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Nature, Animality



 I was walking along a eucalyptus-lined avenue when a cow sauntered out from behind a tree.
I stopped and we looked each other in the eye.
Her cowness shocked my humanness to such a degree—the moment our eyes met was so tense—I stopped dead in my tracks and lost my bearings as a man, that is, as a member of the human species. The strange feeling that I was apparently discovering for the first time was the shame of a man come face-to-face with an animal. I allowed her to look and see me—this made us equal—and resulted in my also becoming an animal—but a strange forbidden one, I would say. I continued my walk, but I felt uncomfortable ... in nature, surrounding me on all sides, as if it were ... watching me.
Diary, 1958 [Trans. Vallee]
I am pushed toward these lower strata, toward a confrontation with horse, beetle, plant, by my striving for ‘contact with inferiority.’ If I try to make superior consciousness dependent on the lower consciousness in the human world—if I want to bind maturity to immaturity—shouldn’t I descend even lower on the ladder of the species? To embrace the entire downward scale? […]
To embrace nature, too look at it, examine it—that’s one thing. But if I attempt to get close to it as if it were something that is equal to me because of the life common to all of us—when I want to be on friendly terms with animals or plants—I am overwhelmed by an obstinate lethargy, I lose animation, I return all the more quickly to my human house and I lock the door.
Diary, 1958 [Trans. Vallee]