On consuming the animal

“Is there a point at which we may write the animal body without insisting on consuming it?”

Every living being must eat; to be alive is the necessity to eat. Cixous maintains that animals and humans, then, are bonded in eating, to sustain themselves, to keep themselves alive. As the nourishment of life, then, eating is a good without which there would be only death. Or, perhaps worse, inedibility, for even the nutrients in our soil depends upon a previous death. Without eating, there would be only stagnation. Cixous realizes, however, that eating is simultaneously a cruelty. For the human to eat, she must turn life to death and transform an animal body into meat, and an object of consumption. The animal is cut into bite-sized pieces, seasoned, and judged on its flavor. Ross argues that “eating is the cruelty of the necessity that devious animals for the sake of human beings. Well beyond humanity.” For Cixous, the need to eat links the member of society, of humanity, to life, to goodness, to death, to cruelty, and to animals: it reminds the individual that behind the neatly crafted world of men lies an unordered realm, paradoxically full of goodness and of cruelty.

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