Michel Serres in Variations on the Body begins with the body in motion (mountain climbing) and from there invites us to meditate on the body’s metamorphoses which forms the basis of imitation and learning. The argument rehearsed here is crude and lacks the evocativeness of Serres’s prose. I quote at length from a section called “The Two Metmorphoses”.
Fables, stories in which all living things give signs, teach profound things. La Fontaine began his last book with “The Companions of Ulysses”; metamorphosed into animals, these companions decline to become human again, confessing thereby that they have finally found their definitive point of equilibrium, their true character, their fundamental passion. This is how and why men can become animals, why their respective bodies imitate a species, and how fables are written. Fairy tales fascinate children because, endowed with a hundred degrees of freedom, their bodies lend themselves, as much as those of gymnasts and dancers, to every possible transformation, and because this capability, almost infinitely supple, lets them understand from within, by a delighted coenesthesia, the workings of the magic wand, which are less illusory than virtual, less inspired by sorcery than a pedagogy of the possible. Ulysses’s sailors have lost this.
We never quite sit still while listening to a story…
And so for day 1143