NOTES FROM UNDERGROUND: A RUSSIAN PHILOSOPHER, A MORTGAGE, AND A DEER…….
Yes, I borrowed the title’s first three words from Dostoyevsky. As in Fyodor Mikhaylovich. Those who can’t escape their Russian Lit past recall the “Crime And Punishment” author as one reflective dude. What does a Midwest mom/animal advocate see in the 19th Century Russian essayist? The link is “Notes From Underground,” a novel starring the infamous Underground Man. The unemployed and unnamed servant sees life happening, but can’t react.
He analyzes an action, its under-action, and the thorny layers of subconscious until he slips into “conscious inertia.” Underground Guy is so psychologically paralyzed, he can’t move his limbs. Of course this all takes place in a seedy basement apartment with sickly yellow lighting.
He sees war, violence, suffering…as human tools to protest the concept of fate — the notion that every action is preordained and serves higher purpose. In fact, most human events are without purpose. It is this empty flutter that writes our history.
I thought about all this today when I read columnist Bill McClellan‘s “Couple’s dream home causes many sleepless nights,” in the St. Louis Post Dispatch. He tells us how an unforgiving real estate market steals Crystal and Tom’s hope, along with the mortgage on their Jefferson County, Missouri home. The Andersons worked hard to finance the airy cedar-log cabin. They deserve to “sit on the porch and gaze into their woods.”
Tom and Crystal’s porch provides a panoramic view of the woods. Critters occasionally check out their lawn. The Andersons refer to the animals as “game.”
When a deer wanders into their yard, Tom shoots it. His head, McClellan informs, is “now mounted in their living room.”
“Hard to believe, isn’t it?” Tom gushes. “I got that deer on my own property!”
“Yes, it was all working just like it was supposed to,” McClellan concludes.
This is fate? Picking off wildlife in one’s backyard? To me, it’s more of that empty flutter — a senseless life-stealing moment that serves no purpose. McClellan didn’t pull the trigger. I have no idea if the writer hunts. Still, he is an apathy enabler. The deer is merely a shot in the afternoon. Gone. Done.
I am really sorry the Andersons’ property lost over one-third its original value, destroying the terms of their bank loan. Still, I am more upset that Tom shot the deer, just because he could. And I am saddened by Bill’s nonchalant description of the slaughter.
The deer is a life that doesn’t matter. He’s scenery. But maybe his life does matter — to him, his mate, his herd. Perhaps his life serves a purpose beyond human pleasure. We take it, only because we can.
Note to animal killers: I am not interested in the hunter’s “argument.” There is no rationale I haven’t heard before. I dispute them all in “FACTS: Hunting.”
You can download the fact sheet here: http://www.kinshipcircle.org/fact_sheets/AHuntersStory.pdf
Conceivably, Tom had no idea there were options to shooting the deer. You’re supposed to kill what you don’t understand, right?
— Brenda Shoss is founder and president of Kinship Circle, a nonprofit animal advocacy organization serving the global community. Brenda’s animal-focused columns run in The Healthy Planet and she has written for The Animals Voice, Satya Magazine, VegNews, and other publications. She regularly speaks at national animal protection events and produces humane educational materials.