March 17, 2010

ARE HUMANS ANIMALS?

Posted in Uncategorized at 10:37 am by The Lyon

BY CAROLYNE WANG

Two months ago, the Lyon re-viewed Animals by Don LePan. When asked to comment on his title, LePan said, “The main thing it suggests, to me at least, is a com-monality between human animals and non-human ones. But of course it’s often used in ways that emphasize a presumed contrast between humans and non-human animals.”

This brings up an interesting question: what does “animal” mean? Writers use the word “animal” to signify “not human” and “a wild human” at the same time. So, when one says, “that person is like an animal” or “an animal-like sound came out of his mouth”, it makes sense and yet is still ironic (humans are technically animals, so isn‟t it natural for us to emit “animal sounds” or to “act like an animal”?).

Maybe the use of the word “animal” should be restricted in certain contexts. For example, “that person is like an animal” should become “that person is like a wild, untamed animal” or “that person is like a cute little furry animal”. Otherwise, “animal” can mean anything from human to un-controllable wild cobra.

As for Alexandra Leggat‟s interpretation of this word and why she chose it for the title of her book, she writes, “[Animal] sums up everything that this book stands for in one word – the fight for survival; instinct, wisdom, inno-cence, beauty and ugliness, the hunter and the hunted. It’s about the complexity of relationships, grappling to exist with the bevy of earth’s creatures – even one’s self.”

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