found things: gold chain / green ring-necked parakeet feather, Hackney/ Hampstead Heath June 2016
‘The Smokers’, wrote John Shaw Neilson, with reference to the Regent parrot, ‘have washed in the sunlight/ And taken the gold.’
If, after this someone still wants to know what the ‘pure word’ is that stands at the threshold of language, the answer is by now surely obvious. It’s the parrot’s own squawked ca-ca – Italian baby talk for ‘poo’. Only a Freudian would say this is shit. Ka may be the first word in Hindu mythology, but in the history of the New World, it is the ca-ca, the ironic repetition of the should, that signifies, the same sound parodied (parroted?) in Guacamayo’s own name […] in treating the Taino as human parrots, ideally suited for enslavement and conversion, Columbus and his successors ‘parrot[ed] their own fantasies of native intentionality’. If my speculation, that such communication as occurred took the form of echoic mimicry improvised around the syllable ‘ca’ (hence canoe, cannibal, Caribbean, etc.), then it seems that Wallace Stevens’s Crispin was not far wrong: in future, history, as well as poetry, would be composed of ‘parrot-squawks’.
‘parrot’, Paul Carter
“A human researcher named Irene Pepperberg spent thirty years studying Alex. She found that not only did Alex know the words for shapes and colors, he actually understood the concepts of shape and color.
Many scientists were skeptical that a bird could grasp abstract concepts. Humans like to think they’re unique. But eventually Pepperberg convinced them that Alex wasn’t just repeating words,that he understood what he was saying.
Out of all my cousins, Alex was the one who came closest to being taken seriously as a communication partner by humans.
Alex died suddenly, when he was still relatively young. The evening before he died, Alex said to Pepperberg, “You be good. I love you.”