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Magazine

When Animals Conspire

May 28, 2020

What would happen if the natural world could strike back? Especially after watching the Netflix documentary series Tiger King, I wonder how animals might retaliate against us for all that we’ve done to them, their habitats, and our planet. Ben Ehrenreich's "When Animals Conspire," from A Public Space No. 03 reminds us that the way we treat those most vulnerable has effects both great and small.

Taylor Michael is an essayist from Mount Vernon, NY. She is an MFA candidate at Columbia University School of the Arts and is the inaugural A Public Space Editorial Fellow.

Ben Ehrenreich is a journalist and the author of the novel The Suitors, which was published last year by Counterpoint.


***

Let me begin by telling you how I learned that I sleep with my mouth open. One day, several years ago, I decided to clean out my hall closet, which was filled to overflowing with junk. It felt somehow a noble task, like dusting and ordering the untended corners of my soul. In the deepest, most obscure reaches of the closet, I discovered, beside a gap in the wall, a dense constellation of little brown pellets, confettied paper and assorted frass. Until that moment, I had coexisted peacefully with mice for years. Every now and again, as I sat late at night reading in my living room, one would scurry through the kitchen, jog warily by, then notice my presence and dash beneath the closet door. Mainly we kept out of each others’ way. But in the depths of the closet, I realized, I had found their home. Something came over me then which I still cannot explain, except to observe that the desire to order does not live far from the urge to destroy. I swept up the mouse droppings, then shoved a curtain rod through the gap in the wall and jabbed it about until I was satisfied that I had crushed whatever could be crushed. It was a wanton act. I had no illusions it would rid the house of mice.

Read on.


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