Heck on a Horse 

I think there's something wrong with me, beyond the usual stuff.

I've tried very hard to play along for almost three weeks now, but I simply can't figure out why the injured racehorse Barbaro is still such a topic of global intrigue. He (it's a "he") has reportedly received thousands of e-mails, and is still covered daily in newspapers. But that's not all.

Take the last line in a recent New York Times editorial by Jane Schwartz: "Perhaps the real miracle--the one that matters to all of us, whether we know it or not--is that so many of us are still capable of caring so much." Now stick your muzzle in this one, which capped an AP story that ran internationally last week: "Depending on his recovery, he might still have a career as a stud."

Granted, countless humans have avoided the tranquilizer-curtains for far less compelling reasons than an outside chance at "a career as a stud." But doesn't anyone find it distressing that these writers sound like they're describing an actual person?

Bear in mind, the crux of my complaint is not that I'm not an "animal lover." On the contrary, I've had many interactions and relationships with animals that felt quite meaningful, and which seemed at the time to benefit us both. However, I ultimately feel about domesticated critters the same way I feel about experimental music and abstract art. Unless I have a little personal knowledge or experience with the topic--a reason to care, to put it bluntly--my ability to empathize with or remain interested in a piece or a beast only goes so far. Perhaps I actually know a dog or a hamster, or I've met someone's cockatiel or iguana, or I've seen a wallet-picture of somebody's beta-fish or childre ... cat. Or I've read or talked about a performance. Otherwise, I'm left at this point:

"Nice ... racket, Mr. Composer."

"Nice ... squares and smears and shiny stuff, Ms. Painter."

"Yeah, according to my TV, that horse broke his leg. What? You mean I actually still have to go to work? And I have to deal with sentient beings whose existence I can verify with my senses? Oh, well. At least Barbaro might have really frightening-sounding horse sex with some filly for large amounts of money that I'll never see."

Sorry, I left the recorder on a little too long there.

--Nicholas Collias

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