Assorted notes and clippings from the files of Nadezda Alexeevna Kostologdova, Professor Emeritus of the Philosophy Department, University of Michigan; exhibits 1-7
1. [From the International Journal of Aposymbiotic Studies, April 2001, per Kostologdova's handwritten marginalia; article title and author not given]
...the matter of individuals whose symbiotes represent extinct species. This presents both ethical and practical dilemmas for governments seeking to properly represent the interests of aposymbiots. Ethically, is there any greater ecological responsibility on the part of governments as stewards of the common good to attempt to gather reproductive material from these symbiotes? (Attempting to coerce live breeding among species that happen to present multiple individuals can be dismissed as an excessive violation of the rights and privacy of the aposymbiotic individual, by most standards; however, anecdotal reports from within repressive regimes suggest that this dismissal may not be a universal constant.)
The difficulties and further ethical dilemmas of experimentation on zoological symbiotes has greatly limited the growth of knowledge into how they compare to common members of their represented species; that is to say, even if reproductive material could be gathered (or genetic material, to pursue cloning etc), are individually zoological symbiotes sterile? If so, is that a reversible condition or an inherent element of the symbiotic process, tied to the thus-far unexplained phenomena by which symbiotes make themselves manifest to their human partners?
[Marginalia: Gross speculation. I can't believe this passed peer review.]
[Several paragraphs omitted]
In terms of practical dilemmas related to symbiotes representing extinct species, matters of diet, habitat, and general living conditions are of course paramount. Thus far, only animals of extinction dates within relatively recent history have been reported (e.g., two Quagga, one Tasmanian Wolf, a number of Passenger Pigeons), making these problems relatively minor, but should a Wooly Mammoth, or a Velociraptor, present itself, a very difficult situation will be present...
[Marginalia: Very weak article. Worthless. Rebuttal-- submission for September issue???]
2. [Printed copy of an e-mail from the "AposymbiotAllies Legal Network ALERT!" mailing list]
AposymbiotAllies ALERT! A shocking attempt at infringement on the rights of AAF individuals in Alabama [US] will have serious consequences for us ALL if it passes into law!
Rep. H.A. Murtha (R) has introduced a bill into the Alabama state legislature that would ELIMINATE THE RIGHT TO TRIAL BY JURY IN CAPITAL CASES, on the grounds that the presence of an animal is itself proof of guilt!
This bill is a travesty of justice and all of the principles this country was built on, and represents a DANGEROUS TURN TOWARD AUTHORITARIANISM that all allies must oppose with full force and speed!
ACT NOW. Sign the petition at www.thepetitionsite.com/39964270 and let Rep. Murtha know that we will NOT allow our rights to be rolled back on the grounds of oppressing those of animalled status...
3. [Clipping from a Russian-language newspaper; article discusses a Moscow man who, since his release from prison, has reunited with his family and successfully rehabilitated to society with his Fox. In particular, his daughter has bonded with the animal.]
После своего освобождения он воссоединился со своей семьей в Москве. Его дочь Аня имеет глубокую связь с его Лисом, называя его своим младшим братом и прижимая его к груди, словно куклу. Лис зубы и ногти притуплены во избежание нанесения травм ребенка, и она подается на мягкую пищу собаки, курицы и риса.
«Вся моя жизнь изменилась», говорит Сергей, сидя за кухонным столом в своей квартирке, указывая на дочь и жену. «Мой Лис действительно изменил мой взгляд на жизнь и показал мне, что я не могу продолжать жить так, как раньше...»
4. [Partial film review from EMPIRE; no date or issue number given]
The Seduction of the Beast Within: Cavelli's Chasing the Undertow
The film everyone was waiting for at Cannes was, of course, Roberta Cavelli's Chasing the Undertow, a shocking, edgy examination of "zoo" (more technically called Acquired Aposymbiotic Familiarism or AAF) culture. Cavelli's film follows the lives of three young people who fall into a dangerous gang lifestyle, reap the consequences of prison and animals, and gradually disintegrate further into madness and self-destruction.
The most talked-about scene of the film, which has drawn emphatic protests from AAF advocacy organizations, shows the three "chasing the Undertow," an underground sexual practice where animalled individuals engage in sex while another party threatens, injures, or attempts to kill their animals. The threat of Hell's Undertow (more technically known as shadow self-absorption) adds a dangerous edge to the intimacy that the three chase like a drug--enhanced, of course, by the more commonplace drugs they take as they struggle to survive in Rome's seedy, deadly zoo underground...
[Stapled to the above; a letter to the editor from presumably a later issue. Again, no date or issue number provided.]
Martin Welles' review of Chasing the Undertow was a disgusting, mono-lifeform-supremacist essay that should NEVER have seen print. I cannot believe you, the editorial staff of EMPIRE, allowed such a thing to be printed in your magazine. The idea of "chasing the Undertow" is a MYTH, which no AAF person would EVER pursue. Symbiotes are a PART of their human partners, bound by spiritual and, I would argue, BIOLOGICAL ties that no human partner would ever risk severing for mere sexual gratification!
In addition, the printing of hate speech like "zoo" and "animalled" in these pages was a shocking disappointment, and I, for one, will be canceling my subscription.
[Marginalia- Overly sentimental, but accurate; no confirmed cases of chasing the Undertow as a social phenomenon.]
5. [Corrected page proofs for Kostologdova's last book, published two weeks before her death: The Post-Ontological World: What The Shift Tells Us About Our Future And Ourselves]
6. [Partial article from Rolling Stone; November 2003, title and author not given]
Turelli is a short, well-muscled man with an earnest expression and a tendency to touch his conversational partners as much as possible. "Involuntary manslaughter," he says, when asked about the circumstances that led to his acquiring the Panther that lounges beside him in the back seat of the van when the band travels. "That was the verdict, and it's absolutely the right one; I never meant to hurt anyone. But I guess the universe knows what it knows." His gaze settles on the Panther, his face somber. The big cat stretches out a paw and rests it on his knee, and Turelli breaks into a heartbreakingly pure smile.
"He's my best friend, you know? I mean, the guys in the band are my best friends, too, but he knows me. He is me. I had some really dark times, after the accident. After the trial. Coping with the fact that I killed a guy was...it was really, really hard. I don't think anyone who hasn't been there can know how hard. But having him, knowing he would literally, absolutely never leave me...well, fuck, that meant I couldn't completely crack, because I couldn't leave him, either. He relies on me."
The other members of the band insist that they're used to the Panther's presence by now, and in fact wouldn't know what to do without him in the van. "He lets us know when it's time for a break," laughs Zeller. "When he wants to stop and stretch his legs, he lets us know, believe me! You ever heard a full-grown big cat growl at you because he wants to piss? Shit, man. You haven't lived."
Corcoran, the lead guitarist, concurs with his singer. "I don't know what we'd do without him. Along with everything else, he guards our shit. Him and Karl, they sleep in the van, you know? Every night, cause hotels won't take a Panther--which is, like, discrimination and shit, but we don't exactly have any way to push the issue, so we rigged up the van for them. Nobody will ever rip off any of our gear, man. Got a fuckin' Panther on guard duty."
I ask if the Panther stays in the van while the band is on-stage.
"Only if we can park close enough," Turelli says, making a face. "Otherwise we have to smuggle him in the back and keep him in the green room with some hamburger and a rope to chew on. I mean, it's not like I can drum if I'm curled up puking from separation sickness, you know? I get edgy enough when he's just on the other side of a wall or two. Want him with me. He belongs with me."
Smoke Horizon's next tour will be opening for Sketch-a-Etch, on the West Coast next month. I asked Corcoran and Zeller how they feel about...
7. [Clipping from TIME magazine, December 29th 2003 issue]
TREND OF THE YEAR: Pet ownership is making a comeback after years of decline following the Shift. "Distinguishing pets from symbiotic animals is a challenge," says Maria Corwin, a trend expert with Sizzle.com. "Pet owners may do so with brightly colored collars and pet clothing that declares the animal's status, or by signifiers such as walking away from the animal in public to demonstrate both its obedience and their ability to separate easily."
Another signifier, of course, would be to hurt the animal, which a aposymbiotic individual would not be able to do. The American Humane Society is rolling out an education campaign to prevent this from becoming a problem among the new generation of pet owners, who desire companionship without the stigma of association with the AAF population.
"Of course, for others, riding on that association is the whole point!" Corwin laughs. "They might prefer to play up the edginess of associating with an animal. We live in interesting times!"
[Marginalia- Indeed we do. As ever, the question of human frailty is if cruelty or compassion will finish ascendant.]