WIZ 1500 Review: Paradox Lost (on us)?

You don’t need X-ray glasses to see through to this credo’s backbone: valuation of life—one’s own and others’—rooted in an ethic of hierarchy.

Book: How to Be Animal: A New History of What It Means to Be Human
Author: Melanie Challenger
Penguin Books
New York, 2021

Reviewer: Patricia K.

Sporadically across history, more consistently for the last century, conscientious people have worked at dismantling human supremacy narratives other folks have shored up for millennia. At the hearts of such stories: belief that by virtue of dominance of other species, we human beings are the highest expression of intelligent life. Our superior qualities make us unlike anything else living. This supremacy entitles us to using whatever species we wish (including our own) to our benefit, in whatever way seems good.

You don’t need X-ray glasses to see through to this credo’s backbone: valuation of life—one’s own and others’—rooted in an ethic of hierarchy.  

Continue reading “WIZ 1500 Review: Paradox Lost (on us)?”

WIZ 1500 Review: Molecular Storms, Octopuses’ Gardens, and the Meeting of Mind

 

by Patricia Karamesines

Metazoa
Animal Life and the Birth of the Mind

by Peter Godfrey-Smith



Science has a problem: nobody understands it. Science was bewailing this problem back in the 80s when I worked at an archaeological dig. “How do we get people to care about what we do?” the archaeologists wondered. “Everything we need to say is important to humanity…but so technical.”

Poor science! Only attractive to other scientists.

Enter Peter Godfrey-Smith, scuba diver, professor in the School of History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Sydney, and author of several books exploring evolution and origins of the mind. His latest, Metazoa, tackles dense questions indeed: are animals sentient (he distinguishes between “sentient” and “conscious”)? If so, are all animals sentient, or only some? If they are sentient, is their sentience of a sort we can understand? If so, what can we learn from their sentience about the origins and nature of human consciousness?

Continue reading “WIZ 1500 Review: Molecular Storms, Octopuses’ Gardens, and the Meeting of Mind”

The Wild Geese

to my husband

An unproblematic state is a state without creative thought. Its other name is death.
—David Deutsch

I.
Rough work, hanging out
laundry in desert wind.
I got caught up in it.
Simple chore versus
crazed local element,
favored to win.
I moved clothespins
in strategic haste,
clamping in place
fresh-washed fabric
dripping spring chill.
Gusts slapped cloth
at my face, wrapped
it ’round my arms.
I wanted it done. And so,
I nearly missed them.

Before seeing, I heard.
A voice of the air. One voice,
two birds. Geese, a pair,
seeking mown fields to settle
down for the cold March night.
One had just said something
(that I’d heard) to the other.
The other replied in wing beats
of side-by-side flight.
Continue reading “The Wild Geese”

For the Birds

by Patricia Karamesines

She picks soft apples from a flowered bowl.

2020 Cezanne Life_with_Apples_in_a_Bowl,_2
“Meant to use these, never got to it,”
she says. “Oh, well!” Four—no, five—she takes
them to the door, throws them through as far
as she can onto crusted snow. “Such waste.”

But I’m not fooled. I tell her, don’t feed wildlife.
They say the wild things lose their fending for
themselves. Or worse, become destructive. “Eh!”
she says. She waves me off. “Mebbe,” she says,
“something to that last one—true for bears—
true for people who are brutes like bears—
but they, those they, they say that same of all
impoverished souls—handouts ruin them. Any
those things at all, they happen only ’cause
you go Lawrentian on the creatures, exploit
their need and presence to glut your own thin nerves,
twanging for touch and bridling. Animals like
to do for themselves. Good times, they will. They don’t
come looking here. Too risky. Important thing?
Don’t ever ask for something in return.” Continue reading “For the Birds”