Thursday, April 15, 2010

My bunyip has broken a leg

In the following photo, I refer to the beige stones on the right, propped up against the wall of my house, as my bunyip. (Some readers might not know that bunyips are mythical Australian beasts respected by Aborigines. These creatures inhabit murky water holes and creeks called billabongs.) To the left of the big bunyip, there's a baby bunyip.

My dog often detects the smell of a lizard hiding in the narrow space between the big slab of rock and the wall.

Sophia is disgusted to think that our bunyip might use its mass and power to protect a cowardly lizard. Besides, if Sophia ever traps such a lizard as it emerges into the open air, she punishes the reptile (the lizard, not the bunyip) with instant death.

Well, this morning, as I was taking these photos, I noticed a wide crack in the bunyip's hind leg. And, when I rolled over the block of rock, I was sad to see that it had split into two fragments.

This local variety of marlstone (called marne in French) is relatively fragile. When moisture in cracks turns to ice, and then melts rapidly as a consequence of a sudden rise in temperature, a rock can split just as cleanly as if it had been struck by a stonemason's chisel.

Talking about bunyips, I've been looking into the idea of using this mythological beast as a metaphor for the countless mysterious "things" in which humans, over the centuries, have believed... without ever coming up with firm evidence for their existence. For a legendary bunyip to earn recognition as a real creature, all that is necessary is a validated sighting. In other words, it's relatively simple to prove empirically that a particular bunyip exists. For example, these photos prove beyond doubt that my marlstone bunyip with a broken leg exists just as truly as Sophia and I exist. On the other hand, it remains logically impossible to ever prove that a particular bunyip—such as God or the Flying Spaghetti Monster—does not exist. And that's why people can continue calmly to believe in bunyips until the end of time.

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