Food or Rest

Looking for a visual representation of my feelings of exhaustion, I Googled images of “food or rest.” My first page of results included both images of cows and pigs (being transported to slaughter for 52 hours “without food or rest”) and of a female android named Aiko. “She doesn’t need holidays, food or rest and she will work almost 24-hours a day. She is the perfect woman,” said her creator, Le Trung.

My search results brought me this telling illustration of why my next book project juxtaposes animals and automatons to explore what we learn about inequity and rank injustice. Which bodies are marked as requiring neither food or rest—two basic elements without which one cannot survive? And how are these determinations dependent on gender and class? 

“I clean morning, noon, and night! I’m so happy!”

Of course, I don’t meant to suggest that Aiko’s troubles, whatsoever they may be, can compare to the plight of the millions of animals inhumanely transported and slaughtered for humanity’s endless needs. Whatever happened to the Twenty-Eight Hour Law, our country’s first federal regulation explicitly protecting animals from cruel treatment? I’m not sure how the 52 hours cited above were calculated, but there are extensions—either “accidental or unavoidable causes” or quite simply because the owner requested an extension in writing.  

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Take the Turkey Bus

Illustration from Peter Parley’s Picture Book (NY: Samuel Colman, 1834). It’s an amusing image on first sight, and on deeper reflection downright puzzling. The coach riders appear to also be birds, too—though I can’t tell if they are turkeys, the two streetside birds do seem to have turkey tails. So are these (fancy) turkeys being towed by other (lower class) turkeys? Do these (lower class) turkeys work at the command of that menacingly long whip?

I immediately thought of Hello Kitty and her odd choice of pet: a cat. Charmmy Kitty, according to Sanrio’s website, “is a white persian cat that Papa gave to Hello Kitty as a gift.” Unlike Hello Kitty, who walks on two legs and wears clothes, Charmmy walks on four legs and is in her birth fursuit.

I assume that Papa is a human, not HK’s Papa, given the syntax here. Which means that a human (Papa) gave a humanized cat (HK) a pet cat-like cat (CK)? Fascinating!

 

If we replaced the turkeys with humans and horses in their “normal” places, would all be right in the world? Is interspecies slavery not slavery?  

…. And now, here is your “moment of zen”: