let’s pretend, for a moment, that we live in a world where dogs can speak.
manny is a sheepdog. he likes being a sheepdog, herding the sheep everyday chasing them and then coming home to his owner, mike, who gives him warmth, food, security and affection.
one day when manny was young, mike’s wife gave him some chocolate. manny knew that, being a dog, he shouldn’t take the chocolate. mike’s wife knew she shouldn’t be giving manny chocolate, but doing so gave her pleasure. it was only many years later that manny admitted to his owner mike what happened, and the only reason he had kept this a secret was because it was mike’s wife who was in the wrong and manny didn’t want to ruin their marriage. he didn’t want to make his owner sad.
mike was upset with manny for hiding something from him for so long. manny also had become quite slow and winded, the chocolate from all the years ago had finally caught up to him and he wasn’t as good of a sheepdog as he once was. mike had started to notice manny’s health deteriorating before manny had confessed about the chocolate incident, but now he noticed this even more. mike didn’t know what to do to help. he took manny to the vet. he tried to assure manny that it was okay that manny wasn’t doing so good. he let manny rest a lot more. but soon enough mike got frustrated. he was hurt that his wife betrayed him by damaging what was his, he was hurt by how damaged manny now was, he was hurt by his own inability to change the past and to make manny recover quickly, he missed manny the sheepdog, and he got tired of giving manny so much time for rest and recovery when all manny seemed to be doing was acting lazy and getting worse.
one day, mike exploded. manny wanted to go to a dog festival. recently manny had been allowed to come and go as he pleased because his duties as a sheepdog weren’t so frequently demanded of him anymore. because he got lots of tummy aches still, he tried to distract himself by spending more time with other dogs. that day however, mike had had enough of manny doing as he wanted when he wasn’t getting any better. mike scolded manny for not being considerate of how hurt mike was by the chocolate incident especially considering that instead of listening to mike manny kept on leaving manny’s house. instead of providing affection for his owner manny just wanted to go out. mike said that the dogs manny hung out with also had tummy aches a lot and therefore just reinforced the idea that manny was sick. mike said manny was not sick. sure he had some chocolate in the past but that was in the past. mike said that in the dog festival there would be lots of owners who would try to give manny chocolate and mike said, “oh what, one wasn’t enough for you, was it?”
manny knew that when mike raised his voice he had to be quiet or else mike, in his old age, might have some sort of heart attack or problem. he remembered growing up with mike and that whenever mike got angry he threatened to abandon manny. also manny was a good sheepdog. he didn’t want to upset his owner. he didn’t want his owner getting sad.
however the truth was that being fed chocolate, the food that is poisonous to dogs, and being quiet about the pain and the confusion that came from being fed chocolate by mike’s wife who was also supposed to be take care of manny was very upsetting for him. manny didn’t like chocolate. manny knew that part of why he was such an inept sheepdog now was because he had chocolate. manny had told mike about the chocolate because manny didn’t want to go through the pain of the tummy aches alone. he wanted mike, as his owner, to take care of him and make him feel safe again. so when mike said, “oh what, one wasn’t enough for you, was it?” so accusingly to manny, manny exploded. because mike was accusing manny of something unthinkable: of loving chocolate.
manny started screaming and howling. manny got so aggressive he blacked out for a few seconds. manny’s voice distorted and he couldn’t get the words out and he didn’t know why. he was a great sheepdog and had the loudest bark of them all but all of his screams came out as whimpers. it was as though mike had kicked manny in the gut with that accusation. but manny was not allowed to react to mike’s harsh words for long. mike threw a chair and destroyed it in his anger at himself and at how bad manny now was as a sheepdog. mike was so angry that some other humans came and calmed him down. manny did not feel safe with mike anymore. when mike had accused him of loving chocolate in an argument about manny not going to a dog festival, in such a normal argument between an owner and his dog about what the dog was and was not allowed to do, when mike threw the most horrible experience that had happened to the dog right in manny’s face only a few months after manny had confessed to mike, manny hated him.
manny loved his owner so much. but he could not pretend that he believed that he could return to being a sheepdog anymore. when manny had told mike, mike had spent the following months telling manny that he would always be there for him while at the same time not believing manny when mannys said he had a tummy ache and could not herd the sheep that day and once even telling manny to dog up and stop acting so lazy.
but mike was still manny’s owner. and as manny’s owner mike still believed he had the power. after the argument and mike’s harsh words, mike told manny that he was to cut ties with the dogs who wanted him to go to that festival. mike blamed the argument on manny’s desire to go to the festival. mike told manny, “listen dog, we are going to go back to the basics with you. i want two things. i want you to cut ties with those other dogs and make friends with better dogs. and i want you to run one lap around the field every day. if you do those two things you will get better and i will get better and nothing like this will ever happen again.” manny did not want to run. most days his tummy aches were so bad he could not even think about moving let alone running. mike said, “it’s those stupid dogs that convinced you that the tummy aches are something you cannot deal with while running. you can run with them,” he said even though he did not have any experience of what it was like being a dog who had tummy aches, “and you have to run with them”. manny said yes even though he hated to because manny did not want his owner to abandon him.
manny still did not want his owner to be sad. but manny understood that his owner had been mistreating him. and manny could not get that accusation of loving chocolate out of his mind. manny did not feel safe with mike. manny did not like being around mike. mike said he would listen and he didn’t listen. mike took out his hurt and anger about manny on him in the worst way. mike took the most horrible experience that had ever happened to manny – an experience manny had spent a long time hiding from mike because he didn’t want to hurt his owner – and had thrown it in his face during a petty and trivial argument.
but if manny started to scream, mike would throw another chair and mike would abandon him. manny knew he could live without mike but manny did not want to be the reason mike left. manny did not want to drive his owner to abandon him. so manny could not react. manny had to pretend he was okay with running. manny had to pretend that his relationship with his owner hadn’t been irrevocably damaged. manny had to pretend that he wasn’t angry. so manny swallowed down all the screaming and howling and whimpering that was cut off when mike took the chair and broke it in anger. manny tried to be a good sheepdog despite his even more intense tummy aches especially when mike still told him to stop thinking about the tummy aches and even when mike mocked manny’s tummy aches implying that manny was pretending to have them.
manny was powerless. he wanted to react but he could not do so because he could not drive mike into leaving. manny was scared and hurt and angry. manny would not last much longer pretending to be a good sheepdog. the tummy aches were getting worse and worse. the accusation of loving chocolate ran through his head again and again and again. manny felt attacked. and betrayed.
manny wanted to abandon his owner. manny did not see any reason to stay when he was not a good sheepdog and could no longer be one and no longer had any desire to be one for an owner who had taken manny’s vulnerability and pissed all over it just to release something.
manny was suffocating. so he reckoned that he had to take back control where mike could not go. manny went to the dognet and started writing under a pseudonym. even if mike stumbled across his sayings (that was very unlikely, mike did not have access to the dognet did he?) mike would not know that it was manny.
yesterday i learnt about marx and how his writings were based off hegel’s work. hegel wrote about the lord and the bondsman. how the lord couldn’t exist without the bondsman affirming his existence. the lord owned the bondsman but the bondsman was more free because he could create things [for the lord] and his self-consciousness could be affirmed by what he created. the lord did not have this ability and furthermore the lord could not create, that was the bondsman’s labour for the lord. and so the bondsman had the potential for revolting against the lord because the bondsman could exist without the lord while the lord could not exist without the bondsman even though it was the bondsman who was owned.
i am a fucking awesome sheepdog and i do not love chocolate, contrary to what mike might think. it is sad that i both love and hate mike now. it is near impossible to not leave in such an anxiety-inducing atmosphere having been betrayed by my owner at such a deep level. but i have the ability to create and have my self-consciousness be reflected through my work and my owner can forever remain frustrated by his inability to do that. i will revolt without making mike leave.
i will learn how to stay when i no longer have any desire to at all.