Why Should the Animals Trust Us?

Posted by oysijim on May 26, 2016 in

I have spent many pleasant hours in the woods conducting performances of my silent piece, transcriptions, that is, for an audience of myself, since they were much longer than the popular length which I have had published. At one performance, I passed the first movement by attempting the identification of a mushroom which remained successfully unidentified. The second movement was extremely dramatic, beginning with the sounds of a buck and doe leaping up to within ten feet of my rocky podium. The expressivity of this movement was not only dramatic but unusually sad, from my point of view, for the animals were frightened simply because I was a human being.

John Cage, Music Lover's Field Companion

J.M. Coetzee tells us, through his character Elizabeth Costello, that "animals have only their silence left with which to confront us" and that "generation after generation, heroically, [they] refuse to speak to us". Unlike Comte-Sponville, who thought he knew there is nothing behind that silence but an incapacity to speak, Coetzee suggests that their silence should be understood as the response of animals to our behavior toward them. Coetzee's sentence is powerful not because it describes an established fact, nor because mankind has "won" its "war" against nonhuman beings definitively, but because changes are underway that will bring humans to hear the silence of nonhumans once more.

Emilie Hatch and Bruno Latour, essay Morality or Moralism?

Quotes from the Archive of Ensayos.

As a child growing up in the peyote country of South Texas I was taught to call coyotes by my Mexican Indian mentor, Chispa. From him I learned the rabbit's song.

Yyaha, yya yya, yya ayya, ayyo oviya

ayya yya, ayya yya yyo viya, ayya yya ayya yya

yyo viya

(dreams/he will dream of it/he will become a rabbit)

Swimming all day in the lake, I wanted to become a fish. I entered through the swampy cattails, crawling on my belly through the hot black mud, as would a snake. Under the pier, trying to join their circle of play, I was ashamed to hear my father's footsteps bringing watermelon to feed them. I did not want them to know I belonged to him.

When I was seven I shot my first deer. As he lay dying in the hollow of the dry creek, he was at peace and wanted me by his side. I knelt down and took his head in my arms, crying until he was gone. I never admitted this part of the story to my father.

When I was fourteen, I had to shoot my horse Albert who was old; his teeth had gone so he could no longer eat. He was my first love and, in our ritual of death, I made a vow that I would never forget him.

Venciendo el dolor de perder

a mi único amigo, lo maté.

Le disparé en la boca

y el saltó a la muerte.

Tuve que matar

lo que más amaba en el mundo!

Lo abracé desconsolado

me saqué las botas

y las llené de la sangre

que le salía por la nariz.

Albert, by James O'Hern, translated by Cecilia Vicuña