It’s A Man-Eat-Man World: JBlaquiere
When I was reading “A Satyr against Reason and Mankind” I found Rochester’s dismissals of mankind as being less virtuous and his argument of man’s so prided rational mind as making them equal to a savage beast very amusing. I ended up envisioning some kind of alternate reality where animals took the place of humans in society; originally thinking of the C.M Coolidge series of dogs playing poker. However what I really wanted to represent was a dog that looked, well, more rational, more humanized. Through this picture I almost feel as though I am making a satyr out of Rochester’s poem through this picture of a dapper looking pug, after all if animals are to be idealized by following their base instincts and their indulge a lot, a lot, a lot behavior then why don’t we view animals more favorably in our society?
In the poem, Rochester has a real issue with mankind’s rationality – especially the over thinking that we so often do as a society. This rationality, this reason as Rochester refers to it, sets us apart from one another and also from the animals. In Rochester’s view this is a negative thing and he repeatedly makes allusions to the concept that humans should follow their instincts – their senses like animals instead of “contriving A sixth, to contradict the other five”. This occurs when something unexplainable happens – a miracle per say –, people will search and search for a reason to explain it away, but sometimes there is no reason. It would be far easier to accept things for what they are than to reason them out and try and label them; as sometimes mislabeling will and can occur. It seems to be human instinct that if we can’t rationalize something we label it as evil or a freak incident.
Another key element that the poem is trying to represent is that humans are hypocrites who act out of vanity and self interest; and that the fear of being different or ostracized by others makes us act in horrible ways like lying and deceiving others to make our own gains; once again differing from the ‘straightforward’ animals. Interestingly it is from this fear that we get the saying “it’s a dog-eat-dog world”, but in reality it is more “man-eat-man world” according to Rochester.
But of course that leaves the question of whether or not it would be an advancement in society to take a page out of Rochester’s and an animal’s book and act simply by our instinct instead of our need to one-up each other on different social scales. Would this be a reasonable action? I think not.