I’m Awake pt. 1

Back from a vanwinklian break, roused from my utter boredom towards veganism by my favorite vegan blog conqueror, Alex Melonas. Seriously, critique veganism and this feller will come running–even if it has been a virtual eternity.

From the comment section of my old “So Long VoC” post:

@Royce: Right, like many people sometimes desire sex with unconsenting partners, and lust over young children; they would certainly agree that absolutism and purity are overrated approaches.

My response though: we don’t know where these desires come from Royce they are just there — could be socialization, biological, etc. So why would we condone an ethics that doesn’t demand that we insert something like “reason” in between our desires and our actions? You are not acting autonomously anymore when you try to realize your desire for flesh *b/c* you “desire flesh.”

You see–desiring eating animal flesh is the equivalent of desiring sex with someone who hasn’t consented (I’m assuming he means rape fetishists, and not folks that simply would like to have sex with someone who happens to be uninterested outside of the fantasy) and folks with pedophilic desires. It is {improper, sick, bad, evil, unethical}—or rather to act on these desires is as such.

Not really.

Get real for a second, people can act out these desires in an infinite number of ways. The rape-fetishist (as oppossed to the rapist) can find a partner who enjoys the performance, perhaps not a popular event. The child-fetishist (as opposed to the pedophilic molester) can act out their fantasies with consenting adult partners in a multitude of ways. The carnist(to-be) can eat those delicious vegan hockey puck burgers, or they can eat dumpstered flesh, or they can never actually buy flesh, or they can purchase and consume it monthly, weekly, daily.

Desires and actions aren’t really so cut and dry. But that isn’t what Alex is driving at. He has made these terms equivalent as a rhetorical turn to attempt poking a hole in my dismissal of purity and absolutism previously. There are multiple ways to perform desires—why should I believe absolutes and purity are great (or even real)?

He’s right though on his main point: we don’t know from where desires arise. And, without getting psychoanalytic on myself, I can think of a number of reasons why I desire eating flesh: I have a strong appetite for fat compared to carbohydrates or protein, I’ve internalized images of flesh-eating as food (though I’m not generally interested in those bits of flesh), I like to be different and adventurous with my taste buds, I like to play wild and savage, meat reminds me of family dinners, meat reminds me of animals, and on and on and on.

So why would we condone an ethics that doesn’t demand that we insert something like “reason” in between our desires and our actions?

Why should we condone an ethics that does demand that we insert “reason,” or something like it, between desires and actions. I’m very interested in this something-like-it, but I don’t imagine it as a purist gatekeeper like Melonas’ “reason,” segmenting me into my desires and my actions.

You are not acting autonomously anymore when you try to realize your desire for flesh *b/c* you “desire flesh.”

Anymore? Anymore! Anymore?! When have I ever acted autonomously? When has anyone? To be is to approach the other, to interact with the other. Personal autonomy is a myth.

The turn being that I’ve become a sort of puppet (again) by eating animals. Autonomy, personal liberation, salvation from the Big Lie, is only to be found in Veganism.

I have but two options, at every moment, for my desiring flesh because I desire it (tautologies being the truest descriptor, for things just are). I can realize it, as Alex says, affirm it and fill my mouth with fleshy bits (or veggie burgers). Or I can negate it, squash it. Become again a puritanical vegan (or just stop eating flesh for an hour, a day, a month, eternity).

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5 Responses to I’m Awake pt. 1

  1. Rhys says:

    Great entry.

    • Jace says:

      After learning about the despicably cruel ways that farmers and ranchers treat animals, I cannot participate in any way, shape or form to this holocaust on living beings in America.
      The person that eats meat is not the “pedophile” but they do support the “pedophile” in their horrible activities, meaning the ranchers and farmers.
      A pedophile is a person that –
      1. Has no empathy for their victims.
      2. Does not feel that it’s victim has any rights.
      3. Believes it’s victims role in the world is to suit the pedophiles needs.
      This is also how a rancher and farmer believes. Identical. Slave owners believed the same way.
      It’s a question of morals if you support these people. Whether you believe that consuming animals is healthy or not, you cannot argue the fact that consuming animals in America is extremely unhealthy because of the many cancerous poisons that are used by farmers and ranchers that have been banned in Europe many years ago because they poison people.
      So, whether you’re interested in your health or you are ready to evolve into a morally sound, humane being, it may be time to explore a vegan lifestyle.

  2. adam says:

    Glad to see you back, Royce.

    Something I’ve become really cognizant of since the animal conference I just attended, is how ignorant people are of their own metaphysical presuppositions. There seem to be various camps of vegetarian advocates: a) liberal-humanist-extensionists (i.e. Francione and Singer), b) radical fem/marxist-critical humanists (i.e. Adams, Nibert, Hribal, Torres) , c) post-humanists (i.e Wolfe and Derrida), and d) eco-cosmologists (i.e. Buddhist and New Age).

    A) Liberals begin with assuming humans are rational agents, only individuals are morally considerable, and that morals can be formulated. To eat meat is irrational, universally immoral. B) Rad-fem/Marxists begin with assuming people are interpolated into hegemonic social structures of unjust power distribution and must develop a critical consciousness through to address the intersections of oppression to overthrow the ruling class’s ideology. This requires dismantling capitalism and patriarchy which embody “meat”. C) Post-humanists do not regard humans as autonomous rational agents like the previous two, acknowledging the dispersal of power across a network of actors. For them, eating “meat” is a disavowal of a radical responsibility to the Other’s vulnerability and is rooted in a (totalitarian) certainty of identity and meaning. D) Eco-Cosmologists begin by assuming a cosmic order of interconnectedness in which the well-being of each is bound to the well-being of Others. Eating “meat” is internalizing the harm one imposes on Others and the whole of Nature.

    I’m not sure if this is correct, but I think be more transparent about our entry-points into vegan advocacy is more faithful to the plurality of “logics” at play and gives way to more generous conversations. Plus, how are we to persuade someone with an incommensurable logic anyways. In the end, one or both sides feel a sense of self-righteousness in the face of the others “irrationality,” “ignorance,” “un-compassion”. On a side note, after reading some Thousand Plateaus and taking a classical rhetoric class, I’ve become increasingly suspect of the analogies Alex uses.

    Oh, I presented my critique of the dominant discourse on and by vegans at the critical animal studies conference. I was surprised by how well it went over. (Perhaps it had something to do with the audience mostly being scholars and academics). I started by asking “Can you imagine someone practicing veganism without vegetarianism?” I don’t know if you be interested in working with me on this, but I’ve been wanting to psychoanalyze vegan and humanist subjectivities through Zizek’s critique of ideology via Lacan. Interested? We should sometime.

  3. Alex Melonas says:

    @ Royce: The relevant comment thread began with the charge that your decision to again exploit animals was predictable because “You were always desperately reaching for a justification for exploiting animals.” Your response was: “Nah, I don’t need any justification. Sometimes I desire flesh, and I was never really into absolutism or purity.” And so my response was, as you quoted, a criticism of the claim that desires qua desires are relevant at all.

    I never assumed equivalence; although, strictly speaking, the desire to eat flesh is equivalent, empirically, to the desire to have sex with a child. In other words, the implication was that your desire for flesh is somehow morally relevant in your decision to exploit animals. But since that desire is empirically equivalent (because all desires are ultimately pre-rational, pre-reflective, by definition) to a pedophiles desire for children, you are begging the question with your next move: that somehow that desire is morally relevant. Well, why not for the pedophile, too?

    And this is where “reason” comes in; in the first instance, “reason” says: the pedophile’s desire for children isn’t relevant when he tries to justify pedophilia. And by parity of reasoning: your desire for flesh isn’t relevant when trying to justify eating animals. Or, as you say (but I’ll shift the object of the desire):

    “[The pedophile has] but two options, at every moment, for [the pedophile’s] desiring [children] because [he]desires it (tautologies being the truest descriptor, for things just are). [He] can realize it, as Alex says, affirm it and [have sex with children, or view child pornography]. Or [he] can negate it, squash it. Become again a puritanical [non-pedophile] (or just stop having sex with children for an hour, a day, a month, eternity).

    @ Adam: I’m not confused about my “metaphysical presuppositions.” I’m challenging Royce on his own terms, in the form of a simple consistency test.

  4. Royce says:

    @Alex: I’d argue that the desire to eat flesh is not like the desire to have sex with a child, but would be more equivalent to the desire to view child pornography as meat-eating and child-pornography-viewing are both products of the assumedly amoral act, and not the act itself.

    You may claim that desire is pre-rational and pre-reflective, but I’m inclined to disagree. Desire is arational; it exisists & changes before, during, and after rationalization. Did you always not desire to eat animal flesh, fluids, and ovum, or were your desires changed during rationalization of veganism?

    I’m wary of your using pedophilia as an equivalency to meat-eating: pedophilia is not an action, and the pedophile is a medical/criminal subject who can engage in a number of different actions: having sex with children, watching child pornography, watching simulated child pornography, having simulated sex with children, having sex with simulated children, and on and on. I’m also wary because unlike the animal-killer (or for that matter animal-fucker) the pedophilic child-fucker has the potential for a level of consent with the child. (Law and social mores, not reason, say that the pedophilic subject’s desires are unimportant).

    If you mean one that fucks children then really:

    “[The child-fucker has] but two options, at every moment, for [the child-fucker’s] desiring [sex with children] because [ou] desires it (tautologies being the truest descriptor, for things just are). [Ou] can realize it, as Alex says, affirm it and [have sex with children, adults that look like children, or machines that look like children]. Or [ou] can negate it, squash it. Become again a puritanical [non-child-fucker] (or just stop having sex with children for an hour, a day, a month, eternity).”

    Which is I believe closer to talking about the desires of the hunter or butcher.

    But really those are the choices for the child-fucker, the meat-eater, the child pornography viewer, the hunter, and every human being that has any desire what-so-ever. Because the point you quoted was not an ethical argument, but a phenomenological descriptor.

    But the real problem with consistency tests are that its really hard to find things that are truly equivalent on enough levels. You say pedophilia = meat-eating, and I say pedophilia ≠ meat-eating. You can’t just plug them into the same formulaes.

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