Monday, 1 April 2019

Picture Post #45: Undesired and Eliminated

'Because things don’t appear to be the known thing; they aren’t what they seemed to be neither will they become what they might appear to become.'

Posted by Tessa den Uyl

Paris - France 2018

The more imagination you put into the display of products for a shop window, the more people will remember it. Here the dead rats are eye catching indeed, aside from the large golden letters announcing: Disinfestation of Harmful Animals.

We remove the unwanted, to justify our own characteristics? 

No animal knows about our bounds, nor do we know about theirs. Living along together, this very often human being simply cannot. Though all those unwanted creatures need an earth to live on. 

Perhaps when these undesired beings are there, we might have something they need? And we need them, whether we like to see them or not. It’s a fair contract, made by nature.

The problem does not originate in nature, but it is a problem how nature will survive with us, and this is one of the most outstanding contradictions in the nature of humankind.


Martin Cohen said...

Is there a contrast here between the shop activities (and contents) and its appearance? So 'chic' and genteel, reassuring and refined?

Tessa den Uyl said...

Dear Martin, Yes, there is contrast, and we could add the legality of it too.
Yesterday another spermwhale washed ashore on the Italian coast, full with plastic. There is a legality in that as well, an ideological one.
We want things, others we don’t want, but of-course, what this attitude creates will have a percussion, and so far this attitude is legal.
I think there is something surreal in all this.

Keith said...

I’m not sure that a display of rat corpses is the soundest symbol of the threat posed by human beings to nature. (I can think of better ones.)

Are rats, with their disease-vector fleas, more a threat to humans than are humans’ reactions to rats? Perhaps some people, in answering, risk a false moral equivalency.

I wonder about the ‘Black Death’ of the fourteenth century, which ‘culled’ many millions of people.

So, maybe rats are indeed the ‘animaux nuisibles’ that the shop’s declarative sign boldly warns about and commits to destroying.

Thomas Scarborough said...

My home away from home is a remote African plateau. There they have a weekly hunt on horseback with dogs and rifles, for leopards and aardvarks and pangolins and all. The intention is to eradicate them. They cannot co-exist with humans or the environment under their control.

When I return to the city, I see a vast human settlement before me from the pass, where hawks and caracal and tortoises and all have been all but completely eradicated. That is what it means to plant a city.

Then there's the other side of the story, which is animals which humans cherish, which apparently they ought not to. Some are increasingly being seen either as problematic or as vermin, above all cats, which are now seen as a major invasive species.

Tessa den Uyl said...

Dear Keith, we’re not living in the 14th century but the 21st. Meanwhile we’ve taken charge of a few things.
Most products in this shop kill more than what should be killed. Should? Here is the difficulty.
Human being has this attitude of what is not seen does not exist. We have polluted the seas and drinking waters, in exchange for ‘wellbeing’. This is the contradiction and the absurdity of legality. The question is what is truly harmful?
The symbolism of this shop window invites to think further on many aspects of our attitudes. What about our relationship to death?
Killing is necessary for survival, but how and what, and when? We might take some time to think about this, not?

docmartincohen said...

Yes, we humans have a false view of nature anyway. For a start, we see ourselves as somehow above it - even as our boides consist of an incomprehensively complex mix of micro-organisms. You see the error of our ways when we become sick having created a sterile environment. When I was at school, we were always taught about the importance of all the links in the ecological chain, rats and 'nuisibles' included. And Thomas is surely giving too much credibility to the hunters, so many who kill without consideration of the wider interest in protecting nature and biodiversity for future generations - including future hunters!

Keith said...

‘[W]e’re not living in the 14th century but the 21st’. Fair enough, Tessa; however, the bubonic plague still occurs — especially as recently as the 20th century, when, some sources say, millions of people died. I believe the most serious recent outbreak was in 2017, in Madagasgar, with some 800 people infected. However, certainly we have better ways to prevent and treat the plague. Perhaps the latter point is what you mean by ‘[W]e’ve taken charge of a few things’. Though, again, I’d like to toss into the hopper the consideration of possibly ‘false moral equivalencies’.

One might argue that not everything that’s ‘natural’ is good. There’s a danger in mythologising nature, our assuming it always gets things right. Yet nature can be ‘cruel’. Would a (naturally occurring) asteroid that obliterates animal life on Earth be good? Or are (naturally occurring) childhood cancers good? Or, perhaps smaller scale, how about Ebola’s (naturally occurring) impact on at-risk segments of the world’s human population? Where’s the line? When, as you say, should ‘we take charge’ — which I translate as ‘intervening’? Or, to your related point, ‘Killing is necessary for survival’. Reasonable people might differ on the what, when, and how of that latter pronouncement.

If we start cutting rats some slack — prompted by what for some people might be the unpleasant image in the shop window — then to be consistent we might have to do so with other of nature’s bounties, like cockroaches, mosquitos, and ticks — and their pathogens. Leading to malaria, Lyme, typhus, dengue, Zika, West Nile virus, encephalitis — and many others, with more exotic names. (After all, nature isn’t just about cute, cuddly pandas, ponies, baby seals, Shih Tzus — and dimpled human babies.) Does that, should that, ought that bear on how humans choose to ‘live [or not live] along with nature’, that is, whether to intervene?

In my view, your observation that ‘we have polluted the seas and drinking water’ actually points to the more critical issue, as humans have too often been unkind, unthinking, and myopic in their relationship with the environment. Shouldn’t the environment writ large be where we focus? Don’t we owe that to the welfare of future generations?

Tessa den Uyl said...

With taken charge I had in mind that we do not ascribe an event that occurs to God’s will any longer. But the -we- here, who are those -we-?
Quote: ‘ Shouldn’t the environment writ large be where we focus?’ Again, which We?
Where are ‘ the false moral equivancies’ without defining the We?
Owing welfare to the future generations, is that what we’ve been and are doing? As if human being can survive without taking into account that everything is connected, and we are depended on that natural system, including generations of flora and fauna.

The myth is to ascribe an overvalued importance to ourselves, that moves between likes and dislikes but that attitude will not enhance life in the broad sense of the word.

Keith said...

When you used the word 'we', Tessa, in your quote 'we have polluted the seas and drinking water', you didn't actually define the word. Nor did you define 'we' in your other uses of it, such as 'We might take some time to think about this, not?' However, I assumed that in these and in other instances of your using 'we', you were referring to human beings. People. That's likewise how I was using 'we'.

Tessa den Uyl said...

In my latter comment I posed a question about defining the ‘we’ not specifically in regard to your comments Keith, it started as a notion to words I wrote. Indeed, for some people life is completely in the hands of God. Like welfare is not a reasonable possibility for many at the moment, eliminating cockroaches is not on everybody’s mind. If you locate this shop in the picture above somewhere in a poor place in Africa, people will laugh. Perhaps not even because they wouldn’t like to get rid of certain vermin, they simply cannot afford it and if they can, they would spend their money differently. And now ‘we’ intended as all human beings apparently has different perceptions about what harmful animals are, and what welfare means. Last question, is this shop a symbol of welfare?

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