Negative conceptions of animality, especially as projected onto Indigenous populations, have long been a tool of Western imperialism. […] Victorian anthropological and scientific discourses consistently used evolutionary theory and conceptions of the ‘missing link’ as a way to construct a racialized hierarchy in which non-white humans were animalized and seen as closer to animals than white humans… [A]lthough alternate human-animal relationships and conceptions of animality can act as a tool of decolonization … the ideological divides created by imperialism remain entrenched within contemporary settler colonies.
Anna Feuerstein and Carmen Nolte-Odhiambo, “‘The cats are outside hanging’: Settler Colonialism, Racialized Animality, and Queer Kinship in Lois-Ann Yamanaka’s Blu’s Hanging” (177)
Connecting with Artemis: Artemisian Books and Films
I always get excited when I read or watch something that reminds me of Artemis! Imagination filled with Her energy, so here are some books and films I’ve watched that reminds me of Her (including non-fiction and research material on Artemis):
Dancing In Moonlight: Understanding Artemis Through Celebration by Thista Minai
Unbound: A Devotional Anthology for Artemis by Bibliotheca Alexandrina
Artemis: Virgin Goddess of the Sun, Moon & Hunt by Sorita d'Este
Born Free: A Lioness of Two Worlds by Joy Adamson
Fiction on Animal-Human Relationships
The Clan of the Cave Bear: Earth’s Children, Book One by Jean M. Auel (The Earth’s Children book series)
The Valley of Horses: Earth’s Children, Book Two by Jean M. Auel (The Earth’s Children book series)
Tree Girl by T. A. Barron (My favorite childhood book!)
ok so i’m lowkey pissy but not in any way equipped to start an actual debate tonight anyway: the reason we say non-human animals don’t have language is because they don’t. languages are a) structured b) recursive and c) symbolic.
first, structure. the great ape language studies are full of shit in many ways (linkity) but one of the few useful things to come out of them is that great apes may be able to learn sign languages (altho koko’s sign language, in particular, is not BSL, ASL, or anything but her own specific sign and thus the only people who can sign with her are her trained handlers) but great apes are very very bad at making sentences. they know the meanings of single words, but constructing sentences, and in particular, verbs, are very hard for them. this makes abstract thought very difficult (more later). moreover, when you try to teach an ape to sign a complete sentence, what you usually end up with is some or most of the correct words in random order, with extras inserted. it’s very very hard to teach an ape “i want a banana”. what you get is “banana” with increasing emphasis. this is communication–you understand what the ape wants–but well before children start school we’ve introduced the idea of complete sentences and this is not something a great ape can understand.
second, recursion. i can say “i saw the dog run to the tree”. the most apes or parrots have been documented saying are things like “i see the dog” followed by “the dog run to the tree”. humans can take a sentence, nest objects in the sentence, and recurse the fuck out of it until it’s hundreds of words long. we can add subclauses, we can refer to other things outside the conversation, and we can assign pronouns to objects to talk about them later. apes and parrots cannot. pronouns are notoriously hard to teach, and trying to carry on a conversation with an ape is rather like trying to carry on one with a robot. they’re great at responding to your last comment, and anything before that is hit or miss.
third, symbolism. this is actually the closest non-human animals have gotten to. vervet monkeys have a 3 tier alarm call system: one, distinct, call for leopards; one for snakes; and one for hawks. what makes this a symbolic signal is that 1) the call contains no particularly “leopardy” information, if you play it to hand-raised vervet monkeys they don’t respond 2) in wild populations, the call produces a very specific, leopard response, and 3) the call is not simply an escalated version of an alarm call. the three types of calls produce three, very different responses, and both the call and response have to be learned by young monkeys. but! but! this is one of a very few instances of symbolic communication in non-human animals (the other major one is honey bees). and even then, vervet monkeys can’t communicate an abstract leopard–you can’t talk about a future leopard or a past leopard, just a current (and present!) leopard. but you can in any human language.
more generally, animals can communicate. they can communicate about 1) their own health 2) sex 3) food 4) predators 5) territorial claims. most animals are not good at communicating about other topics, and no non-human animal, on a species or individual level, has achieved the sheer complexity of language humans take for granted. no other species can ask “when’s dinner”. none can say “i don’t like michael” when michael or michael’s scent isn’t on hand.
to date, human language does seem to be unique, and it is important that it be treated as unique by researchers, because assuming that animals can communicate with us–and us with them–without difficulty or error can be disastrous. adversarial human-animal relationships are common. on a regular basis people get bit by dogs and cats, their crops trampled and eaten by deer and elephants, their livestock killed by foxes and cougars. to attribute, or cause to be attributed by lay-people, to non-human animals cognitive abilities they simply do not possess can lead people to think that an animal should know this trick, they should know the field is trapped, they should recognize that people need this food too.
animals communicate. and they do it well. but no other species has language, and we need to stop insisting that they do.
You know, I like writing poros. Mostly because I like the idea of animal/human relationships. I’ve written on tumblr a long, long time. But one thing I don’t see much, is the relationship between humans and animals much. I mean, think about it, we have great relationships with our pets.
Granted, poros aren’t pets, but they sort of act like them. Aside from cleaning your house and pouring out all your booze and thinking the bathtub is an evil canyon.
NOW WAIT A GOSH DARN MINUTE! So Corgis are a thing in RWBY. How fucking awkward would it be for a Faunus to see a animal, most closely resembling themselves, walking the streets on a leash or being used as a farm animal for producing food? Or any of the other potentially sensitive human-animal relationships. . _. LIKE, what if there was a Corgi Faunus who saw a Corgi walking down the street on a leash and people would stare and mock and...and... *head implodes*