Thursday, June 29, 2006

Pets 'n Pets

As I tell my therapist over and over, I'm the kind of person who thinks that, down deep, the world is a meaningless confusion. Don't get me wrong; I'm glad that for the most part we live our lives in denial of this fact. I like the order of our lives, the structures of our society, and our trust that we are deeply connected to others. It's just that, you know, we're all ultimately isolated and we all die alone, that kinda stuff.

Maybe this worldview explains why I am attracted to things that undermine our sense of a comfortable, understandable life. Take a story like this for example. I'm fascinated by people who live in such a crazy mess of animals, these animal hoarders. It seems to upend not only my ideas about what it means to live in a good and proper manner, but also the romantic notion of animals as pure and free things.

This story led me to this report from Tufts. The report is mainly concerned with how to best intervene in hoarding situations, and doesn't really address the "why". Why do people like to hoard, and frequently live lives oppressed by the stuff they surround themselves with. And, most interestingly for me, why animals? What is it about living things--rats, cats, or otherwise--that satisfies these people?

I can feel compassion for people who live in the squalor in which a lot of hoarders seem to live, but it is hard for me to empathize, to imagine my way in to their mindset. How different are they from me?


Anonymous said...

When I am depressed I feel like the world is meaninglessly connected, a series of isolated units. When I am not depressed, the world seems like a meaningfully connected mystery. Depression is the pill that focuses my attention on the ever smaller. Not-depressed is the pill that focuses my attention on the ever bigger. Which pill finds reality?

Com$tock said...

Thanks for sharing, anonymo. For me it shakes out this way: when I'm depressed, the meaninglessness of the world feels true. When I'm not depressed, my intellect leads me to the conclusion that the world is meaningless. Of course, I have needs and desires that keep me going, and I recognize the needs and desires in others that I want to satisfy. When I'm feeling up, I realize that it is up to us to make our own meaning, but I'm still sad that the universe isn't set up with any identifiable meaning or purpose outside of that.