When I’ve got nothing else to talk about, I talk about Paul Schrader (or football, or Star Trek, etc.)
I like the idea of a non-children’s movie about an animal. What little I know about EO, I guess it approaches the human subject from the perspective of a donkey. Whatever emotions, thoughts, ambitions, etc that we see in the donkey is merely a projection. That’s interesting.
I’ve stated somewhere on this blog before that it’s this very perspective that made me appreciate David Cronenberg. Since we’re humans, we tend to take for granted the nature of our bodies and behavior. But from a non-human perspective, we are probably very disgusting and perplexing creatures. And, perhaps, that’s why body horror plays a significant role in some of Cronenberg’s films.
But Schrader states that “the impulse to anthropomorphize defines us.” I’m not sure where he’s coming from with this, but that’s a hard disagree from me. For example, my cat probably assumes that I’m just a larger cat, so in a way, he’s simply “felinemorphizing” me. In short, “anthropomorphizing” is not a unique phenomenon to humans.
Another commenter suggested that, to humans, animals are innocent because they are “untouched by original sin.” It should be noted that Schrader was a noted Calvinist who, despite maintaining progressive ideals, still identifies as Christian. Now this suggestion is obviously incorrect, BUT…insofar as I’m aware…only humans practice religion. This can mean one of only two things: humans ARE touched by some supernatural reality, OR we are not as intelligent as we believe ourselves to be. You be the judge (I think you know where I stand). Nevertheless, to conceptualize religion broadly, speculating on things that cannot be observed IS a unique human phenomenon (insofar as we can tell).
This impulse led humans into a religious paradigm and, subsequently, into a scientific one. Moreover, this impulse was spearheaded by the ultimate unique cognitive capacity: complex language.
THAT’S what makes humans humans.
But, I think Schrader hits on an important point: why do we empathize more with the pain of an animal than that of a human? Obviously (in my view, at least) evolutionary psychology plays a significant role in this. But Schrader is correct. In fact, our contemptuous and flippant attitude towards one another makes us nothing more but animals.
Actually, I’ll go a step further: we are the WORST animal there is.