‘Sweet Bondage’

rogue-primateI love the title of the book’s last chapter, ‘Sweet Bondage’, which is a phrase found in the poem ‘Queen Mab‘ by Percy Shelley. The sweet bondage is freedom. Yes, humans are forever bound to the prosthetic of abstraction, but that abstraction doesn’t have to be chained to some unexamined ideology; rather, we can choose and make that bondage freedom. Livingston writes, ‘It would seem to behoove us to address our ideologies’. However, he does not offer ‘an agenda’ for he is ‘deeply suspicious of “fixes,” especially those presented as lists’.(178) Yet, we have already seen some of his suggestions, such as the exploration of multiple selves, or a new science ‘in which the focus of study would not be the animal as object, but the animal as being.'(94) Livingston believes ‘that in spite of our cultural conditioning and domesticated ideological dependence, as living beings we still have access to all four states of self-consciousness…. In theory at least, we all retain the capacity for wildness. In practice, we cling limper-like to the ideology of dualism [self/other].'(118)

Furthermore, if we comb through the remaining pages, we can draw up our own list (of which I am less suspicious than he might be) of what we could do to encourage sweet bondage:

  • find the secret, undamaged person within (179, quoting Paul Shepard)
  • replace competition with cooperation and compliance (180-182)
  • deconstruct our notions of ‘reality’ and ‘progress’ (183)
  • focus on now, not the future (183-184)
  • reject zero-order humanism (196)
  • dissolve ego and reconnect with and recover wildness (196-197)
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