Friday, April 29, 2016

Anthropomorphizing Animals

This is not about how to prepare a fish that contains a neurotoxin that could stop your heart (the Japanese specialty fugu) this isn't about you, and your sushi bucket list, it's about anthropomorphizing animals.  We do it all the time. 

Look at the pufferfish photo (above) from The Guardian. Answer this question: Is this pufferfish:  a) bloated? b) gassy? or c) neither bloated nor gassy but sincerely doing its pufferfish thing; its motivations and desires are wholly unknown to us.

The answer is c.  It's we who are bloated and gassy. 

But how we love to gaze into the limpid pools of other animals' eyes like the eyes of scallops: 

and see our own reflection. We are in love with our image like the Greek teaching story of Narcissus. 

We need to do this less: Inky octopus wanted "freedom" and be honest with ourselves more: "We desire to be free." 

As Pablo Neruda wrote in Keeping Quiet

For once on the face of the earth,
let's not speak in any language;
let's stop for one second,
and not move our arms so much.

Let's hear what they're saying. The animals. They sprecht. Or sprachketen. Or something, not in German. Obvi. 

Instead of anthropomorphizing animals, let's zoopromorphize ourselves and when we are done being quiet, and start moving our arms around again, we can say how like the squid am I. 

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