Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Living Desert...


Everyone has a holy relic - an object symbolic and profound even it its very mundanity. For some it's a place, a memory, a piece of jewelry. My object is a book, battered and much-loved, the corners rounded because everything gets rounder with age.

It's a copy of Walt Disney's Living Desert, a book that attempts to be educational by being anecdotal, but succeeds best with its photography.

For it is a picture book after all, with many color stills taken from Disney's documentary series of the same name. Illustrations in clean black lines alternate with harrowing photos of bobcats and rattlesnakes, threshes and hornets.

Because at its core, it's lurid, beautiful heart, Living Desert is about curiosity and wonder at the simple and wonderful savagery of nature in its raw form.

No matter the anecdotes and the cinematography, my holy relic speaks about man's love for blood, and the constant struggle between admiration and horror within that no one resolved into an appreciative, family-friendly format like Disney could.

And when I flip through it I am comforted, recalling my childhood sorrow and delight as the bobcat escaped the wild boars, and the red-tailed hawk devoured his freshly-slaughtered rattlesnake. Because we are animals too, and in our own lurid hearts will never end our romance with our primal selves. To remove that would be to sterilize our selves, and our very souls.

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