The Human Negligence of Reality
While I feel it is also in a way something that is an innate human characteristic, more than ever I see it recurring as a theme in Dog Days. I’m referencing the human condition of obsessing over self-appearance and how others may perceive you, whether it be positive or negative. For the most part, I feel this ignorance of reality and naivety goes a long way in explaining the master’s insecurities as well as the instability of Cameroon as a whole and the pervasiveness of their social, political and economic issues.
Voiced as complaints in a debate among men on page 132-133, comments are made such as, “Cameroon is doing just fine!” or, “Cameroon doesn’t have a history of political assassination.” Excuses are consistently made to forgive current conditions of living and society, part of the pattern of normalizing their status as we discussed earlier in class. Additionally, this condition plays into the explanation of how the Cameroonian government operated on some level. The government engagement in censorship through the ‘90s and then continued willingness to step in and control aspects of the media displays that same image problem. They become too worried with how they may be perceived.
This also provides some context early on to the dichotomy in character of the master’s son and his treatment of the canine narrator. He seems perfectly content at first and most of the time they have a very cordial owner-dog relationship, but will turn around and spew abusive vitriol at the dog as if it were an invasive species (2). The humans are more concerned with how others in the community will perceive them and their treatment of the dog, more so than reality. As is the case with most cases in their everyday lives, they choose to pretend reality does not exist, that poverty, corruption and unemployment do not exist, for the sake of hoping they look better off than others in their situation. It begs the question also about why they continue with the dog. I think it’s because of the need to show others that they can continue feeding more mouths than necessary in the house as a matter of making a point. Or maybe it’s more a companionship thing. If anyone else has a perspective on that, feel free to contribute. Ultimately though, the irony is that it seems the dog is the one creature who manages to live in reality and take every situation as it is.