Electric Animal: Toward a Rhetoric of Wildlife
Akira Mizuta Lippit
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Moving beyond the dialectical framework that has traditionally bound animal and human being, Electric Animal raises a series of questions regarding the idea of animality in Western thought. Can animals communicate? Do they have consciousness? Are they aware of death? By tracing questions such as these through a wide range of texts by writers ranging from Friedrich Nietzsche to Jacques Derrida, Sigmund Freud to Vicki Hearne, Lewis Carroll to Franz Kafka, and Sergei Eisenstein to Gilles Deleuze, Lippit arrives at a remarkable thesis, revealing an extraordinary logical consensus in Western thought: animals do not have language and hence cannot die.
The animal has, accordingly, haunted thought as a form of spectral and undead being. Lippit demonstrates how, in the late nineteenth century, this phantasmic concept of animal being reached the proportions of an epistemological crisis, engendering the disciplines and media of psychoanalysis, modern literature, and cinema, among others. Against the prohibitive logic of Western philosophy, these fields opened a space for rethinking animality. Technology, usually thought of in opposition to nature, came to serve as the repository for an unmournable animality-a kind of vast wildlife museum.
A highly original work that charts new territory in current debates over language and mortality, subjectivity and technology, Electric Animal brings to light fundamental questions about the status of representation—of the animal and of ourselves—in the age of biomechanical reproduction.
The configuration of animals in Western thought. During the late nineteenth century, Darwin's work profoundly altered the terms of philosophical, psychological, scientific, and sociological theory, causing a veritable reorganization of the epistemological order. And although earlier versions of evolutionary theory had already been in circulation prior to Darwin's publications, the appearance of On the Origin of Species in 1859 and The Descent of Man in 1871 initiated a polemic that would.
Of intelligible reality, that is to say, of the truth, in that they represent, all together, the theoretical equilibrium of Being.3? Nothing, the metaphysics of nothing, animates the static idea, giving it an existence in space and time and in the duration of becoming. Nothing, according to Bergson, gives the idea life. "The affirmation of a reality implies the simultaneous affirmation of all the degrees of reality intermediate between it and nothing."^ Bergson's utilization of this logic, which.
Establishment of hypnoid states to the siphoning off of electrical current during system breakdowns or short circuits, Breuer affixes the psychical and nervous networks onto the metaphorical switchboards of telephone lines and animated electrical apparatuses. Breuer stammers the analogy in the manner of a hysteric: We ought not to think of a cerebral path of conduction as resembling a telephone wire which is only excited electrically at the moment at which it has to function (that is, in the.
Language without articulation can be seen as a language of the animal: it moves freely throughout the body because it is a part of that body. Artaud's language is, paradoxically, a language without logos—a language without language. And without language one can no longer speak of literature: Artaud's language, his "animated hieroglyphs," moves the discussion from Carroll's word games to anodier medium, another genre, another dimension of voluminous bodily dispersal—cinema.19 144 | The Literary.
Kappas are and aren't projections of the Japanese, are and aren't projections of Akutagawa himself, it is, paradoxically, the motif of introjection that introduces animality and madness into Akutagawa's narrative. The story commences when the narrator falls into "a pitch black abyss" that opens onto the world of the Kappas.64 The Kappas themselves maintain a peculiar relation to internalization and consumption, practicing a form of ritual cannibalism whereby they devour the flesh of unemployed.