December 4, 2010
On more than one occasion, I have agreed with other people, that it is unpleasant to witness couples who make out with each other in public. Not a quick peck or snuzz, but a wet and sloppy, ongoing and noisemaking, swap of spit. Usually the exhibitionists are teenagers, but it is not unusual to catch adults in this action. There is something aggravating about the unsightliness, even offensive, and if I can’t exactly pinpoint why it is, I have at least confirmed that other people agree on a common distaste for public tonsil-hockey, whether a friend over drinks, or squib grandmaster and Village Voice columnist Michael Musto. Granted, when teenagers on the 7 train are doing it, maybe they have strict old-fashioned, first-generation parents, who abide by the rules of the old country, and the horny kids have nowhere else to go to be able to get to first base.
But however rank it may be when couples make out in public, it is not as bad as when couples post comments on each others’ Facebook page. This is a form of digital PDA that seems all at once disingenuous, spaced-out, self-conscious, and just weird. The Wall is not the forum for couples to dialogue. So when they do, it is apparent and unfortunate they don’t have much time to talk.
In class last week, I held in my hand a $30,000 copy of Euclid’s Elements, in Latin, from the early 1600s. It was bound in vellum, which is crafted from the hide of a mammal. I wondered if I should have issue with this, since I don’t eat meat, so why should I want a book made of meat. But I do wear a leather jacket and eat fish. I use deodorant with yellow 5 in it, which is made from meat byproduct (also in yummy Starbursts), and according to a rich brief piece in the New York Post a couple weeks ago, based on a 2007 book, none of that poor li’l piggy goes to waste:
I should have felt more at ease if the volume of Euclid were bound in the skin of a fish, but then the book would have stank, since only one day after cooking catfish at home and tossing the scraps in the garbage, our trashcan reeked like a clamshack deepfryer. But it was good eatin’s.
As a guy who doesn’t eat mammals, but reads books ardently, the question might pose, of whether it is more ethical to kill an animal to feed people in a post-industrial, mass-produced and super-consuming society, or to kill an animal to craft a book in a hyper-digitized, worriedly-literate and low-attention span society. Idiots sometimes ask vegetarians stuff like, “What if it was like the apocalypse, and you had to kill a deer in order to not starve to death?” In that event, if the deer was reasonably not radioactive, I’d kill it and eat it, sure, and being the apocalypse, I’d say hi to God. We might not be so far from such end times, as suggested by overpriced and under-imagined fantasies of world cuisine open to great foodie fanfare, like Eataly.
I might kill a cow to make a book.