Different Ways of Being Alive
Original title: Manières d’être vivant
After Sur la piste animale, Baptiste Morizot’s second work in the Mondes Sauvages collection expands his philosophical enquiry into the notion of tracking, not only tracking living creatures in their natural habitat but also our ideas of them in literature and thought. In his work we set out on the trail of a pack of wolves in the Vercors snow, investigating the mysterious meanings of nocturnal howling shared with them by night. This leads us to the trail of the very appearance of the notion of animality in the history of our own culture. We then trace our ancestors right back to sea sponges, before setting out on the mark left in our thought by our “inner-animals”, the animal metaphors used to describe our feelings. Then we set out on the trail of the interdependencies inherent in a Provencal prairie ecosystem inhabited by sheep, shepherds and predators to imagine an alternative approach to life. Each trail brings us back the importance of our sensitivity to living creatures and how we have to learn to live side-by-side with them and consider them differently. The animal kingdom cannot be reduced to the stuff of children’s tales or considered as inferior life-forms. We cohabit the Earth alongside them and we share the same ascendancy, and thus the enigma of life itself. The mystery of living within a body, a body that has to interpret and negotiate its life is shared throughout animal- and human-kind: it is the vital universal condition, one which gives us the strongest sense of belonging.
Here lies the paradox: through our shared ancestry, animals are both related to us yet foreign to us, because their different bodies suggest forms of existence incomprehensible to our minds. This book looks at animal-life in general, including that of humans, as “different ways of being alive”.