Chandan Sinha

Chandan Sinha

Seagull by Jonathan Livingstone

Notable Lines

  • When he began sliding in to feet-up landings on the beach, then pacing the length of his slide in the sand... - 4

  • In just six seconds he was moving seventy miles per hour, the speed at which one's wing goes unstable on the upstroke - 5

  • Climbed to a thousand feet, full power straight ahead first, then push over, flapping, to a vertical dive. Then everytime his left wing stalled on a upstroke, he would roll violently left, stall his right wing recovering, and flick like fire into a wild tumbling spin to the right - 10

  • His wings were raged bars of lead but the weight of failure was ever heavier on his back - 11

  • ...he brought his forewings tightly in to his body, left only the narrow swept daggers of his wingtips extended into the wind, and fell into a vertical dive - 14

  • ...with the faintest twist of his wingtips he eased out of the dive and shot above the waters, a gray cannonball under the moon - 15

  • A single wingtip feather, he found, moved a fraction of an inch, gives a smooth sweeping curve at tremendous speed. - 17

  • He discovered the loop, the slow roll, the point roll, the inverted spin, the gull bunt, the pinwheel. - 17

  • He learned to sleep in the air, setting a course at night across the offshore wind, covering a hundred miles from sunset to sunrise - 26

  • Because any number is a limit, and perfection doesn't have limits - 45

  • "It always works, when you know what you're doing" - 58

  • "...You will be ready to begin to fly up and know the meaning of kindness and of love." - 58

  • For in spite of his lonely past, Jonathan Seagull was born to be an instructor, and his own way of demonstrating love was to give something of the truth that he had seen to a gull who asked only a chance to see truth for himself - 59

  • "...If our friendship depends on things like space and time, then when we finally overcome space and time, we've destroyed our own brotherhood! But overcome space, and all we have left is Here. Overcome time, and all we have left is Now. And in the middle of Here and Now, don't you think that we might see each other once or twice?" - 61

  • Fletcher's whipstall at the top was all the worse for his rage and fury at falling. He fell backward, tumbled, slammed savagely into an inverted spin, and recovered at last, panting, a hundred feet below his instructor's level. - 73

  • ...the flight of ideas could possibly be as real as the flight of wind and feather - 74

  • "Why is it," Jonathan puzzled, "that the hardest thing in the world is to convince a bird that he is free, and that he can prove it for himself if he'd just spend a little time practicing? Why should that be so hard?" - 88

  • "To begin with," he said heavily, "you've got to understand that a seagull is an unlimited idea of freedom, an image of the Great Gull, and your whole body, from wingtip to wingtip, is nothing more than your thought itself." - 91

  • The classes changed, with years, from wide soaring poems in flight to hushed talk about Jonathan before and after practice; to long involved recitations on the sand about the Divine One, with no flying ever done by anybody. - 100

  • One by one the Original Students passed away, leaving cold dead bodies behind them. The Flock, seizing upon the bodies, held great tearful ceremonies over them, burying them under enormous cairns of pebbles; each pebble laid in place after a long sorrowing sermon by a deadly solemn bird. The cairns became shrines, and it was required ritual for ever gull who wished Oneness to drop a pebble and a doleful speech upon the cairn. No one knew what Oneness was, but it was such a serious deep thing that a gull could never ask without being thought a fool. Why, everybody knows what Oneness is, and the prettier the pebble you drop on Gull Martin's tomb, the better your chance of getting there. - 101

  • And so the pile of pebbles on the Rock of Oneness, in sacred memory of Gull Fletcher, was the biggest pile of pebbles on any coastline anywhere on earth. Other piles were built everywhere in replica, and each Tuesday afternoon the Flock walked over to stand around the pebbles and hear the miracles of Jonathan Livingstone Seagull and his Gifted Divine Students. Nobody did any more flying then was absolutely necessary, and when it was necessary they grew strange customs about it. As a kind of status symbol, the more affluent birds began carrying branches from trees in their beaks. The larger and heavier the branch a gull carried, the more attention he earned in the Flock. The larger the branch, the more progressive a flyer he was considered. - 104

  • The symbol for Jonathan's teaching became a smooth pebble. Then later, any old rock would do. It was the worst possible symbol for a bird who had come to teach the joy of flight, but nobody seemed to notice. At least, nobody who mattered in the Flock. - 106

  • Images of Jonathan, pecked from sandstone, set with great sad purple-shell eyes, sprung up all along the coastline, at every cairn and replica cairn, centers to a worship heavier even then rocks could symbolize. - 106

  • In less than two hundred years nearly every element of Jonathan's teaching was taken out of daily practice by the simple pronouncement that it was Holy, and beyond the aspiration of common gulls, lower-than-sandfleas. - 106

  • Anthony in level flight, pulled hard into a vertical bank, and stopped suddenly in the air, as a racing-skier stops at the end of a downhill run. - 121

  • The forces of rulers and ritual slowly, slowly will kill our freedom to live as we choose. - 126

Word Meaning

  • Anchovy [5] - A small shoaling fish of commercial importance as a food fish and as bait. It is strongly flavored and is usually preserved in salt and oil.
  • Charts for brains [11] - In this context charts means maps. Navigation maps known as WACs (World Aeronautical Charts) are used by pilots. At least they were until GPS navigation became the norm.
  • Beacon-trails [14] - A beacon is a light or a fire, usually on a hill or tower, that acts as a signal or a warning.
  • Drab [17] - Lacking brightness or interest; drearily dull.
  • Grockles [76] - Here it means noise by Seagulls. Generally, 'grockle' is an informal and often slightly derogatory term for a tourist.
  • Wry [76] - using or expressing dry, especially mocking, humor. (Of a person's face or features) twisted into an expression of disgust, disappointment, or annoyance.
  • Furtive [77] - Attempting to avoid notice or attention, typically because of guilt or a belief that discovery would lead to trouble; secretive.
  • Huddled [77] - Crowd together; nestle closely.
  • Consternation [101] - Feelings of anxiety or dismay, typically at something unexpected.
  • Cairn [101] - A mound of rough stones built as a memorial or landmark, typically on a hilltop or skyline.
  • Hemmed [127] - Surround and restrict the space or movement of someone or something

Seagulls' Names

  • Jonathan Livingstone
  • Sullivan
  • Chiang
  • Fletcher Lynd
  • Henry Calvin
  • Martin William
  • Charles Rolland
  • Terence Lowell
  • Kirk Maynard
  • Anthony

Aerobatic Maneuvers (List on Wikipedia for more)

  • Loop
  • Slow roll
  • Point roll
  • Inverted spin
  • Gull bunt
  • Pinwheel turn
  • Formation point-rolls
  • Sixteen-point vertical slow roll
  • Triple Cartwheel
  • A dive and a pullup to a slow roll with a rolling loop off the top [121]