Patricia Watwood, Icarus, 2019

Icarus and his father Daedalus (an engineer) were imprisoned in a tower by King Minos of Crete. Daedalus fashioned wings for them both out of wax and feathers, so that they could escape the island. Before making their journey, Daedalus warned his son not to fly too low, so as not to wet and weigh down the wings with seawater, nor to fly too high, so that the heat from the sun would melt the wax. Upon flight, Icarus felt himself to be just like the gods and made the fatal mistake of flying too high, whereupon the wax melted and he fell to his death.
Watwood writes that Icarus is “often trotted out as a cautionary tale about ambition and hubris– but I think that’s the wrong lesson. Icarus dared greatly, risked greatly, and did a very brave thing in leaping into the sky. Don’t we all wish to soar?… if you walk away with the message that you shouldn’t try to fly– well, that’s a sad lesson. Try to fly. You might have to pick your bloody self up and do it again.”

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