Thursday, September 22, 2022

Tampopo, The Passion of Eating

Having just watched the forty year old Japanese film Tampopo I recognize just how much the consumption of food is integral to being human. The innovative film explores many facets of food with zany humor and primal romance mixed in like a rousing stir-fry. The characters are both down-to-earth and stereotypical of people across the spectrum of society. At the heart of the plot the visceral passion of eating overlays numerous scenarios highlighting just how key to living eating is. 

Now, Tampopo is not easy to watch for a vegan (that would be me). Numerous animal products are consumed to accentuate the passion of sex, courtship, professional connections, and even death. The killing of a turtle on screen would never have passed even Hollywood's regulations 40 years ago. But Tampopo is honest and looks that killing of a wild animal in the eye and says this is what our ancestors did, they didn't buy saran-wrapped rectangles of flesh distanced from the act of taking a sentient animal's life to feed oneself and their family. It underscores just how very distanced we have come from our food supply's origin and circumstances.

The film also captures well the immersion in consuming food, again an atavistic honest look at the pleasure we receive while eating. Surely, an animal part of ourself still resides in each of us that savors flavors, textures and the very act of taking nutrients into our body. Yes one could say we have evolved to sense the spectrum of characteristics each food gives to us so that we can continue our mortal existence. 

One could say many of the world's cultures celebrate the human psychology of being dominant, of playing the role of apex predator in the world That celebration is primal and joyful, while also being based on a fabricated imagining of our ancestors. In fact, humans evolved to be foragers. The latest evidence indicates human digestive systems and dental layouts did not evolve to support a carnivorous diet. We probably scavenged from the kills of true carnivores and eventually when humans developed hunting tools adopted the bloodier behavior of killing other animals for food. 

As modern civilization transitions toward to eating ever more ethically and ever more sustainably we will need to confront our eating behavior's origins. Only by recognizing how our actions impact on the world can we make better choices. Tampopo is a hilarious, touching, and harrowing reminder of just how far we have come and how far we have to go.

Saturday, September 17, 2022

The Biggest Lie, Unveiled

Here we are in 2022 preparing for election midterms with candidates still claiming the Big Lie, that the 2020 election was rigged. Tens of thousands of people are still dying annually in our country from Covid and gunshots, yet vaccines and meaningful firearm legislation are shrugged off as dangerous options. Football coaches coerce students with prayer while subscribers to zygotes possessed by souls have pushed theocracy on the rest of us. Somehow we have raised the banner that "everyone has the right to their opinion" with the subtext being The Biggest Lie, that each opinion has equal merit. With this doctrine held high, tons of misinformation is sold to the public at large, often as youth indoctrination and part of an inhumane political power grab.

How have we arrived at this moment, where unsubstantiated claims receive so much attention? In short, we have been raised to believe lies without questioning them. Sure, your parents eventually came clean about Santa, the Big Bad Wolf and the Tooth Fairy, but God, Allah, Yahweh, Brahma, Vishnu, etc. continue to plague the minds of grown adults. I'm sorry, but there is NO GOOD EVIDENCE that any of these supernatural beings exist. The choice to continue believing in these fairy tales is at best child-like wishful thinking, but mostly is residual indoctrination of falsehoods meant to simplify a complicated world rather than attempt to understand it.

We lie to ourselves because we don't want to face the painful reality. In fact, so many humans subscribe to these crazy beliefs that we fail as a society to intelligently address the real challenges that exist in maintaining a healthy world. Only by living authentic and evidence based lives can we achieve our highest potential and improve cultural tolerance, environmental health, the quality of life for sentient creatures, and pursue ever better explanations of the world around us.

Sure, no one practicing nonsense religion should not be persecuted. Nevertheless, we should recognize supporting the unsubstantiated tenets of all these contradicting, supernatural-based religions hurts our society to the core. Religious belief peddles weak thinking and an emotional connection to the unreal. If we are to improve as a people (and we are, all too slowly) we need to look our beliefs, opinions, and emotions in the face and retire the ones that don't make sense. A world without gods may lose its imaginary safety net, but it also frees up resources and clears the global mind so we can come together and confront reality toward the most joyful of ends.