Saturday, April 24, 2010

Human and Animal.

I've always liked animals. I've had pets when I could, bonded with other people's pets when I couldn't, always liked looking at animals and studying them. Animals are wonderful, I think, because they don't understand. You could be a failure at life and a dog would lick your hand. You could be a disappointment to your whole family and a cat would purr if you scratched the right spot.

Animals don't have a big picture. Their world is physical and immediate. My old guinea pig was mortally ill and she still squeaked for joy when I gave her a piece of lettuce, because lettuce is delicious. There is no language, no abstraction, no consideration; life is urge and sensation.

Sometimes I walk down the street and I try to see the ape in people. I look at someone's face and I try to see it not as a personality but as the head of an animal. It's hard with strangers; it's impossible with people I know. And it's worse than impossible with myself. It's terrifying.

I dissected a cadaver once, and I've seen people's insides a couple other times, occupationally. And you know, I honestly don't believe that I have guts. Intellectually of course, but emotionally I can't look at my stomach and imagine a twist of pink-beige intestines curled up in there. It's just... stomach! It's belly button and softness and gurgles, it's aches and hunger and satisfaction, it's not just a thing that anyone with a knife could just take apart. Or, God forbid, a thing that time and fate will take apart.

Sex is when I get closest to resolving this. Because sex is urge and sensation so strong that everything else goes away, during sex--good sex at least, and rough sex much more--I can be animal. There's no words or thoughts for what I feel. The parts of my body aren't abstraction, they're penetrated and used, I'm touched on those insides I forget I have. And if I bleed, if I bruise, if I swell up in welts and spend the next few days watching my skin heal, I can believe that I have guts after all.

I am my body--the thought is a source of Cartesian denial and existential despair during lucid moments. Which is why it's good, sometimes, to have moments that are not lucid at all. When I'm being fucked hard, I am my body is only self-evident.

"What do you want?"
"Oh, I want to be known, I want to be loved, I want to be listened to, I want to learn, I want to make art, I want to go to nursing school and become a nurse practitioner, I want to buy a house, I want to have one or two kids and really treat them right, I want to get published, I want to see the world, I want to live and be healthy far into my old age, and in the end I really don't want to die."

"What do you want?"
"I want it harder, baby!"


  1. My old guinea pig was mortally ill and she still squeaked for joy when I gave her a piece of lettuce, because lettuce is delicious.

    Right for the heartstrings. You can work for Pixar.

  2. Animals come as close to giving "unconditional love" as anyone ever could, and that's totally because they lack a big picture. My mom might say "I love you even though you're fat." My dog doesn't even know what being fat means or what society feels about it. My dog just...loves me. Period.

  3. Yep, that guinea pig story was pretty darn good.

  4. It's funny--when I think about sex as the actual act of what's going on with bodies, I get kind of horrified. I mean, there is someone LITERALLY INSIDE OF ME. I feel invaded and scared and turned off.

    When I think about sex as harder-faster-slap-my-ass-pull-my-hair-shove-me-against-the-wall, that's totally fine. Even when I think about sex as funny-squishing-noises-and-lots-of-sticky-bodily-fluids (or even just "we're getting our body juice all over each other!") that's still hot and sexy and not disturbing.

    I am endlessly amused and intrigued and delighted by the varieties of the ways people see and feel about sex.