Monday, January 18, 2010

Puppies, Kittens, Dolphins and Wolves

Puppies, kittens, dolphins and wolves. Cutness is charming. Cuteness sells. Well, wolves aren't cute per se, but they do have a wild beauty that is mesmerizing. Wolves are in the same category as soaring eagles. Dolphins, too, for their apparent freedom, their charm, intelligence, and friendliness. It can't hurt that their mouths are frozen in a permanent grin. Puppies and kittens, well. They elicit that strong urge to mother and protect. Their large brown eyes gaze in to ours, trusting, secure.

From these obsessions, it would seem perhaps that our daily life has a deficit of opportunities to nurture, to be free in our individualism, to be strong yet caring too. City life, with it's crowded streets of humanity, paradoxically removes us from our brother. Since there is no way to develop a significant relationship with everyone we see in a day, we retreat within ourselves. There are our spouses, our children, perhaps some extended family. A little farther removed, there are our co-workers. Life is routine with few opportunities to break out in to caring. How often in a day or week to we gaze deeply in to the eyes of our neighbours? Do we have opportunities to genuinely connect?

I suggest that the puppies, kittens, dolphins and wolves provide a sham substitute for our yearnings. Besides that, I have the snob's prejudice against bad art. If one poor puppy's eye is off kilter, or a wolf's cheek is missing, the discordance is disturbing rather than warming.

Then we have the huge back-market of mass produced statuary - cutness sprayed on in a sweatshop in some nameless part of the third world.

Let's not even get started on puppy mills. Removed from their shady origins, the puppies and kittens frolic in a pet store enclosure, selling themselves. The puppy mills would close tomorrow if the market died. But too many of us respond viscerally to their charm, putting aside for a moment any qualms about origins.

Am I an insensitive boob, or so attuned that exploitation makes me shudder?