By Adrian Franklin
Animals can let us know much approximately ourselves. the way in which we like them as pets, consume them for dinner, cause them to symbols of the kingdom or shun them as invaders and pests illuminates a lot approximately our society and tradition. Animal kingdom strains the advanced relationships among animals and people in Australia. It begins with the colonial period—when unexpected local animals have been hunted nearly to extinction and changed with hottest species—and brings us complete circle to the current whilst local species are secure notably others.
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Additional info for Animal Nation: The True Story of Animals And Australia
So we can be sure in most cases that what they wrote was pretty well what they saw, though not always precisely what they felt. We might have some difficulty in assigning the meaning of some of their more florid and archaic expressions, in deciphering degrees of distaste, disgust, fear or loathing; but the innermost thoughts, fears, expectations and dreads of those who went beyond the known world are never particularly clear. By the time Europeans began to land on bits of Australia, however, we know that most of them were already experienced travellers and well used to a range of difference that most of their contemporaries back in Europe would not experience for themselves for a long time, and even then not at first hand.
In this way a little black and white dog-like creature that might be mistaken for a mongrel around the back streets of any ( 36 ) Animal Nation English neighbourhood came to be given the name Devil after its rather lusty snarling when several of its number homed in on a kill. It was not just the singularity of difference but the extreme difference to the point of being opposite that proved to be the most vexatious if not disturbing. So, for example, Banks found a fish that ‘did not particularly seem to prefer water to land’; many of the marsupials had four limbs but preferred to hop on two; foxes were found which had horns and flew; the great kangaroo that might well have kept its admired greyhound-like similarity disturbed European sensibilities when the pouch and its Joey rider were first found, and of course the Australian swan was black, not white.
So there is something more to the choice of natural and in particular animal emblems for the Australian nation. The usual assumption is that the nation was born from political currents and agencies and that once formed, it looked to find apt representations for itself. But it can also be argued that the natural world is not just like an artist’s palette, offering suitable colours and shadings and symbolic shapes. It can act in a more suggestive and inspirational way. As we will see in Chapter 4, the early tales of zoological anomaly, freakishness and rejection compounded a feeling of social and cultural insecurity and rejection among the early settlers; the Freaks of Nature?
Animal Nation: The True Story of Animals And Australia by Adrian Franklin