To Eat a Bowl of Misery.

A heartless...so cute!

A heartless...so cute!

“But is there any reason why we should be suffered to torment them?” (Bentham, 245A).  I wonder, as a ponder this question, whether or not I would pass the VK Empathy test in the world of Dick’s “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?”.  I have it on some authority that people sometimes wonder if I am “heartless”.  This is not the case.  It is merely that I would answer the above question, yes.  Yes, there are reasons why torment, torture, pain, and suffering should be allowed.  At least, this is my belief.  And it is perhaps a following of a logical maneuver that saved my life when I was young.  ‘What is the value of suffering?’, I was forced to ask myself.  For what reason, does God allow suffering to happen?  And I was forced to answer that, if God is good, then there must be value in it.  Value that can be derived from no other source.  There are lessons, at least in my belief system, that can only be learned in the dark places of the world, in the dark places, perhaps, in our own hearts.  This evolved, I suppose, with my religious beliefs, to include certain synergisms between the principles of free will, and the tenants of reincarnation.  To the point that I began to suspect that perhaps there were souls in all things, living, non-living, organic or inorganic, and that these souls had chosen their existence, in order to experience the lifetime contained therein.  And that, perhaps, before now, or after, I might be an animal, raised to die, or a leaf, dying in Autumn, or a pebble, sitting for a thousand years on the top of Mt. Fuji.  In this way, perhaps I suffer from the same problem as some of the characters in Dick’s work, who Isidore thinking of them says, “On the other hand, the synthetic sufferings of false animals didn’t bother Milt Borogrove or their boss Hannibal Sloat” (Dick, 72).  Perhaps I only view these things around us as “false” or merely echoes of a higher self.  All is one, one is all.  And I wonder too, if the experience of changing the way we treat animals is necessary to.  Not only does the suffering of the animals have value to the sufferers, but the motivation to compassion, born of atrocity, that brings change to humanity is also of value.  Perhaps I agree with Isidore, who when confronted with a dead cat, argues, “According to M-Mercer…a-all life returns.  The cycle is c-c-complete for a-a-animals too.  I mean, we all ascend with him, die–” (Dick 78).  But another part of me, the cynic inside, agrees with Sloat, who responds dryly, “Tell that to the guy that owned this cat” (78).  Is it the experience of the now, the moment that matters?  Or is the story of the existence, as remembered in echoes of eternity that is most important?

Perhaps similar to Horace?

Perhaps similar to Horace?

I wonder as well at our perceptions of animals.  Again, we return to the question of Derrida’s about the cat who watches him naked.  What strange power do animals possess to communicate with us?  Is it their absolute otherness?  Even in Dick, whose alternate future has carried the ideas of animal rights to their eventual and absurd conclusion has echoes of Derrida.  When faced with the death of a cat, a woman rants, “There is only one cat like Horace.  He used to–when he was just a kitten–stand and stare up at us as if asking a question.  We never understood what the question was.  Maybe he knows the answer…I guess we all will eventually” (Dick 80).  Is it, as Walker toys with, and Derrida muses, that “They are in fact completed creations (at least they seem to be, so much more than we) who are not likely to change; it is their nature to express themselves” (Walker 245D).  Or is it the particular proclivity of man, to look at himself through the world around him, and to never be certain as to who, or what, he is.  As the android muses in Dick’s novel, “I think you’re right; it would seem we lack a specific talent you humans possess.  I believe it’s called empathy” (Dick 124).  Is there a wolf, ever in the history of wolves, that has questioned the mutilation and terrifying hunt of prey animals?  Are we cruel?  Or are we only cruel because we perceive the potential to be kind?  Were we “told they [we] must “forget” the deep levels of communication between themselves [ourselves] and “mammy” ” (Walker 245D), as Walker suggests in reference to the particular quandry of young white children who experience unconditional love at the hands of their lessers, whom she links as being both animals and black persons, and then are told to forget that experience.  Have we forgotten?  Or have we not discovered?  Or is it a phatasm we chase to assuage the weight of empathy that nature has cursed us, most potent of predators, with?  Do we have the capacity to be saviors, or even moreso, the responsibility?  Or are we only a cog in the machine, as Deckard muses in Dick’s novel, “In a way, he realized, I’m part of the form-destroying process of entropy” (Dick 98).  I would like to believe, and do most often that Walker’s statement in “Am I Blue?” is quite close to “truth”, “Everything you do to us [animals] will happen to you; we are your teachers, as you are ours.  We are one lesson” (Walker 245E).  So I suppose that question I really need to ask is, ‘How much for a bowl of misery, please?”

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~ by dadaniel on February 5, 2009.

2 Responses to “To Eat a Bowl of Misery.”

  1. I haven’t finished reading this, but call the kettle black, will you? Proof read next time before you complain about other people’s writing.

  2. “Not only does the suffering of the animals have value to the sufferers, but the motivation to compassion, born of atrocity, that brings change to humanity is also of value.” I asked you if those images affected you at all, and you said no. So you don’t feel compassion for the dying animals, are you contradicting your own feelings (not beliefs. i.e. you talk about compassion, yet seem completely apathetic), or were you not sure how to reply at the given moment?

    Your lack of compassion for the images are what upset people the most, I believe. It’s not that you didn’t cry. Not that you will continue to eat meat, wear leather, etc. It’s specifically when I asked, “Would you treat an animal this way” (and obviously, your beliefs allow you to treat anything that way. A little too convenient, if you ask me. Someone could easily take that and say, “Oh yes, I shot up the school because they chose that suffering.” Or, since you had some iffy ideas about humans, you could say, “Oh yes, I eliminated the forest because they chose that suffering.” And believe me, I feel that way about more than one set of beliefs. Manifest Destiny, God’s ordination and set path. Definitely rubs me the wrong way.) I didn’t ask, “Would you kill an animal?” But I was specifically referring to skinning an animal while it was still alive, anal electrocution, rubbing pepper in the eyes of another living creature.

    And also, when Robert asked, “This doesn’t affect you at all?” You just shrugged and said, “Eh, not really.” Giving that type of response, knowing what kind of environment you’re in… David, you’re smart. You knew what you were doing there and how people would take it. Don’t let your love of attention and being the villain get in the way of what you actually believe/feel about the subject. You’re a rhetoric major: back up your response.

    All that said, I completely agree. I even said something along the lines of this in my road map. With the death of my dog Dollie Bell, I had to understand that bad things happen. I think we’ve talked about this before, but I’m not quite sure. Happiness only comes in spurts, and I have to work for happiness. It’s not something I like to take for granted, and I don’t believe it’s the natural “default” emotion for anyone. “Only For Now”

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