“Remote from universal nature and living by complicated artifice, man in civilisation surveys animals through the glass of his knowledge and sees thereby a feather magnified and the whole image in distortion. We patronise them for their incompleteness, for their tragic fate for having taken form so far below ourselves. And therein do we err. For the animal shall not be measured by man. In a world older and more complete than ours, they move finished and complete, gifted with the extension of the senses we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear. They are not brethren, they are not underlings: they are other nations, caught with ourselves in the net of life and time, fellow prisoners of the splendour and travail of the earth.”Henry Beston, The Outermost House
For me, stepping away from human exceptionalism relies on becoming (more) animal. Not like Thomas Thwaites, or Charles Foster, who seem to try on an/other’s animality like a costume or performance, but recognising and getting comfortable with my own animality.
And this has me constantly looking for ways to think about how we–humans and other animals–are in all this together. The great and beautiful parts as well as the terrible and painful bits, together as “fellow prisoners of the splendour and travail of the earth.”