Saturday, August 9, 2014

Promiscuity and the animal ideal

Some close friends have just bought a cottage perched on one of the two mountains that define the town. They wanted a tree planting ceremony so we all arrived to help them furnish a rather barren lawn with fruit trees. The idea (I think) was that we'd stand next to a fruit tree and be photographed and it would be some kind of time capsule for -

- look, I dislike being photographed anyway and this situation probably started my downward spiral on Saturday. I'm 44, I'm female and I know that when I'm 54 the Tahitian lime tree will bear her first sweet fruit and that is just not fucking fair.

Anyway moving right along. After standing to be photographed with a potted fruit tree for posterity, I sat up on the hill beside the house and watched everyone else dig holes, lay out weed matting and cardboard, apply chook poo, pour champagne, argue, cook food, point, dig more holes, fill the wrong ones in, expose their coin slots, and carry around slabs of pizza.

I also watched a magpie husband and wife build their nest in the red gum that hung between a busy road and the driveway. Both of them swooped down to pick up twigs, bits of mulch, hair and electrical conduit in their beaks and poke them into the nest. Sometimes they miscalculated and a piece of white building site plastic would fall onto the footpath.

"Do magpies mate for life?" I asked.
"I'm not sure," someone said.
"Nah," said someone else. "I've looked into magpies. They're promiscuous bastards."
"But look at them building that home. Is that just their relationship of 2014? I mean, it looks quite important to them."
"Probably. But the fact they are complete slutty bastards has no bearing on the political implications of humans having sex."
She/He was right.

Then came a long, heated argument about humans, animals, birds and promiscuity. How can animals or birds be accountable to Christian or human ideals of fidelity, monogamy and promiscuity?
I won't bore you or myself with the details because by then the pizza came our way, the sun went down and we'd all decided to light a fire in the old washing machine tub.


  1. Mmmm.....I like to think we humans are much more complex than animals, as much as I love them all. Consciousness is the deciding factor here. There are humans who operate via their most animal instincts, which we all have, but there are things much more important than replicating your genes.

  2. I think that is where I was going (sort of) before we went off to light the fire Michelle. It started from reading an article about promiscuity in animals and birds a few days earlier. I thought the word promiscuity was an interesting term to describe the habits of non humans who don't have the same apparatus of morals, ethics, religion etc.
    And also, that we attach our values to them, for example feeling all soft furry for animals that mate for life.

  3. I think we like to think we're more complex, but sometimes I wonder.

    GREAT POST, loved it.