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Washington, United States
loves: you win if you guessed "pets" and "museums". Also books, art history, travel, British punk, Korean kimchi, bindis, martinis, and other things TBD. I will always make it very clear if a post is sponsored in any way. Drop me a line at thepetmuseum AT gmail.com !

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

maeterlinck: more on the dog (not for cat lovers!)

More from Maurice Maeterlinck's My Dog.  In this selection he muses on how (he thinks) dogs are the only other part of creation to develop the linkage of affection with humans.  No other animal comes off so well in comparison, but his take on cats is too funny.  (And wrong!  Says me.)
Man loves the dog, but how much more ought he to love it, if he considered, in the inflexible harmony of the laws of nature, the sole exception, which is that love which succeeds in piercing, in order to draw closer to us, the partitions, every elsewhere impermeable, that separate the species.  We are alone, absolutely alone, on this chance planet; and, amid all the forms of life that surround us, not one, excepting the dog, has made an alliance with us. . .
Among the animals, we number a few servants who have submitted only through indifference, cowardice or stupidity: the uncertain and craven horse, who responds only to pain and is attached to nothing; the passive and dejected ass, who stays with us only because he knows not what to do nor where to go, but who, nevertheless, under the cudgel and the pack-saddle, retains the idea that lurks behind his ears; the cow and the ox, happy so long as they are eating, and docile because, for centuries, they have not had a thought of their own; the affrighted sheep, who knows no other master than terror; the hen, who is faithful to the poultry-yard, because she finds more maize and wheat there than in the neighbouring forest. 

I do not speak of the cat, to whom we are nothing more than a too large and uneatable prey: the ferocious cat, whose sidelong contempt tolerates us only as encumbering parasites in our own homes. She, at least, curses us in her mysterious heart; but all the others live beside us as they might live beside a rock or a tree. They do not love us, do not know us, scarcely notice us. They are unaware of our life, our death, our departure, our return, our sadness, our joy, our smile. They do not even hear the sound of our voice, so soon as it no longer threatens them; and, when they look at us, it is with the distrustful bewilderment of the horse, in whose eye still hovers the infatuation of the elk or gazelle that sees us for the first time, or with the dull stupor of the ruminants, who look upon us as a momentary and useless accident of the pasture.
Pages 40-45, the 1906 G. Allen edition.


poop bags said...

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A few Good Cats said...

The man had a really high regard for dogs, and an awfully low regard for all other animals. Says more about him than about the other animals.

Anyway, we (as cats) do not have "sidelong contempt" for him. Ours is full-on and straightforward contempt!

curator said...

Goodness, I don't know what's up with my RSS form - it's from the Blogger widget list, so it should work. Maybe I should take it out and re-insert it? Thanks for letting me know.