We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves: SPOILERS ALLOWED


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We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves: SPOILERS ALLOWED

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heinäkuu 6, 2014, 7:04 pm

Nice discussion on The Goldfinch on another thread, which people can join as they complete the book.

Here's one on We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler, which many members have been reading.

For those interested in the emotional lives of animals, there was an interesting piece in the NYT magazine today that relates to some of the themes of the book:


heinäkuu 7, 2014, 12:25 am

Thanks for that article. It amazes me that some people are so reluctant to admit that animals have emotions. My sister is an animal tolerator. She thinks pets only seem to care for us, really they just hang around us for the food. That seems such a strange idea to me.
I loved We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves though again, not a particularly happy book. I especially liked the fact that Fowler manipulated me into really disliking the dad before she showed the whole picture. Perhaps I'm slower than others, but it also took me a while to realize that the sister was a chimpanzee. I like that kind of slow reveal, at least I did in this case.

Muokkaaja: heinäkuu 7, 2014, 12:27 am

I thought the way the sister's "identity" was revealed was ingenious. Somehow my sixth sense was working so that I did not even glance at the dustjacket copy before reading the book -- I must have heard, or half-heard, that it would be good to avoid spoilers. I was completely blown away.

I also loved that the narrator did not think of herself and her sister as two different species, which is exactly what I think would happen if raised the way they were.

Muokkaaja: heinäkuu 7, 2014, 12:46 am

>3 amysisson: I also loved that the narrator did not think of herself and her sister as two different species, which is exactly what I think would happen if raised the way they were.
You have to hand it to Fowler, she handled the whole subject so subtly, so completely that she made her point without pontificating.
People have told me that the Nazis, intelligent and refined as they were, could treat the Jews so inhumanely because they really didn't think they were human, and I've always resisted that argument. If a creature acts human then it should be treated humanely, no matter how you classify it. But from the article, even sand crabs and octupi whom no one would mistake as human seem to have consciousness characteristics similar to humans. How can calling Jews rats or hutus and tutsis cockroaches mean that you can slaughter them until your arms get tired? What part of a human allowed hunters to shoot buffalo after buffalo, hundreds at a time just because they could?

heinäkuu 7, 2014, 2:05 am

>4 Citizenjoyce:

Have you ever seen "Sports Night"? It's a sitcom that went only two years, quite brilliant, though. There's an episode where a character talks about deer hunting and how you can not possibly misunderstand that a mama deer and a baby deer are "family." I will NEVER understand a person who enjoys killing defenseless creatures.

Have you seen that thing online recently (I saw it on FB), in which a Nazi propaganda poster featuring the "perfect Ayran child" actually showed a Jewish baby? Very telling.

heinäkuu 7, 2014, 4:07 am

>5 amysisson: I loved Sports Night
I've heard of the poster. Humans and their prejudices - hard to comprehend.

Muokkaaja: heinäkuu 7, 2014, 4:31 pm

The NYT book review revealed that the sister was a chimp. I still appreciated Fowler's slow reveal, though wondered if the reviewer could have showed a bit more restraint ...

I recently read Irene Pepperberg's book about teaching language her African gray parrot, Alex and Me, which amplifies some of Fowler's themes in real-life terms. Some of the semantic games she had to play so other scientists would pay attention to her work were funny and sad at the same time.

Interesting side note on Pepperberg's book: Margaret Atwood visited her lab. Can only assume her Maddaddam trilogy was percolating at that time.

(edited to fix a typo I noticed)

Muokkaaja: heinäkuu 7, 2014, 4:14 pm

>7 nohrt4me2: In some aspects Alex seemed more human than Pepperberg. He was quite lovingly emotional and she was very scientifically not.

heinäkuu 7, 2014, 4:31 pm

>8 Citizenjoyce: I guess I didn't feel that way about Pepperberg at all. She seemed to love and respect Alex. Her task was difficult: How do you speak for the emotional lives and intelligence of animals to an established community that says those things don't exist?

Muokkaaja: heinäkuu 7, 2014, 5:38 pm

I adored this book. I love the writer's style, specifically they way she talks directly to the reader like "now don't get attached to this cousin, he isn't going to come up again." or how at the end she told us the very end would be what it was like when the sisters saw each other again. It's a great technique.

I thought it brought up so many interesting ideas about animal minds vs human minds and what is the difference or is there even a difference. What makes one's suffering worse than anothers.

The one part I really didn't understand was the mannequin. Any theories on the importance of it's re-occurrence?

Muokkaaja: heinäkuu 7, 2014, 7:11 pm

I love the writer's style, specifically they way she talks directly to the reader like "now don't get attached to this cousin, he isn't going to come up again."

I liked that, too. Very Trollope-y and engaging narrative style.

heinäkuu 7, 2014, 9:41 pm

I really liked Alex and Me. I also found the books The Moral Lives of Animals and Wild Justice as well as Death at Seaworld very enlightening.

Rats will forgo food if pressing the food lever gives another rat an electric shock. Resident Orcas in the Pacific Ocean have culture. Examples like this definitely support my own inclinations to regard animals with a great deal of respect and compassion and to value the things they can teach us when we stop regarding them as organic machines.

heinäkuu 8, 2014, 2:35 am

>9 nohrt4me2: It felt that Pepperberg treated Alex like a research subject instead of a friend and that he would have benefitted from more bonding with her. However I have great respect for the struggle she went through to be accepted as a scientist and to have her work with animals and animals themselves taken seriously. In relation to Alex I think she was like an emotionally distanced parent.
>12 Helcura: those look like good books. Have you seen the documentary about whales at Sea World? I think it's titled Blackwater. Very powerful.
A few months ago I read a book about elephants, Topsy: The Startling Story of the Crooked Tailed Elephant, P.T. Barnum, and the American Wizard, Thomas Edison by Michael Daly and pretty much decided both that I can't read anything else about elephants and that Thomas Edison deserves a special place in hell. It almost makes one think humans are a blight on the world.

heinäkuu 8, 2014, 10:04 am

>13 Citizenjoyce: I guess my reading of the book was colored by an interview Pepperberg gave after Alex died. She clearly was very emotionally involved with her birds, especially Alex. However, in order to get other scientists to take what Alex could do seriously and not just wave it off as mimicry, she had to show some distance.

I think one of the themes that "We Are All ..." raises for me is how "familial" we are/should be with our pets.

When my son was born, I began to see my cats, whom I'd infantilized, in a very different way. They seemed much older, wiser beings, less human, more complex. I saw them far less like babies, and spending time with them was very therapeutic because they were quiet, didn't demand attention, and seemed to give me lots of encouragement but no advice.

heinäkuu 8, 2014, 12:00 pm

>14 nohrt4me2: seemed to give me lots of encouragement but no advice.
One advantage of animals' lack of speach. I wonder if our love for them would decrease if they could give advice.
I wish I'd heard that interview. I did get the idea at the end of the book that she wished she's been more affectionate toward Alex as he indicted he wanted more, and she left him in the care of others or in the lab a great deal of time. Am I remembering that wrong?

heinäkuu 8, 2014, 2:03 pm

>15 Citizenjoyce: There are several interviews with Pepperberg at NPR.org (key words "alex parrot"). I don't remember if it was the "Fresh Air" or a different interview.

I think the fate of chimps like Nim, involved in linguistic experiments, is more the basis for Fowler's novel. Even when our impulses are benign--to better understand animals--we often don't think through what's going to happen to them (and what happens to us, as the Fowler explores) when the animal's natures and ours don't mesh.

WARNING: Nim's story is extremely sad, but you can listen to an interview with James Marsh, who documented the chimp's life here:


heinäkuu 10, 2014, 11:28 am

I am not quite finished with this book, but I saw this on the news this morning and thought that I would share it.


heinäkuu 10, 2014, 12:52 pm

>13 Citizenjoyce:, Citizenjoyce, it's Blackfish. That's what Native Americans in the northwest (some of them, at least) called Orcas. http://blackfishmovie.com/

Death at Seaworld covers the same story in more depth and with some different prespectives. I think both the documentary and the book were great, each in their own way.

heinäkuu 10, 2014, 3:52 pm

>17 vwinsloe: Good article, thanks. This is what the narrator's father was afraid of so he protected humans from his chimpanzee daughter, but she got no protection at all.
>18 WildMaggie: Ah, that's right. A few years ago an acquaintance of mine was trying to get people to boycott Sea World because of some slight she thought she'd received there, and I thought she was nuts. Who would boycott what I thought was one of the most wonderful places on earth? I'm so glad this story, as horrific as elephant stories, came out.

Muokkaaja: heinäkuu 11, 2014, 2:40 pm

I finished the book this morning. I missed the big reveal of the sister being a chimp because I somehow knew this fact before I read it. In fact I think that I put this book on my wish list, then removed it, and then added it again when you all here started talking about it. I wasn't sure that I wanted to read it because I have strong feelings about the subject.

When I was in law school, my roommate was in graduate school at Tufts University. She was working in something called the Tufts Primate Project. In this project Capuchin monkeys were being trained as aides to quadripeligics. There was a ton of excitement and nothing but enthusiastic praise for this project. For example,


I played with the prototype monkey, named Hellion, regularly. But the project left me feeling very queasy, even more so when I found out that the monkeys' teeth were removed and they wore shock collars to protect the safety of the quadripeligic that they were trained to serve. But what bothered me most was that it WAS involuntary servitude. And although capuchins have long been organ grinder's monkeys, they are not domestic animals, like dogs or horses. They are deprived of companionship of their own kind, and of their own natural pleasures of life. Maybe I saw Planet of the Apes too many times, but I was against the Primate Project from the start. Just a few years ago, the federal government declined to consider monkey helpers as "service animals" under the Americans With Disabilities Act, although some states have expressly allowed them. The Helping Hands Monkey Helpers organization still exists and places monkeys, although my former roommate, who was the Director for a while is no longer with them.

I think that Karen Joy Fowler did a good job with this book. The construction and plot were contrived as they often are in topical novels like this. But she dealt with a difficult subject well, and made the reader feel as well as think.

heinäkuu 11, 2014, 2:36 pm

>20 vwinsloe:

Thanks for sharing that. Definitely makes me think.

heinäkuu 11, 2014, 6:02 pm

Thanks >20 vwinsloe: What a thought provoking article. It shows clearly the good those monkeys can do for people, I can see that Becky Thompson and Craig Cook would think of their monkeys as godsends. I can also see that they love them, and maybe the monkeys love them back. But toothless and wearing shock collars and without relationships with their own species? Well, the relationship isn't exactly mutually beneficial, is it? I'm reminded of the argument that's been around recently that slavery in America wasn't so bad - white people took black people from a dangerous part of Africa and gave them food and shelter, meaningful work, religion and an extended family with their white masters. See, mutually beneficial. Or a conversation I had with a woman once about abortion. She was telling me about a friend of hers who was unable to conceive and who had tried so hard to have children yet here were women aborting perfectly good babies. It was only reasonable that these women should be made to have the babies then give them up for adoption to loving families. They could even be paid for it. Again, mutually beneficial.
It's difficult for exploiters of other creatures to see the fault in their behavior. Or for people who value their own freedom to see the value of freedom for others.
But then I look at my situation. I have 5 dogs. I control their reproduction, they're all fixed, I control what they eat, where they live, when they go to the dog park. It's all up to me. PETA says that's wrong, and I can kind of understand their reasoning, but that doesn't make me give up my dogs.

heinäkuu 11, 2014, 7:39 pm

>22 Citizenjoyce:. But see that's where I disagree vehemently with PETA, and I think that they undermine what work they do that is beneficial. Companion animals were domesticated tens of thousands of years ago. We don't really know the circumstances under which that came about. But what's done is done. I don't think that most domesticated animals can survive for very long without humans taking care of them. (Street cats on average survive about 2 1/2 years.) There would also be no reason for domesticated animals to exist, and I argue that they would not exist, but for humans who use them for companionship, work and sport.

You are right about mankind's tunnel vision about anything other than its own perceived self-interest. How people can twist the truth to believe that their victims benefit from their exploitation.

heinäkuu 11, 2014, 8:01 pm

>23 vwinsloe: I Ike that reasoning. It's what I think too. I guess PETA can be like the ACLU, espousing some pretty far out ideas sometimes interspersed with great ones. That's the price of thinking outside the box, I guess.

heinäkuu 11, 2014, 8:46 pm

>24 Citizenjoyce:. One of the things that I liked about Karen Joy Fowler's portrayal of the Animal Liberation Front was when she noted that if they set the lab animals free they have nothing to eat and nowhere to go. You are probably not aware of the scandals involving PETA's "rescue" operations in Virgina.


Fanaticism is rarely a good thing.

heinäkuu 12, 2014, 9:42 am

>22 Citizenjoyce:. "I have 5 dogs. I control their reproduction, they're all fixed, I control what they eat, where they live, when they go to the dog park. It's all up to me. PETA says that's wrong, and I can kind of understand their reasoning, but that doesn't make me give up my dogs."

You may be interested in reading a memoir that I read not long ago entitled Part Wild: Caught Between the Worlds of Wolves and Dogs. The genetics of dogs and wolves are quite close, and for a long time misguided people have been breeding them together to create wolf/dog hybrids (seemingly out of a romantic notions about wolves.) The hybrids are a total disaster, as this memoir illustrates sharply. Artificial selection over millennia changes genetic patterns. Domestic animals and wild animals are worlds apart in everything that matters to living with humans.

Muokkaaja: heinäkuu 12, 2014, 11:07 am

Not sure I really want to express this opinion and take the inevitable fallout, but here goes:

I'm not sure I'd want to put the limited experiment with capuchins as service animals in the same category of centuries of slavery and institutionalized racisim.

I also understand it's a touchy subject, but late-term abortions, where the fetus does not have a condition that renders it insensate (say anencephaly) or the mother's health/life is not in danger also strikes me as cruel. Once the fetus has developed the capacity for pain, the whole notion of abortion gets pretty gruesome. (I don't advocate making abortion illegal at any point because I see too many gray areas, but I think understanding that fetuses at five or six months gestation feel pain bears thinking about to anyone concerned with the notion of cruelty.)

I guess the impetus for all kinds of cruelty comes from human chauvinism and ignorance--that some animals and people are more important than others. Humans are notoriously able to rationalize their actions or to fail to think them through to a logical conclusion that makes them look bad.

Which is the big theme in Fowler's novel, as i see it.

heinäkuu 12, 2014, 12:14 pm

>27 nohrt4me2:. "I guess the impetus for all kinds of cruelty comes from human chauvinism and ignorance--that some animals and people are more important than others. Humans are notoriously able to rationalize their actions or to fail to think them through to a logical conclusion that makes them look bad."

Absolutely. After that it is just an issue of where one draws the line. Personally, I think that one enslaved primate is too many. But I am a "pescatarian," and I understand all too well that it is difficult to determine where the line should be drawn. I just read a gleeful article yesterday about a study showing that vegetables feel pain when they are cut up to be eaten.

A secondary issue is whether the end justifies the means in protesting something that you believe is inhumane. PETA, ALF, and some Right to Life organizations, etc. seem to think that it does. I think that that attitude is invariably counterproductive and wrong.

heinäkuu 12, 2014, 12:58 pm

PETA, ALF, and some Right to Life organizations, etc. seem to think that it does. I think that that attitude is invariably counterproductive and wrong.

Agree entirely.

It's easy to talk about the cruelty of spaying and castration if you don't live in an area like mine.

I live in a rural area where people dump off unwanted kittens and young cats. All nine cats I've adopted in the last 20 years just showed up at the door. That doesn't count the ones who were sick with distemper, feline leukemia, or so badly injured in fights or by cars that they couldn't be saved and I had euthanized. It also doesn't count the ferals I feed.

I won't walk by a suffering animal. But that sometimes involves decisions that are pretty damn hard. I've held more animals while they died than I'd like, all the while wishing I could get my hands on the SOB who dumped them on me in the first place.

Muokkaaja: heinäkuu 13, 2014, 9:17 am

>29 nohrt4me2:. I can't tell you how hard it is for me to understand the belief that spaying and neutering is inhumane. I think it is a cultural belief. In the Boston area, the spay/neuter philosophy is well inculcated. Our rescue groups bring dogs up from the South and from Puerto Rico for adoption.

The exception being pitbulls. Pitbulls are part of a relatively new but entrenched ghetto culture. And no matter how often or how loud the rescue people tell me that it is nurture, not nature, that makes these dogs aggressive, I know too much about genetics and artificial selection to believe that this is completely true. Unfortunately, because of our predominant spay/neuter culture, far too many dogs that families are rescuing are pitbulls or pitbull mixes.

The whole feral cat thing is also interesting. Here we have a trap, spay/neuter and release philosophy, especially where the ferals are too old to be adopted out (too old is 9-12 weeks; having adopted an older one, I agree.) The song bird enthusiasts are appalled about feral cats, citing statistics about the number of song birds that outdoor cats murder every day.

I can see both sides of some these issues and many more. But the not spaying/neutering thing is incomprehensible to me.

Muokkaaja: heinäkuu 13, 2014, 1:05 pm

I've met so many really wonderfully loving, joyful pit bulls I have to go with the nurture side.
About the wolf-dog hybrids, my daughter is a vet tech and has seen more than she wants, and doesn't have a good thing to say about any of them. You're right, it's the "romance" of the wolf that gets in the way, as "romance" seems to ruin any other kind of reasoning. I can see a tendency to "romance" pit bulls after the rescue of Michael Vicks' dogs, but they really are a loving breed desperate to please their owners. That said, the other day at the dog park one bit a little dog's leg and broke it before he could finally be made to release, due to the breed's clamping instinct.
>27 nohrt4me2: Regarding late term abortions, the only thing that can appreciably reduce them (except cutting off access to all abortions, which seems to be the chosen method) is very accessible early abortions and abortifacients.
And I do think the use of monkeys as service animals relates to human slavery in that, as you said, people are so ready to draw the line at exploitation just after where such actions are beneficial to themselves.
>25 vwinsloe: They adopt out very few animals because of their disagreement with the use of animals as pets? So disappointing when your heroes act like your foes.
By the way I'm also a pescatarian and noted the article about plants feeling pain. I hear there are people who eat only fruit that has fallen from trees. It would assuage one's conscience, but I don't plan on joining them. Again, it's about where you draw the line.

heinäkuu 13, 2014, 1:57 pm

>31 Citizenjoyce:. Oh, yes, I know plenty of pitbulls. Very sweet dogs toward people, they had to be easy to handle or they would not be bred. But a lot of them also had to be able to fight other dogs or they would not be bred, and many are aggressive toward other dogs. And, unfortunately, sometimes small humans or others who awaken a pitbull's defense systems inadvertently are the victims of that aggression.

I don't know what the issue is with PETA's kill shelters, but I suspect that is the reasoning of hard liners. That "some things are worse than death" belief. I agree with this philosophy when it comes to some so-called rescue organizations that are run by well meaning people who are little better than hoarders. I adopted my feral cats from one such rescue. I was not looking to get into the situation, but when I went to the rescue and saw the conditions there, and learned that the cats had been in a small cage in a dark dirty cellar for 18 months after being trapped in a feral cat colony at about 9 months old--I simply couldn't leave them there. And then the woman running the "rescue" delayed and made it extremely difficult for me to adopt them, and if I hadn't appealed to someone high up in her funding organization, she probably would not have allowed me to take them.

But I digress. The fact that so many no-kill shelters are being very successful in propagating the "adopt, don't breed or buy" message makes PETA shelters look very inhumane indeed. I found out about this scandal on an equestrian bulletin board that I frequent, and the story that insiders tell is uglier than the NY Times article. Apparently, PETA was taking healthy animals that had been surrendered and euthanizing them within hours or days after promising to find them homes. So I can think of no reason other than a belief that it is better to be dead than to be someone's pet. Which in the case of domestic companion animals is very twisted indeed.

heinäkuu 13, 2014, 3:36 pm

I guess this is the part of its crazy reputation that PETA deserves. That a group that does so much good should become doctrinaire to the extent that it euthanizes healthy companion animals is unforgivable.
I've also heard of non-kill shelters that perhaps subject its animals to a fate worse than death. Again people can become so blinded by their ideals that they can't see reality - a stance I frequently see myself approaching and am constantly trying to avoid.

heinäkuu 14, 2014, 5:59 am

Has anyone read Ape House? I saw it at a used bookstore and from the blurb on the book jacket, it appeared to have themes similar to We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves.

Muokkaaja: heinäkuu 14, 2014, 4:07 pm

>34 vwinsloe: Yes, it's about bonobos rather than chimps, and I thought it was excellent - 4.5 stars from me. It has some humor just due to the silly reality show that exploits the animals, but the themes of animal exploitation and human animal bonding are stong.

heinäkuu 14, 2014, 5:45 pm

>35 Citizenjoyce:. Thanks, I'll pick it up next time I'm in the store!

heinäkuu 15, 2014, 9:27 am

I would also recommend Particularly Cats, Doris Lessing's memoir of her life with felines from childhood on to two female cats she lived with in London. She is manages to convey the mindset/emotional lives of cats without making them seem like little babies. One of my favorite books for content and style.

heinäkuu 15, 2014, 9:41 am

>37 nohrt4me2:. I'll check it out. The only Lessing that I have read is The Golden Notebook, which I must confess, baffled me.

heinäkuu 15, 2014, 12:00 pm

>38 vwinsloe: I was never much of a Lessing fan in general. I had college roommates who were enthusiastic. I keep thinking I should try her again.

heinäkuu 15, 2014, 5:27 pm

Doris Lessing, how I wanted to like her. Then I read (I think it was) The Golden Notebook in which a woman is so disgusted with the way she smells while she is menstruating that she keeps washing and washing herself all day yet so in love with the way she smells after sex (with a man, of course) that she doesn't want to wash at all. Out of the whole book that is what I remember and why I don't plan on reading any more of her work. How could a woman so admired by women say such a thing about us?
I think someone has told me I over reacted to this, but I can't remember what the explanation was. Feel free to remind me if you have one.

heinäkuu 16, 2014, 6:49 am

>40 Citizenjoyce: I read The Golden Notebook many years ago and see it more as a woman exploring different aspects of her life in Western society in the 1950s, a precursor to the rise of "the personal is political" consciousness-raising of 2nd-wave feminism in the '60s. I've enjoyed her earlier work - the "Children of Violence" series and Briefing for a Descent into Hell but found the "Canopus in Argos: Archives" mainly dreadful and haven't read anything by her since.

heinäkuu 24, 2014, 6:06 am

I read this morning that WAACBO was longlisted for the Mann Booker.


heinäkuu 24, 2014, 10:19 am

I guess it really is the MAN-Booker prize, since Fowler and Hustvedt are the only women listed there.

Anyone read Hustvedt? Sounds interesting.

heinäkuu 24, 2014, 10:26 am

>44 nohrt4me2:. I have not read Hustvedt, although she has been recommended to me.

heinäkuu 24, 2014, 1:36 pm

>44 nohrt4me2: Three women actually (not that one more changes the picture much!), Ali Smith being the third.

heinäkuu 24, 2014, 5:11 pm

Thanks, Sara.

Muokkaaja: heinäkuu 25, 2014, 2:06 am

I thought I'd read something by Ali Smith, but I guess not. My library doesn't have How to Be Both, so I requested her book that's part of the Myths Series, Girl meets boy : the myth of Iphis. Fortunately I'm just third on the waiting list for The Blazing World by Siri Hustvedt.
>43 vwinsloe: Thanks for the post.

heinäkuu 25, 2014, 10:00 am

There was a great documentary on PBS this week called "The Ape Who Went to College" that follows the story of Dr. H. Lyn Miles and her team at UTC who cared for the orangutan Chantek. He was raised with people 24 hours a day and taught sign language. As he hit adolescence he became quite clever at escaping and was deemed a danger so he was removed to a primate center where he was kept in a small cage in solitary confinement where he appeared deeply depressed. After several years, he was moved to the Atlanta zoo where he is doing better- he now weighs over 600 pounds and lives with other orangs, but he still seems to miss his human companions and treats. It was really well done and quite sad.

heinäkuu 25, 2014, 4:08 pm

>49 streamsong: Sounds great. I'll have to look for that.

heinäkuu 25, 2014, 6:07 pm

>49 streamsong:. I just set my dvr to record it. It looks like it will be frequently rerun on PBS this week. Thanks.

elokuu 1, 2014, 5:46 pm

A man goes back to see the gorilla he raised and released to the wild five years ago:

By the way, this was posted to Facebook by Mary Doria Russell

elokuu 2, 2014, 6:41 am

>52 Citizenjoyce:. Thanks for posting that. I find the lack of facial expressions so strange.

elokuu 2, 2014, 10:59 am

>53 vwinsloe: Not to go all William Blake here, but I think the facial expressions that animals have may elude humans, who have so many facial muscles to show (and to obscure) their emotions.

Muokkaaja: elokuu 2, 2014, 11:38 am

>54 nohrt4me2:. Most animals, yes, but apes? I wonder.

Of course, I had to look that up. It looks like they do have the capacity to make facial expressions and that they do show emotion through facial expressions.



So maybe the gorilla in Citizenjoyce's video is making an expression?

elokuu 2, 2014, 2:52 pm

>55 vwinsloe: Such an interesting question.

Facial structures of chimps and humans have been compared, and they differ from humans in the cheek and lip areas, but they share many similarities.

Do emotions involuntarily trigger the same facial muscles in primates and humans?

Researchers warn that just because some primate facial expressions look like human ones, the meaning of those expressions needs more study.


I also expect that other primates may have "cultural norms." For instance, in our culture it is less common for men to cry. Americans, especially in the customer service industry, are taught to smile frequently, while service in Europe is offered with a certain gravitas. (When I worked for an international company, European visitors often found the American habit of smiling somewhat creepy.)

Might primates have similar behavioral norms? Any animal in the wild might have an edge if it can develop a good "poker face."

I've also noticed that intense staring between cats can be an invitation to a fight ... which can also be aborted if one of the cats looks away and reclines or turns its back. Some kind of detente has been achieved or a pecking order established, though it's not always clear to me who "won."

elokuu 2, 2014, 3:36 pm

>56 nohrt4me2:. Good points! Since the apes are so like us, in so many ways, it is very tempting to try to find meaning in their facial expressions. But they are undeniably "foreigners," and communication through facial expressions is bound to be at least as difficult as a foreign language.

elokuu 2, 2014, 7:59 pm

>56 nohrt4me2: I like the idea of the benefits of their developing a good poker face.

Muokkaaja: elokuu 5, 2014, 1:00 pm

>49 streamsong:. I finally got around to watching "The Ape Who Went to College" last night. It was very good and raised some interesting ethical questions. It seems that we have figured out that it is unethical to take apes and raise them as humans, particularly giving them the power of language and a greater degree of self-expression, autonomy, control over their environment and maybe self-awareness. But once we have socialized them, and they can no longer live in human society because of their animal behavior, do we owe them anything? In the case examined by this documentary, the Orangutan finally ended up in the Atlanta Zoo in a situation that was certainly better than in a cage, but it was clear that he still longed for intellectual enrichment, of which he was being deprived. Like the chimp in WAACBO, the Orangutan did not identify with members of his own species and clearly viewed them as inferior to himself. Difficult questions.

Thanks again for the heads up on this.

elokuu 5, 2014, 4:19 pm

A plan for a zoo that hides humans from the other animals:

elokuu 25, 2014, 5:22 pm

More good results from the Blackfish movie

syyskuu 3, 2014, 3:57 pm

I just saw the movie about Chantek. Somehow it got buried amidst my way too many recordings. Thank you so much for recommending it. I wonder if Fowler knew of Chantek when she wrote the novel. What a sad, sad situation for this orangutang-person. When Lyn said that she thought it immoral that her friend was denied the opportunity to continue to use his education, I agreed. When the smiling, very sympathetic sounding man said that it was probably immoral that this ape had been raised inappropriately as a human, I also agreed. But he had been raised that way. He had developed expectations about the world and his place in it, and to strip him of all access to his education and treat him like any other ape is just to compound immorality. This very special creature is to be treated like any other animal in the zoo, and he certainly is not that.

Muokkaaja: syyskuu 4, 2014, 9:25 am

I found The Evolution of Bruno Littlemore on a library cart last week. It had been on my list since it came out in 2011. I believe that it has basically the same theme, only it is written from the POV of the chimp. Ape House, which is also in my TBR pile, came out in 2010.

I always wonder how it happens that several books come out around the same time with the same or similar theme.

syyskuu 5, 2014, 4:59 am

>63 vwinsloe: The book looks good.
I've seen movies about the movie and TV projects being pitched when there are several on the same subject. I also wonder how that comes about. Maybe they've all seen the same news item at the same time and decided to run with it.

Muokkaaja: lokakuu 28, 2014, 1:58 pm

Also of interest, a study showing that chimps have a natural tendency to violence and will kill to obtain more territory, food, mates, etc. and they can engage in acts that terrorize others.


Very, very close to humans, indeed.

lokakuu 6, 2014, 5:06 pm

>65 vwinsloe: I think that's why, if you're looking for ideal humans I go to bonobos instead.

lokakuu 7, 2014, 7:20 am

>66 Citizenjoyce:. I don't know much about bonobos. I think I'll read Ape House next.

Muokkaaja: lokakuu 7, 2014, 3:09 pm

Maybe first you should try Bonobo Handshake: A Memoir of Love and Adventure in the Congo by Vanessa Woods. Sarah Gruen was friends with the author, and I think she got material for her novel from Woods"s description of her time in Africa. Both books are wonderful.

lokakuu 7, 2014, 3:39 pm

>68 Citizenjoyce:. I don't own that one, but I will put it on my list to be acquired. Thanks.

joulukuu 23, 2014, 9:23 pm

Muokkaaja: joulukuu 24, 2014, 1:51 pm

>70 Citizenjoyce:. It is; but fraught with legal and practical difficulties. Stay tuned, I guess. In my view, if we were serious about expanding our ideas and enforcement of animal WELFARE there would be no need for animal RIGHTS.

kesäkuu 13, 2015, 4:01 am

This just happened:
It almost makes one think humans are evolving to be more humane.

syyskuu 29, 2015, 6:23 pm

lokakuu 1, 2015, 8:41 am

>73 Citizenjoyce:. and so it goes, as per usual.

marraskuu 22, 2015, 6:36 am

>75 Citizenjoyce:. Finally! Thanks for sharing the good news.

marraskuu 22, 2015, 1:20 pm

>75 Citizenjoyce: and one of the big circuses (Ringling Bros?) is retiring its elephants.

marraskuu 22, 2015, 11:27 pm

Slow, slow progress, but at least it's happening in some cases.

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