Wolves, Were and Otherwise

I have three really cool songs on my ipod having to do with wolves and/or werewolves. They are:

Furr by Blitzen Trapper

Wolves by Phosphorescent

Werewolf by Michael Hurley

Canis lupus (the gray wolf) and its subspecies once blanketed virtually the entire northern hemisphere. Even now, gray wolves and their subspecies reside in Asia, Europe, and North America. Wolves are predators, they are a social species, and like many predators, they are beautiful. In both the speculative and non-speculative worlds, we love them and we hate them.

One subspecies of the gray wolf is Canis lupus familiaris, i.e., the dog. Dogs are descended from gray wolves, and are still closely enough related that they can breed and produce viable offspring. Wolves are not dogs, but dogs are wolves.

We control the domesticated wolf, most of the time. Sometimes, we cannot. We strive to civilize our pets, to fold them into our society, even as we can never forget their origin.

We humans strive to civilize ourselves, to fold ourselves into our society, even as we remember our wild selves. But we have diverged too far from the apes to interbreed, and besides, well, wolves seem way hotter than chimpanzees. So…when we imagine ourselves wild, why not transform into a wolf?

In Furr, Blitzen Trapper presents a coming-of-age tale. The boy leaves civilization at age seventeen, grows fur, joins the pack, and gives up his notions of right and wrong in favor of pure instinct. Sounds like he has a pretty darn good time. Then, at the age of twenty-three, he meets a girl, is moved to marry her, and gives up his fur for skin. Happy though he may be, on occasion, he finds himself nostalgic for the good times of his youth. We all have moments when we want our fur back, I guess.

Michael Hurley’s Werewolf is the most chilling of the songs. He plunges right into the violence, the predator’s love of violence, the synthesis of sex and violence, and of course reminds us the werewolf is just like you and me. Michael Hurley howls quite well.

My favorite of the three, Phosporescent’s Wolves, has a touch of dark humor to it. A boy is bewildered by the presence of wolves in his house. They might be Canus lupus arctos, as they are pure white.¬†They do not behave well, mating, and fighting, and generally getting in his way. He tells his mother, but we are given the impression she is not exactly responding to the problem, as he sees it, anyway.

I don’t own a dog, have no Canis lupus familiaris eyes to gaze into, only the beady-black and vaguely reptilian eyes of three cockatiels, prey animals that nonetheless manage to cast an imperious gaze upon everything they turn their attention to. But sometimes, at night, I do hear the howl of Canis latrans, neighborhood killer of Felis catus, as well as smaller breeds of Canis lupus familiaris. I hear the coyotes howl, atop the hill behind our house, and a little tiny part of of me would like to go out there, climb the hill, and see just what they are up to. To see if they’re having as much fun as it sounds like they’re having.

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