“Are You My Mother?”: an existentialist fever dream

Dostoevsky: “The Lost Robin” (a very short excerpt)

“Are you my mother?” the baby robin approached the dog and asked it.

“No, I am not your mother!” the dog exclaimed.

“If you are not my mother, then by what means do you derive the authority to tell me this?” asked the Robin, suddenly impetuous. “Indeed, if we have denied the existence of God, then we have abolished all authority, even maternal authority!”

“Let me tell you a story about a pig my sister’s master’s estranged boyfriend used to own,” the dog said in response. “The pig was born over thirty years ago, to a family that was very happy, at least for a time. But I get ahead myself. In the first months of its life, the pig would frequently venture down to a creek at the southern edge of its farm”…

Camus: “The Myth of the Robin” (excerpts)

There is only one really serious problem in children’s literature, and that is orphanhood. Such diverse characters as Harry Potter and Huckleberry Finn all serve to prepare children for the fact that they one day will leave their parents. “Without the guidance of your parents,” these characters ask, “how can you live your life?”…

The gods had condemned the robin to ceaselessly searching for her mother among various creatures, only to have them all turn her away. They had thought with some reason that there is no more dreadful punishment than perpetual orphanhood…

Kafka: “Yet Another Fable” (the entirety)

“Are you my mother?” asked the baby robin. “Indeed, we know my mother must be after my image, but having no mirror, I know not my own image. Thus I have been forced to question all sorts of creatures—tiny and mercurial, long and cartilaginous, groaning and metallic.”

“I am not your mother,” said the old robin. “I have been barren my whole life.”

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