strains to tell the story of a hybrid being-- one who, for our purposes could be describes as being caughtbetween Umwelts. The investigating dog is both aware of a broader horizon beyond what he sees and is alsostill very
much ensnared by it. The protagonist becomes unsatisfied with his ‘dogness’ after witnessing an
inexplicable event which the reader could only surmise to be a performance of circus dogs. Afterwards, theinvestigating dog tries to find meaning in the select stimuli that come to make up its environment. Unaware of the existence of humans, the investigator tries to gain understanding through a science that is very much basedon a world defined by function. Kafka writes,My personal observation tells me that the earth, when it is watered and scratched according to the rules of science, extrudes nourishment, and moreover in such quality, in such abundance, in such ways, in such places,at such hours as the laws partially or completely established by science demand. I accept all this; my question,
however, is the following: ’Whence does the earth procure this food?’ A question which people in generalpretend not to understand, and to which the best answer they can give is: ‘If you haven’t enough to eat we’ll
you some of ours’.” (288)
In both the science which the investigating dog accepts and the way his question is received, the limitations of
the dog’s Umwelt become painfully clear. “Dog science” is not based on objective, observable phenomena.
Rather, it focuses on the development of a more efficient satisfaction of the need for food. Similarly, despitehow much the investigating dog longs to see an answer in the eyes of his comrades, their response to hisquestions are either inconceivable or ludicrous. The culminating scientific trial, which the investigating dog uses
to test the limitations of his worldview, is a hunger strike. The dog says that, “The highest, if it is attainable, is
attainable only by the highest effort, and the highest effort among us i
s voluntary fasting” (Kafka 309). This
trial, though, does not result in a widening of the horizon, or any kind of eureka moment of understanding.
Instead, it reveals the investigating dog’s inability to transcend its Umwelt. Kafka writes,
Here and now was the hour of deadly earnest, here my inquiries should have shown their value, but where hadthey vanished? Only a dog lay here helplessly snapping at the empty air, a dog who, though he still watered theground with convulsive haste at short intervals and without being aware of it, could not remember even theshortest of the countless incantations stored in his memory. ( 31)Ultimately, the dog fails in his mission to transcend his own limited perceptual state. What the dog can knowand what the dog can make of its world is necessarily limited by what it has the capacity to perceive.*******