Logical Family Migrations

A bridging metaphor. A resonant myth in the context of the novel. Friable when lifted out.

"They migrate like birds," Anna explained. "They're the only butterflies that do. But the distance of their migration is so enormous—thousands of miles—that they can't make the journey on their own. They only live for two months."

"So—how do they do it?"

"They don't. Their children do it. Their grandchildren. Somehow they know exactly where to go and specifically where to land. Somehow—it's in them. The new generation winters in the same tree every year without ever having seen the tree." Anna paused as the butterfly tricycle rounded the corner and disappeared into the swirl of traffic. "They don't need their elders at all. It's a miraculous thing."

Brian knew she was talking to him, but he didn't say a word. He didn't trust his voice not to crack.

"They're poisonous," Anna added, "so they're tough little bastards. Nobody would dare eat them. They're flying caution signs—look at them, orange and black, pure Halloween. But they survive, and their pattern is so familiar it's imprinted on our brains like something generic—like plaid. Am I making any sense?"

Wren murmured her understanding.
Much of this faith in future generations to find their way depends upon a firm belief in the rightness of logical families (as opposed to biological). Of course such affirmative insight comes to us from the charming character Anna Madrigal in Armistead Maupin's ninth novel in the Tales of the City series, The Days of Anna Madrigal. She may be channelling Wittgenstein on family resemblance in her description of the meaning that can be attached to an artcar in the form of a Monarch parading at the Burning Man festival in Black Rock City. Then again she may belong to an entirely different language game.

And so for day 1157