Coffee Log, Day 256

Hi.

Coffee: Sumatra Medium-Dark, Trader Joe’s Brand

A real looker: thick lips, cute smile, curves in all the right places. Careless to the mud, down to earth, but pride in the eyes from knowing you’ve got something special.

I’m talking, of course, about a mulefoot pig.

I read this article about the mulefoots, how they’re drawing toward extinction. There are 200 or so of them left. Used to be a feed pig, popular in America, but they’re big, wild suckers who won’t let you keep them in little cages, and so with the advent of industrial farming nobody raises them anymore.

The article went on to talk about how there’s this midwestern movement to bring the pigs back. Like everything in the world, they need money to do it, and they get the money by selling mulefoot meat at a premium. So far, the initiative’s working and the population’s growing.

This gave me a headache. Not for the news itself, but for the ethical dilemma. I went vegetarian at the beginning of this year. I feel good, I feel healthy, and most of all I feel honest not eating animals I know I’d struggle to kill. I’m not one to speak my opinions too far onto others, but of course I think what I’m doing is generally right.

But then you have the mulefoots. Or whatever other livestock animal you’d like to insert. It’s a hard world for non-human life. Our efforts to thrive have cut the line on many species. There’s surely no way to save everything while still looking out for the interests of people. That said, when there’s this easy opportunity to save a few hundred pigs – a route to mutual benefit – only the catch is you take a knife to the hog’s throat and cut it into bacon, what’s the ethical move?

I honestly don’t know.

Novel Count: 5,177 words

Currently Reading: Autumn, Ali Smith; Cherry, Nico Walker

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“I am fond of pigs. Dogs look up to us. Cats look down on us. Pigs treat us as equals.” – Winston S. Churchill

Mulefoot Pig article linked HERE

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Coffee Log, Day 191

Hi.

Coffee: Sumatra Medium-Dark Roast, Trader Joe’s

Tortilla-chip philosophy, Fiesta Mexicana had potato burritos and a family talking animal rights. Carried the conversation home like little styrofoam boxes.

In my major, Ethics and Existentialism were my least favorite branches of philosophy. They were fuzzy old photos, no hard glamour to them. Well, the world at 28 is blurry. I don’t know right and wrong like I used to, hardly know that water freezes or the oxygen in the air. These days, Ethics and Existentialism are about the only branches of philosophy I think about.

What does it mean to be a ‘man?’ That one’s got me. 2018 means #metoo marches and non-binary parades, as well it should. So maybe what I’m asking is: what does it mean to be ‘this man?’ I was raised to dress in jeans, distrust gay men, and dominate women, though no voices in my life ever acknowledged it directly. Instead, it was the way they pushed away the Barbies and gave me toy guns; the permissive laughs I got when I kissed that girl – unwanted – in the third grade play; or the way I told my parents at four I’d been experimenting with a boy below our bedsheets and they said it was natural to be curious, but with sodden implications that the curiosity must decay like garden-spider corpses.

So here I am: a straight, white, southern man. If I ever could have been anything else, those doors were long ago closed. But what does that mean? Scratch enough layers and no-one’s wearing clothes like ‘sexual orientation,’ ‘skin-tone,’ ‘socialized gender.’ There are bits of my experience that I could only have by existing in this body but those experiences belong to an identity connected to but independent of them. So what is that identity?

I’ve read the Iliad three times: once in high school, twice in college. By the third, I was there with the sand on Achilles’s beach. He cries for power. His mother answers. A wonderful suit of armor; a shield to protect him; the curse that he will die young but the promise to live forever in immortal memory. Meanwhile, miles up the coast, Hector kisses hearthfire into his son’s forehead before marching to his own, simpler death. The two heroes wage war into the Trojan soil. Best I can figure, my manhood is in that soil: scuffed between a furious drive for something greater and a humble need for love.

Or maybe I’m just a lump of blood and muscle that’s stressing over nothing. Oh well. Either way, the burritos were damn good.

Currently Reading: Nothing! Still poking through some books, will settle soon.

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“Let me not then die ingloriously and without a struggle, but let me first do some great thing that shall be told among men hereafter.” – Homer, The Illiad
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Coffee Log, Day 153

Hi.

Coffee: India Extra Bold Roast, Cafe Crema

A few Japanese 7-yr-olds told me you only put soy sauce on rice when you’re trying to get the dogs to eat it. I liked that: maybe I’m a dog.

Since I stopped eating animals I’ve wondered more about being ‘human.’ Unlike the wealthy white kids who wear Salvation Army and dumpster dive because they know they’ll never depend on anything, I see the difference between us and animals clearly. We’ve got a spark, they’ve got something simpler. No wildcat would choose not to eat me. The beautiful, structured violence of a predator.

The voice is exhausting. I think maybe that’s being human: a constant, boring fatigue. Not the tired you get swinging muscles, but the exhaustion of constant thought. We buy our free choice by chaining our mind up to moral dilemma. Humanity is dull like paint drying. Stick with it, though, and you build the best blue house.

But today I’ll take a break. Woof.

Currently Reading: LaRose, Louise Erdrich

Support Relief for Family Suffering at the BorderRAICES DONATION CAMPAIGN

“Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend. Inside of a dog it’s too dark to read.” – Groucho Marx

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Coffee Log, Day 88

Hi.

Coffee: Organic Honduran, Trader Joe’s brand

I did some research: traditional beer brewing often uses fish bladders in the filtering process. I quickly scanned my favorites to see if they participate in the practice and thankfully the best of the bunch – Guinness, Negra Modelo, etc – were all clear. For those interested, here’s a handy website to see if you’re drinking animals to get drunk: barnivore.com.

We all have our castles. They’re not physical, rather mental, rather dreamed up delusions that the world was always perfect, always an act of divinity (labeled science, god, what have you), came out of the primordial soup with straight plastic lines and nutritional labels. Go back a few hundred years and people knew a lot less but what they did know was immediate and vital. I couldn’t sew a patch in my jeans if you asked me; a few centuries back, my family made their clothes from scratch.

That lack of transparency means we’re all drinking fish bladders without realizing it. We take for granted that every act we participate in is bloodless, safe, pure. When we shop or sit down at the cafe we’re above the muck and grime, blind to prejudice, removed from human (and animal) suffering. But the trick is that we’re doing all the same things we’ve been doing since DNA struggled to produce claws and fangs, only we’ve automated the process so well as to give ourselves the illusion of having no agency over it.

I’m trying to be better. I’ll buy vegan beer. I’ll look at the corporate missives when I buy clothes, try to avoid the sweat shops. I gave up shrimp a long time ago because so much of the stuff was drawn from dark waters on slave ships in Southeast Asia. But try as I might, I’m going to stumble into horror and atrocity with big, ignorant smiles time and time again.

It’s hard to be good and modern at the same time.

Currently Reading:
Americanah, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

The Way of Kings, Brandon Sanderson

“Now I can look at you in peace; I don’t eat you any more.” – Franz Kafka

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