Wednesday, October 15, 2003

not us

"I am secretly afraid of animals -- of all animals except dogs, and even of some dogs. I think it is because of the us-ness in their eyes, with the underlying not-usness which belies it. . . ." Edith Wharton
from the Dogs and Cats page at the Getty Collection via Plep

Right now boynton is listening to Flo’s not-usness as she barks at thunder, agitato. The nerve of it. Like some big wheelie bin trundling in the sky heralding an invisble intruder. Unamused, boynton said: Get out – if you’re going to be barking at thunder.
(suspect this loud electrical activity means we should switch off and hop to, attending to the day's necessities)

Comments: not us

Do the days necessities include going to Germany? I look, I puzzle.
Posted by Tony.T at October 16, 2003 01:54 PM

No I wasn't being literal Tony - although I have been known to cycle up to Heildelberg.

That image just seemed to reflect the way I was feelin' at the time. Carless, and rather small...

Sorry to cause puzzlement over my figurative use of the poetic licence.

(nb this comment has been updated to rid itself of embarrassing glitches)
Posted by boynton at October 16, 2003 02:11 PM

the fear bit is really quite important.
An example:

Fear is being whipped up against dogs in general in Adelaide. We have a populist law and order campaign because of dog attacks from escaped guard dogs.

Dogs are not wanted in the city. They have become scape goats for the break down of society and community and the evil/violent nasties that now stalk the streets.

Dogs are not 'of us' anymore. They are the monstrous other, the wild animal that eats babies, kills mothers, and attacks all and sundry. They have become the wolf at our door that roams the wasteland of the city looking to kill whatever crosses its path.

It sounds extreme I know, given the existence of guide dogs and the way dogs are companions for the lonely, elderly and sick etc

But this fear and loathing is what is being articulated, and stirred up by, the law and order Labor Party politicians and the tabloid media. The 'other' is Bikies, criminals, druggies, street kids and dogs as wolves. The law and order crowd are saying that it is a violent dangerous world out there, and that we humans are in fear of our lives. So we needs lots of zero tolerance.

Of course, none of this fear and loathing discourse makes any sense in relation to the reality of dog attacks. The dog attack on humans are here and there, and they are used as an occassion to whip the discourse in an ever increasing emotional pitch:----the way Andrew Bolt writes.

The whole atmospherics of the city has changed in relation to people and dogs living together due to this political campaign.
Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at October 16, 2003 02:21 PM

I guess we are often fooled by that us-ness. My absolute faith that our shepherd Hugo isn't going to eat the babies is probably very silly. (Is he secretly waiting to swallow them up as soon as I turn my back - maybe a swift irritable nip?) It would be worse to be very afraid though. They're so quick to sense a human's you're-not-one-of-us-ness...

How is that baby balancing? - I'll bet it tumbled straight off (into the mouth of the patient hound) as soon as the picture was taken.
Posted by wen at October 16, 2003 02:22 PM

'jaws of the patient hound' would have been much betterer.
Posted by wen at October 16, 2003 02:25 PM

Gary - I think you are absoloutely right about this revival of the menacing wolf, and the way its shadow haunts the urban dream. Dogs are displaced in the sanitised clinical cities of administrators. A quick trip up to the country is a reality check: street wise skinny dogs doing their daily rounds, or resting harmlessly under a verandah post. (sounds like Lawson but it's all true!) Alas- every dog attack triggers the wolf vendetta, and heightens the unease. Meanwhile it remains true that the vast majority of dog attacks occur at home from a bad domestic pet - or as Hugh Wirth might add: a pet with bad owners.
(although having said that I am spooked by the sight of the Pit Bull that gets walked round here - but who am I to talk with a mad bluey by my side)

And wen: I have lost my absoloute faith in dogs - especially around children. Bitten by a family dog was ok, but witnessing the strange "turning' of my sister's dog into a sometimes savage beast was the turning point.
Of course I imagine Hugo is perfectly benign!
And yes - the pic is rather disturbing:

"the overall effect is both playful and ominous in the incongruity of sizes and roles presented by the various elements."

I didn't notice this ominous edge yesterday. I just saw the scale and the hound!
Posted by boynton at October 16, 2003 02:43 PM

I'm going to Heilde's L-Berg right now. Not cycling though. Probably won't see any scape-dogs either.
Posted by Tony.T at October 16, 2003 04:12 PM

Not many dogs off leash here (Armidale, pop c.22000), anymore either. I'm glad of it - not so much the dog attack worry, but the worry of car accidents. Nobody seems willing to contain the cars, so the poor dogs suffer ... but that's another story, isn't it. Also (truly banal) - I really hate stepping in dog shit.

photographic memory, Tony?
Posted by wen at October 16, 2003 05:44 PM

well yes wen, there is that by-product that the civic minded of us attend to...
interestingly I just came back from an off-lead park where I met this guy with a pigeon pair of dogs (bluey, black lab) who was lamenting the change in regulations that means builders et al. can no longer have their dogs off-leash (on guard) being the iconic aussie builder's mate.
Which means more home-alone dogs barking in boredom...
Overall though I'm pretty happy with the off-leash/on leash regulations. But I am mindful of the hysteria surrounding dog attacks.
And the world we seem to have lost along the way.
Posted by boynton at October 16, 2003 06:51 PM

I hate the apologies I feel forced to make when people visit - and the dog (naughty naughty boy) actually barks!
Posted by wen at October 16, 2003 08:24 PM

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