Friday, August 03, 2007

Dominion: A Moment of Perspective

The refreshingly civil Houyhnhnms from Gulliver's Travels + recent Christopher Hitchens discussions (God is Not Great) + the increasing discomfort I've had in knowing (almost) more than I want to know about the Bush administration (An Assault on Reason) = the thought that we might want to reconsider the whole notion of "dominion" altogether.

From The Unbearable Lightness of Being (Kundera 1984)

"The very beginning of Genesis tells us that God created man in order to give him dominion over fish and fowl and all creatures. Of course, Genesis was written by a man, not a horse. There is no certainty that God actually did grant man dominion over other creatures. What seems more likely, in fact, is that man invented God to sanctify the dominion that he had usurped for himself over the cow and the horse. Yes, the right to kill a deer or a cow is the only thing all of mankind can agree upon, even during the bloodiest of wars.

The reason we take the right for granted is that we stand at the top of the hierarchy. But let a third party enter the game - a visitor from another planet, for example, someone to whom God says, "Thou shalt have dominion over creature of all other stars" - and all at once taking Genesis for granted becomes problematical."

This clip from Instinct (Anthony Hopkins and Cuba Gooding Jr., Buena Vista Pictures, 1999) caps the conversation for me.


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