Monday, 21 February 2011

death, dirt and something to eat

i have been collecting images of animals from picture books and old books about nature for a few months. the man/animal relationship is one of extreme distance in most circumstances. john berger explains in his excellent essay - why look at animals? - the reasons for this distance. another excellent english writer and political philosopher on this subject is john gray, his book 'straw dogs, thoughts on humans and other animals' ends with the following short paragraph:
'Other animals do not need a purpose in life. A contradiction to itself, the human animal cannot do without one. Can we not think of the aim as being simply to see?'

animals and meaning:
i have been reading about traveller culture and animals. in some traveller cultures animals have special significance. owls are bad luck and associated with death.
frogs are considered dirty and to some extent evil because they live both in and out of water
hedgehogs are revered, they are considered especially clean
and are known to be eaten.
i find it interesting the anthropomorphising of animals; we give animals human characteristics and attributes, even seeing some animals as 'bad' (for example snakes, rats, frogs) or dirty or evil.
i had a mouse in my room last year. it came, it went. when it came i talked to it, or shouted rather, to try and find some polite way of saying - well, this is my space and you shouldn't be here - it made me realise that it is easy to think that other species are somehow less important, that they have less right to live, which is not true.

don't look away.