Thursday, August 16, 2012

My dog is an esthete

There's no doubt that Fitzroy is a superior dog... quite apart from the trivial observation that he seems to have accepted me as his master.

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His tail may be a bundle of prickly burrs, but Fitzroy's heart is soft and sweet, and his mind is as pure as icy water in the torrents of Risoul in the Hautes-Alpes département, up where he was born on 10 July 2010. He is lovable and constantly (urgently) in need of caresses. And furthermore, he has taste. Artistic taste. In a nutshell, Fitzroy is an esthete. Indeed, a connoisseur.

Fitzroy's specialty is driftwood. Now, this might sound funny in the case of a dog (and his master) who are settled in the mountains, hundreds of kilometers away from the seashore. But bits of wood don't need an ocean to drift. Just ask Fitzroy. He would tell you that beautiful bits of wood can drift on mountain streams, on ice and snow, maybe even (who knows?) in the air. In any case, telling us mountain-dwellers that we don't have driftwood would be like telling our new president François Hollande that he doesn't have Nicolas Sarkozy. Like, it's everywhere, ubiquitous. But Fitzroy selects only the finest specimens.

My dog would surely refer to such items as nocturnal objects, reflecting the fact that he collects them in the early hours of the morning, just before the sun rises. Like fairies gathering dewdrops. Every object collected by Fitzroy has a story, which only my dog could tell. Each story elucidates the context in which that object acquired its form, its colors, its character, or—as Fitzroy might say (I try to avoid putting words into his mouth)—its soul.

In the case of my dear departed Sophia, I always apprehended the day when she would suddenly shun food, for I knew that this repulsion would announce her end... as it did. Concerning Fitzroy, I would certainly be gravely worried about his state of health (both bodily and mental) if ever he dragged home an ugly item, devoid of magic charm, such as a hunk of plywood or plastic.

Seriously, the idea that my canine companion Fitzroy seems to express esthetic judgment is, to my mind, quite fabulous. It would be interesting to see how distinguished evolutionary biologists such as Richard Dawkins and P Z Myers might evaluate and possibly explain my claim. In a nutshell (forgive me my constant usage of this metaphor, due to my preoccupations as a walnut farmer):

What might have been the evolutionary advantage
of being a driftwood esthete?

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