With their parallel lives, animals offer man a companionship which is different from any offered by human exchange. Different because it is a companionship offered to the loneliness of man as a species.

Berger 1977: 15


Man and Animal

With their parallel lives, animals offer man a companionship which is different from any offered by human exchange. Different because it is a companionship offered to the loneliness of man as a species.

Such an unspeaking companionship was felt to be so equal that often one finds the conviction that it was man who lacked the capacity to speak with animals – hence the stories and legends of exceptional beings, like Orpheus, who could talk with animals in their own language.

Berger 1977: 15

Why Look at Animals?

The eyes of an animal when they consider a man are attentive and weary. The same animal may well look at other species in the same way. He does not reserve a special look for man. But by no other species except man will the animal’s look be recognized as familiar. Other animals are held by the look. Man becomes aware of himself returning the look.

The animal scrutinizes him across a narrow abyss of non-comprehension. This is why the man can surprise the animal. Yet the animal – even if domesticated – can also surprise the man. The man too is looking across a similar, but not identical, abyss of non-comprehension. And this is so wherever he looks. He is always looking across ignorance and fear. And so, when he is being seen by the animal, he is being seen as his surroundings are seen by him. His recognition of this is what makes the look of the animal familiar. And yet the animal is distinct, and can never be confused with man. Thus, a power is ascribed to the animal, comparable with human power but never coinciding with it. The animal has secrets which, unlike the secrets of the caves, mountains, seas, are specifically addressed to man.

Berger 1977: 13/14

Horse Head


Think Again

Acrylic on canvas by Unknown Acquired by Scott Wilson from trash
This disturbing work “makes an offer you can’t refuse”. The chilling, matter-of-fact manner in which the subject presents the severed head to us is a poignant reminder of just how numb we have become. The understated violence implicit in the scene speaks volumes on our own desensitization, our society’s reflexive use of force, and the artist’s inability to deal with the hindquarters of the animal. ”


Isabella Bird – (1831 – 1904)

Isabella Bird, was born at Boroughbridge Hall, North Yorkshire, on 15th October 1831. The eldest daughter of the clergyman, Ernest Bird, Isabella was educated at home my her mother, Dora (Lawson) Bird.

In her youth Isabella suffered from poor health. As one historian has pointed out, this was not uncommon “among intelligent, high-spirited girls of the period, who were thwarted by lack of formal education and oppressed by constrictive social conventions.” Eventually a doctor suggested to Ernest Bird that his daughter’s health would be helped by taking a long sea voyage.

In 1854 Isabella journeyed to America. The trip was a great success and invigorated by her experiences, she published An Englishwoman in America (1856). After the death of her father, Isabella Bird moved to Edinburgh with her mother and younger sister, Henrietta Bird. Over the next few years Isabella made several trips to the Outer Hebrides and wrote several articles in magazines such as the Quarterly Review about the plight of the crofters. Later she used of the royalties from her writing to help Scottish crofters to emigrate to the United States.

Isabella Bird’s poor health returned and in 1872 she decided to travel to Australia. Isabella then moved on to Hawaii where she climbed an active volcano. Details of this trip appeared in the book The Hawaiian Archipelago. In 1873 Isabella Bird arrived back in the United States. She visited Colorado and after meeting Jim Nugent, a mountain man, decided to explore the Rocky Mountains. With the help of Nugent she climbed Long’s Peak.

Nugent fell in love with Isabella Bird but she rejected his advances. As she told her sister, Henrietta Bird, in a letter she sent while in America: “He is a man any woman might love, but no sane woman would marry.” Nugent was later to be murdered. Before he died Nugent claimed he had been shot because he refused to sell his squatter’s land to Lord Dunraven.

Bird also published the following books throughour her life, the trips she made were on horseback:

On Horseback in Hawaii – 1873

A Lady’s Ride in the Rockies – 1873

Unbeaten Tracks in Japan – 1878

Journeys in Persia and Kurdistan – 1890

Among the Tibetans – 1893



Human Bridle

‘Some punishments were very heavily gendered. The scold’s bridle symbolized the idea that women were like animals, because horses were made to wear bits and bridles. But there was also the practical effect that the bridle stopped a woman from speaking. Speech was said to be one of the main things that set humans apart from all other animals. By taking away her power of speech the bridle made a woman more bestial in practice as well as in theory.’




‘..the ‘scold’s bridle’ or ‘brank’, a particularly nasty piece apparatus that emerges in records of the late sixteenth century as a tool of coercion to enforce women’s silence. The bridle was a metal contraption that covered or encircled the woman’s head and incorporated an iron bar or ‘gag’ to hold her tongue down, thus preventing speech. The association of the unruly woman with a horse that needs breaking is obvious, and no doubt part of the punishment was the shame of being reduced to the status of an animal.

A woman accused of scolding – basically, any form of unsanctioned female speech that was perceived as unruly or disruptive – had this vicious device forcibly shoved into her mouth and locked around her head. She was then subjected to the ritualised public humiliation of being led or dragged through the town, tied up in the public square and pelted with rubbish and excrement, urinated on, and otherwise mocked and degraded. In parts of England, there is also some evidence to indicate that a husband could have his wife bridled and tied up to a hook embedded beside the fireplace in their home.

Scold’s bridles took various forms, but their general design is such that at the least, they would inflict a measure of pain and discomfort. Some versions, which featured spikes or rasps on the gag part that is inserted into the woman’s mouth, would clearly inflict severe pain and damage. A 1653 account from Newcastle talks of a woman being led through the town with blood pouring from her mouth; other accounts allude to teeth being broken or wrenched out, and even of jawbones and cheekbones being cracked. A perilously high price to pay for the ‘sin’ of voicing an opinion.’

Lynda E. Boose, ‘Scolding Brides and Bridling Scolds: Taming the Woman’s Unruly Member’, Shakespeare Quarterly 42, no. 2 (1991): 179-213.