Divided

15 September 2010 at 2:39 (Uncategorized)

So, the other day I was thinking about ‘Mother and Child, Divided’, a piece by Damien Hirst (pictured below). I was thinking how unacceptable it is to take away two lives – to kill two sentient creatures to create some art. I see this piece mainly as a form of entertainment; people enjoy being provoked by it, or there’s some idle curiosity which is being fulfilled, or perhaps it’s trying to communicate a clever idea that I’ve missed. Whatever the case, I question whether any animals needed to be harmed. To me, the suffering and loss caused by this killing is contemptible especially if the motivation is merely some derivation of entertainment. In my mind it’s slightly better than dog/cock/bull fighting only because I assume that these cows were killed “humanely”.

But this got me thinking – if there’s no nutritional requirement for people to eat animals then most people frequently indulge in similar behaviour. The enjoyment of eating meat is just another way to entertain your senses. I think it’s such a poor justification and I feel the same contempt.

Now I’m not sure what to think regarding ‘Mother and Child, Divided’ – if I wasn’t aware of the piece I’d feel less steadfast to this vegetarian thinking. It tastes a little like hypocrisy.

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1 Comment

  1. selfish said,

    I find it hard to take this stance seriously, when there is human suffering ignored in the production of the computer you used to write it with, the energy used to power it all, and the clothes you wear (unless you’ve only bought ethically produced everything, and avoided sweatshop labour). I don’t see how one can put so much energy into worrying about avoiding the suffering of another species, while supporting the suffering of one’s own.

    I don’t think there’s anything wrong with a speciesist viewpoint. Some animals are worth more than others – namely, ourselves. If I were a cow, I’d be arguing for cow’s rights, but I’m not. Sure, treating animals without cruelty is an admirable aim – but I don’t see any reason to not breed and eat useful creatures. What would you prefer – the extinction of cows and chickens? They’ve been bred into animals which would basically cease to exist outside a farm.

    Without some spiritual reason not to eat these things (i.e. the almighty god commands me to not interfere with their lives) then what’s wrong with raising animals which would not exist without our millennia (or however long we’ve been farming for) – it’s a trade off. We bring them to life in the first place, then we eat them when they’re finished. They wouldn’t be here if we didn’t arrange for them to be born, feed them, protect them, keep them hygienic and healthy – and plan to eat them when they’re at the peak of deliciousness.

    Note that this is also an argument against factory farming, and for treating animals with care and compassion (well, as much compassion as there can be when you plan to kill and eat something. It’s also the beginnings of an argument for keeping your own livestock, rather than relying on a third party to do so for you – but in the modern age of specialisation and centralisation, it’s a bit hard for everyone to be their own farmer.

    And anyway, what is life for, if not to entertain your senses? To paraphrase Oscar Wilde, the only way to soothe the body is with the soul, and the only way to soothe the soul is with the body. I’ll find the actual quote and get back to you on that one.

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