Schopenhauer’s Nightmare

During a safari a child witnessed a tigress pounce on an antelope, ensnaring the conquered prey in a slow death grip of claws and teeth fastened like vices into body and neck, and the child watched as blood seeped into fur and stained the dirt. Beneath the interlocked limbs, variously pulsating with elemental force or dwindling in vitality as opened tissues allowed life its final ebb, a pool bled into the earth and a patch of mud was allowed to exist for a few moments under the beating sun of the plains. The child, though new to the world, understood what she was witnessing, and her own body seemed to weaken as empathy inspired a similar loss of energy in her limbs, as if the predator had sunk its teeth into her own flesh and opened her up. And though she saw the tigress’ cubs come out from the tall grass to feast on the meal provided to them by their mother, she could not forget the desperateness of the scene: the desperate struggle animals take part in to survive, even if it comes at the price of loss in that final and ultimate moment, for another.

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