mythical creature and looks rather like a griffen (more so than a bird).
    The birds are speaking in consistent riddles and rhymes. I found the rhymes to be quite fun, but sometimes had trouble understanding their language.
    There is quite a bit of religious mention in this book as well. There are many quotes of ‘Heaven’ ‘Lord’ ‘God’ and even characters I recognize from the bible.
    This comes back to my comments on the past few readings about how close kings and queens are to gods and goddesses. Are they one in the same? or are they simply connected through the mighty ways of the devine?

  3. The Conference of the Birds, written in a beautiful poetic style, was one that put a lot of great imagery in my head. Depicting birds with human characteristics on their search for the God of the bird kingdom, only to find that god is nothing more than the universal energy within all of them, and the strength that got all of them their. While reading this Persian tale, I kept imagining what beautiful, physical pieces of art that could be created in inspiration of the Conference of Birds book. It’s ironic, while humans, on their search for a King or God above all, have caused little more than war and controversy on a journey that seems to have no end. For the bird kingdom however, although many drop off as they venture, in the end they find out the enlightened truth and find peace. Why can’t we, as the supposed “superior beings” of this planet, get it as easily? I’d love to see a contemporary artist of some kind, whether an animator, illustrator or otherwise depict this epic poem sometime soon.

  4. Conference of the birds was a rather unappealing book about kings and queens.For this reading, I had to go on to the internet to even figure out what half of the birds were. All the birds appeared to come up with some excuse why they couldn’t be king and where they must search to find their leader. Honestly I felt like they might have just got along fine if they establish their own democracy.

    When reading the text, I felt like I was reading more of a play then a novel from the way it was formatted. Could anyone truly be the ideal king? A good king is hard to come by and perhaps their search was all in vain. Everyone has a weakness, even the greatest king has the darkest secrets.

  5. I didn’t know what to expect when reading Conference of the Birds since I never read any folklore coming from Persian literature, and I don’t really know anything about that culture. I thought it was interesting to see what would normally be human characters be replaced by birds. I thought that changing the characters into animals will cause the reader to look at the story in a more symbolical sense. The hoopoe bird seems to be the most prevalent character as he is the one who gives advice to all the other birds, so I researched it’s cultural meaning; the hoopoe bird is a symbol of virtue. The birds are looking for the Simorgh bird to be their new king. What fascinated me was when I looked up the Simorgh, it was in fact a mythical flying creature, setting him apart from all the other birds who are of earthly origin. While this is not cuturally the same I thought the Conference of the Birds had a bit of a similarity to the story of Moses, who was appointed by god to be a leader and influences a group of followers. While it does seem long to read through each bird’s sins, I feel like it had a metaphorical and literary purpose. Admitting your sins is one of the first steps one takes to “come clean.” It seems clear that the hoopoe bird only has the best interests of his group in mind, I wonder does he really do it for them, or is he so focused and obsessed with finding this Simorgh creature. Oedipus was a king who became haughty and boasted of his defeat of the sphinx and that was one of the things that lead to his downfall. When it comes to being the “chosen one” that title can cause someone to become really good or really evil, when I think about it.

  6. The conference of the birds is admirable story another book focusing on the challenges of paths confronted in life. the text had its difficulty some metaphors I had to take a double take on. the text describes the pilgrimage of the worlds in search for there ideal king in a very poetic fashion which i like I don’t believe the story would have as much impact if it was written in a classical format.

  7. The story of the Conference of the Birds is very different then Siddhartha. There are, however, some similarities between the two books. They both have characters that are seeking a path in life. In this story, the birds are actually looking for a leader that can guide them to a place called Simorgh.

    Through the course of the Conference of the Birds, we see the birds go through different stages. They eventually go through several different valleys. The valleys, themselves, are metaphors of life in a way. Meaning, the birds learn different morals as they each go through the valleys. This is very similar to what happened in Siddhartha. The only difference is that Siddhartha didn’t really understand everything he went through until near the end of the story.

    I found the sections that I read very enlightening. It was difficult to really understand what I was reading. It’s different from the texts that we’ve read so far. Once it was clear to me about the journey and the morals that existed in the book, it became easier to understand. Life is seven trials and you have to do your best and hope that everything works out in the end.

  8. Lichen
    Unlike Siddhartha, the birds are looking to find their king and even choose a leader to guide them so they don’t get lured away by their sins. The hoopoe’s advice to each bird seems very restricting as if there are certain concrete rules to follow in order to relieve the individual of their sinful selves in order to reach the greater Simorgh. The exchange of words and stories is what should inspire each bird who has lost his way to acknowledge his petty concerns. At times, the hoopoe seems rather harsh and I wonder if his stories and criticisms have any effect on the birds; there’s little time for reflection because the birds are going through a grocery list of sinful concerns. I wonder if the hoopoe feels any pride in his position as the leader and whether he feels superiority over the rest because prophets loved him and God trusted him. He discretely points out his own weakness in not being able to reach the King alone on such a long journey without everyone joining together. Unlike Gautama who is a king through obtaining the ultimate goal, the hoopoe directs a crowd of birds with descriptive stories and rumors. They are determined to reach a single goal and perhaps it will turn out to be disappointing and not what they imagined. When people are told what is right or wrong, they may have an intellectual understanding by their minds will still not be satisfied by clinging onto their ways still. Only through experience like Siddhartha, can the birds really abolish their pride, greed, and earthly concerns. The birds are constantly told not to be concerned with the self, but to pray and look towards a higher, infinite goal and answer. With their King and goal being so elusive, their only hope in getting through the journey with the hoopoe being a intermediate messenger. Actually thinking about it, Joan of Arc was a messenger of God and her quest was actually successful. I guess as long as words really do impact others, those who honestly believe can achieve great things. However, that requires complete devotion to the divine individual.

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