Michaëlle Jean and The Raw and the Cooked (1)

Let’s not forget that all she did was swallow a few grams of unprocessed animal protein extracted from the body of a thriving species of seal whose population numbers in the millions.

But her detractors talk as if Michaëlle Jean committed an abominable transgression that amounts to the flouting of a sacred, inviolable taboo.

You can see this in the primal rage embedded within their horrified diction.

Observe, for example, the language used in this piece from The Times.

“The Queen’s representative in Canada has delighted locals and outraged campaigners by eating a chunk of raw seal heart cut freshly from a victim of the annual hunt.”

Note the unreflective use of this phrase: “victim of the annual hunt.” It’s not a seal heart any more. It’s a quasi-human heart.

Which may explain the unconscious origin of the emotion expressed here:

A spokeswoman for Stavros Dimas, the EU Environment Commissioner, refused to acknowledge the challenge last night. “No comment; it’s too bizarre to acknowledge,” she said.

All this somehow made me think about Claude Lévi-Strauss, the French anthropologist whose then-fashionable structuralist theories cast a dark shadow over my otherwise pleasant life as an English-lit student at the University of Toronto in the mid-1970s.

According to this fascinating little article, the motif of the eaten heart appears in numerous European myths and stories.

(The writer of the piece applies the idea that Lévi-Strauss set out in The Raw and the Cooked, “raw” meaning that which is natural and “cooked” meaning that which is made by culture.)

All this suggests that those who would vilify the Queen’s Canadian viceroy should perhaps examine their own tribal prejudices.

On another note, The Raw and the Cooked is also the title of a pretty good album by Fine Young Cannibals. But I still can’t figure out how the title connects to the music.

This entry was posted in Arctic, Environment, Inuit, News, Nunavut, Politics and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.