How cute, they say? As Rilke should have said, cute is nothing but the warding off of terror.
Cute is the lustrous sheen painted over the dimmer, and flawless reflective, surface that is the uncanny. (Valley, my ass: the uncanny is a vertical mountain, miles high, of polished obsidian, perfectly smooth, but for something, a certain crack, a bend that can be seen but not felt with the hands.
I think I just saw something move inside there.
Tom, it's solid, it's just a pile of rock, what could inside?
I don't know... but it looked like a... pistons moving. Like, like this thing is a machine...)
Cute is the barbed wire fence we erect to prevent ourselves from straying onto enemy lines, into trenches and hands.
Oh look, it's pretending to be something it isn't! Oh, how simultaneously like us, crafty Odysseusians we are, and unlike us, because we are authentic!
Oh, look, it is putting its ears back and hackles up! It must be really mad! I love how fluffy they get like that!
Oh baby, the penguins understand monogamy! And devotion and sacrifice! (And how terrifyingly Beckettian, trundling 62 miles in the blind idiocy of a reproduction scheme that cannot adapt or relocate!)
Because cuteness is our age's first, and most skilled, act of camouflage. Because it does not enacted by the cute thing in question - that would be to truly anthropomorphize. It is a minimal display of characteristics that insist on a projection, an analysis, a designation by those who point and say: cute. It is the declaration that all things in the world, from bears to cars, are species traitors, forgoing their adherence and accordance to a metrics and purpose proper to themselves.
And in so doing, it misses - always - the actual camouflage that is happening, the research, the readying of haunches and teeth. Which is indifferent to cuteness, but which, rather than facing up to, rather than staring into that black wall, we focus on how big and moist are its eyes, how it would look to put a little sailor's uniform on it with a tiny cap through which the ears can pole out, how it approximates - although exactly wrong, wrong as a knife with no handle - something that looks like morality, like fidelity, like prudence, like care.
And indeed, camoufleurs are, and always will be, those who know how to care the most. Who know how to read body language. Who really know how to listen.
Oh my god, the parrot can perfectly imitate your voice! That's adorable! He really sounds just like you!
Three days later, John was in handcuffs, at the downtown precinct. His eyes were blank and dry. A car had run over his wife as she left work the day before, throwing her like a bundle of sticks to the ground, killing her instantly. The driver was apprehended, but after extensive questioning and accessing his voicemail, there it was: John's voice, clear as could be, putting a hit out on his wife. He denied it again and again, weeping and furious, but even he couldn't deny that yes, it really sounded just like him.