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Starthrower Image
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Rendered in Photoshop
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Back in the 1980s I did a pen and ink drawing for a fanzine called Overwhelm edited by me, Preston Page and Ron Lawrence. The title was taken from a poem by Diane Ackerman: ". . . knee deep in the cosmic overwhelm." Alas, the reading public was underwhelmed by Overwhelm and so it saw only one issue. Preston Page and I were absorbed into a longer running effort called Space Grits, as in "The stars ain't nothing but . . ." A few years ago I came across the photo of my nephew I had used for Starthrower and re-rendered it in Photoshop.

I like my dog's philosophy of life. She says if you can't eat it or play with it, pee on it and walk away. For us human beings the hardest part is just walking away. But with enough practice perhaps it can be done. I hope so.

For Snaps, every morning presents brand new opportunities to chase a squeaky toy down the hall. If a toy or toy-thrower is unavailable she takes a nap under the bushes in the yard where the squirrels and the hummingbirds play. I knew a dog when I was a kid, but Bobo was the last one until just recently. Between times I was more of a cat person. What impresses me most about dogs, I've rediscovered, is their boundless enthusiam. You don't get that from cats. They don't need anything from anybody. Or if they do they dare not show it.*

Until Snaps entered my life I had forgotten that dogs understood pointing. If you point at something for a cat, she sniffs your finger. Snaps gets it. If a toy sails past her without her seeing it, I point and say, "Over there!" and she turns and looks for it. She gets it. What makes this doubly interesting is that Chimpanzees, which have much bigger brains, use tools, and are oh-so-clever in a host of other ways, don't get it either. Apprently it's got less to do with intelligence than — something else. Something having to do with sociability, perhaps, or the need for cooperative effort. I've read that wolves don't get it either, so it must be some trait that hitched a genetic ride with domestication along with floppy ears. If you're going to work around people you've gotta understand pointing.

Perhaps dogs can tell us something useful about life. First, you have to understand pointing. Stop being so literal. Some things are metaphores, similes, analogies or parables, and that's okay. It can even be fun. Next, you gotta be enthusiastic. Without enthusiasm life is just a lot of eating and shitting. Play with a squeaky-toy. Take naps. Third, sometimes you just have to pee on it and walk away.


*Don't get me wrong. Cats have their good qualities too. For one thing, they purr.

It won't do you any good to say "good doggy" to a wolf. To a wolf, you're nothing but lunch.


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All original images ©1970-2011 by Greg A. West. All rights reserved. Trademarks shown in examples and on the Links page are the property of their respective owners and are not available for reproduction.