“Beastie Boys and Girls: The New Anthropomorphism,” By Robin Wright (The New Yorker, Feb. 10 2016):
In â€œBeing a Beast: Adventures Across the Species Divide,â€ the Oxford don Charles Foster records his attempts to live as animals do — specifically, as a badger, an otter, a fox, a red deer, and a swift. The book, published in Britain last week, has caught on. The Financial Times calls it both â€œbrilliantâ€ and â€œbonkersâ€ — â€œa strange kind of masterpiece: the song of a satyr, perhaps, or nature writing as extreme sport.â€ To be a badger, Foster took along his eight-year-old son, Tom, to better duplicate the creaturesâ€™ highly social lifestyle. The pair slept in a dirt hole and crawled on the forest floor and ate raw earthworms….
In â€œBeing a Beast,â€ Foster, after recounting his badger experiment with his son, ultimately acknowledges that they failed to cross over to the world of the creatures. â€œNo matter how much we convinced ourselves that we were part of their world, we remained as far away as ever,â€ he writes. â€I did not feel the â€˜otherness,â€™ that sense of leaving human experience behind to which I aspired.â€ In the end, he had to concede his own nature as a human: â€œI preferred my ideas of badgers and the wild to real badgers and real wilderness.â€