Friday, March 11, 2011

Favorite Human-Animal Relation Quotes

Designed by Christie Nicole and Adam Weitzenfeld
Thought I'd share some quotes I've encountered  researching Human-Animal relations, ethics, and subjectivity as I pull together a post on the moral psychology of animal encounters. Enjoy!

Stories with animals are older than history and better than philosophy.
--Paul Sheppard

The more I spoke about animals, the less possible it became to speak to them.
--David Abram

Man becomes aware of himself returning the [animal’s] look… [Today] animals are always the observed. The fact that they can observe us has lost all significance... The more we know, the further away we are.
--John Berger

The most matter of fact person could not help thinking of the hogs they were so innocent they came so very trustingly and they were so very human in their protests and so perfectly within their rights... It was like some crime committed in a dungeon all unseen and buried out of sight and of memory... Relentless remorseless it was all his protests... his screams were nothing it it did its cruel will with him as if his wishes feelings had simply no existence at all it cut his and watched him gasp out his life

He had stood and watched the hog-killing, and thought how cruel and savage it was, and come away congratulating himself that he was not a hog; now his new acquaintance showed him that a hog was just what he had been--one of the packer's hogs!...What they wanted from a hog was all the profits that could be got out of him; and that's what they wanted form the working man... What the hogs thought of it, and what he suffered, was not considered; and no more was it with the working man... That was true everywhere under capitalism.
--Upton Sinclair

How many of my ancestors
Were treated like today’s farm animals?
How many of us look the other way?
When I hear of calves
Being taken from their mothers
To be sold as veal
I can hear the wailing voices of mothers
Crying for their babies
As the slave master takes them away
The mother cow breastfeeds the human race
My ancestors breastfed the white race
So when I looked into those stunned eyes today,
No one could have said to me,
‘What’s the big deal?’ ‘ It’s only an animal.’
I could have remembered a time
When someone might have said the same thing about me
--Mary Spears

The possibility of the pogrom is decided in the moment when the gaze of a fatally-wounded animal falls on a human being. The defiance with which he repels this gaze—‘after all, it’s only an animal’—reappears irresistibly in cruelties done to human beings, the perpetrators having again and again to reassure themselves that it is ‘only an animal,’ because they could never fully believe this even of animals
--Theodore Adorno

Men do all they can in order to dissimulate this cruelty or to hide it from themselves, in order to organize on a global scale the forgetting or misunderstanding of this violence that some would compare to the worst cases of genocide (there are also animal genocides)… conditions that previous generations would have judged monstrous, outside of every supposed norm of a life proper to animals that are thus exterminated by means of their continued existence or even their overpopulation.

No one can deny the suffering, fear or panic, the terror or fright that humans witness in certain animals… the response to the question "can they suffer?" leaves no doubt… War is waged over the matter of pity… To think the war we find ourselves waging is not only a duty, a responsibility, an obligation, it is also a necessity … I say "to think" this war, because I believe it concerns what we call "thinking."
--Jacques Derrida

There were seventy of us in a forestry commando unit for Jewish prisoners of War in Nazi Germany… halfway through our long captivity, for a few short weeks before the sentinels chased him away, a wandering dog entered our lives... we called him Bobby, an exotic name, as one does with a cherished dog. He would appear at morning assembly and was waiting for us as we returned, jumping up and down and barking in delight. For him, there was no doubt that we were men... This dog was the last Kantian in Nazi Germany, without the brain needed to universalize maxims and drives
--Emmanuel Levinas

However, even vegetarianism in your hands, would make a capital article... its connection with modern socialism, atheism, nihilism, anarchy and other political creeds... Brussels sprouts seem to make people bloodthirsty, and those who live on lentils and artichokes are always calling for the gore of the aristocracy and for the severed heads of kings... in the political sphere a diet of green beans seems dangerous.
--Oscar Wilde