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“Life of Pi” — Read the Book, Watch the Movie

LifeOfPiMovie

I read Yann Martel’s “Life of Pi” many years ago. I took the book to bed, my intention being to read 10-12 pages before falling asleep. This was one of the few books I’ve read from one end to the other in one go. I went to sleep at five in the morning.

The other day, I revisited “Life of Pi,” not the book from 2001, but the movie from 2012 directed by Ang Lee with screenplay by David Magee.

The movie gets my five stars. It’s a near perfect screenplay adaptation of a book. It misses a bit of the first part of the book that would be too cumbersome to render in pictures anyway, but it presents the second part magnificently. It’s a beautiful 3D movie, a thrilling adventure, an experience for afterthought—you can take it as you wish.

“Life of Pi,” book and movie, is not intrusive, does not force you to think or accept anything in particular. It leaves you with your freedom to draw your conclusions, or ask your questions, as the case may be.

Take a break, read the book and savor it. Yann Martel succeeded in writing a book that you want to read word by word, not by paragraphs.

The following quotations indicate “Part.Chapter.Paragraph.”

“Just beyond the ticket booth Father had painted on a wall in bright red letters the question: DO YOU KNOW WHICH IS THE MOST DANGEROUS ANIMAL IN THE ZOO? An arrow pointed to a small curtain. There were so many eager, curious hands that pulled at the curtain that we had to replace it regularly. Behind it was a mirror.” (1.8.4)

The most dangerous animal in the zoo is the human being maybe because of the relationship of danger with unpredictable evil.

“Rank determines whom it can associate with and how; where and when it can eat; where it can rest; where it can drink; and so on. Until it knows its rank for certain, the animal lives a life of unbearable anarchy. It remains nervous, jumpy, dangerous. Luckily for the circus trainer, decisions about social rank among higher animals are not always based on brute force.” (1.13.3)

Here, Pi is (between lines) talking more about human relationships than human-animal relationships, one suspects. He’s also thinking about how to train Richard Parker.  Throughout his misery, Pi comes to see cleverness and willpower as two remarkable human skills, but the question is, do not these skills also bring about evil?

“There are many examples of animals coming to surprising living arrangements. All are instances of that animal equivalent of anthropomorphism: zoomorphism, where an animal takes a human being, or another animal, to be one of its kind.” (1.32.1)

Zoomorphism (in a way, the opposite of anthropomorphism) means that animals treat another species (almost) like their own. Our dogs are great zoomorphists.  This is more philosophical that it may seem and definitely more obscure in the movie than in the book, which, as I’ve mentioned, is more elaborated in its first pre-boat part. One suspects that Pi is talking about his own struggle: Pi the Hindu, Pi the Muslim, and Pi the Christian all in one and the same Pi, not only tolerating one another but living in harmony.

I leave you with one last quote without any comment. Read the book, watch the movie.

“I had to tame him. It was at that moment that I realized this necessity. It was not a question of him or me, but of him and me.” (2.57.8)

As always, I wish you a great day.

How Difficult Can It Be to Be a Dog Owner?

How Difficult Can It Be to Be a Dog Owner?

You don’t have to excuse yourself or your dog for the way you are. As long as you’re both happy, and you don’t bother anyone, you are entitled to do what you like and be the way you are.

You don’t need to be good at anything, whether it be Obedience, Agility, Musical Free Style, Heel Work to Music, Flyball, Frisbee Dog, Earth Dog, Ski-Joring, Bike-Joring, Earthdog, Rally-O, Weight Pulling, Carting, Schutzhund, Herding, Nose Work, Therapy, Field Trials, Dock Dogs, Dog Diving, Disc Dogs, Ultimate Air Dogs, Super Retriever, Splash Dogs, Hang Time, Lure Course Racing, Sled Dog Racing or Treibball; and you don’t need excuses as to why not.

We are over swamped by labels because labels sell, but they only sell if you buy them. Should you be a positive, ultra-positive, R+, R+P-, balanced, naturalistic, moralistic, conservative, realistic, progressive, clicker, force-free, or an authoritarian dog owner?

Labels are not a guarantee of life-quality or scientific correctness. They are trademarks, devised by people who want to sell you a product and control you.

Stop caring about labels. A label is a burden; it restricts you; it limits your freedom. Labels are for insecure people who need to hide behind a mask. Harmony and serenity don’t need labels.

Be skeptical of everything that spreads like fire on the step. Be suspicious of anything with a broad mass appeal. Think, question everything, control your emotions, be open-minded but constantly use your critical reasoning. Believe in yourself, be yourself. Be the person and the dog owner you want to be, and you won’t need labels.

Forget labels and focus instead on knowledge, empathy, reciprocity, and respect. These are the pillars of any healthy relationship you may develop with any individual, independently of species.

Life is great—enjoy it!

Featured image: Just do whatever you and your dog enjoy, whichever way you like it so that both of you feel good. It’s as simple as that!

Learn more in our course Ethology and Behaviorism. Based on Roger Abrantes’ book “Animal Training My Way—The Merging of Ethology and Behaviorism,” this online course explains and teaches you how to create a stable and balanced relationship with any animal. It analyses the way we interact with our animals, combines the best of ethology and behaviorism and comes up with an innovative, yet simple and efficient approach to animal training. A state-of-the-art online course in four lessons including videos, a beautiful flip-pages book, and quizzes.

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An Invaluable Lesson—a Relationship is a Natural Thing

Relationship Child Dog (ChildDogPuddle-600x326.png)

Do you think they fight about what positive and negative reinforcers or punishers are? Do you think they waste precious time arguing about dominance and submission? Do you think they care about collars, leashes, harnesses, target sticks, clickers, kongs—or looking fashionable?

As I have said oftentimes, a relationship is a natural thing. Plagued by the sins of the past, the madness of the present, obsessive with political correctness, inebriated by the gizmos of the cybernetic revolution and brainwashed by consumerism, we have forgotten how to create a genuine relationship. If we wish peace and harmony, it is imperative that we regain this lost ability of ours. These two in the movie can teach us all a priceless lesson—if we just care to pause for a moment, watch them, and listen to their silent message.

This clip has to be one of my all-time favorites.

Keep smiling!

Learn more in our course Dogs and Children, the course that everyone should take independently of whether one has children, dogs, both or none. It is our (adults) duty to protect them, who need it most, our children and our animals. Dogs and children are wonderful together when all goes well. Learn how to prevent serious problems from occurring and how to give your child and dog some fun and meaningful activities so they can develop a good and respectful relationship.

Dogs and children—a Natural Relationship (DogsAndChildrenCourse-1-1024x538)

Your Most Powerful Animal Training Tool

Your Most Powerful Training Tool (RogerAndSilas)

Your most powerful animal training tool is yourself. The featured picture shows this author in 1985 with Silas, the wolf cub. Notice the whistle hanging around my neck. I used it as a conditioned positive reinforcer (yes, the precursor of the clicker). Silas preferred, though, my own verbal reinforcer (“dygtig”)* because I always associated it with friendly body language and facial expressions. It meant acceptance. For wolves, more sensitive to social situations than dogs, being accepted is the ultimate social reinforcer; for the cubs, it is vital.

These were the first observations that led me to suspect that the verbal and the mechanic conditioned positive reinforcers were not the same. I later coined the term, semi-conditioned reinforcer since parts of the verbal reinforcer (the body language and facial expression) are untaught.

And so, I’ll say without hesitation that your most powerful animal training tool is yourself. If you control yourself, your body language, your facial expressions and the little that you say, you’ll achieve what you pretend and more.

After all, this shouldn’t come as a surprise. Interacting with someone is not merely a question of conditioning a series of behaviors—it is creating a relationship.

You can see me illustrating this in the DVD “The 20 Principles All Animal Trainers Must Know” shot by the Tawzers in Montana at a seminar I gave. Watch the trailer here. Also, explore the many resources on this site. Feel free to browse as you please, watch the free videos and read the free articles.

* “Dygtig” [ˈdøgdi] is a Danish word and means “clever.” It is, apparently, a good sound as a reinforcer, I discovered many years ago.

Featured image: Roger Abrantes in 1985 interacting with Silas, the wolf cub—creating a relationship.

Learn more in our course Ethology and Behaviorism. Based on Roger Abrantes’ book “Animal Training My Way—The Merging of Ethology and Behaviorism,” this online course explains and teaches you how to create a stable and balanced relationship with any animal. It analyses the way we interact with our animals, combines the best of ethology and behaviorism and comes up with an innovative, yet simple and efficient approach to animal training. A state-of-the-art online course in four lessons including videos, a beautiful flip-pages book, and quizzes.

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