Saturday, March 31, 2012

Quotation: Another Concept of Animals

“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 for having taken form so far below ourselves. And therein do we 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 the extension 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."
~ "The Outermost House”
― Henry Beston

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I remember seeing this passage posted on a bulletin board at the Botanical Gardens in Asheville, but I forgot about it until one of my cat-care contacts sent it to me last week. In my present state of mind, I must weigh this quotation against the whole concept of having pets and how we take care of them, but some things are certain as I recall things about Ollie: he offered a window into one of those other nations described by Beston; we had a strong bond, but he had some kind of independent existence; I learned some things from him; he certainly had some "extension of the senses" among his powers.