Sun just breaking over the mountains, yawning and making a pot of freshly grated ginger & mint tea for sparkle on Sunday morning.
The Great Dane is sitting on the grass watching suspicious behaviour on the part of a pigeon. In profile the dog looks noble, dignified and rather like Sherlock Holmes magnificently deducing all that is to be known about a fat grey pigeon who has committed a dastardly crime against an earthworm. The pigeon looks unconcerned and intent on breakfast. Sometimes I am glad that as humans we can’t read the minds of our beloved animal companions. Too much information.
On my bedside cabinet, wedged between the reading lamp and the wall there is a pile of books I am reading for Lent. This week it is Flannery O’Connor, an unsparing writer when it comes to soggy thinking or sentimentality, and I learn a great deal from her:
Compassion is a word that sounds good in anybody’s mouth…It’s a quality that no one can put his finger on in any exact critical sense, so the word is always safe for anybody to use. Thomas Mann has said that the grotesque is the true anti-bourgeois style, but I think the kind of hazy, compassion demanded of the writer now makes it difficult for him to be anti-anything.
And thinking about dogs and the mystery of the animals with whom we share this reality, I’m blown away by Daniel Naude’s images of wild African dogs in the powerful and haunting African landscape.
And, on the subject of animals and living where I do, I am going to just mention writer JM Coetzee’s novella The Lives of Animals which deals with human cruelty to animals. How we collectively turn a blind eye to the industries that cause such pain and unnecessary death to animals. The realities of inhumanity that are too painful and frightening for us to contemplate, what we are complicit in concealing, ignoring, overlooking — even to write this makes me think of the long bloody history of human cruelty, to one another, to those defined as other or inferior, to whatever is not human enough.
Flannery O’Connor again:
“The reader wants his grace warm and binding, not dark and disruptive.”
- The Catholic Novelist in the Protestant South