ZOOGRAPHY

Joel Weishaus

 

During its long gestation from the discrete soul of each animal's species, the human psyche fissioned into individual sparks, retaining communication while dreaming up a network of synapses, scintilla primarily morph-1.gif (345568 bytes) schizophrenic and alone, rendering us both violently creative and potentially divine, while we long towards the prison of a unified vision that echos the Big Bang, the one and only God, the Absolute Bestial Soul.

 

1.

Where wolves range we might recognize the pen, bound together from sticks and branches, and the interwoven fence as the arliest vertical spatial enclosure is a measured step, the eagle's room, a cirqued world whirling in his cullied eyes. Cheetah's thick unkempt head runs up the illusion of a simpering Ganges, Bengal tiger sluices prey because he walked on the steeley bank & prayed to a Goddess in the river, that he only invented from a stanched motif.

Had we been captured only to see if it is possible to say: "is this what I am? can it be? isn't it true that I exist, that I'm not the nightmare of a beast," housed in plywood cages, "sets," staring down plasterboard streets, endangering even'an ability to return' is terminally shattered by irreversible doubts about the capacity of language to heal the wound of disillusionment about a present incapable of delivering us once again to Eden, and with that delivery, a return to parity with gorillas, we, too, would be mocking what sounds like human chatter.

Cockatoos cast twin shadows an at once wondrous and faithful picture of the animal, but wherever he pictures himself he almost always conceals his features behind an animal mask. He achieved positive virtuosity as a draughtsman, but disdained to portray his own face racing about the halation of Australia's painted foliage. Descending on or crawling into enclosures, wildlife shares space with incarcerated brethren plotting their escape, or just vacationing by a lake smooth with flouncing ducks. Pencil-thin saffron robes waver in the pond, pecking at flagella of sun's immolation, in a grove of bamboo standing on the leg of a stork.

Wind studies Bald Eagle's hooked beak, cutting all that enters into competition with it and cannot be cut, suggesting its sovereign virility. Thus the eagle has formed an alliance with the sun, which castrates all that enters into conflict with it's bold plan for having wings. Atomic Flight 17, Order of the Daedalinas, National Fraternity of flapping "zoo parents," whose flight knows postulates were often seen to grow feathers on their arms which, after a few days, developed into wings. Taoists also believe that vapor trails fold, and the eagle frees all Commissioned Military Pilots.

A lion's deep chest booms a mantra, disheveled mane tossed back, yellow fangs point toward an invisible Asia—our minds tumble together--I roar in his angry voice; his paws are my hands struggling to scratch our name into the concrete which, but for a single drop of dark blood, remains blank. So we roar again, and again, not Animal, not Man, not God, we are the shrill cacophony of the rotting flesh and puckish spirit captured in the density of its own shadow, a demiurge embracing the lurid sun with rapturous miscegenation, severed from each other by this deep trough.

Ambling back to his man-made cave, vigorously defended against other members of the same species, especially the same sex, and far less against animals of different species. In this way, the territories of different species of animals may often overlap, or even coincide, though animals of the same species are swinging his tail like a broom, he leaves behind no trace of our journey together.

"Very impressive," a woman standing nearby laughs.

A human child potties in his pants, breaking biologic codes we must re-member that most mammals are macrosmatic, i.e., they have a literally superhuman sense of smell, by means of which they recognize faint traces of scent, which are quite beyond our powers of detection, as conspicuous signals of endangered animal stenches, inhaling virtually real odors.

Pheasant peeks through his iridescence, whining purples, blacks and whites, effervescent greens, pinhead shaded by a jaunty duster, egging a window for its illusion of crumbs.

Crossing the veld to
those who have lived in prison are aware of the attachment that the captive shows for his cell as well as of the fear that he has of being transferred to another. For this prisoner with whom contemporary man seems to identify, the door does not represent an exit or hope, for it is only through disoriented horizons, animal herds make a vast world their own; apparently infinite hoofed number saw that creatures fill the same space as man.

Memories of their mountain home pooled, dead grey limbs and because of complete immobility seemed to be made of stone or brass, forthwith seized a naked sword which he held in his claws, and broke it in twain...Then the lion continued to roar until a white dove, carrying an olive branch in its beak, flew towards him as fast as it could; she gave the branch to the lion who swallowed it and became a stagnant pool.

Animals made to breed no longer disturb our domesticity, the senses that darken this goal dulled, full of sound wilderness, these creatures are candidly quiet, only the bars are heard. The longing for habitat, for the hunt, the pride in successfully stalking dinner grows whiskers. Here we are not even beggars; fed instead weighed portions; the quick snap of the neck, the little squeal before death left out.

How insulting! How insane! hunting is an undertaking whose origin is in soul and mind, not biology and nature. It stems from psychological and spiritual necessities, the need for meaning. The early hunter's killing is magic brushing an aureola about the mane, the spray of blood is controlled by the spirits (mingehe). But their interventions are in no sense capricious. They withhold or deliver the animals according to the moral state of being an offering to a therianthropic god.

Reaching a wall, the tree-limb continues to grow as a simulatied python slithers through the moment  of arrest and disappearance, the moment of the rabbit hole, falling through space into the land beyond the mirror; that turning point, that pivotal electronic second. After which nothing is ever the same: after it everything is backwards, alien, hateful, futile, disappearing into which world?

 

2.

Zoos reduce pavement to a little jungle enough for species to whom are one of countless life-forms, and we are the loneliest of these. "Daughter, your feet are parallel to the sun." "And red," comments the condor, stretching his pale neck through wire fence, to munch plants in a slobbering mouth. His fingers annulate as Bobcat asks, Why me, while house cats run free?

Tractor's treads cross antelope tracks, helping to connect two questions here. First, 'Is the raw material for dreams present.' Second, 'Do the indications present point to the fact that this raw material is used.' If either of these related questions is to be answered separately, it follows that, as far as the higher animals are concerned, they can be answered in eons of looping genes, muscular fur rubbing against steel molded and colored like polar bears' pelt, relatives scumbled congruent with ourselves in a world beyond the world we can see, one structured by myth and moral obligation, and activated by spiritual power buried beneath.

The Bengal Tiger and I greet each other. He ambles closer, shadowing me as I walk parallel to his enclosure: a moat, a rift that's been opening between us for millennia--yet something intimate crosses over, articulated only in the quirks of dreams.

Embarrassed, I am looking at Lowland Gorillas, sitting and eating, content, their surplus of curiosity, their research (every animal searches, only apes research) make them suffer in two evident ways--and probably also in others, invisibly. Their bodies, forgotten until recently,  until the spread of agriculture and cities, there were more orangutans than people on earth, some 30 to 60 million verses a mere 10 million, and in Africa baboons suddenly nag, twinge, and irritate. They become impatient with their own skin while we evolve in their stead. They are the "animal," and we, are some thing higher?

Seals cast halos through filtered water. Polar Bears stretch on rusty ice flows; a woman with video camera shouts—"Come on! Go into the water for me!"

Three mountain lions pace briskly up and back: the morning exercise of prisoners keeping in shape for the success or failure of the hunt. If the songs are chanted properly, the animal does not feel itself in any way a prisoner, but, as in the wild, it feels more like the owner of a piece of land; it should feel like the occupier of a territory, the possessor, that is, of that unit of space to which the animal instinctively lays claim.

The size of its natural territory, as we know for certain today, is not determined by its desire to go for a walk (because wild animals do not go for walks), but exclusively by its food requirements and the supply of food.

Which message do we get from a civilization reiterating captivity's reticulate net? It is so bizarre! the circuit of these cages we construct to focus the glare of our dimensions toward the third century B.C., Roman animal-keeping took its ugliest turn: bull elephants captured in battle were turned against each other in the Roman areas. Gladiators began fighting bulls-a sport that endures today in Spain and Mexico; large cats, a lion and a cheetah, were thrown together in an arena to fight to the death. Around 60 B.C., the generals began to toss army deserters into the areas with animals that tore them to shreds amid our own condemned selves—I close my eyes and intentionally breathe as if suffocating to the top of my lungs, where vultures roost.

 

3.

A backloader's tusks lift earth's foundations as one of shifting fragments that have become recombined through the act of discovery, whether in excavation or by glimpsing into the nether world of prisons and flying circuses as an elephant stands in its ponderous fumes. I understood then that Noah never saw the world so clearly as from inside the curl of an elephant's trunk.

Perched atop a thick wooden post near a tree he cannot climb, its trunk wrapped with wire, a baboon rocks back and forth on haunches of desire. "Just like my little monkey," a mother addresses her baby.

And hear the harsh spate of German spoken before a mound of bear shit melting on warm plaster, while the baying of glaired water falls into glossolalia, primeval instinct to beach the fish as axis mundi so that self-knowledge becomes knowledge of the lag, the feel in the lines that run between human hand and animal soul in the Ark that is restrained to this antinomian site.

 

Rio Grande Zoo,
Albuquerque, NM.

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