Tuesday, June 5, 2012

"'Mere' Meat": An Interview with Matthew Calarco

So, this isn't an interview I did with Matt (though that is a good idea), but it is a wonderful and super smart interview, putting many of the things that makes Matt work so indispensable on display.

Read it in full here. I am going to post a couple of key excerpts, but none of this is an excuse not to read all of it.

For me, veganism is one of the ways of putting the notion of indistinction into practice. Animals and human beings are deeply and profoundly indistinct in the fact that we are, all of us, potentially meat. [...]Animals are potentially meat; they (and we!) can be eaten, are eaten, and will be eaten. But what we know—we fellow meaty, embodied beings who practice this sort of veganism—what we know is that animal bodies can be much more than “mere” meat.
Modern factory farms and animal industries try to reduce animals to “mere” meat (the scare quotation marks are there because nothing is “mere” to my mind, not even processed meat), to make us think that their bodies are capable of nothing more than ending up as beef, pork, or various byproducts on our plates or on our bodies. So, yes, animals are potentially meat to be eaten—but they are potentially more than that as well. Veganism is an attempt to release animals into these additional potentials, into these other possibilities. It is an effort to release them from a world and an established order that has blocked them from constituting their own worlds, their own relations, their own becomings, joys, and passions. As such, veganism of this sort is not a hatred or disgust of meat or of embodiment, but a profound identification with and passion for meaty bodies and their wide range of potentials. Moreover, veganism of this sort is also an effort to release ourselves into other possibilities, potentials, and passions. Who knows what we might become when we try eating more thoughtfully, more respectfully? Who knows what we might become when rethink who we are and who animals are?

But it has to be noted that there have also been radical movements for change throughout the years that have sought change on other grounds and through other avenues. Many different queer struggles, feminist groups, indigenous peoples, anti-racism and decolonization struggles, alter-globalization activists, radical environmentalists, and so on, have argued that radical movements for social justice should not be about who is human and who isn’t human, about who should be granted access to the status quo economy/law/culture associated with “man” and who shouldn’t. Their goal has been to push back against and ultimately leave behind that all-too-human world and construct a world in which many worlds are possible and for beings of all sorts. Rather than playing the old game of determining human propriety and then stretching it to include or exclude this being or that being, these groups are asking us to push back against that game and eventually exit it altogether. I place my work within, alongside, and in support of those struggles. So, my work is not aimed at undercutting the humanist progressive struggles for social justice that I mentioned above; instead, it is aimed at deepening and radicalizing them in the name of those who continue to be marginalized by the established anthropocentric order.