June 02, 2010

So much for the pyramids

Thoreau was unimpressed.

I'm not sure if I'd enjoy hanging out with Henry David Thoreau, given the chance. He seems to have been a bit of a crank. But I love reading him. It is an under appreciated fact that many of the classics of American literature are not only good reading but are laugh out loud funny.

Lately, I've been re-reading Walden, a work I revisit every few years. It really is a rich and funny book and some of his barbs strike home.

Here's one that speaks to my condition on the farm these days:

I am wont to think that men are not so much the keepers of herds as herds are the keepers of men; the former are so much the freer.

That sounds like a man who knows a thing or two about goats.

The book is also full or random zingers, like this one on the wonders of ancient Egypt:

As for the Pyramids, there is nothing to wonder at in them so much as the fact that so many men could be found degraded enough to spend their lives constructing a tomb for some ambitious booby, whom it would have been wiser and manlier to have drowned in the Nile, and then given his body to the dogs.

(For the record, El Cabrero thinks pyramids are kind of cool.)

Don't be too surprised if old Henry shows up here again soon. There are plenty of nuggets where those came from.

WALL STREET "WISDOM." Here's economist Dean Baker's latest rant about Wall Street and the deficit hawks. I think it's a pretty good one.

THE POLITICS OF DISGUST are discussed here.

Q & A. Here's the latest edition of the Rev. Jim Lewis' Notes from Under the Fig Tree. Those who have been following his static with the Episcopal diocese of WV may want to check it out.

SENIOR BLUES. Three in 10 older West Virginians have trouble making ends meet.

MY HOLY LAND. Regular readers of this blog will find this familiar, but here's an article I wrote for the Gazette about my Okinawa trip. Some of it got cut but you'll have that.


1 comment:

hollowdweller said...

There's a section in "Living the Good Life" by Helen and Scott Nearing, where they ridicule the folly of raising animals.

Lets see if I can post it:

Chapter 2 - Our Design for Living

. . . 7. We will keep no animals. Almost without exception, Vermont farmers have animals, often in considerable variety. We do not eat animals, or their products, and do not exploit them. We thus escape the servitude and dependence which tie both farmer and animal together. The old proverb "No man is free who has servant" could well read "No man is free who has an animal."

Animal husbandry on a New England farm involves building and maintaining not only sheds but barns and the necessary fences, and also the cutting or buying of hay. Into this enterprise goes a large slice of the farmer's time. Farm draft animals work occasionally but eat regularly. Many of them eat more than they produce and thus are involuntary parasites. All animals stray at times, even with the best of fences, and like all runaway slaves, must be followed and brought back to servitude. The owners of horses, cattle, pigs and chickens wait on them regularly, as agrarian chamber maids, feeding, tending them and cleaning up after them. Bernard Shaw has said: "Millions of men, from the shepherd to the butcher, become mere valets of animals while the animals live, and their executioners afterwards."

We believe that all life is to be respected - non-human as well as human. Therefore, for sport we neither hunt nor fish, nor do we feed on animals. Furthermore, we prefer, in our respect for life, not to enslave or exploit our fellow creatures. Widespread and unwarranted exploitation of domestic animals includes robbing them of their milk or their eggs as well as harnessing them to labor for man. Domestic animals, whether cows, horses, goats, chickens, dogs or cats are slaves. Humans have the power of life or death over them. Men buy them, own them, sell them, work them, abuse and torture them and have no compunctions against killing and eating them. They compel animals to serve them in multitudinous ways. If the animals resist, rebel or grow old, they are sent to the butcher or else are shot out of hand.

Cats and dogs live subservient lives under the table tops of humans. Domestic pets kill and drive away wild creatures, whose independent, self-respecting lives seem far more admirable than those of docile dish-fed retainers. We enjoy the wild creatures, and on the whole think they are more lithe, beautiful and healthy than the run of cats and dogs, although some of out best friends in Vermont have been canine and feline neighbours.

While remaining friends with all kinds of animals, we preferred to be free from dependents and dependence. Many a farmer, grown accustomed to animal-tending chores and to raising food for animals instead of for himself, could thus find his worktime cut in half.