Caspar and I have been practising our eye rolling. You never know when Superdog and his trusty sidekick Fluffy will need to resort to such measures. Lucifer with the nose cage says that when he rolls his eyes at humans they always stop arguing and often also back away, particularly when he accompanies it with a very slight but unthreatening snarl. I had been hoping to try it out.
The moment came this morning. The Owner and I were walking up to the park when I saw an Object of Desire. Huge, red and squidgy, it had that abandoned look of the unloved, the unwanted, and quite frankly, the completely wasted. It had clearly been there for some hours.
Obviously I ate it. The Owner tried to insist I spit it out but she was too late, it went down in one, somewhat like (the Owner says) the Opposition in an England World Cup Rugby game. I recognise, with hindsight, that I should have offered to share but, to be honest, she could have made her position clearer, and it hadn’t occurred to me that she’d want any.
The Owner waggles her finger. Could I please refrain from eating abandoned tomatoes? She asks.
I say I don’t see why.
Do I not see any connection between this and the unfortunate activity of my rear end last Thursday? She asks.
No, I say, with impeccable logic, how can an abandoned tomato eaten on a Tuesday possibly influence a Moral Dog’s prior-Thursday bottom?
Have I, she then demands, forgotten my ancestry, that of Dire Wolves ranging through the Arctic wastes feasting on Woolly Mammoths and Sabre Toothed Cats? Or could she have mistakenly misunderstood my ancestry and acquired acquired not a Moral Dog descended from Noble Lupine Stock but, in fact, a Moral Hyaena?
I recognise a Rhetorical Question when I hear one, so I refrain from pointing out that if she knew her phyla and her classes and her families and her genuses she would know that The Moral Dog is no more closely related to Hyaenas than she is. The Hyaena is more closely related to the Ancestral Cat than the Moral Dog, and you wouldn’t get the Ancestral Cat offering to share its tomato with any humans, thats for sure. I could have said all of that but I don’t. Instead, drawing on my hours of practice, I roll my eyes.
The Owner says nothing, and I think the matter concluded to my satisfaction until we get home. I rush for my puppy duck and rice, to support growth and development, free from gluten, wheat, maize, barley, soya and milk products, but before I can wolf it down (or hyaena it down, as an Evolutionarily Ignorant Owner might suggest) it is snatched away. To my hurt and chagrin when the bowl is put back there is nothing in it but a large tomato.
Hours later it shows no sign of moving and the Owner, who has refused to relinquish custody of Squeaky Cat until I clear my plate, is pretending not to notice my mounting hunger. At last I break my hurt silence to explain that I don’t like tomatoes when they are in a bowl, only when they are left in the street.
The Owner says this makes no sense as a tomato is a tomato.
I say that this assumes the tomato has no Moral Context. Being left in the street is a Moral Quality which trumps other qualities, such as tasting disgusting and exploding on chewing. The tomato in the street was a Moral Tomato. The tomato now in my bowl clearly is not. What sort of Owner, I ask her, would feed the Moral Dog an Amoral Tomato?
The Owner says I should be in Parliament, using arguments like that. She takes the tomato away and produces cheese. She says that I am even better that Boris Johnson at failing to acknowledge when I am hoist by my own petard, as Hamlet would say, but this is what happens when you roll your eyes at those who know what’s best for the Moral Dog. She removes the tomato with a saintly expression (I should note to avoid confusion it is she, not the Amoral Tomato, who wears this expression, as to suggest that the Amoral Tomato can express anything other than basic smugness would be nonsensical). Puppy duck and rice returns. But as she puts my bowl down… she rolls her eyes.
I find quoting Hamlet to suggest she has created a situation of ironic reversal somewhat philosophically hypocritical, given the vast and obvious difference between a Moral and an Amoral Tomato, particularly when it seems to me that the Prime Minister also seems to spend a lot of time telling people he knows what’s best for them when they do not agree. I find the eye rolling completely outrageous, given the inadequacy of her Moral Position. I feel the urge to roll my own eyes again, to express this feeling, but realise that we may find ourselves in an escalating spiral of increasing eye-rolling that may hinder future Philosophical Discourse and the availability of Puppy Duck and Rice. Instead I express Silent Hurt but, sadly, it is so silent that she does not notice.
Later I tell Caspar that I think we should abandon the eye rolling. Caspar says he has concluded the same. He tells me that he tried it during a particularly tricky argument about the importance of Sartre to existentialism which he was quite clearly winning until he rolled his eyes, at which point his Owner disingenuously claimed he was Philosophically Overwhelmed and took him to the vet, who gave him a piece of dead cow and a book on Foucault. Caspar says that this was ironic too, since Foucault’s work focusses on how those who seek to use knowledge have that knowledge redefined by the powerful in order to deny them power. Caspar says that suggesting that the Moral Dog who wins a successful ironic victory through eye rolling is Philosophically Overwhelmed and taking him to the vet is a classic example. Caspar asks if I faced a similar Philosophical duel.
I feel Caspar might regard the Moral and Amoral Tomato as somewhat trivial by comparison to Sartre and Foucault, so I do not mention it. We disagreed about the nature of evolution, I say, with dignity, and its relationship to the hoistness of my petard.
Caspar nods wisely and I guess that just as I know nothing about Foucault, he has no idea what a petard is, nor how it is hoist. Such, he says, are the perils faced by Moral Dogs.
I agree. We both roll our eyes.
Hergest the Hound
I am a dog of many thoughts.