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Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The Art of Racing in the Rain – Enzo’s Soul: Human or Canine?

Enzo expresses his world view through a series of observations:

-“The visible becomes inevitable."

-"Understanding the truth is simple. Allowing oneself to experience it, is often terrifically difficult."

-"No race has ever been won in the first corner; many races have been lost there."

-“Hands are the windows to a man’s soul.”

His reflections seem almost human and that is what endears the reader to him. But a dog’s abstract musings may be more than wishful thinking. A 2008 National Geographic article ("Minds of Their Own," March 2008) reports on experiments that demonstrate the minds of animals may be more sophisticated than we thought.

“Certain skills are considered key signs of higher mental abilities: good memory, a grasp of grammar and symbols, self-awareness, understanding others' motives, imitating others, and being creative,” writes author Virginia Morell. “Bit by bit, in ingenious experiments, researchers have documented these talents in other species, gradually chipping away at what we thought made human beings distinctive while offering a glimpse of where our own abilities came from.”

For example, in 2001 a dog named Rico appeared on a German TV show. He knew the names of about 200 toys and could acquire the names of new ones easily.

That’s certainly not quite comparable to Enzo’s thoughts and emotions, but who knows? Maybe the canine hero of The Art of Racing in the Rain isn’t such a rare creature, after all.

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