At the very least, you could say that Thomas Thwaites has a unique relationship with the modern world. Once he built a toaster from scratch, dismantling the cheapest appliance he could find and replicating it from the ground up, molding plastic and smelting metals into an approximate Frankengadget. The project cost 250 times his original toaster investment and took nine months to complete, but also resulted in a better understanding of the inefficiencies of consumer culture and a well received book. But there's no career plan that accounts for the next step.
Looking for a change of pace, Thwaites asked himself, "Wouldn't it be nice to be an animal for a bit?" A natural builder of unusual things, he engineers a goat exoskeleton--complete with a prosthetic stomach to help him digest grass--and adopts a hircine herd in an attempt to cross the Alps as a quadruped. Does he make it? Does he find happiness? Does he kiss a goat? Find out in GoatMan: How I Took a Holiday from Being Human, a May 2016 selection for Amazon's Best Books of the Month in Humor & Entertainment, though this book is much more than that.
Enjoy this short essay by Thwaites and images from GoatMan (and their strange Tour de France vibes). Click through for larger versions.
GoatMan: How I Took a Holiday from Being Human by Thomas Thwaites
Maybe becoming an animal is about relinquishing control over your own fate, in a way, because I suppose we’re all trying to control our lives and fight this battle to retain control over our lives, but I think it’s a battle you can’t win. What this project about becoming an animal is really getting at is this desire to experience the world from something else’s perspective because we’re all completely trapped inside our own brain and our own perception of the world. So what I’m trying to do is to get outside of myself and experience the world from a completely different perspective.
There was an experience when I was small. For some reason, I decided I would eat from a bush without using my hands. The experience of eating directly from a tree without using my hands was profound because our hands are how we as human beings interact with the world, and so taking hands out of the equation and yet doing something so familiar like eating was interesting, and it made me feel like a different creature. So I guess I’m trying to recapture that feeling.
We all develop an inner story. “Oh, I do this and I’m successful at this and blah blah blah,” but maybe it’s like my mid-life crisis because at the time, I didn’t have very much money, I was being rejected from opening bank accounts, I didn’t have a job, and you start thinking, “Uh, oh. I’m that person who gets to this stage of life when things are meant to be more sorted.” You’re meant to be more successful, and no matter how successful you are, you’re meant to be more successful. This project is a longing to forget all that and just be able to enjoy the world.
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