Animal Stories by Peter Greenaway

Image for this story

In a foreword to Yevgenia Belorusets's new book, "Modern Animal," the British director offers 19 stories about animals big and small.

Story Number 1.
A farmer freely rented out a prize bull. The farmer proudly stood on top of Summit Hill and pointed at the herds of cattle grazing in the fields several miles in every direction. He said that his prize bull was responsible. The bull was placid and quiet enough, chewing on fresh alfalfa in its stall, entirely unconcerned as to the vastness of its progeny. Could a bull connect its copulation with a thousand calves? The bull’s white hide was speckled with black marks that vaguely represented a map ofEurope. Was this to be associated with the bull’s fecundity? The farmer‘s pride at his bull’s prowess encouraged him to take a pot of black paint and add in parts of North Africa, aligning the bull's organ of reproduction with the river Nile.

Story Number 2.
A man needed to exorcise the guilty memories he had of certain European cities. He deliberately returned to Dresden, London, Paris, Strasbourg, Amsterdam, and Copenhagen to try to put things right. The bad memories were associated with love affairs, either unconsummated, improperly consummated, or consummated in ways he found irksome and unsatisfactory. He called them love affairs but even a casual observer striving to be dispassionate would describe them as affairs of the body and not of the heart. The man could hardly reconstitute those unsatisfactory relationships; going back over the same ground would probably not resolve anything, probably end in repeating the same mistakes and probably cause even greater harm, pain and anxiety for all concerned. It might be just enough, he thought, at least to simply visit those cities to salve some of his guilty memories with their associated criminal characteristics. He just must promise himself adamantly to avoid visiting their zoos.

Continue reading here.