The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

Archive for July 30th, 2010

torment of the Brachyura

leave a comment »

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Your humble narrator is a carnivore, as mentioned in the past, despite a somewhat advanced state of understanding of the realities of feedlot and abattoir.

Human beings are ultimately predatory apes, and the greasy taste of flesh is prized by most. Displays of comestible items are commonly observed amongst the human hives, but when one is moving through a neighborhood whose residents enjoy exotic fare- like Manhattan’s famous Chinatown in this case – the careful observer might be rewarded with visions of the fanciful or alien.

from wikipedia

Homo Necans: the Anthropology of Ancient Greek Sacrificial Ritual and Myth is a book on ancient Greek religion and mythology by Walter Burkert, which won the Weaver Award for Scholarly Literature, awarded by the Ingersoll Foundation, in 1992. The book’s core thesis is that when paleolithic man became a hunter, in spite of the generally omnivorous orientation of the great apes, lack of a predator instinct was made up for by turning patterns of intra-species aggression against the prey: Homo necans means “man the killer”. Thus, the animal hunted by ancient man automatically acquired aspects of an equal, as if it were of one of the hunter’s relations. In a first attempt at applying ethology to religious history, Burkert confronts the power and effect of tradition in uncovering traces of ancient hunting rituals so motivated in historical animal sacrifice and human sacrifice (by his thesis unified as deriving from the same fundamental principle) in specific historical Greek rituals with relevance to human religious behaviour in general. Burkert admitted that a decisive impulse for the thesis of Homo Necans derived from Konrad Lorenz’ On Aggression (1963).

The thesis set out in the first chapter, “Sacrifice, hunting and funerary rituals”, is an extension of the hunting hypothesis, which states that hunting as a means of obtaining food was a dominant influence on human evolution and cultural development (as opposed to gathering vegetation or scavenging). The guilt incurred in the violence of the hunt was reflected in sacred crimes, which through rituals of cleansing and expiation served to unify communities.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A carnivorous glutton your humble narrator may be, but empathy and indignation arose in him when confronted with this display.

Sure that this is a time tested and necessary technique intended to display the freshness and nutritional validity of this cast of crustaceans, demanded by clientele, a certain bile nevertheless rises. Western prejudice no doubt colors my point of view, as the same overt revulsion does not rise at the sight of a counter of European butchers meat.

Paradoxical, but to my reasoning, there isn’t a display of crucified and disemboweled cows overhanging the refrigerated section at the supermarket. Vegan friends would disagree, but I guess it depends on your point of view, and “Krabs ain’t Kosher” either.

from wikipedia

Crabs make up 20% of all marine crustaceans caught, farmed, and consumed worldwide, amounting to 1½ million tonnes annually. One species accounts for one fifth of that total: Portunus trituberculatus. Other commercially important taxa include Portunus pelagicus, several species in the genus Chionoecetes, the blue crab (Callinectes sapidus), Charybdis spp., Cancer pagurus, the Dungeness crab (Metacarcinus magister) and Scylla serrata, each of which yields more than 20,000 tonnes annually.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It really was just the simple fact that the Cast of Crabs in the bushel bucket beneath this macabre marquee were subtly scuttling which disturbed me and drew this comment.

I am also aware, of course, that given the chance- those in the basket would consume those above them with abandon.

from wikipedia

The problem of animal suffering, and animal consciousness in general, arises primarily because animals have no language, leading scientists to argue that it is impossible to know when an animal is suffering. This situation may change as increasing numbers of chimps are taught sign language, although skeptics question whether their use of it portrays real understanding. Singer writes that, following the argument that language is needed to communicate pain, it would often be impossible to know when humans are in pain. All we can do is observe pain behavior, he writes, and make a calculated guess based on it. As Ludwig Wittgenstein argued, if someone is screaming, clutching a part of their body, moaning quietly, or apparently unable to function, especially when followed by an event that we believe would cause pain in ourselves, that is in large measure what it means to be in pain.[98] Singer argues that there is no reason to suppose animal pain behavior would have a different meaning.

Written by Mitch Waxman

July 30, 2010 at 7:57 am

%d bloggers like this: