“We need another and a wiser and perhaps a more mystical concept of animals. We patronize them for their incompleteness, for their tragic fate of having taken form so far beneath ourselves. For the animal shall not be measured by man. In a world older and more complex than ours, they move finished and complete, gifted with extensions of the senses we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear. They are not brethren, they are not underlings; they are other nations, caught with ourselves in the net of life and time, fellow prisoners of the splendour and travail of the earth.” - Henry Beston (from The Outermost House)
“How monotonous our speaking becomes when we speak only to ourselves! And how insulting to the other beings – to foraging black bears and twisted old cypresses – that no longer sense us talking to them, but only about them, as though they were not present in our world…Small wonder that rivers and forests no longer compel our focus or our fierce devotion. For we walk about such entities only behind their backs, as though they were not participant in our lives. Yet if we no longer call out to the moon slipping between the clouds, or whisper to the spider setting the silken struts of her web, well, then the numerous powers of this world will no longer address us – and if they still try, we will not likely hear them.” - David Abram (from Becoming Animal)
“Maybe it's animalness that will make the world right again: the wisdom of elephants, the enthusiasm of canines, the grace of snakes, the mildness of anteaters. Perhaps being human needs some diluting." - Carol Emswhwiller (from Carmen Dog)
Art credits: The painting at the top of this post is by Virginia Frances Sterrett (1900-1931), an American illustrator who died tragically young from tuberculosis. The piece here (titled "Blondine Threw Her Arms Around Him") was commissioned for an American edition of Comtesse de Ségur's Old French Fairy Tales, published when the artist was just 19. The two photographs of Dartmoor sheep are by my friend Helen Mason, followed by a 19th century illustration (artist unknown). The final drawing, by the English illustrator John Dickson Batten (1860-1932), is from Joseph Jacob's More Celtic Fairy Tales.