I have been reading Elizabeth Costello by J.M. Coetzee and it is where today's blog finds its inspiration. Elizabeth Costello is an aging Australian writer. She is at the point in her career where she is invited to lecture at universities, on cruise ships, etc. In one lecture she chooses to speak on the subject of animal rights rather than her novels. She speaks of the experiments performed on apes to see if they can think and reason. Her analysis of an experiment on an ape in which, the ape is no longer fed, but bananas hung from a rope in his cage and crates left inside the cage, is that making the ape think about piling up the crates to get the bananas is driving him to think the least interesting thought. She considers the first thoughts that the ape might have as being about what is wrong with the man who stopped feeding him, what is wrong with himself that the man no longer liked him enough to feed him, how crazy it is to hang bananas from a rope on the ceiling, but these in the man's perspective are all the wrong thoughts. Costello's musings lead her to the question of all people and animals that are trapped, "Where is home, and how can I get there?"

This section of the book made me consider thought and home and what the two have to do with each other. If left to their own creative devices, both people and animals will create a home where ever they are. Living beings are adaptable and inherently creative. It is only when distracted by banal problems of existence (how to get the bananas from the ceiling) that people/animals lose or forget their creativity and begin to focus solely on survival at all costs (to themselves and others). The man conducting the experiment on the apes had the power to alter the ape's circumstance so that he was forced to think the least interesting thought. What if the ape wasn't forced to think about how to get the bananas from the ceiling, but could consider how to find home? What if people didn't have to worry about how to feed themselves and their families, but could instead focus their energies on more creative thinking?