Friday, 22 January 2010

Laika

We were at the Golden Hour on Wednesday evening, a wonderful mix of poetry and music, cartoons and stories that takes place in the back room of Edinburgh's Forest cafe, probably the most alternative venue in the city. If you have ever been to the Forest cafe you may have notice the huge and beautiful murals featuring Laika the dog that the Russians sent into space on 3 November 1957. She was sent to certain death, Sputnik 2 was never intended to be retrieved.

I always think that Laika's story is one of the emblematic stories of human disregard for non-human life, another being the fate of the passenger pigeon as mentioned by Howard in his comment on yesterday's post.

Co-incidentally Laika appears in Haruki Murakami's wonderful novel Sputnik Sweetheart, which I just finished reading:

Ever since that day, Sumire's private name for Miu was Sputnik Sweetheart. She loved the sound of it. it made her think of Laika the dog. The man-made satellite streaking soundlessly across the black of outer space. The dark lustrous eyes of the dog gazing out of the tiny window. In the infinite loneliness of space, what could Laika possibly be looking at?

I've just written a review of Sputnik Sweetheart on my Over Forty Shades blog, you can read it here.

There's a heartbreaking poem about Laika here.

15 comments:

Rachel said...

I don't think I'm in a place I can read the poem right now, I'll have to save it for when I'm a little less weepy. Just reading your post made me tear up.

Oh, Laika...

The Weaver of Grass said...

Such a sad story. Like Rachel, I too am feeling a bit cut up after watching the pigs on Jimmy's travels last night - sows destined to spend their whole lives in crates, unable to turn round and just kept as breeding machines. What cruelty we do inflict on animals.

Lizzy Frizzfrock said...

It is almost overwhelming to read as I sit here with my beloved dog.

Coastcard said...

Yes, its a heartbreaking tale and a powerful poem. Thank you for the link, Juliet.

steven said...

i remember as a little boy first hearing the story of laika and it was so hard to know that that was possible and alright in this world - it still saddens me. steven

Howard BME said...

The story of Laika is tragic, but at least she had a name which lives on. At the risk of starting a kind of competition of animal suffering, and not wanting to detract from the subject and the poem in any way, I’d nevertheless like to mention the millions of anaonymous animals which endure terrible cruelty every day, especially quite unimaginable cruelty, such as the dogs and cats which are skinned alive for fur and meat in China.

The Bunns said...

... Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth ...

this from somebodys GOD, apparently not ours!

Crafty Green Poet said...

Howard - point taken and I agree but in a sense because she had a name Laika has become a symbol for a lot of the others.

AscenderRisesAbove said...

aww that is very sad.
I was just talking to my (vet tech) daughter yesterday about pharmaceutical companies and whether they do trials on animals (yes) and why dont they have to say like cosmetics whether it has been tested on animals. very sad stuff.

ravanwin said...

Hi - love that mural too and glad you enjoyed the GH. Magda Boreysza drew the mural and the cover to the Golden Hour Book Vol. II. Her site:
http://magdaboreysza.com/
+
See the golden hour book here:
http://forpub.com/goldenhourbooktwo/
Hope to see you at the next one. Ryan

Crafty Green Poet said...

Hi Ryan - thanks for the links, I'll check tohse out, we're almost always at Golden Hour....

Andrewbun said...

Ahhh, at work right now choking back tears for beautiful Laika.

-Andrewbun's Mom

Lucy H said...

I was looking for more about the role of Laika in fiction when Google listed your blog - it's great!

Laika features in Weight by Jeanette Winterson too - I've written up some thoughts on it on my blog - http://maroonedinsuburbia.blogspot.com/

When in Edinburgh next, I'm finding that mural... :)

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