Life as a human being is often needlessly complicated. Everyday we are assaulted by our own insecurities, fear of loss, fear of death, unnamable anxiety, existential dread, or, possibly worst of all, dull suffocating boredom. Oh, it’s not all bad, there are plenty of welcome experiences that make it all worthwhile but what if you could step out of your role as a human and free yourself from the weightier concerns of your own mind? Thomas Thwaites aimed to do just that.
Thwaites sought a way to discard his human nature and live as an animal. He set as his target an animal that seemed rather carefree. If only for a little while he would walk in the shoes…err hooves of a goat. The process of transforming into a goat was quite involved. You might think he’d elect to wear a lifelike costume, spritz it with pheromones and call it a day. You’d be wrong. He actually went out of his way to design an reverse goat costume, that is to say, a costume that made him FEEL like a goat instead of look like one.
But he didn’t stop there, he wanted the whole goat experience. It turns out that goats mainly eat grass and while this diet works well for them, it’s pretty damaging for humans. Not to be deterred Thwaites went through several methods before settling on one that would allow him to survive on grass alone. He strapped a bag to his side into which he would spit grass he pulled and chewed with his mouth. The bag contained rumens (goat gut bacteria) that would break the grass down in a way human enzymes can’t. He would then pressure cook the grass (to kill parasites people have no natural resistance to) and eat the grass as stew. I’m not sure how well this would work in the long run but Thwaies made it work for the duration of his goat transformation.
To further help him become a goat Thwaites underwent a process called transcranial magnetic stimulation. Basically he had powerful super magnets shock his brain and turn off his ability to talk. One of the most significant things that separates man from the rest of the animal kingdom is the ability to communicate verbally with incredible complexity. Thwaites figured it would be impossible to get into the mind of a goat if that mind was capable of human speech. Thankfully, the process is not permanent.
Needless to say he’s gotten a bit of attention for his experiment.
Was he successful in escaping the anxiety of being human? You’ll have to read his book to find out.