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In this very car I once sat — happy, carefree, my two brothers and I laughing, playing games, messing around, my parents telling jokes up front. Now, I’m the one who’s driving it. And I’m driving all alone, down an unfamiliar road that stretches out before me as far as the eye can see.

The road is not smooth. It’s riddled with bumps and potholes. Tremors pulse through my body every time the car shakes or skids or bounces up and down — even just a little. It’s far from a comfortable ride.

Tentatively pressing my foot to the gas pedal, I feel a familiar knot forming in the pit of my stomach and the suffocating clutch of fear slowly closing around my throat. It transports my mind back to another time I went away by myself. A catastrophic disaster that I have come to refer to as “The Camp Experience,” one which left me with permanent scars that even a blind man could see. …


People carry looted goods out of an A&P supermarket at Ogden Avenue and 166th Street in the Bronx. IMAGE: BETTMANN/CORBIS

As I’ve watched the recent protests, riots, and looting that have swept the US and other parts of the world, I’ve been reminded of a piece I wrote a little while back about the summer of 1977 in New York, which saw people take to the streets (though not in exactly the same way and for the same reasons). Like the current unrest — which one could argue was set off by the trifecta of the George Floyd killing, the COVID outbreak, and the upcoming presidential election — multiple simultaneously-occurring factors sparked the anarchy of ’77 in the Big Apple. …


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NOTE: I started this piece with the intent of writing a review of Reese’s novel, but as I went through my notes, I realized that too much vital information would be glossed over if I tried to cram it all into 1000 or so words. So I decided instead to do a section-by-section deep dive into the book. This first installment covers the introduction. Each subsequent one will cover one or more chapters. The novel is laid out in such a neat and logical fashion, it only makes sense to follow its order.

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“This is not a book about the problems of animal farming,” begins Jacy Reese’s 2018 novel The End of Animal Farming. “This is a book about exactly how we can solve those problems.” …


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In the opening sequence of Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner (loosely based on Phillip K. Dick’s award-winning novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?) the camera crawls along above a hellish-looking city — aptly referred to as the “Hades” landscape. Flame-spewing cracking plants and dots of red-yellow artificial light dominate the ground. Hazy smog chokes the sky. Flying crafts zip through the air. The visual is both terrifying and breathtaking, and sets the stage for the cyberpunk look and feel of the rest of the film.

But don’t be fooled by the mise-en-scène into thinking that this is just another futuristic flick. For while Blade Runner can be viewed as a cautionary sci-fi tale about the dangers of globalization, advancements in technology, and the environmental concerns that go hand-in-hand with the two former, at its core, the film is really about exploring the concept of humanity.¹ About answering that age-old question that has mystified common folk and philosophers alike for centuries now: what exactly does it mean to be human? …


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I don’t remember the exact moment I decided to stop eating meat. I don’t remember the day, either. Or even the month. In fact, I only vaguely recall that it was about eight years ago, sometime during my final year of high school — a reflection not on the magnitude of the decision but rather my poor memory and even poorer recording of the past.

What I do remember about it — the events that preceded it and those that followed — had to be excavated with great effort from the recesses of my mind. It’s not something I think much about, after all. And I’ve never kept a consistent journal or diary of my daily doings. I suppose, in a way, my writing of this is just as much a personal exercise in chronicling and reflecting on my journey from meat-eater to vegan as it is an effort to change hearts and minds — cards on the table. …

About

Reuben David Blaff

Born and raised in Toronto. Passions/interests: writing, fitness, science, music, sports, veganism, animal rights. Pursuing a Master’s degree in Astrophysics.

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