Sunday, December 02, 2007

Vicki Hearne on Language about Animals

... [I]n the trainers' world different kinds of animals exist from the ones that I heard and read about in the university. For the trainer, there are hot working Airedales, dutiful and reliable German Shepherds, horses with intense, fiery, and competitive temperaments, other horses who are irredeemably dishonest. In the universities, there were more or less Cartesian creatures of uncertain pedigree, revised by uncertain interpreters of Freud and Jung, which may be why animals are invoked in the world of letters in general to mark "primitive" and usually unsavory impulses, while in the trainers' world they are more like characters in James Thurber, who insisted that in his work dogs represented "intelligence and repose." The trainers' language was ... the right language, the philosophically responsible language.
--"Questions about Language," by Vicki Hearne, The New Yorker, August 18, 1986, p. 38.

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