Tuesday, September 12, 2017
Monday, September 11, 2017
Animality is not a revolution in a commonly held political sense of the term—with its markers of social contract and that which is held in common. It is not a revolution as a reasoned and enlightened consciousness of the masses. Animal resistance is through their comportment and bodily being in the world. In the long now of evolutionary time, animals are fitted to their environments. However, the speed and invasiveness of human dwelling is ill aligned to nonhuman ecological temporality. These two temporalities and ways of being jam in contention. Perhaps the word revolution is only a poor anthropomorphic metaphor and approximation for this event and rupture to human expectations and human progress of civilization by non-teleological animal activity. It is not enough to say animals resist—as if they were a minor resistance movement to the major force of humanity. Rather, great and small, microbial to megafauna, animals overturn the architecture of civilization. Such an overturning which reframes the world according to a differend and knocks down the structures and habits of human dwelling is a revolution. Incidents of such activity are rampant as we shall see. While many animals and species may die, in a much longer temporality the animals will live on beyond the human.
Plenty of work to do:
"As Rust and Soles write, ecohorror studies 'assumes that environmental disruption is haunting humanity’s relationship to the non-human world' as well as that ecohorror in some form can be found in all texts grappling with ecocritical matters"
Saturday, September 2, 2017
The 1980 film Alligator is one in a line of pop-horror films made to capitalize off of the success of Jaws (1975). Grizzly (1976), Orca (1977), and Piranha (1978, also written by Sayles) are other examples. And while it is a fun B-film, Sayles is a smart writer and his cleverness shows through the tropes of the genre. Here are a few quick notes and reflections:
Quick plot summary: a baby alligator is flushed down the toilet by a little girl's father who doesn't want the pet around any more. In the sewers the beast is exposed to hormones and other chemicals from a medical lab and these cause the alligator to grow to the size of a car and have a huge appetite (mainly for dogs and humans). After killing a number of folks, a cop (recently fired from the force for his 'crazy' ideas about an alligator in the sewers) finds the beast and destroys it (while winning the female biologist love interest).
Things to note:
- Like radioactive boar and radioactive rabbits, this is about a return of the repressed. Even John Oliver is talking about radioactive alligators!
- The whole film is anti-authority. Father who naively flushes the baby alligator down the toilet is shown to be wrong (it doesn't die), expert hunter is killed, cops are killed, owner of the medical establishment that created the beast-enhancing hormones is killed, etc.
- More anti-authority. The film is set in Chicago during the 1968 Democratic Convention (briefly mentioned over the radio toward the beginning of the film). Rather than convention riots, we get the alligator! The alligator is anti-police, not the rioters. He is the riot! and more importantly, he is anti-human and like the monstrous body for a riot, the violence of the animal is chaotic.
- More on violence. It is chaotic but with a moral feel that the 'bad guys' in the movie get what they deserve. The film has it both ways... indiscriminate violence of animality and moral killings.
- What is in our water? The alligator is a stand-in for the toxins he absorbs and that are the slow mutations of contaminated public water. Medicines are in our water. This is the return of the repressed. "Discarded Drugs May Contaminate 40 Million Americans' Drinking Water" as Scientific America reports.
- The end of the film. A manhole cover is placed over the viewer. We are stuck in the sewer--to be eaten or to become the alligator. A small baby alligator is flushed into the sewer. The story will repeat.