Horses say the darndest things

Anthropomorphism is the ultimate narcissism, the manifest symptom of species-privilege.  We are too egocentric to conceive of, decipher, or imagine the inner lives, social and communication needs of other species. So, to ascribe human speech and behaviour to animals is to pander to man’s utter inability to get past his limited, binary thinking, to get over himself; to somehow show that our interiority is not the only experience available.  It becomes a bit of a tautology, I know.  That pig may be singing to the moon or he may be doing something totally beyond our ken.  Hard to say.  As Jane Austen once wrote:  “second-hand conjecture is pitiful”.

It is a failure of imagination to resort to anthropomorphism to explain or explain away animal life:  a sorry reductionism to justify why their lives are less valuable than ours or equally valuable.  I would resent having had to resort to such a conceit to accommodate the solopsism of man except for the pleasure I took in writing the horses’ dialogues.  Still and all, language is as callow as we are, and further restricted when framed by the demands of storytelling, stimulating pity and fear and all that jazz.  So that failure of the imagination is, perforce, mine as well.  Just ask Babe.

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