Friday, October 31, 2008

Is That a Poodle or a Polecat

We see lots of cute pictures of dogs in costume this time of year. Jan
Cox would have felt it a pity to see the animals harassed this way.
He didn't even like collars on dogs, though he knew it a necessity at
times. His thirst and drive and hope for freedom extended not just to
his students, but to the critters around him. Those of us not so alive
to life's cruelties can hope that the photographer removed the costume
quickly, and this blog is not going where you might guess.

Why the impulse to dress up dogs in human garb, why do most of us find
it appealing and CUTE? Perhaps this costuming reminds us of the unity
of everything, the essential interconnectedness of all---that pug may
really be a bat--at least the glimpse is there, and it is comforting
to the mind, because the interconnectedness may be more accurate than
the separation the mind hacks out of the external world. Glimpsing
this externally though is sufficient, any more real looking and the
mind would find itself doubting the unexamined tenets that support its
own hegemony.

In support of this perhaps grandiose sounding picture, we have the old
old art which was never intened to amuse, but to present the
gratification of the truth----every early civilization has some
depiction of animal human creatures. For the first "civilized men",
those for whom the mind's shift into a higher gear was perhaps still a
recollection, for those brothers of ours--closer to the scene of
mental creation, that dog and men could be commingled was just a fact.
Anubis carried a sceptre.

So common is this in the art created thousands of years ago that one
has to assume this is some fundamental stage in human evolution.
With the idea of monotheism, One god, man got separated from his
physical surrounding too. But does viewing this as a stage of mental
evolution mean that the earlier stories and pictures of animal/human
combination creatures are outdated?

Possibly the earlier depictions are still accurate but that reality
must be forgotten for human mentation to function as an engine of
external progress. If we have to rearrange the external world to (in
the example that Jan Cox used, to get water to run uphill) to improve
our living conditions and odds of survival---we must assume that
external interconnectedness is of small relevance, so that we can
continue with the mind's ability to rearrange things. The mind must
not have to worry about offending some woodland sprite if it invents
water mills. The mind also must be free to see itself as autonomous,
but that did not happen all at once, and now we are drifting away from
our point.

Yes that pug in a crocodile costume is cute. Cuteness may be a memory
of something real but so distant that the mind is not threatened by
the recollection.
Not threatened as long, as the questioning does not press too far.

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