Rabbits as Metaphor

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It's got to be the rabbit in the hat - rabbits are the only ones who pop in from out of nowhere, and then pop back out again. Rabbits are the animals that don't obey object constancy, the knowledge you have from a young age that if someone's put a cookie behind a block, *the cookie's still there,* even if you can't see it. The cookie's there, but a rabbit might not be. So rabbit territory naturally abuts the narratives that draws on violations of object constancy, and that recall the age you were when object constancy was news. Horror, in other words. Rabbits are about horror. And the mismatch between horror and bunnies is also to the purpose, because there's something ridiculous about horror and bunnies, which reminds you of the ridiculousness of horror, which is the escape hatch from horror. Ping, you're out. The rabbit studies its feet, not saying a thing.

When rabbits do make noises, they scream. Rabbits are about extreme victimization - and victimization that everyone knows about, and can see is coming. Are there other kinds of corpses we see so easily everywhere, and are supposed not to be concerned about? (Roger & Me: "pets or meat"). Always party to extreme contradiction and too much thinking (even though, as the animal of terror, they're also party to too much feeling), there's the rabbit in the still life, more ironic than the chicken because chickens aren't so much about dead stillness OR live flight. To have a rabbit frozen in frame is also about the medium, the medium that could catch a rabbit. Rabbits are helplessly meta. Because meta propagates helplessly, like rabbits.

Rabbits sometimes strike back overtly, but whenever that happens, it's overmatched and ridiculous, like the attack rabbit in Monty Python and the Holy Grail. The rabbit never defends a little, or attacks a little, or stands its ground. The rabbit runs from you or is totally coming for you with a full bandolier and a knife in its teeth. Do a search on a T-shirt site for rabbits - you'll see what I mean. But the extreme flight-or-attack is of a piece with rabbits occupying no neutral territory - rabbits live down the hole of bizarrely contiguous binary extremes. They live in the wraparound between here and not here, killer and victim, life and death. Rabbits are onstage and backstage, they're ALL fur or ALL teeth, but it's hard for rabbits to just be rabbits with normalcy and middle ground (which fact actually gave Watership Down some of its traction).

Actual rabbits are a great metaphor for being totally bourgeois, from which thought I, as a bourgeois, must think myself an escape at all possible speed.

Since rabbits are always alive thanks to breeding so much, and always dying because we kill them, people like to pretend to be rabbits, which is about as close as you can get to pulling on a death mask AND the mask through which you laugh at death AT THE SAME TIME.

Created: Dec 03, 2010


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