Other Animals (2.2. of PhaenEx), Lisa Guenther, Chloe Taylor

I count this special 3473186issue of PhaenEx as a book because I think it’s the best anthology on animal theory I’ve yet read. Look here for sustained discussion of animals in/with/against Agamben, Heidegger, Merleau-Ponty, Levinas, and–oddly, since they’re not phenomenologists–Deleuze and Guattari (although here we see how D&G can radicalize the ‘things themselves’ of phenomenology by reminding us of their ‘molecularity’: in other words, as Astrida Neimanis argues, rhizomatics can revivify phenemenology by putting things in motion). My only complaints? Given that Derrida’s not a phenomenologist, I shouldn’t be surprised that there’s not much more than passing reference to his work (he gets the most sustained attention in an article that discovers several more references to animality in Being and Time). I am nonetheless disappointed, in part because I don’t think the articles as a whole do enough to undo l’animot by investigating in a sustained manner how the human sets itself off from the retroactively homogenized animals.

I have to admit, however, that much of the issue confounded me. I’m just not conversant enough in philosophy to understand what’s meant by, for example, “Such horizons exceed the scope of both static and genetic regressive analysis. Just as static analysis of the structures of intentionality occurs as an abstraction within a given genetic horizon of egological temporalization, so too does genetic analysis of those structures occur within, while effectively abstracting from, some further horizons” (189). Let this be a caution then for readers not professionally trained as philosophers.

With that in mind, here you will find revisions of The Open that discover, through scientific wonder, Meleau-Ponty’s “reversible flesh” in what Agamben thinks an aporia to be sublated by some Shabbat; a new Heideggarian comportment, oriented not, as in the anthropological machine, toward its own death but toward the present moment in all its richness; various ways in which dasein is de-disincarnated and filled once more with sensory relationships, in which animals are given back the time that Heidegger tried to slip from them; the face–which humans AND animals both possess (given an almost universal embryonic orientation towards a face)–as the visible of the invisible; the exposure to the other in friendship (as in friendship with dogs)–with its mutuality, threat of asymmetry, and choice–as a revision of Levinasian ethics of being held hostage; one dangerous ramification of opening ourselves up to the ethics-to-come of/for/with animals: the fetus!; and attention to the animal itself–generally absent from phenomenology, which tends towards a version of humanism, as it is from rhizomatics–by exploring what happened to the grizzly that ate Treadwell and Huguenard. There’s of course much more, but this should be enough to tantalize.

Astonishing work, really, especially given that only one of the scholars in here could be thought a senior scholar