Animals.

If there is any justice beyond human justice, the human race should be eliminated yesterday.

Animal welfare activists don’t shy away from coining their message in radical slogans. We all know horror stories of illegal PETA activists setting fire to legitimate porc factories or chicken breeding facilites, and we shiver at the idea that such terrorists are allowed to publish their campaigns in our magazines. What are they fighting for, anyway? There is nothing remotely comparable to human desolation and misery hiding under a pig’s hide, is there? Compassion with animals is as ludicrous as compassion with a person on a photo, or a character in a fictitious movie. The screams of these beasts are mere mechanical noises like the cracking of a rock or the roar of a river; their gaze is but a numb reflection of the outer world; their heartbeat – meaningless pounding, functional only to the production of meat, leather and other “consumer goods”.

Is that it? Is that an adequate statement of our relationship to animals, at least the ones we don’t choose to be our mates and pets? It is clearly the implicit view of the vast majority of human societies that have existed on this planet. Sacredness of animals, as some religions have it, is either an application of the abstract principle of the sanctity of all life, or a corollary of a religious association with a deity.

Recently I read Jonathan Safran Foer’s excellent 2009 book “Eating Animals”. Based on three years of research, the famed New York writer blends the stories of slaughterhouse murder witnesses, PETA activists and small alternative family farmers with philosophical anthropological observations about how we remember and the role food (and hence, meat) plays in this. The pivotal question of his book, he says, is “Should we or should we not eat turkey at Thanksgiving?”

I am not going through the arguments pro and contra in this article. Everybody has to sort that out for themselves. You will have to go through unpleasant questions of what it means to be human, about the essence of suffering and pain, stewardship and responsibility.  Read, watch, observe as many videos of factory farming (readily available on youtube) as you can digest and decide if you will digest the meat of these corporations. To give you a hint, look for “Smithfield”, the #1 producer of porc in the US, chicken giant “Tyson foods” (a major supplier of KFC),  Temple Grandin (nonhumans torturing and killing facilities corporation), or Gail Eisnitz’s book “Slaughterhouse”.

Safran Foer compares a complete vegan lifestyle with the idea of being a selective omnivore, because he used to be one of the latter. Of course, it is good to decide consistently not to eat any factory farmed meat while eating “responsible” meat, but is it a commendable attitude in the long run? I find this a difficult question, a strong test for philosophical pragmatism. Foer mentions a vegan who is building more humane slaughterhouses (that are inflicting less pain). If we offer a sustainable alternative to factory farming that doesn’t torture, vivisect, force feed, brand, genetically manipulate into cripples, and deny basic “species-specific” needs to animals that surely is a good thing and helps consumers make the transition to eating better.

Eventually, with 7 billion people on the planet and counting (and more and more of them counting on a meat diet), it will be impossible to feed everyone a meat-rich diet without rendering the planet ultimately inhabitable. Already, meat production is contributing 40% more to global warming than all transportation combined. Vast areas of farmland are needed to produce food for the animals, and with depleting freshwater resources this amounts to sheer madness. If we are to survive and live long and happy lives as we have gotten used to, we need as humanity to lower meat consumption dramatically.

I beg you pardon for this frag-men-ted account of the topic. What have I just written? It has something to do with global warming, oh yeah, and there was some argument with pain did I miss that? He mentioned the word “slaughterhouse”  somewhere, how unappetizing. What were the names of the culprit corporations again? And in the end it was all just philosophy, wasn’t it?

I would much rather hit a hairy gorilla fist hard on your table and decree “Enough you damned fools!”

If you haven’t seen the documentaries “We Feed the World”, “Supermarket Secrets”, or “Food, Inc.” yet, I can recommend you to watch it and would be glad if this small article was helpful.

Animals.

If there is any justice beyond human justice, the human race should be eliminated yesterday.

Picture of a symbolically tortured animal (homo sapiens “sapiens”)

Animal welfare activists don’t shy away from coining their message in radical slogans. We all know horror stories of illegal PETA activists setting fire to legitimate pork factories or chicken breeding facilities, and we shiver at the idea that such terrorists are allowed to publish their campaigns in our magazines. What are they fighting for, anyway? There is nothing remotely comparable to human desolation and misery hiding under a pig’s hide, is there?
Compassion with animals is as ludicrous as compassion with a person on a photo, or a character in a fictitious movie. The screams of these beasts are mere mechanical noises like the cracking of a rock or the roar of a river; their gaze is but a numb reflection of the outer world; their heartbeat – meaningless pounding, functional only to the production of meat, leather and other “consumer goods”.

Is that it? Is that an adequate statement of our relationship to animals, at least the ones we don’t choose to be our mates and pets? It is clearly the implicit view of the vast majority of human societies that have existed on this planet. Sacredness of animals, as some religions have it, is either an application of the abstract principle of the sanctity of all life, or a corollary of a religious association with a deity.

Recently I read Jonathan Safran Foer’s excellent 2009 book “Eating Animals”. Based on three years of research, the famed New York writer blends the stories of slaughterhouse murder witnesses, PETA activists and small alternative family farmers with philosophical anthropological observations about how we remember and the role food (and hence, meat) plays in this. The pivotal question of his book, he says, is “Should we or should we not eat turkey at Thanksgiving?”

I am not going through the arguments pro and contra in this article. Everybody has to sort that out for themselves. You will have to go through unpleasant questions of what it means to be human, about the essence of suffering and pain, stewardship and responsibility.  Read, watch, observe as many videos of factory farming (readily available on youtube) as you can digest and decide if you will digest the meat of these corporations. To give you a hint, look for “Smithfield”, the #1 producer of pork in the US, chicken giant “Tyson foods” (a major supplier of KFC),  Temple Grandin (non humans torturing and killing facilities corporation), or Gail Eisnitz’s book “Slaughterhouse”.

Safran Foer compares a complete vegan lifestyle with the idea of being a selective omnivore, because he used to be one of the latter. Of course, it is good to decide consistently not to eat any factory farmed meat while eating “responsible” meat, but is it a commendable attitude in the long run? I find this a difficult question, a strong test for philosophical pragmatism. Foer mentions a vegan who is building more humane slaughterhouses (that are inflicting less pain). If we offer a sustainable alternative to factory farming that doesn’t torture, vivisect, force feed, brand, genetically manipulate into cripples, and deny basic “species-specific” needs to animals that surely is a good thing and helps consumers make the transition to eating better.

Eventually, with 7 billion people on the planet and counting (and more and more of them counting on a meat diet), it will be impossible to feed everyone a meat-rich diet without rendering the planet ultimately inhabitable. Already, meat production is contributing 40% more to global warming than all transportation combined. Vast areas of farmland are needed to produce food for the animals, and with depleting freshwater resources this amounts to sheer madness. If we are to survive and live long and happy lives as we have gotten used to, we need as humanity to lower meat consumption dramatically.

I beg you pardon for this frag-men-ted account of the topic. What have I just written? It has something to do with global warming, oh yeah, and there was some argument with pain did I miss that? He mentioned the word “slaughterhouse”  somewhere, how unappetizing. What were the names of the culprit corporations again? And in the end it was all just philosophy, wasn’t it?

I would much rather hit a hairy gorilla fist hard on your table and decree “Enough you damned fools!”

If you haven’t seen the documentaries “We Feed the World”, “Supermarket Secrets”, or “Food, Inc.” yet, I can recommend you to watch it and would be glad if this small article was helpful.

August 12. Poor girl.

I’ll be writing about the awe of being; hence I’ll be fine. Hush, hush! Make it denser, perhaps even by adopting a story line. Write with passion, write with heart. Do I envy Jonathan Safran Foer and his brilliant girlfriend Nicole Kraus? They find recognition, the press praising you to into the clouds and beyond? What is this “genius” after all as the target of so much appraisal. It is about portraying human beings with their awe and their intentions, with their dispositions, sufferings, flaws. But it is the reader who does the job. I despise the system of literary critique, praising some books with a battery of superlatives and burying others under crude and bitter reviews. After all, we are just talking about stories, stories of people, people that are gonna die, people like you and me are going to

die, stories written down in sincerity, stories written down because the writer wants to share his reflection on the awe of being with other people. Perhaps he fails because his text is not able to convey what is sensed. But that doesn’t mean the text is bad, it only means it has not found its audience yet. So, then, in my despisal of the world of “literature” with its rich bobos, hot showers and farfalle-pasta, in my despisal of that world I am seeking CONSEQUENCES. I might never publish anything because I don’t want to enter that world. I will just keep blogging, there will never be copyrights on my work, I don’t care, I won’t make money nor fame, I just want the words to be out there somewhere so that they have a chance to find their audience one day. And if my friends – I believe them – stop telling me they where tickled or stricken by my words, I will continue. Money is another problem, but that can be outsourced.
The poor girl doesn’t know what strikes her. It is fun talking to me, everything is fun fun fun for her, eyes blue like still elevated mountain lakes and a smile to justify another Trojan war and everything is fun fun fun – she does exactly what I have hoped for she shows me she is not able to say one sincere no to a playful idiot who traveled around the world to suspense seeing her again waiting for his mad love to go away, but if it doesn’t disappear he wants to see her in order to make it go away, and at that his is very successful, he is telling her “I have to demystify you” and gently striking her hair, “no that’s enough” she says, “thanks, it has been enough, now you are no saint teresa anymore” and I can move on. It is all played. How deep can you play, play against loneliness I guess? That is a question. How long can the semantics of PLAY hold the siege of the semantics of finiteness, finality or death? Who wants to write a theoretical study about this sticks up his finger. For me it is life as literature, literature as life, and I am proud when nobody is hurt in the process. So this girl, I meet her for a cup of coffee, has a way of denying that fills me with disgust. But that is more effective than sweet denials.
Being denied by the Other has become part of my life. It’s part of the game, little invitation of death into the void of my poetic soul. Playing! Writing the most astounding, heart-breaking, overwhelming stuff and smile through them like our sun through the clouds. Playing a jolly Jesus and making the people show THEMSELVES how they are coping with the absurdity of life only by piling up more absurdities on top of it. Society is a stinking pile of absurdities, layer after layer evolved from our inability and disability to cope with the absurd in any other way. DO I ha have proof for that? C’mon, gimme some proof. I am picking my nose right now there you have your proof. I would like to write about something else, after all, the mockingbirds will still sing after you and I are gone. I read (present-tense-verb!) about Albert Schweitzer, for instance. He decided to study medicin when he was already thirty and thirsty for the Good. He was a distinguised theologian, organ player who had written a well-received book an Bach. He just wanted to help humanity, went to medical school and three years later he was a doctor ready to go to Gabon, Africa. Being a stubborn character, not allowing the pragmatic to overcome his dearest preconceptions, he is not me, but I see him. Still I can learn from him. I am not going to be a doctor but in inspirator. After all, my training has been in philosophy and Socrates understood himself as a midwife of the soul. Then Schweitzer encountered trouble with bureaucracy. In WWI he was brought back to Europe by the French because he had a German passport. His protests didn’t help, he could explain he was the only doctor and working for French missionaries – they still didn’t let him and his wife in peace. During WWII he could continue working in his hospital, he gained fame and funds started to flow richly. But when he threw himself up as a harch critique of the nuclear bomb, seeking the public and using his influence as Albert Einstein had suggested. Now the CIA and FBI were keeping a dossier on him, his sponsors stepped back because they too were investigated by the secret service on account of being involved in anti-american activities. It is better to be red than dead, Bertrand Russell said. Anyway, media tried to to Schweitzer harm by writing negative articles about his little hospital. But he stayed there until he died in his eighties, surviving his wife. An inspirational life story for all of us. Are we ready to confront earthly authorities in the name of our ideals or is drama dead?
I take the ferry to Tallinn at 11:30 and try to hitchhike back to Berlin in one giant leap.