What I find truly illuminating – and even touching – about Agamben’s The Open is the way he poses the question of animality as an artificial discursive element which is produced inside that which will call itself the human. I think that’s very thought-provoking and even haunting, at the same time it explain many things. I believe this kind of anthropophorous animality is what allows one to say something like “we should stop treating animals like animals”, where the word animal is actually being used with different meanings each time (and the second instance works almost like an adjective). It’s almost amusing (and flattering) to think that someone would interpret my list as the canon of posthumanist thought, especially because I haven’t finished the list (it takes a long time to include images using html =\). Not only that, but I also decided that I would not include books I haven’t read so the list is bound to be very very selective. I wanted to title the list “Posthumanist readings I have read”, but that just sounded too long… But I’m really curious to hear your arguments against Agamben. I read The Open some time ago and I don’t remember exactly what my impressions were of the last chapters. It was the first ones that hooked me.
Great comment. Fair enough–not a canon. But on Agamben, his whole approach to animality is still always defined in its relation the human. I’ll expand on this at some point, but identifying animality with bare life (nuda vita) does not sound pregnant with possibilities for post-humanistic discourse. Also, please note, dear readers, as Critical Animal reminds me, it was Bambi’s mother who is killed, not Bambi. My apologies to the deer loving community.
Yes, indeed, his take on animality is human-centered, but that’s because the concept of animality WAS created by humans. Derrida says something very similar in The Animal That Therefore I Am – that animality is that which we leave on the other side of the line that we invent so we can cross something and call ourselves humans. The mere concept of the animal is, in my belief, so steeped in such functional meaning that Derrida seems to feel forced to say that long phrase “the absolute other which they call the animal, for example, my cat” (or something like that) when he wants to mention the living beings which we call animals.
I believe such an insight is very productive, because it helps us understand why it’s so important that we do not diminish the value of the non-human living beings just because they have been funcionally conceptualized as Other, and also to understand that an embracing of equality among beings must pass through such acknowledgement of this internal caesura, a caesura without which it would not be possible to “dehumanize” POC of colors, for example.
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