Chapter I The Persistence of Colonial Consciousness: Animal Being Watched under Western Civilization
1.1 The Poetic Animal Object
European Romanticism is one of the sources of colonial consciousness. As a part of traditional western culture, it is a heritance and development of humanism, which originated from the late 18th century and reached its peak in the first half of the 19th century. As a creative method, Romanticism focuses on the subjective inner world to reflect the objective reality, expresses the passionate pursuit of the ideal world, and uses the passionate language, magnificent imagination and exaggerated techniques to create images. (Dan, 2018:171) In this period, the Romantic poets paid a great deal of attention to the sexual desire and passion, and the imagination and desires of poets were of paramount importance. In this way, the imaginative watching, which is dominated by the ideology of European male cultural elites, aims at the cultural and gender other, as well as the animal other. As a typical disciple of Romanticism, Lurie inherited the imaginative vision of Romantic poets, who are keen on the anthropomorphism of animals, and regarded animals as a carrier of fables. In Lurie’s view, the animals, like women, are objects manipulated by male desire and imagination, and are deprived of any individuality as subjects. This is undoubtedly an unfair way of animal watching, which demonstrates the legacy of colonial consciousness under western cultures.
In the novel, professor Lurie is the perfect representative of English Romanticism. Both his profession and temperament reveal his love and pursuit of Romanticism. Lurie has been a professor of modern language, which means his familiarity and identification with the English language and culture. Although then Classics and Modern Language were closed down, Lurie demoted as an adjunct professor of communications, he offered a course in the Romantic Poets, in which he often refers to Wordsworth and explains his poetries. It is clear that Lurie’s preference and adoration of Romanticism. Besides that, Lurie’s spirit of Romanticism is also embodied in his published books, they are Boito and the Faust Legend: The Genesis of Mefistofele, The Vision of Richard of St Victor and Wordsworth and the Burden of the Past respectively. (Coetzee, 2000:4) These three books skillfully point to evil, sex and nature, which are properly the main themes of the Romantic movement. Similarly, a work on Byron that Lurie has been purposely writing in the past few years is also a meditation on love between the sexes. The culture and ideas of Romanticism has led a huge impact on Lurie and shaped his values. Therefore, before Lurie’s change, his romanticization and poeticization of animals are obvious and varied.
1.2 The Irrational Animal Other
Anthropocentrism, as a part of the hegemonic centrism, takes human’s interests as the origin of value and the basis of moral evaluation, and only human is the subject. It is originated from traditional rationalism. Concepts such as reason and civilization are premised on stubborn species boundaries, and the definition of man has always depended on the existence of non-human, uncivilized barbarians and animals. In human’s term, they are intelligent and rational, and they are the highest beings. As Graham Huggan and Helen Tiffin said, animals and the environment are often excluded from the privileged ranks of the human, rendering them available for exploitation. (Huggan & Tiffin, 2010:5) Under the influence of anthropocentrism, speciesism come to appear. The specialists believe that humans are fundamentally different from other animals, because animals cannot think rationally, cannot morally restrain themselves, cannot participate in the construction and discussion of society and cannot use force against human’s treatment of them, so non-human animals deserv