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100 pages, Paperback
First published April 1, 2003
Commonly in the US, dogs are attributed with the capacity for "unconditional love." According to this belief, people, burdened with misrecognition, contradiction, and complexity in their relations with other humans, find solace in unconditional love from their dogs. In turn, people love their dogs as children. In my opinion, both of these beliefs are not only based on mistakes, if not lies, but also they are in themselves abusive - to dogs and to humans. A cursory glance shows that dogs and humans have always had a vast range of ways of relating. But even among the pet-keeping folk of contemporary consumer cultures, or maybe especially among these people, belief in "unconditional love" is pernicious. If the idea that man makes himself by realizing his intentions in tools, such as domestic animals (dogs) and computers (cyborgs), is evidence of a neurosis that I call technophiliac narcissism, then the superficially opposed idea that dogs restore human beings' souls by their unconditional love might be the neurosis of canophiliac narcissism. Because I find the love of and between historically situated dogs and humans precious, dissenting from the discourse of unconditional love matters.
Receiving unconditional love from another is a rarely excusable neurotic fantasy; striving to fulfill the messy conditions of being in love is quite another matter. The permanent search for knowledge of the intimate other, and the inevitable comic and tragic mistakes in that quest, commands my respect, whether the other is animal or human, or indeed inanimate.
Contrary to lots of dangerous and unethical projection in the Western world that makes domestic canines into furry children, dogs are not about oneself. Indeed, that is the beauty of dogs. They are not a projection, nor the realization of an intention, nor the telos of anything. They are dogs; i.e. a species in obligatory, constitutive, historical, protean relationship with human beings. The relationship is not especially nice; it is full of waste, cruelty, indifference, ignorance, and loss, as well as of joy, invention, labor, intelligence, and play. I want to learn how to narrate this co-history and how to inherit that consequences of co-evolution in natureculture.
Bringing Thomas Jefferson into the kennel, Hearne believes that the origin of rights is in committed relationships, not in separate and pre-existing identity categories. Therefore, in training, dogs obtain "rights" in specific humans. In relationship, dogs and humans construct "rights" in each other, such as the right to demand respect, attention, and response. Hearne descrived the sport of dog obedience as a place to increase the dog's power to claim rights against the human. Learning to obey one's dog honestly is the daunting task of the owner. Her language remaining relentlessly political and philosophical, Hearne asserts that in educating her dogs she "enfranchises" a relationship. The question turns out not to be what are animal rights, as if they existed preformed to be uncovered, but how may a human enter into a rights relationship with an animal? Such rights, rooted in reciprocal possession, turn out to be hard to dissolve; and the demands they make are life changing for al the partners...Hearne's ideal of animal happiness and rights is also a far cry from the relief of suffering as the core human obligation to animals. Human obligation to companion animals is much more exacting than that, even as daunting and ongoing cruelty and indifference are in this domain too...Something important comes into the world in the relational practice of training; all the participants are remodeled by it.
Love, commitment, and yearning for skill with another are not zero sum games. Acts of love like training in Vicki Hearn'e sense breed acts of love like caring about and for other concatenated, emergent worlds. That is the core of my companion species manifesto. I experience agility [the dog sport] as a particular good in itself and also a way to become more worldly; i.e. more alert to the demands of significant otherness at all the scales that making more livable worlds demands."
At least as important, I learned that I am interpellated into this story [of Sato dogs in Puerto Rico that get adopted to the US] in mind and heart. I cannot disown it by calling attention to its racially-tinged, sexually-infused, class-saturated, and colonial tones and structures. Again and again in my manifesto, I and my people need to learn to inhabit histories, not disown them, least of all through the cheap tricks of puritanical critique. In the Sato story, there are two kinds of superficially opposed temptations to puritanical critique. The first is to indulge in the colonialist sentimentality that sees only philanthropic (philo-canidic?) rescue of the abused in the traffic of dogs from Puerto Rican streets to no-kill animal shelters in the United States and from there to proper homes. The second is to indulge in historical structural analysis in a way that denies both emotional bonds and material complexity and so avoids the always messy participation in action that might improve lives across many kinds of difference.
A narrativa faz pensar as palavras, como no uso da palavra grega tropos nos dois sentidos, retórico e biológico. Essa palavra que significa virada, maneira, descreve o conjunto das torções de forma/sentido retóricas como a metáfora, a metonímia, a sinédoque e a ironia entre outros. A biologia usa essa palavra (tropismo) para descrever o movimento das plantas em relações a condições e estímulos ambientais. Os gatos de rua vêm compor as alteridades significativas na carta anexada ao final do livro.
Esta edição conta com uma entrevista com a autora na qual é interrogada a sua crítica ao pós-humanismo. Ao final do livro, a edição conta com o posfácio de Fernando Silva e Silva, Uma filosofia multiespécie para a sobrevivência terrestre onde ele destaca a ideia de partilhar o pão, viver e morrer na Terra.