paul vibert and his vision of living inside of animals

Our friend Doug Skinner, on his Ullage Group site, just posted a translation that he’s done of a French short story entitled “Houses of Flesh and Bone.” The story, written in the 1890’s by Paul Vibert, is about living inside of large animals. Here’s a clip:

…It could be relocated at will; and man would thus solve the problem of the portable house, and make himself the equal of the snail and the turtle.

Attend for a moment, and you will soon see that my plan could easily be realized. Be it understood that if I wished to travel overground, I would establish my little residence in an elephant’s stomach, where there is room, and not its belly — which would be absurd, as it is filled with interminable corridors and intestines. And I would move into the stomach of a whale, if I planned to undertake a voyage by sea.

In the latter case, I would then have a little submarine of flesh and bone, just like good old Jonah — see the Bible, page etc. — nothing could be simpler. But here the benevolent reader stops me with a triumphant and peremptory gesture, saying:

– Excuse me, but I don’t see how you would have room to live in those creatures, even snugly, particularly if you had a family, with a wife and mother-in-law, not to mention the kids.

— Don’t be impatient; for I have solved that problem, and this is precisely my point of pride. To begin with, I place my young elephant in a greenhouse-stable, or my young whale into a basin-aquarium, and submit them to the well-known effects of violet rays; and after six months, I have a pachyderm, or whale, five or six times larger than its ordinary congeners; and I therefore have in its stomach a comfortable little apartment for the entire family….

Knowing Doug, and some of what interests him, my guess is that no one prior to this had ever bothered to translate this piece, or, for that matter, any of Vibert’s work into English. I, of course, (as a closeted furry) love the idea of living inside of animals, and I also very much like the scientific theory on the properties of violet light, but what I like most is just the very fact that it exists at all, and that, thanks to the hard work of one friend in New York, millions and millions of people can read it… It’s kind of nice to think that maybe, in a hundred and twenty years, someone from another culture might stumble across one of my massive, wandering posts and take the time to translate it. (Hopefully it won’t be my post on being strangled by feet.)

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  1. Ol' E Cross
    Posted June 26, 2008 at 11:06 pm | Permalink

    My retirement plan is to subject Mark violet light and live inside his Utopian belly.

  2. Brackachetucky
    Posted June 26, 2008 at 11:22 pm | Permalink

    Oh sure, the floating libertarian cities are crazy, but living inside a bloated whale with magic skin cancer is delightful.

  3. Ol' E Cross
    Posted June 26, 2008 at 11:31 pm | Permalink

    Don’t worry BA, in a hundred years, libertarianism seem equally as delightful with all it’s silly, fanciful notions of how things work.

    I’m sure in his day, people mostly thought Vibert was just plain crazy, too.

    It’s sad, really, that only long after they’re dead, is society able to realize how cute crazy people really were.

    But, if it makes you feel better, I think you’re delightful already.

  4. Posted June 26, 2008 at 11:50 pm | Permalink

    If I was going to live in an animal, it would have to be one of those pharmaceutical cows with the glass stomaches. I’d want to be able to see out. Enlarged by violet rays of course.

  5. mark
    Posted June 27, 2008 at 7:52 am | Permalink

    In a later section of the story Vibert talks of how he would graft several whales together.

  6. Brackachetucky
    Posted June 27, 2008 at 8:47 am | Permalink

    Sure OEC, they thought he was crazy, but now that we have the technology to focus UV radiation to mutate large endangered mammals and live in them …combined with the sustainability motivation to try it… WHO’S CRAZY NOW?!

    Oh, if only you’d all listened to Vibert when you had the chance! BUT NO! Now all the whales and elephants are endangered, whole families live in immobile, dry homes far colder than the steamy 98.6 degrees they need for basic comfort, our non-animal-powered vehicles destroy the planet with gases that are somehow worse than mutant animal flatulance for the purposes of my rant here, and UV radiation remains an unharnessed hazard to unimaginative, leathery-skinned priests of conventional wisdom such as yourself. Will people never LEARN?!?

  7. Paw
    Posted June 27, 2008 at 9:58 am | Permalink

    I’ve been squatting inside Rosie O’Donnell’s colon for the past 6 years.

  8. mark
    Posted June 28, 2008 at 9:06 am | Permalink

    For the next issue of “Crimewave USA” maybe I should interview the family of Satanists living between Rush Limbaugh’s duodenum and pyloric sphincter.

  9. Posted June 28, 2008 at 10:47 am | Permalink

    Actually, Vibert wasn’t crazy; just riffing on science and religion to amuse his readers. And Mark’s right; he hasn’t been translated before, at least as far as I know.

    This story reminded me of Paul Laffoley, who’s made some wonderful drawings about genetically modifying vegetables so you could live in them…

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