H, H and H

Hunters, Herders and Hamburgers takes its readers on an in depth investigation of the causes and reasons of domestication.  The dissection of domestication is proven difficult in this book as evidenced by the author addressing both sides of many debates on this topic as plausible.  In many instances regarding the classification and causes of domestication, Bulliet admits that some things cannot be known for certain.  After reading “Evolutionary History” I am not surprised by Bulliet’s struggles in defining such an encompassing topic.  I was impressed with his ability to divide the life span of domestication into separate stages, if not only for the convenience of organizing his thoughts.  In doing this he presented an interesting comparison on domesticity and post domesticity.
The longevity of sex and blood in our society while many other vices such as drugs and crime have abated, can be explained by the post domestic culture according to Bulliet.  As society has advanced the consumer has become shielded to the horrors of the harvesting of meat.  In post domestic society the animals we eat are no more than meat in a container.  Only the domestic culture (farmers and butchers) are troubled with the killing of animals.  Post domestic society has also been pacified in regards to experiencing and witnessing sex.  On a farm one can witness many acts of sex and even participate in sexual acts with animals.  Since post domestic society has been robbed of this firsthand experience of blood and sex, fantasy has taken its place.   I have problems with this stance as it seems to be a bit of a stretch.  I do not believe that violence against animals in order to gather meat is enough of a stimulant to completely separate domestic and post domestic culture.  I see little advantage on the battlefield of someone who has killed chickens over someone who has not.  Bulliet tries to make a point that the violence in domestic life can toughen a man for battle.  But can you truly say the killing of an livestock animal in order to feed a population prepares a man to kill another free willed human being whom is loved by others?   I do not deny the presence of blood in our society but I do not view it as an answer to the violence lost from the domestic lifestyle.  Bulliet claims that fantasy blood has to keep increasing in order to make up for the lack of real violence.  This is to say that real violence would be enough for a society who experiences it.  With the recent gun debate addressing fantasy violence in movies as a reason for recent acts of horror, I find it hard to believe fewer horrors would occur in a society completely based on real violence.   Fantasy violence also has it limits, a point at which it is so extreme that it loses credibility.
I found the differences in the thought towards animals in domestic and post domestic society very interesting.  The changes in film and cartoons like King Kong clearly show a change in attitudes towards animals.  Compassion from those who are distant from the killing and butchering of animals is growing.  If this compassion were absent as we evolved and demand grew, everything around us would become extinct.  The lion atop his food chain does not need question the killing of an endangered species.  As humans, we are atop every food chain and it is our responsibility to watch over the animals below us.  The imposition of our will upon animals is a heavily debated topic.  Things become even more muddled when if you consider humans as just another animal.  Are we bounding and taking advantage of our brothers and sisters?  Or are we truly meant to be dominant.  Regarding humans it is easy to believe that our whole is more than a sum of our parts.  Is the same true of animals?  From a personal standpoint and as exemplified by society it is clear that we think ourselves separate.  It is hard to decide whether or not civilized life is a blessing or a curse.  Are the benefits of one species worth the domination of all others?  In my opinion it seems that one species would always end up dominating.  I have read articles in the past that claim if it weren’t for the destruction of the dinosaurs, velociraptors would have ruled as humans due.  Survival of the fittest supports this.  The discussion of why were are the fittest and how we became the fittest rose more question than answers for me in this reading.  Are speech and society and product of evolution, or did we evolve more rapidly because of it.  As stated it can be proven that humans already hunted out of their class before speech was prevalent.
One last thing I found interesting about this reading was the relationship of domestication of animals and plants.  The video we watched previously clearly discussed the link between domestication of animals and plants.  Bulliet, however, sees less of a relationship and sites peoples that thrived on just the domestication of animals or just the domestication of plants.  I would agree more with this statement because it proves that just the act of domestication was significant and didn’t require the domestication of plants and animals to cause change.

One Response to “H, H and H”
  1. cmurri 5 February 2013 at 7:02 pm #

    I agree with your opinion on his initial fantasy vs. experience assertions. I cannot imagine that animal sex and slaughter properly conditions somebody to anything remotely healthy. Fantasy desensitizes as well, so can we really imply domestic society is superior?

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