Am I a bird?

The 7/3 Rhymes With Orange takes us to the Home for Aged Superheroes, where Superman is unsure of the volant creature he sees in the mirror and fears he’s going blind, or slipping into dementia (an unusually poignant theme for a cartoon):

(#1) In the land of the caped superheroes

In fact, a younger Superman already was questioning his identity among the volants:

(#2) In my 6/13/19 posting “A superheroic identity crisis”

Before this identity anxiety set in, Superman was sure of what sets him apart from other volants, even if the general public is hazy about the matter:

(#3) From my 5/11/18 posting “Differentiae”:

But what are the differentiae distinguishing a bird (here, a gull) from a plane (here, a light aircraft) from Superman? The onlookers in [the Bizarro cartoon above] appear to have no clue, and their cluelessness has made Superman decidedly testy.

In [this cartoon], the genus … in question is the category (class / taxon) of flying things [what I’ve referred to as volants above], of which birds, planes, and the Man of Steel are species. (And then there are pterodactyls, helicopters, mosquitos, gliders, bats, and Santa’s reindeer.)

All of those things, plus (at least) angels, wingèd men, and other human beings who (like Superman) can fly without wings.

Volants. From NOAD, the beginning of an entry:

adj. volantZoology [a] (of an animal) able to fly or glide: newly volant young. [b] relating to or characterized by flight: volant ways of life. …

From this adjective, by nouning, we get the (novel) noun volant ‘something or someone that flies (or glides)’, parallel to such established nounings (of adjectives that are etymologically from Latin present participles) as celebrant, migrant, dominant, and lubricant.

Some volants from earlier postings of mine. First, the archangel Michael:

(#4) From my 9/30/17 posting “The archangel Michael”, St. Michael of the Biceps

Then the god Zeus, the despoiler of the lad Ganymede, usually depicted in his guise as one kind of volant, an eagle, but here as a different kind, a wingèd man, with Ganymede not as the victim of divine rape but as the sexually forward partner in their encounter:

(#5) From my 4/15/16 posting “Ganymede on the fly”, on the story of Ganymede and Zeus as depicted by the artist Priapus of Milet

And then, in a bit of poetry, the figure of a volant magical-realist Sundance Kid. From my 5/31/10 posting “Sundance is an angel when he flies”, about:

some writing I did starting in 1994: a magical realist (and gay gay gay and very sexually explicit) recounting of the story of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, from Sundance’s point of view. Sundance and Butch, a fiction with interpolated poetry.

… Sundance is an Apollo figure of sorts, with some godlike gifts (the ability to fly, healing by the laying on of hands, just knowing things), and of course there’s the name Sundance, with its nod to Apollo the Sun God, and in the couple he’s the fairer, more beautiful one, while Butch is the darker, rougher, more butch (names again!) one, so we have Apollo paired with Bacchus.

From poem #12 there:


…  and escaped, while Sundance was transformed in death; in his new incarnation:


The music for all of this is provided by I Am a Bird Now, the second album by the New York City band Antony and the Johnsons (Wikipedia link):

(#8) Three songs from the album


3 Responses to “Am I a bird?”

  1. julianne taaffe Says:

    Yes, the first cartoon made me a little sad.
    Is there a dream volunteer category for those of us who routinely fly in our dreams? (No wings, just a subtle modified butterfly kick.)

  2. julianne taaffe Says:

    Should be dream volant.

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