Thursday, January 15, 2009

Specters for the animals

Quentin Meillassoux's essay "Spectral Dilemma" in Collapse Volume IV: Concept Horror provides the following insightful summary of the problem of the specter:
What is a spectre? A dead person who has not been properly mourned, who haunts us, bothers us, refusing to pass over to the 'other side,' where the dearly-departed can accompany us at a distance sufficient for us to live our own lives without forgetting them, but also without dying their death--without being the prisoner of the repetition of their final moments. Then what is a spectre become the essesne of the spectre, the spectre par excellence? A dead person whose death is such that we cannot mourn them. That is to say: a dead person for whom the work of mourning, the passage of time, proves inadequeate for a tranquil bond between them and the living to be envisaged. A dead person the horror of whose death lays heavy not only upon the nearest and dearest, but upon all those who cross the path of their history." (261-62)
Meillassoux is talking about human persons (with all the social resonances of the construction of personhood, Agamben and bare life, Levinas and face). But what if such haunting could be extended to animals? What is the specter of the animal?

Here an inquiry through Derrida's Specters of Marx (particularly ch. 1) should be taken up (in a later post). The issue of 'to come' arises. The horror of the animal death through human enframing... a horror that haunts not only the animals but also the animality of humans, calls out for a revolution which already exists as a 'to come' and perhaps in a messianic without a messiah will manifest in the 'future's future'. All these terms--to come, messianic without a messiah, and future's future to be worked through in future posts.

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