Monday, June 8, 2009

Spirit Animals

Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words. And sometimes a postcard of a Jackalope is worth more than a million sentences. I truly believe that these creatures are one of the most amazing creations out there. As a part of American folklore, they still perplex and amuse. People who have never encountered a mounted trophy of a jackalope question whether they are real. The physical object is in front of them defying all logic of illustrated bestiaries. But no zoo has ever had one. Yet, no zoos held rabbits, dogs, cats, cows, or other "common" animals. Even deer were too common for most zoological gardens. So to see this hybrid, this fusion of a jack-rabbit and antelope (although the antlers are distinctly deer), makes one wonder, "Did I simply miss something?"

The jackalope poses interesting existentialist arguments. Does the jackalope exist as an object or as a concept? Is there an essense of jackalope of an anti-essence of jackalopeness? If the jackalope is merely a construct why does it continue to seep into the collective consciousness of Americana? The way I view it, is that our country is too young to have created a mythology. The taxidermy hoaxes, urban legends, and mythic stories of comic book heroes are what create our legends. We have stories of Paul Bunyan, Pecos Bill, John Henry, and Shaft. But beyond that, we are left with the biographies of historical figures. 

Where are our allegorical figures living on mountains dictating our lives from afar? The jackalope is one of the remaining wild beasts to be tamed by cowboys who ride broncos that snort fire and eat cactus.
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