Nature is not natural and can never be naturalized — Graham Harman

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Vegan Update: "You are not a vegan"


Two commenters seem concerned with my honey eating. But one seems more concerned to paint me into a corner:

So long as we agree, Tim, that you aren't a vegan and that you have a bunch of psychic defense mechanisms (e.g., mercury, gift, Buddhist, trees, etc) to justify your choices even when those choices violate your stated principles (i.e., that you are vegan).


This is the kind of beautiful soul syndrome (BS for short) that

a) Divides people who have more in common than they have differences
b) Pushes people into defiance
c) Paints the other as evil—with Hegel, I argue that this kind of painting is itself evil
d) Boxes the left into ever greater gyrations of cynicism and disillusionment

So in short, no—I don't agree that eating some honey that Sophie Jerram gave me makes me anything.

Catriona Sandilands (queer ecology star) has some stories about the early days of ecofeminism, in which it was made clear to non-vegans that they should not be made love to, because they were evil and smelled different. Wow.

This is the kind of thing that puts veganism squarely in the same box as consumerism—if we want out of that box, we have to start acting differently. I've written too many books on this to rehearse the arguments here, but I recommend starting with my essay “Let Them Eat Romanticism” in the book Cultures of Taste / Theories of Appetite. Or chapter 2 of Ecology without Nature.

Everything is sacred (Carlos Casteneda, confronted by a fan who was outraged at his eating a burger in a seedy New Mexico joint).


4 comments:

James Watters said...

Basing the argument purely on the consumption of food, and not just the consumption of pleasure is perhaps what pushes people to extremes.

In one of my favorite studies lower ranking monkeys were more prone to cocaine addiction--because they did not get the endorphin rush of being dominant in their social structure.

http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn1810-low-rank-monkeys-more-prone-to-cocaine-addiction.html

Human social structure is more malleable, we are better or above those whom we can convince ourselves that we are--it is to some extent after basic needs are met, self-fulfilling.

From this perspective if one chooses not to eat honey out of respect for the bees, but consumes the costly pleasure of looking down on another complex and valuable person in society have they really adopted a better diet?

Perhaps our most dangerous lust is for superiority by any means--so as to 'feel' the new reality of superiority through a neurochemical transaction--and our diet of superiority has more impact on the world than where we draw our line on lower order nutrients.

marina_z said...

A phenomenal comment.

Jason Nicholas said...

@James Watters: As much rationale as your comment does possess, a few simple facts do (and always will) shine through the psycho-analytic fluff. The *choice* to consume a product that came from a sentient being, capable of feeling emotion, pain, etc, is and always will be a selfish one; capable of not only harming (or killing in most cases) the being in which the consumable came from, but also the person consuming it- as well as the environment. Further I believe that as a culture, our "dangerous lust for superiority" carries more negative consequence in the corner of those who believe that humans have an inherent superiority over animals and that they may be commodified at will, rather than those (of whom I interpret) you are speaking of who live a vegan lifestyle and as you express "look down on another valuable person in society". Though it can be said that "looking down on another" is not a healthy social practice, nor would it be proactive for a vegan trying to spread his/her agenda, I feel that there is far more harm to the planet being done by those who feel superiority over weaker sentient planetary beings (animals). Perhaps its only in my head, but I truly believe that some of this mind-state and psychology may bleed into other facets of said person's life. I'm no credited scientist or doctor, but this article was a glimmer of evidence to back my previous statement http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0010847 Anyhow, I realize this article is very dated, the thread likely closed, but what the heck, it caught my attention and I felt like speaking up. Don't know how I ended up here anyway-- I was Google-ing to try to find out of Gregory Bateson was a vegetarian or vegan... lol. That's the internet for ya. I could likely go on, but there is the slight chance this may not fall upon any readers' eyes, lol. Take care all! Much love!

Jason Nicholas said...

@James Watters: As much rationale as your comment does possess, a few simple facts do (and always will) shine through the psycho-analytic fluff. The *choice* to consume a product that came from a sentient being, capable of feeling emotion, pain, etc, is and always will be a selfish one; capable of not only harming (or killing in most cases) the being in which the consumable came from, but also the person consuming it- as well as the environment. Further I believe that as a culture, our "dangerous lust for superiority" carries more negative consequence in the corner of those who believe that humans have an inherent superiority over animals and that they may be commodified at will, rather than those (of whom I interpret) you are speaking of who live a vegan lifestyle and as you express "look down on another valuable person in society". Though it can be said that "looking down on another" is not a healthy social practice, nor would it be proactive for a vegan trying to spread his/her agenda, I feel that there is far more harm to the planet being done by those who feel superiority over weaker sentient planetary beings (animals). Perhaps its only in my head, but I truly believe that some of this mind-state and psychology may bleed into other facets of said person's life. I'm no credited scientist or doctor, but this article was a glimmer of evidence to back my previous statement http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0010847 Anyhow, I realize this article is very dated, the thread likely closed, but what the heck, it caught my attention and I felt like speaking up. Don't know how I ended up here anyway-- I was Google-ing to try to find out of Gregory Bateson was a vegetarian or vegan... lol. That's the internet for ya. I could likely go on, but there is the slight chance this may not fall upon any readers' eyes, lol. Take care all! Much love!