July 16, 2013
SUP’s Animal Death has been launched with some insightful words from Thom van Dooren. The book emerged from a great (if morbid) conference and contains some important reflections on the killing and mourning of animals. It includes my essay on the problematisation of “death due to behaviour” by everyone’s favourite zoo reformer, Heini Hediger.
June 30, 2013
May 21, 2013
The second volumes of Environmental Humanities and Animal Studies Journal are now online. Click through for essays on ecological cosmopolitanism and community, hunting and extinction, observatories and webcams, encounter and story, on the great cats of Vancouver and the war dogs of Vietnam, on those great environmentalists Rachel Carson and Arnold Schwarzenegger, and for a provocative screed by J. Baird Callicott on everything from the presocratics to postmodernism.
April 26, 2013
In this twenty-first century, many of the most intriguing deconstructions of human/animal dualism occur in an apartment in the East Village. Here, one half of the infamous radio duo Busso and the Wombat shares meanings, interests and affects (as a friend of ours likes to put it) as part of an experimental multispecies community (comprising, specifically, Homo sapiens and Felis catus). Now, as the internet has taught us, cats are the beginning and end of all things, and they occupy much of the middle space, too. At the Center for Feline Studies of the Avenue B Multi-Studies Center, Busso’s ailourographic investigations chronicle this immanent medium of human-cat interactions with phenomenological mindfulness and Chicago School rigour.
Of course, their resistance to performance is demonstrative in itself.
December 25, 2012
My sainted middle-namesake continued his undeserved generosity to my book-cravings, this time with a complete series of symposia on the history of zoological knowledge. Ancients, medievals, moderns; domesticates and exotics; science and rhetoric; Babylon and Mesopotamia; Aristotle and Hildegard; dis- and re-appearances; zoo-archaeology and -ethnology. Next year I will write him a letter asking for time to read them.
December 10, 2012
Today, a CyberChimp interpellated me into new familial, perceptual and behavioural collectivities.
I’ll be sore tomorrow.
November 20, 2012
Issue 76 of New Formations is now out, a themed issue on “The Animals Turn” edited by Wendy Wheeler and Linda Williams.
Among work on life and love, ethics and practice, the Renaissance and modernity, Darwin, Derrida, Heidegger and Merleau-Ponty, it contains my essay “Animals in Biopolitical Theory: Between Agamben and Negri.”
November 15, 2012
Last night we launched the inaugural issue of Environmental Humanities, a new international, interdisciplinary, open-access journal. Its editors are Deborah Rose, vivifier of morals, and Thom van Dooren, avian entangler. I help make the coffee (and drink the wine). This first issue has essays on Oedipus, agriculture, parasites, burrs, management, seasons, flus, books, and mushrooms.
The website also features two series of interviews with editorial board members. I conducted the first lot about the anthropocene, decentring, and interdisciplinarity. Take a look; things get feisty.
October 11, 2012
The first issue of the new Animal Studies Journal is now online, featuring diasporic giraffes, pest kangaroos, vanishing tigers, and sundry other global and performing animals.
“Once you have started on this binge, fables have a way of dogging your steps—you see the beast in every human, yourself included, and wonder whom you prefer.”
July 30, 2012
Thusly does Fritz Eichenberg introduce his collection of “Fables with a Twist”, the text and intricate woodcuts of which the zoöeschatological disputants pore over with rapt imagination. In the titular tale a meeting of the animals fumes over human oppression and envisions the placement of Homo sapiens on their coat-of-arms. The fall is rewitnessed, the Ark is regretted, power plays out, man is mourned, apocalypses are left behind, the peaceable kingdom is yearned for and mocked, and olden fables are given modern twists which don’t avoid but intensify their morals. “Headlines proclaim: Exploded populations—oceans polluted—wars and genocide—animal kingdom threatened with extinction. … The Lord made a mistake!” (Endangered Species, p. 96) Let us rehabilitate the fabular.
December 26, 2011
“worse than I could even imagine. … it’s a tragedy for the animal world is what it is. But it could have been a bigger tragedy for the human world. … The most magnificent creature in the entire world, the tiger is. … But if you had 18 Bengal tigers and everyone running around these neighborhoods, you folks wouldn’t want to have seen what would have happened.”
Thusly did a suicidal Ohioan amateur zookeeper recently loose his exotic animals on a public media-primed for panic, as if to fulfil the therological dreams of riot observers, and worse, the predictions of overzealous policemen. A tanned man in khaki leapt before the cameras to hyperbolise the threat. An impressive inventory of such beasts as provoke an “Oh my!” became an impressive kill-list and cameos in deputy’s anecdotes. The message is as clear as ever: leave the menageries to the professionals.
The disputants remark how quickly impotent welfare concern becomes shoot-to-kill tyranny when the beasts’ sovereign owner self-sacrifices and wildness is uncaged. Some propose the ironic reading of a passage from Jungle Jack’s autobiography, but the learned gathering declines so as to slow Hediger’s grave-spin. One notes that a viral monkey escaped. They nod and murmur; they have heard that one before.
December 5, 2011
Last weekend I convened a second workshop on the history, philosophy and future of ethology. The first day’s programme weaved anthropology, ecology, ethology, geography, and filmmaking, and culminated with a performance by Undine Sellbach, philosopher and author of the enchanted The Floating Islands, of “A Whirlwind of Insects: Mistress O and the Bees.”
October 9, 2011
Is it normal to have tiny bugs living in my laptop? They emerge whenever I open it and occasionally wander the screen and keys as if looking for the ESC button. I thought of training them to edit my work but more likely they spend their time in the bowels of the machine redacting files and moulding my manuscripts to sinister ends. Still, I can’t bring myself to have at them. Our ecology seems stable enough for now.
August 28, 2011
“the tableau of a world after animality, after a sort of holocaust, a world from which animality, at first present to man, would have one day disappeared: destroyed or annihilated by man …” Thus does Derrida diagnose being without the animal as the deathly real production of a Cartesian methodological fiction. The great zoöeschatological disputation pauses in sombre silence.
June 29, 2011
My report on the Tartu zoosemiotics conference can be found in the latest AASG News Bulletin (pp. 15-16). Previous issues have included reports on Marc Bekoff’s visit (10-11), on my workshop on The History, Philosophy and Future of Ethology (5-7), and on my self (25).
May 19, 2011
Unloved Others has been published as issue 50 of Australian Humanities Review. Edited by leading ecological humanities and extinction studies scholars Deborah Bird Rose and Thom van Dooren, and subtitled Death of the Disregarded in the Time of Extinctions, the collection explores and prompts our responses to marginalised creatures. It contains essays by Anna Tsing, Mick Smith, James Hatley, Kate Rigby, Donna Haraway, Freya Mathews, as well as the editors and myself. My essay is on “The Biopolitics of Endangered Species Preservation”. Pdfs will soon be available, as well as the option of a hard copy volume.
May 10, 2011
March 5, 2011
The Spring 2011 issue of Humanimalia is now online, including my essay “Reversing Extinction: Restoration and Resurrection in the Pleistocene Rewilding Projects” [pdf]. It’s about what happens when you situate wilderness at the threshold of, not European colonisation, but the arrival of Homo sapiens. For example, you attempt to recreate the mammoth steppe ecosystem. If you are a resourceful and inimitable Russian scientist, lack of mammoths isn’t necessarily a problem. Thanks again to Laurel McFadden for allowing the use of her photographs.