FRR Books Podcast Episode 4: The Silence of the Animals by John Gray


The sands are frantic Image result for john gray silence of the animals

In the hourglass.  But there is time

To change, to utterly destroy

That too-familiar image

Lurking in the glass,

Each morning at the edge of the mirror


The writing and thinking of John Gray is a gift to those of us who have endured a life full of others’ ideals, moralities, and rules driven into us. John Gray relentlessly questions and troubles the narratives of progress and social betterment that run through society largely unquestioned, even in radical circles. The idea of transforming or evolving the world and the individuals within it into “something better” is a plague that has stricken the best of us. Once I am able to shed myself of this sickness of narcissism and self loathing (for there is always a flaw in the human to be fixed) then something resembling an authentic life could begin to be imagined. This life looks like raw possibility, what has been written before as the creative nothing. From this voidal abyss grows my life free of all the baggage that I have been born with, for I had no say in the size and shape of my body, the place of my origin or the monsters who parented me, whether they be at our homes or in our schools. While I may never be able to shed these skins completely, what is my life if not an attempt to metamorphose myself in each moment. Ursula Le Guinn once wrote that “what is most changeable is fullest of eternity” and what is a human life if not the search for eternity. Eternity is gained from ecstasy, from the moments that defy time, society, and reality. John Gray has gifted you and I with a chance for more of these moments, and we would be fools not to listen.

“What would you say to a man who, nodding his head sadly, remarked that ‘Fish are born to fly – but everywhere they swim!’?”

Humanism and progress sheath perception in the filth of a static world. Banal myths that are collectively abstracted as divine truth by sermons recited. Humanists shackle subjectivity and preach that in spite of all history, humanity by nature is objectively free. John Gray describes them as being “devoted to their species as they believe it ought to be, not as it actually is or as it truly wants to be”. Other varieties of leftists call for revolution, envisioning a utopia reached through progress. Each myth necessarily concludes as a heavenly stasis using morality to contain an ideal, fixed humanity.

In The Silence of Animals John Gray writes that myths are fictions whose human authorship is not acknowledged. Yet, most regrettable lived fictions are inescapable when the writer is made lost in their story. Not acknowledging one’s own authorship is succumbing to a fallacy of truth. The problem with obscuring one’s own fiction to be true is that truth is unchangeable and therefore an impasse to growth and change. It is a phantasm that is cheap with knowledge, rationalizing all that is heeded to a restrictive plot.  When I perceive a belief to be true, I construct a schism between understanding and imagination. However, when I recognize that each time I awaken my eyes fall upon my fiction, I realize that I am capable of a new narrative. One that is defined by the limitations of my will, but not of belief. What is conscious will other than conflicting unconscious wills brought to one’s attention? Therein, why would I inflict more limitations upon myself, when I’m already faced with the greatest obstruction that is will? Beliefs are nothing other than a futile attempt to fill an intrinsic psychological void for meaning. In the words of John Gray, “Accepting that the world is without meaning, we are liberated from confinement in the meaning we have made.”

“Upon the real one must crack at times and new patterns from new disorders open like a rose”.

My junctures of change beckon a negative epiphany that can pry open grasping hands like blasphemous laughter or new found desire. This nihilistic turning point is a break in meaning. A childlike moment of allness bestowing an “experience of meaning that can not be put into words” which deserts the conviction that only the material world is real. The material world is constructed by personal fictions lived beneath myths, resembling one’s propensity to turn silence into noise. In instances of abundant nothingness/negative capability, creativity is seized by conquering the provenance of an echo.

“Seeking to escape yourself by chasing your own shadow is a vain pursuit. But if you look with eyes that are not covered with a film of thought, you may come on a scene that can only be seen once.”

It is inevitable that I shed a fiction only to put together a new one, but this transformation yields a temporary uniqueness that can inspirit my ability to grow. With this I may be able to think more freely than before. When my thoughts begin to shackle my existence, I can again cast away the beliefs I carry. I would want for the rest of my life to undergo this gain and loss, so that I can flourish until I die. “The ego is itself a fiction, one that is never fixed or finished. ‘In the realm of fiction,’ Freud wrote, ‘we find the plurality of lives which we need.’”


Words by Big Cat and rydra wrong

Voiced by Sasha, Big Cat & rydra wrong

Editing & Production by rydra wrong & Big Cat