Here are some links that point in the general direction of what I’m interested in exploring.
Strange animal exploitation for medical use
- The Viagra worm: In the early 1600s, Duke Gonzaga of Mantova, who was syphilitic and suffering from erectile dysfunction sent an apothecary to the New World in search of a miracle worm with viagra-like properties.
- Helminthic therapy
- Dog breeding disasters – the dire consequences of breeding dogs for aesthetic outcomes.
- Pig cloning factories in China that take cloning to an industrial scale.
- Animal psychics (and others who exploit the longing to overcome the understanding gap for their own profit). Examples: animalstalk.com, charlespeden.com
- The figure of the Extra-terrestrial and especially the difficulty in communicating with other species as depicted in Stanislaw Lem’s Solaris, or Fiasco.
- Interspecies friendship (which happens to be my favorite genre of youtube video)
- BowLingual – a dog-to-human translation device.
- Debates and uncertainties about cross-species communication, friendship, or empathy speak to the deepest solipsistic paranoia over the possibility of any kind of communication at all. Even among ourselves we can never be sure that we are reaching an understanding. On the other hand we might say that bridging the gap is not only possible but constant and it’s only the self-awareness of those communions that is perpetually out of reach.
Human law and animals:
- Medieval animal trials. On Slate and Wikipedia. Animals are thrust into a human legal framework. Is this simple anthropomorphism or is something else at play?
- In a similar vein, the pardoning of the turkey.
- Prison dog programs.
- Military dolphins. What other unexpected animals are militarized?
- The process by which new species emerge, or, how a species stops being able to reproduce with itself. I’m imagining a sci-fi future where new human speciation occurs as the inevitable result of rigid class division.
Also here’s an incredible quote from Plutarch on vegetarianism. I’m interested in the shift in perspective (from meal to corpse, or from “them” to “us”) that accompanies this rhetoric.
You ask me upon what grounds Pythagoras abstained from feeding on the flesh of animals. I, for my part, marvel of what sort of feeling, mind, or reason, that man was possessed who was the first to pollute his mouth with gore, and to allow his lips to touch the flesh of a murdered being; who spread his table with the mangled forms of dead bodies, and claimed as his daily food what were but now beings endowed with movement, with perception, and with voice. How could his eyes endure the spectacle of the flayed and dismembered limbs? How could his sense of smell endure the horrid effluvium? How, I ask, was his taste not sickened by contact with festering wounds, with the pollution of corrupted blood and juices?
I’m not entirely sure what project will emerge out of all of this, but here are some ideas:
- A parodic set of experiments or contraptions to militarize unlikely animals (unmanned domestic cat drones, surveillance pigeons etc.)
- A stalinist show trial for bed bugs or other marginalized New York critters.