Harpoonings

harpseal

Borges famously informs us that in the pages of a certain Chinese encyclopedia called the Heavenly Emporium of Benevolent Knowledge, “it is written that animals are divided into (a) those that belong to the emperor; (b) embalmed ones; (c) those that are trained; (d) suckling pigs; (e) mermaids; (f) fabulous ones; (g) stray dogs; (h) those that are included in this classification; (i) those that tremble as if they were mad; (j) innumerable ones; (k) those drawn with a very fine camel’s-hair brush; (l) etcetera; (m) those that have just broken the flower vase; (n) those that at a distance resemble flies.”

I’d like to add another: those that bear features resembling musical instruments. I offer two examples here, the harp seal and the lyrebird. But then I want to add a subdivision: animals of that description which don’t come immediately to mind.

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