A Pet-Lover's Conflict

Some selected quotes from the chapter "Why Look at Animals" in John Berger's About Looking (1992). 
Also, some photos of Simon Miller.

“Unspeaking companionship was felt to be so equal that often one finds the conviction that it was man who lacked the capacity to speak with animals” (4).

Some love for Simon Miller. Photo courtesy of Christina Heur
“That look between animal and man, which may have played a crucial role in the development of human society, and with which, in any case, all men have always lived until less than a century ago, has been extinguished” (26)

“But always its lack of common language, its silence guarantees its distance, its distinctness, its exclusion, from and of man” (4)

“No animal confirms man” (3).

The pettiness of current social practices is universalized by being projected on to the animal kingdom” (13).

“The animal has been emptied of experience and secrets, and this new invented ”innocence“  begins to provoke in man a kind of nostalgia” (10).
Jack and Simon

“In the accompanying ideology, animals are always the observed. The fact that they can observe us has lost all significance. They are objects of our ever-extending knowledge” (14).

English Family Visiting Lion Cage at a 
19th Century Zoo During the Winter
“The zoos, with their theatrical decor for display, were in fact demonstrations of how animals had been rendered absolutely marginal” (24).

“[Animals h]ave become utterly dependent on their keepers”  (23).

“The zoo is a demonstration of the relations between man and animals; nothing else” 

“The zoo to which people go to meet animals, to observe them, to see them, is, in fact, a monument to the impossibility of such encounters” (19).

photo by Mike Roseberg

“This historic loss, to which zoos 
are a monument, is now irredeemable 
for the culture of capitalism” (26).

“What we are trying to define, because the experience is almost lost, is the universal use of animal-signs for charting experience of the world” (6).

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