Friday, September 20, 2019


The Precaution-Taking Animal

Raymond Tallis, The Black Mirror: Looking at Life Through Death (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2015), pp. 13-14:
Man is the precaution-taking animal. Hoarding and storing, barricading and padlocking, pacifying the natural world and regulating the human one, are just some of the many ways in which we try to make our lives nice, humane, and long as opposed to nasty, brutish, and short. We look to deflect not only the enemy without — wild animals, infestations, cold, heat, floods, storms, volcanoes, and, most terrifyingly, our fellow men — but also the enemy within. Immunization, a balanced diet, exercise, moderation in pleasures, and pills and operations, are some of the conduits through which a vast amount of knowledge is mobilized, often via dizzyingly complex modes of cooperation, to arrest or postpone the various processes (visible and invisible) that make up the passage from ourselves to no one.

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