I concur about this book being somewhat difficult to follow. My post reflected on it as a very abstract history lesson, linking (somewhat mindlessly) the domestication of animals to human sexuality and violence. While he does support his claims with various examples of the time periods (hence my history lesson title), he could be throwing around claims he has either assumed or completely made up. I think it’s accurate, genius, and hilarious that you pointed out his basing an entire novel off a term he coined himself. While reading it, I felt skeptical of his overgeneralized claims that the level of domesticity accounts for the sexual preferences of society. He brings up interesting and unique points, but I too had to keep re-reading until I finally got what he was trying to say. He also failed to include specific dates, such as when he described Utopia, and I would really like to know exactly where he gets his information from. I have probably never heard of some of these periods, such as the one of open bestiality, due to the taboo nature of the topic, but I do not understand how he seems to know the sexual history of society. Furthermore, he does not always define which area of the world he is referring to; did the whole world act this way? He will say things like the farmers of “blank,” but what about everywhere else? I liked the beginning of the first chapter when he referred to specific time periods readers are familiar with, such as the late 60′s (1969 to be exact), but he becomes more ambiguous and complex after those first few paragraphs. Do not think I don’t find this book interesting or insightful, I just agree that SOME of his claims are a little shady and pretty overgeneralized.
I see your point that for the time period specifically, that viewpoint on slavery would not seem adverse or uncommon. However, I still am baffled by the concept of slavery at all and just wanted to point out an example of the mentality behind slavery. That slightly makes a difference that some of the slaves were in fact criminals, that was a really good point, and I will look further into that!
I agree that there have to be a multitude of factors contributing to the replacement of blatant animal sex with an increase in fantasized sex. He makes some valid statements that support his argument well, but the extent to which he attributes the domestication of animals to social normalcies is a bit excessive. Many factors such as the type of government, the type of labor (which he somewhat mentions), the level of schooling, the extent of religious beliefs, etc. would most likely contribute largely to the sexual trends of the time period
I had not heard of Internet rule #34, but shouldn’t be surprised, I suppose. It is hard to claim that the uptick in porn and simulated violence is a direct result of the shift in human-animal relations after “domesticity,” but the correlation is intriguing. I hope we take up many of the other issues raised here tomorrow as well – your post suggests how the development of contemporary ideas (about what an animal is, what meat is, and who we are) is bound up with much older and fundamental relationships between humans and animals.
I agree with Kelly about your terrific title and funny pun…and about the curious reluctance to deal with the elephant (Bull Mastiff?) in the room. You’re also likely onto something interesting in many of your concerns about Bulliet’s theories. But much of what he presents is pretty well documented (the correlation between attitudes toward violence and the removal of livestock and slaughter / butchering from public spaces, for example). It would be worth finding some evidence to support your hunches about some of this. The topic clearly has you mobilized!
I agree that a lot of it was spewing every theory ever written at us and hoping we were able to digest it. I think he certainly dived into some interesting topics that I have never been exposed to before which in that respect made me want to keep reading. All in all I thought it covered different transitions in history well too in terms of a timeline but I think some of the bigger trends, again relating to the discussion of dogs, left out which is off putting.
Asking whether we chose to take a spot at the top of the food chain is essentially asking whether we have free will or our actions are determined, in this case by a genetic imperative. I’d argue that while individuals may have consciously made choices to kill off competitors or predators, we were going to take our place on the food chain one way or another, by virtue of our adaptability to different climates and resource sets across the world.
I realized that this is off topic from the subject of domesticates, but More’s Utopia including slaves was hardly warped for the time. Being written it in the early 1500s, slavery was still an accepted part of life. Moreover, the slaves are criminals or imported from other nations. These slaves serve more or less as an analogue for our modern appliances and automation.
On the subject at hand, I think the changing relationship with animals may have contributed to changes in society’s habits and moral views, but there are likely many other contributing factors. In my post I talk about other factors that likely contributed to the increase in sexual fantasy material than distancing ourselves from animals.
Two things right off the bat: Great title, and fantastic pun.
I totally agree with the lack of discussion about dogs. Will someone please stop ignoring the elephant in the room here? It’s a huge hit to credibility in my eyes when discussing domestication if you don’t mention the single longest domesticated animal…
I think you’re right on a lot of the points, but I don’t know about us being killers in self-defense first. To start, you’d have to define when you consider us to be defensive creatures only. 3 million years ago? 10? At a certain point you go back far enough that I think you can’t really call whatever creature it is you’re talking about a close ancestor of man, and therefore it wouldn’t really make a difference how he killed. That may be confusing when I type it out but I think it would be interesting to talk about.