Tuesday, June 30, 2009

On Early and Late Derrida

This is the sort of post that blogs are basically made for: an intuitive argument that I believe is right but that I haven't dotted all the Ts and crossed all the Is yet. So, this is something I am putting out there to see if people think I should keep working at or if there are some obvious objections I am ignoring here.

This post makes use of a distinction between early Derrida and late Derrida. Such a distinction is, of course, obviously problematic and overly schematic. Simon Critchley, for example, categorically rejects such a distinction, stating that, "In my experience reading Derrida, the closer one looks, the harder it is to find any substantial difference between earlier and later work" (Critchley; Ethics, Politics, Subjectivity p. 96). My argument is not that there exists some clear demarcating line between early and late Derrida, or that elements of one doesn't exist in the other. But, I also believe that an ahistorical reading of an author, that doesn't take into accounts changes that occur during a thinker's long and productive career is a particularly good reading, either.

There are two elements that I feel are particularly worth paying attention into understanding a shift from an early Derrida to a late Derrida is (1) his relationship to Heidegger and (2) the centrality of resisting certain disavowals. These two points are not unrelated, but are held together through what Derrida called the question of the animal. As the question of the animal intensifies in Derrida's thought we see a continued distance being placed between Derrida and Heidegger, and so often and repeatedly over the question of the animal (from the 1968 The Ends of Man, to his 2001-2002 lectures The Sovereign and the Beast). And if we are to take Derrida at his word, that the most fundamental disavowal for him is the disavowal of the animal, then it should come as no surprise to us that his more political and ethical writings should become more central in his work at the same time that the question of the animal enters his work with a stronger and greater frequency. The argument here isn't just that you can't understand Derrida without understanding his work on animals, though that is part of my argument, it is also that you can't understand the specific shift of his work away from a strong heideggerianism and towards a strong political and ethical focus without understanding the way the question of the animals plays in the economy of Derrida's writing.

Monday, June 29, 2009

I'm back, thanks Greg, and Sen. Chambliss goes after Cass Sunstein over animal rights

I am finally back. Southern funerals are strange events in general, particularly in my family. If for no other reason than dietary. A good number of us are at least vegetarians, but those that aren't are all old-school flesh eaters from the south. For example, on the day that my Grandmother died, someone called my Aunt (with whom my grandmother had been living with), and said she was going to bring over a ham, because, "Hams are easy to make, and everyone likes hams." And that was just the first of the many flesh offering made in condolences to the family after my Grandmother's death. It was particularly sad for me to that my Grandmother's death became a time to also add the deaths of animals. I don't have much more to say on that subject, except if you are Nashville there is a great vegetarian Indian restaurant named the Woodlands, I was really impressed. The food was a great, and easy enough to be made vegan.

Speaking of being back, hats off to Greg for doing such a great job in my absence. I've invited him to keep blogging here as long as he wants, but you all should encourage him to keep blogging somewhere! I think we can all agree on that.

Lastly, we talked before about Cass Sunstein, whom Obama appointed to head the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs. Well, now it seems that Saxby Chambliss (senator from the state I grew up in, GA), has decided to place a hold on that nomination because Sunstein supports rather moderate animal rights. I don't really have any immediate comments, except this clearly highlights that animal rights is still far from the mainstream. But we all knew that, anyway.

Friday, June 26, 2009


On the road to Mt. Rushmore we visited Bear Country USA. It is a drive through zoo with segmented territories for black bears, arctic wolves, timber wolves, elk, mountain lions, mountain goats, dall sheep, American buffalo, and a couple other similar species. It cost 15 bucks per human in the car so it was by no means a cheap excursion (by our standards). The dogs got in free.

For the first hundred yards we strained to find the elk. Then we came around a bend and there were about fifteen of them feeding unselfconsciously from a trough right next to the road. The other species were similarly unconcerned with our presence. Even the wolves strolled lazily in front of our moving car.

The park is rightly named for the bears: there were a lot of bears, I would estimate over thirty in an area smaller than a football field. Their unlikely concentration did not seem to be making them anxious, presumably because of an ample supply of food for all and the fact they were all raised since cubs by humans. The only aggression proved to be a prelude to sex. At the end of the driving tour there was “babyland” where you could walk around territories for the weaned cubs and pups and see some smaller species.

The basic ecology of Bear Country seems to condense the meat productive capacity of the surrounding non-touristic land: the maximum population is sustained against whatever ecological imperatives might have existed of old for the sake of human consumption (of meat, of the image of the animal). At the same time, Bear Country provides a useful link between the unglamorous and displaced (from tourist areas) economy of meat and the aggressively evident images of the tourist economy. The extant economy of maximal meat and grain production appears unnatural when analyzed directly; however, Bear Country establishes a linkage between the already naturalized condition of the consumer and the means by which that population procures the means for its existence.

The economic situation of the bears is that of the tourists: they are as dense on their plot as we are in the car or hotel or camp/ground, but not miserably so. Their hunger is as over-provided for as that of the tourist. They are free to wander and play within the confines of their zone, just as the tourist, not knowing the land and being subject to National Park or other institutional surveillance, is free within but not beyond the boundaries of approved spectacles. By establishing an animal correlative for the material conditions of the tourist, while also representing the economy of animal production existing outside the bounds of tourism, the bears make visible one path by which discourse and material conditions speak to each other about the West. The proximity to the bears is both reassuring of our ultimate similarity and disquieting in its lack of historical context.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The dialectical position of the midwest

In my last post I lamented the poor veg options on my drive along US I-90. I've been thinking more about how "the midwest" functions as a concept in a discourse of America and how its rhetorical use relates to its material conditions.

I don't pretend to know anything about the midwest. I've never lived here; I'm not doing an ethnography. At the same time, the experience of passing through the west is a direct experience of the discourse of the west because this discourse typically stresses the passing through (the quest, the cattle/drive, the roadtrip as its truth. I can't found a critique of this discourse on objective or anthropological counter assertions, but I can exploit this discourse to show how its referent is not the material conditions of the west.

The midwest usually exists in writing not as an in-itself but as a foil for cultural production. The coasts produce culture; the center produces grain and meat. The center is a means, then, and the coasts are its end. In terms of travel, it is also an area through which one travels, not to which one travels. It is a geographic exemplum of Hegel's negativity, that zone through which the truth must travel to continue to become itself against the force of history.

Now, it is absurd to say that the geography of the North American continent and the tendencies of population centers to condense around waterways is the effect of a cultural desire to have a physical representation of a travel-oriented culture (the cult of speed in Virilio's analysis). Nor do I think we should naturalize the peripheralization of the midwest--because it is distant, because it lacks oceanic access, because it is agriculture friendly and often harsh--because we can see in any number of places that discourse goes beyond objective difference to make the midwest more alien, more mocked, and more feared than it need be.

What seems to be the truth to me is that there is a convenient overlap between the ritual of driving through the west, a culture of speed and intermediacy, an aesthetics of the Quest (for America, for national character), and the geographic existence of a vast stretch of land that is conducive to agricultural use. America (and beyond) definitely relies on the productive capacity of the "amber waves of grain" but benefits equally from the aesthetic discourse that has arisen from the outsider's attempt to make sense of this region. Ultimately the west creates raw materials in two sense: the food that fuels persons elsewhere, and the sense of an incompletely articulated project of nationhood that drives the need for cultural production by coastal outsiders.

Vegetarian meltdown in South Dakota

The last two days have seen me driving through Minnesota and South Dakota. Today I approached a nutritional breakdown after eating at non-chain restaurants for a couple meals in a row. The problem is that I am a vegetarian and the menus of these privately owned, relatively old restaurants represent the idea that meat=success and fortification.

Although Subway has gotten rid of its veggie pattie, it can still muster a decent vegetarian sub. Wawa or Sheetz will kill you with cheese, but at least it's filling. Burger King has a very decent veggie burger. McDonald's blows--what did you expect.

But at the places where small town locality gets to express itself through food it seems to do so with strong disregard to vegetarianism (a billboard on entering South Dakota exhorts visitors to try their beef). Veg options are fried or based around iceberg lettuce and ranch. The place I am from is the same way.

One might surmise a repetition of the "what's wrong with Kansas" mentality from such experiences. But let's think about it. If one were to open a veg restaurant along I-90, advertised with Wall Drug fervor, would it succeed? Perhaps. Or maybe it would fail because the consensus on meat consumption is endemic to American culture at large right now, and few people driving through would really care for such a fringe--and imported, inauthentic--experience.

But wait--this thought experiment selects for only that population who would actually be driving across America, or rather, America's "fly over country." We're missing out on the intelligentsia who are 30k feet in the air. This cuts two ways: if our hypothetical vegetarian oasis fails, it's not because people in certain states are really backwards or ideologically blinded, but because the subgroups that inflect or create access to vegetarian/vegan food have given up or never thought of the agricultural torso of America. It is a shame that Subway is my best bet for a decent meal in more sense than one.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Dogs in social space

For the last two days we’ve been driving across Pennsylvania and Ohio in our migration out west. Being without a home, and with two medium-large dogs, has amplified my sense that social space is organized to exclude animals. In the general sense this is obvious and nothing new, but in the particular case of dogs—a species which all my experience and knowledge leads me to believe has moral faculties on par with humanity—there are detailed interdictions that go beyond exteriorizing “the wild” or the “beast” for the sake of mentally breaking our solidarity.

For example, if Cesca and I want to eat a meal we have to 1) find a restaurant with a dog-friendly patio 2) leave the dogs in the car or hotel for a bit 3) get take out 4) buy groceries and assemble/eat our food in a dog-friendly zone.

One of the ironies of the increase of capital’s attention to pets—the ever growing industry of foods, manuals, treats, and services—is that pets, particularly dogs, acquire a more definite place in the legal armature of capital. So as more people spend (and make) money on dogs, the geography of the human-dog world becomes more definitely articulated. This seems to be not so much to effect real protections of persons and property (that dog pissed on my church! Now I have to replace the granite!) as to delimit zones that capital can appropriate as productive. By making dog spaces scarce, dog-space can be commodified not just as kennels but as pay-per-use dog parks or dog daycares, extra fees or deposits at hotels, and as a good or lack thereof that inflects pricing and competition between accommodation services.

The rhetorical choice “doggy daycare” typifies how this follows the pattern of social disruption that capital was working out in its formative years: breaking up the family as a laboring unit, inventing “child labor”—and in such a way that it should not be permitted, that it can become a legal category—and introducing interior design that makes spaces 1) unavailable to the excluded or 2) such that it is likely to elicit transgressive behavior to justify exclusion. To a large extent this is coterminous with the discourse of space efficiency. The adult is the person who can function in tight, convoluted spaces without infringing on the space of those pushed near. If you’re reading this you can probably go to a busy Starbucks without incident; if you’re five years old or mentally retarded or a dog, you might have problems with that. In a park or other less dense space any of these individuals can function happily and with social success.

Conversely, cattle and other animal-products to be are put in their own places, again endorsed by the name of efficiency. The alternative would be a co-mingling of human and nonhuman spaces as we find in older, less modern cultures. (I vividly remember visiting a ruin where humans and their cattle slept in the same bed because the ammonia in the cow piss protected them from bronchial infection.) This system also avoids all the deteriorations any monoculture inflicts on its sustainability (Pollan praises such a rotation system in the modern cattle raising practices of Argentina). Creating a psychic division between humans and animals seems to be at least as important as productive capacity for the spatial logic of modern architectures.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Speaking publicly, privately

I love public bathrooms, not so much as a place to void my bowels but as an interesting zone of discourse. What are the rules for writing on bathrooms walls? It must be something one wants to publicize, but not publicly. There is a general contagion to the area. The reader will likely be smelling shit or piss while reading so the ambiance lends itself to complaint or the noisome. As much as I strive to apply the methodological imperatives of historical materialism, it is really base materialism that rules my heart.

In the bathrooms at the park I frequent the graffiti is all about clandestine sex acts--bj's and hj's, the largest writ being simply "SUK IT." A friend tells me that in the bathrooms of the University of Chicago there are expressions of general misery in several languages. I expect that in most public bathrooms one will be able to identify a dominant discourse that speaks of what that population most wants to say but feels is publicly derisible. It is also a complaint that the author is ashamed to make. There is a double exclusion: first the objective exclusion of the statement from public discourse, and then the subjective or interior exclusion of that statement from the subject's conscious attitude toward objective conditions. One feels ashamed to have this complaint.

The other main bathroom graffiti, uber-trite political slogans, is the converse: something so vacuous it can be uttered publicly or privately without stirring thought or response.

Are these not the poles which attempt to organize thinking about consumption of animal? The quietism of the vegetarian who does not want to be lumped in with fools, and those groups who are "anti-cruelty," as tautologically evacuated as being "against terror," who successfully propagate a public discourse organized solely by charisma (and it might remembered here that charisma is the political logic of the dictator).

Thursday, June 18, 2009

City of Fishes

This is also a slightly dated story but it is something I think is cool and invites speculation. In brief, scientists used some new sonar to watch a macroscopic convalescence of herring.

"The process starts as fish begin to aggregate near the seabed at sunset. When the fish reach a critical density — about one fish in a 15-foot-square area — their behavior changes. They draw closer to each other into "clusters," Makris says, and align their movements. Then the clusters coalesce in what appears to be a wave passing through the mass of fish. Makris says it looks like the kind of wave people create in sports stadiums.

"Once the giant school forms, it then moves south as a single entity, to an area where the fish spawn.

"The Georges Bank herring school at times stretched for 25 miles."

So, herring enact the post-'68 wet (fish pun!) dream regularly so that they don't get eaten while mating. Is there anything for us to learn from this aside from the details of piscine spawning?

I want to connect this briefly to John Brown, especially as I made a not especially well-informed remark about Brown in another post. Brown was foremost in my mind because I had read an article that morning about the thousand pikes Brown had commissioned for his rebellion. That seemed, well, pretty cool, because it took advantage of certain facts about his situation: 1) slave owners, like other modern sovereigns, did not want to have to prove their rule through the confrontation of the joust; they wanted to instill and maintain power through mediated, uninvolved displays of absolute power 2) he was living in the age of industrial steel, when a person could feasibly purchase 1000 technically primitive weapons that were, because of the cost-competitive pressure of mass production, still very good at killing (not as cheap as killing is today, but well within the threshold of industrial militaristic production). And 3) the technical skill to wield a pike is low. A pike does not jam; it requires only basic cleaning; any weaknesses or damages to it are immediately evident. It was a democratic weapon that would not cripple his campaign with its economic weight.

Brown's fantasy was anti-imperial, and I mean this in a technical sense. He took the dromocratic structure of the phalanx that marched across Roman Europe and made it the enemy of the sovereign's power. By "anti-imperial" I mean that it is the structure of imperial force but directed against the empire (as opposed to, say, pacifist anarchism which is "anti-imperial" in a very different way).

These twenty-five miles of massed herring are a similar fantasy. Who wouldn't want to be like those herring, caught up in an Event that duplicated seamlessly between subjects faster even than the fish could swim, which is to say it outruns the speed-limit of conscious communication. But the fish narrative currently offers nothing to politics. They don't want to be eaten; they just want to mate. These explanations are sufficient for science but are the crude material of evolutionary biology that has almost no grip on explaining human behavior, and less still when political agency is concerned. This seems like an incomplete narrative, sketched as yet only in the most cliched terms. It is not so much about us learning to be more like the fish, as learning to see our world in a way that lets this fish story appear within the political.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

I do not like the National Park Service

"For the benefit and enjoyment of the people"

(The above image comes from recreation.gov, an address which I imagine would have been the setting for a dystopian sci-fi novel if Foucault had teamed up with Dick. Enjoyment makes you free).

I've been working hard today to schedule my family's (myself, my wife, and our two dogs) move across the country by way of a stop off in Montana. For financial and other reasons we have been scheduling most of our nights at campsites, as well as trying to pay visits to America's natural wonders. Woe unto us! The National Park Service is ridiculously discriminatory against canines, prohibiting them from any areas other than line-of-sight from parking lots. What the fuck. I understand leash laws, but total prohibition is unreasonable--a dog on a leash can do no more damage to its environment or others than the negligence of its owner allows.

The obvious irony, which I don't have the energy to deconstruct after too many hours on google maps, is that National Parks are supposed to promote the human-environment connection but they do so by a very specific prohibition that prevents as many as possible unscripted animal events as possible. So instead of touring Yellowstone on foot with my family, we'll maybe take a four wheel cruise along the periphery and head back to Bozeman. Or I could incarcerate the dogs for the day so I can get closer to nature.

The national parks like to tout themselves as "America's best idea." As long as Guantanamo Bay is open I certainly wouldn't say it's our worst, but not by much. Actually, it's a great idea, but the execution is the hell of it.

Animal afterlife

This is a few months old but I just saw it and thought it might be useful for discussion.

You can get the article from the Washington Post. I think they also have the photo that served as the model, Dr. Krantz and Clyde when living, also.

I like this picture for a couple reasons.

1). It reduces humans and nonhumans into a single discourse, bone.

2). Similarly, I like that they are defaced because it poses uniqueness or personality as a question for speculation. Both dog and human are subject to the imaginative process by which the other appears as an ethical subject for the ego. Conversely, taxidermy would make this really creepy--perhaps more interesting as art, but would further postpone a shared discourse between humans and nonhumans.

3). They are not hunting or performing some other anachronistic--and inevitably ideological--activity. They are communicating, representing human and nonhuman accurately as affect-information workers, and so promoting consciousness of the real class solidarity that exists across species lines today.

4). They look like they are playing in the (Schillerian?) sense of reciprocally forming the terms of their engagement without prior determination of or interest in the outcome. This is how Agamben, working with Benjamin and against Schmitt, works to construe politics--not as an inviolable structuralism of friend and foe, but as a processual determination of the paradigm through which one sees collectivity (meaning that friend v. foe is only paradigm and Schmitt's naturalization is a strategy to secure a particular configuration of power, rather than the explication of an inevitable social order that Schmitt wants it to be).

5). I love dogs.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Benign neglect as capital

A few days ago I passingly referred to Zizek's "plea for differance." There's a sentence that might catch one's eye interested in how Zizek positions himself vis-a-vis Derrida as this is by no means an obvious alliance (especially considering Zizek's willingness to antagonize pretty much anyone, including a spat with Critchley concerning Infinitely Demanding , and that with his prestige there are no negative consequences, only further notoriety).

So maybe claiming solidarity with big D is more in line with his iconoclasm. Zizek writes:

"now when the Derridean fashion is fading away it is perhaps the moment to honor his memory by pointing out the proximity of the topic of my work to what Derrida called différance, this neologism whose very notoriety obfuscates its unheard-of materialist potential."

Oops, I gave away the "notoriety" ploy. Zizek throws a leather jacket over Derrida's shoulders whether he likes it or not.

I single this line out because it is very, very similar to how Derrida positions himself vis-a-vis Marx in Specters of Marx. I don't have the text in front of me but the thrust is that Derrida "always" felt an affinity for Marx's analysis but had to wait until it was fading from ascendancy in the politics of the French Academy for him to engage it honestly and fully. Fair enough. Zizek's repetition of this gesture almost verbatim raises it to the level of analysis.

On one hand it is intuitive that one would avoid engaging admitted masters of the discipline out of the anxiety of influence. You can lose yourself in Marx or Derrida's oeuvre--many have. A philosopher seeking to attain that height for him or herself wants a playing field that admits of his or her own contributions, a sort of stepwise program similar to that by which French professors work their way back in from the geographic periphery to the prestigious center of the intellectual arena.

In this later engagement the philosopher must not admit that he feared his antagonist. He (I use the masculine because I am talking about the examples of Z and D) feared being unfairly hamstrung by external conditions in his duel. His neglect was indifferent, haughty, and benign in that it never affected his disguised ability to confront the master or the real value of the master (the fading reputation is only the disillusionment of dilettantes and trend-followers). It is crucial, in fact, that there remains some kind of late-career hurdle to sustain the new master and show that he too has not begun to fade. I don't know how long this rhetoric has gone on but I see a pretty straight line from Kant's "if I have seen farther..." to the present day. The history of philosophy does not want for quips about its accomplishments.

All of which I find unobjectionable except that I see this also developing a sustained conspiracy between master philosophy and benign neglect. Benign neglect is a show of respect, a way for the dialectic of philosophical work to play out, and ultimately irrelevant to the truth/value of master philosophers, who judge the worth of each other unerringly across months or centuries. But "benign neglect" is also a certain attitude and set of practices directed toward many others whose material existence forms the capital of philosophical work--and while a criticism of the anthropological machine would point first to, say, postcolonial regions or the working class, I am thinking here of how philosophical benign neglect affects animals as they come into philosophical consideration. I am afraid that the animal will always be the last mantle to be hefted, an insurmountable problem that is maintained as formally insurmountable precisely because master philosophers engage it in their final duel.

Or, as in the opening chapter of The Open, the problem of the animal is the final mantle of philosophy in general. One can read this gesture as either "messianic," the possibility of ending the thousand year reign of the anthropological machine, or in the genealogy of philosophy conserving its capital.

Monday, June 15, 2009

The Holocaust as a model

Craig's post at Long Sunday expands on a conversation about the relationship between animal slaughter and the Holocaust. I agree with Craig that there is room for a valid structural correlation between these two examples of evil in which many non-subjectively evil persons participate. I think this also touches on the theoretical question of representing a systemic evil I discussed in connection with "White Mythology," and I want to expand on that line of inquiry here.

Animal rights discourse thrives on comparison to other atrocities and, reciprocally, atrocious behavior against humans relies on a world of violence against and between animals to make itself intelligible. From Hobbes's "homo homini lupus" to Tennyson's "red in tooth and claw," violence is animalistic, but it does not become violence proper until it is mitigated by the world of the human (the political for Hobbes, emotive interiority for Tennyson). By the same logic, to make violence against animals significant one draws on the extreme instances of humanity's inhumanity to itself. The comparison of animal treatment to human slavery and the comparison to the Holocaust--wasn't Heidegger vilified for saying that? I suppose context makes a difference--are probably as extreme as one can get in the recent history of massacre. Anyone looking at the matter objectively should acknowledge that these comparisons are fully warranted.

The question that I want to raise, though, is twofold: 1) Why do we need to introduce metaphoricity to make animal exploitation signify, or rather, what underlying conditions create the space that comparison can fill? 2) What are the consequences of introducing comparison into the signifying economy of animal exploitation?

The latter question I tried to address, though very incompletely, in the previous post. As for the former--

While Badiou writes that for persons within the horizon of the Third Reich resistance was the only possible consequence of thinking the situation, today the reverse seems to be true: the negative value of the Holocaust, and its special historico-ontological position, owe to it appearing evil without needing to think about it. The Holocaust gives a referent to evil that will not meet with quibbling. At the same time, as Craig finds in his seminar with high school students, thinking the Holocaust is the condition for moving animal exploitation into thought. The naturalization of "The Holocaust" as the signified or signifier of evil means one does not have to think it. Such a poetics of evil works against the possibility of future or ongoing events also being evil. If the specific mechanisms of evil within the Holocaust--or within American chattel slavery, or whatever event one chooses--are approached as opaque and in need of examination, however, then the metaphorical relationship is not so much vertical as cyclical or reciprocal (it is a general economy rather than a restricted economy in Derrida/Bataille's terms). For Agambenites one must understand the camp to understand the factory farm, and I would add: vice versa. This "vice versa" is critical, not as posturing on behalf of animal studies, but so that the past remains something to think. The link between thinking and recognizing evil is the lesson of the Holocaust, or of John Brown or Frederick Douglass, and it is in this regard that the metaphorical relationship promotes the abolition of animal exploitation.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

The white mythology of animal rights

Derrida's not as popular as he once was, to put it mildly, but his early and mid career texts are still as sharp as they ever were. Zizek's got a recent piece to that effect in Critical Inquiry (here's the best copy I could find). "White Mythology," on the relation between philosophy and its employment of metaphor, is one of those essays that has enduring value.

Metaphors are useful for philosophy not so much when they are on the surface, protrusions that can be objected to and reformulated, as when they become ingrained into discourse as unavoidable. The metaphor for this metaphor is the coin that has circulated until the imprint has worn off and it is returned to bullion. Value then appears to be intrinsic to the thing (or figure) in itself rather than of human minting.

This brings us to the question of representation or mediation of animals in relating them to discourses not especially friendly to animals in themselves. As discussed in Scu's previous posts, Agamben's work provides one of the best starting points for fitting animals into a biopolitical schema but is basically a kind of human exceptionalism.

Relating "bare life" to one's lived experience--contextualizing it in the situation, to use Badiou's term loosely--asks for some kind of representational linkage. Animals are probably not mistaken for zoe because everyone misreads Agamben but because the abuse of animals reducing them to bare life has been accomplished as the metaphorical ellision of the metaphor. The statement "animals are like bare life" has become "animals are bare life" by repetition.

Animals are not in themselves (or as defined by Agamben) bare life: definite process reduce them to that condition. Materially animals are stripped of their particular way of life through the torture of the factory farm; in discourse they "become" (mistaken for) bare life through the insistence that this, the scene of torture, is where we find the real animal. When the image of the animal-as-bare-life becomes the dominant one through which animals are thought or enter into political consideration, the naturalization of animal abuse has succeeded. Paradoxically, the techniques for raising awareness of animals abuse can also ensure that they continue to stand for and in the zone of bare life.

Exclusion versus loss of life

This will be the final post on the bear statue, I promise. The last thing to note with this structure is its place in a general economy of "things to see" at the park, the most noticeable counterpart being the nearby duck pond. There are probably fifty ducks in this pond of varying plumages and god knows how many koi fish swimming in the water.

Recently two swans were added. I learned from talking to old-timers that there had been previous installments of swans but that people would kill them under cover of night (senselessly, it seems). There is no monument to this violence. The new swans assume a kind of identity with their predecessors. Two faces of violence and monument in the park, a hundred feet apart. The loss of a human life must be remembered ("in loving memory," not just the remembered being loved, but the very act of memory being the new cathexis-object for this love) and the loss of animal life must be effaced, not metaphorically or mimetically, but identically.

There is an important difference drawn here between exclusion and loss of life ordered by the concept of the animal other. Exclusion of animal life is memorialized; loss of this life is not. Loss of human life is memorialized; its (inclusive) exclusion is not.

Following the line of thought connecting animals to the Agambenian economy of inside/outside, we find this process registered in material culture as a question of aesthetics or, more specifically, design and architecture. How animals are reduced to bare life or mistaken for bare life is a question of mis/representation, both philosophical and popular. One point of entry for altering this ellision is in the depiction of animals in public works and public places.

The question of how metaphoricity handles animals must remain open for another day. But if we can't memorialize violence against animals without simply importing their lives into the obverse biopolitical economy structured by anthropological concepts, then we must develop new representational tactics for bringing to thought this injustice in a way true to its being.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Monumentalizing Opacity

Following up on the previous post about the bear violence memorial in my town, I had a couple more comments to make hoping to elucidate its meaning and the utility of critical animal studies for everyday life.

First, what went unspoken in the previous post was the very opacity of the memorial. In this area there is no shortage of Civil War commemorations at otherwise unremarkable junctures of sidewalk, memorializing otherwise deservedly forgotten events in very forgettable detail (My god, a few miles east of this sign Turner Ashby fell! Open the google browser on your iPhone, honey!). Close by the bear memorial is a miniature (less than quarter mile) kiddy train circuit with a posted history worthy of Livy.

In contrast, it was only by serendipity that I gained the slightest insight into the meaning of this memorial. While pointedly unusual in its design and content it is also obscurantist concerning the reasons for those decisions. So, for the makers of this structure it is important that it is both 1) eye-catching, extensive, alluring by its impenetrability and 2) unexplained, whimsical, mysterious.

The memorial draws spectators in through the promise of meaning (by its spectacularity) but then rebuffs them. You get very little out of viewing it, only a vague pathos that someone died—and this sense is undercut by the conjoined but meaningless spectacles of the wire bears (so…he really liked bears?).

In line with my previous remarks, I see this opacity as a political decision. And, I must say, I don’t see it as an entirely negative decision. On one hand, the animal is a figure consistently construed as aesthetically ambivalent for the sake of masking real determinations of animals as meat, labor, spectacle, etc., and this structure partakes of that economy. On the other hand, I think in this case the meaninglessness of the monument directs the viewer to social reality to make sense of it. One can’t ask the bears what happened, but one might have to confront the existence of history to understand this memorial.

Now is one of the saddest times to talk about Holocaust memorials, but what if there was just a gigantic rock in the ground in Chicago forcing one to ask, “what the hell is this?” There is a real answer, and one would learn it through social interaction with persons partisan to spreading knowledge of the event. It is only by chance that I learned about the history of the bear statuary. Inevitably it is the fate of any monument to mark only the loss of memory about its origin. In the case of animals it is rare to find any enduring trace of their erasure, but I think in this case there is resistance from the domain of the aesthetic in presenting a strange and morbid object that demands we engage our history.

I meant to say more but that went on for awhile and it got late. Tomorrow I'll write something about the relation of this static monument to the other parts of the park contextualizing it, especially the duck pond (which seems like an innocent enough place but is quite weird).

Friday, June 12, 2009

Monumentalizing Exclusion

There’s a park I frequent with a memorial that perplexed me for a long time. It is a sturdy iron cage, maybe fifteen feet to a side, inside of which are several wire statues of bears. One of the bears is covered in ivy, giving it a soft, full exterior; the other bears are empty and spectral. They are all about four feet tall and proportioned to a kind of “teddy bears picnic” cuteness. Footlights illuminate them at night. A plaque reads “In Loving Memory [some guy’s name].”

All this made a lot more sense after I learned from an old lady that there used to be a small zoo in the park with bears among its occupants, until a kid climbed in the bear cage and was killed by them.

How does this memorial arise, in its specific form, from its tragic original, and why would it make sense to deal with this event through such a structure? Agamben’s notion of the inclusive exclusion begins to shape an interpretation. If animals are not bare life, which they certainly are not, they can at least be connected to the analysis of homo sacer by the shared process of inclusive exclusion. Animals, as they exist for the Western experience since the 18th or 19th century and (not coincidentally) for rights discourse, are usually confined. Otherwise they are part of “the environment.” They are locked out of political consideration by being locked up inside the polis or by being driven into the wilderness.

The memorial marks the disturbance of this balanced equation, the moment when the physicalization of social division failed. Thus it cannot be memorialized simply as the remembrance of the deceased, but must be a re-enactment of the violated process. The bears are again inclusively excluded qua their bear-ness. The two aspects of the bear statues display the dual movement of power: the bears are either hollow, ideal forms, made of the same material and techniques as the cage, or they are covered over in the ivy leaves, sedimented by the slow growth of time.

A Guest Blogger!

I'll be gone over the next two weeks, and I won't have access to the internet for a lot of that time. However, someone stood up and is willing to keep this blog going for the next two weeks. So, don't forget to keep checking in.

Greg will be here, a fellow scholar in critical animal studies, and I hope you bring him the same level of insightful comments and keeping him on his toes that you bring me.

Maybe the experience will be positive enough for him that we convince him to keep blogging, as well.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Bare life isn't animal life

I almost feel like I post on Agamben, and Agambenian themes, too much. Oh well.

Bare life is not animal life. I don't mean that Agamben feels this is true, I am unsure in my readings of him on this stance on this issue (my guess is that he will agree with that statement). Many commentators have assumed that bare life is the same thing as bare life. I can understand the confusion. Bios is opposed to zoe, and zoe is often understood as animal life. Furthermore, what does a human have left after all the things that makes that being a human have been stripped from them? One might thing the answer to that is simply its animality. Indeed, there seems to be a confusion here between the animal and the biological. That confusion needs to be resisted.

Let us take the paradigmatic example of bare life in Agamben, the musselman. By all descriptions, the musselman barely reacts when attacked, has little understanding of the world around him/herself, stumbles around like the living dead. Animals don't act that way. They react when attacked, they experience pleasures and joy, they have complex social interactions, in short, animals have a whole series of capacities that make them who they are outside of a mere, biological existence. Animal life is not bare life, unless it is made into bare life. Take the example of tail docking. Pigs in factory farms are lined up in rows, with no room to move side to side or turn around. The pigs become so stressed they start suckling and biting the tails of the pigs in front of them. Normally, the pigs would fight off the biting pig, but they have become so depressed in a factory farm they don't fight off the other pig. Infections are common, so the factory farm has started cutting off part of the tails of pigs, so the pain is so much it produces responses from the pig. This is just one of countless examples by which animal life is reduced to bare life. But, for us to understand that, we have to first realize that animal life is not the same thing as bare life.

Coda on my last post on biopolitics in Pollan and Haraway

My last post was rather harsh in many ways. And I stand beside the analysis, completely. However, it is sometimes hard advancing critiques against people who are partial allies. Donna Haraway obviously feels a great deal of emotional confusion over her flesh eating practices. What is odd to me is that she feels we all should feel equally confused, and call that confusion political practice. I have trouble buying that.
Michael Pollan's justifications for meat eating rubs me to wrong way because he not only is trying to make meat-eating practices ethically okay, but also ethically superior to vegan/vegetarian practices. That requires some obvious push back. Also, I have frequently meet people who are former vegetarians and cite Pollan's work as the intellectual justification for their switching to flesh eating. That also bothers me. However, Pollan's work has re-invigorated arguments over the treatment of animals, government subsidies towards CAFOs, et cetera. And just as there are former vegetarians who now eat flesh, there are people who try to avoid factory farmed animal flesh who wouldn't otherwise. And I believe that the factory farm is a unique evil (even if that word is out of fashion). So, if there are people who wish to fight the factory farm I welcome them, even if I don't understand or share Haraway's moral confusion or Pollan's strange psycho-sexual desire for flesh eating*. I recognize that in the hard work of coalition building, they are allies more than opponents.

* I know that calling Pollan's arguments psycho-sexual may seem a little off, but I present this strange paragraph from "An Animal's Place"

Surely this is one of the odder paradoxes of animal rights doctrine. It asks us to recognize all that we share with animals and then demands that we act toward them in a most unanimalistic way. Whether or not this is a good idea, we should at least acknowledge that our desire to eat meat is not a trivial matter, no mere ''gastronomic preference.'' We might as well call sex -- also now technically unnecessary -- a mere ''recreational preference.'' Whatever else it is, our meat eating is something very deep indeed.

The biopolitics of Michael Pollan and Donna Haraway

Most of you, by now, have seen this blog, which asks the question, Michael Pollan or Michel Foucault?

This reminded me of some work on Michael Pollan I had been doing, most of the arguments having never made it on here (with this one exception). This time, however, I want us to turn toward a rather strange and discomforting shift in Michael Pollan's justification for meat eating. Once again I will focus on the condensed "An Animal's Place", mostly for cutting and pasting purposes, but also because shorter works can sometimes bring out contradictions more clearly than longer pieces. However, every move that Pollan makes in this essay is replicated in The Omnivore's Dilemma.

In "An Animal's Place," Pollan begins by advancing a rather strong critique of the factory farm. What has caused and allowed to continue the atrocities of the factory farm, according to Pollan, is a specific breakdown in the relationship between humans and animals. Let me quote Pollan:
Several years ago, the English critic John Berger wrote an essay, ''Why Look at Animals?'' in which he suggested that the loss of everyday contact between ourselves and animals -- and specifically the loss of eye contact -- has left us deeply confused about the terms of our relationship to other species. That eye contact, always slightly uncanny, had provided a vivid daily reminder that animals were at once crucially like and unlike us; in their eyes we glimpsed something unmistakably familiar (pain, fear, tenderness) and something irretrievably alien. Upon this paradox people built a relationship in which they felt they could both honor and eat animals without looking away.

What broke down between humans and animals is a face to face relationship (and here, I would like to wet your appetite for a future post on the ethics of Levinas, the problem of faciality in Deleuze and Guattari, and the question of this face to face relationship with animals), and if we want to have a way to eat animals ethically, we have to restore this face to face relationship. After this claim, Pollan's article spends several paragraphs explaining, primarily Peter Singer's, arguments for vegetarianism. After that we have Pollan's response as to why eating animals is ethically okay, even more, ethically superior to vegetarianism. The first reason is the rather bizarre political origin myth that Pollan lays out that I discussed in my previous post. This leads to his second, and more forceful point of the ethical superiority of eating animal flesh from non-factory farms. Again, let me quote Pollan:
Yet here's the rub: the animal rightist is not concerned with species, only individuals. Tom Regan, author of ''The Case for Animal Rights,'' bluntly asserts that because ''species are not individuals . . . the rights view does not recognize the moral rights of species to anything, including survival.'' Singer concurs, insisting that only sentient individuals have interests. But surely a species can have interests -- in its survival, say -- just as a nation or community or a corporation can. The animal rights movement's exclusive concern with individual animals makes perfect sense given its roots in a culture of liberal individualism, but does it make any sense in nature?

First, let us put aside the question if nations, communities, and corporations make any sense in nature, as well. So, the problem with animal rights/animal liberation, according to Pollan, is that these doctrines turn us toward the individual or specific animal, and away from the animal as a species. This is a curious move, for not only does it seem to replace the face to face relationship that Pollan claimed as so central before (now the face of an individual pig must be replaced with the face of The Pig, pig in general), but it changes entirely the level by which we are to understand and answer ethical and political question. These questions have now been deplaced to the level of the population, to the level of the species. Michael Pollan goes on to contend that without humans eating animals, many domesticated species would die out. So, at the level of the population, we now have a moral imperative to eat and kill animals so that the population does not die. We have to kill in order to make life live (to steal a phrase from Michael Dillon and Julian Reid). It is the same as the old Vietnam military logic of having to destroy a village in order to save it. However, one might be willing to let Pollan off the hook. He isn't a trained philosopher, and he probably couldn't care less about the question of the biopolitical. Let us turn our attention, now, to someone who should know better.

Donna Haraway's book When Species Meet is a strange and frustrating book for anyone who is serious about questions of animal ethics. It also contains several remarkable similarities to Pollan's An Omnivore's Dilemma (my brother likes to point out that the books end in exactly the same way, with a bunch of professors roasting a pig in California). It is exactly to this pig roast I would now like to turn. Before turning there, I guess I should stay that until her recent turn to discuss animals, Donna Haraway was an essential and keystone philosopher for much of my early theory days. I even sent her a fanboy email once. And her earlier writing on animals still remains radical and exemplary. I still find her writing and style intoxicating. Even so, let us look at her position on flesh eating in the "parting bites" of WSM. She describes how her friend Gary Lease is a hunter who is incredibly concerned with hunting in ecologically sustainable ways. She further describes "[h]is approach is resolutely tuned to ecological discourses, and he seems tone deaf to the demands individual animals might make as ventriloquized in rights idioms" (pp. 296-297). Again, we see how a certain idea of ecology, an inherently biopolitical, makes us tone deaf to specific beings and is replaced simply by the population. Furthermore, it is a little weird to see Haraway accuse other of ventriloquy trick, considering in an earlier chapter she wrote from a first person perspective of a chicken, a chicken who is okay with being slaughtered, I might add. In her desire for a cosmopolitical moment, we are given to believe that the most important aspects of cosmopolitics is what occurs in the conversations of the professors and students at the dinner party where the roasted pig was served. Displaced at the very moment she insists that eating is centralized, is that eating itself is always a cosmopolitical moment. And while one may have a discussion that does not place one is a field of commitment, the act of eating always a partisan act. And if want to avoid the god-trick of transcendence, as see often argues, we have to understand that non-neutrality is the guarantee of non-transcendence. Only god gets to be neutral. The cosmopolitical moment does not occur when we set aside partisanship (and she so often seems to imply), but can only occur through partisanship. Lastly, the biopolitical movement by which we displace the singular animal for the animal-as-population has extreme importance for any possible cosmopolitics. It forfeits our ability to bring animals into this conversation. It forever exiles animals from agents in cosmopolitics, and rather rigs the game as a discussion among humans, while nearby the corpse of a being that should be central in this cosmopolitical discussion is slowly having its flesh burnt to (humanist) perfection(ism). What you chose to do in that moment matters. It isn't merely a random sentence in the a middle of a paragraph (she eats the flesh), but is the central premise by which the rest of the conversation can possibly occur. Any move that decentralizes your action is a biopolitical god-trick, no matter how many times you say it isn't.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Durantaye's Agamben and animal rights

Leland de la Durantaye's new book, Giorgio Agamben: A Critical Introduction finally arrived on my doorstep yesterday. My first feeling upon getting the book is, "Damn! This book is huge." In a purely physical sense, coming in at 389 pages before notes, coming in at 463 with notes, bibliography, and index.

After flipping through this book for a while, my second reaction is, "Damn! This book is huge." And this time I meant it in philosophical sense. This book is likely to be the book by which all other analysis of Agamben is likely to judged for some time coming.

One of the things this book contains is an highly revised version of Durantaye's review of The Open, the original version can be seen here(.pdf). In the revised edition, Durantaye advances the following argument: "In this light [That being how The Open functions in the economy of Agamben's writing, very similar to my own arguments on the matter], to read Agamben in the context of debates about animal rights is, though illuminating for those debates, somewhat misleading as a frame through which to understand The Open. For Agamben, the point is not to locate a continuity or an interruption in the line of evolution, not to align himself with those advocates of continuity like Aristotle or those who see a fundamental break between man and animal like Descartes and Heidegger, and not to bring about a more just treatment of animals, but instead to glimpse a new and different paradigm for human life" (p. 333).

Now, I agree that Agamben still has strong levels of anthropocentrism and human exceptionalism in his philosophy. It is also true that the concept of the anthropological machine has been 'illuminating' for anyone advancing a critique of humanism. However, this is where my agreement with Durantaye must diverge. His argument above seems to indicate that while Agamben can be illuminating for us, but that when we utilize Agamben's work in ways that are anti-human exceptionalist, we are being misleading. I think Durantaye is missing the point on this one. The 'illuminating' doesn't have to be a one way street on this one. Indeed, most of us would contend that the critiques of humanism advanced by the poststructuralist tradition is only able to reach its radical and liberatory potential if are able to remove the vestiges of anthropocentrism contained within that tradition. What we are not advancing is a new and improved humanism, and if you are not concerned about bringing about a more just treatment of animals, that is all you have. It may be misleading to say that Agamben cares about animals, but our utilizations of Agamben are not to imply that, it is rather meant to advance a reading of Agamben that manages to radicalize his own critique.

As a sort of footnote, I find Durantaye's use of the term "animal rights" in this case to be rather unnuanced. He specifically footnotes the work of Matthew Calarco as someone who has sought to read Agamben through this "animal rights" lens, but clearly anyone who has read Calarco is aware of the amount of time and attention spent distancing his work from the concept of rights.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Suggest blogs!

Anyone want to suggest blogs I haven't linked to that I might be interested in? Even a minor look around my current blog should probably clue you in about the sort of blogs I might want to follow.
Fire away in the comments.

Decolonial humanism

The theoretical and philosophical contributions of decolonial thinkers is absolutely essential. Those of us, like me, whose training is in poststructuralist philosophy, we ignore the contributions of decolonial philosophy to the determent of our understanding.

One of the things that has always interested me in the work of decolonial philosophy is the strong and profound critique of humanism. Patiently and brilliantly, we given over to exam how the human, invented as a european male, has been used to dominate and exploit the rest of the world. So far, so fascinating. But in almost every case the decolonial move is to then demand a new humanism (and what type of humanism tends to get various adjective applied, like substantive humanism, real humanism, universal humanism, humanism of the other, etc). You can see this in theorists as similar and diverse as Frantz Fanon, Aimé Césaire, Sylvia Wynter, Edward Said, and Nelson Maldonado-Torres; just to name a few. They seem to agree (implicitly with most, explicitly with Maldonado-Torress) with Levinas that "[h]umanism has to be denounced only because it is not sufficiently human."

I don't have much else to point out. I find this problematic. Does anyone know any decolonial thinkers that don't make this move of reclaiming humanism? Does anyone believe there is something essential in their varied humanisms I am missing?

Monday, June 8, 2009

Book lust

Over at cross-x I keep a thread posting about various just very recently released or unreleased books I am excited about. I've decided that once a week I will perform the same function here. I won't post about the books I've already posted there, you can check it out if you are interested. Except to post one book I am *particularly* interested in.

The Beast and the Sovereign, Volume I

(description from the Univ. Of Chicago Press website)

When he died in 2004, Jacques Derrida left behind a vast legacy of unpublished material, much of it in the form of written lectures. With The Beast and the Sovereign, Volume 1, the University of Chicago Press inaugurates an ambitious series, edited by Geoffrey Bennington and Peggy Kamuf, translating these important works into English.

The Beast and the Sovereign, Volume 1 launches the series with Derrida’s exploration of the persistent association of bestiality or animality with sovereignty. In this seminar from 2001–2002, Derrida continues his deconstruction of the traditional determinations of the human. The beast and the sovereign are connected, he contends, because neither animals nor kings are subject to the law—the sovereign stands above it, while the beast falls outside the law from below. He then traces this association through an astonishing array of texts, including La Fontaine’s fable “The Wolf and the Lamb,” Hobbes’s biblical sea monster in Leviathan, D. H. Lawrence’s poem “Snake,” Machiavelli’s Prince with its elaborate comparison of princes and foxes, a historical account of Louis XIV attending an elephant autopsy, and Rousseau’s evocation of werewolves in The Social Contract.

Deleuze, Lacan, and Agamben also come into critical play as Derrida focuses in on questions of force, right, justice, and philosophical interpretations of the limits between man and animal.
(due out in November)

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Cultural respect and vegetarianism

One of the more common complaints used against normative appeals of vegetarianism is that vegetarianism ignores diverse cultural practices. So, even if you get everyone to agree that factory farming is evil and indefensible, many will still argue that vegetarianism does not respect the cultural differences of people who have different relationships to slaughtering and consuming animal flesh than one based on the factory farm.
Sure, I think we can all agree there are many different relationships to killing animals and devouring their flesh (indeed, one of the central questions of my dissertation work is how we transferred from a sacrificial economy to a machanic economy in regards to our killing of animals), and that these practices are not equal.

What interests me about this argument is that someone's culture immediately trumps an animal's interest to not be slaughtered. But perhaps even more distrubing than that is this idea replicates the very basis of anthropocentrism, that indeed animals don't have a culture themselves that are endangered through practices that seek to slaughter them. One of the interesting developments of cognitive ethnology is to increasingly show the complex social interactions that most mammals (at the very least) enjoy. In other words, to show that animals have a culture. And if we are to take seriously the problems of coloniality and cultural imperialism, it seems we must be serious about recognizing culture that has been commonly marginalized. This includes the cultural formations of non-human animals, as such. In this view, normative and political arguments for a becoming-vegetarian are therefore arguments that seek not to create some sort of occidental universalization, but rather is a practice of resistance against forms of domination and cultural imperialism. Those that seek to ignore the cultures of animals continue the anthropocentrism and humanism of coloniality.

Friday, June 5, 2009

A discussion

I'm having a discussion with Adam Kotsko about abortion specifically, but more generally if sometimes including groups can be as devastating as excluding groups. So far, I find it interesting, and you might too. Yes, you.

Check it out

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Negri and vitalism

So, most people read Negri as being a vitalist even though he explicitly and frequently rejects vitalism. Now, I assume this because of the vitalism that is in Deleuze. But this is one of those issues where people end up reading everyone into the poststructuralist goo. Someone says something similar to someone else, and suddenly they are saying the same thing.

Regardless, that Negri is not a vitalist, that he rejects the bergsonism in Deleuze, is a key and critical difference. Not just between Negri and Deleuze, but oddly also between Negri and Agamben. Negri does believe in an ontology of becoming, which clearly places him alongside Deleuze. And their shared interest in Spinoza and a Marxism that focuses on the production of subjectivity means this shouldn't surprise you. What changes however is that for Deleuze this ontology of becoming is rooted in a vitalism, with the force of life that comes from outside and exceeds everything. This life is certainly not contained within just the human, necessary. Though certainly life, as Deleuze (with and without Guattari) understands it includes things like metal, and various other things that would not traditionally be considered life. For Negri, the ontology of production has nothing to do with the nature of life, but rather with the particular nature of humanity. To be human, for Negri, is rooted with our unique capacity for production, for living labor power. This is not vitalism, as people keep calling it, but humanism. And a not surprising humanism from a man whose early philosophical projects were undertaken in examining many of the great enlightenment era humanists (Descartes, Machiavelli, and a certain conception of Spinoza). And that this is a thinker who desires a new enlightenment, a biopolitical enlightenment. Now, I have no doubt that Negri would disagree with my characterization of this as humanism. Most likely because the production of subjectivity that is uniquely human for Negri can overcome itself (with all the Nietzschean and Foucauldian overtones this is suppose to evoke).

This humanism is also stands as stark contrast to Agamben. Negri believes it is when vitalistic concerns are introduced, when we come to care about zoe instead of just bios, that we see introduced the concerns of the thantopolitical. This comes to heart of Negri's criticisms of Agamben's figure of the homo sacer becoming a political figure. He is terrified that we will rally around naked life as something to be protected, which for him continues to justify being able to see humans as being separable from their bios.

I guess I don't need to say I find this humanism even more problematic than I find Deleuze's generalized vitalism. In particular, I doubt I need to tell you that what Negri misses in this obsession with bios is the problem that I refer to, following the movie Blade Runner, as more human than the human. It may be true that we can produce something different from the human, but if we are bound up with humanism then all seek to make is to perfect the human. And that drive, of course, is what drives regimes to make people into naked life. Not by having the concept of naked life, but by having a concept that can we need to perfect the human.

Which is sad, because I really Negri.