April 9, 2009

Other Nations?

I snagged this from The Atlantic, Andrew Solomon’s Daily Dish,
It’s a quote from Henry Beston’s The Outermost House:

“We need another and a wiser and perhaps a more mystical concept of animals. Remote from universal nature, and living by complicated artifice, man in civilization surveys the creature through the glass of his knowledge and sees thereby a feather magnified and the whole image in distortion. We patronize them for their incompleteness, for their tragic fate of having taken form so far below ourselves. And therein we err, and greatly err. For the animal shall not be measured by man. In a world older and more complete than ours they move finished and complete, gifted with extensions of the senses we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear. They are not brethren, they are not underlings; they are other nations, caught with ourselves in the net of life and time, fellow prisoners of the splendour and travail of the earth.”

There’s been much writing lately around removing the hierarchical imposition of humans and the rest of ’em. I’m 100% plus on this one.   But referring to non-human animal species as  “animal nations” is problematic.  Not sure how I feel about creating statehood for any of us. There’s far too much overlap, hybridity, intertwingling for such discrete apportioning. And the more we think about our (constantly) renaturing world, the more stories like the ones below emerge, and can’t be considered “naturally” aberrant, or completely the product of human artifice:

My friend  Abigail Simon found this one.

Watch CBS Videos Online

and this one is very strange… I love it when you “sigh,” birdie.

Granted these are animals in altered (mediated by humans, forced cohabitation) settings, I’m trying to do research on wild instances of interspecies cooperation/curiosity. There are plenty of examples of tolerance (watering holes, feeding grounds, lakes, rivers). But the line between coexistence and cooperation is interesting.