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Language must be raked, the secrets of slaughter-houses and infamous holes that cannot front the day, must be ransacked, to tell what negro-slavery has been.

from: Emerson, Ralph Waldo., Joel Myerson, and Len Gougeon. Emerson’s Antislavery Writings. New Haven: Yale UP, 2002.


Vegetarian criticisms will be likely to assume as their work either one of two tasks. Perhaps most obviously, vegetarian criticisms will seek to ameliorate the suffering of nonhuman animals at the hands of especially human ones by documenting as best it can the facts, complexity, intransigence, and adverse consequences of that suffering. Another possibility is that vegetarian criticisms will seek simply to document the vicissitudes in the ongoing emergence, circulation, and ramification of vegetarian identities, cultures, practices, and discourses.

Crucially, these two projects will often appear to be at odds with one another.

[ . . . ]

For me, vegetarian criticism must actually take as its point of departure the inevitability of human/nonhuman animal demarcations, an inevitability that is continuous with the concomitant inevitability of ongoing demarcations among animals, human and nonhuman. And this vegetarian criticism should take, then, as its tasks, both the perpetual troubling of these demarcations and the documentation of their transformations and effects. This would seem to me to be a critical practice that comports well with a sense of the political that has as its constitutive anxiety the simultaneous recognition of the necessity and the impossibility of eliminating violence altogether from public life, a sense of the political which provokes a seriousness the strictures of which afford not purity, but, it is to be hoped, among other things, perhaps a real measure of pleasure.

Dear Dylan,

Thank you.

(I will have to see American Beauty again.) And as you can see I hold Primo Levi in deep regard but less obviously am a big fan of Coetzee.  The new book “Summertime” is pretty good.  If there are links to more of your writings please send them along.


from — “eyes wide shut”, 2010

Sunaura Taylor

Sunaura Taylor, Sunnys In Chicken Cages (2008)

See more of here work an an extremely illuminating conversation on feminism and disability:

One of the things that frustrates me about recent cinematographic efforts currently used to advocate for animals is that they fail to fully anticipate the hyper-critical, already well practiced defenses that non-sympathizers are likely to have at their disposal in today’s age of relentless commercial and political media bombardment. Animal advocacy  films tend to employ a whole host of rhetorical devises and dramaturgical effects, such as voice-over, labeling, music, etc. These layers of argument, though well meaning, do a disservice to our movement because they provide easy and ample material for constructing the types of abstractions that allow people to keep their emotional distance from the visual and auditory portrayals of the daily happenings many viewers have likely never witnessed before.

I found a montage of such footage (for advocates to both use and improve) with as little mediation as possible. It’s seven minutes and forty-two seconds long, a time signature which encodes backward (like Hamlet’s crab) the all encompassing temporality that aptly describes the relative frequency with which the violent events portrayed in the sequence occur in today’s world:

Another piece I found, in a kind of parody of hyper-mediated rhetoric, takes this layering to a new extreme via a disorienting use of superimposition: Footage taken of over a 1939 animated version of “The Ugly Duckling.”