Dehumanization

Hundreds of cars on a vast stagnant motorway – A traffic jam so to speak. Not exactly Dickensian prose that would identify the human condition, but there I was trapped in such a social situation on my holiday. My holiday! How terribly annoying. Easier for me to see the metal outer shell structures of these unthoughtful automobiles of different colour and expense stopping me reaching my destination than for me to connect for a moment with them on our shared experience of frustration and consider how they too must be equally distressed.

trafficjam

Charles Dickens of course knew how to use words to reform the moral thinking of issues such as child poverty because his characters weren’t hidden inside mass produced vehicles blocking my exit. No, he knew how to make fiction appear lifelike. Take Dick Swiveller from ‘The Old Curiosity Shop’, I chose him for no other reason than as an example… honestly 😉 Visiting Dicken’s birthplace museum and seeing the actual couch he died on seemed to make the man human. More than any words could conjure. Piles of shoes and spectacles at Nazi death camps; same drink, different bottle. It illustrates our fragile existence bound inextricably to one another. So why do we use words that dehumanize?

Duchess is a sad, half-blind lonely old elephant at a Devon zoo, yet she’s probably not. I only know she’s a majestic animal in captivity paying the ransom for conservation efforts to protect other members of her far flung herd. We attribute human characters to animals as a way to understand them. Anthropomorphism in literature can make us better appreciate our wildlife, because who doesn’t want to protect Blinky Bill’s bushland home? It can also lead to the destruction of species simply from having scary music played whenever a shark appears on our TV screens. The editorial angle is the real power of the pen above and beyond the sword.

Even the glare of a monitor makes these words seem disconnected from a human author who has to wear a gum shield at night so as not to grind his teeth away. True story – Bruxism, look it up. There is no literature symbolism in the real world just a cup ensconced on the bathroom cabinet that I place my rubber mouthpiece into. I’m not cute, I’m a wild majestic creature living in my own habitat with opinions, appetites and beliefs just like the rest of my gridlocked herd who also don’t deserve to be attacked or portrayed with such venom we actually deconstruct them as people, so they become a little bit worth less.

As I viewed the tailback from Dicken’s couch I could see about half a dozen wing mirrors with enough clarity to see a reflection of each driver’s face. A miniature portrait hanging alongside each car door. Every one trying to get somewhere important; who was I to guess or judge their destination? If the media of the world stopped choreographing the pantomime Bogeyman perhaps less teeth grinding will ensue. We can but hope.

Thanks for your recent visit to The Lemon Circus 🙂

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