If you’re a regular reader of WAG – and if you are, we thank you – then you know that May traditionally is our horse issue. Last year, we devoted March to pets, especially dogs.
This year, we decided to split the difference between the two months, along with woof and hoof, and broaden our horizons. The result is Animal Magnetism, one of our more unusual issues.
There are lions and tigers and bears, oh, my (so to speak) but also romantic penguins, devoted prairie voles, dog-eat-dog sharks, preening birds and let’s not forget those wacky meerkats. Beyond the fun, however, is our exploration of inter-species relationships, including the most complex of all, man’s attitude to nature.
It’s incredibly ambivalent, isn’t it? On the one hand, we think of our animal friends as pure and true. Singer-songwriter/rancher Jewel, our cover girl, as well as photographer Lisa Martinez Cohen and portrait, equine and sporting artist Susan Dorazio all describe them here as such. We treasure them, pamper them (see Andrea’s story on Le Beastro), admire them on safari (see Cappy’s wanderings) and seek to help them when others of our species have been less than kind, as the SPCA is splendidly doing in our new Pet of the Month feature.
But we also hunt animals, eat them, wear them, hold them in captivity, in part for our entertainment, and teach them routines as if they were Justin Bieber. We can be a dog lover and a fur designer all at once, as Tarice describes in her story on Dennis Blasso. (And by the by, welcome, Tarice.)
Even when we mimic nature in synthetic animal prints (Andrea again) or in Lalique’s fabulous new doings (courtesy of Mary), we can’t help but control the animal kingdom.
To paraphrase Walt Whitman, do we contradict ourselves? All right, then: We contradict ourselves.
Why should it be so? Because we’re at the top of the animal kingdom we strive so mightily to subdue. “Nature is cruel,” Nick Nolte’s ruthless general tells Elias Koteas’ compassionate lieutenant in the superb “The Thin Red Line.” And by extension, he means so are we.
But nature is neither cruel nor kind. A lion doesn’t think it’s being mean when it eats a zebra. It’s just being a lion.
Here you’ll read stories of animals loving one another as well as turning on one another. But they’re acting on instinct. We’re defined by more.
“A man has a choice,” Raymond Massey’s righteous Adam tells James Dean’s troubled Cal in “East of Eden.” “That’s what makes him different from an animal.”
Even if you subscribe to the latest neuroscience, which holds that we don’t, that everything has already been mapped out in our brains, we still have a responsibility to the earth we dominate.