Friday, June 15, 2012

Friday Quotations:They are not talking exclusively about animals

This is a long one, so bear with.  It's an extended passage from Philip K. Dick's Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said

"There are different kinds of love."
"Like Emily Fusselman's rabbit."  She glanced up at him.  "A woman I knew, married, with three kids; she had two kittens and then she got one of those big gray Belgian rabbits that go lipperty lipperty lipperty on those huge hind legs.  For the first month the rabbit was afraid to come out of his cage.  It was a he, we think, as best we could tell.  Then after a month he would come out of his cage and hop around the living room.  After too months he learned to climb up the stairs and scratch on Emily's bedroom door to wake her up in the morning.  He started playing with the cats, and that's where the trouble began, because he wasn't as smart as a cat."
"Rabbits have smaller brains," Jason said.
Ruth Rae said, "Hard by.  Anyway, he adored the cats and tried to do everything they did.  He even learned to use the catbox most of the time.  Using tufts of hair he pulled from his chest, he made a nest behind the couch and wanted the kittens to get into it.  But they never would.  The end of it--nearly--came when he tried to play Gotcha with a German shepherd that some lady brought over.  You see, the rabbit learned to play this game with the cats and with Emily Fusselman and the children where he'd run behind the couch and then come running out, running very fast in circles, and everyone tried to catch him, but they usually couldn't and then he'd run back to safety behind the couch, where no one was supposed to follow.  But the dog didn't know the rules of the game and when the rabbit ran back to safety behind the couch the dog went after him and snapped its jaws around the rabbit's rear end.  Emily managed to pry the dog's jaws open and she got the dog outside, but the rabbit was badly hurt.  He recovered, but he was terrified of dogs and ran away if he saw one even through the window.  And the part of him the dog bit, he kept that prat hidden behind the drapes because he had no hair there and was ashamed.  But what was so touching about him was that he was pushing against the limits of his--what would you say?--physiology? His limitations as a rabbit, trying to become a more evolved life form, like the cats.  Wwanting all the time to be with them and play with them as an equal.  That's all there is to it, really.  The kittens wouldn't stay in the nest he built for them, and the dog didn't know the rules and got him.  He lived several years.  But who would have thought a rabbit could develop such a complex personality? And when you were sitting on the couch and he wanted you to get off, so he could lie down, he`d nudge you and then if you didn't move he'd bite you.  But look at the aspirations of that rabbit and look at his failing.  A little life trying.  And all the time it was hopeless.  But the rabbit didn't know that.  Or maybe he did know and kept trying anyhow.  But I think he didn't understand.  He just wanted to do it so badly.  It was his whole life, because he loved the cats."
"I thought you didn't like animals," Jason said.
"Not anymore.  Not after so many defeats and wipeouts.  Like the rabbit; he eventually, of course, died.  Emily Fusselman cried for days.  A week.  I could see what it had done to her and I didn't want to get involved."
"But stopping loving animals entirely so that you--"
"Their lives are so short.  Just so fucking goddamn sort.  Okay, some people lose a creature they love and then go on and transfer that love to another one.  But it hurts; it hurts."
"Then why is love so good?"

Philip K. Dick is mostly known for his high concepts: the countless robot replications in Do Androids Dream of Electronic Sheep and elsewhere; the future sense of The Minority Report, the alternate reality of The Man in the High Castle.  But every now and then, he writes something like this, and you have to stop for a second, and reevaluate, asking yourself "who is this guy?."  Then something misogynist happens, and you go "oh right," and you go back to Pris and the sexy robots.

Later Days.

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