Yesterday I sat in the paddock with ChoCho and read a book on an erudite subject called “Onto-Ethologies” by Brett Buchanan. It is a book on how different philosophers conceived of animal consciousness — and especially how one philosopher, Jacob von Uexkull, founded the field of onto-ethology, or the study of non-human (animal, plant, mineral…) subjectivity or interiority. Yesterday I came across this passage from Goethe
If the eye were not sun-like
It could never behold the sun.
If the sun were not eye-like
It could not shine in any sky.
Von Uexkull took this same vision into his work saying, ” if the flower were not bee-like, and the bee were not flower-like, the unison could never be successful.”
You can see where I am going here. If the horse were not me-like, and I was not horse-like, the magic between us would never arise. And what I mean by “magic” is not only those rare and exquisite moments, but the entire gamut of relationship that horse and humans have evolved together.
von Uexkull also uses the metaphor of melodies. He talks about the spider being “fly-like” and then goes on to say
In a manner of speaking, the spider anticipates the fly’s presence through the fly’s melody. The spider embodies the fly, is fly-like, not because of some instinctive response, but because it has “adopted certain themes from the fly’s melody. The spider finds a counterpoint in the fly’s melody, and strikes up a harmonious relation with the fly within its bodily structure and the spinning of the web.
Now, something extraordinary happened yesterday, that for me made these stunning passage ring absolutely true. I was inside my house – which is several hundred feet up from the paddock – and I had prepared a bottle for the tiny kittens that we rescued from a barn, but something “about” outside made me put the bottle down and go out onto the porch. The horses were spooked- but in a way that I could feel there was something going on, because for a moment, I felt their horse-likeness. And then I heard some splashing, and all of a sudden I could feel the panic of the ducks — although when I listened, the ducks were not quacking, nor was the water splashing… and then I saw a kind of shadow, of which I could not make out, but it was as if I could feel into the racoon’s nature, as he waddled away with one of my ducks. I started running– and on the way I must have picked up a large stick, and I ran under the thickets and through the brush, along the river, deep into the woods. I could hear the racoon up ahead, could feel him laboring more than I to escape, I could feel the route he was taking. I was making these racoon-like attack noises as I raced through the underbrush. Then I thought I could see his shadow, and I threw the heavy stick….
I was three or four steps ahead of where Gimpy the Duck was, floating along in the stream, when I heard her let out two almost silent “qwack qwack” to let me know she was there. Otherwise, I would have missed her in continued pursuit of the racoon. I picked her up and held her close to my body, so she would not die of fright. She was very quiet. I put her into her cage, and herded the other three ducks inside with her. I believe she will be alright — for now.
But I can feel the hunger and determination of that racoon. Sure to come back one day, when he can feel that I am not around to spoil his melody.