22 October 2009

Animal house

[Franz Kafka's] In the Penal Colony opens with an unforgettable portrait of the condemned man in chains, held by a lead by his guard as if to anticipate the grinning Lynndie England and the cringing detainee, leashed and naked, known to the night shift as ‘Gus’:

In any case, the condemned man looked so much like a submissive dog that one might have thought he could be left to run free on the surrounding hills and would only need to be whistled for when the execution was due to begin.

The...descendants of Kafka’s warders [are visible through] the interrogation log of Detainee 063, aka Mohammed al-Qahtani, the so-called twentieth hijacker, at Guatanamo:

11 Dec 2002

Detainee was reminded that no one loved, cared or remembered him. He was reminded that he was less than human and that animals had more freedom and love than he does. He was taken outside to see a family of banana rats. The banana rats were moving around freely, playing, eating, showing concern for one another. Detainee was compared to the family of banana rats and reinforced that they had more love, freedom, and concern that he had. Detainee began to cry during this comparison

20 Dec 2002

Detainee offered water - refused. Corpsman changed ankle bandages to prevent chafing. Interrogator began by reminding the detainee about the lessons in respect and how the detainee had disrespected the interrogators. Told detainee that a dog is held in higher esteem because dogs know right from wrong to protect innocent people from bad people. Began teaching the detainee lessons such as stay, come, and bark to elevate his social status up to that of a dog. Detainee became very agitated.
-- from On Art and War and Terror by Alex Danchev.


Unknown said...

Hi Caspar,

I've blogged generally on your project in a post here.


I'd be interested on your take on extInked. I like it very much.

William Shaw

Caspar Henderson said...

Thanks, William for the kind words in your post. All I know about Ext Inked is from the web site. It looks intriguing and I'd like to know more (I'm not sure about getting tattooed myself; a friend, who is very keen on hedgehogs, is). One resonance, (perhaps faint) is Fahrenheit 451, in which the book-keepers memorize entire books in order to preserve them from destruction. I also think of a line in the NZ film called Once Were Warriors, in which one of the Maori characters decides not to get tattooed on the outside but to carry his identity with confidence on the inside.

The Ext Inked tattooes are sure to get some attention, and all the better for that. I hope that those who get tattooed, and others, will be even more motivated to understand more about the creatures that are endangered and work for their protection. Sorry, not much insight there.