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The Animal Life
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My interest in animals takes me in the following direction: In order to (attempt) to understand different animals, and use them as partners in looking at the world and at myself, I'll employ speculative extrapolation, making assumptions and observations and taking guesses about what it's like to be a goat in a barnyard or a moth or a horse in George Eliot's Middlemarch. There's something peculiar about �[BULLET]probing�[BULLET] a living creature�" it is almost always actively �[BULLET]probing�[BULLET] you right back, working to understand you as you work to understand it, observing you in order to establish or tweak its own sense of self, as you do the same, guessing at your way of seeing the world, in order to enlarge its own way, even as you guess at its way of seeing the world in order to enlarge yours. This makes the task of writing about animals�"even animals in literature and non-fiction�"oddly reflexive. It is unclear whether Blake's tiger gets its awesome power from its creator, or if the creator derives a sense of power and fearlessness from looking into the creature's eyes�" both things happen at once. In Jorie Graham's �[BULLET]The Lady and the Uni- corn and Other Tapestries,�[BULLET] Graham is able to see herself in the act of creation from the perspec- tive of a quail covey; and doing this she realizes that the quails' strange way of flight embodies her way of thinking and writing. My socialized (milking) goats see me as a source of food and companionship. I relate to them, at times, almost as a father. My sheep and more wild goats are less sure what to make of me; I'm half threat half curiosity. My sense of myself when interacting with these semi-domesticated animals is more complex�" I confront my own largeness, my dependence on my hands' dexterity opening gates and moving water buckets, doing things they cannot. I see, also, the strangeness and absurdity of so many of my movements and purposes and ideas, which to them are spurious or irrelevant. Our understanding of animals�"and thus of our- selves when interacting with them or thinking about them�"does not flow in one direction. It is shaped by their understanding of us.
- Masters Theses