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Monday, May 07, 2007

Werner Herzog Fell Off His Chair 

When he saw the bacon attached to the wall in the bathtub scene of Gummo, Werner Herzog fell off his chair. “When I saw a piece of fried bacon fixed to the bathroom wall in Gummo, it knocked me off my chair,” he said.

Meat of any kind, really, where it shouldn't be—always a good move.

A man greets an elderly villager, removes his hat to find it full of ground lamb, inexplicably. A worker pauses in his routine to witness the exchange, wiping his oily hands on a worn slice of cervelat and returning it to his back pocket. Hmm.

I think people can't avoid the impression that meat of any kind is somewhat like human flesh, and therefore potentially horrifying or obscene. There's the famous punching meat scene in Rocky, for example. He really goes to town on that meat, a token of what's in store for anyone he meets in the ring.

I was sitting in a coffee shop a while back and I overheard some guy talking about his girlfriend, who was apparently a militant vegan or something, so he and his buddy had decided to get together and write a collection of stories about meat. Those were his words, “we've written a whole bunch of stories about meat”. I can't imagine what those stories would be like. Or any meaty passages in books, other than the bit in Ulysses where Bloom thinks about fried kidneys. Upton Sinclair's The Jungle is not really about meat qua meat per se ibidem, but more generally about the industry. Actually, it's about bad meat and the people who sell it, and probably needs to be updated and re-released.

However, an interesting story could be written about someone who wants to annoy someone by writing about meat. He would have to research the topic, and there's lots to be learned about the packing industry, meat by-products, meat inspection, marketing boards, the raw and the cooked. Ages ago, the motto for the Dominion grocery chain was “mainly because of the meat”. Ah—nostalgie du boeuf. The thing is, motivation would be key. What is it about meat that causes so much passion? Grasp only that and you'd have something, the essence of meat. It could be a gravy train. Then there are odd things like marmite, MSG and soy sauce, which are sort of near-meat experiences. People eat them, thinking, “Well, this certainly tastes like food”, but it's not. It's cardboard that tastes like meat. They're actually fooled into eating junk! There again, you have to ask yourself: What's going on here? And it's the usual story of attraction and repulsion in the same object.

Our friend who's writing stories about meat for his girlfriend, for example. No doubt in a perverse way he's trying to please her by talking about something that revolts her?



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Watching TV is a good way to tear yourself away from the computer.