What do they know-all these scholars, all these philosophers, all the leaders of the world - about such as you? They have convinced themselves that man, the worst transgressor of all the species, is the crown of creation. All other creatures were created merely to provide him with food, pelts, to be tormented, exterminated. In relation to them, all people are Nazis; for the animals it is an eternal Treblinka.
Isaac Bashevis Singer
Birds and periodic blood. Old recapitulations. The fox, panting, fire-eyed, gone to earth in my chest. How beautiful we are, he and I, with our auburn pelts, our trails of blood, our miracle escapes, our whiplash panic flogging us on to new miracles! They've supplied us with pills for bleeding, pills for panic. Wash them down the sink. This is truth, then: dull needle groping for the spinal fluid, weak acid in the bottom of the cup, foreboding, foreboding. No one tells the truth about truth, that it's what the fox sees from his scuffled burrow: dull-jawed, onrushing killer, being that inanely single-minded will have our skins at last.
At this point we can finally see what's really at stake in our peculiar habit of defining ourselves simultaneously as master and slave, reduplicating the most brutal aspects of the ancient household in our very concept of ourselves, as masters of our freedoms, or as owners of our very selves. It is the only way that we can imagine ourselves as completely isolated beings. There is a direct line from the new Roman conception of liberty - not as the ability to form mutual relationships with others, but as the kind of absolute power of "use and abuse" over the conquered chattel who make up the bulk of a wealthy Roman man's household - to the strange fantasies of liberal philosophers like Hobbes, Locke, and Smith, about the origins of human society in some collection of thirty- or forty-year-old males who seem to have sprung from the earth fully formed, then have to decide whether to kill each other or begin to swap beaver pelts.