Monday, November 21, 2011

Animals Aren't Even Things: a digression

We've discussed the Doctrine of Inanimacy several times. It holds that animals, being mere objects, are beneath our moral consideration. Contrary to everything you have witnessed yourself, animals don't think or feel. Hell, they don't really do anything.

Of course, the bizarre part is how this concept—animals' status as nothing more than matter—so often nestles alongside suicidefoodism's foundational principle. Namely, that animals are so like us, with dreams and desires that resonate so strongly in us because they so closely mirror our own. They want to belong, to amount to something, to receive approval.

It's the central paradox of the Movement: that which should serve to create psychological distance actually inspires intimacy, and that intimacy inspires contempt. Look, it's a giant, steaming stew of contradictory impulses, and trying to understand it will only give you wrinkles.

Our point here isn't to understand. Instead, we'd like to look at something that denies even the Doctrine of Inanimacy, something that says individual animals aren't even things, something that would have actual animals vanish into sheer abstraction.

This photo is from the October 31, 2011 edition of The New York Times. It accompanied a story in The New York Times Magazine about a "farmer" hoping to do something or other with fancy meat.


Before you go any farther, take a look at the thing under the man's arm. If you're like us, you might have thought that object was a piglet.

You would have been wrong. The caption explains the true nature of the photo:

"Brock with one of his heritage breeds—the start of a grand culinary reclamation project."

And just like that—poof!—the pig has been rendered invisible. For the man isn't holding an individual animal, or even a physical thing! He is holding a breed, and not even one that occupies its own place in the natural order. No, it's one of the man's breeds! The pig can't even claim its own lineage, its own existence. It's as though chattel was too good for the pigs, and they had to be reduced to airy concepts.

Deny if you will that pigs are intelligent and you are uninformed. Deny if you will that pigs are sentient and you are blind. But deny that they are physical things and you are a madman.


Desdemona said...

Excellent (and, as ever, disturbing) post, and particularly apposite this week, when everyone is whittering about "Turkey Day," except the actual turkeys. I'll retire to Bedlam.

Cavall de Quer said...

See you there, Desdemona!

Mary Freebed said...

Such a dear little pig, too.