Taxidermy can be beautiful. The essence of taxidermy is preservation of something that is dead, such that it should look alive, and remind us of the life it once had. My father was a literal taxidermist. He mounted the finest deer heads in Troup County Georgia. I took pride in helping him comb the soft fur, applying eyeliner and mascara to their beautiful glass eyes, applying the shiny topcoat to the nose to make it appear dewy and alive. Eating the meat and thanking the creature for giving its beautiful wild life.
Almost everything we do is an attempt to stop time, in order to apprehend meaning. Ask Keats. Ask any artist or poet.
It seems that there are two ways of doing this. One is open to flow and change, embracing, glad of memory. The other is frozen by fear of change, idealizing what never was.
There is good taxidermy, which reminds us truly of the beautiful essence of living things. All good art, music, and writing are the good kind of taxidermy.
And there is the bad kind of taxidermy. That which freezes a living thing in a position of awkward, stilted deadness. Or preserves a thing which need not be preserved. During the excruciatingly slow death of tribalism, people try to ossify values that made sense before but no longer apply in a sped-up world.
5 thoughts on “The Philosophy of Taxidermy”
Great! I still remember the first thing you gave me that you wrote–about the old woman that had her memories and her long braid. Your Dad would be so very proud of you–as he always was! Love ya, Aunt Louise
This is a great piece, and a very unique and useful filter through which to reflect upon the world.
Thank you Smokey! I have lots of other philosophy pieces in which I employ this same general filter; of the life-affirming kind of taxiderming and the life-suffocating kind. It’s on my mind a lot. You’re the first one to show interest in this as a useful paradigm. Bless you. I don’t have your email anymore; let’s chat. I’m email@example.com
Thanks man! I’ve never thought this far into my profession! You go really deep into it! Ever considered becoming a professional philosopher?
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I looked at your facebook pics; you’re good! Some taxidermists can’t make the animal look alive; it really is an art. I’d love to be a professional philosopher if I could live on it, LOL. I’m a teacher, so I philosophize on the side 🙂