Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Handle with Care

Today in class we discussed an essay, one that I thought was as dense as a cake with double the vegetable oil. I use this comparison from personal experience: I accidentally did this with some cupcakes once; the cupcakes were so dense that their own weight caused them to topple over like ancient columns. I spent bits of my afternoon and evening trying to dissect what exactly this author was trying to get across. I've never been one for philosophy. Honestly the intro philosophy course I took during my freshman year was the worst grade of my academic career.

One chalked up blackboard later, I had a decent handle on the philosophy of Revel and Dogen, with erudite versus popular sources of gastronomic art and self. With Revel's philosophies, a superimposed hierarchy is created, one with disjunct between the self and other; whereas with Dogen's philosophies, there is an authentic presence and awareness of where your food comes from. Who made it? How did it grow? What was its life like? Essentially, with Dogen, one should establish a personal relationship with food; rather than put it into hierarchy, one should note food's impermanence within the world. The pear will only be ripe so long before it's not fit to eat.

One of the tenants of Greg's farm was a sweet big pig named Puddles. Puddles the pig, cute huh? Puddles, the name itself, relates a certain imposed personhood to this pig. Rather than pig 10123 as she would be known in the slaughterhouse, or that one porkchop you ate a few days ago, Greg and his family care for the pig and the pig cares for the farm, working as a compost, meat provider, and fertilizer. The pig isn't just a commodity to Greg's farm, but a relational presence.

Some people are all for saving the whales, preventing polar bears from going extinct, and helping preserve the natural landscape. However, there is a huge difference in caring about and caring for those poor endangered polar bears. Generally, people who care about polar bears could talk up a storm about how it is the responsibility of humans to save them or how you should buy that soap that donates to their cause. But, if one were to care for the plight of the polar bears, they would be risking their lives up north to try to save them. In short, caring for something is an action and direct relation with it, while caring about something is more of a political stance. Caring about something can lead into directly caring for something.

I care for the plants I planted a few weeks ago, perhaps merely for my joy in seeing them grow. I'm a vegetarian, but I am not a vegetarian simply because I care about some animals.I care for the earth, I care for myself and my body. Perhaps that's selfish? It's hard comprehending the moral implications of my diet. What do you think?

1 comment:

  1. I like the way you use the ideas of caring about and caring for here. I think whether or not caring for the earth, yourself and your body is selfish depends upon how you conceive of your "self."