Cow: A Bovine Biography

Cow: A Bovine Biography

Doris Ecker

Language: English

Pages: 240

ISBN: 1553655818

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


She is everywhere: as a vehicle for both farmers and advertisers, a subject for research scientists and poets, and ever-present in the form of lucky charms, children's toys, or simply as a tasty sandwich-filler. The female of the bovine species is revered as sacred or reviled as stupid, but one thing she never inspires is indifference. After more than ten thousand years living alongside us, she remains a beguiling mystery. Combining a myriad of richly entertaining anecdotes and an abundance of illuminating discoveries, Florian Werner presents the curious cultural history of that most intriguing of animals: the cow.

Since evolving from the aurochs, an ungulate that grazed the Persian grasslands, the cow has embedded itself into virtually all aspects of our lives. Cow is the first book to look at the animal in its countless manifestations in cultures around the world. Werner examines cows' role in commerce as an early form of currency and their place on our plates and in our stomachs in the form of meat and dairy products. Florian Werner examines how cows are worshipped in some circles, such as in Hindu mythology, and abhorred in others, today being vilified as an agent of climate change. And he waxes philosophic about the significance of the cow's rumination and cud chewing, as well as her simple but meaningful moo.

Combining thorough research with an accessible writing style, Florian Werner offers readers an eye-opening perspective on this commodified animal, whose existence is inextricably intertwined with ours and which we too often take for granted.

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Still alive, we take away their milk. Only by drinking it can we fool ourselves into thinking that we can, at least for a moment, return to a state of primordial innocence. Photographer Annie Leibovitz’s photo of Whoopi Goldberg bathing very vividly illustrates the return to a paradise lost. We see the actress from a bird’s-eye perspective lying in a freestanding enamel bathtub. Her thighs are apart, her bent legs held upwards, her arms stretched out over her head. She lies spread-eagled.

Someone who has professional contact with animals and who “as soon as other opportunities for sexual relaxation . . . are lacking” seeks the closeness and affection of animals. Peter Stierli was introduced to sodomy in his youth while working as a farmhand. He was immediately “fascinated” without actively taking part in it. It was only when Stierli was eighteen and his girlfriend left him that he had his first sexual intercourse with a cow. “It was wonderful,” he reports retrospectively, “I.

The fact that cows don’t seem to be aware of the monotony of their existence has led many thinkers to conclude that cows lack the faculty of memory altogether. The philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche interpreted this as the very secret of happiness in animals in general and cows in particular: they, unlike humans, don’t constantly seek new experiences that they then have to digest intellectually but are happy to content themselves with the eternal recurrence of the same. In his Untimely.

“treated as property, and therefore better”—that is, “like slaves,” in the words of Thomas Kapielski. The latter may be physically unfree, but their owners normally have enough self-interest not to harm them. Jewish philosopher Vilém Flusser, who in 1940 had to flee his native Prague to escape the Nazis, used the image of cow husbandry to express much more subtle forms of bondage and suppression. Flusser sees cows as “a danger and a threat” mostly because human development might, little by.

Such a vital role in the evolution of capitalism is their mobility. Not only were cows extremely valuable, but they also constituted one of the first forms of movable property, a chattel that could be herded from A to B and then offered for barter in many cultures. As a generally known and relatively constant economic entity, cows were used as a point of reference for barter. Otto Schrader writes: “Herd animals, and dairy cows in particular, are the oldest value indicator among Indo-Germanic.

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