But when fickle Light
rescinds Her majesty,
you are treading water
and fish-hungry again.
There has been a long-standing debate as to whether or not we should attribute human characteristics to animals. It’s called anthropomorphism. Many scientists, such as Pavlov, saw it as a lack of objectivity. Others, like Dian Fossey and Jane Goodall, attributed all sorts of emotions to their subjects. Of course, they were studying gorillas and chimpanzees, the closest living relatives to humans. Frans de Waal wrote, “To endow animals with human emotions has long been a scientific taboo. But if we do not, we risk missing something fundamental, about both animals and us.”
From an artistic viewpoint, I find it very helpful to attribute human emotions to my animal portraits. I’m in good company. Aesop did it in his fables. As did Lewis Carroll, Rudyard Kipling, C.S. Lewis, George Orwell, J.R.R. Tolkien, and the Walt Disney Company.
As for the giraffe, which human emotion do you see in this portrait?