Many of of think chickens are good people. The stories offer a new way to perceive chickens, and beyond chickens, wildlife in general, the natural world, and our place within it.
One of the great human conceits is that we are somehow not part of the natural world, that we are above it, supernatural. This might have biblical roots, with the idea that God gave us dominion over the animals, and religion is surely one of the big differences between us and them. But it may also be true that we have simply decided this must be so because ever since we developed flint spear-heads and set about decimating mammal populations, we found that our unusually large brain gave us incredible advantages over animals. Coming down from the trees really freed up a lot of capacity in our hands to make things and figure out applications. No longer did we have to use all our mental capacity to avoid falling from branches.
And it is true that we have, unlike any other creature on earth, managed through our particular genius and because of our unassuagable appetites, to change the face of the planet, alter the mineral balance of our globe and de-stablize our climatic system, upon which all life on earth depends. Yet we are carbon-based: We are born, we live, we die, we decompose, we return as compost, trace minerals, mulch.In this we have much in common with animals, who we often malign as inferior to us. One of the pillars of our system of distinguishing ourselves from animals is the idea of individuality. Indeed, sometimes it seems that individuality is something that even humans only achieved in the nineteenth century, with the development of political movements which worked for human rights against a history of oppression and enslavement.
But if you were to see humanity from a distance, the kind of distance bestowed by belonging to a different species, you would probably not be able to distinguish one human from another, rather like how some people with limited exposure to foreigners think that all Chinese, or Whites, or Blacks, look alike. In other words our much-vaunted individuality is only easily seen by those like us, or by those who really look hard. Just so with animals: a flock of sheep appear to be an indistinguishable mass until you really stop and pay attention. Then the individuals stand out, their behavior becomes varied—beyond the obvious similarities of eating grass, running from dogs, and making a sound like baaa.
This project aims to explore the individuality of chickens, as one of the most familiar barn yard creatures which has for centuries graced the human dinner table and provided a dietary staple in many cultures. While of vital importance in our culinary culture, the chicken, its personality and pedigree, receives little thought and is paid little heed by most of the population.
This meeting place of all things Chicken, this in-gathering of stories from around the county, seeks to fill these gaps and give a little subjectivity to the chicken. And who knows? Perhaps it will make us think a little differently next time we go to KFC. Whether or not you still order up those wings, or even chew a little more thoughtfully, is, of course, up to you.