Saturday, June 20, 2015

You've Been Ignoring That Empty Cardboard Carton for Way Too Long

From time to time, a story will appear in which an animal of one sort or another will speak in a human voice, with human diction, and quite possibly as well with human personality traits in addition to the animal's animal voice.

The more successful among these tales and storied are, in your opinion the Uncle Remus Brer Rabbit and Fox stories, E.B. White's by now iconic Charlotte's Web, where your favorite is a rat named Templeton, George Orwell's satiric romp, Animal Farm, Alice's misadventures in Wonderland, and the remarkable tapestry that is the sum the life in mythical Coconino County, the comic strip Krazy Kat.

The authors of these dramatic ventures did not waste much time explaining why or how animals talked.  Instead, they began with animals saying things, conversations much like those of humans.  In one of the more memorable comic strips where animals talked, the gimmick was that only young master Calvin could hear his stuffed tiger, Hobbes, talk.  The rest of us knew, as realistic adults know such things, that animals do not talk, thus Hobbes was only a figment of a boy's imagination.

The trouble--if indeed it is trouble--starts right here.  Or perhaps there, way back to the times of a writer named Lucius Appuleus (125 AD--180 AD), who wrote a novel in which a human happened to have been overheard by a god in the act of blaspheming the goddess Isis.  Result:  the human is transformed into an ass, who now must work his way back to being a human again, much in the same way Dorothy Gayle found her way back to Kansas after experiencing the quaint charms of Oz.

Neither you nor the multitude of readers who fancy animals of one sort or another in their novels are too eager to put up rationalist restraining walls at the borders.  An animal wishes to talk, well and good, you say.  An animal wishes to make complaints or appear in a satiric statement directed against the human condition, well and good.

In similar fashion then, you've carried on conversations with animals, real, among the living, among the no longer living, and among the imaginary interstices of your imagination.  As well, you've engaged in discussions with things less animate, such as a bain marie stock pot of considerable capacity, in a severe and grimy state because considerable innards of chickens clung to its sides and had to be removed.

Your form of address is often with a measure of respect as a recent one directed at a large corrugated box in which an article of clothing arrived:  "Well, what am I ever to do with you?"  Your theory here takes in the possibility that a person overhearing you in your conversation with the box would not say, "Oh, there goes Lowenkopf again, consulting a cardboard box," rather that said eavesdropper would share your quandary, even to the point of pondering the how, where, and why of your conversation with the same curiosity as you.

How easy it is to deny intelligence to inanimate things while delegating intelligence to things that have no interest in an intelligent response or, for that matter, any interest at all.  Yet, you do both, deny the potential of intelligence to things that do not appear to interact with you and gloss over information from sources that may well be reliable but hold no inspiration for you.

Such connections with inanimate objects and animals keeps us open to the potential within them and you for some form of communication.  This state at once reduces the potential you might have for feeling the emotional angst of loneliness, strengthening in fact your belief that it is possible to feel a form of connection with the Cosmos.

Yes, emphatic beliefs on the extent and power of your response to a thing, however inanimate or thriving with life it bears when you first become aware of it.

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