it’s a dog’s life: weldon kees’ canine homage

 

DOG

 

To Vincent Hugh

 

"This night is monstrous winter when the rats

 Swarm in great packs along the waterfront,

 When midnight closes in and takes away your name.

 And it was Rover, Ginger, Laddie, Prince;

 My pleasure hambones. Donned a collar once

 With golden spikes, the darling of a cultured home

 Somewhere between the harbor and the heights, uptown.

 Or is this something curs with lathered mouths invent?

 They had a little boy I would have bitten, had I dared.

 They threw great bones out on the balcony.

 But where? I pant at every door tonight.

 

 I knew this city once the way I know those lights

 Blinking in chains along the other side,

 These streets that hold the odors of my kind.

 But now, my bark a ghost in this strange scentless air,

 I am no growling cicerone or cerberus

 But wreckage for the pound, snuffling in shame

 All cold-nosed toward identity.—Rex? Ginger? No.

 A sort of panic jabbering inside begins.

 Wild for my shadow in this vacantness,

 I can at least run howling toward the bankrupt lights

 Into the traffic where bones, cats, and masters swarm.

 And where my name must be."

gallic wisdom

You’ve got to think of everything . . .

What about my dogs? 

 

—Louis-Ferdinand Céline, Castle to Castle (1957)

 

 

 

dour dexter snubs sister!

the curmudgeonly canine turns his back on his sweet sibling & baby sister addie

promotion, friendship, black dogs: personal crap to be mulled over later

the pain never stops… 
and thank god, otherwise i might never know i am alive

promotion

received a promotion at work and sizeable raise — it seems i pass from strength to strength in the working world, even though I am basically sleepwalking through my life (see any novel by hermann broch for more on this theme — better yet, his journals). 

and it seems pointless… i don’t care about the money. my foremost thought is that i’m running out of time.

however, my boss did make an effort to burn my nose hairs with a lighter after i deliberately — and perhaps too obviously — feigned ignorance of basic company policy, so any further accolades may now be delayed.

every once in a while sarcasm exacts its price.

friendship

the other day I saw someone who i once considered a very BFF… quickly averted my eyes and changed course lest angry fireworks be directed my way.

anyway, one day a year or so ago my former friend simply ended our friendship (begging the question of whether it was in fact a friendship or just a way to kill time. 

very weird and sad to suddenly feel once again the… the what? the sting? the sorrow?… the sense of loss, i suppose, occasioned by this highly intelligent and artistic person simply ceasing contact with me for reasons i could never discover.

now i wonder if my interpretation of this person’s actions as deliberate cruelty was a misinterpretation; maybe it was something else, a need to be left alone for a while. conversely maybe former BFF thought the same of my actions, when i was in actuality only trying to find out why the friendship seemed to be on hold, if not over.  

but in trying to force the issue i wound up forcing the person, as it were.  

it was certainly a very bad time for me and my ill feelings may have been directed outward (one shouldn’t drink to excess when ones doctor is changing one’s medications).

weird, too, that something like this only happened to me once before, and since I was a young child i probably forgot all about it in a few weeks. sadly, given my obsession-compulsive tendencies, i will probably ruminate on these issues for years to come, until:

time’s arrow one day hits me dead on the heart, as every wasted chance and lost opportunity come back upon me and i’m too busy looking backwards.

at least i won’t see it coming.

never far from my mind: time and time’s very own BFF, loss, (in the form of lost opportunities & missed chances accumulating behind me, and an ever-narrowing set of options in front of me). would need the pen used by proust on his deathbed to write this down properly — or maybe it’s not proust’s pen but faulkner’s whiskey bottle.

and yet as an adult married male the idea of friendship is typically not something that occupies my mind very often. i have my wife, and I always make friends in the work place with like-minded individuals, but i hadn’t met anyone like this person in years, a genuinely independent-minded person with very real artistic talents — and also capable of sophisticated abstract thought: a combination not found very often in north america.

after this near-encounter i am left with the unpleasant residue of something worthwhile having ended badly and wrongly, through a series of misunderstandings and miscommunications… left with a vast oceanic feeling of deep regret and an even deeper wish that the friendship hadn’t ended. 

on black dogs (mine, not churchill’s)

 it must now be said: Addie (full name Adele Pray Webb-McLachlin , from the book Addie Pray and film Paper Moon) may be the worst dog ever allowed to live.

now ANYONE in my neighbourhood walking a dog will cross the street or run back to their house if they see me and addie coming towards them. 11-pounds of miniature schnauzer! 

the local pitbull who runs around off-leash with total impunity refuses to go within 15 feet of her. 

the 80-pound chocolate lab reverses direction and drags his owner back home if he sees or scents her from 50 yards.  

the recently-immigrated chinese lady living down the street runs along the edge of the park in her heels until she safely is out of Addie’s sight — a good 300 metre sprint in her stilletos!

all of this simply fuels addie’s already rapidly metastizing ego. she knows exactly what effect she has on dogs and people and she relishes every second of it.  

she is possibly the smartest dog i have ever seen. she is totally without fear, but never lacking in a kind of low animal cunning (like george w.?). 

undiluted, uncontainable purity of canine spirit.  

re spirit: paraphrase hegel on napoleon? — "i have seen the world-historical prancing on four paws with maimed squirrel dying in its mouth."

it is quite possible this wholly amoral and self-serving creature represents the way of the future (thomas homer-dixon and robert kaplan)

or maybe she is a doggy myra breckinridge… she does try to hump her brother dexter from time to time. 

dexter seems resigned to the fact that she is here to stay and apparently has forgiven me for ruining his life by adding her to the family.


addie pray, fictional character, and the inspiration for addie pray webb-mclachlin, black schnauzer and obstinate little girl:

the critter herself, incognito:

 

thomas bernhard on dogs, loneliness & schopenhauer

“I won’t tolerate this dog comedy, which we can see enacted every day if we only open our eyes and haven’t become blinded to it by daily familiarity. In this comedy a dog comes on the stage and makes life a misery for some human being, exploiting him and, in the course of several acts, or just one or two, driving out of him all his harmless humanity.”

 

Cover Image

At the sight of the corner where we used to keep a dog when we were children, I couldn’t help thinking, If only I kept a dog at least! But since I grew up I’ve always hated dogs. And who would look after the dog, and what should it look like, what kind of dog should it be? I’d have to get somebody in to look after the dog, and I can’t put up with anybody in the house. I can’t put up either with dog or another person. I’d have had somebody in the house long ago if I could have stood it, but I can’t stand anybody, and naturally I can’t stand a dog. I haven’t gone to the dogs, I told myself, and I won’t. I shall die like a dog, but I won’t go to the dogs. The dog used to sit in this corner just next to the door leading into the yard. We’d loved the dog, but now I’d be bound to hate such an animal, always lying in wait. The fact of the matter is that I love being alone. I’m not lonely and I don’t suffer from loneliness. I’m happy when I’m alone. I know how fortunate I am to be alone when I observe other people who aren’t alone like me and can’t afford to be, who spend all their lives wishing they were but can’t be. People keep a dog and are ruled by this dog, and even Schopenhauer was ruled in the end not by his head, but by his dog. This fact is more depressing than any other. Fundamentally it was not Schopenhauer’s head that determined his thought, but Schopenhauer’s dog. It was not the head that hated Schopenhauer’s world, but Schopenhauer’s dog. I don’t have to be demented to assert that Schopenhauer had a dog on his shoulders and not a head. People love animals because they are incapable even of loving themselves. Those with the very basest of souls keep dogs, allowing themselves to be tyrannized and finally ruined by their dogs. They give the dog pride of place in their hypocrisy, which in the end becomes a public menace. They would rather save their dog from the guillotine than Voltaire. The masses are in favour of dogs because in their heart of hearts they are not prepared to incur the strenuous effort of being alone with themselves, an effort which in fact calls for greatness of soul. I don’t belong to the masses, I’ve been against the masses all my life, and I’m not in favour of dogs. What we call our love of animals has already wrought such havoc that if we were to think really hard about it we should be positively frightened to death. It isn’t as absurd as it may at first appear when I say that the world owes its most terrible wars to its ruler’s love of animals. It’s all documented, and one ought to be clear about it for once. These people—politicians, dictators—are ruled by a dog, and as a result they plunge millions of human beings into misery and ruin. They love a dog and foment a world war in which, because of this one dog, millions of people are killed. Just consider for a moment what the world would be like if this so-called love of animals were at least reduced by a few paltry per cent in favour of love of humanity—which of course is also only a phrase. There can be no question of whether or not I should keep a dog. I am mentally opposed to keeping a dog, which I know would have to be given more care and attention than any human being, more than I demand for myself. But humanity sees nothing wrong in the fact that all over the world dogs get more care and attention than human beings, that in fact it gives more care and attention to all these billions of dogs than it gives to itself. I take leave to describe such a world as perverse, grossly inhumane and totally mad. If I’m here, the dog’s here, if I’m there the dog’s there too. If the dog has to go out, I have to go out too, and so on. I won’t tolerate this dog comedy, which we can see enacted every day if we only open our eyes and haven’t become blinded to it by daily familiarity. In this comedy a dog comes on the stage and makes life a misery for some human being, exploiting him and, in the course of several acts, or just one or two, driving out of him all his harmless humanity. It is said that the tallest, most expensive and most precious tombstone ever set up in the history of the world is one to the memory of a dog. No, not in America, as one inevitably assumes, but in London. Once we get it clear, this fact is enough to show how dog-like humanity really is. In this world the real question to ask about a person has long been, not how humane he is, but how dog-like, yet up to now, instead of asking how dog-like a person is—which is what they really ought to ask out of respect for the truth—people have always asked how humane he is. And that I find disgusting. There is no question of my keeping a dog. If you kept a dog at least! my sister said just before she left. It wasn’t the first time. She’s been saying it for years just to enrage me. A dog at least! I don’t need one of course—I have my lovers, she said. At one time—just to assert herself, I think—she gave up having lovers and got herself a dog. It was so small that—at least in my imagination at least—it could have crawled underneath her high-heeled shoes. It was the grotesqueness of it that appealed to her; she had a little velvet waistcoat with a gold hem made for this creature, which didn’t even deserve to be called a dog. People stared at it in amazement at the Sacher, and this she found so distasteful that she gave the animal to her housekeeper, who naturally passed it on to somebody else.

—from Thomas Bernhard, Concrete (1984) pp 52-4

beware—do not pass the black dog, lest you enter that undiscovered country from which no man returns

"…there are ghostly black dogs… generally near gates and stiles, and are of such a forbidding aspect that no one dare venture to pass them, and that it means death to shout at them."

 

—Reverend Worthington-Smith, Dunstable and Its Surrounds (1910)

natural born killer, or survival of the prettiest?—either way, adorable addie eviscerates squirrel!

Look on Addie’s works, ye mighty, and despair: She is Tennyson’s pitiless and awful “Nature, red in tooth and claw” rendered incarnate… and no species indigenous to the North American continent can stop her now!