I saw a
dead animal lying on the street today. Near a busy bend. It was a small animal,
about the size of a cat. I think it was a cat, but it might have been a young
dog. It had clearly been run over or pressed to the road in some other way. This
showed only in its head, as far as I remember. Its head was strangely narrow.
It had been squashed in a little. There wasn’t much blood I could see, but the
jaws had been pressed down and the tongue was lolling out of the slightly open
Disturbing, no doubt. However, after the almost one second that I
had glanced at it, I knew that not all of that disturbing feeling related to
the obvious reasons connected with a gruesome death. Or maybe, they connected
with exactly that, only momentarily I had forgotten what feelings were supposed
to be obviously connected with a gruesome death and they had been replaced by
my dislike for transitions. I don’t presume everyone shares this notion, and
their interpretations of the obvious feelings
connected with seeing a run-over carcass on the road may be different.
What stimulated this thought in me was that the physical state of
that body was just that of one that had been given a stronger force from above,
pressing down, than one that its structure can bear without collapsing. The
results had been the same as to be expected from a normal physical system. A
water balloon would have succumbed in a similar way. That would have been a
completely physical phenomenon — the squashing of a water-balloon. What hit me
was this was one too — the collapse of a physical system under pressure. It was
simply a body made out of common earthly elements and it responded to force in
just the same way as any inanimate object did.
When that dog was alive (sorry, but even if it was a cat, I have to
think of it as a dog now, because I’ve been thinking that during the time I’ve
been writing up to this.), it makes no sense to continue a sentence after such
a long bracket, so let’s start over.
When that dog was alive, our treatment of it would be completely
different. We would look at it as a living thing, with a life, and with a story.
A story that was still incomplete, still being written, still going somewhere
because it was alive. It would have a nature. It would be either a cowardly dog
or a friendly dog or an unfriendly dog or a boring leave me alone dog. It would have a daily routine. It would be living.
Now suddenly, it had become a mechanical system that had responded
according to expectation to an exceeding force pressing downwards.
We look at completely different properties of two systems: the living
and the dead.
Amiability, greed, laziness.
Mass, flexibility, and gases that build inside the body.
All the time it’s alive and it’s not making me think in terms of
its physical properties, it’s still that
physical system, all along. There’s just an overpowering presence of something
else that clouds that bit of information and any necessity for it.
And then it’s dead and it’s just a system that responded to a
I find that transition disturbing. And I mean just the transition.
I don’t care if you now dice it up into a hundred pieces and steam it and serve
it on a plate. The transition is complete, it has been well taken care of, seen
through to the end and the thing has been transformed completely.
But it was still a relatively undeformed carcass and it reminded me
of its previous state, and there is such a cleft between the two forms, it
makes me uneasy. There is something about that transition, from being alive and
being a thing which has a body and limbs as merely consequent necessities for
the primary purpose of it being
there, to being just that structure and nothing else, not being dead because
being dead churns up an idea of the thing still being there and being dead, but just having left and not
being any more, that I wholly and thoroughly desist.
Sometimes when watching those predator-prey chases on Animal
Planet, it’s okay when you show me a lion family eating out of something that
appears to be mostly bloody meat. But when something is being swallowed and the
transition hasn’t completed yet, like a chameleon eating a struggling,
fluttering butterfly, it stirs up the heeby-jeebies.
And not just matters concerning death. When there’s a successful
system that’s in a good condition and it starts being abused or being broken
down and damaged somehow, I can’t stand the transition. Sometimes I prefer the
I remember having been on a sea-beach somewhere. It was dusk, and
the darkness was increasing. I’d built a quote sand castle unquote which was
just a heap of sand, except with straighter and smoother sides than a natural
heap of sand. But it was my something,
I had been off to somewhere else for some time and I think my
father showed me that the tide had risen and wave after wave had just started
to slowly destroy the castle.
I couldn’t stand it. I went and crushed the whole thing with my
I remember having been very upset about it for quite a while after.
There’s just something about these transitions that I can’t stand.
I find them, somehow, to be the pinnacle of a sort of perverseness, to be
forced to watch them.
Maybe many share it. I no longer really think that I am unique in
many of my beliefs. But one requires to believe in something, some special
place where he isn’t quite like others. With this rising population, it’s
getting harder to bet on that.
I learnt recently that this sort of thing is called an
idiosyncrasy. I think.
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