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The Dawn of Understanding: Three Years Later

Uploaded by jenonthelake on Apr 30, 2001

Throughout my life, the same scene in the television screen registered in different ways. The camera zooms in for the last shot of a lone hyena wheezing his way out of life. He may be dying of heat exhaustion or thirst or hunger, but his small eyes roll side to side slowly and then....just.....stop. Equally significant and striking is the close-up of the very violent death of a baby seal as a hyena simultaneously shakes him into submission and breaks his spine. The camera is always held steady; no one is shocked or upset yet the sense that something important has happened is always instilled in me.

When I was younger I would cry during the sad moment in movies when someone died. The person or animal had a name and an identity which gave them a level of reality. My fascination for animals existed even then and I often followed with my eyes and imagination the lives of the documented animal. I turned away from the brashness of the lion tearing into the zebra because I turned away from all violence but I was too disgusted to feel any real compassion. Perhaps reality was harder to absorb than fiction. Perhaps these scenes weren't real to me because what I had seen of death in my own experience always involved sorrow and the cameramen felt none, the sun felt none and the narrator felt none.

Later in my life I realized the zebra or coyote or prairie dog that was being forced to succumb to dehydration or starvation was real. I don't think that I had ever, consciously seen anything die before; watched the same close-up many times before but never really seen anything die. Insects perhaps; never a person, never a baby lemur, never a cat, never anything except within the confines of fiction. What my mind had seen as I sat there was the product of lighting and actors and a voice but unlike real fiction, this did not seem real. As I have lived in a city for most of my life and never truly experienced what wildlife was like, this was it; the cameras lent my alienated consciousness a sense of the reality experienced by the other inhabitants of this earth: the four legged (and sometimes two-legged) ones. I was being carried on the shoulders of Richard Nassau and Michael Drencher as they journeyed to the desserts...

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Uploaded by:   jenonthelake

Date:   04/30/2001

Category:   Social Issues

Length:   4 pages (1,008 words)

Views:   1137

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