Is it a universal desire to want to change into an animal of some kind at some point in your life?
Most of us have wondered what it would be like to fly like an eagle or swoop like a swallow, to swim and leap like a dolphin or dance lightly between the branches of trees as a squirrel.
It seems impossible yet tantalizingly close. I want to bring you closer.
This is the first part of a series in which I will do my best to write you into new shapes, to sense the world in different ways. I’m drawn to this out of curiosity, as a way to better understand the creatures and the world around me, for escapism and also because I believe multiple perspectives bring wisdom, which I may be in need of.
What follows are extracts or experiments for a book I am working on.
The human become animal is an ancient motif painted on cave walls many thousands of years ago. In its darker form we find it in tales then films of werewolves. More recently the theme continues through certain key characters of JK Rowling and the dæmons of Philip Pullman’s Dark Materials trilogy.
Human as animal, animal as human.
We do not have access to magic wands. All I have to guide you out of your skin and into a new one is research and words. On it’s own this would not be enough, but fortunately we have more, or rather you have more. You have your imagination and your body.
Imagination first, I have no doubt that you have already been transported and transformed through reading and stories. You have set aside where you are and when you are to visit places and people through your imagination, you have tasted fear, hope, guilt, joy and with them. You have borrowed their eyes to see other worlds and this world in other ways.
This will be no different.
You have a body, and it’s a human one. Don’t look at this as an obstacle, realise that it is a bridge.
All life on this planet shares common forms. Your white blood cells creep from your blood vessels like amoebae, the segments…