Placing Animals 2nd Half

The second half was even more of a repeat of what we’ve read before than the first half. “In the Wild” was like the discussion of wilderness and “Down on the Farm” talked about what Eating Animals did, even more the slight mentioning in the fist half. I still enjoyed the format with a summary type ending and a slow, detailed, many sectioned chapters. However, since many issues and questions overlap in the chapters, I would have liked to read this all at once and not talk about the same things two weeks in a row.

The real focus of these parts seem to be the choice of different animals, what we domesticate and what we value as wild and why. This really highlights the problematic nature of labeling non-human creatures all as “animals”, even though they are not only very varied, but we treat them and related to them in very various ways.

The history of categorizing animals and nature culturally seems to be out of reach. At the very beginning of humanity, we set some of these relationship, but others (such as our extreme affection for dogs and other cultures reverence for cows) have changed as cultural values have. But are there any reason for different species fitting into different categories? The “wild” animals in general seem to be those that are too dangerous or of no use to humans. Especially the dangerous ones, the animals we can’t control and dominate, are the ones that we value for preservation and see as “noble” and/or “elite”. Whales are enormous and wolves are predators. And because we can’t control these animals we distance ourselves from them which is why we have the wilderness/civilization divide. Animals we have domesticated on farms seem less defined. They aren’t dangerous, but we are even picker than that. Perhaps ancient taste buds actually influenced what animals were hunted and followed and then controlled? Or maybe companion values excluded some animals while those who distance themselves (stayed wild longer or resisted domestication) seemed alright to eat? It seems impossible to know. What is really necessary is to be aware that human-animal relationships are malleable and changing so we can question and either agree with, examine, or dissent from our society views.

There was a section in Chapter 6 which talked about how, in our efforts to separate nature from us, we try to contain animals in a certain physical space that they rarely abide to. How far animals would go if we didn’t make them stay in one place? Would their “instincts” keep them away from human buildings, cities, etc? If not, how would our relationship with them change if we allowed larger, previously restricted animals like bison to be spatially free? There would certainly be more problems for us ,which is what the parks are for anyway. There would also probably be some violent out lash, but in our modern society, with so many animal activists and animal sympathizers I feel new lifestyle solution would evolve to include the animals in human space. However, dismantling the divide would be just as difficult as the integration. I really like pigeons who have gain a reputation for living in very civilized area and I feel like they aren’t the only species that could adapt. The question is whether preserving animal behavior is more important than teaching/learning to live with animals.

One Response to Placing Animals 2nd Half

  1. […] Week 12, April 1-Urbanik: Placing Animals (second half of book) […]

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