Sunday, March 9, 2008

sci-fi and pet ownership

Used to be, I'd sit down and read for hours on end. This rarely happens any more. But I've been racing through Stranger in a Strange Land over the last 24 hours, after a slow start weeks ago. I don't think of myself as much of a sci-fi geek, but I'm really into it.
And yet what makes one a sci-fi geek?
I liked Star Trek: TNG, but never watched the other variations. Love Dune. Not so much Battlestar Galactica. Firefly I liked, but it wasn't the space aspect that grabbed me. Dug the original Star Wars. Couldn't sit through even part of any of the prequels. I think it's much the same for fantasy. Some appeals to me. The rest doesn't. Lord of the Rings were great books and films, but I don't own calendars or reread/rewatch. Loved Buffy the Vampire Slayer, (does that count as fantasy? don't know), but I don't read the comics. I have a passion for great literature, TV, and film, whatever its so-called "genre," but I don't get caught up in that "world" when fans take it out of the story and into the real world. I don't buy T-shirts. I don't wave any flags.

I wonder if that's because of snobbery, apathy, or what. Perhaps it's something akin to my aversion to practicing religion--my reluctance to worship that which is meant merely to be loved. I can appreciate creation stories on an academic, even an anthropological level, and I love some (not all) of the moral philosophy established in those texts, not to mention some of the greatest music the world has known. But the context of my appreciation is limited. I think idolatry is dangerous in any form, and I'd think that even if it wasn't in the Bible. And to idolize a figment of someone's imagination insomuch as trying to give it life is just not my cup of tea.

Maybe it's a lack of total immersion and appreciation of the work. Maybe it's a lack of imagination. It's a struggle to know how much of one's aesthetic has anything to do with what one believes in, or what one is afraid not to believe in.

Then again, I also have strong, matter-of-fact opinions on "pets" that are not, as far as I can tell, shared by many. I have had pets, but I've never been comfortable owning an animal. There's something very wrong, scientifically, about owning pets. This isn't the same as domesticated animals, who we keep for food or work. They are necessary in the civilized world. With the exception of sheepdogs, dogs are not. Nor are cats, rabbits, mice, hamsters, gerbils, fish, lizards, turtles, or anything else that can't be used for basic agro-needs (i.e., being eaten, sheared, or used to plow fields). To use horses for riding, as pets, is also distressing. It's also why I feel dirty at circuses and somewhat aggrieved by zoos, particularly urban ones, though zoos (as preserves) can do a great deal of good. It just seems wrong to incarcerate an animal for one's own pleasure. I particularly can't understand vegetarians/vegans who do it. "Loving" an animal is silly. It's purely selfish. If one truly "loved" animals, I feel, one would try to end the entire pet ownership system. That's my feeling on it anyway. You might be able to fight me if you live in suburbia, or in the country. If you live in Manhattan and have a dog, I'm sorry to say, you're an asshole--though I'm sure unconsciously so, as the concept of pet ownership has been embedded into you as a natural human right since birth.

I know there are plenty of people who would say that many animals are better off for having known us. That horses desire to be ridden, that cats like to stay in the house. And now we have bred them that way, that's entirely possible. Doesn't mean it's right.

But that's just me.

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In summing up, I wish I had some kind of affirmative message to leave you with. I don't. Would you take two negative messages?
-- Woody Allen