Tuesday, January 23, 2007

could you repeat that?

Recurring themes in the January 22 issue. On properly and improperly slaughtered animals, note:

Phil worked as a handyman, and every year he sold about thirty or forty goats at local markets, including some run by Muslims. (Occasionally, Muslims declined to buy the goats, considering them insufficiently halal.) He refused to sell animals to people who he thought would slaughter them inhumanely. (53)

That's Raffi Khatchadourian, "A Reporter at Large, Azzam the American, The making of an Al Qaeda homegrown."

Thomas Barlow, a future bishop of Lincoln, noted that God had specifically proscribed blood eating among the Hebrews, whose laws of kashruth mandated the slaughtering and handling of food animals so as to drain them, as far as possible, of residual blood. Genesis 9:4 said, “Flesh with the life thereof, which is the Blood thereof, shall ye not eat,” and Leviticus 17:10 underlined the prohibition: “Whatsoever man there be of the house of Israel, or of the strangers that sojourn among you, that eateth any manner of blood; I will even set my face against that soul that eateth blood, and will cut him off from among his people.” Barlow pointed out that the New Testament had never rescinded this law, despite the relief from various other Jewish dietary prohibitions offered by both Jesus and Paul; furthermore, the ban on eating blood and the flesh of strangled animals was repeated in the Acts of the Apostles. God, Barlow asserted, “would not have Men eat the life and the soul of Beasts, a thing barbarous and unnaturall.” No meat was unclean in itself, but that bit of black pudding in the Great British Breakfast was a violation of both Jewish law and the Christian dispensation. (80)

And that's Steven Shapin, in "Books, Vegetable Love, The history of vegetarianism," a review of The Bloodless Revolution by Tristram Stuart.

Is this a theme? Unless, of course, the theme is one of those, you know, critiques of modernity, again, Shapin,

A major source of the sympathy with animal suffering that developed so strongly from the Enlightenment may well be the pattern of urbanization that removed so many of us from daily experience of how our food is produced. (84)

Bearing, perhaps on the Jan 8 installment of the running joke Kundera contributes. I mean that in a good way. It's a joke I find funny; the punchline,

Today, the only modernism worthy of its name is antimodern modernism. (35)

Kolbert on Lovins makes an interesting contribution to the problems/solutions of modernity, too. Of course sometimes that joke isn't so funny, as in the case of Mr. Spinoza Ray Prozak, "We're people who don't like modern society. We think it's a path to death, doom, destruction, horror" etc. In Khatchadourian's investigation.

The other odd thing I noticed that recurred in the Jan 22 issue was the first person in Friend's TV review,

(That's how I do it, but then I'm a seasoned professional.) (86)

And again, Khatchadourian,

I played the tape. The Casio's drum machine, set to a racing speed, is the foundation for a repetitive cycle of notes that in turn serve as a base for samples of death metal, classical music, and bleating goats. (55)

Yes, goats. Also again. As for the first person, well, I don't want to say its gratuitous, but its a choice both writers made and it doesn't have to be that way. Khatchadourian has an amazing style, though, like he's a very dry mystery writer of some kind. Check out these informative nuggets,

Death metal is a sever offshoot of heavy metal, a reaction to the superficiality of eighties popular culture. (53)

There was also a videotape of a movie, "Attack of the Killer Tomatoes." (60)

The whole death metal thing becomes significant, the film, however, is never mentioned again. Is it a red herring . . . ? Here, he's included an extended quote from a source. I like that he's not only included such a long quote, but he's made sure to include Ryan's bizarre metaphor,

"My mom closed and locked the door. It was like the bullfights in Spain - like one of those bulls charged right through the door, and it collapsed right in front of him. And he just came right through and grabbed my mom and I don't remember what happened next . . . "(60)

I also like the way he qualifies another source, the mom in question, "Although her memory is colored by her divorce . . ." (60)

Zubaydah, who had a closely cropped beard and wore large glasses, was a commanding manager, but he also exhibited odd behavior. Omar Nasiri, a former spy for European intelligence agencies who met Zubaydah in the nineties on his way to Khaldan, told me that Zubaydah shuffled around his home in near-total darkness, carrying a gas lantern from room to room. He barely spoke and would often communicate by pointing.(61)

Odd, yes. But what does it all mean? K's not saying.

Within minutes, a police officer named Bill Allison had arrived and arrested Gadahn.(61)

Is Bill Allison he going be a major character? No, not really, it seems. But, wouldn't you know, this all leads to, a "'halal theory of terrorism.'" (61)

I like the inclusion of lots of detail and dead-ends and red herrings and things. It makes it feel like something is being explored and not just reported and tidied up into a neat little theory, though, there's one of those thrown in there too. The whole thing is structured as if there's an answer to the question, "How?" But then written as if there is not quite.

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