Other Nations

 "We need another and a wiser and perhaps more mystical concept of animals ... We patronize them for their incompleteness, for their tragic fate of having taken form so far below ourselves. And therein we err and err greatly. For the animal shall not be measured by man. In a world older and more complete than ours they move finished and complete, gifted with extensions of the senses we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear. They are not brethren, they are not underlings; they are other nations, caught with ourselves in the net of life and time, fellow prisoners of the splendour and travail of the earth"

 Beston (1928, pages 19-20)

Animal Insurgency

"Supposedly docile pets also proved capable of insurgency. When introduced cats refused to comply with human demands, the director of the Zoological Gardens in Sydney wrote in 1912, ‘Australia is having another wild animal added to its fauna from a rather unexpected quarter in the form of our common house cat. Of course so long as our beloved pussies consent to stay at home and play the part of animated mousetraps we have no fault to find with them, but when they throw off our authority and start an independent existence in the bush it behoves us to look to their antecedents and see if any special precautions are necessary under the new arrangement.’"

Shannon, Lorraine. Petty Crimes: Animal Transgressions in the City. Island, No. 117, Winter 2009: 8-16

Nostalgia and Animals

Domesticated animals were subjected to ‘improving’ methods so they no longer lived wholly in a ‘state of nature’ but were elevated in status and gained access to the polis. By the eighteenth century it was widely believed that domestication was good for animals; it civilised them and increased their numbers. It was also seen as essential for the advance of humanity. In the nineteenth century this inequality had settled into a conception of animals as the property of owners who were responsible for their behaviour. Harriet Ritvo claims this change was the result of a developing human ability to control a threatening nature. In ‘The Animal Estate’ she writes that ‘once nature ceased to be a constant antagonist, it could be viewed with affection and even as the scales tipped to the human side, with nostalgia. Thus sentimental attachment to individual pets and the lower creation in general – a stock attribute of the Victorians – became widespread in the first half of the nineteenth century.’
— Shannon, L. (2009) Petty Crimes: Animal Transgressions in the City, Island 117 p11

Tatlin's Tower

The Russian Constructivist Vladimir Tatlin designed his Monument to the Third International for the new Soviet Republic, a bewildering and beautiful helix structure with chambers that would rotate at varying speeds, radio transmitters and projectors to beam messages onto passing clouds. There was a slight problem though that had been overlooked; Tatlin’s Tower was effectively unbuildable. It was thus casually dismissed by leading Bolsheviks, particularly Trotsky who wrote in Literature and Revolution, “the props and the piles which are to support the glass cylinder and the pyramid… are so cumbersome and heavy that they look like unremoved scaffolding. One cannot think what they are for. They say: they are there to support the rotating cylinder in which the meetings will take place. But one answers: Meetings are not necessarily held in a cylinder and the cylinder does not necessarily have to rotate.”
— Darran Anderson, Impossible Cities, http://www.3ammagazine.com/3am/impossible-cities/

This summer promised to be the “summer of Gatsby” and when that fizzled out, we still had the opportunity to revisit the punk era at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s “Punk: Chaos to Couture” show. While an era revolving around opulence and the elusive American dream and another centered on rebellion seem to have little in common, their 21st century revivals are strikingly similar in one aspect: the complete erasure of feminist histories.

The Flapper and Punk movements for women were distinctly feminist. Flapper style was formed through a rejection of the societal norm; shorter hemlines and hair, replaced more traditionally feminine styles. Similarly, the punk movement could be seen as distinctly unfeminine, as the women adopted masculine haircuts and silhouettes and became more androgynous. The clothing and styles of each movement reflected the larger ideas at hand, rather than the other way around.

Baz Luhrman and The Met Erased the True Feminist Histories of Flappers and Punks

Dutch police recruit rodents to rat on criminals

‘Employed’ by the Dutch police innovation centre, their ‘boss’, the police officer in charge of the project, Monique Hamerslag, said she got the idea from the way rats are used in Tanzania to sniff out landmines.

Rats can learn to sniff out any odour, from drugs to explosives. In the future they could even sniff out blood or money to help to move along investigations.

Costing much less than dogs both to keep and to train, rats need only 10 to 15 days to learn to distinguish a certain smell. Tea strainers containing different substances are attached to the cages and when the rat detectives identifies gunpowder, they are rewarded with a ‘click’ sound and a sunflower seed.


Perhaps surprisingly, given rats’ fearsome reputation, the main disadvantage to using them in investigations is their shyness.

”It’s best to bring the smell to the rats and not the other way round,” Ms Hamerslag told AFP. “That means we have to take samples and bring them to where the rats live.”
— morse, f., (2013) 'rats to sniff out criminals', http://www.independent.co.uk/news/dutch-police-recruit-rats-to-sniff-out-criminals-8851198.html
As strange as rodent detectives may seem, they aren’t the only unconventional animals used by law enforcement. The American Defense Advanced Research Laboratory (Darpa) has been training bees to sniff out explosives since the late 90s. The same methods used to seek out molecular hints of pollen can be, in theory, exploited to detect small particles of explosives.

Further east, five-year-old Santisuk — a macaque monkey — joined the police force in Thailand to improve community relations. Dressed in his bespoke uniform, with a yellow badge proclaiming “Monkey Police”, Santisuk’s duties include checkpoint control and helping residents pick up coconuts.

And finally Officer Lemon was employed by the Yoro police station in Kyoto, Japan, making him Japan’s first police cat. Lemon helps to keep Japanese officers happy and is frequently called out to situations that involve suspicious phone calls, as he is said to have a calming effect on the victims.
— Tufnell, N. (2013) Dutch poice recruit rat detectives to sniff out crime, Wired UK
Recently a trapper at Cape Nelson had been greatly annoyed by the loss of rabbits which were taken from the traps. The culprit was found in the capture of an enormous wild cat, which apparently had been trapped before and escaped minus part of its tail. It was found on measurement to be 5 feet in length. The skin was pure white and was the largest specimen ever seen in this district.
1941 ‘A Monster Wild Cat.’, Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 - 1953), 8 September, p. 2 Edition: EVENING, viewed 27 September, 2013, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article64401541
The thing is, DIY is an ethos of inspiration, and not of influence. Influence, at heart, is a concept of identity, of assimilation. The problem of “influence” is that it makes things the same, even when they are, in fact, very, very different. … Influence stamps itself on its objects, in its own shape. But inspiration is something different: it’s the beginning of a movement, an incitement to action. Inspiration is fundamentally temporal in a way that influence is not.
First As Farce, Then As Tragedy:  Punk at the Metropolitan MuseumFuck Theory (Accessed 26th Sept 2013)
The visual, conceptual, and aesthetic debt owed by contemporary fashion to punk is vivid, distinctive, and immediately clear. Punk is not about punk as a musical genre, or as a subculture, or as socio-political phenomenon: it’s about contemporary design aesthetic, and the insistence of that contemporary aesthetic on locating its own origins in the “influence” of punk. … Fashion is the emphasis of the show, but it’s also the source of the show’s narrative and associative logic: Punk is not a sustained consideration of a cultural past but the resolute celebration of a contemporary present. … If punk was important, it’s only because fashion is important; Joey Ramone’s destiny was to inspire Marc Jacobs.
First As Farce, Then As Tragedy:  Punk at the Metropolitan Museum, Fuck Theory (Accessed 26th Sept 2013)
In contrast to American uniforms, writes Sontag, “SS uniforms were tight, heavy, stiff … SS seems to be the most perfect incarnation of fascism in its overt assertion of the righteousness of violence, the right to have total power over others and to treat them as absolutely inferior … The SS was designed as an elite military community that would be not only supremely violent but also supremely ­beautiful.” … The idea of clothing that does not move, rigid materials that force a body into an idealized appearance, are a key element to fetish gear, and nothing says “stand still while I make my commands” like a floor-length leather trench coat and a tightly laced, shined-to-perfection pair of black leather boots. The sexual and erotic element cannot be denied.
— Haley Mlotek, Swarovski Kristallnacht, The New Inquiry Vol. 20, September 25, 2013 (Accessed 26th Sept 2013)

The Flapper.

”There is too much talk about higher education for woman,” remarked Mrs. Bompas, severely; “her chief business is to get married, and the less educated she is the better her husband likes her.”

”Oh, but you shouldn’t judge all men by father, mamma!” returned the imperturbable flapper.

1915 ‘The Flapper.’, The Catholic Press (NSW : 1895 - 1942), 14 January, p. 39, viewed 23 September, 2013, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article105000696