Thursday, September 28, 2006

all is not well with orson

jon katz has a new article in slate (an excerpt from his new book). in it he talks about consulting some german philosophers (arendt and kant) about his decision to euthanize his aggressive dog orson (or not).

It did not matter what other people, or other dog lovers, would do or would think of whatever I decided. It mattered what I thought of myself; the respect I needed to seek was my own. The world is filled with people of certainty, who have a sure sense of what others ought to do. Nowhere were they more numerous than in the vast network of people and institutions that constituted the dog culture. Yet if life with dogs had taught me anything, it was to be less, not more, certain. Animals have ways of teaching you that for all your books, vet, Web sites, and holistic practitioners, you are not in control. Animals live by their own lights.


What pushed me through my lethargy was a passage Arendt cited from Immanuel Kant: "Two things fill the mind with ever new and increasing admiration and awe, the oftener and more steadily we reflect on them: the starry heaven above me and the moral law within me."

i was all prepared to make fun of his consultation of German philosophers which can never read to good things. but i was having a hard time putting my finger on what bothered me about the column until i spoke with my good friend mr. glenn who, in spite of his dalliance among the germans and goddamn cats, isn't so bad. he mentioned katz's love of the tidy narrative in which the stories always wrap up in some sort of satisfying way. and that makes me worry his consultation of arendt and kant is not so much about making the right decision but about making the decision and feeling like he is, unquestionably, a good person. now it's not that i think mr. katz is a bad person (in spite of his name's unfortunate homonymic qualities). it's just that last time we saw orson he was a herding dog who had gotten a new leash on life as an outstanding herder and pal to mr. katz. now he's biting people and about to be put down? what? he may say that dogs help us see the complexity in the world but he so rarely shows this in his own writing. his stories tend to lack the aimless wandering and sniffing quality that life with (as?) a dog is actually like--it's not beginning, middle, solution, end. it's meandering in a way his stories--while good reads--so rarely are.

poor orson. at the mercy of the moral law within naked apes.


Blogger Sid the Dog said...

Stupid humans and their smug moral tales. I dunno Wally, but this Katz guy isn't fooling me. If Orson taught him so much about complexity how come the simpleton could only cough up 4 options??? What a showoff too, I mean philosophers are cool and all, but to name them as his "Board of Directors?" I wish there was a way to hack Slate and replace his references to philosophers with references to the Watchtower or the Book of Mormon or The Joy of Cooking. How smart would he look then?

I sure hope Orson in okay...

9:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This made me cry...I have some aggression problems too and I am still here for now.

Bussie Kissies

8:02 AM  
Anonymous katya said...

"poor orson. at the mercy of the moral law within naked apes."

very nicely put, wally.

12:44 AM  
Blogger Tin Tin Blogdog said...

Oh. My. Dog.

Wally, yet another example of how humans like to complicate simple things. Errrr, yeah philosophise all ya like, but keep it amongst yourselves, humans.

Orson taught his Da about complexity because, ummmmm, maybe only simpletons believe in your dog, Mr Katz, leave the analysis alone, and it'll all become clear.

Or maybe with your name that's nigh impossible...

Chow for now,

Tin Tin xo

8:34 AM  
Blogger wally said...

i think one problem with the naked ape philosophizing is that they do it to make themselves feel superior and to make themselves feel better about things that aren't so swell.

buster--top secret but i have some issues, too. especially with big men. and if they smoke? forgetaboutit. but there's more than four options for these situations so i hope you see a good animal behaviorist who recognizes you for the wonderful bussie kisser you are.

and katya--i appreciate your sentiments. when the goddamn cats are wiser than the naked apes? well, i'm not surprised.

we all deserve a belly rub after reading this sad story.

1:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Personally I think Katz was looking for justification. He knew what he wanted to do (Put Orson down instead of finding an alternative for a dog that changed his entire life for the that how you pay back such a gift???)I've read all of his books..except the fiction ones..about his life with dogs and he put down his two beloved labs, one had cancer, the other a heart problem. Both dogs were getting "tired acting" so he took them to the vet to be euthanized. I don't know about other dog owners, but I have had dogs with cancer and I have had them treated and they had months upon months of happiness left to live. Katz then gave away his "beloved" dog homer because homer didn't "fit in" with the rest of the pact. (He justified this by stating it was for Homer's own happiness.) Homer went to a fenced in backyard family, a huge change from being able to herd on the Bedlam farm. Then I read that Katz has taken in Fly, a rescue dog. Suddenly, no mention of Fly, but Katz writes that he has 2 labs (Clementine and Pearl) and 2 border collies (Rose and a brand new one.) Then he writes an article for Slate stating he has 1 lab...Pearl..and 2 border collies. What happened to Clementine? I find all this hypocritical due to an article Katz wrote stating there are no perfect dogs and when one acquires a dog, he takes upon himself the life and care of another creature, a creature that is not perfect and must be loved for what it is. Why, then, does he go through dogs as if they were disposables????

11:59 AM  

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