Letter From The Editor - Issue 69 - June 2019

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-   -   -   -   P   r   e   v   i   e   w   -   -   -   -

Inside the Mind of the Bear
    by Rahul Kanakia

Inside the Mind of the Bear
Artwork by Andres Mossa

One cannot study creatures without being drawn to the strange example of the bear. In purely numerical terms, the conflict with the bear was one of the costliest and most protracted creature-related wars. But the bear also left us another equally costly legacy: the myth of peaceful compromise. Perhaps nothing has so damaged American creature-response protocols as the final interview given by the bear. Reading about the bear's so-called "last plea for mercy" has led generations of intellectuals to greet the emergence of each new creature with renewed calls for appeasement.

Thankfully, the public has been steadfast in its resistance to bear revisionism. The popular conception of the bear stems not from its words, but from images that were prevalent during the height of its last rampage, when the bear crushed tanks and lay waste to city blocks. By then it had grown to almost fifty feet. Its belly and forelimbs were matted with the dried blood of those that had crossed its path. Along its back, it was singed to the skin by thermonuclear fire. It was often photographed tearing ten-story buildings out of the earth or leaping up to pull helicopters out of the sky.

The Second Law of Teratology states, "Peaceful coexistence is not possible between creatures of greatly varying physical or mental abilities," and images like these seem to viscerally support that law. For this reason, many of us teratologists are reluctant to delve into the bear's last words, for fear of providing ammunition to those who would seek to ameliorate the savagery of its crimes. But, in doing so, we have only allowed revisionist cranks to make unchallenged claims.

Whereas, if we have the courage to examine the historical record, then we find that many of the claims by apologists represent gross distortions of the bear's history and words.

For instance, bear apologists never cease to remind us that by the time the popular images were taken, humanity had been attempting to kill the bear for more than a decade. And it is true that three winters before it first left the forest, the bear was shot by a duly licensed hunter. The apologists claim that this injury is what created the bear: there is something attractive to them in the notion of this implacable enemy being birthed from a random act of human cruelty.

However, in their zeal to demonize humanity, these bear apologists have ignored the bear's own words. We know from the bear's final interview that, to the bear, this injury was neither severe nor especially remarkable. It was simply another one of the sudden obstacles that the bear had faced over the years. The bullet wound was neither worse nor more surprising than the pain the bear had carried in its jaw for the previous three years from a broken tooth: an injury which was repaired by a sympathetic veterinarian shortly after the bear first left the forest. Thus, with just a little research, we teratologists are now armored against the easy -- and, for many people, very satisfying -- answer that the bear acted from some simple revenge motive.

In fact, during its last interview, the bear claimed that it was offered the opportunity to kill the hunter who wounded it. The bear said it was given the hunter's name and location by a rogue park ranger who sympathized with the bear, and had promised his superiors that he could convince the bear to retreat with a minimum of destruction. But the bear refused to act on this information, and murdered the park ranger because the bear was (in its own words) "disgusted that a member of the human tribe could so readily abrogate his sworn duty to protect mankind from the vagaries of nature."

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