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.