My Photo


David Chalmers: Fragments of consciousness

The New York Review of Books

Poetry 180


Cum carmine in meo corde

For my students

As a child, he had always felt close to birds. It was as if the birds revealed to him some other way of being in the world, what he would now call, as an adult, another reality. As a 6-year-old and then a teenager and later as a father and a teacher, he never stopped hoping that the birds would not fly off when he came near or, more secretly, that the birds would actually come to him. They didn’t, and he blamed himself, thinking if he had been a better person or more at peace with himself and others, the birds would naturally perch on his shoulders or nest in his beard. He scolded himself for such foolish thoughts. Then one day, while on a long solitary walk in the mountains, a bird did come to him but only to drive him off from its nest. It made him incredibly sad. When he returned home from his long walk, he slept the sleep of the dead but woke in the morning with a birdlike song in his heart. To the birds, however, nothing had changed. Yet, to this day, he still sings with the birds. Sometimes they do not fly away at once but seem to listen and join their song with his. He knew he was yet again being foolish, but now, at last, he felt strangely at peace.