Thereafter were the stars persuaded to depict compasses and quadrants, stripped of their names, given numbers, all but regimented into a grid, before they had had enough and reverted to their old subjects: dogs, dragons, herdsmen, bears. Take heed, worldly fashion-someone may trust you up to a point, but if you push him too far you will lose all the power you ever had over him and he will blaze up and turn into a bear.
I cannot say your worships have delivered the matter well when I find the ass in compound with the major part of your syllables [... ] our very priests must become mockers if they shall encounter such ridiculous subjects as you are. When you speak best unto the purpose, it is not worth the wagging of your beards, and your beards deserve not so honorable a grave as to stuff a botcher's cushion or to be entombed in an ass's packsaddle [... ] more of your conversation would infect my brain, being the herdsmen of the beastly plebeians. I will be bold to take my leave with you.
Once upon a time, when men and women hurtled through the air on metal wings, when they wore webbed feet and walked on the bottom of the sea, learning the speech of whales and the songs of the dolphins, when pearly-fleshed and jewelled apparitions of Texan herdsmen and houris shimmered in the dusk on Nicaraguan hillsides, when folk in Norway and Tasmania in dead of winter could dream of fresh strawberries, dates, guavas and passion fruits and find them spread next morning on their tables, there was a woman who was largely irrelevant, and therefore happy.
So nobody must be allowed to think at all. Down with the public schools! Children must be drilled mentally by quarter-educated herdsmen, whose wages would stop at the first sign of disagreement with the bosses. For the rest, deafen the whole world with senseless clamour. Mechanize everything! Give nobody a chance to think. Standardize "amusement." The louder and more cacophonous, the better! Brief intervals between one din and the next can be filled with appeals, repeated 'till hypnotic power gives them the force of orders, to buy this or that product of the "Business men" who are the real power in the State. Men who betray their country as obvious routine. The history of the past thirty years is eloquent enough, one would think. What these sodden imbeciles never realize is that a living organism must adapt itself intelligently to its environment, or go under at the first serious change of circumstance.
Those diversions sparked her life with momentary excitement. Without them, Charis felt she would be driven mad by the unrelenting sameness of life in the palace. Now and again she imagined that she would like to run away, to disguise herself and travel the tumbled hills, to see life among the simple herdsmen and their families; or perhaps she would take a boat and sail the coasts, visiting tiny, sun-baked fishing villages and learning the rhythm of the sea. Unfortunately, making good either of those plans would mean taking action, and the only thing more palpable than the boredom she endured was the inertia that enclosed her like a massive fist. The weighty impossibility of changing her life in any but the most insignificant detail insured that she would not try. She sighed again and returned to the corridor, pausing to pick a sunshade from a nearby bush, idly plucking the delicate yellow petals and dropping them one by one, like days, fluttering from her hand. (pg.16., chapter 1, Taliesin)
Stephen R. Lawhead
Faced with an ecological crisis whose roots lie in this disengagement, in the separation of human agency and social responsibility from the sphere of our direct involvement with the non-human environment, it surely behoves us to reverse this order of priority. I began with the point that while both humans and animals have histories of their mutual relations, only humans narrate such histories. But to construct a narrative, one must already dwell in the world and, in the dwelling, enter into relationships with its constituents, both human and non-human. I am suggesting that we rewrite the history of human-animal relations, taking this condition of active engagement, of being-in-the-world, as our starting point. We might speak of it as a history of human concern with animals, insofar as this notion conveys a caring, attentive regard, a 'being with'. And I am suggesting that those of us who are 'with' animals in their day-to-day lives, most notably hunters and herdsmen, can offer us some of the best possible indications of how we might proceed.