SWEET SOUL BROTHER

Over the last couple of days I have found that my heart has been aching. It’s as if I were grieving. And the truth is I have been, and today I have been particularly miserable. There is no mystery to the source of my pain however. Six years ago to the day, on the prophesized day of the Mayan apocalypse (the so-called end of the world) my best friend passed on. So although the world did not actually end on 12/12/2012, for me it was particularly catastrophic. The fact is, 2012 was a horror show for me, and losing my beloved friend felt like a painful emotional climax to my torturous life at that time. I’m not going to go into the events culminating in the death again, but if you’re interested go back through my posts of 2012 which deal with my nightmarish relationship with an American woman and that hellish year.

This is about my beloved friend, Champers. I have to tell you that I continue to miss him terribly. I hope to be reunited with him one day when it is my turn to say adios to this earthly plane and I move on to wherever we go to. You see, I don’t need some church/mosque/temple religious leader to tell me whether animals have souls or not. Yes, Champers was an animal, my furry buddy; a beautiful champagne-coloured Persian. To most people he was insignificant but to me he was not only my best friend, he was family. He made my world a better place for being in it, and as I said, even 6 years on I miss him.

Now as deep as my feelings are for him I believe so were his for me, and like animals do, he loved unconditionally and asked for very little in return, only my company. Charles Darwin, in his book The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals (1872) concluded: that the variations between humans and other species in their capacity to feel and express emotion are almost non-existent. It varies between individual creatures much like it varies between individual humans. Similarly animals have personalities, and they have lives. The sheer arrogance of humans to decide which should live and which should be slaughtered and served up as meals angers me beyond words. There is NO difference between eating a dog or cow…or another fellow human. The only difference between the animals you love and the animals you eat is your perception of them and your attitude towards them. To quote that most excellent band the Smiths: meat is murderMeat is all murder!

Getting all biblical on you, consider this, damned meat-eaters:

“For the fate of the sons of men and the fate of beasts is the same. As one dies so dies the other; indeed, they all have the same breath and there is no advantage for man over beast, for all is vanity. All go to the same place. All came from the dust and all return to the dust. Who knows that the breath [spirit] of man ascends upward and the breath [spirit] of the beast descends downward to the earth?” Ecclesiastes 3:19-21.

So this post and my little rant are in memory of my beloved Champers. Rest in peace, buddy, you are remembered and loved. 12/12/2012.

The Meaty Subject Of Flesh

smiths_-_meat_is_murder1

Right, so I know have mentioned that I am a vegetarian and that I have been one for basically my entire adult life. I have to admit it was never a huge sacrifice for me. The truth is that I never was fond of meat. Even as a child I really felt ill at ease about eating it. The thought of animals being slaughtered for my meals weighed heavily on my conscience, and as someone once told me, I have a conscience the size of a planet.lisa-simpson-vegetarian

I remember the day I stopped eating flesh very clearly. I was a studying towards a teaching degree and was taking a South African history module as part of my BA requirement. The history department had organized a trip to King Shaka’s kraal. Shaka was a Zulu king and conqueror of southern Africa back in the 18th Century. While we were at his historical compound (kraal) the local people began slaughtering cattle for some upcoming feast being prepared for a visiting chief. The terror of the poor animals awaiting their death horrified me and that was the final push I needed. This decision of mine was sealed by how the song Meat is Murder by the Smiths made me feel.Morrissey_Meat_Is_Murder

Now let me tell you a little about the song:

Meat Is Murder was the second studio album by the English rock band, the Smiths. They along with the Cure, in my opinion, remain the undisputed originators and architects of what kids these days call emo. They wrote beautifully dark fairytales, storiesof ill-fated love and angst-ridden poems of the sheer enormity of being! Anyway, the album was released on 11 February 1985 by Rough Trade Records and became the band’s sole number one album in the UK charts during the band’s lifetime, staying on the chart for thirteen weeks. The album reached number 40 in Canada and number 110 in the US. In 2003, Meat Is Murder was ranked number 296 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. On the album is the best song ever written about animal rights.  Apparently even famous vegetarian Paul McCartney, who has never written a song about vegetarianism, greatly admires the Smiths’ effort. Meat Is Murder’s sinister opening, full of unsettling noises that conjure up an abattoir, moves into the terrible, beautiful lullabye-like melody that is so characteristic of their music:

“The carcass you carve with a smile, it is murder … And the turkey you festively slice, it is murder.”

VEGfinal_nodie

Look, animals are thinking, feeling beings, and we shouldn’t eat them. Anyone who thinks of themselves as an animal lover could and should not eat meat. Explaining it away or assuaging your conscience by saying that in the wild, animals kill other animals for food and It’s a part of nature is just nonsense! First of all, we are not in the wild, and secondly, we can easily live without eating meat.  The question of “if we weren’t supposed to eat meat than why do we?” is easily answered. It is because we are conditioned to eat meat by our society as well as the accompanying huge meat industry. It has f-all to do with health reasons and the most common excuse of all, “I can’t get my protein any other way”.

vegetarian

 

 

vegetarian1If nothing else think about this: meat putrefies within 4 hours after consumption and the remnants cling to the walls of the intestines for 14-21 days. The fact is, it has already started to decay when you eat it. Seen a nasty movie called Ravenous? It is about cannibalism. Enjoy your next steak!

ravenous_santa_poster_exchange_by_radioactive107-d36aqae

Anyway, so going back to the Smiths and reasons why you should listen to them. Morrisey’s words and Johnny Marr’s music interlace perfectly, like chocolate and red wine. Dark and melancholy, the lyrics are delivered by Morrisey himself. Like some vintage lounge singer he croons about murderous desires and doomed love while Marr’s “drugged-up country boy” guitar envelops him. In the 80s when the band was at the height of its popularity, there were rumours of Morrisey and Marr being involved in a sexual relationship. If this was true it was never confirmed by either the openly gay Morrisey or the reticent Marr. What is far more interesting to acknowledge is how Morrisey’s lyrics broke the stereotypes of the time. There is nothing effeminate or limp-wristed about them, in fact, they are extremely masculine.  They were not gay, they were not hetro, they were just the Smiths. The band is no longer, unfortunately, “the seething rot that had shot the Smiths down remained undisclosed by Johnny,” Morrisey wrote. Marr, feeling stifled, left in 1987 to play with the Talking heads, and that was that. Sad. Even if you are not a fan you will still probably know the song “How Soon Is Now?” from the TV series Charmed and the movie, The Craft, both about witches funnily enough. One of my favourites however, is Big Mouth Strikes Again. Read the lyrics and then take a listen to the actual song. The murderous muscularity of the love song juxtaposed with Morrisey’s crooning, lullabye vocals and Marr’s guitar rifts is something quite extraordinary. Needless to say it makes Swany’s List of Awesomeness.

smiths-the

 

Bigmouth Strikes Again

Sweetness, sweetness I was only joking

When I said I’d like to

Smash every tooth in your head

 

Sweetness, sweetness I was only joking

When I said by rights you should be

Bludgeoned in your bed

 

And now I know how Joan of Arc felt

Now I know how Joan of Arc felt

As the flames rose to her Roman nose

And her Walkman started to melt

 

Bigmouth, bigmouth

Bigmouth strikes again

And I’ve got no right to take my place

With the human race

 

And now I know how Joan of Arc felt

Now I know of Joan of Arc felt

As the flames rose to her Roman nose

And her hearing aid started to melt

 

Bigmouth, bigmouth

Bigmouth strikes again

And I’ve got no right to take my place

With the human race.

THE BIG BAD: THOUGHTS ON HALLOWEEN

goya-witches-sabbath-granger

So it’s 31 October today, Halloween, the celebration of the icky thump! The immense popularity of this American holiday as it increasingly becomes a worldwide phenomenon begs the question: why are we so fascinated by horror, by the macabre…by the icky? Is it because as a species we are aware of our own eventual demise and want to believe that there is a life after this, or is it because being close to death and decay makes us, ironically, feel more alive?

Walter Benjamin says (in his The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction (1935) :

“Mankind, which in Homer’s time was an object of contemplation for the Olympian gods, is now one for itself. Its self-alienation has reached such a degree that it can experience its own destruction as aesthetic pleasure of the first order”.

It is more than that though. In fact, it is, I believe, because we are the big bad! All the monsters and the torture horror, our delight in the ghoulish and the human grotesque are manifestations of the inherent nastiness of our species. We project the rot within us onto those monsters (“well, at least we’re not blood-sucking fiends”) or the serial killer (“oh, how terrible, I would never do something like that”). The truth is we get an erotic thrill from seeing these things: we think to ourselves, “rather them than me”. Car accident scenes are wonderful petri dishes to observe just how base we humans are. How we gawk and tut-tut and exclaim as we ogle the ruin porn strewn, bloody and steaming, across the tarmac. You have to drag us away from the wreckage and even then we continue to clamour for images and descriptions of it in our headlines and online.

still-life-a-butcher-s-counter-francisco-de-goya-y-lucientes

This nonsense that we are basically good is just that, nonsense. We are the most foul things of Creation. We are sentient meat with teeth, selfish and self-serving. We eat other creatures purely because we want to, not because we need to. We pretend that we give a damn about cruelty to animals whilst we herd them into our abattoirs and grin toothily over plates of steaming meat.  We bitch about global warming while driving our big-ass vehicles, sucking on plastic bottled water. We whine about over-population, lack of employment, diminishing resources and the rising costs of things in our air-conditioned homes with our 2.5 children. And if we are not part of that demographic then we are part of the one that sits in squatter camp shacks plotting how to get those things while working on a 5th child. We are consumers and we will consume this planet and then ourselves until there is nothing left but rubble and corpses and then not even that.

FP HAVAS 24574

So if you are looking for something scary this halloween, look no further than yourself or your fellow human. We are the bogey man! We are the big bad!

And… if you want to see something really scary look no further than one, Francisco José de Goya y Lucientes (1746-1828), and his art.

Goya looked into the abyss that is the dark side of humanity and reflected our pretensions and foibles, our vanity and stupidity, the savagery, injustice, folly, and ignorance of our allegedly civilized species and society. We use the word humane and the phrases retaining your humanity and only human as though they are admirable things. What a joke! If you wish to insult me call me human or humane. I will not be pleased.

Nowhere does Goya depict the monstrosity that is humanity more horrifically than in Saturn Devouring his Son, where he peels back our veneer to expose the dark and monstrous core that is within all of us.

goyagreat_he-goat_dtl

 

It was one of Goya’s aptly named Black Paintings, a group of 14 disturbing scenes painted directly onto the walls of his house during the final years of his life. This was after illness had left him deaf and the turn of political events in post-Revolutionary Europe had left him disillusioned with humanity and most everything else. It was not until decades after his death that the Black Paintings were cut from the walls and transferred to the Prado.

Goya_quinta_1_a

 

Now that is a scary story fitting for Halloween, all the more frightening because it is true and about us!

Bwa ha ha haaaaa!

Happy Halloween!