Showing posts with label book. Show all posts
Showing posts with label book. Show all posts

Friday, October 12, 2012

I am looking for a novel and a movie titled Red Sorghum by Mo Yan... #Nobel2012

Here from wiki:
Red Sorghum  pinyin: Hóng Gāoliáng is a 1987 Chinese film about a young woman's life working on a distillery for sorghum liquor. It is based on a novel by Mo Yan.
The film marked the directorial debut of internationally acclaimed filmmaker Zhang Yimou, and the acting debut of film star Gong Li. With its lush and lusty portrayal of peasant life, it immediately vaulted Zhang to the forefront of the Fifth Generation directors.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Jonathan Safran Foer’s ‘Eating Animals’

Cold Turkey | The Monthly
By. Peter Singer
Jonathan Safran Foer is a talented novelist with a gift for writing amusingly about serious issues. In Everything Is Illuminated (2003), he created a Ukrainian narrator, Alex, who describes in hilarious detail his work assisting an American Jew – named Jonathan Safran Foer – in finding the woman who hid his grandfather from the Nazis. So, when Foer publishes a non-fiction work on the subject that People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has provocatively termed “the holocaust on your plate”, we can expect something different from the usual discussion about the ethics of eating animals.

The opening section of Foer’s new book meets those expectations. No character in Eating Animals (Hamish Hamilton, 342pp; $32.95) is as funny as Alex, but Foer’s flatulent, compulsively masturbating dog, George – with her bloodhound’s nose for a menstruating woman – briefly comes close. The most memorable human in the book is the author’s grandmother, known in the family as “The Greatest Chef Who Ever Lived”, and not meant ironically either (Americans don’t do irony), although she always cooked the same dish: chicken and carrots. The grandmother provides a link to Foer’s first novel, for she spent the war on the run from the Nazis, eating whatever she could find to survive – or, not quite whatever. Near the end of the war, when she was hungry and didn’t know if she could make it one more day, a Russian farmer recognised her condition and offered her a piece of meat. It was pork, not kosher. She didn’t eat it. Foer presses her: “But, not even to save your life?” She replies, “If nothing matters, there’s nothing to save.”

Foer doesn’t share his grandmother’s religious beliefs, but he does take from her the idea that what we eat matters. At high school and university, he drifted in and out of vegetarianism, sometimes because he didn’t like the idea of hurting animals, sometimes just to be different, sometimes to meet women (which makes Foer one of the surprisingly small number of men who have noticed the obvious opportunities in the predominantly female animal-rights movement) and at one time because he was majoring in philosophy and wanted his life to conform to reason. Then he graduated, the demands of reason apparently became less pressing and he resumed eating meat. It turned out that the woman who was to become his wife had a similar history of ambivalence towards eating meat and, in the same week that they got engaged, they decided to become vegetarian. Still, this was not very consistent: “We were vegetarians who from time to time ate meat.” It was only when Foer was to become a father that he decided to resolve the question of diet one way or the other. A friend said to him, “Everything is possible again.” Foer felt he needed to decide “what story to tell” his child. To do that, he set out on the adventure that became this book.

After an opening that focuses on storytelling, the book settles down to a more familiar non-fiction style. Foer wrote to major producers of chicken, beef and pork, asking to speak to company representatives about animal welfare and environmental issues, and to visit some of their farms. He got no responses but he didn’t give up. In the middle of the night, in the company of “C”, an animal activist, he goes into a turkey shed to see what factory farming is like. He is distressed by the numbers of obviously sick and dead birds they find. We learn that the first time C went into a factory farm, she assumed it must be an exceptionally bad one, so she tried another, but found it just as bad. Still, she couldn’t believe that what she was seeing was representative of an entire industry so she went to yet another, and another. They were all the same. I know the feeling: I’ve been inside factory farms, too, and the appalling conditions in which billions of animals live are hard to believe until you’ve seen them. So I don’t think it is hyperbole when Foer describes KFC, the purchaser of nearly 1 billion chickens per year, as “arguably the company that has increased the sum total of suffering in the world more than any other in history”. He tells us that at a slaughterhouse supplying chickens to KFC – which had been recognised as a Supplier of the Year – workers were witnessed tearing the heads off live birds, spray-painting their faces and violently stomping on them, not once, but dozens of times. Similar acts of wanton cruelty have been documented repeatedly at many factory farms and slaughterhouses. The people who perform the unhealthy, unpleasant and poorly paid work involved in this stage of the supply chain are often frustrated and angry with their labour conditions and their lives. The hapless animals are the only beings below them on whom they can vent their rage.

Factory-farmed animals are routinely fed antibiotics to keep them alive and growing. According to industry figures, the quantity of antibiotics fed to farm animals in the US is six times that used by humans – and some think this is an underestimate. The indisputable result of this practice is the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. The American Medical Association, the World Health Organization and other medical and scientific bodies have called for a ban on the non-therapeutic use of antibiotics on farm animals. Agribusiness has resisted, proving itself to have the most political muscle. A lessening of the effectiveness of many of our best antibiotics is one price we pay for factory farming but, according to scientists who study the factors that lead to the emergence of zoonotic diseases (diseases that spread \from animals to humans), that price could soon be multiplied a thousand-fold. The densely crowded sheds that house tens of thousands of animals provide ideal conditions for the development of new viruses. The H1N1 flu virus, it now appears, really did originate in pigs – specifically, in pig factories in North Carolina. From there it spread across the Americas, then around the world and has now killed more than 6000 people. Far more lethal viruses may emerge at any time from factory farms.

In describing the environmental problems of factory farming, Foer waxes eloquent about shit. Farmed animals in the US produce 130 times as much “waste” as the human population, and a single factory farm can produce more shit than an entire city. Handling so much shit properly is costly, and the consequences of mishandling are many: when laid onto fields too thickly to be absorbed, it runs off into rivers, polluting, killing fish and making people sick.

When it comes to climate change, however, Foer actually underestimates the adverse environmental impact of meat production. He quotes a United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization report showing that the livestock sector is responsible for about 18% of greenhouse gas emissions. This is 40% more than the entire transport sector, including planes. Bad as this may seem, over the next 20 years, livestock will be responsible for a much larger contribution to global warming than that. The Food and Agriculture Organization calculation is based on an assessment of methane as 23 times as potent in warming the planet as carbon dioxide. That ratio applies to the global warming potential of methane over the next century. But methane breaks down more quickly than carbon dioxide, so if we take a shorter timeframe – like 20 years – methane is 72 times as potent as carbon dioxide. This shorter timeframe is the relevant one to use, because if we fail to slow global warming within the next 20 years, we are likely to pass a point of no return, beyond which we will have virtually no environmental control.

In a recent issue of World Watch, Robert Goodland and Jeff Anhang estimate that livestock and their by-products are responsible for 51% of annual, worldwide greenhouse gas emissions. Australia’s livestock emissions will do more to warm the planet over the next 20 years than all our coal-fired power stations. Foer concludes his discussion of livestock and climate change by saying “someone who regularly eats factory-farmed animal products cannot call himself an environmentalist without divorcing that word from its meaning.” But, as far as climate change is concerned, the emphasis on factory-farmed animal products is a mistake. While raising animals on pasture is much more animal-welfare friendly than confining them indoors, ruminants (cattle and sheep) produce more methane when they eat grass than when they are fed grain, because it takes more digesting to break down the cellulose in grass.

Foer does give a factory farmer the opportunity to defend what he does, but the defence essentially says that people want cheap meat and factory farming gives them what they want. That may be, but this argument ignores the costs that all of those involved, from producer to consumer, are imposing on others. The case against factory farming has been reiterated many times now, since Ruth Harrison’s 1964 Animal Machines. Yet, as long as this stinking, polluting, implacably cruel, dangerously unhealthy and utterly wasteful system of converting large quantities of grain and soy beans into small quantities of animal products continues to dominate meat and egg production, we can’t have too many books on the subject.

When Foer contacted organic farmers who raise their animals in accordance with higher animal welfare standards, he got a more positive response. He visits a pig farm and a cattle ranch, both places where the animals are able to go outdoors and behave in ways that satisfy their instincts. These producers meet standards set by the Animal Welfare Institute, which are among the strictest in the US. But Foer still finds some of the procedures permitted by these standards objectionable, such as castration without anaesthetic and hot-iron branding. And, of course, at the end of the road is always the slaughterhouse.

The only slaughterhouse Foer is able to visit is a small independent one that takes much more individual care of each animal than the larger commercial operations. Even so, Foer is troubled by the transformation of a living pig into a carcass. He can see that some people might find it acceptable to eat meat from farms that give animals decent lives but, in the end, it is not for him.

Foer doesn’t spare the fish-eaters either. He describes the crowded, stressful lives lived by farmed fish; the devastation done to the ocean and its creatures by fishing fleets that devastate fish stocks; and the waste of sea life caused by shrimp trawlers that throw back – dead – 80% to 90% of the sea animals they catch, because this ‘bycatch’ is of insufficient commercial value to bother keeping. Moreover, he reminds us, there is no humane slaughter of fish: “You never have to wonder if the fish on your plate had to suffer. It did.”

In the end, Foer’s reflections on George provide the book’s most powerful argument against eating animals. What justification do I have, he asks himself, for eating other animals, but not eating dogs? Yes, dogs are intelligent, feeling beings, but so are pigs, cows and chickens. Properly cooked, dog meat is as healthy and nutritious as any other meat. It is also said to be delicious. In fact, since many people now advocate eating locally produced food and stray dogs are killed in their thousands in most big cities every year, dogs are the ideal local meat. Foer helpfully provides a Filipino recipe for “Stewed Dog, Wedding Style” that begins, “First, kill a medium-sized dog, then burn off the fur over a hot fire.” His tongue-in-cheek suggestion helps us see what we are really doing when we eat pigs, cows and chickens.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Hymn to Isis

Click here to get the link of the original post
Hymn to Isis ( 3rd or 4th century AD) « Paulo Coelho’s Blog
For I am the first and the last

I am the venerated and the despised

I am the prostitute and the saint

I am the wife and the virgin

I am the mother and the daughter

I am the arms of my mother

I am barren and my children are many

I am the married woman and the spinster

I am the woman who gives birth and she who never procreated

I am the consolation for the pain of birth

I am the wife and the husband

And it was my man who created me

I am the mother of my father

I am the sister of my husband

And he is my rejected son

Always respect me

For I am the shameful and the magnificent one

discovered in Nag Hammadi, 1947

( one hour after I posted this text here, Methaper wrote me: “Sorry Paulo, but this original koptic text Nag Hammadi Codex NHC VI,2 is 3rd-4th century “AD”, not “BC”. It has the greek-koptic Titel βροντη “bronté” and is NOT explicitely an hymn to goddess Isis, even if some historians regard it as “not impossible”.Kindest regards Metapher”)


Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Brave New World by Huxley

Brave New World - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The Introduction (Chapters 1-6)

The novel opens in London in the "year of our Ford 632" (AD 2540 in the Gregorian Calendar). In this world, the vast majority of the population is unified under The World State, an eternally peaceful, stable society, in which goods are plentiful and everyone is happy. In this society, natural reproduction has been done away with and children are decanted and raised in Hatcheries and Conditioning Centres. Society is divided into five castes, created in these centres. The highest caste is allowed to develop naturally while it matures in its "decanting bottle". The lower castes are treated to chemical interference to arrest intelligence or physical growth. The castes are Alphas, Betas, Gammas, Deltas, and Epsilons, with each caste further split into Plus and Minus members. Each Alpha or Beta is the product of one fertilized egg developing into one fetus. Members of other castes are not unique but are instead created using the Bokanovsky process which enables a single egg to spawn (at the point of the story being told) up to 96 children and one ovary to produce hundreds, if not thousands of children.

All members of society are conditioned in childhood to hold the values that the World State idealizes. Constant consumption is the bedrock of stability for the World State. Everyone is encouraged to consume the ubiquitous drug, soma. Soma is a hallucinogen that takes users on enjoyable, hangover-free "vacations".

Recreational heterosexual sex is an integral part of society. In The World State, sex is a social activity rather than a means of reproduction and is encouraged from early childhood; the few women who can reproduce are conditioned to take birth control. The maxim "everyone belongs to everyone else" is repeated often, and the idea of a "family" is repellent. As a result, sexual competition and emotional, romantic relationships are obsolete. Marriage is considered an antisocial dirty joke and a joke about natural birth or pregnancy is smut of the most vulgar kind.

Spending time alone is considered an outrageous waste of time. Admitting to wanting to be an individual in the social group is shocking, horrifying, and embarrassing. Conditioning trains people to consume and never to enjoy being alone, so by spending an afternoon not playing "Obstacle Golf", or not in bed with a friend, one is forfeiting acceptance.

In The World State, people typically die at age 60[4] having maintained good health and youthfulness their whole life. Death isn't feared; anyone reflecting upon it is reassured by the knowledge that everyone is happy, and that society goes on. Since no one has family, they have no ties to mourn.

The conditioning system eliminates the need for professional competitiveness; people are literally bred to do their jobs and cannot desire another. There is no competition within castes; each caste member receives the same food, housing, and soma rationing as every other member of that caste. There is no desire to change one's caste.

To grow closer with members of the same class, citizens participate in mock religious services called Solidarity Services. Twelve people consume large quantities of soma and sing hymns. The ritual progresses through group hypnosis and climaxes in an orgy.

In geographic areas non-conducive to easy living and consumption, The World State allows well controlled, securely contained groups of "savages" to live.

In its first chapters, the novel describes life in the World State and introduces Lenina and Bernard. Lenina, a beta plus, is a socially accepted woman, normal for her society, while Bernard, a psychologist, is an outcast. Although an Alpha Plus, Bernard is shorter in stature than the average of his caste -- a quality shared by the lower castes, which gives him an inferiority complex. He defies social norms and despises his equals. His work with sleep-teaching has led him to realize that what others believe to be their own deeply held beliefs are merely phrases repeated to children while they sleep. Courting disaster, he is vocal about being different, once stating he dislikes soma because he'd "rather be himself, sad, than another person, happy". Bernard's differences fuel rumors that he was accidentally administered alcohol while incubated, a method used to keep Epsilons short.

Bernard is obsessed with Lenina, attributing noble qualities and poetic potentials to her which she does not have. A woman who seldom questions her own motivations, Lenina is reprimanded by her friends because she is not promiscuous enough. Both fascinated and disturbed by Bernard, she responds to Bernard's advances to dispel her reputation for being too selective and monogamous.

Bernard's only friend is Helmholtz Watson, an Alpha-Plus lecturer at the College of Emotional Engineering (Department of Writing). Helmholtz is also an outcast, but unlike Bernard, it is because he is too gifted, too handsome. Helmholtz, successful, charming, attractive, is drawn to Bernard as a confidant: he can talk to Bernard about his desire to write poetry. Bernard likes Helmholtz because, unlike anyone else, Helmholtz likes Bernard. He is also, Bernard realizes, everything Bernard will never be.

[edit] The reservation and the Savage (chapters 7-9)

Bernard, desperately wanting Lenina's attentions, tries to impress her by taking her on holiday to a Savage Reservation. The reservation, located in New Mexico, consists of a community named Malpais (which in Spanish means "bad country", one of many Spanish puns throughout the novel). From afar, Lenina thinks it will be exciting. In person, she finds the aged, toothless natives who mend their clothes rather than throw them away repugnant, and the situation is made worse when she discovers that she has left her soma tablets at the resort hotel. Bernard is fascinated, although he realizes his seduction plans have failed.

In typical tourist fashion, Bernard and Lenina watch what at first appears to be a quaint native ceremony. The village folk, whose culture resembles that of the Pueblo peoples such as the Hopi and Zuni, begin by singing, but the ritual quickly becomes a passion play where a village boy is whipped to unconsciousness.

Soon after, the couple encounters Linda, a woman formerly of The World State who has been living in Malpais since she came on a trip and became separated from her group and her date, whom she refers to as "Tomakin" but who is revealed to be Bernard's boss, Thomas. She became pregnant because she mistimed her "Malthusian Drill" and there were no facilities for an abortion. Linda gave birth to a son, John (later referred to as John the Savage) who is now eighteen.

Through conversations with Linda and John, we learn that their life has been hard. For eighteen years, they have been treated as outsiders; the natives hate Linda for sleeping with all the men of the village, as she was conditioned to do and John was mistreated and excluded for his mother's actions, not to mention the role of racism. John's one joy was that his mother had taught him to read although he only had two books: a scientific manual from his mother's job and a collection of the works of Shakespeare (a work banned in The World State). John has been denied the religious rituals of the village, although he has watched them and even has had some of his own religious experiences in the desert.

Old, weathered and tired, Linda wants to return to her familiar world in London; she is tired of a life without soma. John wants to see the "brave new world" his mother has told him so much about. Bernard wants to take them back as revenge against Thomas, who threatened to reassign Bernard to Iceland as punishment for Bernard's antisocial beliefs. Bernard arranges permission for Linda and John to leave the reservation.

[edit] The Savage visits the World State (chapters 10-18)

Upon his return to London, Bernard is confronted by Thomas, the Director of the Hatchery and Conditioning Centre who, in front of an audience of higher-caste Centre workers, denounces Bernard for his antisocial behavior and again threatens to send him to Iceland. Bernard, thinking that for the first time in his life he has the upper hand, defends himself by presenting the Director with his lost lover and unknown son, Linda and John. The humiliated Director resigns in shame.

Bernard's new pet savage makes him the toast of London. Pursued by the highest members of society, able to bed any woman he fancies, Bernard revels in attention he once scorned. Everyone who is anyone will endure Bernard to dine with the interesting, different, beautiful John. Even Lenina grows fond of the savage, while the savage falls in love with her. Bernard, intoxicated with attention, falls in love with himself.

The victory, however, is short lived. Linda, decrepit, toothless, friendless, goes on a permanent soma holiday while John, appalled by what he perceives to be an empty society, refuses to attend Bernard's parties. Society drops Bernard as swiftly as it had taken him. Bernard turns to the person he'd believed to be his one true friend, only to see Helmholtz fall into a quick, easy camaraderie with John. Bernard is left an outcast yet again as he watches the only two men he ever connected with find more of interest in each other than they ever did in him.

John and Helmholtz's island of peace is brief. John grows frustrated by a society he finds wicked and debased. He is moved by Lenina, but also loathes her sexual advances, which revolt and shame him. He is heartbroken when his mother succumbs to soma and dies in a hospital. John's grief bewilders and revolts the hospital workers, and their lack of reaction to Linda's death prompts John to try to force humanity from the workers by throwing their soma rations out a window. The ensuing riot brings the police who soma-gas the crowd. Bernard and Helmholtz arrive to help John, but only Helmholtz helps him, while Bernard stands to the side, torn between risking involvement by helping or escaping the scene.

When they wake, Bernard, Helmholtz and John are brought before Mustapha Mond, the Resident World Controller for Western Europe. Bernard and Helmholtz are told they will be sent to Iceland and the Falkland Islands, two of several island colonies reserved for exiled citizens. Helmholtz looks forward to living on the remote Falkland Islands, where he can become a serious writer but Bernard is devastated, throws a fit and has to be dragged away. Mond explains that exile to the islands is not so much a threat to force freethinkers to reform and rejoin society but a place where they may act as they please, because they will not be an influence on the population. After Bernard and Helmholtz leave the room, a philosophical argument between Mustapha and John on morals behind the godless society, which leads to the decision that John will not be sent to an island. Mustapha says that he too once risked banishment to an island because of some experiments that were deemed controversial by the state, alluding to an understanding of Bernard's, Helmholtz' and John's position as outsiders and even ceding to John's perception of the flawed society.

In the final chapters, John isolates himself from society in a lighthouse outside London where he finds his hermit life interrupted from mourning his mother by the more bitter memories of civilization. To atone, John brutally whips himself in the open, a ritual the Indians in his own village had said he wasn't capable of. His self-flagellation, caught on film and shown publicly, destroys his hermit life from without as hundreds of gawking sightseers, intrigued by John's violent behavior, fly out to watch the savage in person. Even Lenina comes to watch, crying a tear John does not see. The sight of the woman whom he both adores and blames, is too much for him; John attacks and whips her. This sight of genuine, unbridled emotion drives the crowd wild with excitement, and – handling it as they are conditioned to – they turn on each other, in a frenzy of beating and chanting that devolves into a mass orgy of soma and sex. In the morning, John, hopeless, alone and horrified by his drug use, debasement and attack on Lenina, makes one last attempt to escape civilization and atone. When thousands of gawking sightseers arrive that morning, frenzied at the prospect of seeing the savage perform again, they find John dead, hanging by the neck.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008


Does Porn Make the Man? | | AlterNet
Feminism is a human contrivance, not a natural consequence of evolution. The female sex is the consequence of evolution. The female role in sexual reproduction is well documented. The male role is also well documented at the cellular and somatic levels. It is not well understood at the social or political level.

Sexuality is lateral to reproduction. That is, mating and the motive for sexual union is rarely a desire for offspring, though it may be an excuse and a biological motive to accomplish the function of reproduction that would not be done without a reward.

Reward is the motivitation for all action and functions. Reward is the motivation to produce products in commerce. Like sexual pleasure in biological functions, money satisfies a pleasure to motivate other activities. Business functions to bring labor, capital, and invention under control to produce useful products at the lowest cost in human contributions. That necessarily works against jobs and security for all. Charity can take care of the sick, lame, and the lazy. But charity uses products of labor and distribution, the humanitarian answer to raw nature.

Truth over all is the justification for any act or fact. Truth has it that what works succeeds, and what does not work, will ultimately fail. Extinction of unsuccessful attempts in biology is the truth that drives our existence and our lives.

Human evolution has found solutions to some of our problems, but not the one that involves our relations in functional humanity. It is the need for personal worth and worthiness. We measure it in terms of our pleasure and security. Pornography is an answer to denial of our pleasure in sex acts at will when deference to personal decision is necessary. Pleasure in the sexual union, and security of our personal worth and the rights of others.

Just as nature follows some cruel procedures because of evolution gone askew, man uses sexual pleasure for undesirable purposes not in line with human rights and individual safety.

Feminism must find a way to channel the feminine mystique lateral to the masculine physique so that the purpose of sexual reproduction can be maintained optimal to survival of the species, and to the human rights and individual freedom and hormonal output.

Chanelling or war and other competition is also necessary in order to give security to the other human activities. Just as children must be protected from themselves and their own personal errors, all citizens must be protected from themselves and from each other. That requires organization and purpose without prejudice to individual rights and freedom.

Truth is God.