Pitié pour la Viande! The Cult and Cure of the Battered Body 

Variant title

Pitié pour la Viande! Culto e cura del corpo da macello


This essay, titled «Pitié pour la viande!» Cult and care of the slaughtered body, analyses the peculiar relation between human flesh – conceived both as organic (Körper) and lived body (Leib) – and animal meat. The key notion to understand this connection lies in the idea of the ‘spread body’ (corps épandu) by E. Falque. Nowadays, the autopoietic attempt to build a perfect body goes through technological enhancement and the substitution of the organic part with mechanical components and it leads to the hypothesis of uploading identity online. The cult of the perfect body, however, does not eradicate suffering. Physical pain testifies to our defeat against the strength of the organic, as the dying man in palliative care ward demonstrates. In the spread body, the flesh appears as meat: is the body that of a butchered animal such as the putrefied corps of the Crucified Lamb (Isaiah, Tertullian, Grünewald). The spread body represents an ethical challenge and transforms the meat in flesh in the palliative ethics of the care for the other man (Levinas). Falque’s spread body highlights the point of conjunction between animal, man and God defining the borders of humanity.