I walked down a rather steep decline, my Children in tow. There was a woman with an unleashed dog walking upwards. My kids scrambled up the side of the embankment because they are scared of dogs. They both were attacked by a dog that the owner had assured us was, 'nice'. The woman scowled and then informed me that this was a dog friendly park and that I should expect more and more dogs this way. She insinuated that my children who are afraid of dogs were out of place here. I informed her that the dog was not leashed and that was a violation of the agreement to have her dog there. She didn't answer and glowered at my children and me as she walked past.
Now this isn't about the dog and us exactly. It is about something that has been ruminating with me. I have a deep, visceral reaction to dogs and people-now more so than ever. In the city I live in there are 140,000 dogs and growing (fast), there are 93000 children and falling, pretty fast. They produce, I am told, 10 million tons of feces a year. Almost all of this untreated. But again, I am just pointing this out, it is not about the environmental cost of dogs (who are killed at a rate of 20-30 million a year by euthanasia. Not to mention cats who are at a much higher rate and, I am told again, are a very strong cause of small mammal extinction/pressure to extinction).
I am talking about what is the underlying cause of this boom. For, we know, pets have been with us since we were 'us', as far as we can tell. Dogs have lived among us for eons. However this is the first time, or first era, in which we have such a pervasive amount of 'companion' pets for such a large portion of our society. These existed before for Pharaohs and such but not for the working class. I guess you could call it a testament to the rapid wealth development of the masses but I would not agree, not in practice.
What is going on? There is, especially in this country, a pervasive Commercial Nihilism. That there is not Truth but that which you can acquire-and the very act of acquisition implies and sometimes explicitly implies ownership. This ownership is not just the fact that it conceptual 'belongs' to a person but is an inherent ownership. I believe that this is why our 'children' numbers are decreasing and our pet numbers are increasing. The ownership of children, while it can go on, is usually confounded with the advent of puberty. The Terrible Teens is a confrontation of the individual against the system, it is a battle for independence. The most intimate and close system that the person is engaged with, usually, is that of their family. The power of that is usually, warranted or not, coming from the parents.
I have always found this fear of teens from parents interesting and a bit confusing. My children are not yet there, but fast approaching it, but I have little or no fear in this particular area. Most of my entire career has been spent with teens, high barrier teens, and I absolutely adore the arising of an independence. It is the most important revolution that can occur. It is the crafting of an ineffable worth from the conceptual imputation of the system. One can succeed in this or fail. I find this a difficult task to engage in but I enjoy it. Because something causes pain does not mean it is not 'good' or pragmatic. I think we mistake these two often in our pleasure seeking society (as opposed to meaning seeking society). If good, or happiness, were the same thing as pleasure then drug addicts would be happy.
The act of wanting to own something, wanting to impose upon it, is a violent act, to take away its individualism and create a proxy-self on a gross level is oppression. That this is met with opposition from the teen is the greatest fear I have heard form prospective parents and as excuses not to have them. The second most reason not to have them, I have heard, is, in short, the bother that it takes. Oh, they at first talk about finances, or wanting to go to Paris on a drop of a dime, but it really all boils down to is 'bother'. The bother of having children detract from our incessant pleasure seeking, of titillating our nerves, of binding sights into boxes (like this infatuation with pictures that we do not ever see or use as ads on Social Media to how well we are doing).
The insidious nature of this drive is that they know that it is meaningless. Most do. This incessant materialism and imposition. They know it. They even say they are against it although they act in accord with it. This is Commercial Nihilism-a meaningless act of oppressive exchange by actors who know its impotence-yet still practice it. We have power in the act of enforcing the agonist into something-with Dogs it is to love us, our best friends, to wag their tails and beg for food, to feast upon their biological pack mentality and turn it into a beast wearing a tu tu. The language, so often used, "this is my baby" in regards to a dog, is there. It is Their baby, a child born of the coupling of fundamental Selfishness and Conscious Ignorance. The wolf descendant bred with its siblings to look a particular way, clipped of testicles, uterus, and tail, clipped of ear and shorn of coat, put in a cage to be their 'Den', leashed, fed manufactured food, etc. Not to say that taking these away would make it any better. The root is rotten. It is not the Dog's fault, in this life, they have no Mind in the sense of being able to decipher the world from what appears and is True. They are instinctual, or mostly so, and they have no work to do (the happiest dogs I have ever seen are those who are coupled with what appear to be homeless people. I think it is because they have a job to do in that relationship-protection etc. The power dynamic is not so large as to not be reciprocal, even, even in some regards). With no work to do they are relegated to one instinct, to one aspect-their deference to power.
While this may not be, in isolation, a terrible thing, it is, like most things, not. The foundational error is the catalyst to this behavior, this error leaks into all aspects of our culture. This culture that has become one large stomach, which is insatiable, and not just materially-even in its swallowing of Culture, religion, our very selves, all thrown into it to be consumed. By being strictly desire focused we have, by definition, a status of constant incompleteness-a psychic, perpetual, dissatisfaction. The impotence of this state leads to perverse drives to dominate, to try to quell it, and manifests, in this age, as elevating and diminishing our oldest 'friend' into a caricature. In doing this, or all of this, we are not creating a window unto a truth created but witnessing ourselves in the mirror of our actions.
Childless, ultimately lonely-for comradary, community, takes the willful act of sublimating the conceptual self to a partless whole-but we forgo this struggle in favor for our cold power. Surrounded by our dominated pets, immersed in our pleasure to make them (and others) into our puppets, we become god-like in some ways but without wisdom. A lonely, impotent, glib god, who puts such energies into their own dissatisfaction.