Butterfly hunter



A butterfly is (in most languages) a happy word. Butterfly collecting is often associated with children dazzling after the butterflies with a net, it was f.i. a passion of Nabokov from the age of six. The downside from catching one of these beautiful creatures is that they cannot survive human’s touch and often catching, is killing it. How will you explain that to your child?

camouflage colours

Nabokov’s obsession with butterflies was about the art of mimicry of butterflies. Mimetic phenomena in nature is driven by the conviction that animal camouflage is never the product of natural selection, never developed for the “crude purpose of mere survival”. It is rather “a form of magic, a game of intricate enchantment and deception”. Forced to adapt to an alien environment, the exile takes on the colouring of his new surroundings, but seeks to translate this urgent necessity into terms of skill and mastery. The hunter apparently excells the butterfly’s skills, since he is not mislead by the camouflage trick.

destined with a passion to escape

The butterfly hunter is also a book by Chris Ballard about people who found their true calling way off the beaten path. This apparently associates with the fact that the butterfly who flies to his destiny. The author explaines his choice of portraits. “It are people who seem to be working in their dream jobs. They love their jobs, love them with a passion that escapes the rest of us. Each believes firmly that what they are doing now is the thing they were destined to do. Ballard has caught and pinned these butterflies down in a book, so the booktitel refers to his mastery of exposing these rare specimens.

life span

To me the word butterfly hunter has a more ‘mean’ meaning…the hunter settles for grasping and capturing an animal of which most species live only a week or two. The copper butterfly and small blue butterfly have the shortest life span and only live up to a maximum of a few days. Why spoil this short stay by hunting it?

pinned down reality?

And to my knowledge hunters like to show their catch..in the butterfly world it’s done by pinning it on a board. This then is the ultimate sign of imperfection. That which they frame becomes lifeless! Whilst the attractiveness of the butterfly as the joy of hunting is due to the combination of surprise and bewilderment.  The dedication of pinning down a wild variety of sorts is a kind of one-man show made to impress viewers not so much with the beauty of the butterfly, but with the intellect of the hunter who’s determination to stick the right label on it. Should this gather our admiration?

humane associations

Not mine.. for me this resembles too much the people that collect models and then think they comprehend the world, they pin the models down on a situation and label the conclusions as their effort. Instead of enabling curious questions to shake up new thoughts and admire the beauty of it, they flatten the innovation to a label of truth pressed out of a format they call model. A model is not something that you have to copy, it’s best used as a framework for thinking…  Like butterflies…they are a concept – a total experience that is instrumental to another job. In butterfly terms to create an egg from which new life can grow.

My association with butterfly-hunters is somewhat falsely, the hope of catching something that should be admired on its own terms. I am curious to your images, thoughts and taste with the word “butterfly-hunter”?

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