Being human is so last year, the next frontier is trans-speciesism according to these new books
MY COMMENTARY: Oh no!!! Another bathroom issue...now which bathroom will these things use? Jesus is coming soon....as in the days of Noah!! As in the days of Lot!!
Time to move on. A new frontier beckons. Trans-speciesism is the future. There are plenty of people out there who suffer from species dysphoria these days. They feel they are a non-human species trapped in a human body, rather along the lines in which transgender people feel gender dysphoria. We may just be at the start of a major new liberation movement.
Lately there has been a lot of publicity about 20-year-old Nano from Norway, who believes she is a cat trapped in a human body. She likes to crawl on all fours. She meows and she purrs. “Sometimes I hiss when meeting dogs on the street,” she says. She hates water and she wears ears, whiskers and a tail, full time. “I have been a cat all my life”, she says. “I realised I was a cat when I was 16 when doctors and psychologists found out what was the ‘thing’ with me. Under my birth was a genetic defect.” Respect!
And she is not alone. As a little look at YouTube reveals, there are plenty of others. There’s a student in Georgia who identifies as a penguin: “You can’t discriminate against someone by who they are,” he insists to the college authorities, comparing it to discrimination against Muslims. “This is me as a penguin, this isn’t a hood, this is my penguin head,” he says. “I’m a penguin trapped inside a human’s body, I just wanna be free with the penguins, I wish I could just march with them."
Then there there’s 48-year-old Gary on Dr Phil, who explains why he wears a total dog costume: “I can get friends that way, people who interact with me as a dog.” Dog food doesn’t cost that much either, “Boomer” points out cheerfully.
And there are distinguished literary antecedents too. Gulliver in Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels tells us that being a dirty “Yahoo” makes him turn away from the mirror in disgust and try his best to emulate the infinitely more noble horses, the Houyhnhnms. “By conversing with the Houyhnhnms, and looking upon them with delight, I fell to imitate their gait and gesture, which is now grown into a habit; and my friends often tell me, in a blunt way, ‘that I trot like a horse’; which, however, I take for a great compliment. Neither shall I disown, that in speaking I am apt to fall into the voice and manner of the Houyhnhnms, and hear myself ridiculed on that account, without the least mortification.”
For shame, that he should be ridiculed. That’s transphobia right there and it’s not acceptable in an open society. Luckily we also have fine writers now emerging to explain to us just why they want to try living as another species.
The best nature writers have always tried to get as close as they can to the non-human world. In his classic memoir Nature Cure, Richard Mabey confessed to “lairing up” in the woods — “I’d been going to earth most of my life,” he said.
Earlier this year the Oxford don Charles Foster wrote a brilliantly original book called Being a Beast (Profile, £14.99), trying in turn to become a badger, an otter, an urban fox, a red deer and a swift. In this way, he said, he hoped to avoid the besetting sins of nature writing, anthropocentrism and anthropomorphism.
“I immerse myself in their world. When I’m being a badger, I live in a hole and I eat earthworms. When I’m being an otter, I try to catch fish with my teeth… My foxes were inner-city foxes, and so I lay in a backyard in Bow, foodless and drinkless, urinating and defecating where I was, waiting for the night and treating as hostile the humans in the terraced houses all around — which wasn’t hard.”
He grew his toenails so long he got the feel of a cloven hoof — and developed quite a gourmet’s expertise in his badger-scavenging. “Earthworms taste of slime and the land… Worms from Chablis have a long, mineral finish. Worms from Picardy are musty: they taste of decay and splintered wood.”
Foster is scheduled to appear at the Kew Literary Festival in September —the gardens, of course, boasting their very own badger sett...
Yet he does not have the field to himself. Next month Thomas Thwaites, previously known for The Toaster Project of 2011, in which he attempted to make himself a DIY toaster from scratch (it took him 20 months and cost 250 times as much as a shop-bought one) publishes a fantastic book describing his own adventures into trans-speciesism: GoatMan: How I Took a Holiday from Being Human.
He begins with a sorrowful account of all the worries he has as a human being — to be precise, a not particularly successful 33-year-old London designer. But then even the Queen has worries, he reckons, printing her picture alongside that of his dog Noggin, a cheerful-looking chap whom Thwaites himself describes as “thick as two planks”.
So he hatches a plan of escape. “Wouldn’t it be nice to escape the constraints and expectations of not just your society, your culture, your personal history, but your very biology? To escape the inevitable worries of personhood?... Wouldn’t it be nice to be an animal just for a bit?”
So he successfully applies for a grant from the Wellcome Trust — to become an elephant. But after going to South Africa to see some, he realises they are just too big — “to allow me to really feel what life would be like as an elephant, my exoskeleton would have to be at least the size of a large family car” — as well as being “almost too human”, with worries of their own. They never forget, you know.
So he consults a shaman in Copenhagen about what he should become and to his delight she tells him a goat. A male goat, because as he says, “Transgender and trans-species? Well, I think that might be attempting to explore too many issues at once.”
He hasn’t taken leave of his senses. He even worries about going all the way, qua goat. “I am sure my girlfriend would be extremely upset if she were cuckolded by a goat… Honestly, gentle reader, this project has not been some terrific ruse to justify interspecies ‘canoodling’.” Hmm.
First he tries to get his human brain cells turned off. No luck. Next he tries building himself goat suits to turn himself into a quadruped. A prosthetic limb specialist tells him it won’t be easy: “You’ll only ever be a human in a goat walking position, constrained by your own natural anatomy,” he warns.
Thomas does not repine, however, and gets fitted up with goat legs. “The look is cross-dresser at the back end, post-World War II NHS amputee patient at the front — but they work. I’m able to clomp around the workshop in fine quadruped fashion!” And then he tries to equip himself with a grass-digesting goat stomach too...
In the most marvellously illustrated part of the book he goes off to a goat farm in the Swiss mountains. “I very much hope that spending time with the Alpine goats, going where they go, eating what they eat, and so on will effect an internal as well as an external change in my nature.”
“Ahhhh, the goat life,” he says later. “This consists of walking to a patch of grass and eating it for five minutes or so. Walking to another patch of grass, eating that.”
But do the other goats believe in him? He has a worrying moment. “I happen to look up from grazing, and I realise that he entire herd is looking at me. It’s suddenly gotten very quiet. Everyone’s stopped chewing.”
Then he gathers that he’s committed a goat faux pas. Inadvertently, he has got higher up the slope than the others and “challenged the dominance hierarchy without realising it. Oops.”
Luckily, the other goats are very decent about it.
Later, he is thrilled to hear from a local goat farmer that in his expert opinion he has been well accepted by the herd. “And so perhaps for a while the goats thought of me as a goat and I thought of myself as a goat, and so maybe for a moment...”
He tactfully leaves that rapturous, that goaty dream as a set of dot dot dots. But here is inspiration for us all. Many of us have felt not quite human from time to time — and now we know we can do something about it, just as those not happy in their sexual identity can.
What species are you, really? For myself, I have long identified as, essentially, a parrot, a blue-fronted Amazon I think: cheerful jabbering and plenty of nuts. Probably how I mistakenly ended up becoming a journalist. But take your pick …
( Source )