The Celestial Hunter by Roberto Calasso review – the sacrificial society

Stuart Jeffries in The Guardian:

Adam and Eve left the Garden of Eden wearing animal skins to hide the shame of their human flesh. “The Lord God made clothing” from the skins “for Adam and his wife”, Genesis 3:21 tells us. In a few Biblical pages, Creator had metamorphosed into Original Skinner. The Italian intellectual Roberto Calasso takes a dim view of this in his latest meditation on the roots of modernity in ancient myth. “Christian revelation is responsible not only for the declining reverence towards the cosmos … but also for a certain new, summary and almost brutal way of dealing with animals.”

Calasso doesn’t have only Christianity in his crosshairs. What unites Judaism, Christianity and Islam, he thinks, is not just an “obsession about divine oneness” but “the silent sacrificial war against the animal”. He finds that war prosecuted on the Rue Saint-Jacques in 18th-century Paris. An abbé recorded what happened when a pregnant dog rolled over at the feet of Cartesian theologian Nicolas Malebranche. “The Philosopher gave it a great kick, for which the dog let out a cry of pain and M Fontenelle a cry of compassion. ‘O, really,’ said Father Malebranche coldly, don’t you know that it feels nothing?’”

That war continues today, Calasso argues.

More here.