Can a horse ever truly be good

Trip Start Aug 09, 2007
Trip End Jan 20, 2008

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Thursday, September 6, 2007

Is a horse really a moral agent? That's today's philosophical conundrum, kiddies, as we try to unravel the meaning behind the signs seen around various tour organisers in Baņos - "Good horses to rent". Surely, we can all agree that goodness requires intentionallity - it isn't enough for your actions to have good consequences, but you must have meant them to have good consequences. For example, suppose you try to kill top television star, John Mundy (former presenter of Look Northwest, etc). You lunge towards him, with an axe, but in doing so, trip and knock him out of the way of a falling piano that was going to crush him, and save his life. Your actions had a good consequence, but were not intended to be good. They could not really be described as good. Even if a horses actions have good consequences, I would contend that their was no intention to do good, and so horses are not, per se, good. And, to go back to the signs, if these were special, moral horses, why would you want to rent them? That, in itself, is a bad action, ripping open the horse, watching its guts spill out onto the floor.
Still, let's leave the horses and move to other animals. Hummingbirds, for instance. One keeps coming to the roof garden of my hostel, to eat from the flowers there. This is Impressive. I saw a couple of humming birds whilst walking through Parque del Cajas, near Cuenca, but only from a distance, and they flew off quickly. This little chap hovers, wings a blur, just outside the window, its beak in a flower, troughing away like some sort of fat thing. A flying pig. Maybe it could play in goal for Liverpool? Or was that too long ago?
Cats meanwhile - there are cats in Baņos. Real ones, too, not merely small dogs that can pass as cats at a distance. But there are also dogs. Beware. Some cautionary tales. I spoke to some people (more of that later) who biked to Puyo (the fools). They were chased by dogs. I met a large, golden dog whilst walking down from the hills - it sniffed around my feet, presumably with the intention of ripping them off, whilst small children called its name in fear. Remember - Todos los perros son peligrosso. And note the verb there. "Ser", not "Estar". Ser, because dangerousness is not a mood the dog happens to be in, or a temporary state of the dog, but a permanent feature, part of the essence of dogness, the Platonic Form of doghood. Dogs kill. Remember that.
Meanwhile, back to business. Baņos. Yes. I have been taking more Spanish classes. They were very good. Muy bien. I feel much improved. I have also been walking. Up to Cruz De Bellavista, the large cross overlooking the town. Along to the statue of the Virgin, and back down (to where I was assailled by the hound). That was Monday. I think. Or was it Sunday? No, Monday. Sunday, I walked to the mountains on the northern side. I have some photographs. As soon as I find somewhere I can upload them, I will. I don't seem able to here...
I also biked from Baņos to Rioverde. Twenty flippin kilometres. How? Why? No sabo. But I did. Fantastic waterfalls on route. And, at the end, the enormous falls, "El pailon del Diablo". Where it rained, and I took some photos for an Ecuadorian family.
I have also been speaking to young people. They scare me. With their hopes and dreams that haven't yet been destroyed. And their talk about "Uni". I think I went to Uni, once.
I think. One of them was called Carlie - I thought, for a while, she was called Kylie, but I suspect you have to be even younger to be called that. And less middle class. 18 year olds from Little Hulton, probably. The only person I met of a sensible age (over 30) was a Liverpudlian called Roger, who could talk about music (Pixies, Marillion. He even laughed when I mentioned Kingmaker....) But he was too thin. Everyone seems to be thin. Why can't I meet normal people? ("You think you're fucking normal?" But I can't even get the stolen admonishment right. Danny, quoting the Coalman, at his trial, after he'd been arrested at customs with "a weight under his fez". Leave it to Danny. "He turned up to court with a kaftan and a bell. They could handle the kaftan, but they couldn't handle the bell. So the judge, who's sat there like batman, in this cape, with a really rather far out hat..." interrupted by Marwood - "You mean a wig?", "No, man, this was more like a long, white hat. Anyway, the judge says to him, 'What do you think you're wearing? This is a court of law, not a fancy dress party'. And the Coalman says, 'You think you look fucking normal, your honour?")
I have mentioned the hostel. Very pleasant. Hummingbirds. Well, one, anyway. A rooftop cafe. In which, according to Lonely Planet, is full of socialising at night. Well, no it isn't. There are occasional large groups of Germans, talking loudly in German. But mostly it's full of people sat alone, reading. Sometimes wearing hoodies (tracksuit, inner-city ones, or south american, brightly coloured, woolen ones). Sometimes with climbing equipment. But always reading. Or writing.
As for reading, I can see the end of my books. It's worrying. Not the fact that they will come to an end - that was always going to happen - but, like a rapidly approaching iceberg, the sinking afterwards. What will I do? I worried over this last night, whilst reading my Iain Sinclair. It got too weird for me (late night, a couple of beers, it can happen). Death to the weird, to plagarise another rallying cry. On the subject of books, may I take the opportunity to recommend Will Self's "The Book Of Dave"? In fact, I don't need to ask for permission, I've just recommended it. But, yes, when my books run out, what then? Can I read Lonely Planet continually, sucking up more pointless, and quite possibly incorrect, writing on South America? Who knows. Who knows, indeed...
Anyway, back to Quito tomorrow. Then onto Peru. Go south, young man. To round off a session of misquotation.
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