Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The Self-Incriminating Allegory

I didn’t plan to post another excerpt from Galeano’s Children of the Days, but this one was too delicious to pass up. I posted last month about Rabbit à la Berlin and how it works critically on many levels, including potentially subverting its own allegorical form.* Galeano’s entry for September 6 is similar:
The International Community

The cook convened the calf, the suckling pig, the ostrich, the goat, the deer, the chicken, the duck, the hare, the rabbit, the partridge, the turkey, the dove, the pheasant, the hake, the sardine, the cod, the tuna, the octopus, the shrimp, the squid and even the crab and the turtle, who were the last to arrive.

When all were present and accounted for, the cook explained, ‘I have brought you here to ask what sauce you would like to be eaten with’.

One of the invitees responded, ‘I don’t want to be eaten at all’.

The cook then adjourned the meeting.
It’s a fabulous allegory for international power relations and institutions. At the same time, it’s increasingly difficult to use animal allegories without touching the reality of our exploitation of them. Just as I don’t know the Rabbit filmmakers’ views on animal rights, I’m ignorant of Galeano’s (though his sympathetic nature is evident). But as I said about the film, it’s not all that important. People will read works of art in terms of their culture, and as ours becomes increasingly sensitized to the exploitation and suffering of nonhuman animals, these allegories will look increasingly self-incriminating.

*I posted more recently about an example of the SIA’s cousin – the Unaware-of-Its-Own-Truth Analogy.

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