emotions

One of those very rare moments when I regret not living in NYC anymore

Design and Violence Debate: Debate III (MoMA):

Design and Violence is an ongoing online curatorial experiment that explores the manifestations of violence in contemporary society by pairing critical thinkers with examples of challenging design work. Contributors’ weekly essays have been published since November 2013, creating a body of opinion and a set of case studies that spark discussion and bring the ambiguous relationship between design and violence to center stage for designers and the people they serve—all of us.

Design and Violence is organized by Paola Antonelli, Senior Curator, Department of Architecture and Design, MoMA; Jamer Hunt, Director, graduate program in Transdisciplinary Design, Parsons The New School for Design; and Michelle Millar Fisher, Exhibition Coordinator, Department of Architecture and Design, MoMA.

The third debate will center upon Temple Grandin’s “serpentine ramp,” a slaughterhouse design modification that attempts stress reduction and a more humane death for animals. Professor Gary L. Francione (Distinguished Professor of Law, Rutgers, and author, Eat Like You Care: An Examination of the Morality of Eating Animals) and Nicola Twilley (editor/author of Edible Geography.com, co-founder of the Foodprint Project, and director of Studio-X NYC) will deliver debate motions, moderated by Design and Violence co-curator Paola Antonelli.

Happy birthday César Chávez

400px-Cesar_Chavez_Day

Happy birthday to the late, great César Chávez: a labor rights and environmental justice activist, and a vegan. He said,

I became a vegetarian after realizing that animals feel afraid, cold, hungry and unhappy like we do. I feel very deeply about vegetarianism and the animal kingdom. It was my dog Boycott who led me to question the right of humans to eat other sentient beings.

A sad but touching video showing the depth of animal emotions

Sorry to share something so sad, but it’s also quite beautiful. This video captures a moment when a sight-seeing boat from Captain Dave’s Dolphin and Whale Watching Safari in Dana Point, California crossed paths with what seemed to be a funeral procession: A grieving mother dolphin, slowly carrying her dead child’s body on her dorsal fin, surrounded by other dolphins.

In the video, Tony Green, one of the passengers, says,

The last thing I expected to see today was a funeral procession. And it was pretty profound for me to think about … emotions that those animals feel. And how much, really, more alike we are…

I’m so glad this video exists. If you ever doubt that animals have feelings or consciousness, remember this funeral procession. If you ever worry that humans are heartless, remember the natural empathy and grief felt by the unseen human observers in this video.

Captain Dave Anderson says, “In my nearly twenty years on the water whale watching I have never seen this behavior,” but my guess is that this is nothing new. We just have to look and learn. Just for starters, When Elephants Weep: The Emotional Lives of Animals by Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson is full of amazing stories as well as useful perspective into why we humans hear so little about anecdotal evidence of animal cognition.

Via Huffington Post.

Two New Books

Just heard about two new books y’all might be interested in:

Paleofantasy

Are you on Goodreads? My partner and I are – here’s our profile if you want to connect.

More Human News

More Human News

Existential Anxiety graphic from The Kimmela Center in ActionAh, humans. We’re always up to something.

Image: The Kimmela Center in Action

Veganism: Freedom from ethical contradictions

Well, not entirely! Read my bio for contradictions aplenty. But veganism does allow you to avoid a lot of, shall we say, moral discomfort. I remember worrying a lot more about the impacts of my actions before I went vegan – it was a source of stress for me to think I might be causing suffering (as indeed I was). Once I took the plunge and went vegan, I felt very free. That’s why I think of veganism as a liberatory process.

For instance, I used to say “I love pigs.” And yet if Facebook had existed when I was a carnist, I may have posted photos of a cute piglet on a farm without thinking very much about how he was about to be separated from his mother and would one day face a trip to the slaughterhouse, or about how this farm I’m seeing in this image isn’t at all like the horrific, factory-like farms on which the vast majority of piglets are raised. I may have posted recipes that included “free-range” pork sausage. Back then, I would not have seen the contradiction, but I know I often felt oddly “not right” about my decisions. And I felt really bad when I heard people mention the slaughterhouse, because no matter how much the small farmers we were supporting said what they were doing was humane, I had a hard time imagining what that might look like.

Today, I have a different perspective. I say, “I love pigs,” but I think it’s more important that now I know I should say, even more importantly, “I respect pigs,” because they are not objects for me to desire or want or eat or use or confine or buy or sell. They are individual persons, just like me, who desire autonomy and freedom.

So today on Facebook, the new me posted a recipe for vegan traditional pork pies, and a photo of a rescued pig at a Spanish sanctuary. No guilt.

I know that’s good for me personally. But even better, I think it’s really good for the animals I used to exploit, before I realized there was a way to opt out of the violence I was causing.

Acting on shame

I read about Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) today, for the first time – specifically, Opposite to Emotion Action. This is a psychological self-help technique wherein a person feels shame or anger, and reverses their actions to alleviate the feeling. The idea is that sometimes, one feels these negative emotions for a good reason, and the best way to relieve the emotion is to “fix” the situation that caused it in the first place. Theory goes, the emotions will change for the better, as you change your behavior. Sound familiar? More