Outside of an anthropocentric domain, speciesism is a wider problem than racism or sexism: it affects immensely more beings. I want to believe that fixing the former eventually will fix the latter (a top-down approach), though perhaps a bottom-up approach is more realistic: most humans are concerned with humans first, be it themselves, their friends and families, their colleagues, or their community. With practice and progress, this should extend to their fellow people everywhere.
I feel I need to revisit Peter Singer’s Animal Liberation at some point; it’s what spurred this thought.
A further adjunct for the above is the idea of “reciprocal compassion” that Tocqueville believes comes about from democracy, as discussed by Yale professor Steven B. Smith in this lecture:
Since non-human beings are unlikely to be an active part of democracy as we know it (and hence active agents if eliciting change), do modern democracies help foster compassion with animals and other living things?
Aside from playing Sonic the Hedgehog on the Sega Genesis as a kid, I didn’t really ever think about hedgehogs. I’m not 100% sure how they re-entered my purview, but I think this had a lot to do with it.
My natural reaction after seeing the post linked above was as simple as it was natural: I need to obtain a hedgehog. A simple Google search brought me to this: http://hedgehogcentral.com/, a charmingly 90’s-looking site with quite a bit of resources. I learned two important things from Hedgehog Central: 1) hedgehogs are essentially perfect pets, and 2) they’re illegal in California. Something something “Fish & Game commission”, blah blah blah “insectivores… detrimental to California’s native animals”, such & such & such, pursuant this, pursuant that, “Section 2118 of the Fish and Game Code, sub-Section 671, Title 14, CCR…” Meh. Infinite meh.
So I either exstatriate to one of the 45 or so states in which it’s ok to own these perfections, or I bide my time and maintain that sickly virtuous patience that I seem to have acquired from non-sensical amounts of turn-based video-game nerdery fostered at the earliest of ages. I also have the Internet to get me through these trying times. And since I’m not allergic to any food, medication, or presumably hedgehogs, and am allergic to: all conventional pets; non-conventional, infeasible pets (horses); trees; grass; pollen; dust; ragweed; and most things that the planet has seemed to bathe itself in, I’ll have to let things like the video below preemptively heal my soul until I can get my first hedgehog (I already know what I’m going to call him, but it’s a secret).
I don’t normally post individual works, but I ended up liking the transformation of this one so much that I had to give it some extra attention. Staying at a rented house in Sonoma with a number of family members the night before a big family wedding, I got the kids room, which contained: kid-friendly wallpaper, a crib, one of those weird beds that has drawers under it, entirely way too many pillows for either function or decoration, and a lingering sense of innocence. Also there were several stunning works of mixed-media art on the walls, and I was enraptured by them. Here’s an untreated photo of one of the other ones:
As I found out later, while perusing the lovely Dog-Eared Books on Valencia St. in San Francisco, the bird cut-outs were the work of Charley Harper. I saw of a book of postcards by him simply entitled “Birds” and I thought instantly: “I know that bird.” And sure enough I did, and now do better than ever.
Here’s another that was on the wall that was keeping me company while sleep approached:
The original, non-Photoshopped version is below. While stunning in person, my photograph of it somehow did not capture its energy. For the modified version at the top of this post, I added some texture, manipulated the value curve, did some burning & dodging, and even got into the nitty-gritty-pixely level for a few micro-touchups.