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Posted by on Nov 26, 2009 in Arts & Entertainment, Media, Politics, Society | 5 comments

I’m going rogue! (And make war on fish)

I’d like to think I am one of very, very few customers who bought both Going Rogue and Eating Animals as part of the same order from Amazon.

What could be more inconsistent than buying an anti-factory farming polemic and the autobiography of a woman who asserts that every animal has place — right next to your mashed potatoes? What will Amazon now recommend for me? Books on cognitive dissonance?

Anyhow, some initial thoughts on both books:

I don’t expect politicians to write fair and balanced books. But there is a difference between an interesting book and a set self-congratulatory of talking points, like Hillary’s auto-bio. I don’t mind a partisan book, as long as it makes a good argument.

So what have I found in the first sixty pages of Palin’s memoir? So far, it’s mostly about the peculiarities of Alaska from the perspective of the Lower 48. That’s reasonably interesting. In terms of arguments, there isn’t much yet. But there is plenty of self-congratulation. That’s annoying.

When it comes to Eating Animals, I have to begin with a disclosure: I was good friends with the author in high school and college, although I’ve barely seen him since. Early on, Foer admits that he knew what he expected to find when he started researching the meat industry. It would be ugly. So let me respond with my own confession: I know what I expected to think of an entire book that dwells on the moral implications of eating animals. It will be fatuous. It will lecture the reader on animal suffering while downplaying human tragedy.

So far, I feel sort of vindicated. On page 33, Foer tells us,

As I came to see, war is precisely the right word to describe our relationship to fish–it captures the technologies and techniques brought to bear against them, and the spirit of domination.

Foer has an extraordinary sense of humor, but I don’t sense any of it here. Best I can tell, he’s dead serious. I hope that later in the book he asks whether a morally serious person can talk about a war on fish without trivializing actual wars, like the ones in Darfur, Afghanistan and Iraq.

I confess, I’m not too optimistic. On page 35, we learn that “Technologies of war have literally and systematically been applied to fishing.” So? A Pentagon research agency basically invented the internet. Will high-minded liberals now boycott the blogosphere?

Cross-posted at Conventional Folly

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