Thursday, July 30, 2015

Going Wild

The squirrels that pop up at work around and about the building seem to be getting more and more accustomed to the human creatures they put up with in their environs. At one time they'd disappear in a hurry and scurry if they spotted you at a distance along a corridor. But the other day I got within two paces of a little fellow in the main entrance and was allowed to gaze at him for a good two minutes without him looking in any way disturbed. When I gently moved to within a pace he made his move - around an adjacent rubbish bin, actually - but even then he didn't exactly hurry.

It's fascinating to get the chance to look at a wild animal in that manner. On the one hand there's a sense of some basic kinship: like us they see, they hear, they smell, they touch, they are, rightly, wary of big, strange, creatures; on the other, you know that whatever forms of thought or apprehension or feeling are taking place they're entirely alien, only available through the distortions of metaphor. That sense of a form of life that is beyond our grasp brings with it a kind of freedom, a loosening of the shackles of self.

I've been recently forcefully reminded of the wonders of this kind of wildness reading Adams's The Plague Dogs. The segment in which the two escaped dogs turn feral and attack the sheep for food is one of the best things Adams ever did. Of course, it's a literary trick (or, rather, the segment is a cunning combination of such tricks, suspending our disbelief long enough to make us believe we're somehow in those doggy minds) but it has about it a rough magic that doesn't let go of the reader.

I read the segment before my encounter with the squirrel and it somehow enriched it.

No comments: