Love, Domestication, and Cars

November 17, 2010 § Leave a comment

This is a collection of ideas about Grizzly Man and our classroom discussion.

 

Some interesting thoughts occurred to me near the end of our classroom discussion. I tend to have trouble articulating my ideas during class sometimes, so here is a brief summary of where I stand:

– GM is about Treadwell the person, the bears/nature, Hertzog and his exploration of Treadwell, and human nature. Not necessarily in that order.

– Confused about Treadwell/Hertzog’s sanity

– I believe that human’s can love animals

 

Alright, here are some thoughts. During class we somehow fell into a single definition of what is human/animal. Remember back in the beginning of the year when we had that huge discussion on what it means to be human, animal, or nature?

I will play a dissenting role to encourage discussion, however I am not sure I believe this.

All humans are animals, that is just the thing that we are. “Human” is a state of being that you can exist in. In many ways, to be human is to be domesticated by society. Domestication is a strange word, almost like subduing someone. But in this case I don’t mean it that way.

To be able to truly love something is to be domesticated/human. Love is another strange word.

dictionary definition is “A deep, tender, ineffable feeling of affection and solicitude toward a person, such as that arising from kinship, recognition of attractive qualities, or a sense of underlying oneness.”

This love has to go beyond biological/genetic imperative, since (animal and human) parents can sacrifice themselves for their young and not love them per say. If you are willing to put your own wellbeing after that of someone else’s through your own choice, I would call that a kind of love.

 

Can animals love? Dogs can certainly show devotion and concern for their owners. I would believe my dog Teddy loves me. I will note however, that it maybe be driven by the food/shelter/care I provide.

When I get home Teddy will come running to me and in a totally adorable way. He wags his tail so hard his whole butt skids from side to side and he jumps up and down from excitement, occasionally woofing and barking from excitement. He is so obviously glad to see me that I can’t help but feel cheered by it.

At the same time, I have also noticed that if I haven’t given him a walk after school for a while he won’t be quite as excited to see me. If I have been taking him for walks every day when I get home he will be extremely excited, almost frantic, to see me.

 

A final point: I believe people can truly love inanimate objects. The care, devotion, and thought that some people treat on object with is on par with what you would show a person. A beloved car might be an example, or a family possession that has been passed down.

 

So, there is a conundrum. How do you define love? How about human? Animal? Insanity? Sanity?

He he. Good luck with that. If you have any ideas please do comment.

 

Da Call of Da Wild: How Buck copes in Da Hood (including cute puppy photo)

October 6, 2010 § 1 Comment

If you are here because the title made your jaw drop then my underhand ploy succeeded. I fear that my post does not actually have anything to do with the title, so to appease my tricked viewers here is an unrelated photo of a puppy with a peg leg:

Alright, now that that’s out of way onto business. If you want to skip straight to the juicy bits, go ahead and read from after the ****

In my frank opinion, The Call of the Wild is an awesome story. The first sentence “Buck did not read the newspapers” is pretty awesome considering you are talking about a dog. Sadly, this post is not a review of the book but instead an analysis/reflection of how CotW connects to everything else via a coming of age story (or something like that).

CotW is a fantastic bildungsroman, but it is also more than that. It is a story of evolution of the self, or de-evolution, or re-evolution depending on how you look at it (or me-evolution, for personal evolutionJ).  Our not-so-tame Ghost Dog starts his pampered life in the midst of civilization, and then proceeds to steadily shed his civilized layers until the howling core of his wolf origins dominates his existence.

This epic tale reminded me subliminally of another epic story, that of The Odyssey, a rather strange connection. Sadly, I cannot remember much of The Odyssey, but specifics aside the long journey of discovering more about oneself seems to ring true in both. Of course, I could be just woofin’ since my memory is pretty hazy.

Alright, that was a pretty weak example (it gets better, I promise). I’m handicapped because what I really want to talk about is how CotW (totally) relates to our classroom discussions, but that’s what the next post is on. Stay tuned viewers, next time on ‘Mad Ramblings of the Easily Distracted’ we will discuss some especially juicy connections to our survival discussions and probably go on strange, extended tangents.

I’m ditching the connections part, I’m not getting any ringing bells. On to reflection!

**********

The short story “The Call of the Wild” draws its strength and lasting power from the connection we feel with the main character Buck. It is extraordinary how deeply Jack London gets us to identify with the wolfhound in just 75 pages. And yet even more extraordinary is the influence the story exerts over us (or at least me). The story, when considered at a distance, is one that should terrify us. It is a tale of how the primordial beast lurks within all of us (connection to my paper there), and a story of how quickly morals and kindness get tossed out the window when push comes to shove. If you look at just the beginning and end of the book you will see a lovable dog who lets grandchildren ride on his back is enjoying himself immensely while ripping out human throats. With us cheering him along. So how does Jack London do it?

The answer my friends, is blowing in the wind. The answer is blowin’ in the wind. Can’t you hear it? Maybe it is just those pesky Voices at it again. Oh well. Anyway, the answer is Continuity. As we follow Buck along his path, we see that at each turn he makes a perfectly sound choice that nonetheless transforms him into a person/dog a little different from who he was before. When he learns that you die if you try to fight fairly or with honor, he is making the decision to go for the kill whenever possible.  “So that was the way.” [thought Buck] No fair play. Once down, that was the end of you. Well, he would see to it that he never went down.”(13) And he does. He proceeds, step by step, through lessons learned by toil and by blood (his fight with Spitz on page 30), to become the baddest dog/wolf/4-legged monster to ever walk the northern wastes. He kills many dogs, wolves, moose, and even a grizzly bear. Oh, and a few humans too.

So the question is: Is the Buck that played with the children still alive? Or did he die bit by bit as Buck was forced to learn hard lessons in order to survive. Alright, I went there. Classroom discussion seeped in there. But the question remains. Is the Call of the Wild a story about a dog’s rediscovery of his origins? A tale of finding the strength within? A bildungsroman of growing up and becoming worthy of leadership?

Or is it a tale of the slow death of a dog, and the newborn wolf who took his place?

I don’t know. If you do, then please tell the world. There are families out there wondering if the man who came back from the war is really the same person who went in.

However, if you just have an opinion or a point to make, please do post. This is a fascinating discussion, so why don’t we see if we can hash out some of the philosophical details?

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