Monday, 28 November 2011

Moleskinoisseurs, markerholics and penophiles

First written Tuesday 29 December 2009
Tweaked and added to Tuesday  29 November 2011

When I go to Miranda Fair on my own, I go into survival mode. My stride lengthens and my pace quickens. If I get in on the quarter-to train, then by god I'm getting out on the quarter-past. But go with a girl, and I can bet at some point I'm going to get forced, by whatever means she finds necessary, into a stationery store. The thing with stationery though, as opposed to clothes or jewellery, is that I might just enjoy myself.

The near-universal appeal of stationery is a curious phenomenon. It's something to which, I suspect, we can all relate in some way an infatuation that transcends age, race and gender. But why? Why is it that a virgin notepad, or an electric pencil sharpener, or an eraser in the shape of a bunny rabbit that smells like chocolate (I daresay the office-supply addicted amongst you are exhaling lustily just reading that list) is so appealing?

Well, I've taken it upon myself to find the answer. How, you ask? Through rigorous sociological research and countless surveys? Um, no. That would be a lot of work. I thought, instead, I'd harness the extraordinary power of the internet to solve this great mystery and from the comfort of my own spinny chair, no less.

I wanted to start at the beginning, and it's a well-known fact that the internet begins with Google.* Once I got past the disturbing fact that 'stationary obsession' returns about thirty thousand more results than 'stationery obsession' (I chose not to waste time on the results of the former search how obsessed with anything can someone really be if they can't even spell it correctly?), I began my descent into the odd and strangely alluring world of the writing-implement enthusiast. 

*As opposed to the way it ends, according to Irish musical comedian David O'Doherty, the only person I know of who alleges to have 'finished' the internet. Apparently, a smiling Bill Gates appears and you get to enter your initials, although this claim is unsubstantiated.

What I discovered was, I have to say, not actually that surprising, considering the types of people that froth over letterheads and liquid paper a veritable buttload of blogs and websites that act as 'support groups' for the stationerily addicted. I trawled through what must have been a good ... three or four of them looking for answers. 

My first port-of-call, Stationery Fetish, was decidedly unhelpful, if amusing. 'My love of office supplies', writes blogger Cinderberry in her 'Stationery Fetishist's Manifesto', 'is irrational, but it is pure. Don't ask me to explain it, just hand over the multi-coloured index cards.'

The writers of Heymiki's blog and ich Kalliope, however, do suggest causes as the roots of stationery obsession. '[I]sn't this compulsion just another guise of my incessant procrastination?' asks Miki in 'My Stationery Obsession':

     Can there be any justification for this oft[-]repeated ritual: 
     deciding what colour Uniball Signo DX 0.38 would be 
     most fitting to capture the thought currently scuttling 
     through my head?' 

Kalliope seems to prefer stationery for its distraction value, saying in 'I heart New Notebooks' that it takes her 'mind off the actual thought of going "back to school".'

In her post 'Stationery Heaven' on Style Treaty, blogger Marion proposes nostalgia as the force behind statio-mania, writing longingly of the days of 'smelly paper' and 'fancy pens', adding that she 

     used to love those pencils where there were all different
     colours within the same pencil and you would remove
     the colour from the bottom and stick it into the top, 
     and if you wanted one of the colours that was at the
     top you'd have to keep pulling them out from the 
     bottom and stuffing them into the top

Okay, Marion, calm down ...

I wasn't too far into my stationery wanderings (Geddit? Hardee har har) when I came across an interview with Kristina Karlsson, wanky stationery name: Kikki K. I was beginning to think all statio-maniacs had to come up with funky alternative names for themselves. I mean really, if Kikki K translates to Kristina Karlsson, then what the hell are Marion, Miki, Kalliope and Cinderberry? But surely the Kikki K would have some answers! Well, yes. Yes she did. 'There is something about a freshly sharpened pencil or a new clean pencil case and notebook that signals a fresh start to the year', she says. And this was a recurring theme in the blogs of my specimens. Cinderberry, if that is her real name, says 

     spiral notebooks whisper to me about the promise of a
     new term at school, new things to learn, new things to 
     write. With a spiral pad, with a pen clipped inside the 
     coil, I'm ready to take on the world

which, correct me if I'm wrong, is just a little creepy. But so-called Kalliope says she loves 'the promise of staying organised' that comes with new stationery, which I have to say, I totally get.

At this point, I was starting to feel a bit weird stalking all these chicks' blogs, so I decided to turn to my own friends in the real world (through the medium of Facebook), ahem. I like the way my friend Sonja put it: 'new stationery makes me feel like things will be different that year. Productivity will increase, and I'll be so epic at everything I do. Just 'cause of all my flash new stationery ... It's all lies, though.'

The only other response I got (out of 391 Facebook friends; is that sad?) was actually from a friend, Melanie, who works at kikki.K and, unsurprisingly, hates it. I say unsurprisingly because any reasonable person opposed to conspicuous consumerism of an insane level would hate it I once got dragged in there by a friend and the only way I could get her to leave was by exclaiming, loudly enough that the cashier could hear, that no A6 notepad was worth $49.95, no matter how Swedish. I shit you not. A6 notepad. $49.95. Anyway, I thought Mel's insights were poignant: 'lots of people now use stationery as a fashion accessory', she said, 'and they like to spend their money on something with the excuse that it is functional.' Agreed.

As for myself, I think I come into contact with more statio-mania than the average person, being an aspiring writer. We are more prone to that sort of thing, and it has been noted by myself and others that an excessive concern with the trappings of being a writer is often the sign of a poor one. It was while I was interning for Hachette Children's Books, I think, that an industry insider told me about a writer whose manuscript wasn't even considered because of the ridiculous letterhead he'd fashioned for his cover letter. 'Anyone who spends that much time on their letterhead isn't spending enough time writing,' they told me. 

So you can imagine my panic in my first Creative Writing class during my exchange semester at the University of East Anglia, eager to meet people and make a good first impression, when I unpacked my bag and realised that sitting in front of me was a Moleskine and a Parker pen. I'd bought the Moleskine ten minutes earlier from the bookshop on campus when I realised on my way to class that I didn't have anything to write in, and the pen, engraved with my writing pseudonym, had been given to me as a twenty-first birthday present by my friends back in Australia just before I left. Luckily I was able to pre-empt any judgement I might've garnered (I think) by declaring when we did the obligatory first-class-of-semester 'go around the room and say one thing about yourself' thing that I was not, despite my try-hard accoutrements, a wanker.

But maybe after that slightly cynical rant, I should end on a nicer, more philosophical note. I do like stationery, after all. I mean, it's not like I'm going to change my name to Lukokobelle and start a new blog about binders whispering to me, but I do like it. I don't think writers, or anyone else for that matter, should be ashamed of their love of leather-bound books and quills and papyrus, they just should be careful not to turn up to their writing classes and announce that they only write using typewriters on brown paper bags (something one of our lecturers told us actually happened once).

A writer's paradise: best friend Gilly and girlfriend Tilly in an Oxford stationery shop.

And don't fool yourself, you like it too. What's not to like? The distraction, the potential for procrastination, the fresh feeling of a new start, the comfort of knowing you're writing on a pad that cost half your week's pay ... In the words of our old friend Miki (Michaela? Maxine? ... Jane?), 

     It has been said that "language is a tool of thought".
     Thus stationery, in enabling us to record and 
     communicate our words, is a conduit of thought! 
     The journey of ideas from the brain to the page is
     no easy task. Thoughts flit and fly. They are 
     ephemeral. Only the best conduit will do. My 
     obsession is not mere indulgence. It is a necessity!

 This article as it originally appeared in Canvas, the 'zine Matilda Grogan, Kaitlyn Carlia (who now has a business crafting greeting cards with Dani Yannoulis) and I put together as an assessment for WRIT216: Introduction to Editing for Practising Writers.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

'Naturalness', semantic decay and veg(etari)anism (part two of three)

Tuesday 22 November 2011

In part one I deconstructed the arguments against vegetarianism and vegetarian Michael Kirby made by Miranda Devine in her article 'Everybody hurts but we've all got to eat'; part two responds to this article with my own ideas about eating meat.

I'm a newcomer to the whole veg(etari)an discourse, and the more I read into it, the clearer it becomes that I have little original to add to the discussion. But I made a decision a while ago that whenever I came to a point of indecision between speaking my mind and remaining silent, I would take the path of expressing myself, out of a belief that it is always better to say something than nothing, to act rather than not. That, and it can't hurt to restate sound arguments often made but rarely heard, to add your voice to a growing chorus. And so I persevere in the face of superfluity ...

The problem of 'naturalness'
The most common argument I hear justifying flesh-eating is that it's natural, an argument that I think can be split in two. The first of these holds that we have evolved to need meat, we are designed to eat it, and therefore we must continue to do so if our bodies are to function properly, the same way a lion cannot choose to give up eating meat because its body simply would not support a diet of any other kind. I believe this argument is factually untrue. Perhaps for the first time in our history, our technological and dietary knowledge is at a level where we can quite healthily live without eating meat (and it's looking better for the future, as well; the concept of laboratory-grown meat incites a kneejerk rejection and a shudder from hippie organic-enthusiasts and hearty meat-eaters alike, but I look forward to the guilt-free meal as long as scientists can convince me there's no harmful side-effects). Of course, meat is a very efficient way of gaining certain things that our bodies need, but it is not the only way. Is efficiency really a good enough reason for taking an animal's life? As for our being designed to eat meat, the physical similarities between humans and herbivores, along with the physical differences between humans and carnivores, have been well-documented. The evidence indicates that we were herbivores who opportunistically became omnivores, not carnivores who became omnivores. And our meat consumption today far exceeds anything we would have eaten in our evolutionary past. Meat would've been a rare addition to our diet, nowhere near the staple it is for many people today (Colleen Patrick-Goudreau).

The second argument under the 'naturalness' umbrella is not practical but moral: we evolved to eat meat, therefore it's okay – an irretriveably mixed-up bit of reasoning, to adapt a phrase from Rohinton Mistry. When does 'naturalness' ever guarantee that something is moral? People can and do justify all sorts of ridiculous positions with the argument that 'it's unnatural' (ahem, opposition to gay marriage), but even if not eating meat is unnatural, this is still a thoroughly flawed argument. So is everything we do in contemporary society. Medicine? Birth control? Abstinence? Monogamy? Technology? Supermarkets? Yep, all totally unnatural. I think vegetarian comedian Wil Anderson said it best in his show at Splendour in the Grass this year, when he posed his response to the argument, 'It's unnatural not to eat meat; even animals eat other animals – look at lions'. I paraphrase:

      Do you get all your ethical opinions from lions? What else do you
      do like lions? Do you sleep twenty hours a day like lions? Do you
      have a spiky, barbed penis like a lion? Do you sell Paddle Pops for
      a living like lions? Do you live in a wardrobe with a witch like

I'll come back to the issue of naturalness in the next section, but first, if there's any proof that I'm not some closed-minded bastard who has set opinions on every issue and will never change, as I was discussing in ''... So openminded that our brains drop out'', it's my attitude on this issue. I used to be a devoted carnivore and in actions, I still am. I love meat. I absolutely love it. I'm obsessed with food, and meat is one of my favourite kinds. So until very recently, whenever the issue of vegetarianism would come up, I'd scoff. I'd look at my vegetarian friends and family in bemusement. How could they possibly forgo the original carnal pleasure? I thought the idea was absurd. Even animals eat animals, me and my other carnivorous friends would say to one another. We're designed to eat meat. Animals are dumb. Anything to justify my love of meat and dismiss the points raised by vegetarianism. This, my friends, is the working of ideology. If you ask why something is okay and the best answer you can come up with is that it's natural or normal, that's probably a good indicator that ideology is at work. 'Ideologies try to hide the contingent nature of thoughts and activities within a culture' say Tony Schirato and Susan Yell. '[T]hey try to convince their audiences that certain values, ideas and activities are more or less natural, and that things have always been this way, or should remain this way.'

It takes a lot of thinking to undo ideological indoctrination, to challenge what people not only enjoy doing, but also what they have always been told is normal and natural, and what they see everyone else doing all the time. Perhaps this explains why, if you ask people why they do or don't eat meat, the don'ts seem generally to have more well-thought-out answers, because the only way they became don'ts in the first place is by observing and formulating reasons not to eat meat. The dos, conversely, tend to eat meat because they always have, and their answer is likely to reflect this reason. '[I]t's okay because we're the top of the food chain' is one answer I got when I asked my friends. In other words, it's okay to eat meat because we can. Or because we do. Contrast this with an answer from another friend, Matt Wheeler:

     I don't eat meat because it is a huge contributor to climate change;
     because it makes grain and other staples more expensive for the
     poor; because it takes huge amounts of water for a single serving
     of meat; because there isn't enough farming land to go around
     and meat takes 16 times as much land as vegetables to grow; 
     because factory farming is disgusting; because pigs are one of 
     the top ten most intelligent animals in the world; because 
     vegetarian food is easy and delicious; because vegetarians live 2 
     years longer on average than those on a typical western diet; 
     because I think 'stewardship' means 'look after' not 'take 
     advantage of'; and because I think it is always better to have 
     more empathy than to close one's eyes to the pain of others.

Desensitisation and semantic decay
What started us eating meat was, I assume, need. We haven't always been able to be selective about what we eat, and we couldn't deprive ourselves of such a rich source of nutrients. Nowadays I think it's less to do with desperation and more to do with desensitisation. Eating meat seems acceptable because we eat meat already, because everyone does it. This is what I call 'semantic decay': repetition eventually saps the meaning out of any practice. It's what causes the meanings of words and phrases to drift away completely from their original meanings without our notice as we get used to them. It's what makes religion such a poor conductor of morality. Once-moral instructions can eventually become mere empty rituals, self-enforced upon pain of eternal damnation, devoid of any personal emotion or conviction. Under religion, it is entirely possible for someone to feel guilty about saying 'Oh my God', but not about being complicit in a system that slaughters billions of animals a year, usually after they've led awful lives.

We can observe a kind of trend in semantic decay. The older the religion, the culture, or cultural institution and, therefore, the more repetition that has occurred, the more divorced meaning is from action. Perhaps this explains Miranda Devine's inability to comprehend Michael Kirby's point of view. I can't think of a culture in which there is more evidence of rampant semantic decay in the area of attitudes towards a kind of animal than Japan's, where Devine grew up. 'Fish died in abundance for the Japanese diet', she says in her article, and they had to. Japan's mountainous terrain being unsuitable for agriculture, it had to turn to the sea. If it hadn't, its people would have starved long ago. But it doesn't make it any easier for the non-desensitised to watch.

Everything I am about to say, I fully acknowledge, is a generalisation, but generalisations can be useful. To the Japanese, anything that lives in the ocean is just food. There's the whaling, of course, but then there's also the annual Taiji dolphin drive hunt, where dolphins are driven into a netted cove and slaughtered en masse, literally turning the sea red with blood.

From the documentary The Cove.

I've seen a Japanese vendor chase an octopus in a netted bag across a cement market floor as it tried to escape. I've seen Japanese chefs in a production line tearing out the eyes of live fugu (pufferfish), chopping off their tails and fins, shucking their elastic skin off over their heads like jumpers and tossing the mutilated fish, blind, bloody and gasping, into an industrial-sized bin of their already-expired companions. I've seen a Japanese diner pick a fish out of a fake, in-restaurant pond, then light up with glee when that same fish is brought out on a plate as sashimi, its uncooked flesh flayed out in a fan of wafer-thin slices, its body wrenched at an unnatural angle, its mouth sucking for air and its body twitching as its flesh is torn with chopsticks from its body.

'Give it to us raw, and wriggling.'

Now fish are not highly intelligent creatures, but that right there on your plate is a living organism with the capacity to feel pain, and it is suffering for no good reason. It's just sick. My personal aversion to seafood is mostly mental, a relic from my childhood that I know I could probably rid myself of if I wanted to. And for a while I did. It's socially debilitating to be picky, and it's looked upon as immature, so I planned to make myself get over it, but now I never will. What we're doing to the oceans is too terrible, and the world doesn't need one more fish-eater. Even caught and prepared in the usual way – by trawlers at sea, dead and cooked – a fish has to suffer too much to get to my plate. There's no quick way to kill fish caught en masse.

'As we become increasingly alienated from the sources of our food,' says Devine in her article, 'childish squeamishness is in the ascendancy'. In other words, those of us who don't want to eat meat are squeamish children. Thanks, your bitchiness (how do you like it?).

But aside from deploying Devine's own stunning rhetorical tactics against her, I really think she's got it the wrong way around. It's not that we're gaining childish squeamishness; it's that we're losing our heartless desensitisation. In the past we've needed to be desensitised to animal suffering in order to survive, and today people who make a living in the meat industry still need this desensitisation, but the rest of us, 'alienated from the sources of our food', are beginning to bring our attitudes towards animal welfare into line with our modern moral outlook. Predictably, being the enemy of the heart and mind that she is, the conservative Devine instinctively rejects this impulse, this change in the status quo. But I believe we should embrace it, as difficult as it is.

Returning to the issue of 'naturalness', those who justify their continued consumption of meat with that argument must consider this impulse. If it is natural for us to eat meat, then it is equally natural for us to feel squeamish about doing so, and the evidence is in our actions. Yes, our mouths water at the smell of sizzling bacon or roasting beef, but even Devine admits 'most people feel sadness at the death of animals'; we flinch when we see it actually happen. Just look at the rituals of penance and reverence codified into early cultures, which insisted on prayer after the killing of an animal, thanking it for giving its life – an attempt to absolve guilt if ever there was one. Kirby points to the packaging of meat, which allows us to think of it as the 'impersonal products of sterile, clean supermarkets' and of eating it as 'hygienic and somehow depersonalised. Or de-animalised.' Even the English language and our codes of etiquette enshrine this guilty discomfort: it's considered impolite to discuss the animal you're eating at any given time, or to talk about any graphic part of its preparation. There's something in the way we are so easily put off eating by talk of blood or guts that belies the supposed naturalness of our eating meat. In 'Consider the Lobster', David Foster Wallace points out that 'most mammals seem to require euphemisms like "beef" and "pork" that help us separate the meat from the living creature the meat once was'; we've craftily stolen words from the French to ease our guilt. Who among us can say when they watch a predator of Africa chasing down its prey, that it is not the hunted that they hope for, rather than the hunter? We know, in our logical minds, that it's unfair to favour the gazelle over the lion; the latter has the right to live as much as the former, but we know that if the lion doesn't get its way it will only go hungry; if the gazelle doesn't, it will die a terrifying death. If you can watch a zebra being brought down by a cackle of hyenas who, unlike lions, do not kill their prey before they begin eating it, without desperately wishing they would just end the zebra's suffering, there's something wrong with you.

The fact is, though, that almost everything we do, we do in spite of nature and the cruel ferocity of the natural order, not because of it. Evolution, when understood properly, is fascinating; both a beautiful and a terrible system, elegantly simplistic in its mindless, ruthless march onwards, propelled by death at every turn. And while evolution will continue to work in different ways on humanity, we have transcended it in many ways. Society operates to a large extent outside of evolution and against it; in so many ways it is cooperative, not competitive. Babies are not left on hillsides to die if they are deemed weak. The mentally ill, the physically disabled, the sick, the poor, the injured, the different, are not dispatched as they might be if nature took its course. We can, and should, seek to resist evolution, which is everything our morality is not. This doesn't mean we stand up and decry the hyena as immoral, and start going out and killing hyenas to protect zebras. It's true that there is a natural order* but it's also true that we are the only species on Earth capable of making a choice not to adhere to it. As Kirby says:

     If the human brain historically expanded because humans
     became carnivores, consuming cooked meat around the
     camp fire that encouraged social life among our forebears,
     why should we turn our backs on these existential
     developments of our species that made us who and what
     we are? The answer to that perfectly reasonable question
     is this. The ingestion of so much protein and the expansion
     of our human brain has produced a creature with a
     heightened capacity for moral reasoning.

*Incidentally, a hole in the arguments of those who try to marry the existence of a creator God with the process of evolution, who do not here have their usual recourse to 'free will'. As Paula Kirby (no relation of Michael Kirby's) asks in 'Evolution threatens Christianity', how could an omnibenevolent God ever set in motion such a monstrous process?

Concluding remarks
All that's left is to say a little about my own diet. I'm still eating meat, and a lot of it. You might see that as hypocritical, but I don't. This post has been more about convincing people to admit or recognise that eating animals is wrong rather than that they should give up doing so (although the two are obviously connected), and I don't judge anyone who continues eating meat. A lifetime of delicious meat-based meals and indoctrination doesn't vanish in a day. But I think it's important to be able to use moral reasoning independent of your actions, to recognise that you're doing something wrong even if you're still doing it, rather than just rationalising and justifying your current behaviours. In some ways, I've been thoroughly desensitised. When I look at a piece of meat, even a skin-covered chicken wing or a slab of beef with bones in it, I simply do not see an animal, I see food, and this is the biggest problem for me. But I'm making progress. The other night I was eating a bowl of Tilly's mum's caesar salad and I had a breakthrough (which should not reflect poorly on the quality of the salad; it's delicious). Getting to the bottom of the bowl after all the lettuce leaves had gone, I was left with a wet, stringy conglomerate of pale white chicken meat and bright pink bacon, and as I was shovelling it into my mouth, I was acutely aware that it was animal flesh that I was eating. The sensation was replaced immediately once it reached my mouth, of course, but nevertheless, that was a big step for me, and those moments are happening increasingly. I'm on my way to re-sensitisation.

For now, my plan has been to stop eating meat automatically. Usually when I'm out for lunch or whatever, I'll just grab a chicken sandwich or something, because that's just what I eat, not because I really want it. Now, unless I actively want a meat dish, I'll get the vegetarian option. As I've said before, I'm not sure I'll ever be able to give up meat entirely. I have almost no self-control, and I'm convinced those vegetarians who say, 'Oh that's what I used to say, but I was surprised by how easy it was' just never enjoyed meat as much as I do, or else we're different blood types or something. But strategies like making meat my special option rather than my general one, and another thing I'm trying called 'Meatless Monday', will and in the former case already have made a big difference to how much meat I eat, which has to have a gradual effect on how many animals I cause to die for my selfish enjoyment of their flesh.

Often in discussion of vegetarianism and related issues, commentators talk about how our treatment of animals might be looked upon by future generations, an interesting idea to entertain. In his reasoned, ever self-questioning way, Wallace says, in reference to the Maine Lobster Festival (MLF):

     if you, the Festival attendee, permit yourself to think that lobsters
     can suffer and would rather not, the MLF can begin to take on
     aspects of something like a Roman circus or medieval torture-
     fest. Does that comparison seem a bit much? If so, exactly why?
     Or what about this one: Is it not possible that future generations
     will regard our own present agribusiness and eating practices in
     much the same way we now view Nero's entertainments or
     Aztec sacrifices? My own immediate reaction is that such a
     comparison is hysterical, extreme—and yet the reason it seems
     extreme to me appears to be that I believe animals are less
     important than human beings; and when it comes to defending
     such a belief, even to myself, I have to acknowledge that (a) I
     have an obvious selfish interest in this belief, since I like to eat
     certain kinds of animals and want to be able to keep doing it,
     and (b) I have not succeeded in working out any sort of
     personal ethical system in which the belief is truly defensible
     instead of just selfishly convenient.

I for one can certainly imagine a more enlightened populace looking back on us as we do our own forebears. It's hard not to see the trend developing over the last hundred years, of extending rights to ever smaller segments of the population, starting with the largest demographic, women, and moving through oppressed races, nations, and ethnic groups; then, in recent years, disabled and gay people. Not to undermine the valiant efforts of today's animal rights activists and campaigners, who are seemingly ahead of their time, but might not we, as a society, turn our full attention to animals when we run out of human minorities? Might not the next mainstream social movement be for animal rights?

Part three looks at anthropocentrism and hierarchising life.

Thank you to everyone who's taken the time to read this gargantuan post (almost 4000 words) and to my friends for their enthusiastic response to part one, which gave me the motivation to power through and finally finish this. Thanks to Wil Anderson and Lisa Dempster for retweeting it and exposing it to the wider veg(etari)an community, and to everyone else who's retweeted it since. Thanks Sam Glass for directing me to the David Foster Wallace article, and to Alissa for telling me about Colleen Patrick-Goudreau's podcasts. Thanks finally to Matt Wheeler, whose account of why he is a vegetarian was too cogent to resist including; you should all go and check out his amazing, custom, whittled artworks!

Wil Anderson's live comedy panel, Wil Does Parky, at Splendour in the Grass, Woodford, Queensland, Australia. Sunday 31 July 2011.

Miranda Devine's opinion piece, 'Everybody hurts, but we've all got to eat', in The Sunday Telegraph, Wednesday 5 October 2011.

Peter Jackson's film, The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, by New Line Cinema, 5 December 2002.

Michael Kirby's opinion piece, 'Animals deserve our protection', in The Australian, Saturday 1 October 2011.

Michael Kirby's opinion piece, 'Sense and sensibility about our fellow sentient creatures', in The Sydney Morning Herald, Friday 6 August 2010.

Paula Kirby's blog post, 'Evolution threatens Christianity', on The Washington Post's On Faith forum, 3:26pm 24 August 2011.

Rohinton Mistry's short story, 'Condolence Visit', in his short-story cycle Tales from Firozsha Baag, published by Faber & Faber in 2006.

Colleen Patrick-Godreau's podcast, 'Humans are meant to eat meat. Just look at these incisors in my mouth', from her podcast series Vegetarian Food for Thought: Inspiring a Joyful, Sustainable, Compassionate Diet.

Louis Psihoy's documentary, The Cove.

Charles Rangley-Wilson's documentary, Fish! A Japanese Obsession, by KEO Films, 23 March 2009.

Tony Schirato and Susan Yell's 'Ideology', in Communication and Cultural Literacy: An Introduction, published by Allen & Unwin in 2000.

David Foster Wallace's essay, 'Consider the Lobster', in Gourmet Magazine in August 2004.

Matt Wheeler's private correspondence via Facebook, 10:27pm Tuesday 11 October 2011.