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Saturday, 23 March 2013

Soldier's goodbye and Bobbie the cat (the spirit of animals goes Down Under)


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Soldier's goodbye and Bobbie the cat: photo by Sam Hood, c. 1939-1945 (State Library of New South Wales)


Who knoweth the spirit of man that goeth upward, and the spirit of the beast that goeth downward to the earth?
ECCLESIASTES 3:21

And yet the love of animals is as old as the human race.  Thousands of written or spoken testimonials, of works of art and of witnessed acts, prove that.  He loved his donkey, that Moroccan peasant who had just heard him condemned to death, because for weeks on end he had poured engine oil over his long ears covered with sores, since he thought it would be more effective because it was more expensive than the olive oil which was so plentiful on his little farm.  Bit by bit, the horrible necrosis of the ears had rotted away the entire animal, who didn't have long to live but who would continue his labors until the end, since the man was too poor to allow him to be sacrificed.  He loved his horse, that avaricious rich man who took the handsome gray animal for a free consultation with the European veterinarian; he had been the pride of the celebrations of Arab horsemanship, and it appeared that the only thing wrong with him was that he had been given poorly chosen feed.  He loved his dog, that Portuguese peasant who every day carried in his arms his German shepherd with its broken leg, just to have him near during his long day's work in the garden, and to nourish him with the kitchen scraps.  They love birds, that old man and old woman who feed the pigeons in shabby Parisian parks and whom we do wrong to mock, since, thanks to the fluttering wings around them, they are entering into a rapport with the universe.  He loved animals, the author of Ecclesiastes who asked if the spirit of beasts goes downward; or Leonardo, setting free the captive birds in the Florentine market; or that Chinese lady a thousand years ago who found a huge cage full of a hundred sparrows in a corner of her courtyard, which were there because her doctor had prescribed that she eat a still-warm brain every day.  She flung wide the doors of the cage: "Who am I to take preference over so many little creatures?"  Others before us have made the choices that continually confront us.


Marguerite Yourcenar: from Who Knows Whether the Spirit of Animals Goes Downward, a lecture given at the Gulbenkian Foundation, Lisbon, April 8, 1981; translated by Walter Kaiser in collaboration with the author in That Mighty Sculptor, Time, 1992



Soldier's goodbye and Bobbie the cat: photo by Sam Hood, c. 1939-1945 (State Library of New South Wales)


Kangaroo and girls: photo by Sam Hood, c. 1939-1945 (State Library of New South Wales)



Yap Yap (dog) in cart pulled by Achong, Trundle, NSW
: photographer unknown, c. 1910 (State Library of New South Wales)



Mr Tulk and dog ("Sausage") going fishing using flying fox he built into other island -- Solitary Island
: photo by Winifred Tulk, c. 1935 (State Library of New South Wales)



Royal Easter show: photo by Sam Hood, 1935 (State Library of New South Wales)


Study of a small girl with a prize Scottish terrier dog: photo by Sam Hood, c. 1935 (State Library of New South Wales)



Girl with a white Angora rabbit: photo by Sam Hood, 1930s (State Library of New South Wales)
 

Cats' food didn't come out of a can and it was nothing but the best fish -- Pt. Perpendicular: photo by Winifred Tulk, c. 1936, 1930s (State Library of New South Wales)

photo

Police dog Tess [Ted?]: photo by Sam Hood, 29 January 1935 (State Library of New South Wales)

 
  
Two exhibitors eye each other's charges, Sheep Show: photo by Jeff Carter for Walkabout magazine, c. 1945 (State Library of New South Wales)


Adelaide Boys' Band at Koala Park: photo by Sam Hood, 15 January 1937 (State Library of New South Wales)


"Christening of Bears" at Koala Park: photo by Sam Hood, 15 January 1937 (State Library of New South Wales)


Cary Bay Zoo, Lake Macquarie, NSW: photo by Sam Hood, 1954 (State Library of New South Wales)


Cat sitting on radio, Sydney: photo by Sam Hood, 1930s (State Library of New South Wales)


Cat in the window: photo by Sam Hood, 1930s (State Library of New South Wales)


A schoolgirl exhibitor with her dog: photo by Sam Hood, c. 1930 (State Library of New South Wales)


Wreck of the Gratitude, Macquarie Island: photographer unknown, 1911, from First Australasian Antarctic Expedition (1911-1914) (State Library of New South Wales)


Adelie Royal Penguin: photo by Harold Hamilton, from First Australasian Antarctic Expedition (1911-1914) (State Library of New South Wales)


Suckling, Shackleton-Rowett Expedition, Antarctica: photographer unknown, 1921 or 1922 (State Library of New South Wales)


Greenland Esquimaux dogs (Basilisk and Ginger-bitch), Antarctica: photo by Frank Hurley, from First Australasian Antarctic Expedition (1911-1914) (State Library of New South Wales)


"Snooks" on a drum, Wilcannia, NSW: photo by Reverend Edward ("Ted") Alexander Roberts, 1935-1937(State Library of New South Wales)


Girl with two cats and a kitten, Sydney: photo by Sam Hood, 1930s (State Library of New South Wales)

5 comments:

Sandra said...

I think that what appeals us about animals is their natural behaviour ....love the pics ....!

TC said...

Yes, perhaps it's that humans retain enough natural instinct to allow an understanding -- whether conscious or not -- that we were once also of the same "creaturely" world.

But some distancing has happened, some "rational" pride has intervened. And this presumption of superiority -- an excuse for a casual dominance that is now taken for granted -- has been institutionalized under the pretext of religious belief.

"It appears that one of the chief causes of animal suffering, at least in the West," Marguerite Yourcenar goes on to say in this eloquent 1981 lecture, "has been the biblical injunction from Jehovah to Adam before the Fall which showed him the world of animals, caused him to name them, and declared him their lord and master."

Wooden Boy said...

Nmes are a very effective means of management. Often, young men and women coming into service would find their birth names had no place in the big house. They would be made to take on those of their predecessors and so their disappearance was begun.

All those penguins gathered about that human wreckage makes for a wonderful image.

TC said...

The wreck of Gratitude must have seemed a curious thing indeed to those penguins at the bottom of the world.

Yes, WB, names, a convenient form of dismissal by categorization.

It will have been noted that many of these photos were made by Samuel John Hood (1872-1953), a groundbreaking photojournalist who worked as a free lancer for various Australian newspapers between 1918 and the later 1930s (when the papers began employing their own press photographers).

The top two photos (which, I suspect, were made in late 1939 or 1940) have given pause for much thought and question here.

History, that nightmare from which we can never awaken.

What did the soldier look like?

Was he on this boat?

Was he being deployed to the Middle East?

To Greece?

Did he ever come back?

Did he ever see her again?

What was Bobbie the cat thinking?

Where is the "dumb animal" in these photos?

Would Bobbie have been dumb enough to respond to this sort of appeal?

What is wrong with humans?

Why would they sail off to die meaninglessly for Empire, having been through all this before?

Sandra said...

...but before they were in a peaceful relationship...the words lord and master can be confusing....and as WB says the way people interpret biblical words can be dramatic...