Tuesday, December 01, 2009

messages, fox, human

Posted by PicasaIn the barred gate of the entrance to Shell-Mex House in the Strand is this blocked letter box, bearing strange and confusing messages.
In the vegetable garden I spot across the fence in the neighbour's garden a fox among some shrubs. At first I think that it is eating something but upon closer inspection I realize that it is grooming itself, licking and biting its leg curled beneath it. It is absorbed in this task until it becomes aware of me and looks up. For some time it watches me watching it before it lazily stands up and ambles gracefully deeper into the shrubbery.
One quote of many from The Philosopher and the Wolf by Mark Rowlands fits neatly into the format of this blog. It comes from his contemplation of the differences between man and other animals, apes and wolves, as he puts it (equating man with ape). The book is an account of the eleven years which he spent living with a wolf. "If we wanted a one-sentence definition of humans", he writes, "this would do: humans are the animals that engineer the possibility of their own evil."


Barrett Bonden said...

Whereas a cat torturing a mouse is engaged in a neutral act? I know I'm on dangerous territory but the cat never seems to do this for pleasure, merely to allay boredom. Sometimes the cat seems to walk away having finally lost interest and is only drawn back by the mouse's premature attempt to escape. The sad thing is that the domestic cat has been taken out of the food chain that once involved it legitimately with mice. The torturing is ultimately pointless.

CC said...

I think the main difference between us is when humans sometimes hubristically think they know what the cat (or any other animal) is thinking.

Lucy said...

He's a little like Diogenes, I think. It's a good quote, and there are plenty, but it also needs to be seen in the context of the whole... read it!

Plutarch said...

Yes, do read it. In a sense the whole book deserves to be quoted. I think it responds better than I could to BB and CC's comments.