Animalogy Podcast
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What’s in a Name? The Soul of an Animal


In a pivotal scene in David Lynch’s film, The Elephant Man, the main character turns on those who are cruelly taunting him and declares “I am not an elephant! I am not an animal! I am a human being! I…am…a man.” The crowd disperses. Ever since the first time I saw this movie, I’ve had the same reaction. As a sympathetic viewer, I’m relieved that Merrick decries his abusers, but in making a claim for the dignity he deserves as a man, the implication is that the abuse would be acceptable if he were “an animal.” And yet, human and non-human, we are all animals. We are all made of the same stuff, evident even in the word “animal,” whose root word means “soul.”

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  • Ana Sierra

    I really enjoyed this episode. Very informative and thought provoking. Knowing the history of the words we use, helps us be more mindful of the words we choose to describe ourselves and others, human and non-human alike. Thank you.

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