Paper short abstract:
This paper will consider the fleshy revelations when the gap between an animal in a paddock and a piece of meat on a plate is scrutinised. It will explore the ethics and practicalities of animal and vegan agriculture, with references to Bull (Dark Mofo), zombies and fake burgers.
Paper long abstract:
The sweet, metallic scent of blood hits my nostrils contacting my brain. "Menstruation" is my first thought. "I'm hungry" is my second. These thoughts are neither expected nor welcome, as I help flense the flesh from the recently removed highland cattle skin. My brain seems to be echoing the slogan of 'sex and death' from the Museum of Old and New Art, and its promotion of fleshy performances.
This paper will explore what happens when we peer into the black box that sits between the bucolic paddock and the urbane dinner plate, revealing what is normally hidden from most western human-animal senses - the sight, smell, taste, feel, noise of non-human animal death, accompanied by an assortment of ethical arguments.
I will be addressing ideas around the ethics of eating non-human animal meat, creeping into the 'modest proposal' (Swift 1729) of eating human-animal meat and the post-apocalyptic zombies who may come for us. I will ruminate: if sovereignty is the exercise of control over mortality, who then has the sovereign right over the deaths of non-human animals?
I will be considering ideas around vegan agriculture and the 'existential threat' (Peters 2018) posed by the Impossible Burger on an Air New Zealand flight, along with Peter Singer's admission that he would eat laboratory-grown meat. From this I will be considering Frankenstein's monsters and the potential for negative unintended consequences when moving from the paddock to the Petri dish.
I won't offer irrefutable answers, but I will tender a degree of disquiet.
Flesh in an age of death