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“Does a flat ontology not suggest that all ‘hierarchies’ are organized from a falsely omniscient vantage that contradicts its own singular-plurality of self? No less laconically, does all suffering occur ‘within’ a temporal space where its ‘your-ness’ or ‘mine-ness’ ceases to be relevant and hierarchies of torment are merely the thermometers of one’s own feverish experience? That is, in the same way that you have still read Ulysses, even if you don’t know it, you still hear din of the abattoir.”
-Dylan Ravenfox

“Flat ontologies, as I understand them, certainly seek to avoid the omniscience you describe, but the do have to contend with this fold: the ones who institute the ontologies are also actors, are also involved and they thus create a new network, neither higher than nor lower than any other.

But say more please: how do you move from hierarchies (no privilege granted to human access to beings over and above any others as an ontological ground of disclosure) to hierarchies of torment (some suffer, others enjoy, others are culpable, others aren’t)? If we grant no ontological privilege to any entity, neither to human animals nor to non-human animals nor to dust nor to bicycle pumps, can we still have an ethics? Or are ethics and ontology incommensurable? No ethical ontology. And no ontological inquiry that would ground ethics.”
-John Muse

“Yes. But the flow of the argument from “hierarchies” to “hierarchies of torment” may perhaps be misguided even before the in-parenthetical disclosures repeat their sacrificial logic. At this crucial turning point, perhaps one does stumble upon the sense that ontology must destroy itself on one side in order to re-make itself on the other, and that the ‘right morality’ tends to drown under flood of that force like a tumble weed in a hurricane. And yet, perhaps there is a way that the logic of a gift, like a vegan fruitcake, that could provide Ethics with its own grounds in that metempsychosis or anamorphosis, and thence take a leap of faith, in order to subject itself to its own peaceable form of cannibalism. More simply, perhaps the taxonomies of ontology might be raked in the fall like dead leaves, and gathered into a new artifice which sacrifices sacrifice according to a different economy, one without the blood, without the loss, without having to ‘pay’ for it (and pay one does!).

But that is all just dust.

If one discovers that there is really only one book, and that book is the book of one self, and furthermore, that it is a very bad book, then one must begin to grapple with the paradox that the judger of the book is merely the book itself.

But That’s Okay

Because vegetables are okay. The worst thing about eating a vegetable–the wheel chair of course– isn’t all that bad.


-Dylan Ravenfox

“Hey, D. I appreciate this: “If one discovers that there is really only one book, and that book is the book of one’s self, and furthermore, that it is a very bad book, then one must begin to grapple with the paradox that the judger of the book is merely the book itself.” At the end I expect something different: the book necessarily contains its own judgment, and since the book still exists, the judgment could never condemn the book itself. We’re in Borges territory here.

But still: between ethics and ontology is there a between? An order? A relation? Does doing the right thing require knowing something? Or does one do in order to make what is, without grounds?”

–John Muse

“I think that between ethics and ontology there is an “and” at the intersection where ‘is’ meets ‘ought’! There must be the former before the latter can become relevant? I would like to hear how you struggle with that twist on this mobius strip. I for one struggle with it strugglingly, feeling that the verticies of ontology, ethics, and aesthetics crash together in a climax of this: there can be no should without already is. But when describing anything, one gets the sense that one makes what is according to a preexisting should!

Is that stories begin in naturalism and end in postconstructionism?

So in response to your question about ‘rightness’ and ‘knowing’ (which I think is a great pithy question) I think that I would like to say yes, you do sort of have to know something, which in this context I can only approximate with a reference to pain.

Of course, how can people who do not know this thing be acting ‘immorally’? I don’t think they are. But I think that I might be, according to my own sense of duty(!), if I do not try to excavate the pain that I see people paying for every day. . .”

–Dylan Ravenfox

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.”