Dogged Pursuits

by David Laskowski

A matter of taste, perhaps, the response of the primary nervous shudders in their unwavering salute to the initial volley. After all, its reactions are internal, intestinal, instinctively prodded, uncharacteristically astute, the hackles like nucleic peptides watering at the fount. A cruel routine, perhaps, this emptying out, unkind, a kind of overreacting, repeated endlessly, day in, day out. First, the metaphysical slop and then the ambition of the flank flop in the fundamental flews—down the squirrel-run, up the rabbit-rump, the muzzle plush of the snapping-lunge proving reactionary. In other words, it is how the grunt comes, from within the recessed rhomboid in the primary reactive—as a response, be it to anger or to love, but most likely to love, the hackled husks of the "there, there" and "what-a-good-boy" proving rigorously respondent.

It is love, anyway, at least according to the Czech philosopher, K, who did the real work in isolating the prima-facie revulsion associated with the fear-fringe that is located on the outer rim of the spinal column, inking the toe-trussed sentence leaders in the hock-marked pages of the internal humdrum. He was the professor of "the hardest bones containing the richest marrow," the principal pontificator responsible for the articulation of the "literal heap operating at the tail end of the censorious spark. Mongrels, he called them, the memories responsible for the snap—"so sharp-clawed the scenes that came flooding back. Almost like Moses," he said, "living in the desert, the desire to foster the existential stop so evolutionarily recessed." After all, K wrote in his diaries, "that seems to be the most significant way to conjure up the fuzzy-nudge of the inner integument, the imperial flank. Love is truly, K wrote, the primary unit-bark in exasperating the effulgent fur. In other words, "It is that we love our people and that they love us, the incantation of the body in conjunction with the soul."

K's primary influence in his decision to place such emphasis on love was not another philosopher, not a scientist, but the poet Rufus Schnauzer, a short snout of a moustache whose poetry spoke not of the necessity of love, but of its inevitability:

When the fur curdles like milk in our belly,

And the hackles raise their true tribunal,

How can we not but seek the glory of a god

Who has given us our rods in which to reel

The joys from out the wellspring's furrow?

How sweet the song, indeed, that emanated from the bladder pat poisoner of the Persian rug, pillager of sapling, plunderer of perennials. It's the rhythm, the swell, the undulating apex of body and mind in the sweet melancholy of expression— "the soil the incantations must be whispered to"—that so fully captured what K was later to define as the "tramp-tramp" of familial hum, the soft sanctioning of belly rubs and ear tugs. It was how, K wrote, he learned to listen, as if for the first time, to the songs "that, as a child, I found to be, like the one we never speak of, scary and unyieldingly alien. After Schnauzer, I realized that the songs I had been so afraid of were the voices of my ancestors speaking to me, telling me to embrace the future—the quiet, the silence, the great gap in between our ball-rich deep and lower tract. Who could forget the nights filled with the hoots and howls of the whimpering Whippets and the balling Burmese, the Cockers' cries, the Shepherds' squalls?"

Despite K's confluent cues, there have been those who have taken K to task out behind the shed. For example, Fluffy Furrier of the Philadelphia Furriers believed K was "giving in too easily." She believed K had given in to treats and milk and to laps on which to sit. She accused K of purposely forgetting about sitting and staying, fetching, and watering the hydrants in zero degree damnation. That is not a life, she wrote in her book, To the Dogs. "Sharp are our teeth and so soft is their flesh. Could we not rule our small patch of earth? Are these not the same ferocious fiends who sent many of our fathers and mothers to their deaths?" She, in so many words, was spayed of her sympathy for the higher-ups, the walking-talls, the doom-trusts and tricky dicks.

Despite Furrier's consistent opposition to his own beliefs, K felt he understood Furrier. He understood how it felt to be patted and pet. He knew the dangers of separation anxiety. In the end, K thought Furrier was simply being ungrateful. "She," K wrote in the now infamous response to Furrier, Fur This!, "longs to know what she does not know. Who are they she asks. Who am I? Who am I? What kind of question is that? Who are you? Our teeth are sharp, but so what? Do we not deserve the chance to sip from a golden bowl the silver water that runs from platinum taps? We can work out the kinks in our coats, the pricks in our pelts, the flies in our fells. We are who we are," K exclaimed, "and we know on what side of the yard to poop!" Still, Furrier would not budge, convinced K had accepted his "ordinariness and therefore incapable of the insight" he professed to possess.

Furrier was not the only one to question K's anatomically philosophical conclusions. The Sayer-of-the-Law also believed K was relegating the "beast to slavish subservience." After all, he asked in his novel, The Island of Dr. Sayer, "What is the law? Is it not to eat meat and walk on all fours? Is it not to eat fish and flesh and claw the bark of trees? Is that not the law?" For Of-the-Law, what was essential to being a beast was not doing what one was told, but doing the exact opposite in the hopes that "man," as Of-the-Law called him, "would become frustrated and turn his back, at which point we would pounce and eat his brain." Law's protests were, according to Prof. Moreau at Coleman College on the island, "bestial in their animalism" and "animalistic in the bestiality." Oddly enough, Of-the-Law's protests, unlike Furrier's, were what K called a "flash-in-the-dish," protests that soon after their expression were put down.

For K, both Furrier and Law's concerns were negligible because "they did not take into account what everybody already knows—the fluid hocks of our indifference-privies runs up and not down." In other words, K found in the walls of the gut-muzzle a brisket switch that regulated the beast's capacity to "think outside its status. Despite," K writes, "the beast's desire to swim—how I love to swim!—in puddles of amateur hypotheses, questions regarding the privileges of beasts are simply howls in disguise." Furrier and Law's concerns were, thus, "complaints dragged about like loose leashes. They are quick tugs to civility. What is wrong with survival?" K asked. "What is wrong with a plot to water? Is it not enough to sit and to watch the squirrels in their opera? The world," K stated, "is a grizzly bear and we are nothing but lunch."

It is this last statement that perhaps best illustrates why K was so emphatic when it came to the role the beast needed to play in society. In fact, writer Ferdinand J. Mutt has said K's "Byzantine sentences, his labyrinthine observations on the nature of the soul" were due to K's fears about the dangers his ancestors had to face. Mutt, himself, understood this. "What else can you do," he writes in K's L and M, "when all you have ever known is the bark, the ruff, the whine, the bay, the growl, the grunt, the yip, and even the howl? What are his theses but the reflex of our need to water, his desire to feast?" Mutt feels these fears are at the base of his why he writes the way he does. "What is his sphere of experimentation if not language, the capacity to define these operations through what is available to him? These variables and vacillations, the vectors that factor into the facetious feces, they are all just rings around the tippy-tippy-tops that topple like bobbles opening our brains to the possibilities that spread before us like a ripple. They make me want to eat grass!" K, if alive, would have agreed with Mutt since Mutt, according to Mutt, was right. K would have agreed because Mutt, an expert in nothing but his own writing, had identified, surprisingly, what J. Silas Sand-in-my-Shoes had called, inadvertently, the "accidental influence" located just below the brain's plenary-address in the neck's main-auditorium. The "accidental influence" is indicative of what Mutt described as K's ancestor-envy, the irrepressible "rock" of "solid matter" that falls so heavily on the spinal-ordinance.

Still, whatever the weight K felt, K, like his critics, was concerned with purpose. However, for K, in contrast to Furrier and Of-the-Law, "our resistance fetters, our slow-drop droops, they are simply the evolutionary response to our desire for the freedom from tyranny, the tyranny of the self. What are other sciences but sciences of the sacrosanct, some canine canoodling of the sacred and the profane, the sciences of stubbornness, the stubbornness of old age, the stubbornness most associated with fear? What is this stubbornness but the denial of instinct? What instinct is this? It is," K concluded, "the instinct to love—all that we will ever need and all the need we will love."


David Laskowski has an MFA from Washington Univ. in St. Louis and a PhD from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. He teaches currently at Edgewood College in Madison, WI.