In the wake of our brief excursion into the slaughterhouse sensorium, we received correspondence steering us to a December report in the Sacramento Bee, uncritically lauding the advent of a brave new chapter in the dark annals of livestock management and the eventual transformation of cattle into beef.
The untitled images of well-horned creatures were bred from the imagination of Michel Nedjar.
Here is an explanation of gene editing from the horse’s mouth, that is, the researcher referenced in the article: Alison Van Eenennaam.
When scientists begin to talk about intervening in millions of years of evolutionary biology as comparable to word processing, as we cut and paste out way into eternity, DP begins to think humans have descended so far into the chasm between techne and ethos that there is surely no way out.
How soon before the word processor is applied to ourselves, in pursuit of obedience, efficiency and order, achieving safety for the masters of the universe, such that they will not be gored by an unruly stampede?
In the comments to the newspaper report, we were relieved to find the below sting from a Wooly Bee:
Repulsive and reprehensible indeed; no, this will not end well.
With Lori Gruen’s proposal for “entangled empathy” still fresh in our minds, we turn to the way humans actually “treat” other sentient beings, through their violent transformation into consumer-ready meat.
In Every Twelve Seconds, anthropologist Timothy Pachirat provides an unflinching, meticulously detailed account of his experience working inside a slaughterhouse; we are passing the book from hand to hand here at DP, and urge your close consideration.
For now, we provide a few brief excerpts from an excellent interview with the honorable blogger James McWilliams, author of other essential books about our treatment of animals, such as A Revolution in Eating: How the Quest for Food Shaped America.
The images are from a manual of recommended practices for the processing of meat, as endorsed by Temple Grandin.
On to the testimony of Pachirat, in response to questions from McWilliams:
More information on the Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary is available here; a visit, highly recommended. Also recommended, a brief visit to a previous DP bearing on the map of 2012, Wrestling With Modernity.
Now comes philosopher and ethicist Lori Gruen, and her powerful idea of “entangled empathy”, regarding various ethical dimensions of human relationships with other sentient beings.
In an interview dating from 2014, excerpted below, Gruen provides a brief summary for ideas more fully explored in Entangled Empathy: An Alternative Ethic for Our Relationships with Animals. The images are by Rebecca Clark, whose magnificent body of work might well be seen as an extended empathic entanglement with the wholeness of life.
ST. FRANCIS IN THE AGE OF THE 6TH MASS EXTINCTION
Finally, a brief excerpt from the book, regarding the life-world of “very different others”:
Here at DP, we have been re-reading Gary Snyder’s Practice of the Wild
, a collection of essays dating from 1990, yet vividly of-the-present. In “Tawny Grammar”, he writes:
The reference to “wild and dusky knowledge” descends from Thoreau’s essay Walking. Later in the same essay, Thoreau writes:
FUJIKO NAKAYA: FOGGY FOREST
Returning to Snyder, here are the final lines from his poem, Endless Streams and Mountains:
CHILDREN OF THE MIST TIP THE MOIST BLACK LINE
While poking around in the history of recycling in search of philosophical grist, we came across an engaging and concise history of garbage buried in a back issue of the Chicago Reader. The timeline stops in 1988; for an update, one needs only to wander along a winter beach after the tide goes out.
Images are paintings by Morgan Bulkeley, with his keen understanding of the wafer-thin line that separates human utopia from the town dump.
UPDATE FOR 21ST CENTURY
On this first day of the year 2016 and as a first bearing on a fresh DP map, we offer a poem by Margaret Randall, with images by Georgia O’Keefe:
GOAT’S HORN WITH RED
PELVIS SERIES – RED WITH YELLOW
Onwards into the fog……..
As our final bearing along the rather blood-smeared map of 2015, we offer a few pages from The Art of Peace, by Morihei Usheiba, together with two images from the forests of Gustav Klimt. May peace be with all readers of DP from around the globe, as we move towards a new year with fresh breath for life itself.
We are never quite sure what to make of Thomas Merton, and thus we return to him again and again. This week, in the closing month of his centennial, we have been re-reading his extraordinary book of essays, letters and meditations, Raids on the Unspeakable.
Below, we offer DP readers two passages from the essay “Rain and the Rhinoceros”, together with two of his brush drawings. First comes the rain:
And then comes the rhinoceros:
Finally, the first stanza from his poem, Fable for a War:
On December 10, 1968 — a year of abundant imperial swill — while attending an interfaith gathering of monks in Bangkok, Thomas Merton stepped from his bath, reached for the switch of a fan, and was electrocuted. In an ironic twist of the winding sheet that would not have escaped his contemplative fire, his body was returned to the United States aboard a military aircraft en route from Vietnam.
At COP21, self-described leaders on the issue of climate change dither and bicker over where to place the deck chairs, and who should sit in what kind of deck chair, and how those deck chairs should be polished on sunny days, and where they should be stored on rainy days. Meanwhile, the iceberg floats out there in the cold Atlantic night, indifferent to such vain and senseless negotiations.
Fortunately, there are a few voices willing to confront the stark reality of the iceberg — representatives of the First Nations — including Dine and Dakota tribal activist Tom Goldtooth, a recipient of the Gandhi Peace Award. In a recent interview, Goldtooth closely examines the icy core of neoliberal omnicide; a few excerpts below.
The images are from Christi Belcourt, whose ancestry originates from the Metis historic community of Manitou Sakhigan in what is now called Alberta, Canada — home of the tar sands.
WISDOM OF THE UNIVERSE
MEDICINES TO HELP US
Tellingly, delegates from the First Nations, officially designated as “observers”, are not able to interfere with the deck chair party at COP21. The deep concerns of indigenous tribes are relegated to an “annex”, as discussed in an excellent report on Democracy Now.
We note that when the iceberg finally asserts its reality, a kayak will prove far more handy than a deck chair.
KAYAKS AGAINST COP21
LA GRANDE BOUFFE: COP21
In a speech prepared for COP21 in Paris, a man named Barack Obama served up the following platitude:
As recently as 2012, this same man stated the following, regarding the construction of the Keystone pipeline from the Alberta tar sands to the Texas Gulf Coast:
How did we get from business as usual to hope rooted in collective action? The president’s legion of handlers and boosters would like us to believe that this dramatic sense of urgency provides evidence of visionary leadership. Yet those closer to the bone (that is, those who fought in the trenches against the insane Keystone pipeline) know the truth: that the collective action referenced in the first Obama quote has nothing to do with politicians dining on haute cuisine.
We take our title for today’s post from an excellent indie documentary by Garrett Graham, which clearly and convincingly demonstrates what sort of collective action will prove decisive in years to come, through courageous acts of non-violent resistance taken by local activists and citizens, resistance that forced the likes of Mr. Obama to change course.
Below, a link to the video (generously donated to the creative Blockadia commons by Graham) and a series of excerpts from the transcript. Listen to the voices of the Tar Sands Blockade, voices that have been far more consequential than those now blathering away in the City of Light between bites of goose liver.
We look forward to a forthcoming film by Graham and his colleagues that documents ongoing attempts to protect communities from the toxic, lethal consequences of fracked gas: