Two Terrible Things

Get curious and fall in love.

Get curious and fall in love.

In general, I've been really enjoying Donna Haraway's work. It's been many years since I had read "Cyborg Manifesto," and I recalled enjoying that a great deal. Her work with dogs is playful, fun, and sometimes challenging. While not finished with her text, I sometimes worry she has an optimism and faith in the care and concern bipedal folk are willing to give to those called "animals." I suppose that's less a criticism and more a fear.

She does have passages of great self-reflexisive analysis that temper their critique with compassion. Those are my favorite moments—when she attempts to meet other beings face-to-face, unafraid of the mess of it all. Most wonderful, I feel, is her fearlessness in meeting the messiest of all beings, her own self.

In the beginning of everything that led to this book, I was pure of heart, at least in relation to dog breeds. I knew they were an affectation, an abuse, an abomination, the embodiment of animalizing racist eugenics, everything that represents modern people’s misuse of other sentient beings for their own instrumental ends. Besides, so-called purebreds got sick all the time, as well they should from all that genetic manipulation. Really bad, in short. Mutts were good as long as they were sterilized; trained to a low standard—lest human control play too big a role—by positive methods; and off leash in every possible situation. Fertile street and village dogs were good because they lived in the third world or its moral and symbolic equivalent in doggish humanism, but they needed to be rescued nonetheless. At home, in my progressive, American middle- class, white bubble, I was a true believer in the Church of the Shelter Dog, that ideal victim and scapegoat and therefore the uniquely proper recipi- ent of love, care, and population control. Without giving anyone quarter about our collective and personal obligations to mutts and shelter dogs, I have become an apostate. I am promiscuously tied with both my old and new objects of affection, two kinds of kinds, mutts and purebreds. Two terrible things caused this unregenerate state: I got curious, and I fell in love. Even worse, I fell in love with kinds as well as with individuals. Parasitized by paraphilias and epistemophilias, I labor on.

Haraway, Donna J. When Species Meet (Posthumanities). Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2007.