January 8th, 2006

ozarque figure

Recommended link....

If you've been reading this journal a while you're aware that I read every issue of Forbes, in order to get an idea of the worldview of the prototypical Rich Person -- and that I've learned a tremendous amount about the way an RP defines his or her terms. (Terms like "debt" and "wealth," for example.) For the same reason, but in search of information about a very different worldview, I read The Quaker Economist, and am often astonished at what I find there. Sometimes I agree, sometimes I don't, but I always learn something. Unlike Forbes, it's free. The URL is http://tqe.quaker.org .
ozarque figure

About the animals: I can't do this....

mountainkiss commented:
"I've been thinking about some of your previous posts -- Those who walk away from Omelas, and radical pacifism -- how the end does not justify the means. My question is: what are your views on animal rights, animal welfare and in particular experimentation on animals for medical purposes. I would be very interested to know."

I read this comment, and I answered it by saying that I'd do a post to answer the question. But I didn't get more than about two sentences into that post before I realized that I can't write it. I will be sick -- literally, physically, go-to-bed-and-stay-there sick -- if I try. And that would be a useless gesture.

When the doctors made it clear to me that chronic pain was going to be part of my life, always -- and that their idea of doing something about it was that doctors should give me ever larger doses of painkillers as the years went by and I should just hope that I didn't live long enough to reach a point when no dose was going to be large enough -- I walked away from that. I went straight to a very good medical hypnotist and learned a set of techniques for managing my own pain without those drugs and their side effects and all the other drugs you have to take to deal with the side effects. I'm as helpless as anyone else where acute pain is concerned, but I'm competent in the handling of the chronic kind. And I worked very hard to devise techniques that other people can use to deal with their own chronic pain, even if they don't have access to a medical hypnotist. I put an assortment of those techniques into a book called Staying Well With the Gentle Art of Verbal Self-Defense, long ago.

[Horrible title, yes. Because of the sales figures for the first GAVSD book, all my publishers for years and years insisted on including that whole string -- "the gentle art of verbal self-defense" -- in every book title. I understand why, but for someone whose native dialect of English revolves around Euphony Constraints the results of the practice have been galling. Howsomever, moving right along....]

Most people would rather just take a pill than bother with the techniques I teach. That's fine. I wrote down what I know about preventing and handling pain, and I got it published, and I promoted the book as best I could -- still do -- and if people prefer pills that's their privilege and their free choice and I respect their rights in the matter. I can at least say that I did everything I could. I wrote the book; I did a lot of seminars and workshops and talks; and I do my prayers for those who suffer pain, daily. I don't feel powerful, but I don't feel helpless.

With the animals, it's different. I can't write about it. When I try, I see the animals suffering, and I hear the animals suffering -- as vividly as I see the computer screen before me and hear the noise of the keys as I type -- and I simply cannot bear it. One of the first lines in my daily prayers goes "Holy One, I commend to your special care this morning all the suffering animals of this world, in their innocence; please watch over them." And that is the sum of what I'm able to do, and it's not even a beginning.

At the core of the problem of the animals is the inescapable fact that human beings have to eat, and they don't all live in situations where vegetarianism is possible, even if they were willing to commit to that practice. Once you decide that it's okay to "use" animals for food, it's a very short step to deciding that it's okay to use them for clothing and for medical research and for all the rest -- because if it's not okay, if they're living and feeling creatures just like human beings are living and feeling creatures, then how do you live with the idea of using them for food? And at the core of that problem is human violence -- the idea that it's acceptable for human beings to cause other living things to suffer, starting with the fact that people must eat.

I tried to write a book about that problem, too -- Native Tongue III, that the publishers named Earthsong. And the ferocity and viciousness with which that book was rejected by readers and reviewers was an astonishment to me. It took me a while to realize that some small part of that was because the suggestion that there might be a way to give up violence was an idea that readers weren't willing to let into their heads even temporarily -- but most of it was just that the book had been totally misunderstood. That misunderstanding was my fault. I shouldn't have let the real world into my fictional universe and made the book a metaphor for the events in the real world. That was a stupid mistake on my part. I should have written a third book in the Native Tongue series in which I finished the story of the women's language and tied off the loose ends -- and then I should have written an entirely different book in which I took up the problems associated with the up-to-now-inescapable fact that humans must eat. I didn't do that, and it's a mistake I've never been able to fix.

Where the animals are concerned -- where their pain and their suffering are concerned -- I am neither wise enough nor strong enough to do anything at all. It's not just that I can't do as much as I've done with regard to human pain and suffering, where of course I haven't done enough but I can say that I've done something useful. I just plain haven't done anything at all except to pray -- which is dumping the problem Elsewhere and saying, "You fix it!" I am Anglo enough to be dismally incompetent at "Don't just do something -- sit there." It torments me. I'm not used to giving up; it's doesn't come naturally to me.

And that's the best I can do to explain this, because I truly cannot write about it.
ozarque figure

Linguistics/Ozark English; quick (probably hopeless) question

Very early in the coverage of the Sago Mine explosion, CNN ran an interview with a man whose (presumably Appalachian) English was so close to the Ozark English I'm used to -- and so eloquent -- that I badly wanted the transcript, and I wrote his name on something so I'd be able to find it later. (This was well before any information was available about what had happened other than that there'd been an accident.) I was especially struck by his use of "a"-prefixing on his verbs. Somehow I managed to lose the note with his name, and although I've gone over day after day of the CNN transcripts I haven't been able to find that interview. It may well be that I still haven't looked hard enough, or it may be that he didn't give permission for the interview to be used online, but I thought I'd ask here, just in case.

If anyone remembers the man's name, or knows where that interview is, I'd be very grateful for the information.