Thursday, November 15, 2007

home, animal eyes, design kindness

A walk with Heidi, this crisp afternoon, the sun low in the sky, the shadows of trees reaching elegantly across the leaf strewn grass. This is her first day home after her hip replacement operation. She becomes more agile every day.

In Kathleen Raine's collected poems, I note the lines:
" ...Shapes I had seen with animal eyes
Crowded the dark with mysteries."
I have been thinking a lot about animals recently. I believe, along with the philosopher John Gray, that we are part of their kingdom, that human beings differ from other animals only in having an over developed brain. Your brain's too big. That's our problem. We're a bit like the dinosaurs who became too clumsy for comfort, or the shells of their eggs too thin, for the young to survive. To see "with animal eyes" is, perhaps, how we should see if we are to understand the past and even the present.

The kindness of designers: we are running out of the paper dust bags for the Miele vacuum cleaner, which we have had for many years. In order to be sure that I buy the right replacements , I go, as I have done in the past, to the box, in which they are supplied, armed with scissors to cut out the label indicating the model number. I find that the frame, which surrounds the numbers was, in the last box purchased, perforated for easy removal. I slot it neatly into my wallet. This little piece of thoughfulness gives me disproportionate pleasure.

4 comments:

Lucy said...

So glad Heidi's home and getting nimble!
Funnily enough, I came over when you just had the title up and not the rest of the text; it was intriguing and rather beautiful seeing those ideas so mysterious and unelaborated!
The 'animal eyes' line is intriguing; was it the shapes which had the animal eyes, or was it how she saw them?

Lucas said...

Rilke, too, was fascinated by what animals saw. I always remember the line about the caged tiger: "Over the cage floor the horizons come."

Plutarch said...

Thank you for your good wishes. The KR poem is called The Journey. I like those two lines more than the rest of the poem. The rest of the poem shows that it was how she saw the shapes. And that is what appeals to me. I often wonder what my ancestors saw and how they saw it. The lines appeal because of a similar fascination with what animals (also ancestors or cousins) see and how they see it.

That's a marvellous line, Ken. But is it Rilke? Or did Ted Huges nick it from him? Hughes concludes The Jaguar:
More than the vionary in his cell:
His stride is wilderness of freedom:
The world rolls under the long thrust of his heel,
Over the cage floor the horizons come.

Lucas said...

Thanks for pointing that out - come to think of it, that is too good a line of Ted Hughs' to be mistaken for a translation.