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I beat my wings but no longer make headway

9 April 2012

Author : clement-delepine

Immanuel Kant: A word with you dear neighbor, you were going out?

Birdkeeper: Great philosopher, the honor of your visit will serve in advance to excuse my lateness

Immanuel Kant: I will come again

Birdkeeper: Please, do me this kindness. Martin, my lad! Bring us some Franconia wine, the best.

Immanuel Kant: Now, my dear birdkeeper, do you see your dovecot?

Birdkeeper: In point of fact, I do see a dovecot. But your simple and profound remark spurs in me this sudden thought: Can I, in a single glance and impression, encompass building and sense of property, I mean my property?

An interesting problem.

Professor, can I see my dovecot?

Immanuel Kant
: Indeed, Indeed. Now if I may…

Every day, every night, from my study where I work, every day of my life, since I chose to conduct my thinking with guidance from no one, I have enjoyed looking out the window at your dovecot.

Birdkeeper: Oh Professor! Then you see my dovecot!

Immanuel Kant
: Nevertheless, for some time now your linden blocks my view and I no longer see your dovecot.

Birdkeeper: Yet you will notice that from here, we can see my dovecot.

Immanuel Kant: Yes, Mr Birdkeeper, but it’s no longer pleasing from my window and my work suffers for it. I feel like a gull flying against the wind.I beat my wings but no longer make headway.

Trees move, Mr Birdkeeper, do you understand? So, to calm an old man’s anxiety, I have come to ask a favor. Would you kindly cut down that tree?

Birdkeeper: Cut down a tree, Professor?
Immanuel Kant: Cut down a man, Mr Birdkeeper?

excerpt from Les derniers jours d’Emmanuel Kant, Philippe Collin, 1994

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