When I was about eight years old, I was alone in the den watching Jacques Cousteau filming elephant seals on a crowded island. A baby seal was being crushed by an overfed bull and as the baby screamed in distress and agony, the colossal bull looked on in the distance with a bit of haughty indifference. Perhaps the bull didn’t know he was crushing a baby seal. Perhaps he knew but didn’t care. Or perhaps he knew very well that his prodigious blubber was suffocating the infant and enjoyed the feeling of his power against a creature so powerless. Apparently, the mother elephant seal had been separated from her baby. I was rooting for the mother and baby to be reunited but I fear they never were.
Watching this wildlife tableau, I grasped the brutality of nature, lost my innocence, and became incurably melancholy, all in one swoop.
Thanks, Jacques Cousteau. I suppose I could say you ruined my life, but inevitably I would have been witness to some other horror, which would have had equal effect.
Future TV viewings would include even more brutal visions, including a zebra being eaten alive by monster-sized crocodiles.
What’s really hard to digest is the sympathy I feel for the bovine creatures being fed upon by carnivorous brutes seems to contradict my appetite for barbecued meats.
Watching carnivores hunt the fruited plain on TV perhaps gives me a vision, not of The Other, but of my prehistoric, carnivorous self.
Repeated attempts at vegetarianism have failed. I'm not alone. The majority of vegetarian aspirants resort to their carnivore ways.