‘Is man no more than this? Consider him well.
Thou ow’st the worm no silk, the beast
no hide, the sheep no wool, the cat no perfume. Ha! Here’s three
on’s are sophisticated! Thou art the thing itself;
unaccommodated man is no more but such a poor, bare, forked
animal as thou art.’
– King Lear, III.4
Our latest issue – ‘Animalia’ – is out now. The front cover, designed by Slinkachu, shows a little man with a remote control, who, looking up, directs a giant butterfly across the sky. We wanted this issue to examine our relationship with the animal kingdom, a collection of species we alternately fetishize, torture and eat. Our authors write about all kinds of animals from those slaughtered in abattoirs to the cartoon creatures in our favourite children’s books.
But what about the internet? Why is the web filled with photographs, video clips, memes and GIFs of the animal kingdom? It is simply because they’re so cute? After all, babies are popular online, and babies are cute. And baby animals are very cute. QED?
- Cuteness may be important, but it is neither necessary nor sufficient. In ‘A Biological Homage to Mickey Mouse’, written for Natural History magazine, Stephen Gould examined why, of all creatures, the camel is most definitely not cute, whereas Mickey very much is.
- Wikipedia defines the pairing of ‘cats and the internet’ as ‘a form of low art’ that has reached ‘iconic status’. When the Wikipedia editors go low, Carolee Schneemann goes high with a lifetime’s worth of cat-related artwork, much of which, while predating the internet age, has found new meaning in the digital era. Her photographic series ‘Infinity Kisses’ collects images of Schneemann’s erotic play with her cat, Kitsch. ‘Kitch was so responsive to our love-making, but in a very subtle way,’ Schneemann writes of the menage-a-trois she captures in Fuses (1964-67).
- In Lucy Ives’s short story for Granta, ‘Ersatz Panda’, a cat that looks like a panda turns into another cat – ‘The new cat resembles Panda in that they are both cats. He also resembles Panda in that he is a black cat with white markings. But he is not Panda.’ Where is the real Panda? Tune in to find out.
- What’s your spirit animal? Silver fox? Lame duck? Fat cat? Merriam Webster has collected together our favourite anthropomorphic insults and compliments, many adeptly employed by the Bard himself.
- Meanwhile, Nell Zink’s madcap short story ‘The Kabul Markhor’ is about a Markhor who gets imprisoned in a zoo for driving under the influence. He teams up with an African elephant called Fritz to escape and ends up at a 7-Eleven eating Doritos.
Image © Julia Buchner