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Thinking (of) Animals after Derrida

Demenageries

Critical Studies
Vol. 35

Myriam Diocaretz Tilburg University AnneE.Berger, CornellUniversity Rosalind C. Morris, Columbia University MartaSegarra, UniversitatdeBarcelona
Editorial Board

General Editor

Amsterdam - New York, NY 2011

Thinking (of) Animals after Derrida

Demenageries

Anne Emmanuelle Berger and Marta Segarra

Edited by

Cover Image: Jordi Esteva, Miko se bebe mi agua. Cover Design: Pier Post The paper on which this book is printed meets the requirements of ISO 9706:1994, Information and documentation - Paper for documents Requirements for permanence. ISBN: 978-90-420-3350-4 Printed in the Netherlands

CONTENTS

Thoughtprints Anne E. Berger and Marta Segarra 1. 2. Animal Writes: Derridas Que Donc and Other Tails Marie-Dominique Garnier On a Serpentine Note Ginette Michaud Ver(s): Toward a Spirituality of Ones Own Claudia Simma When Sophie Loved Animals Anne E. Berger Deconstruction and Petting: Untamed Animots in Derrida and Kafka Joseph Lavery Say the Ram Survived: Altering the Binding of Isaac in Jacques Derridas Rams and J.M. Coetzees Disgrace Adeline Rother Crowds and Powerlessness: Reading //kabbo and Canetti with Derrida in (South) Africa Rosalind C. Morris Tout Autre est Tout Autre James Siegel Meditations for the Birds David Wills Contributors

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Anne E. Berger and Marta Segarra

I admit to it in the name of autobiography and in order to confide in you the following: [] I have a particularly animalist perception and interpretation of what I do, think, write, live, but, in fact, of everything, of the whole of history, culture, and so-called human society, at every level, macro- or microscopic. My sole concern is not that of interrupting this animalist vision but of taking care not to sacrifice to it any difference of alterity, the fold of any complication, the opening of any abyss to come.1 The Animal That Therefore I Am 92

We might begin like this: The recent concern with animals or the animal may be the latest if not the ultimate form of the anti-humanism that started to develop after World War II, in a turning of the Western intellectual tradition against itself. The attack on anthropocentrism as a necessary correlate of humanism may have been fueled if not provoked by the new consciousness of the damage inflicted upon the earth and its living creatures (humanity included) by men. Such a turn of the Western tradition around and against itself, sometimes deemed an ethical turn, would mark if not the end, at least the limit of the Enlightenment project in its Cartesian version: for man to become the master and owner of Nature. Derridas latest and last move, his turn toward the question of animality would point in that direction. This is what cultural and intellectual historians might say (and indeed have said), and for the most part, rightly so. The set of questions triggered by the thought of and on animals is timely; humanism seems to have exhausted itself and is giving way to posthumanism; ecological disaster looms. Two interdisciplinary fields of inquiry have recently emerged to try to address these issues: ecocriticism and animal studies. Derridas two long lectures on the autobiographical animal given in 1997 and later collected in The Animal That Therefore I Am2 played a groundbreaking role in the latters development. In 2007, the Oxford Literary Review published a special issue on Derridanimals that called on philosophy, literature, and cognitive sciences if not to provide answers, at least to help frame questions in the wake of Derridas work. The present volume, also interdisciplinary, follows this collection of essays.3 Its editors claim no special expertise in the vast field of animal studies. But they recognize its importance and appreciate the chance that such a field offers for a new dialogue between what one calls the Humanities and what one calls hard science. They admire the work done in this respect by Donna J. Haraway and Cary Wolfe, among others. Above all,

Anne E. Berger and Marta Segarra

they are readers of Derrida, a thinker who taught them to interrogate conceptual borders and to work at/on the limits. As members of the board of Critical Studies, a series which aims to promote transdisciplinary approaches and (self)critical displacements in the fields of the humanities and social sciences, they believe this new tribute to the promises held by thinking of animals after Derrida is timely. So what about Derridas seminal contribution to the growing field of animal studies? Any careful reader of Derrida knows that such a direction in his work is all but new. Animals have been lurking in his texts from early on. Their appearances have been numerous and varied if sometimes brief. It takes Derrida no less than three full printed pages (35-38) to enumerate all the animals he can recall following from the time of his first writings up to The Animal That Therefore I Am. In particular, animals, or more precisely the animal(s) that Derrida is/follows, show up each time Derridas discourse shifts to an autobiographical mode (and each time in a different guise or species), from the most furtive reference to his or ones habitat an animal mode of dwelling in Unsealing (the old new language), a 1983 interview in which Derrida, among other personal disclosures, evokes his dream of an idiomatic language,4 to the extended self-unraveling of the silkworm in A Silkworm of Ones Own. Most importantly, as Hlne Cixous reminds us in Co-Responding Voix You, animals have made their way between if not before the lines from the beginning, that is as soon as the first trace of a thinking about trace appeared in Of Grammatology. Cixous remarks: Thus, with the first trace of the thinking of the trace in Of Grammatology, the whole machine that tends to replace the word writing in the ordinary sense by trace or the word speech by trace, had as its final purpose that writing, speech, trace are not the proper characteristic of the human. There is animal trace, animals write. (H.C.s emphasis)5 If animals write, then they cannot be said to be mute, even though they dont speak, that is, even though they dont have what we call articulate language. This is why, following the animal that he also is, Derrida strives to [accede] to a thinking [] that thinks the absence of the name and of the word otherwise, and as something other than a privation (48),6 a sentence or rather the statement of a thought rightly singled out by Donna Haraway as crucial to an understanding of the import of Derridas thinking in the wake or the furrow of animals.7 In his attempt to think of what he carefully calls the absence of the name (rather than animals inability to name) as something other than a

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privation or a lack, Derrida coins the word animot.8 Not only, as he says, because it rhymes with animaux, therefore recalling and reinscribing the plural in the singular in order to resist the erasure of animals vast differences that takes place with the use of the reductive generic singular animal; not even in order to give speech back to animals in a simple reversal of the prevailing philosophical order; but rather, as the proximity between the seemingly contrary words mot and muet (mute) suggests in French, in order to insist that words (mots) can be spelled out without a word the French language uses the pseudo-Latin word motus to try and impose silence so that a cat, for instance, might be [] signifying in a language of mute traces, that is to say without words (18).9 If animals write, or to put it in Derridas words, if there is differance (with an a) as soon as there is a living trace10 differance and writing are co-terminus in Derridas thinking and the very word animal refers to the most basic trace of life, i.e. animation then it means that when or since humans write, they do it in their capacity as animals, living traces leaving traces. If animals write and humans write qua animals, then the link usually made between autography, speech and self-consciousness is put in question. If animals write, it is ultimately the basic correlation between subjectivity, self-reflexivity and human language that needs to be rethought and reformulated. Derridas thought after and around the (animal) trace has far reaching implications, not only for thinking anew the difference(s) between human(s) and animal(s), differences which the Western philosophical tradition has mainly articulated and summarized in terms of the generic opposition between the speaking and the non-speaking living being, but also for thinking anew thinking itself. Readers cannot but have noticed our insistent use of the word thinking and its affiliates as we try to say something about Derrida and animals. We have just been merely recording what is one of Derridas most heavily used words (or set of words) in The Animal That Therefore I Am. True, thinking is not writing. But it follows from it. There can be no thinking without differantial tracing. Which means, to follow Derridas thought tracks in The Animal, that thinking follows from following the/an animal. And it does so in more than one way. Let us sketch out briefly the stakes of this meditation on thinking. Talking about the ongoing war between those who not only violate animal life but are immune to pity and those who start from this irrefutable feeling of pity and empathy at the sight or thought of animals suffering, Derrida invites us to think this war in solemn terms: I say to think this war because I believe it concerns what we call thinking. The animal looks at us, and we are naked before it. Thinking perhaps begins there (29).11 Thus,

Anne E. Berger and Marta Segarra

Derrida asks us to weigh our words, and particularly the word penser (to think). The word penser carries a special weight in French, the weight of weight, since, as Derrida reminds us in Bliers, there is a lexical affinity, what Derrida calls a friendship, between penser and peser, to think and to weigh, which both come from the verb pensare in Latin. When one thinks (in French), one has or should have what one calls in French, scrupules, that is, one should feel the weight of what one ponders over, as if one was loaded with little stones that prevent us from moving forward easily and hurriedly. In Bliers (2003), a meditation on friendship dedicated to his late friend, the German philosopher Gadamer, Derrida calls our attention to the semantic proximity between tragen to carry in German and penser in French. In order to weigh something, one has to carry it; weighing is a mode of carrying, of taking on oneself rather than of taking in oneself, interiorizing, comprehending. As a manner of taking on, thinking involves a form of responsibility, a responsibility toward what one weighs and carries, therefore also a form of respect toward it. Thinking in this sense is not only or not primarily an intellectual process (and one reserved to humans), it is an ethical stance (and one an animal could take). And this is one reason why Derrida insists on the distinction between thinking and what one too easily deems its equivalents, philosophizing and theorizing, a distinction nowhere more sharply and repeatedly drawn by Derrida than when he follows animal trails. But what does it mean that thinking perhaps, begins there, that it is there where an animal nous regarde, looks at us and concerns us, requires us to be concerned by her/him as she/he looks at us, while we are naked before her/him? Philosophers, says Derrida at the beginning of his meditation, have merely been theoreticians, at least from Descartes on. They practice thinking and think of thinking as a specifically human mode of contemplating (theorein) things, of seeing them and seeing through them thanks to their own representational power hence a certain nakedness of the thing seen as such. They treat the animal as a theorem, as something seen and not seeing, sums up Derrida (14).12 The animal, any animal, exists only in theory, counts only as theory like anything else for most if not all the philosophers who define themselves as such. If philosophers could see an animal see them, as Derrida sees the cat look at him naked in the bathroom and thus sees himself being seen by her, then animals would cease to be mere objects of representation. If philosophers took into account their point of view, without being able to name what it consists of, then they would start to experience animals unsettling otherness, opening themselves to the experience of any others otherness. In its totalizing scope and apparent simplicity, Derridas argument with philosophy and philosophers may seem almost banal or otherwise exaggerated. The reversal and displacement of the gaze that he seems to advocate and operate (from the theorizing philosopher

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to the gazing cat) recall similar moves made within the field of what has been narrowly and perhaps self-ironically defined as theory in the last decades, for instance, and this is not fortuitous, the move to shake gender roles or positions traditionally defined in terms of the difference between (male) subject and (female) object, gazer and gazed at. But one could also say that it is precisely the enormity of the stakes conjured up by the scene of thinking as Derrida outlines it, that makes it compelling. Moreover, and as usual, Derridas argument is not couched in categorical language and sweeping statements. Rather, it makes its mark subtly in writing. In Derridas primal scene of thinking, the cat is granted the initiative of the look, and therefore initiates the process of thinking: the animal looks at us and thinking, perhaps, begins there. Derrida does not say who thinks or starts thinking thanks to this encounter. He uses an impersonal phrase: thinking begins there. Which could mean two things at once: 1) that the cat herself may begin to think there as well as the human, 2) that thinking, contrary to what Descartes and most of the philosophers think, does not necessarily or uniquely involve a thinking I. In a move that borders or rather toys with what one might call a performative contradiction but which should perhaps better be seen as a way of taking the bull by its horns (prendre le taureau par les cornes), that is a confrontation head on, from inside the very arena of its occurrence, of the problem addressed Derrida launches a deconstructive attack against the seemingly subjectifying function of thinking from within an autobiographical hence apparently self-referential (but disturbingly heteroreferential) perspective. It is against the idea that thinking implies and depends on an I, against the idea that, as Descartes thought, an I think must accompany all representations, and that this self-reference is the condition of thinking if not the very essence of thinking,13 that Derrida situates himself on the side of the/an animal. Derrida objects to the essential link between thinking and the notion of the subject supported by the Cogito (I think = it is an I who thinks) in at least two ways. On the one hand, he argues that there is no such thing as a rigorously autonomous and single I: thinking begins at the point when an other me regarde (not only looks at me but concerns and therefore affects me), at the point when not subject and object but self and other meet, or rather, since no self-constituted self precedes the encounter with an other, at the point of their irreducible entanglement. To go back to what Derrida makes the primal scene of thinking, thinking happens (or follows) between the gazing/gazed at cat and the gazing/gazed at human, at the site of their encounter, that is at the condition of a certain experience of the/an other. Thus Derrida writes:

Anne E. Berger and Marta Segarra If autoposition, the automonstrative autotely of the I, even in the human, implies the I to be an other that must welcome within itself some irreducible hetero-affection [] then this autonomy of the I can be neither pure nor rigorous; it would not be able to form the basis for a simple and linear differentiation of the human from the animal.14

On the other hand, Derrida questions the restricted notion of language that underlies what he calls the autoposition, automonstrative autotely of the I. It is because, or as long as, one thinks of language as essentially deictic, that is as a means to point to things, to designate or refer to them, and because of course one thinks in language that the thinking predicated on such an understanding of language becomes bound to the autotelic self-deictic self-positioning of the I. Anytime I refer or point to something, the gesture of reference points back to me. As Emile Benveniste has shown, the effect of deixis is to point to the/a subject of enunciation at the very moment that he/she points to an object. Animals, Derrida remarks, are usually granted selfmotion and self-affection. But they are denied the power to refer to themselves through deixis, the power to point to the world and to themselves in the same thrust in order to say: Here I am. The here it is therefore here I am of the deixis links thinking to speech. Even if one doesnt say it, such a statement is implied. This deictic power is bound up with linguistic power defined as the power to name. Anytime something is called, and only if it is designated by a name, somebody (a subject) speaks. Moreover, naming, donner des noms that is, as the words nom and name indicate in French and in English, to lay down the law (nomos) on and over the real is indeed an act of demiurgic power, even of abuse (force of law) on the part of the namer. Hence Derridas repeated and critical emphasis on the phrase what they call or what we call what they call the animal, what we call thinking15 and his insistence that he feels no entitlement (that is no stated, no named or nameable right) not only to call an animal animal, thus packing together in one herd entirely different kinds of living beings, but even to call an animal his neighbor or his brother as if he alone could decide the terms of their relation, their distance or their proximity, their resemblance or their dissimilitude.16 Hence again his defiant claim that he is or wishes to be an le dexception, an island of exception in the general philosophical landscape regarding the human right to name animals and to name them animals, a right that ils (they, the philosophers, the so-called authorized speakers for humankind) grant themselves.17 Through the differancial play between le and ils in French a difference the English translation cannot record and which, as in the word differance, you can read in writing but cannot hear stated a sexual or gender difference

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at that, since the e traditionally indicates the process of feminization of names in French, so that le appears like the feminine of ils, Derrida registers his differing and his difference, and links his questioning of animals naming and maiming (the latter a structural consequence of the former) to the deconstruction of what he termed long ago phallogocentrism. 18 Derrida wants to resist the conflation between thinking and naming, which excludes animals from the realm of thought, hence his caution against thinking of the absence of the name as a lack or a deprivation. And this is perhaps where he departs most strongly from Heidegger. For if thinking does not necessarily involve the I of the Cogito for Heidegger as well as for Derrida, for the former, thinking does imply naming. For Heidegger, one cannot think about anything unless it appears in and as language. Moreover, to quote Derrida paraphrasing Heidegger, only the word named a noun [] opens onto the referential experience of the thing as such, [] such as it appears in its being (48).19 One cannot think about thinking as such without addressing the call of its name, without asking Was heit denken? (What is called thinking?). Indeed, isnt Derridas stated desire to counter the naming effects of human deixis self-defeating since one cannot but name the names one wants to resist and since Derrida himself has shown that one cannot rely on the stable distinction between the use and the mention of words or names to escape that predicament? Does the indictment of the act of naming in general and of naming the animals in particular in the wake of animals thoughtprints not contradict Derridas otherwise proffered love of language, his attention to what he calls an idiom? Isnt the le dexception where and that he wants to be merely a utopia, as are all islands found only in the sea of fiction? Or to put it differently, is there a way to do justice to animals thinking in human language? Derrida has, if not an answer, at least the dream of an answer to these questions. To the question: does an animal dream? Derrida answers: I am dreaming, therefore, in the depths of an undiscoverable burrow to come (63). And the dream of this animal that therefore he is, is a dream about language, about a language that would not assign, discipline, in one word domesticate (animals and animal thinking), but one that would undo human language in language, that would escape logocentric programs, in short, that would underwrite animal traces in the strange idiom of the dream itself: I am dreaming through the dream of the animal and dreaming of the scene I could create here [] I dreamed that I gave myself incompatible commands, hence impossible tasks. How to have heard here a language or unheard-of music, somewhat inhuman in a way, yet not so as to make myself the representative or emancipator of an animality that is forgotten, ignored, misunderstood, persecuted [];

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It is the same musical dream of an absolutely foreign or idiomatic language that he dreams of in Unsealing (the old new language),20 in Choreographies where he dreams of other ways of singing and choreographing sexual difference,21 and above all in The Monolingualism of the Other. In the latter as well as in Choreographies, the dream takes shape at the end of a deconstructive course, after Derrida has both uncovered and undone the relations between language, subjectivity, ownership and hominess (chez soi). Derrida then dreams of a wholly other language, of an undomesticated or de-domesticated, unfamiliar and unfamilial entirely other prior-to-the-first language (toute autre avant-premire langue)22 that is yet to be invented rather than recovered. And this dream of a wholly other notion and use of language dreamed by Derrida in 199223 is or was already an animal dream, the dream of the felicitous and violent graft of an animal language onto the so-called human language, which only writing, the play with differantial traces and graphs, might effect. Describing his attempt to leave tracks that recall this wholly other language in the French language, Derrida characterizes such a gesture as coup de griffe et de greffe, [qui] caresse avec les ongles, parfois des ongles demprunt. It is as if the coup de greffe depended on the coup de griffe that announces the former in the course of almost spelling it out in French,24 a stroke or mark, the swift graph of a graft made by nails or claws that are borrowed claws, cat claws perhaps. Indeed, Derridas cat-nails can only be grafted, and the preoriginary language they thus imprint, prosthetic, not only because this is a dream (which is different from an illusion25), but also because, following the peculiar animal that he is, Derrida is careful not to confuse all living beings in one single fantasy, not to recreate the myth of the animal from the animal side as it were, by affirming that all living beings truly and originally speak one and the same animal language. All traces differ.

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The first three essays of the volume focus on Jacques Derridas The Animal That Therefore I Am, in which he argues against the Western philosophical tradition that separates animal from man by excluding the former from everything that was considered proper to man: thinking, laughing, suffering, mourning, and above all, speaking. Animals have traditionally been considered the absolute Others of human beings, a radical otherness that serves as the rationale for their domination, exploitation and slaughter. What Derrida called la pense de lanimal (which can be translated as thinking concerning the animal but also as animal thinking) is a poetic and prophetic way of thinking differently about animality and humanity. Animal thinking may help us to think of the world or imagine the possibility of thinking about it in an unexclusively human fashion, for it is not said that the essence of things hath reference to man alone, as Montaigne writes in his famous Apology of Raymond Sebond. The first essay, by Marie-Dominique Garnier, is a close reading of Derridas The Animal That Therefore I Am, beginning with its title. The expression que donc in the original French, LAnimal que donc je suis, evokes for the author a becoming-animal (that) affects the writing or the tongue of philosophy. Garnier tracks the infection of this Deleuzian concept (which she prefers to translate as turning-animal) throughout Derridas text, especially in the Derridean term animot. Additionally, the ambiguous use of the French verb suis (meaning both I am and I follow) in this title suggests a performative way of writing the turning-animal. The use of the present tense is also relevant, as it defies temporality, which is a common feature of autobiographical texts a genre to which this text apparently belongs. The present tense also introduces the element of survival (survivre) in a posthumous text. Marie-Dominique Garnier continues the analysis of Derridas title by pointing to the significant prosody of the expression que donc, with its two ks, a sound usually related in French to naturalized words with foreign origins. This k is considered here an animal phoneme, which can also be spelled fauneme, an utterance of the muted animal tongue. Moreover, the que donc introduces the donkey, an animal that already has a place in Derridas bestiary. Garniers analysis also focuses on Derridas word animot, which unites the plural animaux (its homophone in French), and the word mot, meaning precisely word. Animot can also be related to nemo (nobody) and to nomos (name), in an aporia that links anonymity to the proper name. Derrida has written at length on the proper name, and Garnier notes that the philosophers name itself, Derrida, begins with the syllable der, which in Middle English meant animal (related to the modern German word for animal: Tier). The crossbreeding produced in the German language is indeed spotlighted in the last part of The Animal That Therefore I Am, a lecture given

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by Derrida on Heideggers conception of animality. Derridas reading lets loose a pack of animots, crossbred from both French and German. It is also interesting to remark that the sounds d and k are shared by Derridas and Descartes names. Derrida rereads Descartes through his title, which rewrites Descartes most famous expression, I think, therefore I am. Finally, Garnier remarks that the fact that some animals are not considered as individual beings but rather as belonging to a herd or a pack is also reflected in Derridas writing, which thus becomes a performative writing. Opening Derridas thinking on animals to other nomads, the author concludes that the philosopher himself belongs to a pack with Deleuze, Cixous, Adami of nomads living on the same plateau. Ginette Michauds essay is also centered around The Animal That Therefore I Am, beginning with one crucial scene, in which the narrator describes his embarrassment about being seen naked by his cat. Following Derridas interpretation, this scene can be understood as the beginning of thinking, of a new thinking about animals. This reflection on animality takes into consideration an affect, usually considered of less value in philosophy than thought or speech (which animals lack, according to most philosophers). In particular, suffering has been traditionally regarded as a privilege of human beings, and thus a feature that characterizes humanity. However, Benthams question Can they suffer?, referring to animals, misses its mark, erasing all differences between a protozoon and a chimpanzee, as Derrida points out. This question is nonetheless fundamental in that it attempts to speak to what is proper to man, therefore to all great questions of human rights, ethics, and so on. Michaud then describes how Derrida reverses (we find here the crucial ver (worm) in Derridas work) an agreement reached by all philosophers that animals are deprived of language. If philosophy has reduced animals to silence, the author of this essay suggests that animals have found a refuge in literature: from Kafka who describes the animality or even the bestialization of human beings, and at the same time humanizes animals to Derridas autobiographical animals (the silkworm, the ant, the hedgehog, the mole). Poetic thinking can give language to animals without appropriating them, without falling into the trap of the fable a genre which pretends, according to Derrida, to make animals speak but only in order to speak solely of men. Ginette Michauds essay analyzes another text by Derrida, A Silkworm of Ones Own, as a philosophical-autobiographical piece in which these animals, cultivated by the narrator as a child, are in fact the ones who cultivate him, initiating the adolescent to sexual difference and to writing. Ginette Michaud wonders about the genre of this text: is it a dream or a true memory, as its author states? But in French, rve [dream] and vers [worm]

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form an anagram, suggesting, perhaps, that dream and memory are not opposite but complementary. In any case, the worms provide for the child an originary scene, Michaud points out, as she comments on the ironic sentence, At the beginning there was the worm. Besides, who knows if the worms are looking at him, instead of simply being observed by the human being? We can conclude with Michaud that the worm itself is a deconstructive animal, in the way it blurs the limits between inside and outside, beginning and end, face and bottom, etc., becoming an animetaphor. However, Michaud postulates that the image of the silkworm exceeds the metaphorical and becomes a sort of antimetaphor, as a figure of the work of mourning. For her part, Claudia Simma focuses on the religious echoes of Derridas text, especially as they relate to le mal (evil), which can also be found in lanimal, as the philosopher himself states. The word bte, beast, which appears in the title of the first volume of Derridas seminars, La bte et le souverain (2009), also has religious connotations, as the Beast alludes to the devil. Simma first turns to Derridas Faith and Knowledge; in this text, the latter examines the so-called return of the religious that seems to be taking place in our contemporary world. It is also related to evil, and therefore to the animal. Claudia Simma states, following The Animal That Therefore I Am, that humans tend to consider everything that is not easy to understand or assimilate as bad or malicious. This also concerns philosophy, since traditionally some themes have not been considered good enough to become philosophical objects of thinking. Simma also links The Animal That Therefore I Am to A Silkworm of Ones Own, where the silkworm invoked by the author as a childhood memory can be seen as an image of the biblical snake, a figure of evil. The word animot is thought of as a way to introduce the world of word(s) (mot(s) in French), from which animals are said to be excluded. It is also a way of erasing the harm (the mal present in the word animal) done to animals by speaking of them in the singular, the animal (because animot is a homophone of the French plural animaux for animals). The scene of the The Animal That Therefore I Am in which the philosopher is seen naked by his cat (commented on in the previous essay) places the animal as a subject able to perceive, understand, or maybe even judge the human being. This reversal of common sense, which dictates that only men can comprehend and judge animals, engenders not only the possibility of thinking otherwise about animals, but also the chance for us, human beings, to see ourselves naked. To recognize the pertinence of the cats viewpoint implies recognizing as well a certain blindness in human nature. And this recognition can lead to another way of seeing, that is to say of thinking, without taking for granted the evidence produced by human intelligence.

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The next three chapters are devoted to literary texts that deal with animals, analyzed in light of Derridas philosophical arguments on animality. In the first, Anne E. Berger reads a novel by the Victorian woman writer, the Countess of Sgur, in connection with Derridas The Animal That Therefore I Am. This connection may seem inappropriate or even whimsical, since this famous French author of childrens literature is known for her Christian moralistic point of view, but Berger thinks that the works she analyzes in her chapter two of them largely autobiographical, and the third the memoirs of a donkey in the first person although they may seem naive and outdated, establish a relation between autobiography and the animal. First, Anne E. Berger remarks on the use of the term btes, a more childish word, but also more ambiguous than animal and gendered in the feminine, la bte in the Countess novels. However, the sole fact that the writer includes animals as characters in her stories is a sign of her time; one scarcely finds any animal in classical narrative, or in sentimental or libertine novels except for childrens literature, such as fairy tales. In this sense, Berger points to the need for the writing of a history of literature from the animals point of view, because this absence implies a certain conception of the subject, based on the centrality of the anthropos, a conception which has been problematized in modern times. The Countess of Sgur belongs to modernity because she includes animals as such in her novels, that is to say, animals who do not speak the human language, who are not humanized as in fables or fairy tales. This does not mean that they are deprived of comprehension; in the Countess stories, animals can understand humans, but they must struggle to make themselves understood by these human beings a problem of communication through difference, in Bergers words. In the Countess of Sgurs literary world, therefore, animals are not metaphors of the human condition, as they are in fables, but they are linked horizontally or metonymically to human beings, especially to children. This link blurs the limits between animality and humanity; thus, all other sorts of borders between categories fade. Besides, animals and small children do not share the strict Christian and bourgeois morality preached by these stories. For instance, they practice retaliation or seek justice, in a political move instead of meekly offering the other cheek. Animals sometimes play the role of the third party in a conflict; they figure as a witness in the Derridean sense, which is to say, as the possibility of doing justice. And animals can also be linked to the proletarian, not only due to the etymological origin of this word (proles meaning litter in Latin), but also because for both groups the only means of survival possible in a world run by their masters is through physical strength and the capacity to reproduce. However, Berger observes that in the Countess time, animals were displaced by women in the opposition with men that defined the human condition. The

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writers siding with beasts can thus be seen as a feminist gesture, even without her knowing. The next chapter, by Joseph Lavery, turns to Franz Kafka, examining, through the concept of domestication, how this writer relates animals to the family house and to the figure of the Father. Starting from an analysis of the place of pets and animals in general in the household and the family, Lavery offers a critique of humanism, wondering for example what having an animal means. The author of the essay relates Derridas text Che cos la poesia? in which the philosopher defines poetry as a hedgehog, to one of Kafkas short stories, Die Sorge des Hausvaters, which includes a strange character named Odradek, and is considered by many critics as a microcosm of Kafkas entire oeuvre. Odradek is, according to Lavery, a sort of hedgehog, a creature that throws itself onto the road, risking everything. Furthermore, Odradek immediately provokes the readers curiosity. In contrast to other readings of animality within the same text made by other critics such as Deleuze and Guattari or iek Lavery wonders if Kafkas creature is an animal, a human, a machine, or maybe an animal-cyborg. In any case, we must infer that Odradek is a perfect case of animot. The author offers a close philological reading of the mot (word) Odradek, from multiple points of view, reflecting on Kafkas obsession with the/his proper name, and the central role of the letter K in Kafkas world. Finally, this text by Kafka and this strange word, Odradek also raises the question of translation and untranslatability, a question which is at the core of Derridas reflection on alterity, and therefore on animality. In the following chapter, Adeline Rother connects Disgrace, a novel by the South African writer J.M. Coetzee, well known for his interest in animality, with Derridas essay, Rams. These two texts show a similar melancholic consciousness of life coming to a close, and are also linked by a common ethical perspective regarding the concept of sacrifice. For Derrida, as he makes clear in his title, Chaque fois unique, la fin du monde, every human or animal death means the end of the world, the world as it was seen by the being who has disappeared. Derrida rewrites in Rams the story of Isaacs being replaced by the ram, transforming the sacrifice of the animal in a near-sacrifice, instead of an accomplished slaughter. As for Coetzees Disgrace, sacrifice takes place in a final scene where the main character has to put a beloved crippled dog to death; but, remarks Rother, his action remains unfinished and this sacrifice which parallels a previous scene of near-rape involving the same character and one of his young female students is replaced by another possibility. This other possibility consists of listening to and knowing the other, while respecting his or her secrets, something that Coetzees character only begins to learn at the end of the novel. Before the final sacrificial moment, he resists

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acknowledging the complexity of other people mostly women, including his daughter and tends to simplify them in one stroke. Rother also describes the intertextual relationship between Disgrace and Nabokovs Lolita, whose main character, Humbert Humbert, has the same problem of not understanding, and thus not respecting, the fullness of the others world, which results in treating others as minor characters within a single, more important life. In Rams, Derrida also applies this relation to the other to writing and interpreting poetry, the ram being the poem that stands between the poet and the reader. The poem resists being sacrificed or reduced to one single meaning. Far from bringing an end to communication with the reader, this resistance to interpretation ensures the survival of the poem for other readers yet to come. It is in this sense that, according to Derrida, the reader and interpreter countersigns the text, while the other signs it. This preserves the singularity of the text, as well as the singularity of the other, concludes Rother. Rosalind C. Morris, although also referring to Coetzees oeuvre, turns away from literature, for her intention is to apply the notion of animality to the conception of Africanity in current South Africa. She begins with an analysis of the cruel attacks on so-called foreigners that took place in 2008, mostly in Capetowns poor townships. There are different interpretations of this xenophobic violence. Some critics think South African people (and Africans in general) lack tolerance towards difference; others call to mind the history of South Africa, a country that has employed and integrated workers from many different origins. Although poor economic conditions can make people feel threatened by the others, Morris wonders who were considered the others during these riots. One cannot identify them as foreigners, because European and Asian people were left aside, and some people of South African origin, without papers to prove it, also suffered from these attacks. Morris concludes that the violence seemed to originate from the necessity to create a visible difference, precisely where it was difficult to tell who belonged to a certain category and who did not. This massacre is linked to animality in that the victims claimed they were treated like animals (because they were denied citizenship), but they also compared the perpetrators to animals, based on their lack of compassion. Animality was thus used to qualify people who do not feel compassion toward others, and who treat those others as if they are incapable of suffering. Derrida reminds us how important Benthams question about animals (Can they suffer?) was in displacing the border between animals and humans, understood to be the capacity for language and reason, onto the capacity to suffer. Morris wonders what treating the other as an animal means. She evokes the devastating expeditions and epidemics that nearly extinguished the /Xam, thought to be the originary people of the South African region, and Elias Canettis interest in this culture. Canetti was attracted to the /Xams

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capacity for magical identification with animals, thus blurring the boundaries not only between animality and humanity, but also between the self and the other. For instance, it is difficult to translate animal as a single and general category into /Xam language, which does have, however, a term for naming human beings. This term also encompasses some animals thought to have been human in a former ancient life. Morris asks why the postmodern fading of the radical difference between animality and humanity coincides in time with the acknowledgment of the human rights of Black Africans. She turns to Derrida to note that the philosopher does not deny difference between animals and humans, but argues that this difference is plural, shifting, always moving. This is what makes it impossible to define humanity as opposed to animality, as has traditionally been done. This question is at stake in the claim, made by South African politicians and intellectuals, of a new African renaissance. As an example, Morris confronts the defenders of the so-called traditional African animal sacrifices, with those who defend the animals rights out of pity for their suffering. In this case, people from both sides agree that animals do suffer in these sacrifices; but they differ in valuing this suffering. In all these contradictions or aporias (the victims claim of being treated as animals as they call those who mistreated them animals; their belief in a non-radical divide between animality and humanity, but their lack of opposition to animal slaughter), Morris sees a glimpse of another conception of the world, one not based in a radical opposition between humanity and animality a view that is also developed in two novels by J.M. Coetzee: Elizabeth Costello, which stages Derridas theses on animality, and Disgrace, studied in the previous essay by Adeline Rother. In the following chapter, James Siegel looks to The Animal That Therefore I Am in order to examine how Western identity is no longer challenged by its confrontation with peoples from other ethnicities, as it was during the period of colonization and, especially, of decolonization. Still, this identity has yet to produce social change. Siegel first ponders the evolution of ethnography as a discipline, reflected in the creation of the Muse du Quai Branly in Paris. In this museum, the same objects that were exposed in the old Muse de lHomme are considered artistic pieces with an aesthetic value instead of as exotic curiosities or as objects that have only a scientific interest for their viewers. This artistic consideration is meant to honor the cultures to which these objects belong, but Siegel points out that this new gaze is not devoid of ambiguity. In the second part of his essay, the author focuses on the border between animality and humanity throughout history. Domestic animals were often treated with affection on the farm, in the old agricultural-based Western societies, but their slaughtering was contemplated or carried out without guilt or resistence, by the same people who cajoled them and sometimes even

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talked to them. Arriving in our society alongside the development of the bourgeois family, with its separation from manual work, pets occupy a certain role in the familial structure; for instance, they are the perfect siblings because there is no rivalry between the familys children and their pets. Children and some adults have close transferential relations with pets, which allows them to communicate, or to imagine communication. But, according to Siegel, pets responses are always reassuring as they never challenge their human owners. On the contrary, the cat who looks at the naked philosopher in the opening of Derridas The Animal That Therefore I Am does not speak to him, nor does he embody a symbolic cat, the cat. The author of this chapter reminds us that this cat represents any other, and thus all others, in Derridas words. Following Siegels interpretation of this scene, being seen naked by the cat does not embarrass the narrator; what embarrasses him is precisely his lack of embarrassment. In Siegels view, this situation implies, for the man confronted by an other, a sort of embarrassing self-consciousness and the loss of his social identity. The author states that the cat who challenges the philosophers social identity is not a radical other, in the sense that it would be the first time he is confronted with it, but any other who comes from the familiar. It is also a singular other. Regarding the sans papiers in Paris streets, Siegel concludes, following his interpretation of Derrida, that they can no longer be understood through their former savagerie but the new Muse du Quai Branly does not help them either. In the last chapter, David Wills thinks about the definition of life and its relation to the mechanical, in the footsteps of Derrida, who thought that another relation to animality could lead humans to another thinking of life, of the living, and thus also to death, to technics or to the mechanical. Descartes had already distinguished three possibilities in life: the human, the animal, and the mechanical. However, as the author of this essay points out, it is difficult to ascertain which one comes first, for the philosopher, in the hierarchy of beings. Descartes also questioned the limits of perception especially vision in judging if someone we see belongs to one of these categories, stating that the mind is needed to distinguish between real beings and automatons. On the other hand, Wills argues, the human hierarchy of the senses, in which vision prevails over all, can be different in animals, for whom scent and sound acquire other perceptual and cognitive functions than for human beings. For instance, birds sing to mark their territory in a way that human reason cannot understand, and which cannot be compared to human communication through language. This difference not only undermines Descartes well-known conception of animals as machines because they are not capable of thinking but also suggests that sound is a powerful means of deterritorialization, in the sense of making territory flexible and changeable. Deterritorialization, a concept coined by Deleuze and Guattari

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(also commented upon by Marie-Dominique Garnier in the first chapter of this volume), would here be close to Derridean differance. But sound especially reiterative sounds can also be used to reterritorialize, to mark my territory by means of strict repetition. This fascist possibility is undermined by improvisation, one aspect of bird song. The main distinction between animals and humans, from this perspective, has traditionally been from Descartes to Lacan that only humans can give a response to a sound, while animals are only capable of reaction (for instance, birds sing in reaction to a recorded bird sound, but we, humans, do not usually respond to a recorded voice). Derrida does not oppose this distinction between response and reaction, but suggests that we may instead take into account the differance between them, as a way of thinking differently about the living, about death, and about the technical or the mechanical. The opposition established by Descartes between body and mind, which sees the first as a machine and the latter as the origin of animated life, is often blurred by the examples given by the philosopher himself; thus, mechanics seem to invade the mind, as Wills puts it. Descartes foreshadows another thinking of the mechanical, of artificial intelligence, and a new questioning on the limits between humanity, animality and the machine brought by cybernetics, all of these being seminal issues in Derridas last works. The editors want to thank Laura Hughes, who infused her editorial work with talent, warmth, enthusiasm, and tact. This unusual combination is much appreciated. And they would like to thank Myriam Diocaretz and Rodopi for their unfailing support.

NOTES
1

je lavoue au titre de lautobiographie et pour vous confier ceci: [] jai une perception et une interprtation trs animalistes de tout ce que je fais, pense, cris, vis, mais aussi de tout, de toute lhistoire, de toute la culture, de toute la socit dite humaine, toutes les chelles, macro- ou microscopiques. Mon seul souci nest pas dinterrompre cette vision animaliste, mais de ne lui sacrifier aucune diffrence, aucune altrit, le pli daucune complication, louverture daucun abme venir (LAnimal que donc je suis 129). The French version, LAnimal que donc que je suis, was first published as a book in 2006.

When we started gathering the present collection, this special issue hadnt yet come out. See Points Interviews 1974-1994 119: You dream, its unavoidable, about the invention of a language or a song that would be yours [] Im not talking about a

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style, but an intersection of singularities, habitat, voices, graphism, what moves with you and what your body never leaves [our emphasis]. The motif of dwelling, that is of the animal mode of dwelling, comes up frequently in Derridas autobiographic musings. In This Strange Institution Called Literature, another interview with Jacques Derrida published by Derek Attridge in 1992, Derrida comments on his wish to find a dwelling place suited to his need to invent (language and in language) in the following terms: this irrepressible need [] would refuse to show itself so long as it has not cleared a space or organized a dwelling-place suited to the animal which is still curled up in its hole half-asleep (Acts of Literature 40).
5 6

See Hlne Cixous, Jacques Derrida: Co-Responding Voix You 43.

accder une pense qui pense autrement labsence du nom ou du mot, et autrement que comme une privation (LAnimal 74). See Donna J. Haraway, When Species Meet.

7 8

He (re)invents it after Hlne Cixous, who made this pun in Writing Blind, first published in TriQuaterly 97 (1996) and republished in Stigmata: Escaping Texts (2005). See page 186.

The whole passage reads as follows: [] there would even be the risk that domestication has already come into effect, if I were to give in to my own melancholy. If, in order to hear it in myself, I were to set about overinterpreting what the cat might thus be saying to me, in its own way, what it might be suggesting or simply signifying in a language of mute traces, that is to say without words [une domestication mme risquerait dtre luvre si je cdais ma propre mlancolie; si je mengageais, pour lentendre en moi, surinterprter ce que le chat pourrait ainsi, sa faon, me dire, ce quil pourrait suggrer ou simplement signifier dans un langage de traces muettes, cest--dire sans mots] (The Animal 18, LAnimal 37). See For What Tomorrow A Dialogue 21.

10

11 Et je dis penser cette guerre parce que je crois quil y va de ce que nous appelons penser. Lanimal nous regarde, et nous sommes nus devant lui. Et penser commence peut-tre par l (LAnimal 50). 12

[] ils [font] de lanimal un thorme, une chose vue et non voyante (LAnimal 32). See The Animal 94; and LAnimal 132.

13 14

Si lautoposition, lautotlie automonstrative du je, mme chez lhomme, impliquait le je comme un autre et devait accueillir en soi quelque htro-affection irrductible [], alors cette autonomie du je ne serait ni pure ni rigoureuse; elle ne saurait donner lieu une dlimitation simple et linaire entre lhomme et lanimal (LAnimal 133).

15

[] there where I am, in one way or another, but unimpeachably, near what they call the animal (The Animal 11). See LAnimal 29. If I began by saying the wholly other they call animal and, for example, cat, if I underlined the call [appel] and

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added quotation marks, it was to do more than announce a problem that will henceforth never leave us, that of appellation and of a response to a call (The Animal 13). See LAnimal 30. That is the track I am following, the track I am ferreting out [la piste que je dpiste], following the traces of this wholly other they call animal, for example, cat (The Animal 14). I say to think this war because I believe it concerns what we call thinking (The Animal 29). See LAnimal 50.
16 Wholly other, like the every other that is every (bit) other found in such intolerable proximity that I do not as yet feel I am justified or qualified to call it my fellow, even less my brother (The Animal 12). Tout autre, le tout autre qui est tout autre mais l o dans sa proximit insoutenable, je ne me sens aucun droit et aucun titre lappeler mon prochain ou encore mon frre (LAnimal 29. Our emphasis). 17

Je vous dis ils, ce quils appellent un animal, pour bien marquer que je me suis toujours secrtement except de ce monde-l []. Comme si jtais llu secret de ce quils appellent les animaux. Cest depuis cette le dexception, depuis son littoral infini, partir delle et delle que je parlerai (LAnimal 91. Our emphasis).

On this issue, see Derridas passing assertion that logocentrism is first of all a thesis regarding the animal (The Animal 27) and his analysis of the initial subjection of animals by Adam in the second narrative of Genesis. God gives authority to man and to man alone over animals: The original naming of the animals does not take place in the first version. It isnt the man-woman of the first version but man alone and before woman, who, in that second version, gives their names, his names, to the animals (15).
19 [Le] mot nomm nom [] ouvre lexprience rfrentielle de la chose comme telle, comme ce quelle est dans son tre, et donc cet enjeu par lequel on a toujours voulu faire passer la limite, lunique et indivisible limite qui sparerait lhomme de lanimal, savoir le mot, le langage nominal du mot, la voix qui nomme et qui nomme la chose en tant que telle, telle quelle apparat dans son tre [] (LAnimal 74). 20 21

18

Points 119.

At the approach of this shadowy area it has always seemed to me that the voice itself had to be divided [] I have felt the necessity for a chorus, for a choreographic text with polysexual signatures (Points 107).
22 23 24

See The Monolingualism of the Other or The Prosthesis of Origin 62-65. The first version of The Monolingualism dates back to that year.

This shift from griffe to greffe is a coup or stroke of writing the English translation cannot reproduce. The English version of this passage, translated by Patrick Mensah, reads as follows: [It] is also a scratch and a grafting. It caresses with claws, sometimes borrowed claws (Monolingualism 66). Does the dream itself not prove that what is dreamt of must be there in order for it to provide the dream? asks Derrida in Choreographies (108).
25

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WORKS CITED Badmington, Neil, ed. Derridanimals. Special issue of The Oxford Literary Review 29-1 (2007). Cixous, Hlne. Writing Blind. Trans. Eric Prenowitz. Stigmata: Escaping Texts. London: Routledge, 2005. 184-203. Jacques Derrida: Co-Responding Voix You. Derrida and The Time of the Political. Ed. Pheng Cheah and Suzanne Guerlac. Durham: Duke University Press, 2009. 41-53. Derrida, Jacques. Acts of Literature. Ed. Derek Attridge. New York: Routledge, 1992. Points Interviews, 1974-1994. Ed. Elisabeth Weber. Trans. Peggy Kamuf et al. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1995. Le Monolinguisme de lautre ou la prothse dorigine. Paris: Galile, 1996. The Monolingualism of the Other: Or, The Prosthesis of Origin. Trans. Patrick Mensah. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1998. Bliers: Le dialogue ininterrompu: entre deux infinis, le pome. Paris: Galile, 2003. LAnimal que donc je suis. Paris: Galile, 2006. The Animal That Therefore I Am. Trans. David Wills. New York: Fordham University Press, 2008. and Elisabeth Roudinesco. For What Tomorrow A Dialogue. Trans. Jeff Fort. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2004. Haraway, Donna J. When Species Meet. Minneapolis: The University of Minnesota Press, 2008.

Animal Writes: Derridas Que Donc and Other Tails


Marie-Dominique Garnier
This chapter proposes a close reading of Jacques Derridas The Animal That Therefore I Am from a four-fold angle: first, it attempts to revise or revisit the Derridean animal in the language of the Deleuzian becoming-animal, or, as this essay claims, in the light of the turning-animal (my suggested retranslation of Deleuze and Guattaris concept). Second, it follows with a close ear the k-ridden resonating marks left throughout Derridas text by the uncouth, clanging middle part of the books pregnant title, que donc. Thirdly, it ties the question of the animal to that of opening, reopening, re-defining, the proper name. Lastly, it opens up the territory of Derridean animal-thinking by inviting into it a number of contemporary residents nomads belonging in the same plateau, ethos, or pack-formation among whom Hlne Cixous and Valerio Adami.

At the stroke of two words que donc a post-Cartesian syncopation affects the title of LAnimal que donc je suis. A guttural beat with ghosting and goading effects, the dual core of que donc is an invitation to read plus dun titre, entitled, caught in the double grip of a title. Derridas que donc is both an intimation to follow, to resume the colloquy and keep up with a familiar train of thoughts, and a form of impeachment or impediment, an interrupted flow, a stuttering, a muting. A becoming-animal1 affects, one might argue, the writing or the tongue of philosophy. In a two-voiced plateau on the becoming-animal,2 Gilles Deleuze and Flix Guattari have warned their readers against the dangers of analogical representation when conceptualizing the animal. Nature, they explain, is conceived as an enormous mimesis (A Thousand Plateaus 234) while natural history has remained trapped in a mesh of resemblances, analogies and filiations. Instead of differential relations between species, and of sacrificial or totemic thinking (from Bachelard to Jung and Levi-Strauss), the philosophers of the becoming-animal are interested in involution, in what runs a line between and beneath. They believe in the existence of very special becomings-animal traversing human beings and sweeping them away, affecting the animal no less than the human (237). Deleuze and Guattaris devenir-animal unfortunately loses its efficacy in translation, as becoming-animal lacks the frontal, dental force of devenir, neutered and re-ontologized into a counterproductive be/coming. Part of the strength of devenir (a turning, a troping) radiates, one might

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tentatively argue, from its chance, post-Mallarmean initial d from the lucky throw of a d or dice that has spawned a line of d-rived, d-driven names, from Deleuze to Derrida, between difference and diffrance. One of my starting hypotheses is that the becoming-animal or, in the case of this essay, the turning-animal, has found its most effective and affective translation in the anti-ontology of a Derridean suivre, in the thin verbal, rhizoming line which Derrida inscribes at the utter limit of je suis in the title of LAnimal que donc je suis. Deleuze and Guattari have written about (the) becoming-animal. Derrida writes the becoming-animal, writes it into a turning-animal, particularly in LAnimal que donc je suis. In the philosophy of becoming, writers are sorcerers because they experience the animal as the only population before which they are responsible in principle (Plateaus 240). An animal population affects, in every sense of the verb, Derridas writing. Derridanomal As productive as Derridas desistent, undecidable je suis (I am/I follow), the luxation or syncopation of que donc in the title of LAnimal que donc je suis both invites and prevents close inspection. An animal tongue is released in the two ks which it collides and disseminates. As noted at the letter entry in The Oxford English Dictionary, k often characterizes foreign words of recent adoption, many of them imperfectly naturalized. Imperfectly naturalized, the ks in Derridas animal hand make out a strong case for the animal-in-philosophy. Que donc introduces, parasitically, a form of phonemic resistance in Derridas title an anomal moment, taking anomal in its Greek sense of uneven, rough or irregular. Que donc not only creates a local prosodic resilience in the flow of a title, it also acts as a turning, pliant double pivot one can easily inverse, turn on its head or reverse-engineer; it beckons to be read backwards, in an echoic formation or an invitation to retrace ones steps. Read as an imperfect chiasmus, or as a vertical chiral pattern (q/d), the phrase in itself makes neither heads nor tails. Whats in que? At the back of donc? After a queue, a q, or a cue? In the wake of a sonorous donc? What Derrida calls the course of an animal is what orients itself by ear or by smell (LAnimal 82). One way of accessing the animal course in or of philosophy one way of scenting it out of discourse is to lend an ear to Derridas que donc, to sense or scent it (after Derridas own defense and illustration of the force of flair). At this stage, gnosis gives way to noses on the trail of a volatile air in and out of Derridas name. Among the key-concepts in LAnimal, the animot (65) is, Derrida explains, a disparate montage or chimera, in which he allies in one body a

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plural name (animaux), a mot, and thirdly, a tentative frame of thought in which the absence of speech would not be a lack. A tail is added to the chimera, a fourth part, in which the question, But I, who am I? is posed, as a paired, double question (a deux fois deux), twice two, a question to which two forms of answers are given: an autobiographic animal (as one would speak of a political animal), and a tentative definition of what lives (the living) in terms of self-motricity (LAnimal 73-75). Becoming-animot Another, tentative way in which Derridas animots can be both harnessed and given free rein is to envisage them in writing, to give ear to them (both in the sense of to listen to, and to take part in their newly acquired faciality) in the language of philosophy. Que donc, given ear (or tongue) shapes up into an animal-formation, an animot. Derridas creative animot possesses the uncanny capacity to speak in tongues, to become a nemo, anonymous, and yet to affect, to touch the name. Derrida has stressed the liminal importance of naming, the sole and unbreakable limit between man and animal (LAnimal 74). In the commentary that follows, an animal tongue can be heard at work or at play, slowly forming, submitting language to a thickening, tongue-tied reorganization: Le suffixe mot, dans lanimot, devrait nous rappeler au mot, voire au mot nomm nom (the suffix mot in animot should draw our attention back to the word, namely to the mot named name).3 In the monommenom towards which Derridas tongue is being pulled, something like a stuttering syllabication is forming, an energetic lingo speaking or spoken beneath or at the back of the sign. In that lingo (possibly a lingot or ingot) lies a nugget of animal speech, of the same glial, agglutinative type as what follows in the same paragraph, between the folds of cemotkonommenom. In Derridas mot a meute lies in wait, a patient pack endowed with performative power. An active substance, an animot or animeute that urges on, prodding reading, sending word-tight, logocentric, philosophical readings packing. No beast of burden, the animal-philosopher follows instead the collective nose of a metamorphic pack. The mobile colony of Derridean writing circulates a complex yet traceable chain of philosophical scents or pheromones. The term, if one follows the Oxford English Dictionary, refers to a substance that is secreted and released by an animal (usually in minute amounts) and causes a specific response when detected by another animal of the same (or closely related) species. What is animal reading, if not a response to elements of animal

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secretion in writing (freed of the controlling forces implied in the concepts of detection and species which the OED circulates and supports)? Read on the nose, with ones (its) nose to the ground, Derridas own name (although own at this stage deserves to be disowned) follows close on the heels of an initial animal-syllable. It starts (with) an animal, of all syllables the most animalized or anomal: der. The word Der in Middle English designates a beast, an animal (not specifically the deer or the reindeer) akin to the modern German Tier. A starting beginning, Derridas Middle English animalized syllable der plays heads and tails, and will not stay put in frontal position. Acting as a mock-origin, the syllable quickly shifts into a tail-end rather than an origin hinting at an animals hind parts, a derrire or a back, displayed up front. Derridas proper anomal-name beckons to be followed in a paradoxical way to be caught by its frontal syllable, which happens to be a tail, akin to a que or a queue or queue. A defacing procedure affects the propriety and property of the name. Following Derrida-the-name involves experimenting with animal/anomal affects in reading reading back to front, reversibly, having to catch the name by its mane (or a name by a mane). At the back-tofront of Derridas name, the hind of a hind (a female deer) begins reading/writing. Under the der entry, OED dismisses the hypothesis of a connection between the Middle English word (deer) and the Greek (a wild beast, a poisonous reptile, at the root of theriac and of the pharmacy to follow). The connection, according to the lexicographer, should not be made, although no explanation is given. A stubborn phonetic complicity, regardless of lexicographic assurance, links the initial der to Derridas name, to the German Tier, and to the Greek ther- or . In spite of proper philological lineage, a noise affects the stray syllable. Unleashing the animal genes contained within a signature, releasing the metamorphic force it contains, Greek, German and French enter a common nomos, a plateau or wasteland of collective, hypo-linguistic formations, what could be called a grazing territory, in both acceptations (in which the logos is grazed, scathed in the process). Donkey-work The force of LAnimal que donc je suis rests partly in its capacity to circulate and defy territorial markings, to toy with language, to interrupt the flow of discourse and disturb signals. The insistent, nagging presence of Derridas je suis (haunted by the ghost of Descartes, from whom the phrase is partially imported and modified) sends mixed, compounded territorial signals, between being and following, between following and flowing (suivre). The dogged

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present tense of je suis defies temporality, the unwritten rule of autobiography. In defiance, also, of territorial markings, Derridas Animal book positions itself as a discourse of nagging presence, dogged survival, pigheaded returns. A survivre unfolds from a suivre. The Animal is not only about re-animation and survival: it performs it, in the discrete, deferred temporality of its successive stages prior to its posthumous publication, in the different stages of its existence as a mutant, accretive, secretive editorial object. The Derridean editorial animal haunts the borders, the footnotes, the margins and outer limits of the corpus (like Lovecrafts uncanny anomal or outsider4). At the opposite end of the spectrum of Derridas publication history, an earlier case of edge-haunting occurs with one of the first insects to creep in the Margins, in the coils of a prose-poem by Michel Leiris which supplements Tympan: an earwig appears, rubbing pincers with a coup de donc.5 Reversing the books intimation to follow, much in The Animal casts a series of backward glances, calls for re-readings and reversed readings, for boustrophedonic returns, in the overlapping languages of retrospection and de-reading. Returned, the infra-lexical part of Derridas title hovers on an unstable border between French and English begging to be reverseengineered into a philosophical animal: in the middle voice of Derrida-andDescartes collective que donc, a maverick don/key roams untethered, if one grants reading the right to turn tail. The donkey belongs to Derridas long retrospective bestiary (where it is connected to the Ja Ja of Zarathoustra and returns on the following page, a figure of the over-burdened animot, made to to carry the load of a master on its back (LAnimal 63). Beyond the seduction of cheap verbal play, the initial, embedded que donc sets an example of what reading animots involves: the newly acquired freedom, the leeway, to resist a left-to-right rule of reading, and to speak in one or several tongues to kick against rule and rider. Like the pharmakon, to which Derrida compares the beast of burden, the donkey must overturn power (63). A figure of reversibility, it calls for reversal and displacement, for translation and reverse engineering, beyond slapstick and spoonerism, between languages (into, possibly, an ass, always already mobile, phonetically unstable, ready to subvert the as of Heideggers as such into an ass of generative impropriety). With or without the intimation of a hidden donkey or an asinine as (en tant que), a flickering signal calls for attention at the back of Derridas que/donc: a local agon opposes the two rival syntactic forces pulling the two words left and right: hypotaxis (que) versus parataxis (donc). Instead of a smooth arrangement, the syllabic assemblage is filled with animus. At the local, syntactic level, a war is underway, a war between species (une vritable guerre des espces, LAnimal 54).

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Derridas Animal writes and rides in the productive margins of an open territory or philosophical warren, in a textual lair. Each entryway into Derrida-territory (or a-territory), is sign-posted, one might argue, by the flickering presence of an animot (taken in the sense of a stray syllable). Such is the case, for example, of war or war-, a loose animal syllable or streak that crosses the corpus specific animotic force. Comparable to a territorial signature, the syllable leaves its (paw)print in Derridas most dissimilar and distant texts: in he war,6 the phrase Derrida isolates for close-reading from Finnegans Wake; in the statement that he is at war with himself;7 in Scribble (which concludes with a quotation from Finnegans Wake), prefacing or post-facing or de-facing the Essay on Hieroglyphs by Warburton, of all names the one which begins, to animot-ridden ears, with an attention-grabbing syllable, almost a syllabus by itself. Derrida sets out on the trail of what he calls Warburtons combat: une sorte de combat est engag au moment (quant au moment) de lobscurit tombe sur lhistoire.8 Warburtons essay lists the origin of the cult of animals as one of the benefits to be reaped from the study of hieroglyphic writing in ancient Egypt. Language as an instrument of control would be assembled, crafted out of permutable animal names. In order to glorify a Hero, Warburton explains, Ancient Egyptians would form an assemblage out of different animal parts (199) (the opposite, one might argue, of Derridas disassembled donkey-part, or counter-hieroglyph another word for an animot). The title page to the 1977 Warburton volume yields an unusual editorial assemblage, which reveals the combative, agonistic status of writing: the books title fills an extensive page headed with the authors name, William Warburton (or Warburthon), followed by the full title of his essay; the 1744 translators name (Lonard des Malpeines); the contemporary annotators name (Patrick Tort); followed by Derridas SCRIBBLE (pouvoir/crire), with capital letters and a bracketed appendage; and, finally, a text by Patrick Tort, Transfigurations. Writing about writing results in what could be called a catty, bitchy form of aggressive textuality, involving a muted yet uncurbed form of violence which is unleashed from the cover page of the book: there, at war, four names (author, translator, annotator, scribbler, and transfigurator) enter into what could be called a plateau of warring, rival enunciations. The cult of animals (in writing) becomes reversible as the animus contained in the cult (any cult). The animus or animosity is unleashed from the proper names themselves, peddled between Warburton, des Malpeines (pain) and P. Tort (wrong), followed by a ridder, a trailblazer.

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Derridas animus turns against itself, it seems, in an isolated melancholy declaration in LAnimal que donc je suis, in what seems to be a moment of helpless recognition: Je rve, donc, au fond dun terrier introuvable et venir. Like the books title, however, such a statement can be read in an undecidable manner, and translates either as I dream, therefore, at bottom, of a lair to be nowhere to be found, or as I dream therefore at the bottom of a lair to be nowhere to be found (LAnimal 92).9 Au fond belongs in Derridas animotive, restless, mobile tongue. The terrier or terre, as Hlne Cixous has remarked,10 is never far from a dumbfounded taire (to keep quiet). Like Derridas war/warren, Cixous terre/taire is an animal formation or an animot gifted with the power to speak in the non-voice of the animal or in the loud silence of deconstruction in which a muting takes place, both muted and undergoing (or suffering) a mutation each time it must come to terms. Derridas dreamed-up warren, terre promise, or hol(e)y land reads both as gaping grave and gaping ground. The terrier divides up between the melancholy of the burial ground and the energies of a burrowing tongue or tairier, an animal tongue strong or weak enough to bore through occlusive concepts (of the sort that is heard in Kafkas last, unfinished story, Im Bau). The animalized tongue of The Animal takes the improbable form of sudden syntactic traps, bore-holes and burrows, cut-ups and stray adverbs or conjunctions, such as au fond, dislocated between hermeneutics (truth finally disclosed) and utopia (Where on earth? Mais o est [] donc?). Derridas dream burrow lies in the dystopia afforded by linguistic burrowings and borrowings, between languages. At the back of Heideggers Rohr The last part of LAnimal que donc je suis transcribes, as Marie-Louise Mallet explains, a supplement, a last-day gift: the recording of Derridas added conference at Cerisy, itself enlivened with additional rires. At this stage, another turn is taken, an about-face occurs, as the book (silent by definition) mutates into a speaking-and-laughing-animal. The oral aspect of those final pages questions their status as printed matter: they were improvised from notes, from scratch. Scratching is also their subject matter (Can an animal scratch out? LAnimal 217). Derrida devotes these additional scratch pages to the question of the animal in Heidegger, taking to task Heideggers statement that an animal, by definition, must be envisaged in osmotic terms, as insuperably caught in the

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environment of a surrounding world a mode of existence comparable to life in the space of a hose-pipe. Bound to its immediate surroundings, to the constraints of a coded behavior, of biological determination and territorial limits, as if caught in a mobile cage, the Heideggerian animal is enferm comme dans un tuyau, trapped inside a pipe: in einem Rohr (LAnimal 218). Thus trapped, an animal is weltarm knows no world, being literally world-poor, worldless, deprived of a world. Between the chapters initial rires, and Heideggers Rohr, the possibility of a parasitical, animal relay, transpiring in the muting syllable of a transitional roar, threatens to disturb the course of philosophical speculation. Derrida reads Heidegger with the lithe motion of a feline jumping from one prey to the next (je saute dun bond [] I here jump over to [] [204]), to get at Heideggers unanswered question: Was ist Welt? (What does world mean?). Derridas reading of Heidegger liberates a number of animots, crossbred between German and French; in the same sentence, Dasein breeds dessein,11 as if a process of phonetic translation affected the page. The adjective used by Heidegger to characterize the animal, weltarm returns to haunt the final line of the book, in Derridas metamorphic reformulation of what he calls toute larmature du discours heideggerien where the spectral syllable arm leaves its animal trace or imprint, with the effect of animalizing Heidegger. An animot (understood as a mutant, perturbed signal, of which the word itself is a living example) always operates on the outer reaches of a territory. Animal-writing here involves, much along the lines found in the works of Deleuze and Guattari, a process of alteration (rather than alterity) a metamorphic principle that would include the possibility of linguistic alteration within a given linguistic territory. A feral roar can be heard in the plural herd of Derridas animalized writing. Secreted in and released from Heideggers Rohr, the roaring possibility of an animal tongue overheard in the very words of the philosopher of Dasein leaks out, invalidating the tubular metaphor of Heideggers animal philosophy. Animal writing bites back, in feral fashion (where feral branches out into two semantic fields, pertaining to the ferality of the wild, untamed beast, or, on the other hand, to the fatal, the deadly, the funereal, and the possibility of dying, about which the end of The Animal revolves.) Feral philosophy The Animal is written in two voices, between the jubilating, creative mode of the conference devoted to the animot (and its repeated punning on such words as bte and pense-bte) and the darker resonance of the word

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animal, in which Derrida hears mal (evil or pain): animal, quel mot [] le mal est fait (LAnimal 54). From the first, jocular Ecce Homo reformulated as an Ecce Animot, a voice in LAnimal moans that it is waiting to be put to death (attendant dtre mise mort, 65). Equally ambivalent effects operate in the glottal arrests of the two ks contained in the books animalized title. The arresting middle tongue of LAnimal que donc je suis conveys its double coup de donc or glas, sounding a death-toll, a tale of pain and physical aching. The double occlusion in que donc generates a productive syncopation pushing utterance in the contradictory directions of breathless (in)articulatedness on the one hand, and the jouissance of repetition on the other. A multiplicity of equally (equine?) productive cases of colliding /k/-sounds recurs in Derridas kaleidoscopic corpus, from the stroke of an initial pharmakos to his readings of Kafka, of Valrys Quelle, without forgetting the coup of Glas and the fascination of Bellerophon for Chimera (LAnimal 70). Hlne Cixous recent essay Ce qui a lair de quoi has unearthed a spateful of ks and quis from a number of key texts.12 Derridas early essay Force et signification can be read as a form of early k-tropic text, asymptotically drawn towards (and tuned to) a quotation which it seems to have been sparing for the end, in which Zarathoustra is wondering how to carve his tablets into hearts of flesh dans des curs de chair.13 In the packed, productive traces that escape from the title of Derridas animal book, one finds a tail (queue), a donc-key, a Cixousian que, qui, or key, and the signature of two consonants (q/d) that uncouthly fit both Jacques Derrida and Descartes names, assembling their discordant voices into a weird philosophical chimera, a pas de deux,14 algebraically suspended between one and two. Descartes after Derrida: a cart-ride Before being published as LAnimal que donc je suis, the Decade conference bore the simpler title LAnimal que je suis. Que donc is a sure Cartesian give-away, a trademark of Cartesian speculation, traceable, for example, in a number of questions posed in Mditations mtaphysiques: Quest-ce donc que je suis? (What is it therefore that I am? 103-105). Following close on the heels of the original Latin, the Duc de Luyness translation of Descartes Sed quid igitur sum matches its guttural quiddity to perfection (de Luynes, no doubt, possessed de loue, good hearing). As Derrida makes clear, donc has two Latin equivalents: igitur and ergo. The conjunction occurs, therefore, at a junction: a (near-imperceptible) line of fault seems to separate Descartes rational ergo from his bewildered what I am? and from Mallarms mad igitur (Igitur ou La folie dElbehnon), both of which

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resort to igitur. But which one is the expletive? Which one the syllogistic pivot? Although Derrida explains that the conjunction he adds to his title is an ergo rather than an igitur (LAnimal 108), a logical hinge rather than a mere filler (which positions the volume as a treatise against the animalmachine, which it is, partly), the issue seems more complicated. One of the reasons why Derrida infers an ergo beneath his own donc might be a matter of numbers, both words containing four letters. Derrida is explicit about this apparently minor point, adding, quatre lettres entre quatre ou cinq mots, four letters in the middle of four or five words (108). The volume also numbers four parts, in counter-Trinitarian fashion. To the minor figure of donc Derrida adds three metaphorical touches: the word, he says, is furtive; it is a lightweight prosthesis (108); it is also a charnire, a hinge (108-109). Donc, it follows, is (therefore) as furtive as an animal, and as prosthetic as an animal-machine: so far, the semantic field matches the implications of Descartes de-animalizing philosophy to perfection. Beneath the technical meaning of charnire, however, at a distance from the pivotal, mechanical device the word implies, the ghost of a chair, of flesh (dead or alive) shared between animal, animal writer, and animal rider (a second skin) begins to emerge. Donc fleshes out an otherwise bony, dry, cadaverous title. As a charnire, (never far from a charnier) donc cleaves (both severs and unites) the texts of Descartes and Derrida a cart, and a rider. Donc is a mot the only italicized occurrence of the word word in the book, which endows it with the status of an animot. Derridas close reading of Descartes results in a re-writing, in a re-animalizing of the donc getting, one might say, the donc in gear. While Descartes animadverts from the animal, Derrida calls attention to the question of the lack of anima in Descartes cogito, after the close-reading of a letter in which Descartes explains that I breathe, therefore I am offers no guarantee of existence (121). Derrida revises Descartes thinking subject as, possibly, a dead subject, a thinking soul une me pensante whose cogito might bear the signature of a dead man (121-122). He adds: je suis ne dpend pas de ltre en vie (122). Against Descartess deadly je suis, Derridas bifocal je suis requires, at all costs, a being-alive, a becoming-animal. Hearing the herd More than one animal is heard scampering across Derridas textual wordrides. Commenting on his choice of the title lanimal que donc je suis, Derrida insisted that it should be read as a breathless race, an animal chase, a kinetics or cynegetics, not as an immobile representation or a static self-portrait.

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Among the animals hiding in and out of Derridas text, the reader/rider will have traced several cats (Lucrce, Carrolls Cheshire cat, kittens), horses and cigadas, Valrys snake, Descartes bees, donkeys from Abraham to Nietzsche and an open-ended series of silkworms, squirrels, monkeys, hedgehogs and ants from previous publications. Mes figures animales saccumulent my animal figures are accumulating (LAnimal 58), he says, thus following up on Nietzsche who has re-animalized, if one can say so, the genealogy of the concept, and has attempted to teach us to laugh again by premeditating to set all his animals at large across philosophy, as it were to laugh and to cry, for, as you know, he was mad enough to cry at the side of an animal, against a horses muzzle or mouth. Sometimes I think I can see him take the horse to witness, but not until he has taken the horses head between both hands for a witness of his compassionateness (58, I translate).15 Derridas signature sets free not one but several post-Nietzschean horses that form an audible herd syllabic horse formations unleashing a rider and a da(-da), with an ante-positioned hind riding shotgun. The syllables of Nietzsches equally animalizing name ride along in the same free pack or horde, in the vicinity of horsiness and horseplay, neighbor to a philosophical neighing or Nietzsching. Derridas cats cradles Much caterwauling is involved in the soundtrack of Derridas The Animal, a text that reads as an invitation to ride on the wavelength of a Nietzschean rire never a far cry from its melancholy opposite. Out of the name of his cat Lucrce, traces proliferate, generating kith and (cat)kin in catachrestic chains: cas, chutes, a clinamen of oblique writing (LAnimal 20-28). Derridas pussycat Lucrce leaves its oblique phonetic patter on a dense web of affiliated forms, proximate terms and metamorphic moments. A patter rather than a pattern, Derridas animal tongue operates by proxy, dispersing glial, stray homophonic formations that connect one phonetic trace to another in a reversible series of cats cradles or linguistic string games. Lucrce/Lucretius (cat and philosopher) offers quick access to Derridas animal-writing, by leaving a stray succession or derivation of k-ty phonemes and cat-inspired words across the text: cas (28), chasse, se cacher (8889), champ (112), castration (191), Ecce animot. On the last page, where Derrida analyzes Heideggers complex ways of refusing to grant being to the animal, by resorting to the as such of essential difference, a sentence, the last one in the book, follows:

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In the narrow limit of an off-hand confession, Derridas je ne le cache pas unleashes a half-hidden animal, catty-corner from the opening pages of the volume, where much is made, from the start, about hiding, hiding ones nakedness from an on-looking cat. Je ne le cache pas is the hinge or charnire on which Derridas essay has been turning from the start. To hide or not to hide (from ones cat) was one of the starting points in the book, embracing the trophic and tropic question of hiding from the gaze (but do cats gaze?) of another who is neither quite an (but always a pack) nor quite indubitably other. A philosopher in the nude bashfully hiding from his peeping cat (though reassuringly no peeping tom-cat), and who, by his own admission, is ashamed of his own bashfulness metamorphoses on the last page into one who wont hide it, who will agree to confess, or allow it. Derridas confession or non-hiding must, like the que donc ingrained in the title, be read backwards, with the beginning of the book in mind. The linguistic turn of je ne le cache pas harks back to the books beginning, to that bashful, primitive and mock-primal scene in which a veil and yet no veil is lifted on the missing and yet conspicuous, muted and yet sonorous part which the title disseminates in the double bance or abeyance of a missing part supplemented in the title, between two words, beneath que and donc. Derridas je ne le cache pas at the end of LAnimal que donc je suis confesses and yet keeps covering. It signals, in circular fashion, the books own circularity (to be linked, also, to Derridas comments on Heideggers own circular moments in The Fundamental Concepts of Metaphysics16), in what seems to follow a series of animal tracks coming back to the same lair of buried, and yet utterly disclosed, signification. Derridas side-remark might read, possibly, as one of the books cat flaps an entry-way, bringing reading back to its beginnings, inviting a reshuffling of the purloined (purr? loined?) letters between man and animal: chat/cache. What filters through the textual cat flap is the (partial) truth of a shared or shed piece of common skin or hair between cat and man, as the stray syllable cat infiltrates the philosophers cache, along with the animalsance of a queue/dong.

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Hiding, in the books animalized tongue, entails another sort of subtext or common skin, an animal hide, as Derridas hiding (or not-hiding) becomes translatable into a hide-ing a shared hide, a common animal skin. A paradoxical, marginal logic affects the proper name, imps it, pushing mimesis to its less-than-significant, utter limits (the limits of utterance). Submitted to this type of monkey-linguistic-business, Heideggers own name unleashes, beneath its thick philosophical hide or hideaway, an open warren (Heide, in German) in which Derridas reading starts one or several hares. One of the ways in which Derridas writings-about-the-animal(s) break new ground is by making it possible to overturn one of the strongholds of the subject: the proper name. In Glas, Hegels name is animalized into an eagle, or estranged in the guise of a French aigle. Most names unleash not one, but several animals (such as Genet, both cat and Spanish horse). The donkey (far-)fetched from the middle of Derridas animalized title and reassembled from the spare parts of Cartesian philosophy (que donc) is not a pack animal destined to carry the load of a logos, an articulation, but a pack of mobile a-significant language molecules (to quote a word Deleuze and Guattari have made abundant use of,17 in which a mole plays the animot). The fauneme There is no such thing as an animal. Animals come in packs, swarms, crowds, flocks, schools, herds, hordes and bevies animot, we have been told, should always be understood as a plural. Animalizing contemporary philosophy involves, similarly, a collective, dove-tailing perception of its followers not so much subjects as overlapping lines assembling in and out of a mobile, collective, fluctile body. Jean-Franois Lyotard, Gilles Deleuze, Hlne Cixous, Jacques Derrida, Jean-Luc Nancy, Adami (and other plural names) belong to the same pack, and move beneath the common skin of shared becoming-animals; their territories resonate with similar calls (similar ritournelles, to borrow Deleuze and Guattaris concept). Derridas que donc is, for example, of a species closely related to Hlne Cixous already quoted Ce qui a lair de quoi, which circulates, besides a Joycean skeleton-key, the -kie of Jackie Derrida as a child, a cheeky coup du Q (emulating, as stubborn as a mule, Derridas que) and a cat metamorphosed into a a, in the recreation of a cat-napping collective tongue which links animal to any-man woman cat child and mule. To Hlne Cixous key-text is added, as in the case of Derridas LAnimal que donc je suis, an oral supplement, an outgrowth: the little conversation of November 2002, entitled Quiquoire? (a coinage or chimera colliding, against a muted Qui croire? Whotobelieve a nonsensical,

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Joycixousian Whotowhat). In the supplement of Quiquoire (a short text bringing up, among other things, the question of foreign tongues as giving access to the unconscious), the figure of Kafka looms in the background, a Derridean body double, haunting the conversation with the force of a foreign key or k-word: H.C.: Il me fait penser toi dans le tourmentage J.D.: Cest moi en plus grand et plus maigre. H.C.: a, cest vrai J.D.: En plus grand tout court. [H.C.: He reminds me of you for the nagging. J.D.: Yes, its me, taller, and thinner. H.C.: How true. J.D.: Taller, for short]18 In a final bottom-line (or punch line), the final twist of Derridas for short tilts the scales to his own advantage, as the reputedly taller or (greater) one, Kafka, is upstaged by the foreshortened figure of J. D. Derridas witty plus grand tout court which releases a knife-sharp K the philosophers cut. The cutting edge of a k-sound (a long-distance traveler, from the pharmakos via The Postcard and Glas to the coup of tout court) operates at the level of what could be called an animal phoneme (to be spelled, perhaps, a fauneme): K, the nearest phonetic approximation to a guttural break, a refusal to breathe or to swallow; K: a voiceless animal utterance. K, or the voice of the limit. In a digression on the semantics of treph (the limit, in Greek), Derrida recalls that he does not set out to erase the limit, but to multiply its figures. As implied by the Greek verb trepho (to transform by a thickening process), as in to curdle milk (faire cailler du lait) (LAnimal 51), K is what curdles language. So do cats. DerridAdamiAnimal Jean-Luc Nancys plus dun titre follows an animal path into Adamis portrait of Derrida with cat. Adamis portrait, he explains, represents le manque de la parole, a visual equivalent to lacking the power of speech. For Jean-Luc Nancy, the lack of speech becomes, precisely, the condition of writing. Writing is for him a shriek, a crying out loud, passant dans laigu, le suraigu, lultrasonore, lcriture toujours nouveau (rising into the high, the shrill note, the ultrasound, writing still anew).19 Adamis allegorical portrait of Derrida with cat comes, at one stroke (a caress, the stroke of a painters brush, a streak of luck) very close to Derridas tactile rewriting of philosophy written, one might argue, at the tip of a cats

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whiskers. Nancy approaches his subject (the cats whiskers) by a whisker, in the flicker of a salut (both a greeting and a parting word). Looking at the allegorical portrait by Adami, Nancy comments: Il nous regarde [hes looking at us/he concerns us],20 a statement that takes after, grows from, Derridas remark in LAnimal que donc je suis: Les animaux me regardent (58). The Derridanimal is what looks at/concerns us or perhaps, in one word, what affects. Shifting shifters, the possibility of an overlapping, plastic skin extends from the animal to the DerridAdamiAnimal (or the DerridAdamiAnimall, with a plural marker). Adamis name, Nancy comments in an aside, means divided man. The portrait-with-cat (both Adamis and Nancys) is a divided portrait, a cloven or double portrait of Derrida with Lucrce (which one is the philosopher? which one is the cat?). The cleft in Adamis portrait also provides a clef or key to the derridanimal, to its borderline, fuzzy state of existence. The derridanimal is after non-textual, non-monologic linguistic or visual models. If writing is a shriek, drawing or painting resorts in dovetailing, scaly techniques (of the sort used in Valerio Adamis 1975 Study for a drawing after Glas,21 published in +R. There, another animal tackles or tickles the subject: beneath Ich Derrida hears the rhizoming, fishy series Ich, Ichtos, Ichnos, Ishm, ictus subject, fish, trace, Hebraic man, and a coup. A queue returns in Derridas final catch in the next paragraph of +R, in which emerges une queue lame (a gilled tail).22 Similar lamellae or scales affect Adamis 2004 portrait, where Jean-Luc Nancy sees what he calls les pans, les lames, les masques, les peaux et les clisses (79). A lamella, a scale, is a lamina (which, when read or stroked backwards, reverses into an animal). Donkey-business A portrait of Derrida in Tourner les mots23 shows him up a tree at age fifteen in Algeria, bow and arrow in hand, with the legend: a profile of the artefactor as a young monkey. Unbidden, the donkey returns in defiance of evolution theories, an improbably close lexical relative of the monkey. The open territory of English dictionaries connects the donkey and the monkey in a curious lexical assemblage, a strange animot: the diminutive suffix of the donkey was influenced by monkey (American Heritage Dictionary) or possibly rimed with monkey (Oxford English Dictionary). In defiance of propriety and of grammatical rules, an unacknowledged animal zooms across a sentence destined to be read at the burial ceremony, which Jean-Luc Nancy records in plus dun titre. Derridas je vous souris do que je sois (I smile to you from wherever I am) leaves in or at its wake the floating grin of a Cheshire cat, as Nancy remarks.24 Built into the

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melancholy of the sentence, one might add, between j and ois which rehearse the first and last phonemes in Jacques Derridas name, the faint or feint figure of a souris (mouse) uncouthly pops up, ratting on. As in Hamlet, something whether a mouse or not-a-mouse stirs behind the wainscoting.

NOTES
1 A becoming-animal borrowed from Gilles Deleuze and Flix Guattaris A Thousand Plateaus (232 and following), is at work in the open, unstable lexico-phonetic space of Derridas animot. 2 3

A Thousand Plateaus 233-309.

In David Wills translation, published after this essay was submitted, one finds: The suffix mot in lanimot should bring us back to the word, namely, to the word named a noun [nomm nom] (The Animal 48), in which the translation deems it necessary to retain the significantly stuttering phrase, nomm nom, between brackets.

4 Quoted in A Thousand Plateaus, page 244: The anomal is neither an individual nor a species; it has only affects []; Lovecraft applies the term Outsider to this thing or entity, The Thing, which arrives and passes at the edge, which is linear and yet multiple. 5 6 7 8

Margins of Philosophy xiii, xxix. He War, Ulysses Gramophone: Deux mots pour Joyce 35-53. I Am at War with Myself. Interview with Jean Birnbaum.

William Warburton 29. I translate: a sort of combat is waged at the moment (about the moment) of the darkness that has befallen history. In David Wills translation: I am dreaming, therefore, in the depths of an undiscoverable burrow to come (63), followed with this footnote: also I am dreaming therefore, at bottom, of an undiscovered burrow to come (note 9, 167). Taire! Terre! is a recent example, in Le Voisin de zro: Sam Beckett, 23.

10 11

I quote, page 218: Est-ce quon peut librer le rapport du Dasein (pour ne pas dire lhomme) ltant de tout projet vivant, utilitaire, de mise en perspective, de tout dessein vital, de telle sorte que lhomme puisse, lui, laisser tre ltant ? [I translate : Can the relation of the Dasein (man, for short) to being be detached from the project of living, from day-to-day, applied living, from the design to live, in such a way that man alone could let be?]. Hlne Cixous, Ce qui a lair de quoi 11-71. Jacques Derrida, Lcriture et la diffrence 49. Anne E. Berger, Pas de deux 357-362.

12 13 14

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15 In Wills translation: My animal figures multiply [] Nietzsche reanimalizes the genealogy of the concept [.] tries to teach us to laugh again by plotting, as it were, to let loose all his animals within philosophy. To laugh and to cry, for, as you know, he was mad enough to cry in conjunction with [auprs de], under the gaze of, or cheek by jowl with a horse. Sometimes I think I see him call that horse as a witness, and primarily in order to call it as a witness to his compassion, I think I see him take its head in his hands (35).

The Animal 155; I would have liked to insist on the moments of vertigo and circularity of this text. A Thousand Plateaus, Plateau 10, becoming-molecule; All becomings are already molecular (272).
18 19 20 21 22 23 24 17

16

Lvnement 71. plus dun titre: Jacques Derrida 59. My translation. plus dun titre 54. Jacques Derrida, +R (par-dessus le march) 179. +R 183. My translation. Tourner les mots: Au bord dun film, Illustration 13. plus dun titre 37.

WORKS CITED Berger, Anne-Emmanuelle. Pas de deux. Derrida. Ed. Marie-Louise Mallet and Ginette Michaud. Paris: LHerne, 2004. 357-362. Cixous, Hlne. Ce qui a lair de quoi. Lvnement comme criture: Cixous et Derrida se lisant. Ed. Marta Segarra. Paris: Campagne Premire, 2007. 11-71. Le Voisin de Zro: Sam Beckett. Paris: Galile, 2007. Deleuze, Gilles, and Flix Guattari. A Thousand Plateaus. Trans. Brian Massumi. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1987. Derrida, Jacques. Lcriture et la diffrence. Paris: Seuil, 1967. Scribble (pouvoir/crire). Preface to William Warburton. Essai sur les hiroglyphes des gyptiens. Paris: Aubier Flammarion, 1977. +R (par-dessus le march). La Vrit en peinture. Paris: Flammarion, 1978.

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Margins of Philosophy. Trans. Alan Bass. Chicago: the University of Chicago Press, 1982. He War. Ulysse Gramophone: Deux mots pour Joyce. Paris: Galile, 1987. 35-53. I Am at War with Myself. Interview with Jean Birnbaum. Trans. Pascale Fusshoeller, Leslie Thatcher, and Steve Weissman. 3 November 2004 <http://www.studiovisit.net/SV.Derrida.pdf>. LAnimal que donc je suis. Paris: Galile, 2006. The Animal That Therefore I Am. Trans. David Wills. New York : Fordham University Press, 2008. and Safaa Fathy. Tourner les mots: Au bord dun film. Paris: Galile/Arte Editions, 2000. Illustration 13. Nancy, Jean-Luc. plus dun titre, Jacques Derrida: Sur un portrait de Valerio Adami. Paris: Galile, 2007.

On a Serpentine Note
Ginette Michaud
Taking its starting point from Jacques Derridas statement in The Animal That Therefore I Am (More to Follow) where he affirms that only poetic thinking can truly host the question of the animal (what he coins in French by the untranslatable and idiomatic animot), this paper looks into the reconfiguration given by Jacques Derrida to this major theme of the animal and to an animal-like signature. It takes this reconfiguration in all senses, and also literally, at its word: first, by a swift survey of some of Derridas most crucial theoretical propositions regarding the limit between man and the animal; second, by investigating and presenting the full extent of the Derridean inquiry as it reproblematizes everything we think we know about the animal in the figure if it still responds to this name of the animetaphor of the silkworm, in the primitive and infinite writing scene closing A Silkworm of Ones Own; and last but not least, this serpentine note is followed or traced through one of Derridas latest texts, his Seminar, La bte et le souverain, where, in an improvised and most moving session, he comments on D.H. Lawrences poem, Snake.

With its whole gaze a creature looks out at the open. But our eyes are as though turned in and they seem to set traps all around it as if to prevent its going free. We can only know what is out there from an animals features for we make even infants turn and look back at the way things are shaped not toward the open that lies so deep in an animals face. Rainer Maria Rilke, Duino Elegies1

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Neither gods nor animals, men say of themselves today, self-satisfied, When in truth they should be pitied for having come to lose so easily god in the animal and the animal in god and in themselves one and the other. Jean-Christophe Bailly, Singes.2

The animal looks at us (nous regarde), and we are naked before it. Thinking perhaps begins there (The Animal 29). Through these powerful statements, Jacques Derrida enjoins us to reconsider everything we think we know. Among the most remarkable features of his reconfiguration of this major theme of the animal (not only the animal but, more importantly, animality and the many and varied limits between it and humanity, humanimality to borrow Michel Suryas term but perhaps Derrida would have felt slightly reticent about this figure that, while keeping the human and the animal inseparable, insists on preserving the priority of precisely this human it brings into question) three crucial propositions retain our attention. The first one relates to pity, to the animals suffering and therefore to affect, a devalued or repressed element that Derrida places at the heart of his reflection, recognizing it as the very condition for examining these relations: suffering, then, contrary to speech or reason, which philosophers have always considered mans exclusive peculiarity or rather, his privilege, his power, his sovereign prerogative. That which is proper to man never-closed list of predicates, drawing attention to its indeterminate nature, its fragility to establish unshakable foundations, be it just one a series of properties that are supposed to differentiate man from animals, starting with language, logos, history, laughter, ritualization, burial, the gift, dressing oneself, modesty (From that point on, naked without knowing it, animals would not be, in truth, naked [The Animal 5]): without the knowledge of their nudity, they would not be (self)conscious and fit to distinguish between good and evil. Therefore, Derrida reformulates everything based on Jeremy Benthams question, Can they suffer?, this question of suffering and pity displacing all head-on opposition between man and animal, the latter having always been relegated to the other side of the limit as a single, homogeneous category, the Animal in general, the Animal spoken of in the general singular (40), in spite of the infinite space, writes Derrida, that separates the lizard from the dog, the protozoon from the dolphin, the shark from the lamb, the parrot from the chimpanzee, the camel from the eagle, the squirrel from the tiger or the elephant from the cat, the ant from the silkworm or the hedgehog from the echidna (34). The second question also concerns the limit, but more specifically this time the line that man himself draws. The question of animality, Derrida

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says in For What Tomorrow, is not just one more question among others [] [it] also represents the limit upon which all the great questions are formed and determined, as well as all the concepts that attempt to delimit what is proper to man, the essence and future [avenir] of humanity, ethics, politics, law, human rights, crimes against humanity, genocide, etc (63). This line of questioning, which like all lines is as likely to be traced as to be erased, changes the very ground of the matter: Limitrophy is therefore my subject. Not just because it will concern what sprouts or grows [crot] at the limit, around the limit, by maintaining the limit, but also what feeds the limit, generates it, raises it and complicates it. Everything Ill say will consist, certainly not in effacing the limit, but in multiplying its figures, complicating, thickening, delinearizing, folding, and dividing the line precisely by making it increase [crotre] and multiply. (The Animal 29. Derridas emphasis.) Thus, Derrida reverses and here I am already insisting on the figure (more and something other than a simple figure) of a certain ver (worm) I will speak of a little further what the most powerful philosophical tradition felt entitled to refuse the animal: speech, reason, experience of death, mourning, culture, institutions, technics, clothing, lying, pretense of pretense [feinte de feinte], covering of tracks [effacement de la trace], gift, laughter, crying, respect, etc. (135). Struck by the fact that all (it is Derrida who stresses this all) philosophers, from Aristotle to Lacan, and including Descartes, Kant, Heidegger and Levinas (32), are in perfect agreement an agreement too perfect to escape suspicion when affirming that the animal, singular general, is deprived of language, Derrida overturns this limit traced by them as a unilinear and indivisible line (ironically, homogeneity is more likely a trait of these living beings called philosophers, too certain of what humanity is), to ask, rather, whether what calls itself human has the right to rigorously attribute to man, which means therefore to attribute to himself, what he refuses the animal, and whether he can ever possess the pure, rigorous, indivisible concept, as such, of that attribution (135. Derridas emphasis). The fact that Derrida relentlessly raises this question, remarking that it opens onto the future of humanity, shows as clearly as possible the great importance he attaches to this question of the living in all its forms and species, with all its differences throughout his philosophical work and evidently even more intently in the last decade, when his zoo-auto-biobiblio-graphy (34) invokes a heterogeneous multiplicity of the living [de vivants] (31), qualified as animots even before they are given a name. And it is obviously through this third trait, which leads Derrida to reconfigure the question of the animal in animot, that what he advances

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becomes more inventive. Because what is at stake in the question of the animal is not limited, for Derrida, to this or that motif, nor to themes such as asininity (btise) or stupor (hbtude), any more than to the double move of humbling and animalization (abtissement) to which the animal is so often subjected, although even this animalization can be refuted by an author like Kafka, for example, who succeeds in complicating things considerably, as Michel Surya clearly sees: Abtissement should be taken to mean strictly: that which renders beast-like [bte] what is. Better still, that which reattributes it to the beasts. Which reattributes it at least in this sense: that there is nothing that is which does not share this origin, and does not remain tied to it. Which does not remain tied to it forever. The humbling move [abaissement] to which Kafka subjects all that is, is essentially a move of bestialization of man bestialization because it is not enough to describe it simply as a move to animalize [...]; Kafka alternately performs a bestialization of man and a hominization of the animal, either because he wants in the bestialized human man to triumph still, or because he wants to preserve the dominance of the animal in the hominized beast (as is the case for the Ape in A Report to an Academy). Kafka upholds these two contradictory possibilities: the btise of man and the humanity of the animal (always, however, deprived of stupor). In the end, everything is much more complicated: nothing ceases to be what it is, although it can become its opposite in every way.3 Indeed, all of Derridas work constantly confirms that everything is much more complicated, as he delves into these two contradictory possibilities of the animalization of man, of his asininity (asininity, Derrida often points out, can only be ascribed to man) on the one hand, and the hominization of the animal, its humanity, on the other hand a category just as problematic, since he sees all these relations, these exchanges, as still too deeply steeped in anthropomorphic projections. And it is precisely these projections that his thinking intends to question and displace, without escaping them. To reflect on the question of the animal, a question which thinking has avoided in a cowardly manner,4 means ceasing to run away from what is shameful, and this is precisely how Derrida begins the analysis of this unforgettable scene where, in his bathroom, he lets himself be seen, he sees himself seen naked under the undecipherable gaze of his cat.5 In this primal scene (primal intended here not only in the psychoanalytic sense but more in the sense of a radical primacy of the animal, that might well be what remains to be conceived, Asselin 70), what Derrida suggests is not to think in place of the animal, as philosophy has too often contented itself with doing, but to

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think its place or, better still, to let ourselves think from the place the animal has always held in our thoughts (Asselin 70). In Le Versant animal, Jean-Christophe Bailly remarks that there is no reign, either of man or beast, but only passages, furtive sovereignties, occasions, flights, encounters.6 This expression, furtive sovereignties, alludes perhaps to a certain rhizomatic line of flight of the Deleuzian becoming-animal, but it interests me above all because it has the obliqueness of a certain vertiginous versant that Derrida attributes to the wholly other that is the animal, whose perception of him he can never fathom: Seeing oneself seen naked under a gaze behind which there remains a bottomlessness [sans fond], at the same time innocent and cruel perhaps, perhaps sensitive and impassive, good and bad, uninterpretable, unreadable, undecidable, abyssal and secret. Wholly other, like the every other that is every (bit) other found in such intolerable proximity that I do not as yet feel I am justified or qualified to call it my fellow, even less my brother. (The Animal 12) From the (masculine) Ant of the sexual differences zigzagging across the page to the Silkworm of Ones Own from Veils still undifferentiated, bearing all possibilities, to the hedgehog (hrisson), heir and witness to the poetic catastrophe, or Hamlets mole in Specters of Marx, that ploughs its furrow underground and returns from the other world into the blinding light to mention only a few of the animals that concern Derrida (le regardent), each time in a singular manner, Whether in the form of a figure or not, as he writes: They multiply, lunging more and more wildly in my face [figure] in proportion as my texts seem to become autobiographical [autobiographiques7], or so one would have me believe (The Animal 35). Thus, Derrida endlessly asks himself if it is possible to think the absence of the name and of the word otherwise, and as something other than a privation (48). Whence the importance of this third aspect that calls for another way of conceiving the fable a fable which would avoid fabulation, which remains an anthropomorphic taming, a moralizing subjection, a domestication. Always a discourse of man [] (37) or again a prosopopeia, this figure that has always lent the animal a certain voice,8 deserves to be pointed out as an attempt to react to the philosophical mistreating of the animal, never unique enough, by granting it a possible poetic shelter in literature, perhaps the only place, in a way, that can offer hospitality to this animality, to that aspect of it which is threatened with extinction. Fiction might perhaps be called upon from now on to be this place of memory where we would have to remember this loss and take in the survivors, even if this means: recording, confirming their actual disappearance (Asselin 76), as Jean-Christophe Bailly (90-91) also notes regarding his Singes:

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Ginette Michaud On the premises of art that are the place where we remember this loss And where we try to change it into something Something good To greet the apes in one way or another Is, beyond a silent ecological act, To try to shift the border, to erase it By following the apes on the uncertain path On which they advance, like complete philosophical objects And perhaps like philosophers as well, That is, like unfathomables.

Only poetic thinking concerns itself with the animal without appropriating it, from Montaigne to Kafka, and including Alice, the Autobiogriffures of the Cat Murr or LAmour du loup (The Love of the Wolf) by Tsvetaeva and Cixous, each time, as Montaigne says of his cat, by chang[ing] the idiom according to the species.9 In my view, this is where Derrida shows the greatest daring, when he declares, after acknowledging that what is specific to psychoanalysis is the treatment of suffering and cruelty, and that literature is a privileged domain for the culture of the secret, that the difference between philosophical knowledge and poetic thinking holds onto this question of the animal: For thinking concerning the animal, if there is such a thing, derives from poetry (revient la posie). There you have a thesis: it is what philosophy has, essentially, had to deprive itself of (The Animal 7). In an article entitled Saint-Je Derrida that obviously monkeys around Hlne Cixous work Portrait de Jacques Derrida en Jeune Saint Juif, Laurent Milesi reminds us of a remark made by Derrida in his interview with Derek Attridge, This Strange Institution Called Literature: Confessing to a penchant for a certain practice of fiction, the intrusion of an effective simulacrum or of disorder into philosophical writing (rather than reading novels or the telling and invention of stories), Derrida then points out that this irrepressible need [] would refuse to show itself so long as it has not cleared a space or organized a dwelling-place suited to the animal which is still curled up in its hole half asleep.10 Seizing upon this confession, Laurent Milesi glimpses a connection with the configuration of the trace, simulation and autobiography, that we should investigate and extend in relation to the Derridean reproblematization of the animal (55). These are the traces I would like to pursue in the serpentine notes that follow, on the theme of this animallike signature that Derrida affixes in A Silkworm, certainly one of the most affirmative answers he has given to the statement: It would not be a matter of giving speech back to animals but perhaps of acceding to a thinking, however fabulous and chimerical it might be, that thinks the absence of the name and of the word otherwise, and as something other than a privation (The Animal 48).

On a Serpentine Note A Silkworm, or the faceless vis--vis of the living

47

A Silkworm of Ones Own irrefutably marks a passage at the limit in Jacques Derridas work. Like Blanchots fragment called A primal scene?11 in The Writing of the Disaster, quite close to it in terms of its subject and its analytic tone, A Silkworm, and particularly the passage in italics at the end, takes the form of an enigmatic poem in autobiographical prose12 that questions all these categories of the scene and of the secret, of primitivity, of fiction, of myth even (Lacoue-Labarthe 216). Childhood memory (true or forged, authentic or screen: place of one of the secrets of the text) and, above all, metaphor of writing that stitches together in a lightning-quick condensation several textual traces of Derridas philosophical work, this short text presents not a secret to be uncovered, but rather a meticulous analysis of the secret of the secret being weaved before the eyes of a young boy observing in the heat of holidays in El-Biar (A Silkworm 90) the slow metamorphosis of the bombyx, silkworms he grows in a shoebox. What strikes us immediately in this scene, contrary to a certain logic of the secret as dissimulation/unveiling, is that this childhood memory already appears as the discovery of a secret, and not a small one at that, since it pertains to the question of sexual difference, to the initiation of the little boy to the Thing, a complex initiation that, from the beginning of the text, goes in several directions: the child cultivates silkworms, but this relation will soon be inverted: they are the ones who will cultivate him, as it were, by initiating him to sexuality and creation (and therefore to writing, to metaphor and to the poem); prior to this, he was thus himself initiated to this cultivation by an indefinite someone (on my avait initi: that could be any who or what) whose identity he keeps secret: In the four corners of a shoebox, then, Id been shown how, I kept and fed silkworms (88). From the start then, Derrida reverses this expectation of what will be revealed: it is out of the question to beat about the bush, or to avoid calling un chat un chat (unlike Freud, who uses this expression in French to avoid speaking literally of sex). Derrida, on the contrary, offers up the question of sex at once and makes no mystery of this secret, displayed out in the open, in plain sight of the reader although it must be remembered that this could indeed be the best way to encrypt it and blind the reader to the singularity of the childs experience (involvement, rather, taken in its most literal sense) with these voracious little creatures [vivants] (88). So, rather than simply hiding or exhibiting the secret, the entire narrative of this childhood memory consists of succeeding in walking the line of the incommunicable nature of true confessions described by Blanchot:

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Ginette Michaud However, the drama and the force in all true confessions is that one only begins to speak in view of this moment at which one will no longer be able to continue: there is something to say that one cannot say; it is not necessarily scandalous; it is, perhaps, more than banal, a gap, a void, a region that cannot bear light because its nature is its inability to be illuminated a secret without a secret whose broken seal is muteness itself.13

Therefore, the secret is not so much something to know, since to penetrate it means losing it at once, but rather something to touch upon while preserving it intact. In Pierre Alferis words (162), we are then dealing not so much with the secret, but with the secret of the secret, with the secret without secret of the small difference. This is indeed the spinning, the very remarkable fingere of this quasi-tale that stands in the imminence of an unanticipated event (Malabou 24), and that, under pressure from narration itself, makes or lets the event arrive in the unwound arabesque created by the intricate silk threads of writing. The nature of the event is such that it can always remain almost undetected, as suggested by the apparent neutrality of the little boy, his patient and passive acquiescence before the intensity of this experience, of the vision of overabundant life in these caterpillars impatient to nourish their secretion (A Silkworm 88), that did not know they were being observed (but can we be certain of this? We would be wise to look more closely into this matter). Here, the theme of hospitality, so pervasive in Derridas thinking, finds radical expression: the child, by sheltering these worms, themselves passive inhabitants or helpless occupants of this utterly enclosed space,14 offers them an infinite hospitality that crosses all boundaries, and which could indeed be called, in his terms, unconditional. His remarkable passivity is thus the sign of a welcome open to the absolute surprise of the stranger, to that which makes this animal (the most domestic of all, according to ethology) an absolute arrivant, bearing in its very form the utmost unpredictable difference, the most unassimilable one: the worm as the wholly other, [] the figure without a face [figure], with the unpresentable visage of the arrivant (Malabou 234). This true childhood memory disclosed at the end of A Silkworm of Ones Own just a few pages, set in another type, the italics embodying typographically the birth of this wholly other text makes the same strong impression (an imprinting of sorts?) at each reading. Its impact seems to be inversely proportional to its apparent briefness and we could be tempted to

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take it, as Derrida does The Instant of my Death, not for the key but at least a prescription for reading Blanchots entire work (Demeure 70): it is indeed a text that has the power the force and potential, the virtuality: the worm [ver] is this very virtuality to contain the entire work, this childhood memory figuring, like oneirographic imaging does, the workings of all of the work. This childhood memory also fascinates, among other reasons, in the way it speaks of a certain voyeurism/exhibitionism, whose effect is multiplied by the fact that it already holds centre-stage, since the narrator is watching the young boy he once was watching his silkworms at the bottom of a shoebox, watching himself watch15 in a kind of hypnotic reverberation that spills over onto the reader just one among the powerful effects produced by this dream account. Mirroring mirror recessing into infinite reflections, this text opens onto the dizzying questions of the who and the what (that of the what coming much before that of the who). For who is observing whom here? Who (qui) is watching whom (qui)?16 And to be even more radical, who is this who? These questions make ones head spin,17 particularly when they involve this animot, ver/vers, worm/word for which the question of a face keeps taking on a different turn, as Derrida will point out in his critique of Levinas (non-) response to the discussion of the snake (a snake presenting an altogether different configuration, in relation to the visage, than a silkworm). Reacting to Levinas statement that he cannot answer this question, that of knowing whether the animal, in this case a snake, has a face (The Animal 109), Derrida then makes this comment: [Levinas] responds but by admitting that he cant respond to the question of knowing what a face is, and he can thus no longer answer for his whole discourse on the face [visage]. For declaring that he doesnt know where the right to be called face begins means confessing that one doesnt know at bottom [au fond] what a face is, what the word means, what governs its usage; and that means confessing that one didnt say what responding means. (109) Indeed, in this originary scene At the beginning there was the worm (Au commencement, il y eut le ver), the narrator remarks ironically, truncating no less than the all-mighty inaugural word Ver/be, Logos and Be (the Word curtailed, as it were, into the Worm, by the twist of only one letter), rather high stakes where the animal is concerned who scrutinizes (dvisage) whom? Is it certain that it is the silkworms who are caught, unbeknownst to them, in their auto-affective activities (feeding themselves, eating themselves, making love to themselves)? What if it was really the child who didnt know he was being observed, becoming an object for them, their Thing? What if these faceless creatures (we will come back to this question that haunts Derrida throughout this critique of Levinas: what exactly is a face? where

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does it begin, where does it end?) were the ones who were scrutinizing the childs face, envisaging it altogether differently from their point of view? Does this reversal, at the limit of the impossible, not bear the trace of the estrangement captured so intently in this scene? Even more than the silkworms, is it not this child given to dreaming, heavily charged with a secret unknown to him (Circumfession 257) absorbed into the indefatigable surprise before the fact of what [he] will never really understand or accept (Malabou 23), immobile, paralyzed voyeur who analyzes without even knowing it what befalls his body (13), who is the very enigma in this text? Is it not this child, on the threshold of a jouissance of which he will never know anything, who diverts and turns away attention from himself, stepping forward only to make himself invisible at least as much as the worms who appear to be the object of his curiosity who transports the secret without knowing it?18 There is reason to think so, and the exchanges between the child and his silkworms are more complex (more perverse?) than a superficial reading reveals. In fact, the limits are cleverly disguised in this dream narrative let us call it that although we know that this category is only half suited to this text that comes from another world, from a watchful wakefulness, wake or trance. But is this really the narrative of a dream? A true childhood memory, declares Derrida, immediately adding, to further complicate things, the opposite of a dream [lenvers dun rve] (A Silkworm 87). Here, the words vers and rve are already inversed twice, between these two words that form an anagram, by placing them back to front, head to tail, making it impossible to differentiate truth from fiction, memory from fabulation. If this true memory (by contrast to the false or screen memory Freud warned us about?) is the opposite of a dream, what does this mean? Which one comes first, which one originates from the other? The truth is that both are inextricably woven into the same fabric and that by saying envers19 rather than contraire, Derrida invites us to think this two-sidedness together Youre dreaming of taking on a braid or a weave, a warp or a woof, but without being sure of the textile to come, if there is one, if any remains and without knowing if what remains to come will still deserve the name of text, especially of the text in the figure of a textile (24). The question is, in fact, worth asking: what kind of text is this Silkworm...? A dream of a text or a dream text? Or something else still, something harder to identify, indefinable perhaps, like a dream that would start to dream itself and would make something happen to language?20 If In the beginning, there was the worm that was and was not a sex, the child could see it clearly, a sex perhaps but which one? (90), we can foresee that it will not be easy to decide about this question of genus, sexual and textual gender, gestation occurring sui generis in this text, at the exact time when the narrator the adult carrying the child

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inside him, the child giving birth to the adult: for the child that I was but that I remain still is telling himself a story, this story [cette histoire-ci] (90). How, then, should we interpret this true childhood memory whose witness assures us that he has not dreamed it? Is he a conscious or unconscious witness when he sets this limit? Who will tell the difference, here, between dream and reality? Placed at the end, the account of the memory appears to be the source of the text, but their borders are shifting, as imprecise as the relation between inside and outside, front and back, masculine and feminine, that the silkworms enact more than represent. In the same way, this childhood memory is less a reminiscing, a remembrance of the past, than the anticipation of an event still-to-come: does it come before or after, to be recorded or erased, is it early or late, premonition or afterthought? It can be read both ways, or in several ways, as this passage shows: [] all that goes before has not been dreamed, it is the narrative of a true dream Ive only just woken from. A bad dream, enough to make you thrash about like a wounded devil in an invisible straitjacket, when you cant stop crumbling the sheets around you to make a hole in the violence and find a way out. Far from Europe, from one ocean to another, over the Cordilleras de los Andes, weeks of hallucinatory travel during which I was dreaming of the interruption of the dream, the sentence of life or death, the final whistle blown by a verdict that never stopped suspending its moratorium and stretching out its imminence. It has not yet taken place but I am almost awake. I am writing with a view to waking up and the better to prepare myself for the reality of the verdict, or better, for the verdict when it will have become reality itself, that is severity without appeal. (86. My emphasis.) Its obvious: it is impossible to re-establish the tangled temporality of this passage, that slips imperceptibly from a true dream to being almost awake, without ever giving up the possibility that this writing is itself only the overspilling of the dream into reality, or the infinite awakening of a waking dream Just like the young boy cannot distinguish between the different metamorphoses of the caterpillar in invisible transit (but just as paradoxically: without transition) in the four moltings that rename it (larva/worm, caterpillar, chrysalis, butterfly/moth), the reader cannot determine the narrators state of consciousness, fluctuating to say the least, in fact literally suspended between earth and sky, in the air, in the airplane carrying him back between two worlds, neither underworld nor above-theworld, perhaps already from a place inside the outside, the other or outer world from where he writes this text.

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In a chiasmatic movement contrasting with that of Savoir Hlne Cixous text that precedes it and registers the different traumatic experience of the irreversible passage from not seeing to seeing this memory of Derridas is dedicated to yet another experience, that of seeing the invisible. It is, in fact, this process of invisible transfiguration that is the object of the half-scientific (the narrator will allude with a touch of amusement to this philosophy of nature for a shoebox, 90), half-dreamy observation of the young boy who grows his caterpillars: I would observe the progress of the weaving, of course [certes21], but basically [au fond] without seeing anything. Like the movement of this production, like this becoming-silk of a silk I would never have believed [crue] natural, as this extraordinary process remained basically [au fond] invisible, I was above all struck by the impossible embodied in these little creatures [vivants] in their shoebox (88). The child watched, he saw but without seeing anything, also doubtless without knowing what he was gazing at while surveying so attentively these worm-caterpillars when he drank in with [his] eyes these voracious little creatures (89). The question of devouring with ones eyes is indeed significant for grasping what is at stake in this scene that concerns transference, the transformation of the eye into a mouth (the childs gaze, under the pressure of his devouring curiosity, literally becomes a mouth), of the mouth into an eye (the insatiable mouth of the worm-caterpillar is also an eye that looks at the child and absorbs him). And this drinking in, this swallowing, this throwing of oneself in front of oneself is taken very far in the figure of this silkworm that ingurgitates, spits and swallows the secretion pushed out, outside itself, before itself (89). We cannot but underline here the great extent to which the choice of this animal is over-determined from a deconstructionist viewpoint. The worm is unsettling not only because it dissolves all differentiation of the limits between subject and object, before and behind, head and tail, perceptible and intelligible, he/it disturbs the very concepts of opening and closing, interior and exterior. The difference between inside and outside is never given, it always remains to be produced (Malabou 161-162). One can also say of the worm as a figure of deconstruction that he/it always in a certain way falls prey to its own work [emport[] par son propre travail] (163). Just as humble and down-to-earth as the hedgehog that, in Che cos la poesia? represents the image par excellence of the poetic event, the silkworm also keeps very low, close to the earth (Counterpath 270): he/it straddles in its box hanging onto a thread which is not a pathway, not a

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Bewgung, not opening onto any sense, his journey remains without a sound/silent, of little meaning (270, 272). Moreover, animetaphor22 of deconstruction par excellence, the silkworm, as a figure of the sendingof/from, does not form a unity and does not begin with itself, although nothing present precedes it; it emits only by already sending back; it emits only on the basis of the other, the other in itself without self. Everything begins by referring back [par le renvoi], that is to say, does not begin (Envoi 127. Derridas emphasis). Like the hedgehog, the silkworm carries the poematic secret. Itself a formless form, or a thing hardly contained by a form, the silkworm could be seen as a non-figurable figure of the khra which does not possess anything as her own [en propre], neither metaphor nor literal sense; no first sense which, in, by, or through it, could let itself figure as something that would become a concept (Malabou 144). Thus the worm, as a figure carrying and deconstructing all figures, can be seen as always alluding to this khra, which can also refer to the origin, the source of what is; it could even designate the very basis [fond mme] of being, its cause, principle, the taking or being place of every place. [] Indeed, by means of its impassiveness or neutrality it resists all foundational logic. Mother of all forms [], it remains itself foreign [trangre] to form (144. My emphasis). The worm is working his/its way out of all the oppositional couples forming philosophical theory: in this scene belonging neither to the scenic space of presentation (Darstellung) or to that of representation, he/it deforms/ transforms all the lines supposed to delineate mimsis and imitation; he/it opens a structure still foreign to representation: no longer an objective being-in-front-of, but a pre-ontological sending [that] does not gather itself together. For one might easily venture to say that the silkworm never presents itself: Before all these pairs [production/reproduction, presentation/representation, original/derived, and so on], there will never have been presentative simplicity but another fold, another difference, unpresentable, unrepresentable, jective perhaps, but neither objective, nor subjective, nor projective. What of the unpresentable or the unrepresentable? How to think it? (Envoi 115, 127. Derridas emphasis). This, again, sheds some light on the kind of figure disfigured, transfigured the silkworm is, or rather never is, in its ever-splitting self. Let us analyze this scene from another angle. What do we watch what concerns us when we see nothing? Or rather, to put it differently: when we see the materialization, the manifestation of no thing, or perhaps even nothing. Once again, it is difficult to draw a line separating the subject from

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the object, but it is conceivable that in this primitive scene an unnatural alliance, a transgression (in the literal sense of passing through) between two species, the child and the animal, is occurring. Commenting on Freuds texts that deal with animals, Akira Mizuta Lippit underlines that the mixed cryptography of dreams forges a passage between the human and the animal world: According to Freud, the dream is, in short, like a regression to the earliest past of the dreamer, like a reviviscence of his childhood. [] Behind this individual childhood, we glimpse phylogenetic childhood, the development of the human species, in which the development of the individual is, in fact, only an abbreviated repetition. In this light, the animals wish-fulfillment dreams can be seen as a primitive scene of the work of the dream; the dreamer carries the trace of animality. (182) It is clear that this phylogenetic aspect is inscribed even pre-inscribed in the primitive animal form embodied by the worm. In Derridas childhood memory, this animetaphor becomes the site of a primitive truth and the origin of dreams (185), and it seems obvious that the choice of this animal figure is all but arbitrary: extreme form of the other, of the other in oneself, something comes from the animal and inscribes the trace of its otherness in language (186). The worm is also essentially movement, transport and transference, originary translation: [it] tells what it means in another system (182). Moreover, while according to Freud the unconscious is unable to keep a secret, Derridas worm also represents a figure of resistance, that keeps to himself and in himself its/his secret: the worm incorporates the possibility of a preverbal or simply a non verbal secret (Comment ne pas parler 550). Indeed, the insistence throughout the narrative on the bottom (fond) clearly indicates exactly what is turned bottom-up, if I may put it this way, in this scene. Because although the child was unable to distinguish the sex of this worm There was indeed something like a brown mouth but you could not recognize in it the orifice you had to imagine to be at the origin of their silk. [] But basically without seeing anything (Mais sans rien voir, au fond) (A Silkworm 88-89): is it milk, saliva or sperm in the secretion of this silk thread, erection or detumescence in this little fantasy of a penis, or is it feminine ejaculation (89)? The narrator does not exclude any sexual difference, he prefers not to lift the veil from whatever is not defined between them, without sex or gender yet, that which is still trying to engender itself, which is molting and stirring between them, crossing from one to the other that which carries the secret of this primitive scene, precisely this question of the fundus, bottomless bottom that pierces and shows through all mysteries of the origins (and in Derridas work these are, as we know, always pulled up

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by the roots, the entire arkh de-posited like this caving in of the foundation at the bottom,23 bottomless bottom of the origin). Sans rien voir au fond: this expression, au fond, is, in fact, repeated, varied throughout the text, and we might say that in this variation is operated the vraison imperceptibly at work here, the one that matters to Derrida when he declares: My sole concern is not that of interrupting this animalist vision but of taking care not to sacrifice to it any difference or alterity, the fold of any complication, the opening of any abyss to come (The Animal 129). The expression impresses us as the very figure of this experience of the invisible consisting of getting to the bottom (as one says see in secret [voir dans le secret]), The Gift of Death 88), at the bottom of an absolute invisibility, the absolutely non-visible (90) that no longer depends on seeing, but on hearing, on the vocal, the phonic. Throughout the text of A Silkworm, this fond, heard at once as a noun and as an adverbial expression meaning fundamentally, basically, in truth, resurfaces, with a discrete but nonetheless strange insistence. When the narrator writes that he sees nothing at the bottom, is he speaking of a background that escapes his scrutiny,24 no matter how intense, or is this just a manner of speaking? These slight fluctuations of language are very frequent in Derridas texts, and this one is no exception, since in the repetition of this fragment of a sentence, seemingly perfectly identical each time, we can discern a slipping that is not clearly visible but makes it all the same possible to glimpse, merely through an inflection of the voice, another way of hearing this phrase. We could in fact say that the word bottom (fond) always opens onto another indistinguishable bottom, just like the mouth (bouche) of the worm that obstructs (bouche), in a way, the childs view. We begin to notice the invisible progress of the weaving (A Silkworm 89) that takes place in the figure itself, in the way it works language, smoothes it, creases it, stretches it out, cuts it, in short, animates it poetically: literally like a worm. In truth and paradoxically, with this infinitesimal phonetic play (trans)ported by the worm that goes almost unseen, we touch bottom. The secret event of the Silkworm is perhaps, in fact, taking place here, at the surface of the phrase, in a nuance, an imperceptible nuance of a nuance, in this movement of the smallest difference that lets itself be less seen than heard, and that performs without representing the infinite differentiation process also at work in the worm: literally, figuratively, with no definite verdict ever being pronounced. Perhaps there is nothing to look for, nothing to disclose in this text with no stunning revelation other than this subtlety of difference, this

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movement of the there is (il y a), these micro-events that materialize almost invisibly, almost carrying away the secret with them. What we stumble upon here at the microscopic scale of linguistic material, the silkworms play out more overtly by enacting, while the narrator unfolds what at first appears to be an extended metaphor, a spun metaphor (une mtaphore file), a fundamental questioning about the identity of the rhetorical figure at stake in this scene that does not decide between literal and figurative, but instead, makes one rub against the other, flow into the other, as the intricate figures of metaphor and metonymy do here. Because, although there is no doubt that the silkworm is a metaphor and even twice rather than once, since by its transmutations from worm to caterpillar to butterfly it is the perfect image of transport, of the transformation of the word into poetic object, taking flight it also functions in the narrative as a metonymy (but at what point does a spun metaphor extend out of its spinning to become a metonymy?), that is, like this figure which, stitch by stitch, step by step, tirelessly advances the narration in its invisible progress toward the unfathomable figure that stirs it and draws it in but which it never explicitly names. Is it not this transfiguration that the child, the future philosopher and writer, recognizes as his own (propre although not proper) auto-graphical crossed-truth (transvrit) (Circumfession 5) in this worm that so intimately resembles him, not through a mimetic likeness, but through an altogether other and true likelihood: I would observe the invisible progress of the weaving, a little as though I were about to stumble on the secret of a marvel, the secret of this secret over there, at the infinite distance of the animal, of this little innocent member [verge], so foreign yet so close in its incalculable distance. I cannot say that I appropriated the operation, nor will I say anything other or the contrary. What I appropriated for myself without turning it back on myself [sans le retourner vers moi: one should patiently analyze the effect of these prepositions vers, travers reverberating throughout this text], what I appropriated for myself over there, afar off, was the operation, the operation through which the worm itself secreted its secretion. It secreted it, the secretion. It secreted. Intransitively. It dribbled. It secreted absolutely, it secreted a thing that would never be an object to it, an object for it, an object it would stand over against [auquel il ferait face en vis--vis]. It did not separate itself from its work. The silkworm produced outside itself, a thing before itself, what would never leave it, a thing that was no other than itself, a thing that was not a thing, a thing that belonged to it, to whom it was properly due. It projected outside what proceeded from it and remained at bottom at the bottom of it [au fond, au fond de lui] []. (A Silkworm 89)

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It is necessary to quote the text at length in order to let the reader hear, through the twists and turns of the winding sentences, their starts and stops, the subtle rhythmicity that produces the effect of a secret. Because the crucial event of A Silkworm, if there is one, takes place right there, on the filament of this phrasing, of this writing that, like the secretion of the worm, is always fleeing forward, under the pressure of the narration itself, the marvelous and terrible movement that the act of writing exerts on the truth,25 as Blanchot puts it. The rhetoric of nuance, of the slight touch, that requires so many foldings and unfoldings, can never be more explicit than in the process of infinitesimal differentiation played out in this passage, and particularly in the figure of the ver that keeps the little boy constantly on the edge of understanding, of believing what he sees (he is, and we with him, always on the verge, the English term echoing this little fantasy of a penis, this member [petite verge] not so innocent after all). For, as we foresaw from the start of the narrative, these worms in their box could very well be a true memory, but they could also be nothing more than a figure, an image pointing to another, even more secret secret that remains in the shadows, the secret of poetic creation or of the ambiguity [quivoque] of the sexual experience at its birth (The Animal 36). Moreover, the worms in the shoebox might also be interpreted as an insertion of the meditation developed in A Silkworm of Ones Own, a way to place the philosophical reflection on another level, that of poetic narrative, the childhood memory acting, as it were, like a miniature box, a shoebox fitted into the philosophical text containing it, but able to reflect the entire work, and even perhaps to contain it in turn. For although it is specified that It was not impossible, of course [certes: again...], to distinguish between a head and a tail26 and so, virtually, to see the difference between a part and a whole (A Silkworm 88), is it not precisely this distinction that this text, this story, certainly makes it impossible to ascertain (certes: like the worming out of its very secret, clearly heard here, of course)? Marking the difference: this is, in a sense, the sole concern of this dream-like narrative. And Derrida warns us elsewhere that It does not suffice to know the difference; one must be capable of it, must be able to do it, or know how to do it and doing here means marking (Circumfession 167). While the child is still able to differentiate between a part and the whole when he observes these worms, things are infinitely more complex for the reader in the text: how can he be sure that this memory is only a part of A Silkworm of Ones Own, which explains and elucidates the title? The childhood memory might tend, on the contrary, to make one think that it is always possible, even virtually, for a part to become greater than the whole. In the same way, how can we decide if the silkworm is used here as a metaphor or a metonymy? When we read this passage describing the secretion of the worm, that suddenly illustrates almost too transparently the

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question of writing in its utmost intransitivity, what figure of speech are we dealing with? A metaphor, a metonymy, a hybrid mix? Crisis of the ver(se) illustrated by the worm, crisis of the versus played out most intimately in this miniature thtre de poche, brushing up against one another, verse against worm. The question question of rhetoric far from being merely a rhetorical question was already anticipated in The Postcard where the narrator exhorted his feminine interlocutor to follow him and to have confidence in him regarding these delicate questions: Of course it will be difficult to decide, to sort out, to separate on the one hand and the other: when is it a question of all this directly, or literally; and when by means of a detour, a figure or presupposition? Have confidence in me for once (177). Far from being specious, this question, on the contrary brings us to the heart, the very nucleus of the text. Hence, though at first we might have thought, rather naively, that this silkworm is a metaphor, even an animetaphor, when we follow more attentively its invisible progress of the weaving, we realize that the figure of the metaphor is insufficient to explain what is happening here for example, the secretion between what writes itself (scrire) and what conceals itself (scrire) and that this worm, that also weaves the metaphor of writing at a certain level, is not simply a figure, and even less an illustration. No zoomorphic fable here unless it be Pongian: Derridas relation to the animot and to the bestiary is of a totally different nature, and we clearly feel that recourse to the metaphor is too narrow a perspective and does not do justice to the process at work in this spinning that takes place by engendering itself, originating from the figure, extending from it while remaining attached, coming back to it. In a way, we are, like the child, divided between seeing and believing: For the child could not believe what he was seeing, he could not see what he thought he was seeing, he was already telling himself a story, this story [] (A Silkworm 90). We can always believe that the text functions under the rgime of the metaphor, but we see in fact something entirely other at work, we witness the production, the gestation, through minute displacements, of another figural labor, a disfiguration (or deconstruction) of the figure that, by analogy with the metamorphosis of the worm, is being embodied before our eyes, attempting to bring into being, out of the old rhetoric with its worn out corpus, like a bark with holes in it (91), an entirely new figure. As we have said, in A Silkworm of Ones Own, what gives particular force to the primitive scene is the tte--tte strange tte--tte without head-on

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confrontation between the child and the animal, this unnamable vis-vis (83). Let us return for a moment to the extraordinary mouth fantasy exposed in this text, a mouth less seen as an opening, an orifice (from the Latin os, oris, bouche) than as blocking the view, a fantasy mouth larger than life of course, in which the childs gaze is absorbed in an almost hallucinatory vision of pure manducation. This brown mouth that blurs all delimitation between before and behind, the silk-producing glands of the caterpillar being either labial or rectal, specifies the narrator, who has just learned this detail this brown mouth whose bottom the child neither sees nor could ever see, reminds us of certain concepts proposed by Maria Torok and Nicolas Abraham concerning the work of mourning at work in the metaphor. We all remember the major distinction between introjection and incorporation that marks their conceptual reinterpretation: Even when denied introjection, not every narcissistic loss is fated to incorporation. Incorporation results from those losses that for some reason cannot be acknowledged as such. In these special cases the impossibility of introjection is so profound that even our refusal to mourn is prohibited from being given a language, that we are debarred from providing any indication whatsoever that we are inconsolable. Without the escape-route of somehow conveying our refusal to mourn, we are reduced to a radical denial of the loss, to pretending that we had absolutely nothing to lose. [] The words that cannot be uttered, the scenes that cannot be recalled, the tears that cannot be shedeverything will be swallowed along with the trauma that led to the loss. Swallowed and preserved [emphasized in French: mis en conserve]. Inexpressible mourning erects a secret tomb [emphasized in French: caveau secret] inside the subject. (115116) In fact, Torok and Abraham connect the metaphor with the mouth in a manner very pertinent for our discussion, noting that the metaphor ends where it began in the mouth, as Akira Lippit aptly puts it (192). In Mourning or Melancholia: Introjection versus Incorporation, they propose the term antimetaphor to describe the figure of destruction of the representation that occurs when the subject is confronted with an inconsolable loss, [] the loss of the very possibility of loss (Lippit 192). We could, of course, think that this primitive scene trying to expose and to keep silent an unrepresentable mouth that eats itself only to excrete itself and return to itself again in a never-ending process is suited to this definition of the metaphor as a figure of mourning. This mouth, this orifice in which it is impossible to discern either sex or sense, is the limit of the unnamable, located at the limit of that which cannot be symbolized. Does not this mouth

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that eats itself without ever swallowing itself without a remnant signal the collapse of metaphoricity? Is this figure not consumed literally rather than figuratively, asks Lippit, when the concept becomes an edible metonymic thing (194)? The ver soi constantly superimposed over the ver soie, at the edge of the eye and of the ear the ear perceives no signifying difference, only a silent letter retains the trace of the smallest visual difference is a troubling figure because it de-structures and undermines the metaphor; soi and soie keep calling to each other, coming close, becoming ever closer, without ever coinciding perfectly. In other words, the metaphor does not stabilize; it oscillates and vibrates between words, maintaining the separation between them and this, despite the fantasy of non-separation that is elaborated in the narrative (It did not separate itself from its work, A Silkworm 89). This work of mourning in the figure also resonates with the definition of antimetaphor given by Abraham and Torok from a psychoanalytical perspective on mourning: If we are determined to see a form of language in the processes governing this type of fantasy, we will need a new figure of speech in our traditional inventory, namely the figure of the active destruction of representation (figuration) (132). In their view, this antimetaphor is not related to the process of introjection or of melancholic bereavement of the subject who refuses to mourn, but rather to incorporation, where it is not simply a matter of reverting to the literal meaning of words, they write, but of using them in such a way whether in speech or deed that their very capacity for figurative representation (figurabilit) is destroyed (132). Is this not what takes place in this primitive scene where, through the worms mouth-work, through the literally invisible secretion of the silk and of the textual thread, we can witness such a phantasmatic process of incorporation, the actual elaboration of a secret crypt? The question of the work of mourning is certainly worth investigating here, and perhaps even more importantly the question of the mourning of mourning, of the desire to put an end to mourning, to kill death as it were, as we see in another of Derridas phantasms, this one appearing in several different texts and expressing the wish to finally be able to cross to the other side without wearing or making anyone else wear mourning (A Silkworm 42). The silkworm is, in any case, an extraordinary figure for the work of mourning, especially, perhaps, because it seems not to lose anything, but appears, on the contrary, to be (re)born constantly to itself in endless unforeseen beginnings where each time, in its four moltings, nothing remains, or almost nothing (a pierced shell) of its previous life. And yet, in the seemingly so innocent curiosity of the child, such an attentive witness but also so absent from himself, an attentive ear could detect the trace of an inconsolable mourning, a figure forbidden here to signal its presence, be it ever so slightly. Because this primitive scene is that of narcissistic loss, rather than that of construction of

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the self: in its ceaseless activity of construction, in its tireless productivity, the worm is the locus of a loss that does not avow itself as loss; except for leaving a filament, a trace in the writing, and particularly in the figure. For when we look more closely, it seems that the silkworm undermines the figure that produces it: we might say that it disfigures the metaphor, not in view of introjection (which would again be a narcissistic re-appropriation, albeit mournful, of the self), but in view of incorporation, that is, of a transfiguration that implies the phantasmal destruction of the very act that makes metaphor possible (Lippit 193. His emphasis). In our view, the silkworms mouth-work would then be linked with such a literal, and not merely figurative, incorporation of the secret. In this childhood memory, in this cryptic fantasy, what is at stake is not so much to put into words the originary oral void (193. Lippits emphasis) that would be introjection but to displace oneself invisibly to the place of the secret, through this mouth that both keeps the secret and spits it out, leaves it be and produces it, in short, incorporates it in the most literal and performative sense of the word. And, as Abraham and Torok say, it is the figure of the active destruction of representation at work in the phantasmatic process of incorporation that produces a secret, a non figurative path to the topography of loss, of absence, of death (193). Although at first sight this childhood memory seemed to focus on life, we come to see that the force of the experience described resides just as much, if not more, in the way it ties life to death, and therefore to this psychoanalytic economy of secrecy as mourning or of mourning as secrecy (The Gift of Death 22) which is cultivated in this scene. To put it yet another way: the silkworm swallows the secret, it swallows itself completely like the secret of the text and the opus, and it is this process of invisibility of the self, infinitely kept in reserve, concealed and sealed while the worm continues to spell out in black and white, wrapping itself in white night (A Silkworm 90), that produces the secret event of the secret in this text. Hence, the silkworm is a primordial, primitive figure of the double logic of the secret as theorized by Derrida, who finds support, in turn, in the theory of Torok and Abraham. This topological displacement constituting the essential operation of the worm where the secret subjected to the pressure of repression is itself repressed, encrypted in incorporation might also evoke the difference discussed in Archive Fever, where Derrida elucidates once again the crucial distinction between the operations of repression (Verdrngung: in French, refoulement) and suppression (Unterdrckung: in French, rpression) which become compressed as it were (as was the case for the processes of introjection and incorporation in the work of mourning, before Abraham and Toroks conceptual redefinition):

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Between repression and suppression, there is a major shift in topos in which, similarly to what happens between introjection and incorporation, the passage to another scale, from one system to the other, takes place. The secret of the silkworm is derived from this double logic: its secret is certainly not more readable once it is exposed; it could even be said that it is its very visibility that renders it invisible. The secret, or rather the secrets of the silkworm concerning creation, coupling, death and rebirth are no longer a matter of something hidden or forbidden (the secret is not related to unattainable information, nor to some lure or bait although a worm might well suggest this!), any more than they lead to revelation or unveiling. The secretion of the worm that swallows itself, that prepar[es] itself to hide itself, that lik[es] to hide itself, with a view to coming out and losing itself (A Silkworm 90), reminds us of another topic, much more unfigurable and uncanny in its effects, because we must never forget that the only thing that does not let itself become secret is affect. Indeed, A Silkworm of Ones Own confronts us with an unheard-of secret. The silkworm has nothing to hide, to display, to conceal or to show: art that does not decipher, but is the cipher of the undecipherable, to quote Blanchot once again.28 The worm draws all its phantasmatic prgnance from its infinite relocation to the place of the secret. Always shifting within the four walls of its enclosure, but overexposed to the gaze, itself the one who oversteps boundaries, always in transit through the four phases of its molting in which he resembles himself so little every time, the worm is the stand-in (figurant) for the secret, its mute prosopopeia rather than its figure or metaphor, a pre-figuration that always only announces itself. What, then, (or who) makes the difference? Where does the silk thread pass (between real and virtual, factual and fictional, truth and pretense, the literal and the figural, etc.)? And what makes one believe, against all odds, ignoring probability and likelihood, in the chance that everything might be true in this memory, and that here, so affirms the narrator, [he] embroider[s] no longer (A Silkworm 87)? What convinces us that a laying bare is actually taking place in this cryptography, and that what is uncovered is a cross-truth of the narrator, or perhaps even of the author? No confirmation is given, except the voice, a certain tone, an intonation, an intensity of accent that despite being totally indefinable and unpresentable, suddenly carries off our faith. If, as we intimated, A Silkworm brings to

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life in the figure of this worm that devours, erases and subtilizes itself a topos and a topology of the secret, this does not go without a rhetoric and a tropology, and this is one of the most compelling aspects in the Derridian approach to animality. Coda: as if thrice adream One last scene, in the very head-for-tail logic I have been following here. Better still: a poetic, enigmatic dream image to trail off without closing. It comes from a poem depicting the chance encounter between a man and a snake. Together with A Silkworm of Ones Own and Valrys text, bauche dun serpent/Silhouette of a Snake that Derrida was to comment thrice,29 this Snake, a long narrative poem by D.H. Lawrence, is the third serpent to surface in the bestiary of the philosopher. Derrida commented on it in an improvised session of the Seminar La bte et le souverain, recognizing in the fleeting meeting between man and animal the archetypal scene of hospitality at the well, on a hot, hot day in July, in Sicily, in the intense still noon, a volcano smoking in the background (the poem is signed Taormina, and mentions Etna). The serpent arrived first to drink at my water-trough, says the man recounting the scene before chasing it away in a reckless, violent gesture: letting his unexpected visitor pass before him at first, the man soon heeds, out of pettiness he says, the voice of [his] education urging him to kill his guest. More than a figure anthropomorphized by the poet, who resists the temptation of making the animal speak through prosopopeia, as Valry does in his bauche dun serpent, Lawrences snake is a poetic figure altogether relevant in the context of the questioning introduced by Derrida, because it is at the crossroads of several heterogeneous worlds, both animal and divine (And looked around like a god), animal and sovereign (like a king), and, moreover, an uncrowned king who is also blind (the poem says: unseeing, which can be taken to mean both blind and unable to see, who uses a sense other than sight, another vision the snakes secret likeness with the poets voyance, precisely because of his blindness). For he seemed to me again like a king,/ Like a king in exile, uncrowned in the underworld,/ Now due to be crowned again: this snake is then directly related to the question of sovereignty, since he is presented as a king in exile, a king without a crown waiting to recover his kingdom, a king who exerts his priority, his precedence and his privilege by arriving first to drink at the well (archetypal scene of

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hospitality, as noted, but also an ironic rereading by Lawrence of the Fall in the Genesis, as Derrida astutely points out30). This scene between the man and the animal holds Derridas interest because of this encounter that is also a missed opportunity, a scene where two worlds, two sovereignties are suddenly brought face-to-face. In his commentary, Derrida insists on the three-fold nature of this like a king: the snake is like a king only if we compare it to the world of men, and not to the underworld that is his domain (the world of the man and the animal remain wholly separate, incommensurable: the one and the other do not inhabit the same world except for the lightning moment of this furtive encounter). This poem is also of great interest to Derrida, because in it he finds a striking reformulation of the haunting question of the visage that has preoccupied him since Levinas hesitant response to this question. In the poem, Laurence gives a straight answer on this subject, his snake having not only a head, a throat, eyes (and even a gaze, albeit unseeing), but also a tongue, lips (seeming to lick his lips), gums, a mouth (his straight mouth), a neck, shoulders (snake-easing his shoulders) and even a back. Moreover, the poet does not stop at the serpents face, he also depicts him dreaming and meditating, looking at the world around him like a sovereign, after he has drunk; he goes even farther, extending these human traits to the place itself, a sort of matrice (a khra?) serving as the site of this scene, in which even seemingly inanimate elements are given facial animation (for example, the wall into which the snake disappears is described as the earth-lipped fissure in the wall-front, as if the wall itself had the structure of a face in which the horrid black hole (twice evoked, dreadful hole) can only represent the mouth or female genitalia, a black hole that at once horrifies and fascinates the narrator, overcome by the sight: I think it did not hit him, / But suddenly that part of him that was left behind convulsed in undignified haste / Writhed like lightning, and was gone / Into the black hole, the earth-lipped fissure in the wall-front, / At which, in the intense still noon, I stared with fascination.). Throughout this improvised session, Derrida himself carries out a fascinating exercise of explication de texte, line by line, delivered briskly a rather rare experience for him, an on-the-spot reading that is at once masterly lesson, translation, commentary, and something else, somewhat resembling a secondary process of some sort, like someone who recounts a dream and starts to associate more or less freely using the raw material provided by the text of his dream. Derridas commentary/translation becomes, in this instance, both sinuous and halting, the workings of a liaison and dliaison, a connection/cut interruptive process not unlike that of analytic reading itself, and which also implies from the outset, in its slippery and jerky manner, a mimetic response to this very snake, in its slithering move, both undulating and abrupt (the poem says he writhed like lightning). Several

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aspects of this scene deserve detailed and attentive analysis, but for the moment I will look more closely at one in particular. The poem in fact contains a verse fragment that is especially wonderful and that evokes the meditative, dreamy mood of the snake. All along, Derrida remains very attentive to the nuances of the different dream-states in this scene that is, in fact, all dream-like mainly because of a certain slowness that gives it its phantasmatic dimension, while bringing to mind a certain rituality, a melancholy sacredness, perhaps that of the god not yet withdrawn, not yet chased away in the beast. Thus, Derrida insists in his commentary of the scene on the fact that this snake (it is his singularity), while drinking from the water-trough, mused a moment (word translated into French as rva). Derrida specifies: rva, mused, that is, he meditated, not dreamed in the sense of dream, Traum; its rvassa, mused, meditated a moment. Then just before the violent gesture that Derrida calls attempted murder, before the man gives in to this death-driven instinct called forth by his accursed human education that orders him to kill this snake who (for it is clear that, since the narrator calls him someone, Someone was before me at my water-trough, the snake is never a what but always a who), who, then, is his honored guest, we read these lines: He drank enough And lifted his head, dreamily, as one who has drunken, And flicked his tongue like a forked night on the air, so black; Seeming to lick his lips, And looked around like a god, unseeing, into the air, And slowly turned his head, And slowly, very slowly, as if thrice adream, Proceeded to draw his slow length curving round And climb again the broken bank of my wall-face. Derrida points out once more the difference between dream and reverie (this time its the dream, dreamily), insisting on this line as if thrice adream, that seems to give him particular delight and even to make him fall into a dream right away, as he utters these words very quickly, in an impulsive/ compulsive manner of his own, as if perhaps he glimpses, as he is saying the words, the meaning move along the phrase like the rings of a snake (Rogues 4): the dream again, as if thrice adream, thrice adream three times adream in a dream, three times in a dream, adream in one word, nest-ce pas, thrice adream, three times in a dream. What is particularly moving here, at this moment of his reading where he seems to espouse the animated or animal body (4) of the poem, is the all-mighty (toute-puissante) performativity of the formula that comes to him, that opens the dream not only onto yet Another Scene, but onto a bottomless depth, an infinity beyond

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all measure and all reckoning (thrice: from this point on, the scene divides and re-divides infinitely). But what is moving as well, and most moving of all, is that Derrida dreamily repeats this expression as if thrice adream in a murmur, as though to himself (and, of course, this as if, in French comme si, could only address him as the Analyst, the secret elect one31 of this scene) three times: as his own magic wish, his oblique offering for the animal. (Translated by Agns Jacob.)

NOTES
1 This passage is taken from Rilkes Eighth Elegy (141, 143). Further, Rilke writes of the animal that it is Free from death, and also the following, which sheds light on the question of death for the animal, as Derrida will so closely scrutinize it: Always when we face // the creation / we see only / a kind of reflection // of the freedom / that we ourselves have dimmed. / Or it happens // that an animal / some mute beast / raises its head // and imperturbably / looks right through us. / Thats what fate means: // to be facing each other / and nothing but each other / and to be doing it forever (Rilke 145, 147). 2

Bailly 90. This text was read at an event organized by Gloria Friedman at the Paris Museum of Modern Art on June 19, 2003.

Surya 25-27. In a note to his essay, Surya points out the violent use that Kafka makes of the word croaked. These quotations find a powerful echo in the context of the debate between Derrida and Heidegger on the question of dying, to which the animal presumably has no access: croaked: Kafka uses the word with a suggestion of violence, when he could have simply said dead. In A Report to an Academy (251, 253), the protagonist, a humanized ape, says of another who had become almost as human as himself: the performing ape Peter, who died [crev: croaked] not so long ago and who had some small local reputation; speaking of his own conditions of captivity, he says: All the time facing that locker I should certainly have perished [je serais sans nul doute crev: I would certainly have croaked] (Surya 63. His emphasis). [The English translation misses altogether both distinctions, the Heideggerian one between to die and perish, and the one between to perish and to croak (Translators Note).]
4

Michel Surya writes: This work will be done one day, when thinking will stop running away from what shames it. That is to say, when thinking will no longer be ashamed of what it fled and will no longer flee what it had always been ashamed of (because, as I implied, it is not that thinking is not ready to conceive what Bataille proposes, it is rather that thinking itself is not ready for it, discards it, feigns, presents itself as this experience that in fact it disavows) (52. His emphasis). Of this autoalloportrait, Jean-Luc Nancy writes: He lays bare his very modesty completely. This is the nakedness reflected in the depth of the cats eyes, in the depth

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of its narrowed pupils reduced to dash-like slits. The other of the same is there, in secret, the allos of the autos, the allautos of an allautegory (77).
6 7

Quoted by Asselin (65).

Derridas emphasis. Just like in A Silkworm of Ones Own, in which Derrida lists all the words/worms crawling with homonyms of ver that traverse the fabric of his works both close- and loose-weaving, he displays in The Animal That Therefore I Am (More to Follow) the parade of his fabulous bestiary (63) heavenly bestiary (62), says he which has been under way since the beginnings of his work: an inventory less like that of Noahs ark (where the animals went two-by-two in view of reproduction and salvation), than like that of a much more fabulous zos ark. Prosopopeia that Derrida releases (as he does with so many other rhetorical figures) from the confines to which it seemed to be limited, in order to give it a much larger scope, literally undefined and unheard-of. We are, of course, reminded of what he writes in Tte--tte, about the apes in/of Camilla Adamis painting Primati, that go beyond all simian mimicry, or any mimetic monkeying. Each ape looks at you, unique, all alone, mortal, from its singular place, each of them takes you aside, refuses his name, apes nothing, lets you know, in his absolute idiom, he apes you undeniably. And here is these apes answer, calling out to you without saying a word, addressed to a great thinker of the century (Heidegger remaining unnamed), who considered the animal to be poor in world [weltarm]: I am neither beast nor person, I am someone but no one: neither person nor subject, nor the subject of a portrait. I cannot be tamed, you cannot set me up in your house, nor in your museums, not even, as so many painters have done, in a corner of a scene or a painting. I might seem to lack sovereignty, as I lack speech, but no. I understand myself otherwise, try to understand. Your speech is not something I miss, I dont have it but I give it to you, and I touch you, and this, believe me, I who speak to you in tongues, is not one of these figures (the absent one, the dead, the ghost, the personified thing, the man or the animal), the totem that a puppeteer makes speak out in what you, humans, you rhetoricians, would asininely call a prosopopeia (Tte--tte 14-15. Derridas emphasis).
9 8

Montaigne, Apology for Raymond Sebond, Book 2, Chap. 12, 331. Quoted by Derrida (The Animal 6). Derridas emphasis.

This Strange Institution Called Literature: An Interview with Jacques Derrida 35, 34, 39-40.
11 The Writing of the Disaster 72, 114. We will at times prefer the term primitive further along. 12 13

10

Philippe Lacoue-Labarthes expression (216), used to refer to Blanchot. Battle with the Angel 130-131.

14 In a passage of The Lost (242-243), Daniel Mendelsohn draws a striking parallel between boxes and arks, noting that Noahs ark, vessel of salvation in which the humans and the animals are utterly helpless, cast about in the waters without any

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control over their fate, is not without similarity to the box of life tossed about in a violent universe that is breaking at its seams. Both the ark and the box, this rectangular blank object, connect things to their opposites, creation to destruction, destruction to rebirth [...]; both share a persistent image of infantile helplessness, notes Mendelsohn with remarkable insight. Experience similar to that of seeing oneself see, or to the textual operation illustrated and reflected, in its turn, by the silkworms: Love made itself make love right next to the watching dreaming child (A Silkworm 90). One cant help thinking of the a me regarde felt by Derrida when he avows a certain fear: Im afraid because it/id concerns me [a me regarde], because the other thing is watching what I do []. It is I who am being read first of all by what I write [...]. (Ja, or the faux-bond II 66). In French, the indistinction between the who and the what is enforced by the grammar, the same pronoun designating the subject as well as the object. (Translators Note.)
17 16 15

In a passage transcribed from a recording in The Animal That Therefore I Am, Derrida notes that the vertigo is unheimlich but that it is necessary [il faut le vertige]. This vertigo is that of an interrogation into the animal and, finally, its the concept of world itself that becomes problematic and fragile (The Animal 155).

Cf. this passage from Counterpath: Most often I watch myself traveling without changing places, an immobile voyeur who would analyze what befalls his body in movement in the world. Movie camera without a camera, kinetoscope for a sort of errance that is forever encrypted: the always incognito displacement of a secret that I transport without knowing. Even when I speak in front of large crowds. I feel that I transport this secret (I can hear its heartbeat like a child in the womb) but dont understand anything about it (13). Like the silkworms that engender themselves by secreting themselves, the child carries and is carried by the secret, like a mother with her child, he is at once delivered of and delivering the secret. Envers in French conveys many meanings, all present at once in this occurrence: wrong side, inside, reverse, underside, underneath, haywire, upside down, and Purl one, one plain, a knitting term. (Translators Note.)
20 19

18

This phantasm also surfaced in Monolingualism of the Other, where the dream, which must have started to be dreamt, at that time, was perhaps to make something happen to this language (51). This scene calls up images very close to those in A Silkworm, particularly the one related to the tattooing of the tongue, a splendid form, concealed under garments in which blood mixes with ink (52), resembling an unknown blood, a red almost black, [which] came from within to soften and penetrate the skin, then open the way for the moths wings [les ailes du papillon] (91). The translator rightly chooses here moth over a more predictable butterfly, as an invisible phonic thread makes its way between mouth and moth): as if, this allmighty as if of fantasy and fiction, from one text to the other, the dreamer was following his dream by varying it (one of the poetic operations of vraison).

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21 Certes is the anagram in French of the word secret, which is lost in translation in this passage: each occurrence of this adverb in Derridas text, but also beyond the range of this particular text, in all the folds of his work considered as a whole, thus marks a virtual re-inscription, even effaced or silenced, of the secret in the making, there, under our noses so to speak, at the moment called the instar (A Silkworm 88), at the instant, then, when the word is pronounced, be it out loud or softly, or even only thought, without being uttered. Certes is another way of saying without saying. 22 23

Lippit 183. His emphasis.

Derrida Mais quest-ce donc qui arrive, dun coup, une langue darrive? (i). In my copy, Derrida had added himself by hand the last words of this sentence, stressing again this question of the bottom (fond). Verse fragment from Mallarm: there is indeed also the question of scrutinizing the Origin (scruter lOrigine) in this new version of a crise de vers.
25 26 24

Quoted by Alferi 153.

We are reminded here of Baudelaires letter-dedication in Petits Pomes en prose, where, starting with a serpent cut into pieces, he introduces this new concept of fragmented/unfinished work that has neither head nor tail, since, on the contrary, everything in it is both tail and head, alternatively and reciprocally (129). Archive Fever 28. Derridas emphasis. Quoted by Alferi 159.

27 28 29

Jacques Derrida comments on this poem twice in The Animal That Therefore I Am (65-68, 110), and again, he alludes to it briefly in the envoi preceding The Reason of the Strongest (Rogues 5). Derridas ninth session (February 27, 2002) of his Seminar La bte et le souverain was devoted to this poem. All quotations, as well as the lines from the poem Snake by D.H. Lawrence, are taken from this session.
30 In the Seminar, Derrida insists on the fact that there is no woman in the entire rewriting of this biblical scene, but in his essay The Reason of the Strongest, he will give a more subtle turn to this apparent absence, noticing her return as a rvenante, hearing the silent call of a womans voice deep within the voice of the poet: Deep within the voice of the poet, it is no doubt a woman who says I in order to call for its return: And I wished he would come back, my snake (Rogues 5). 31 This is how he wants to be seen by them, these beings who are watching him: I am saying they, what they call an animal, in order to mark clearly the fact that I have always secretly exempted myself from that world, and to indicate that my whole history, the whole genealogy of my questions, in truth everything I am, follow, think, write, trace, erase even, seems to me to be born from that exceptionalism [exception] and incited by that sentiment of election. As if I were the secret elect of what they call animals. I shall speak from this island of exception, from its infinite coastline, starting from it [ partir delle] and speaking of it (The Animal 62. My emphasis). I stress

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this as if that, once again, like the like a king, like a god of Snake, bears the mark of another sovereignty, poetic, furtive and fragile.

WORKS CITED Abraham, Nicolas and Maria Torok Mourning or Melancholia: Introjection versus Incorporation. The Shell and the Kernel. Renewals of Psychoanalysis. Vol. 1. Ed. and trans. Nicholas T. Rand. Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press, 1994. Alferi, Pierre. Un accent de vrit: James et Blanchot. Revue des sciences humaines. Maurice Blanchot 253 (1999). 27 May 2010, <http://remue.net/cont/alferi3.html>. Asselin, Guillaume. Pense-bte. Cahiers littraires Contre-jour. La littrature et lanimalit 13 (fall 2007). 65-77. Bailly, Jean-Christophe. Singes. Cahiers littraires Contre-jour. La littrature et lanimalit 13 (fall 2007). 81-91. Baudelaire, Charles. To Arsne Houssaye. The Parisian Prowler. Le Spleen de Paris. Petits Pomes en prose. Trans. Edward K. Kaplan. Athens: The University of Georgia Press, 1989. 73. Blanchot, Maurice. Battle with the Angel. Friendship. Trans. Elizabeth Rottenberg. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1997. 129-139. The Writing of the Disaster. Trans. Ann Smock. Lincoln and London: University of Nebraska Press, 1986. Derrida, Jacques. Comment ne pas parler. Dngations. Psych. Inventions de lautre. Paris: Galile, 1987. 535-595. The Postcard. From Socrates to Freud and Beyond. Trans. and ed. Alan Bass. Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press, 1987. This Strange Institution Called Literature: An Interview with Jacques Derrida. Jacques Derrida. Acts of Literature. Ed. Derek Attridge. New York and London: Routledge, 1992. 33-75. Circumfession. Jacques Derrida. With Geoffrey Bennington. Trans. Geoffrey Bennington. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1993. The Gift of Death. Trans. David Wills. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1995.

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Ja, or the faux-bond II. Points Interviews, 1974-1994. Ed. Elisabeth Weber. Trans. Peggy Kamuf et al. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1995. 30-77. Archive Fever: A Freudian Impression. Trans. Eric Prenowitz. Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press, 1996. Monolingualism of the Other: Or, The Prosthesis of Origin. Trans. Patrick Mensah. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1998. Demeure: Fiction and Testimony. With Maurice Blanchot, LInstant de ma mort. Trans. Elizabeth Rottenberg. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2000. Mais quest-ce donc qui arrive, dun coup, une langue darrive? Preface to Georges Veltsos. Humus. Trans. Blanche Molfessis and Catherine Collet. Athens: French Institute of Athens, 2000. i-x. A Silkworm of Ones Own: Points of View Stitched on the Other Veil. Veils. With Hlne Cixous. Drawings by Ernest Pignon-Ernest. Trans. Geoffrey Bennington. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2001. 17-108. Tte--tte. Camilla Adami. Milano: Gabriele Mazzotta, 2001. 5-15. Rogues: Two Essays on Reason. Trans. Pascale-Anne Brault and Michael Naas. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2005. Envoi. Psyche. Inventions of the Other. Vol. I. Ed. Peggy Kamuf and Elizabeth Rottenberg. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2007. 94-128. The Animal That Therefore I Am. Ed. Marie-Louise Mallet. Trans. David Wills. New York: Fordham University Press, 2008. Sminaire: La bte et le souverain, Volume I (2001-2002). Eds. Michel Lisse, Marie-Louise Mallet and Ginette Michaud. Paris: Galile, 2008. Derrida, Jacques and Catherine Malabou. Counterpath: Traveling with Jacques Derrida. Trans. David Wills. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2004. Derrida, Jacques and Elisabeth Roudinesco. For What Tomorrow A Dialogue. Trans. Jeff Fort. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2004.

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Kafka, Franz. A Report to an Academy. The Complete Stories. Ed. Nahum N. Glatzer. Trans. Willa and Edwin Muir. New York: Schocken Books, 1971. Lacoue-Labarthe, Philippe. Fidlits. LAnimal autobiographique: Autour de Jacques Derrida. Ed. Marie-Louise Mallet. Paris: Galile, 1999. 215-230. Lippit, Akira Mizuta. LAnimal magntique. LAnimal autobiographique: Autour de Jacques Derrida. Ed. Marie-Louise Mallet. Paris: Galile, 1999. 181-195. Mendelsohn, Daniel. The Lost (A Search for Six of Six Million). Photographs by Matt Mendelsohn. New York: Harper, 2006. Milesi, Laurent. Saint-Je Derrida. Oxford Literary Review. Derridanimals 29 (2007). 55-76. Montaigne, Michel. Apology for Raymond Sebond. Essays: The Complete Works of Montaigne. Trans. Donald M. Frame. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1957. Book 2, Chap. 12. xxvi-1094. Nancy, Jean-Luc. plus dun titre Jacques Derrida. Sur un portrait de Valerio Adami. Paris: Galile, 2007. Rilke, Rainer Maria. Eighth Elegy. Duino Elegies. Trans. David Young. New York: Norton, 2006. 140-153. Surya, Michel. Humanimalit: LInliminable animalit de lhomme. Engravings by Nathalie-Nolle Rimlinger. Paris: ditions du Nant, 2001. [Reprinted under the title Humanimalits. Paris: Lo Scheer, 2004.] Valry, Paul. bauche dun serpent/Silhouette of a Serpent. Charms: The Collected Works of Paul Valry: vol. I, Poems. Ed. Jackson Mathews. Trans. David Paul. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1971. 184-185.

Ver(s): Toward a Spirituality of Ones Own


Claudia Simma
The following is the beginning of an enquiry into the ways Jacques Derrida mischievously, considerately, carefully animalizes the language and words we think and believe in and with. We start by turning our thought toward the word animot coined in The Animal That Therefore I Am and toward the ways Derrida brings this mot, this word, into play with the word animal. He seems to make the syllables -mal and maux wiggle into and out of different meanings so as to prompt a reflection on what is considered mal, i.e. evil. A reflection that, cautiously following the tracks indicated by language, may move toward other scenes of mal than the ones that have been conceptualized as such in religion (the knowledge of good and evil, for example) or in philosophy. Thus, for instance, our memories of the scene of naming the animals in the Old Testament are reanimated. This scene may be thought of as prefiguring and instituting at the same time mans wrongdoings, the harm, the hurt, the mal he inflicts on animals be it only by using words inconsiderately: a generic singular like the animal, for example, effacing infinite differences between animals with the stroke of just one word. But what we would like to show here is also that the play on the signifier mal opens up toward a reflection about what philosophy as we know it traditionally finds good or bad, (mal) to think about. From here we turn our attention to one animot in particular: ver, the silkworm operating on the concept of truth in A Silkworm of Ones Own.

Je mets en question tous les crdits, commencer par les dits et autres vouloir-dire, et avant de commencer, commencer par les mots. Hlne Cixous, Insister: Jacques Derrida [] lanimal est invitable, et avant lui, lanimot. Jacques Derrida, LAnimal que donc je suis

Pardon, prayer, faith, confession, conversion, circumcision, revelation, sacrifice, resurrection and even bte (in the sense of animal, beast1): there is an open list of words, notions, concepts that seems to belong to a religious vocabulary and that gives Derridas thought a certain religious tint but who would believe it is religious really? Isnt it something else something not devoid of its very own spirituality reflecting on religion, disputing with it but also carrying off something about it, resurrecting it elsewhere and as something else?

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As Martin Hgglund demonstrates in his book on Derrida, Radical Atheism, it seems difficult to maintain the idea of an ethical or a religious turn in Derridas work. But while Hgglund concentrates on the way Derrida deconstructs metaphysical concepts right from the beginning of his work by reading them against themselves, we will hereafter try to wonder about how Derrida handles precisely the thought of turning or returning in certain texts that take issue with religious concepts. Hgglund shows according to which proceedings Derrida turns the logic of concepts against itself. He insists on how this deconstructs the condition of Presence/Oneness/Wholeness/ Unscathed Completeness/Totality, etc. Any concept must be based on and opens, within the concept, what may be called spacing: something that, while making the concept possible, also may be shown to contradict and ruin its logic from within. Hgglund calls this radically atheist because, as it seems, God may be considered as a kind of metaphor for everything that is Present to itself as One/Whole/Unscathed/Complete/Total, etc. Thus it can be called radically atheist to show that such an idea of Presence is liable to be deconstructed wherever it surreptitiously imposes its conceptual necessities on thought. We may marvel at the following question, though: is it really deconstruction, then, that is radically atheist (to keep the name Hgglund gives it) for having laid bare the mechanisms hidden within the way a philosophical tradition conceptualizes? Admittedly, Derrida uses a deconstructive method to read the concepts he deconstructs against themselves. But should this incite us to conclude that it is his thought that follows a radically atheist logic when he insists so repeatedly and from the beginning of his writings on the way metaphysical concepts work? After all, the fact that over and over again he makes us patiently aware of the way concepts function neither means that deconstruction works (only) this way nor that Derridas thought must be identified with what is called deconstruction. It means that metaphysics works this way. Should we not be wary of simply identifying deconstruction(s) and Derridas thinking with the mechanism it/they help(s) us to recognize and read? And while they are philosophically rigorous and deconstructive, dont Derridas writings also suggest universes of things unthought of for us, to read and explore? But in his writings those journeys into thought happen in language. Let us look for example at the play with the French word animal: in a scene that stages a strange replay of the biblical fall at the beginning of LAnimal que donc je suis, we are both jokingly and seriously made to hear evil, harm and sin in it: ani-mal, -mal, le mal.2 Then mal, or rather its plural maux, disappears visually from the word animal, although it can still be heard echoing through another word: mot, pronounced just like maux, the word for word in the new word Derrida coins in this text: animot. So what has happened to evil and to all that supposedly follows it or follows from it, religiously? What is it that evil follows from? Or as Derrida asks, at the beginning of Faith and

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Knowledge: Now where is evil [le mal]? Where is evil today, at present? (2). Derridas contribution to the Capri seminar on religion held in 1994, Foi et savoir,3 translated into English as Faith and Knowledge, warns the reader not simply to believe and believe in the label, the name, given to the contemporary phenomenon commonly baptized the return of religions, the return of the religious: le retour du religieux in French. In this essay, contributing to a 1992 seminar, Derrida wanted to turn thought onto what today is commonly called the return of religions. He was one of the organizers of this seminar,4 titled, appropriately, La Religion. In his paper, he invites us to long and scrupulous in other words: religious halts,5 calling into question what we believe we have a name for, what we believe we know and mean when we say return or religion, allowing for the following detour into Faith and Knowledge and LAnimal que donc je suis. We shall then turn from those texts toward a particular animot, the ver soie or silkworm operating in Veils. Talking religion? Parler religion parler cru If we admit that thinking with Faith and Knowledge about what we call religion or the religious fact mobilizes of course not only but also the question of what we believe we do when we believe (in) something, then reflecting on what we believe we are saying when we speak of it amounts to calling our watchful attention to those movements of believing twice: once when we go about talking religion,6 and again when we question what we believe religion (and/or its so-called return onto the contemporary geopolitical scene) to be. Yet if it is true that the question of belief seems to strike a particularly sensitive key when it comes to wondering about how to talk religion in these times preoccupied with religions so-called return, we might also want to remember that Derridas approach to thought doesnt go without what could be called discussing, debating, arguing with or disputing belief, disputing what is belief and what is believed, also in a much wider and more universal sense. In hesitating between disputing belief, disputing what is believed, or belief and disputing the believed, I am hesitatingly borrowing from the beginning of Circumfession, in order to move toward what, in reading the first period of Circumfession in Portrait of Jacques Derrida As a Young

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Jewish Saint, Hlne Cixous calls Derridas profession of faith in incredulity, always this quarrel looking to pick a fight with itself at the heart of all believing.7 Transporting into English the echo of the French disputer le cru as it is played out at the beginning of Circonfession, in the first priode: Le vocable cru, lui disputer ainsi le cru, comme si dabord jaimais le relancer, et le mot de relance (7), the dispute is already very much eased. Indeed, the homophonic play on the French cru immediately enacts and performs from within this little word the desire for dispute expressed in the quote above before we can even begin to suspect what may be meant by le vocable cru. To begin with, we observe that at least three different meanings are quarreling over the sense we ought to give to what the text calls cru. Derrida makes us hear and feel how cru is torn between those different possibilities of meaning, belief being only one of them and apparently not even the first one he puts at stake here: 1) Cru may be what is raw, bloody, uncooked, crude: comme si je tenais lui pour lui chercher querelle quant ce que parler cru veut dire (my emphasis); 2) Cru may also be what evokes belief, confession, faith, credulity (cru as in the verb croire which we usually translate as to believe) its the meaning I have chosen to privilege above: le cru auquel je ne crois pas, et le mot cru laisse affluer en lui par le canal de loreille, une veine encore, la foi, la profession de foi ou la confession, la croyance, la crdulit (my emphasis); 3) Cru also sounds like cr or crue: what grows, increases, matures or swells as in a flood (cr/crue as in crotre, to grow): la surabondance dune crue aprs le passage de laquelle une digue devient belle comme la ruine quelle aura toujours au fond delle-mme emmure (my emphasis). According to each one of these possibilities between which we must hesitate here without deciding, disputer le cru of this vocable cru may be read in various ways, and opening up different directions for thought within Circumfession,8 but also spreading beyond and echoing with the question of belief in other texts. To try to listen to some of those indications with respect to what they may help us think about our apparently ever-growing preoccupation with the religious theme the socalled return of the religious fact having become ever more insistent in recent years, just as the necessity to try to analyze what it makes happen to the world we live in is what prompts the reflection I would like to begin here. If, for the time being, we authorize ourselves to confer a certain value of example to a textual moment where we are summoned to hesitate about what to believe of this cru, we might begin by suggesting that it draws attention to the theme of dispute that enters the scene as soon as we start wondering about what to believe of what is believed, in the sense of what is generally understood: cru. We might furthermore suggest that, in beginning Circumfession with these words (or in his words: vocables), Derrida seems to point to something that, if we follow his pointers, has necessarily to do

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with believing: being torn, disputed, specifically from the inside not only from the outside. Does this mean that the most difficult and tricky disputing is not to take place between different beliefs or between the believers and the unbelieving of one belief or another, as we might have thought? This is also something Faith and Knowledge reminds us of, contradicting the ambient discourse of opinion obsessed with religions and their supposed return in a fanatical, integrationist, or fundamentalist form that would only have them fight one another. One could say that in Faith and Knowledge Derrida disputes le cru of what we do when we think we are talking religion. He calls into question the way we believe religions imply, for instance, belief or faith (croyance, crdit, foi, le fiduciaire). Let us consider an example. If, he tells us, belief or faith is one of religions sources, one of the conditions for their possibility,9 it is not only that. Before and besides meaning what we believe it does with respect to religion, croyance, belief or faith is also already necessarily implied in the sheer possibility of relating to, addressing the other, in what Derrida calls an acte de foi lmentaire: an act of elementary faith.10 Without such elementary credit given to any other, social links, therefore societies, and therefore their different religions would not exist. He shows how this act of elementary faith also conditions the possibility of something that is generally opposed to religions, especially when we speak about their so-called return, namely teletechnoscience, and how therefore the opposition between religion on the one hand and rationality, science, technology on the other, becomes increasingly difficult to maintain. This increase in difficulty may remind us of the image of a flood (crue) as used in the first period of Circumfession in one of the examples quoted above: a dam of separation is flooded over, but other differences, other separations need to be thought through. If Derrida analyzes faith as one of the two sources for religion, this does not mean, he tells us, that we must understand faith as a source of religion only or as belonging only to religion: But religion does not follow the movement of faith any more necessarily than the latter rushes towards faith in God. For if the concept of religion implies an institution that is separable, identifiable, circumscribable, tied trough its letter to the Roman ius, its essential relation both to faith and to God is anything but selfevident. When we speak, we Europeans, so ordinarily and so confusedly about a return of the religious, what do we thereby name? To what do we refer? (Faith and Knowledge 32) Let us turn to cru to try to understand something about what Derrida lets or makes happen to faith and to the religious sense we believe it to be endowed with. From within what we had believed (cru) belief to be, he makes us hear

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another cru more cru, more crude: the sense of something nave, nude or raw, disputing and affecting the religious senses prevalence. So belief has grown, cr, to echo with something which continues to reverberate within it, preceding it and making it possible, estranging its familiar ring, disputing how it had grown (cr) to be understood. Thus, in order to talk religion, Derrida reanimates the language he has shown it to speak Latin and makes it undergo a kind of invisible yet resounding metamorphosis. Why stop and listen to this dispute echoing from within croire, crdit, foi, faith, belief? I do it to try to think toward a way of thinking that would defend something within religion, defend it en lui disputant le cru, by disputing with it, making it less sure of the sense it gives to believing. This challenges religion spiritually, perhaps on behalf of another spirituality, one not confined to religious exercise and not limited by any religions laws. True, spirituality may not be the right word. Anticipating LAnimal que donc je suis,11 we could try Respirituality, giving breath12 to the thing we are trying to think about. This would have the advantage of making the syllable re- resound, a syllable which is, according to Derrida, indicative of the capacity for selfaffection the living are endowed with. For now, let us think of it as a spiritual exercise that, escaping what we believe religion to be, metamorphoses something about belief. Maybe we could say that it would be more down to earth as one says in English, but nevertheless or rather therefore of great difficulty: the earth being sometimes, as is humbly shown in Faith and Knowledge, the language we think and the words we believe in and with. Let us stop for a moment and note that in French, when we want to express that something gives us pain and difficulty, we say: jai du mal When Derrida speaks about having difficulty, having trouble repressing a movement of shame when naked in front of a little cats gaze, it is this expression he uses, mischievously playing on the religious implications of mal: [] jai du mal, oui, du mal surmonter une gne. Pourquoi ce mal? Jai du mal rprimer un mouvement de pudeur. Du mal faire taire en moi une protestation contre lindcence. Contre la malsance quil peut y avoir se trouver nu, le sexe expos, poil devant un chat qui vous regarde sans bouger, juste pour voir. Malsance de tel animal nu devant lautre animal, ds lors, on dirait une sorte danimalsance: lexprience originale, une et incomparable de cette malsance quil y aurait paratre nu en vrit, devant le regard insistant de lanimal (LAnimal 18. My emphasis.) [] I have trouble, yes, a bad time overcoming my embarrassment. Whence this malaise?

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I have trouble repressing a reflex of shame. Trouble keeping silent within me a protest against the indecency. Against the impropriety [malsance] that can come of finding oneself naked, ones sex exposed, stark naked before a cat that looks at you without moving, just to see. The impropriety of a certain animal nude before the other animal, from that point on one might call it a kind of animalsance: the single, incomparable and original experience of the impropriety that would come from appearing in truth naked, in front of the insistent gaze of the animal. (The Animal 4) The malaise here consists in discreetly putting forward a human tendency to consider that which gives us trouble and difficulty, that which is not easy to think and analyze, in other words to comprehend and therefore to take in, as not good, as evil, harmful, bad, mal. In the passage quoted above it would be a scene of animalsance that, as LAnimal que donc je suis sets out to show, has always given trouble to philosophy to the point of having been foreclosed, erased, from its discourse. But it is from this mal and from what this scene demands of philosophy as we think we know it that Derrida sets out to follow the traces of this foreclosure in the philosophical discourse on the animal according to Descartes, Heidegger, Levinas, and Lacan, among others. So the play on the signifier mal in the French word animal opens up onto a reflection about what philosophy traditionally finds good to think or not. This scene of animalsance is not about Adam and Eve ashamed of their nudity, hiding from Gods gaze and covering their shame with fig leaves. So it is not about a supposedly universally human desire to hide, cover or veil human nudity. A desire that, according to the Bible, would have started with knowledge about good and evil after eating the famous forbidden fruit. Or maybe we should say it is not only about that desire, for there may be also that. The insistence on the uniqueness, the inimitability, of his experience in Derridas text seems particularly intriguing here. In the quote above he calls it: lexprience originale, une et incomparable de cette malsance: the single, incomparable and original experience of the impropriety that would come from appearing in truth naked, in front of the insistent gaze of the animal (my emphasis). Indeed, at first glance there is nothing universal about this scene, and it cannot be universalized in any way, for as an experience it is entirely personal and unique. It belongs to one man only, and it belongs to him as his own (even though it is also the experience of a certain dispossession): there is no first human couple, no man and woman; only one naked man alone, gazed at by one little cat. This strange single, incomparable and original experience apparently engages only the one single man who had it and, although differently, the cat. But as a philosopher it engages Derrida on a long journey through what philosophy

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has to say about the animal and we will come back a little further on to this generalizing singular the animal Derrida deconstructs on this journey. The fact is that in LAnimal que donc je suis every move of thought relates to the singular scene of animalsance that triggered this journey through philosophy; it is this scene that commands and orients thinking. Now, the insistence on a very own and inimitable experience may be surprising on behalf of a thinker whose work is so constantly turned toward the other and who so patiently alters and deconstructs le propre in his writings. Yet, if we read more closely, there is something differently, strangely or paradoxically universal in the experience of animalsance. For while claiming the uniqueness of it as his very own, Derrida lets the little cat in his text gaze out at vous/you, in other words at we who read: Contre la malsance quil peut y avoir se trouver nu, le sexe expos, poil devant un chat qui vous regarde sans bouger, juste pour voir. In English: Against the impropriety (malsance) that can come of finding oneself naked, ones sex exposed, stark naked before a cat that looks at you without moving, just to see (my emphasis). While gazing only at the one naked man who goes on to describe the scene, the cat is also made to gaze out at you from his text. On the one hand, we may read this as a way of playing with the text to underscore that lanimal nous regarde as one would say in French: it looks at us, meaning it concerns us. Then again, this sudden possibility of an address the text turns toward us may also read like a question. It may make us wonder about how we are concerned personally by what happens in this scene. Which is our yours, mine very own, single, incomparable experience? Where is it, our comparably incomparable experience of our own that would operate on a philosophical tradition of blindness to the animal, taking its cue from the scene of animalsance? So the affirmation of the single, incomparable and original experience of this malsance is not an exclusive one. Rather, it calls for answers; it addresses the possibility of others. Thus we may also become aware of our responsibility in the philosophical foreclosure of what is considered good or bad, mal, to think. This operates a shift in the question of good and evil, even if this question remains linked metonymically to the figure(s) it takes religiously. But in LAnimal que donc je suis, Derrida returns to before the biblical scene of the fall, before what the Bible calls mal and toward another scene: the one where in the second version of Genesis, man before the creation of woman, and thus before nudity or shame in a biblical sense, gives leurs noms, ses noms aux animaux: their names, his names to the animals (The Animal 15) with God looking on pour voir, in order to see. It is this scene toward which we will be toward hereafter. For now lets keep in mind that while this strange kind of spirituality seems to talk religion, it is at the same time talking, or rather writing and animating, its very own spirituality in its very own language. How can trying

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to follow this and read it, for instance in LAnimal que donc je suis, help us to think otherwise what we believe we know about spirituality? If we now follow the animal, it is because in LAnimal que donc je suis they for they are legion seem to wrench away from religion or disputer le cru of what we call God. Being bte The French word bte, as an adjective, means stupid, dumb, lacking intelligence. As a feminine noun it can be used in a generic way to designate any animal as opposed to the human being: une bte. Dictionaries treat it as a more suggestive, commonplace, crude synonym of animal. Finally, in a religious and more specifically Christian sense, by antonomasia, la Bte is also what names absolute evil, as in the Beast with a definite article. Philosophical knowledge tells us that one has to be bte not to believe that the animal has no access to religion, for instance among many other self-understood truths. How could we btement not comprehend that, we who as humans have access to knowledge, especially of good and evil? But this problem of comprehension seems to be precisely one of the things LAnimal que donc je suis is about: as soon as we comprehend, as soon as we grasp in order to take in, take into our way of seeing and as soon as we look from our point of view, how can we be faithful to those ways of seeing, those points of view we simply cannot ever pretend to adopt since they can never be ours? So we need to adopt a certain kind of incomprehension rather than comprehension. We may need incomprehension, but not in a negative, exclusive way: not to close our eyes or our hearts to something, but rather to continue to follow thoughtfully the mystery of what resists comprehension and conceptualization thoughtfully. If we follow Derrida as he leads his audience into LAnimal que donc je suis, we may hear the motif of faith in the verb confier13: Au commencement je voudrais me confier des mots qui soient, si ctait possible, nus.14 In French there is something about this motif of faith that sounds a little odd, a little unfamiliar. For we would expect to read a more consecrated expression like: je voudrais me confier en des mots [] nus, meaning, I would like to make a confidence using words that would be [] nude/naked. Formulated this way, the sentence would mean that the person speaking or writing intends to use words that are as bare, as unadorned as possible, shunning elaborate rhetoric in order to be truthful, we may suppose. But we read: I would like to entrust myself to words, as the English translation states more boldly because it cannot play on the difference between confier en and confier . There is a subtle conversion at work, right from the beginning of this text on the autobiographical animal and besides, its beginning Au

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commencement must also be heard with all the weight of Genesis. It is as though the words Derrida entrusts himself to instead of using them to make autobiographical confidences were handed over through a kind of strange rule or command over an author who thus abandons and entrusts himself to them. But this rule or command (that would then presumably dictate (to) him) is conditioned by the possible nakedness of the words words spoken or written by him on the one hand but writing and saying him on the other. This possibility of nakedness is not positively asserted in the first sentence of LAnimal que donc je suis. Rather, it seems suggested with a nostalgia that gives it a touch of the unreal fictional or a fabricated, even. In the beginning, I would like to entrust myself to words that, were it possible, would be naked, can therefore be understood as an expression of the desire to obey the fictional law or fabric of these words rather than the law of autobiography. Academically defined, traditional autobiography would have the author pose in the nude and make confidences in words that promise to paint him naked in an autobiographically truthful way. This is what allows us to believe him. To raise the question of the possibility ever so fictional of words nakedness converts the autobiographical enterprise into an experience of another kind. The question of the authors nakedness is not evacuated. The scene of animalsance we have begun to muse about above shows just that. But in LAnimal que donc je suis the philosophical reflection also turns around the question of what we believe nakedness to be. Truth is called naked, as Derrida reminds us. Philosophically, truth is conceptualized as something that must be unveiled, revealed, uncovered or disclosed: cloth, textile, fabric are for that reason closely related to truths conceptual appearance. Of course, unveiling or revealing truth is religiously connoted: revelation is also and above all religious. Philosophy and religion appear together at the beginning of LAnimal que donc je suis: Au commencement je voudrais me confier des mots qui soient, si ctait possible, nus. Nus en premier lieu mais pour annoncer dj que sans cesse je parlerai de la nudit, et du nu en philosophie. Depuis la Gense. (LAnimal 15) In the beginning, I would like to entrust myself to words that, were it possible, would be naked. Naked in the first place but this is in order to announce already that I plan to speak endlessly of nudity and of the nude in philosophy. Starting from Genesis. (The Animal 1) But, to begin with, the emphasis is on words. And, as we have tried to indicate above, the emphasis is also on a kind of fiction or fabric Derridas

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dream seems to be made of. Everything expresses a kind of impossible, dreamy possibility in this beginning, as if dreaming about conjuring up another creation and another universe. There is the conditional form of the verb vouloir in je voudrais, I would want to/I would like to. Then there is the subjunctive form of the verb tre (to be) in the relative characterizing mots (words): des mots qui soient [] nus (words that would be [] nude/naked). There is also the hypothesis expressed in the inserted syntagm si ctait possible (were it possible), and in the concordance of the conditional mode affecting the verb tre: tait (were) in this case. Everything is imbued with what may be, but let us note in particular the occurrence of the subjunctive affecting the verb tre: soient. This not so much because it may have a biblical echo,15 but because of the homophones soient (be), soie (silk), and soi (oneself). I would like to link up these homophonic possibilities with the play between soi and soie in the title of Un ver soie. It sounds a little surprising, perhaps, to link (l)es mots qui soient [] nus at the beginning of LAnimal que donc je suis to the play between soi and soie. But the ver soie can be read as a strange and only apparently inoffensive version of the snake in paradise, one that carries difference instead of becoming the instrument of an opposition between, for instance, being naked or not, or between good and evil. In the childhood memory Derrida recalls at the end of Un ver soie (A Silkworm of Ones Own), the silkworm seems all the more naked for being a petit phantasme de pnis, a little phantasm of a penis (83). It resembles a sex, Derrida says but which one? There is no way to know or tell, especially since the sex of this little secretive being preoccupied with secreting its very own silk textile also remains a secret. A secret secreting a silk textile, neither there to clothe nor to reveal whatever nudity there might seem to be, from a human point of view. A textile not involved in a process of revealing, but part of the being it unwinds itself from, allowing it to become itself in the process of its metamorphosis. Derrida takes up this play between masculine and feminine in the sound he makes render the French word for silk, soie: it sounds like soi, like oneself, and in Derridas case that would seem to be a masculine self, just as the autobiographical animal silkworm would seem to point to a certain masculinity. The playful but intentional insistence on the self, on the very own, in the title Un ver soie brings back to mind the single, incomparable and original experience of the scene of animalsance as encountered above. Either one of these texts goes about fabricating its textual tissue, its soie or silk, by calling into question what we believe text and textile, and their relation to truth and revelation, to be. In Un ver soie, Derrida indicates how the childs observation of the silkworms play on sexual difference has taken command over his writing. He does so by showing how an -e muet, the letter that silently marks the feminine in French, adds itself to his supposedly masculine self through his very own

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experience of sericulture. An experience that occurred before he was thirteen years old, before he received his very own tallith and became a man in the eyes of religion. And the tallith, as religion would have it, always there to remind the male believer of Gods law and commands, becomes a kind of textile and animal incarnation of the ver soie. Thus it keeps calling its owner back to the secret laws that command him. If we come back to the nude words at the beginning of LAnimal que donc je suis, we may wonder why there should be the expression of this dreamy desire for words nudeness if those words were not caught up, woven or clothed into sentences, clad in text and implicated in all the textual, textile, tissue metaphors this traditionally implies, right from the start of the text about to begin. Escaping the text or, paradoxically, dreaming the nude text also seems to be the nude silkworms dream and we can already hear the animot ver worm expressing the dream of this dream rve when read lenvers, backwards, as an anagram: rve ver. First there is the dream of words that, were it possible, would be naked. Then nudity reappears in LAnimal que donc je suis when we are told about the scene with which thinking begins: I seeing himself being seen naked by a little cat, a real cat, truly, believe me, a little cat, Derrida insists (6). This scene is told smilingly, for it does have a tender and comical touch. But through its comic and realistic aspects it also tells the tale of the human condition with the stuff tragedy is made of: I, a human being, cannot, myself, see myself. I cannot see who I am and see what I dont see about myself. On the tragic theatrical scene I can be seen by others, I not seeing, blind to who I am, thus making the spectators see and reflect on the power, the authority, the control I am stripped of, structurally even though in everyday life this is not visible. This tells the spectators about their own human blindness as to who they are. We might think of Sophocles king Oedipus, whom we watch, blind to his own blindness, while everything his own name16 and history, the oracle, the way he has come to sovereignty, the blind soothsayer Tiresias tells him who he is. But there are additional twists and turns in the scene of the naked I seeing himself seen naked by a cat. It is not about human spectators seeing themselves blind in another human. It demands that we weigh how the eyes of a non-human being, whose point of view is absolutely out of reach for our thought and comprehension, also affects what, as humans, we believe we are. Thus, part of the importance of the nudity in this scene and its significance is also the experience of being stripped absolutely of the possibility of seeing what the other sees through his/her/its eyes from his/her/its point of view. Nothing even allows us to think that the use of these possessive pronouns (his/her/its) or the image hidden in the expression point of view are appropriate. There is no access, however partial, imperfect, limited and illusionary it may be, as there would seem to be with another human being.

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So we must reflect not only upon human blindness, but also perhaps on humanity as a kind of blindness we can but recognize. In a certain way, to acknowledge the point of view of this little cat means to bar human sight and insight altogether and to recognize a certain blindness. Then again, this recognition of blindness may indicate other ways to return toward seeing. For if we are to continue thinking, we must do so without the help of seeing and of light, which we generally assume to symbolize the possibility of intelligence. It must be done btement, dumbly, blind to all the so-called evidences of intelligence. At first this may sound as if we could think no further but it is in fact quite the contrary, at least if we follow Derrida, since thought would only deserve to be called thought if it thinks where it cannot think, thus thinking past its own impossibility: The animal looks at us/concerns us and we are naked before it. Thinking perhaps begins there.17 Tracking spirituality But my purpose here is not to detail how Derrida patiently dispute le cru of philosophical beliefs and knowledge about the animal (in general) as opposed to man (in general) in LAnimal que donc je suis. Let us dwell for a moment still on the idea of blindness and on the other kinds of intelligence blindness demands, looking to hearing for the time being. Indeed, the exchange of -mal for mot in animot reverberates with another dream, a dream mentioned at the beginning of the second chapter in LAnimal que donc je suis. It is the dream of a language that would change the tonality, the sound, and the music, of philosophical as well as ordinary human discourse about the animal (63-64). It is a dream about not causing the animal evil, hurt, harm, mal: Comme si je rvais, moi, en toute innocence, dun animal qui ne veuille pas de mal lanimal As though I were dreaming, I myself, in all innocence, of an animal that didnt intend harm to the animal (64). The coining of the animot may seem like a first move away from the evil caused, the hurt and harm inflicted both by philosophical as well as by common sense discourse on the animal to the animal especially through the abuse implied in the generic singular term: the animal. As we remember, in LAnimal que donc je suis, Derrida shows the violence hidden in the conceptual shortcut consisting in the forced inclusion of all animals, regardless of their multiple differences with each other and of their multiple differences with man, into one single generalizing singular which in fact denies them any singularity: the animal, then opposed to man. So, replacing mal by mot seems like taking a first step out of harms way, the harm caused by this abusive singular the animal. But is it really that simple to avoid mal? We may observe that the newly coined animot sounds at first itself like a singular. But, as pointed out in our opening paragraph, if we listen to it play,

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there is a singular shifting to the plural of the French word mal: les maux, pronounced just like mot or its plural form mots. How can we read this? Could it mean that we should be wary of the multiple risks of harm (maux) caused by words (mot(s))? Perhaps by words themselves not naked, defenseless, exposed or vulnerable enough? The animot would thus sound like a warning. But we may also notice that the echo of mot(s)/maux makes the animot sound just like the plural of the French word animal: animaux. Now this move toward acknowledging the plurality of animals would, in turn, sound like something we are looking for when we follow the tracks of LAnimal que donc je suis. Maybe this is what we are encouraged to admit: there is confusion and dispute at work as to what should be considered as mal with regard to the animal mal in all the different senses it can take in the French language. Mal is becoming increasingly impure as these other meanings crisscross its tracks. Good and evil mingle in the animot. In order to pursue the different, crisscrossing tracks that lead our thoughts, let us keep in mind for now that, even if we cant be sure we are moving out of harms way, if we at least follow what Derrida seems to suggest, we are invited to wonder about more than just one -mal. As pointed toward above, in LAnimal que donc je suis we are requested, for instance, to consider more than one biblical scene of mal in addition to the one where one animal, the snake, would cause the first human couple to fall, making them henceforth know the difference between good and evil. There is the scene of animalsance mentioned above: a little cat staring at the naked male philosopher juste pour voir (Derridas emphasis), just like that, just in order to see: Et pourquoi cette honte qui rougit davoir honte? Surtout, devrais-je prciser, si le chat mobserve nu de face, en face--face, et si je suis nu face aux yeux du chat qui me regarde de pied en cap, dirais-je, juste pour voir, sans se priver de plonger sa vue, pour voir, en vue de voir, en direction du sexe. Pour voir, sans aller y voir, sans y toucher encore, et sans y mordre, bien que cette menace reste au bout des lvres ou de la langue. (LAnimal 19. Derridas emphasis.) And why this shame that blushes for being ashamed? Especially, I should make clear, if the cat observes me frontally naked, face to face, and if I am naked faced with the cats eyes looking at me from head to toe, as it were just to see, not hesitating to concentrate its vision in order to see, with a view to seeing in the direction of my sex. To see, without going to see, without touching yet, and without biting, although that threat remains on its lips or on the tip of the tongue. (The Animal 4. Derridas emphasis.)

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The particular sound of the French juste pour voir that Derrida emphasizes here is quite difficult to keep in English. The particularity it has consists in not letting the pour, to, be followed by a grammatical element that would complete it in the sentence as in, for example, to see completed by what will happen. Also, were it not for the idiomatic play with a French expression here, pour would usually indicate some kind of purpose, some intention or aim that should be expressed in the sentence in order to make it grammatically complete: pour voir, to see, yes, but pour voir quoi, to see what? Because of the play on the idiom, we shall never know the intention behind this particular seeing, operating just like that, and apparently there simply to see. There is seeing, but as the elliptic French expression suggests, it is absolute, cut from us, and we cant follow it as far as to see what prompts it. Something about this seeing remains out of reach. As we have said above, it is from this scene that Derrida sets out to reread what philosophy says about the animal. As for us, let us follow the echo of this pour voir, of this idiomatic expression without follow-up and thus all the more intriguing in a text where the accent lies on the double sense of je suis, I am or I follow, and where we are brought to wonder whether the possibility of following, of chasing, of being after on the one hand, and the possibility of being seduced, of being chased after on the other, are not what conditions the possibility of being instead of the contrary: being conditioning the possibility of following and/or being followed. If we follow the echo of pour voir in LAnimal que donc je suis, we encounter another scene of mal at least, we are incited to reconsider it in such a way. Derrida recalls the moment in the second version of Genesis where, pour voir, which we may find in different translations of the Bible Derrida quotes (The Animal 15-18), God makes man give their names (or rather his names, according to Derrida, as we have indicated above) to all the animals of paradise. As Derrida insists, this moment is recorded only in the second version of Genesis, the one where God is not said to have distinguished between male and female right away. The second version is the one in which we are told that man is first created male to be given a female only later. So the nomination scene takes place before the creation of woman. Therefore this calling the animals names, as in turn we might call it jokingly, apparently concerns the male human being only and seems to take place before there could be any question of good, of evil, of original sin and of falling from grace in a biblical sense. Before the creation of woman all this has always been related to the irruption of evil into paradise still seems quite a long way off. And yet, Derrida makes us wonder, is this biblical scene of naming really before mal and before another kind of fall? Isnt his text suggesting that evil or harm is not (only) what or where or even when we think it is? Isnt it implying that something takes place there, which humanity may never have thought to see evil or harm in, but which nevertheless has

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been the cause of mal, harm, hurt to the animals subjected by naming to human control? The text insists on the fact that in the second version of Genesis the human male is the one who takes power over the animals by putting his names on them: it seems as though the reader was secretly urged to draw the parallel with all those philosophers who have also given their name, the animal, to the animals without taking the plurality of animal life into account. True, there is a difference between giving each animal mans name and giving mans name the animal to all animals in general. What is unvarying, however, and encourages the parallel between these scenes of nomination, is that in both cases the animals are denied the possibility of responding. As Derrida puts it, those who use the generic singular the animal ont sans doute vu, observ, analys, rflchi lanimal mais ne se sont jamais vus vus par lanimal [] ils nont tenu aucun compte du fait que ce quils appellent animal pouvait les regarder et sadresser eux depuis l-bas, depuis une origine tout autre those who have no doubt seen, observed, analyzed, reflected on the animal but who have never been seen seen by the animal [] They have taken no account of the fact that what they call animal could look at them and address them from down there, from a wholly other origin. (The Animal 13.) A little later in the text we read: Le mal est fait depuis longtemps et pour longtemps. Il tiendrait ce mot, il se rassemblerait plutt dans ce mot, lanimal, que les hommes se sont donn, comme lorigine de lhumanit, et se sont donn afin de sidentifier, pour se reconnatre, en vue dtre ce quils disent, des hommes, capables de rpondre et rpondant au nom dhommes. Cest dun certain mal qui tient ce mot que je voudrais essayer de parler, dabord en balbutiant quelques aphorismes chimriques. (LAnimal 54. My emphasis.) That wrong was committed long ago and with long-term consequences. Il derives from this word, or rather it comes together in this word animal, which men have given themselves as at the origin of humanity, and which they have given themselves in order to be identified, in order to be recognized, with a view to being what they say they are, namely, men, capable of replying and responding in the name of men. I would like to try to speak of a certain wrong or evil that derives form this word, to begin with, by stammering some chimerical aphorisms. (The Animal 32. My emphasis.) But let us come back to pour voir, for through this idiomatic expression Derrida establishes other parallels yet: there is one between the little cat looking at the naked philosopher pour voir and God looking on pour voir

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as the first man names the animals of paradise. Its a way to indicate that neither an animals stare nor Gods gaze are within the grasp of human comprehension and that, with regard to human beings, this is something they share. We may distinguish another parallel, one between God and the animals, this time, when we consider that through the biblical expression pour voir to which Derrida has called our attention, God, while seeming all-powerful, seems at the same time to be stripped of power: Ce pour voir marque la fois linfinit du droit de regard dun Dieu tout-puissant et la finitude dun Dieu qui ne sait pas ce qui va lui arriver avec ce langage. Et avec les noms. (LAnimal 36. Derridas emphasis.) This in order to see marks at the same time the infinite right of inspection of an all-powerful God and the finitude of a God who doesnt know what is going to happen to him with language. And with names. (The Animal 17. Derridas emphasis.) So, as it happens to the animals, this naming happens also to God, and we are made to understand that this exposure to the event of language is another point animals and God have in common. These two parallels between the animal and God are superposed in the following quote, a few sentences down the same page: Je me demande souvent si ce vertige, quant labme dun tel pour voir au fond des yeux de Dieu, ce nest pas celui qui me prend quand je me sens si nu devant un chat, de face, et quand, croisant alors son regard, jentends le chat ou Dieu se demander, me demander: va-t-il appeler? va-t-il sadresser moi? Comment va-t-il mappeler, cet homme nu, avant que je lui donne une femme, avant que je la lui prte en la lui donnant (LAnimal 36. Derridas emphasis.) I often wonder whether this vertigo before the abyss of such an in order to see deep in the eyes of God is not the same as that which takes hold of me when I feel so naked in front of a cat, facing it, and when, meeting its gaze, I hear the cat or God ask itself, ask me: Is he going to call me, is he going to address me? What name is he going to call me by, this naked man, before I give him woman, before I lend her to him in giving her to him (The Animal 18. Derridas emphasis.)

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Discreetly, God is animalized. This animalization is not bluntly stated, it is suggested rather, and what is also suggested is that it has to do with Gods/the animals expectation of an address, of a call, and of names to come. But here it is a matter of names to come from a human who sees himself being seen by the cat, by God, by the animals in their plurality. His very unique experience of seeing himself being seen thus, in other words seeing himself be concerned in this particular way, translates itself here into a philosophical response to what he hears: the silent call for a language yet to be invented. But, if we listen again to what the animot may tell us about such moments on the brink of responsive invention, Derridas response calls into question language as something (purely) human: the animot doesnt just make us wonder about knowledge of good and evil as we have tried to indicate above it animalizes language. What does that mean? If we think in terms of animalized language here, this also puts the philosopher under the gaze of his own text: a gaze in which everything, every word of his writing, gazes at him as his own, as coming from him and having been produced by him. But it is a gaze just as impossible for him to follow (suivre as in je suis) to its source and to make his own as an animals or Gods stare. At the same time, though, this impossibility doesnt prevent him from being (tre as in je suis) the source of that which gazes out at him. And is it a gaze, even? Or should this kind of return from the animots be thought about in other terms, on other terms? The word animot appears in LAnimal que donc je suis (60)18 right after a detour into Un ver soie (59-60). Let us return to this text now and to what it says about turning and returning. Un ver soie names the silkworm, but it also shows us right away how this animal turns into an animot and vice versa. On the one hand, the indefinite article un introduces a silkworm, one (un) single silkworm, and insists on its singularity. On the other hand, countless words in this text are turned into animots because parts at least of the words that form the French silkworm turn up in them. The ver soie itself wiggles into and out of different meanings as we have seen above: we can also read it as the very own direction it gives, the very own direction the experience of cultivating silkworms gave, to the thought of the thinker reflecting on his own text, textile, soie, in Un ver soie. What we may notice right away is that our gaze is drawn to a subtle play on seeing and blindness between the title and the subtitle Un ver soie: Points de vue piqus sur lautre voile. To perceive it, we must remember first that ver is also the Spanish or the Portuguese word we translate as to see and we are quite actively reminded of it because Un ver soie is addressed to its reader from a journey through Latin America. Indeed, the title of the first of the three chapters that form Un ver soie reads Vers Buenos Aires, (Toward Buenos Aires, my emphasis), 24 November 29 November 1995. The indication of the direction, vers, toward, is one of the many

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homophonies that echo with ver in Un ver soie: for now we may simply observe that, by echoing with it, the little preposition vers underlines the importance of ver. The subtitle Points de vue piqus sur lautre voile takes up the motive of seeing, but it is done in so equivocal a way that we cannot follow: are those points of view taken from, stolen from (piqus sur) the other veil or are they given to, stitched unto (piqus sur) the other veil? And whose is the other veil? Is it mine or not? We could muse for a long time on all the implications this has with respect to seeing, especially since as said above Un ver soie enters into a long dispute with the religious and/or philosophical figure of the veil and what it has to tell about our point of view on truth as something that needs the veil to be revealed in the movement of unveiling. But we can also observe that, no sooner has the twinkling title of this text made us notice that it will have to do with seeing, ver, that it opens the theater of the animot ver only to make us watch it turn away from seeing and turn toward turning: vers as in Vers Buenos Aires, Toward Buenos Aires. Now this is also a way to return toward the ver soie or silkworm since it is the movement of turning, turning toward and returning that etymologically gives the worm its name and also accounts for the meaning of the little preposition vers. This movement of turning and returning, of indirect direction, is not that far away from the to-and-fro movement of weaving, determining the metaphor of text as tissue, as textile. But it is not so easy to integrate into the enveloping metaphor of textile as something that has to be done away with, that should disappear as such, to let naked truth be revealed. There is something differently nude or crude or naked about the animot ver already. How can we read it? A first intuition may be that of all the animots the autobiographical animal ver soie turns into, the missing one is poetic verse: vers in French.19 As we can see, vers in the sense of toward and vers in the sense of verse are spelled exactly alike and both are pronounced the same way ver is pronounced. All three of those words also keep the trace of a certain, particular kind of locomotion directed toward turning and returning. In a very secret way Derrida seems to encourage his readers to notice that he hasnt mentioned poetic verse in a text about truth, ver-it, that plays with all the possibilities of the little syllable ver. He does it by showing us how in Hlne Cixous text Savoir a text he calls a poem there is secret turning from le voile, veil, to la voile, sail, without the word for it ever being explicitly deployed (Un ver soie 56-57). So if we follow him, we happen upon the word metonymically characterizing his own text as a poem, vers, verse. To come to a very preliminary conclusion, we might suggest that Un ver soie defies text and textuality where it strives to be the veil that lifts itself off of truth, that would reveal a truth independent from it. In Un ver soie, truth, ver-it, appears bound up with the blind ver of the ver soie, and the one unique experience of one unique person also striving for truth but not

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seeing it, as belonging to the domain of what can be revealed. This experience can be poetically followed and shared, but it will only have touched and shaped the one who has lived it and who has lived it in his very particular way. It is a way that doesnt ignore the inscription of sexual difference: like the scene of animalsance in LAnimal que donc je suis it is an experience only a human male could make even if, as an experience, it is very far from what is generally believed to be male. As Hlne Cixous shows in Insister, it is also the experience of someone who is Jewish and yet very far from being Jewish according to what one might believe that means. As the opening paragraph of Un ver soie states, this poem, if we may call it that, sets out to leave, to go as far away as possible, as far as the end of the world and from this great distance it defies what we believe a text to be: Avant le verdict, le mien, avant que, tombant sur moi, il ne mattire avec lui dans la chute, avant quil ne soit trop tard, ne point crire. Point final, un point cest tout. Avant quil ne soit trop tard, sloigner au bout du monde comme un animal bless mort. Jene, retrait, dpart, aussi loin que possible, senfermer avec soi en soi, tenter de se comprendre enfin, seul et soi-mme. Ne point crire ici, mais de trs loin dfier un tissage, oui, de trs loin, ou plutt veiller sa diminution. (25) Before the verdict, my verdict, before, befalling me, it drags me down with it in its fall, before its too late, stop writing. Full stop, period. Before its too late, go off to the ends of the earth like a mortally wounded animal. Fasting, retreat, departure, as far as possible, lock oneself away with oneself in oneself, try finally to understand oneself, alone and oneself. Stop writing here, but instead from afar defy a weaving, yes, from afar, or rather see to its diminution. (21) Maybe the spiritual exercise of Un ver soie consists in turning belief toward ones very own experience, an experience that is situated before a certain fall after which, for instance, good and evil are to be thought separately. This would make spirituality appear like a poetic response to something that could happen only once, to this one self, soi, and which this self is therefore responsible for his response here being a text that becomes soi-e and says something about this selfs truth. This selfs truth is not to be universalized. It can be recognized as deconstructing the concept of naked, revealed truth. But if we now started all over again and reread Veils, Savoir, and Un ver soie together, or if we opened Hlne Cixous book Messie, for instance, and read closely how it operates on the concept of seeing, there would be certain elements we might recognize. We could recognize the

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encounter with the cat, for example, the motive of blindness or the importance of the Bible. Yet, even if the concepts of revelation or of truth were also deconstructed (if that is the right word) in Messie, this happens in an entirely different way that registers its very own poetic traces of talking religion.

NOTES
1 2

Bte appears particularly in the first published volume of Derridas seminars.

The original experience (18) from which Derrida makes us start thinking in LAnimal que donc je suis stages a little cat looking at a naked human male, in this case one might say the naked philosopher (for more information on who is the I speaking in LAnimal, according to Derrida, see 86). The sensation of shame felt by the naked philosopher in front of the little cats gaze is transformed into a questioning around what he will call animalsance, a pun that contracts into one word the French words animal and malsance, malsance being already a word of Derridas creation, formed on the model of biensance (decency) and thus meaning something like indecency, crudeness, impropriety but also letting the word sance (session) and its philosophical echoes resonate: Jai du mal rprimer un mouvement de pudeur. Du mal faire taire en moi une protestation contre lindcence. Contre la malsance quil peut y avoir se trouver nu, le sexe expos, poil devant un chat qui vous regarde sans bouger, juste pour voir. Malsance de tel animal nu devant lautre animal, ds lors, on dirait une sorte danimalsance: lexprience originale, une et incomparable de cette malsance quil y aurait paratre nu en vrit, devant le regard insistant de lanimal (18. My emphasis). In English: I have trouble repressing a reflex of shame. Trouble keeping silent within me a protest against the indecency. Against the impropriety [malsance] that can come of finding oneself naked, ones sex exposed, stark naked before a cat that looks at you without moving, just to see. The impropriety of a certain animal nude before the other animal, from that point on one might call it a kind of animalsance: the single, incomparable and original experience of the impropriety that would come from appearing in truth naked, in front of the insistent gaze of the animal (4). We will come back to this quote further on. In French, the title of this paper is: Foi et savoir: Les deux sources de la religion aux limites de la simple raison. See Circumstances, title of the introduction to Religion by Gianni Vattimo: looking for a theme, Derrida on the one hand, Gianni Vattimo and Maurizio Ferraris on the other, had felt the same urgency to turn to religion.

In the section number 34 of his paper Faith and Knowledge, Derrida calls the readers attention to the etymological hesitation that characterizes the word religion. It is commonly linked to the Latin verb religare to link, connect, relate, oblige. There is, however, another etymological hypothesis linking the word religion to the Latin verb relegere, take up again, collect anew, come back to, whence a sense of scrupulous halting, of patient cautiousness, respectful carefulness. It is in this sense that

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Derridas way of questioning what we mean when we say religion may itself be called religious.
6

How to talk religion? (Comment parler religion) is the opening sentence of Faith and Knowledge.

Parts of the chapter The dream of navet are dedicated to a close reading of the first priode of Circumfession (see pages 39-49 for example). One can also reread the beginning of Insister: Jacques Derrida for more on the first priode of Circonfession (17-20 for example).
8 Le vocable cru, lui disputer ainsi le cru: Since we are turning around the question of the name, of what we do when we give something a name, let us observe first that the word vocable which is given the preference over the word word here, reinscribes the motif of the call, of the voice: voc- and thus of what we do when we call something. Now, if the first cru in this sentence means raw, then le vocable cru can either mean that we are talking about a raw or crude word or that we are talking about the word raw. In either case, disputing its cru would not necessarily mean the same thing and would first of all depend on whether we choose to give the same sense to the first and the second occurrence of cru in this quote. Are we disputing the rawness or crudeness of any vocable? Or the rawness, crudeness of cru itself? Or are we disputing what is believed (cru) to be the rawness, crudeness of one of these? Or of both? Many more questions may grow and swell around this tiny bit of sentence, and that is perhaps what the puzzling ainsi (thus) in le vocable cru, lui disputer ainsi le cru points to as if mocking us for having to think more than twice about what ought to be evident.

Faith and Knowledge 32, for example. The experience of faith, belief (le croire, credit, le fiduciaire) on the one hand, and the experience of the sacred, the saint, the indemne on the other are analyzed as the two sources of religion.
10

For example: On the one hand, the lights and Enlightenment of teletchnoscientific critique and reason can only suppose trustworthiness. They are obliged to put into play an irreducible faith, that of a social bond or of a sworn faith, of a testimony (I promise to tell the truth beyond all proof and all theoretical demonstration, believe me, etc.), that is, of a performative promising at work even in lying or perjury and without which no address to the other would be possible. Without the performative experience of this elementary act of faith, there would neither be social bond nor address to the other, nor any performativity in general: neither convention, nor institution, nor constitution, nor sovereign state, nor law (Faith and Knowledge 44).

11 LAnimal que donc je suis was first published as one of the contributions to a conference dedicated to Derridas oeuvre, titled LAnimal autobiographique. 12 Respirer means to breathe in French. It is formed of the Latin re- indicating a backward movement and of spirare (to breathe). Spirare is to be found again in spirituality, from the imperial Latin spiritualis (concerning what breathes), in turn derived from classical Latin spritus (breath, air, respiration, spirit, divine inspiration).

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13 Like the English word faith, con-fi-er (confide) belongs to the Latin family of fides (trust, belief) related to fidere (to trust, to confide in). 14

LAnimal 15, my emphasis. For my purpose here, the translation of the sentence could be modified as follows: In the beginning I would like to confide in words that are, if it were possible, nude/naked. David Wills translation reads: In the beginning, I would like to entrust myself to words that, were it possible, would be naked (1).

The imperative and subjunctive forms of the verb tre overlap in French, and Gods first order to create the world may be translated into French by Que la lumire soit! (Let there be light!).
16 As Jean-Pierre Vernant shows, in Oedipus the King Sophocles plays out all the possible puns Oedipus name allows in order to make the spectator hear and understand everything that tells Oedipus that which he believes he doesnt know, namely, who is the murderer of Laos. Oedipus name means swollen feet, but Oedipus, although prompted by the question of his own identity when he first consults Apollos oracle, never thinks of wondering about the reason for his name. Oida can also mean I know, thus making us hear that Oedipus is the one who knows about feet, -pous. And indeed he is the one who resolves the Sphinxs riddle, which is all about feet. In a certain sense the riddle demands the answer to the question: what is man? And Oedipus whose name contains two feet: -di-pous, in other words the key to what is considered to be mans property, his upright position on two feet, doesnt have to think long before knowing the answer. So he is the man who knows man and knows what man is and yet he is blind and deaf to who he himself is. 17 18 19

15

The Animal 29. Translation slightly modified. The Animal 37.

There is the word versification, though: it appears in a footnote on page 84, almost at the end of the text, at a moment where in parentheses in the text there is an enumeration of tous les morceaux grouillants de mots en ver [all the squirming bits of words on ver]: vert lui-mme, et verdure, et verdir, et ver, et vers, et verre, et vrit, vrace ou vridique, pervers et vertu, tous les morceaux grouillants de mots en ver en plus grand nombre encore quil clbra plus tard et rappelle ici, une fois de plus, sans voile et sans pudeur.

WORKS CITED Cixous, Hlne. Portrait of Jacques Derrida as a Young Jewish Saint. Trans. Beverley Bie Brahic. New York: Columbia University Press, 2004. Insister: Jacques Derrida. Paris: Galile, 2006. Cixous, Hlne and Jacques Derrida. Voiles. Paris: Galile, 1998. Veils. Trans. Geoffrey Bennington. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2001.

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Derrida, Jacques. Circonfession. Jacques Derrida. With Geoffrey Bennington. Paris: Le Seuil, 1991. Circumfession. Jacques Derrida. With Geoffrey Bennington. Trans. Geoffrey Bennington. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992. Faith and Knowledge: The Two Sources of Religion at the limits of Reason Alone. Religion. Ed. Jacques Derrida and Gianni Vattimo. Trans. Samuel Weber. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1998. LAnimal que donc je suis. Paris: Galile, 2006. The Animal That Therefore I Am. Trans. David Wills. New York: Fordham University Press, 2008. Sminaire: La bte et le souverain, Volume I (2001-2002). Paris: Galile, 2008. Hgglund, Martin. Radical Atheism: Derrida and the Time of Life. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2008. Mallet, Marie-Louise, ed. LAnimal autobiographique. Paris: Galile, 1999. Vernant, Jean-Pierre and Pierre Vidal-Naquet. Mythe et tragdie en Grce ancienne. Paris: La Dcouverte, 1986.

When Sophie Loved Animals


Anne E. Berger
This is an attempt to read the Countess de Sgur, a famous mid-nineteenth-century French woman writer of childrens literature known for her Christian outlook and moralistic views, alongside Derridas The Animal That Therefore I Am. Examining the Countess peculiar and conflicted zoophilia as it manifests itself in her most clearly autobiographical novels, this piece tries to show how the modern notion of autobiography is indeed both informed and inflected by an equally new notion of animality. The paradoxical links between autobiography and animality beget a rewriting of the history of Western literature from an animal vantage point, which this paper only begins to sketch. Drawing attention to the ambiguous textual and discursive treatment of animals in Sgurs novels, I suggest that the mix of love for animals and violence directed at them exhibited in her novels is not only a faithful reproduction of infantile psychological tendencies aimed at satisfying a young audience but perhaps as much a reflection of a cultural crisis characterized by an unprecedented epistemological narrowing of the distance between animals and humans, and consequently by a violent reassertion of species borders. Finally, by showing the link between a certain female viewpoint (that of the little girl and of the grandmother) and what one might call an animal viewpoint in her novels, I argue that the turn to and turn out of animals in her novels not only undermines the Christian and moral message the Countess strives to deliver; it also provides an interesting locus for the analysis of the modes and stakes of the animalization of women that occurred in the European cultural discourse of the nineteenth century. It is as if the ontological difference between human and animal was being questioned and displaced only to find itself both recast and reaffirmed in the difference between the human sexes.

Prologue I read the Countess of Sgurs novels when I was a child. Indeed, hers are the first real books I ever read, the first my mother gave me. I, in turn, started reading her works with my own daughter. Very quickly I began to ask myself what was inherited, what was passed on to ones daughter, to a daughter today, when one reads those narratives or rather some of these narratives among the twenty novels that make up the Countess of Sgurs work. Are these works indeed girls reading[s], readings that take place or call to take place between mother and daughter, and if so, in what respect(s)? While rereading Les Malheurs de Sophie (Sophies Misfortunes) and Les Mmoires dun ne (A Donkeys Memoirs), I was plunged into Jacques Derridas The Animal That Therefore I Am. Written on the occasion of a

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conference held around Derridas own work on the theme of the autobiographical animal, The Animal That Therefore I am questions, among other things, the discourse of a subject defined as anthropos, and, conversely, the notion of anthropos as the only living being capable of becoming a subject, hence a potential autobiographical writer, since autobiography in its broader definition starts with an I am and consists in the (re)tracing and transcribing of an I am. This double scene of reading prompted me to want to take a closer look at three of the Countess novels, two of which (Les Petites Filles modles and Les Malheurs de Sophie) mark the beginning of her literary career, and the third one, Les Mmoires dun ne, immediately follows what one could call Sophies Trilogy. No doubt my own autobiography, however virtual, is implicated in this choice. Les Mmoires dun ne (A Donkeys Memoirs) were my mothers favorite Segurian novel, and Les Malheurs de Sophie (Sophies Misfortunes), remains for me the strongest experience of this early reading journey. But what, will you ask, justifies reading Derrida and this somewhat Victorian writer of childrens literature together? Indeed, each of these three novels raises, in a singular fashion, a question never addressed nor even posed by literary critics interested in the autobiographical discourse, namely, that of the relation between autobiography and something like the animal. In various and different respects, these three novels are the most explicitly autobiographical writings of the Countess of Sgur. Not only does the heroine of the Malheurs [Misfortunes] bear their authors first name (the Countess of Sgur was born Sophie Rostopchine); not only does the Countess settle for good into literature with Sophies adventures before that (exactly one year before), she had only published a collection of fairy tales but in the dedication to her granddaughter in which she sums up the moral scope of her narrative, she hints with a mixture of slyness and naivety at the closeness of her character with its author: Grandmother has not always been good. There are many children who, like her, were naughty and who, like her, amended their ways. Here are the true adventures of a little girl your grand-mother knew very well as a child (my translation).1 What then is the connection between Sophies quasi-autobiography and the question of the animal? Nous lallons montrer tout lheure.2 As for A Donkeys Memoirs, is it by chance that the only novel in the first person in the work of the Countess happens to be an animal autobiography? The book also casts the grandmother, that is, the character who stands for the authors persona in Sgurs works and who usually does not step over the threshold of the preface, much like the grandmother who knew Sophie very well in her childhood. This grandmother, who sits enthroned at the top of the family pyramid and who owns the castle where all the children of the story gather, just as the Countess shelters the characters in

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her narrative, steps in at two critical moments to decide the fate of Cadichon. And each time it is in order to keep him at her side. The first time, in a chapter called The Punishment, she defers the punishment Cadichon allegedly deserves and announces to the children and their parents who have gathered around her to hear her verdict that she will not send him away from the castle. The second and last time occurs in what is given as the last chapter of the book, followed by a conclusion. The chapter stages a long conversation between the grandmother and her grandson Jacques on the future of Cadichon. At the end of the conversation the grandmother conditionally wills Cadichon to her grandson, much as a writer would entrust the work that will survive her to her beneficiaries: Grandmother, [Jacques said], will you give me Cadichon? The Grandmother I will give you everything you want, my dear child, but you will not be allowed to take him to Paris with you. Jacques No, it is true; but he will be mine and when Papa has a castle, we will have Cadichon brought there. The Grandmother I give it to you on this condition, my child. Meanwhile, he will live here and he will probably live longer than me. Dont forget that Cadichon belongs to you and that I leave him in your care so that he may live happily contented. (My emphasis.) I will return later to this sharing of narrative authority between the ass and the grandmother. For the time being, let me begin my reading. Sophie aimait les btes (Sophie loved animals3). This sentence looks every bit like an incipit. At once scant and cursory, it seems to promise in summary fashion later narrative developments. The imperfect tense in French (Sophie aimait les btes) is used to describe a state of things in the past that is incomplete, that has no clear temporal boundaries, and which stands at the threshold of action, calling for ulterior precisions. The generic collective noun animals also begs to be unpacked. And yet, if the sentence is indeed the first statement of a chapter, it appears not at the beginning of the novel but five pages before the end of the book, in the penultimate chapter of Sophies Misfortunes. And that is not the only incongruity. Sophies Misfortunes tells of the violent deaths of one animal after another: small fish, the black chicken, the bee, the squirrel, the cat, the bullfinch, the donkey, and, to close

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the matter, the turtle, which finds her death at Sophies hands in the chapter beginning with the declaration of her love for animals. All this, then, is Sophies fault or rather, as the title would have it, her misfortune (malheur). The word malheur is semantically and morally ambiguous. It means bad luck, an accidental happening, and not simply or truly guilt. It blurs the line between the involuntary and the deliberate. It suggests irresponsibility and fatality, an animal (bte)s fate of sorts. Indeed, the misfortunes recounted in this strange story are at least as much, if not more, the misfortunes of animals (les btes) as those of Sophie. If Sophie has misfortunes, these perhaps are then the misfortunes of the little girl as bte.4 I keep repeating the word bte(s) in seemingly thoughtless fashion, like the Countess of Sgur, but one should really ask about the ways this term is used in these stories and in the other animal-filled narratives of our author. More precisely, one should reflect on the meaning of the alternation between the word bte and the word animal, a less childish and also less pejorative term in French; animal is a more neutral term than bte, all the more since unlike la bte which bears the mark or burden of the feminine in French, it is gendered masculine. As for love and all the more the love of animals (lamour des btes), this also requires some thought. The Countess assertion is short and unqualified: subject, simple form of the verb, complementary object. Such a minimalist sentence resembles the first phrases one learns to write in primary school when one scarcely knows how to write or think. By way of irrefutable proof of this love, the Countess enumerates in the following sentence all the animals that Sophie has had, as if having meant loving (she had already had a chicken, a squirrel, a cat, a donkey). What does love mean, and animal love at that, when Sophies love literally ends in slaughter? Moreover, what does a declaration of love do in a narrative not much given to a discourse of love, whether in the first or in the third person? Sophie loves animals. But does she also love her mother; does she love God, to whose images she is summoned to liken herself? The narrative does not tell us. Nothing, then, is self-evident in this short sentence whose grammatical simplicity had seemed to promise and guarantee the simplicity of its meaning. To start with, this declaration of love and the parade of animals that underwrites it date and situate a narrative otherwise lacking temporal and spatial markings, suspended as it is in the present of its enunciation, without any identifiable location beyond the mere mention of a castle, a garden, a forest, a chicken run or a pond, all impossible to find on any map, just like in a fairy tale, even though the Countess story differs substantially from that genre in important respects: there is no initiatory trajectory to be discerned, no transformation of the condition of the heroine, no magical help or obstacles in the form of fantastic objects or persons, and so on.

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But how does a statement such as Sophie aimait les btes contribute to dating the text? That is because only in the nineteenth century, in France at least and perhaps generally in Europe, does the animal enter literature as such (I will return to this as such), and particularly novelistic literature. There are no more animals in the novels called sentimental than in the libertine novels of the eighteenth century. There are scarcely any animals in the great romantic Balzacian or Stendhalian narratives but for the horses who caper on the battlefield and who lead the carriages that bring the lovers toward each other or pull them apart. Unless passions play themselves out in the desert, outside the confines of Europe, that is, beyond the boundaries of Western humanism.5 From the point of view of the animal my point of view here one can no longer oppose the sentimental novel and the libertine novel and thus too, perhaps, womens novels (or novels that have a feminine outlook) and mens novels (or novels that take a masculine stance on gender relations). From the animals viewpoint these novelistic genres belong to the same literary and philosophical epoch. From the point of view of the animal, moreover, one can hardly oppose moralism and realism in any simple way; or, more generally, idealist and naturalist traditions. It would therefore be very difficult to classify the work of the Countess of Sgur beyond its definition as childrens literature (and even the terms of the address to children are complicated.) Thus I am rather surprised, Anne or ass (ne) that I am, to see her deemed a realist by some critics, a moralist by others. To hold on to either of these characterizations and to think one knows what one means by either of them, one has to ignore the presence and effects of the animals and other beasts (btes) in these narratives. What do these animals (btes) do there? Certainly they run on the heels of children who all dream of riding on the back of donkeys and of sleeping hand-in-paw with a rabbit. Thus the work of Rimbaud, child-poet and poet of childhood, a work radically different in genre, language and world from that of the Countess is also full of btes: not just animals proper, but btes.6 We know that what marks the entrance into adulthood one could borrow the Christian idiom of the Countess and call it a conversion to adult humanity is not only the stepping from a presumed state of nature into a presumed state of culture, not only the evolution from sexual polymorphism to genital sexuality, but at least as much the giving up of a zoophiliac animism, forgotten, repressed or denied in favor of a full-blown anthropo-crato-centrism. Love of animals in literature would thus be a childish feature, indeed, some form of infantilism. Fairy tales, archetypical genre of childrens literature, are full of animals. And yet their animals are not the same as the second empire animals (those of the Countess or, once again, of Rimbaud) that concern me here. Not only are the animals of fairytales endowed most of

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the time with magical powers, but they also speak, most of the time, at least in French, in the French literary tradition. Puss in Boots and the wolf who eats the grandmother are excellent rhetoricians, closer in that way to the animals of La Fontaine than to the animals of the Countess or those of Rimbaud. Rimbauds wolf cries out from under the leaves [or pages (feuilles)].7 The Countess donkey does indeed write his memoirs, but, crucially as we will see, he does not speak. In the end, the notion of childrens literature is not enough to account for the literary presence and treatment of animals. It does not allow us to account for the difference between classical animals and modern animals, between the triumphant rhetoricians of Perrault, and the mute, badly treated beasts of the Countess. The latter belong to another era of the apprehension, the conception and the figuring of animality. Might the Countess of Sgur be more scrupulously realistic in her literary treatment of the animal, in keeping with the literary trends of her time? The work of the Countess, it is true, seems to obey a principle of verisimilitude. Despite the apparent lack of historical consciousness or indifference to history (to which the absence of temporal marks in her stories seems to attest), the settings, the manners and the objects of her novels reflect her time. And one sees many more animals wild, domestic or half domesticated in the countryside settings of Les Petites Filles modles, Les Malheurs de Sophie or the Mmoires dun ne than in the narratives which take place in cities, such as Les Deux Nigauds or Franois le bossu. But if the presence of numerous animals can index the rural world in realistic fashion, and if from this point of view the quasi-absence of the animal universe in the peasant novels of George Sand, a close contemporary of the Countess, may seem surprising and indeed remarkable,8 one could not easily call Mmoires dun ne an example of literary realism, even if the narrative announces itself as an ordinary account, as if unconscious of or indifferent to its exceptional, indeed fairylike device. Another history of literature, one that does not rely on the generic distinctions, historic periodizations or aesthetic categories usually invoked is thus necessary to account not only for the appearance but also for a certain stubborn presence of what I call the animal as such in modern literature. And, in this respect at least, the Countess work belongs to modernity. What do I mean by this? The animal as such is first of all the animal who does not speak. More exactly, who does not speak our language, human language. The animals of La Fontaine, like those of Aesop, speak French, which is to say Greek they are zooi logoi, reasoning and reasonable animals, in the traditional philosophical sense of the term. Like the humans who are the masters of the world, they reign alone in the fable. They are or think they are amongst themselves. As reasonable beings they have neither sex nor gender. They are abstract by essence, and that is the condition of their universality. Their grammatical gender in French notwithstanding, who can

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say that La Fontaines field rat is male or that his ant is female?9 The fabulous Western zoon logon thus marks the triumph of anthropo-(crato)-centrism as a process of colonization and tropological conversion of animality. Colonization and conversion historically go together, as we know. A figure of the human, of humanitys identity and self-sameness, the fabulous zoon logon reasserts and reinforces mans humanity, i.e. his sovereignty as master and possessor of nature. Now, not only do the animals of the Countess narrative not speak, but their muteness is even an insistent topos. In Chapter XVII of Sophies Misfortunes, which announces itself deceptively as a fable in the manner of La Fontaine (it is entitled The Cat and the Bullfinch), Sophies mother holds a double discourse to Sophie suggesting, on the one hand, her closeness to the little cat found lost in the forest and affirming, on the other, their radical difference: The mother The little cat is too young to have found his way []; If some wicked men led you far off and left you in a corner of the forest, what would you do? Do you think you could find your way all by yourself? Sophie [] I would give them my name and ask that they lead me there. The mother You can talk and you could make yourself understood! But do you think that if the poor cat came into the house one would be able to understand what he wanted? One would chase him away, beat him, kill him perhaps. In the same way, Cadichon complains repeatedly in his Memoirs that it is impossible for him to make himself understood by men even though he himself understands their language. In the chapter about his conversion (XVIII) one can read a version of his complaint: What can be done? I asked myself sadly. If I could speak I would say to them all that I repent, that I ask everyone I have wronged to pardon me, that I will be good and sweet tempered in the future; but [] I cannot make myself understood [] I do not speak. However, if the non-speech of the animal is the sign of an irreducible gap between animality and humanity, it does not exactly correspond to the Cartesian distinction between the reasonable animal (man as zoon logon) and the beast deprived of the faculty of reason. Whatever Sophies mother thinks of the matter, the Sgurian animals are endowed with linguistic abilities and do understand men. It is men who cant comprehend them. The

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problem here is one of communication through difference, not one of essential language deprivation. The muteness in this case is at the same time the means by which the animal resists being assimilated by man or to man and the cause of its misfortune. If, at first, Sophie and her mother take the little cat lost in the forest into their castle, the kitten will end up meeting the sad animal fate tentatively described to Sophie by her mother. A remorseless gobbler of birds, incapable of explaining his impulse since he does not speak, the cat will never be understood nor domesticated. Sophie will beat him with a rod the way she herself will be whipped later on by her stepmother. And in the end, Sophies father will kill him after he has eaten up her mothers bullfinch. A bullfinch which, like a properly brought-up maiden, reduced to captivity after having been abruptly taken out of the forest by human violence, sang traditional French airs in its golden cage.10 No, The Cat and the Bullfinch is certainly not a fable by La Fontaine. And not only because the animal remains an animal, chased after as such by men. It is also because the relation of man and animal in these stories is not metaphorical, as it is in La Fontaines fables, but metonymical. In La Fontaines fables, substitution, thus the conversion (or turning) of animality into humanity is complete. The animal functions as a metaphor for man and the fable is built as an allegory: the animal story is a figure for human history; one has to rise above the animal literalness of the fable to have access to its human meaning. Even though, as soon as writing meddles with it, allegory risks being done in, to parody Derridas famous formula,11 allegory tradtionally calls for a vertical reading, a reading which implies subordinating the figure (and the figural in general) to the proper meaning which exceeds it. There is no such pattern in the Countess of Sgurs stories. Silly compositions (compositions nigaudes), as she herself qualified them (and a nigaud, the French dictionary tells us, is a bta or a dadais: literally, a simple-minded ass), her stories put the animals misfortunes and the misfortunes of children, even the misfortunes of some inferior human categories (servants or thieves for instance) who might threaten the social order, on the same narrative plane. Sometimes, animals misfortunes and human misfortunes occur within the same chapter. Most of the time, though, such episodes belong to different chapters. Sometimes the narrative of the animals story precedes that of the human; sometimes it is the opposite. There is no order of precedence between them. Each one (animal or human) has the ability to prefigure the other. In Les Malheurs de Sophie, Sophie attacks her own self, cutting her eyebrows (Chapter VIII) after having cut off the head of a bee to punish it for all the stings it made (Chapter VI). Mmoires dun ne, the story of two scrounging dogs who, attracted by the perspective of a good meal, hurl themselves onto the young Auguste, follows the narrative of an attempted

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break-in of the castle by two escaped convicts with canine-like names (Finot and Pataud). In Les Petites Filles modles, the sad story of the robin who became angry in his prison (Chapter XVIII) follows Sophies anger in the penance closet (Chapters XVI and XVII). Sophie, who has offered the rebel robin to her model friends, proposes a reading of this concatenation in a rare moment of autobiographical reflexivity: Alas, he acts the way I did before, she remarks about the robin: He became angry in his prison as I was angry in mine and he tried to destroy everything the same way I tore up the book, the paper and broke the pen. I hope he will repent as I did. But most of the time neither the narrative voice nor the characters seem to notice the closeness of the human and animal episodes or states. One could thus easily overlook the similarity of the description of the gluttonous wolf, eager to devour Sophie in the chapter of the Malheurs called The Wolves (an enormous wolf with sparkling eyes, mouth open, stuck his head out of the woods) with that of the greedy Sophie, eager to devour the candied fruit in the chapter that bears their name (the eyes of Sophie sparkled; she passed her tongue over her lips). The syntagmatic contiguity linking humans and especially, but not uniquely, children and animals doubles itself in their spatial contiguity. Invincibly attracted by the spaces that lie outside the park, the children venture into the forest, the living quarters of numerous savage beasts. The undomesticated animals find their way into the castle, either breaking in themselves or because they are trapped by the humans. In Chapter XVIII of Mmoires dun ne, Cadichon, who is neither a wild animal, nor any longer a domestic one from the time that he has been on the run, overhears a conversation between the temporary master he has given himself, the wife of that man and their child. The conversation takes place inside an inns room. Cadichons head rests on the window ledge of the room, that is on the very threshold between inside and outside, between the human and the animal world. The child is unable to count the money earned thanks to Cadichons tours and is called bte, then animal by his father who starts to beat him: The boy started to cry; I was angry. If this poor boy was dumb [bte], it was not his fault, writes the animal memorialist. Note the distribution of affects allowed by the spatial position of the donkey, very close to the boy: the boy cries, the donkey is angry, as if he himself had been called bte and treated accordingly. And it is indeed both on the childs account and on his own as an animal that he revolts against this insulting and erroneous use of the word bte. This horizontal treatment of the relation between humans and animals, this blurring of boundaries between their worlds does not only threaten their distinction. Because the distinction between human and animal is perhaps the oldest and most fundamental hierarchical scheme, at least in the Judeo-

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Christian world,12 all the hierarchical oppositions constitutive of the social and moral universe of the Countess are affected by this species trouble. The Countess view of things, we know, is Manichean. Her world divides itself between good and bad people, along a moral rather than a social axis, even though the moral order always upholds the social one. There may be good servants and mean masters, as well as good masters and mean servants. Whatever the case, conversion to goodness is the necessary condition of social harmony, that is, of a shared and cordial understanding of class and status hierarchies. This ideological construct finds its justification and its rhetorical tools in religion. In many novels, Christian morality is the basis for the plot. Every novel, with the notable exception of Les Malheurs de Sophie, stages a conversion, which is literally the turning point in the narrative, changing the course of the characters lives. In this sense, the Countess novels aim to edify as much as to educate her readers. Whether in its founding texts or in its historical forms, Christianity, as we know, relies on a strict partition between humanity and animality. Yes, Jesus asks small children to come to him; yes, he refuses to condemn the woman who has committed adultery and he claims that the last on earth will be the first in heaven. But he doesnt seem to count the animals among his herd of redeemed souls. Indeed, animals, the animal in general, including Jesus himself, must be sacrificed to God, for God, as is suggested by Christs antonomastic designation in numerous prayers as Gods lamb. The lamb is a discreet but clear allusion to the story of Abraham, whose sacrifice seals the anthropotheocratic pact between God and men, at the expense of the lamb. The practice and benefits of love and fraternity are reserved to human creatures, as if goodness and the care for others were or should be human characteristics. Wickedness and cruelty would then belong to the realm of the in- or a-human, to the beast that threatens man from outside or from within. In order to access the human realm of brotherhood, one would only have to extirpate or expel the beast. This scheme or logic, however, is actually greatly complicated in the Sgurian narratives I am focusing on. Sophies story, as it unfolds between the Malheurs and Les Petites Filles modles, can indeed be read as a narrative of progressive domestication, a domestication which entails the little girls subjection to the Christian logic of sin, punishment, and repentance and which also requires that she give up her strange love for animals (amour des btes), that makes up the bulk of her misfortunes (malheurs). The manifestations of that love are much less frequent in Les Petites Filles modles, which picture a Sophie older by a few years, thus confirming the growing apart of humans and animals, as the former get bigger. I have already mentioned the main episode involving an animal in Les Petites Filles modles, namely the story of the robin Sophie gives to Madeleine, after the bird has been chased away from his nest by his own mother. Full of a wild and cumbersome love for his little mistress, the

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bird refuses to be put in a cage. Confined against his will, he becomes enraged, and avenges himself by breaking everything around him when he is allowed to get out. Shortly after, he manages to flee and returns to the forest, where he meets a violent death at the claws of a predator. In its main features, this story repeats that of the cat in the Malheurs. The Cat and the Bullfinch also features a wild kitten taken in by Sophie after he has been abandoned or lost by his mother, and who turns out to be untamable. The difference between the two episodes, though, lies in Sophies reaction. In Les Petites Filles modles, Sophie sides with her role models and their mother against the bird: Comme il est bte dtre mchant (how dumb of him to be so wicked), exclaims Sophie who situates wickedness on the side of dumbness and bestiality (du ct du bte et de la bte), thus suggesting that wickedness is a manifestation of the (dumb) beast as such (relve de la btise de la bte). By contrast, in the Malheurs, Sophie sheds tears for her wild and cruel kitten when he is put to death by her father. She secretly or rather mutely opposes the unanimous verdict of her parents and her cousin Paul, who have all sided with the happily encaged bullfinch: Sophie didnt dare say anything, but she cried bitterly over her poor cat, whom she loved in spite of his flaws. As we noted earlier, if, on the level of fiction, Les Petites Filles modles follows Les Malheurs de Sophie, in the actual order of these novels writing, it is the reverse, as if the Countess couldnt help going back to the stage of animal love which the Sophie of Les Petites Filles modles was in the process of overcoming, under the guidance of God and a good mother figure. Little Sophie loves animals (les btes) then, even cruel ones. She loves them cruelly, with animal-like love (dun amour de bte). I have already mentioned the decapitation of the bee that had stung her, or the cutting up, with no intention to kill them, of the live goldfish that belonged to her mother. The conflation of love with its presumed opposite is particularly salient in Chapter VIII of Les Petites Filles modles. Three little girls (Marguerite and the two model sisters) take the side of three little hedgehogs, which the gatekeeper threatens to drown after he has killed their mother. The little girls take their grievance to their mothers. Unfortunately, the little hedgehogs have already been thrown into the pond. Sophie comes in. One of the little hedgehogs is still alive and Sophie suggests that they sink him deeper in the water with a stick in order to abbreviate his ordeal: Sophie What if we sank him with a stick so that he dies more quickly? This poor thing is suffering. Marguerite You are right! Poor thing (Pauvre bte)! Here he comes near us. Sophie Here is a big stick; slap him on the head and he will sink.

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At this point, Marguerite refuses to finish off the hedgehog or even to get closer to the pond. Sophie steps in and strikes him repeatedly while the narrative describes the hedgehogs death. The hedgehog sinks (enfonce), Sophie falls into the pond and sinks (enfonce) herself. Two aspects of the scene interest me here: on the one hand, there is the communality of affects and fate of the victim and its executor, a communality emphasized not by stressing the obvious specular connection between the motherless Sophie and the orphaned hedgehog but through the mere succession of the hedgehogs drowning and Sophies near drowning. On the other hand, there is the intertwining of cruelty and compassion. Sophie wants to abbreviate and to increase the hedgehogs suffering in one stroke. She suffers from its misfortune and enjoys striking him. Between loving and murdering the animal, it is hard to see the difference. Yet, this cruel love or loving cruelty has nothing to do with hatred for the hedgehogs, such as is expressed rationally by the gatekeeper Nicaise. The latter wants to annihilate their race. After he has killed the mother, Nicaise argues slyly, resorting to sophistic reasoning with a kind of Kantian solemnity (note the use of a quasi-Kantian categorical imperative at the beginning of the following sentence): One must (il faut bien) kill them, miss. The hedgehog is bad; it destroys little rabbits, little partridges. Besides, they are too young. They wouldnt survive without their mother. Thus the murder of the mother is used to justify another crime (they wouldnt survive without their mother). As for protecting rabbits and partridges, the aim is obviously to make sure that they end up safely on our plates. Nicaise concludes: The hedgehogs race is wicked; it must be destroyed. The racialist profiling of the hedgehog is performed grammatically, as well as lexically, through the use of the generic singular in French (cest une mchante race que le hrisson). The generic singular denies at once the plurality of hedgehogs and the irreplaceable singularity of each of them. This is the logic of the global and thus final solution. The mother of the little girls, who acts as a judge between the two parties (the accused Nicaise on the one side, the three little girls representing the claim of the three hedgehogs on the other), grants Nicaise the right to kill. What can we do my little ones, but to forget these hedgehogs? Nicaise thought he was doing the right thing when he killed them. Indeed, what would you have done with them? Recent critics of the Countesss work have stressed the cruel vein of her narratives. But animal cruelty and human cruelty take different forms and have different sources. One is amoral and unconscious of itself. The other is essentially moral, even moralistic, and always justified: one kills animals or makes them suffer in the name of the good and the true. Sophies turtle, the last unfortunate object of her love for animals in Les Malheurs, is actually condemned in advance to an abject fate by Mme de Rans principled stance regarding its kind: What foolishness! I was joking

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when I mentioned a turtle. Thats a horrible beast (bte), heavy, ugly, boring; I do not think you can love such a dumb animal. Sophie will love her anyway; that is, in a dumb way, such that will lead to her death. Her mother, who expresses her repulsion toward that disgusting animal in a spate of deictics, will have the turtle thrown into a pit: One must throw away that turtle [Il faut jeter cette tortue]. Lambert, come and take away that dead animal, and throw it in a pit (my emphasis. Note once again the recourse to the categorical imperative, a rhetorical device of grown up language). Beau-Minons death at the hard-hitting hands of M. de Ran is at least as violent as that of the bullfinch in the cats mouth and much more detailed. Above all, it is justified: Beau-Minon leapt on the floor with the poor bullfinch still fluttering her wings in his mouth [] M. de Ran, who was just coming in, seized a pair of tongs and tried to hit Beau-Minon [] M. de Ran chased him from one room to the next, from one hall to the next [] Finally, he managed to catch Beau-Minon with the tongs. The blow was so hard that he opened his mouth and let the bird fall. While the bullfinch was falling on one side, Beau-Minon fell on the other. He had two or three convulsions and then he stopped moving. The tongs had hit him on the head; he was dead. I punished the guilty one, but was not able to save the innocent, M. de Ran commented. And he concluded: The bullfinch died strangled by the wicked Beau-Minon, who will not kill anyone anymore, since I killed him without meaning to do so. The cat receives a post-mortem condemnation while M. de Ran acquits himself. A good Christian, the Countess of Sgur does not apply the main commandment you will not kill to animals. The murder of the animal is not called cruel, vengeful, or wicked. It is deemed reasonable, just, or good. But the storys morality, enunciated and upheld as it is by the mighty and powerful as its only authorized representatives, is undermined by the constant shift of perspective. The Sgurian narration defies standard narratological analysis. Economical to the point of being spare, the third-person narrative functions most of the time as a mere link between dialogues, by far more numerous and profuse. In this sense, the Countesss stories resemble a puppet theater. The narration hardly reports any inner thoughts the characters might have, with the exception of Sophies ideas and some of her feelings (such as Sophie loved animals) in Les Malheurs, or of Sophies (mis)calculations and her good resolutions in Les Petites Filles modles. (Chapter XXII is thus entitled: Sophie wants to practice charity.) One could well wonder why, in

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a text so heavily burdened by ideology, where notions of good and evil are constantly invoked or mobilized, the narrative voice hardly activates the function which Grard Genette calls ideological management (rgie idologique). Because the perspective on the action shifts radically depending on the locutor or the agent of the narrative sequence, the multiplicity of discourses and their formal equality lessen the strength and scope of statements that owe their validity to the social and moral standing of the locutor. In other words, the discursive practice, an effect of a certain literary apparatus, undermines the ideological content of these narratives and complicates their purported message. Thus, the comment made by Sophies maid in Les Malheurs regarding the cruel end of the small fish upsets the apparently neat binary structure of the episode. We could or should think in agreement with Sophies mother and with Sophie herself, since the latter questions neither the formers reason nor her authority, that Sophie acted like a beast (une bte) when she killed her mothers fish, that she behaved in short like the bad daughter of a human(e) mother. Yet, the maid unwittingly suggests another reading of Sophies gesture as well as of her mothers attitude toward the fish and therefore toward her daughter. Not knowing that the sad Sophie is guilty of the death of the fish, she remarks: I was sure you would be sad like your mama because of the unfortunate fate of these poor little btes. But one has to say that these fish were not happy in their prison. For the small washbowl was a prison for them. Now that they are dead, they dont suffer anymore. Dont think about them anymore, and let me get you ready to go into the parlor. From the maids point of view, one cannot simply oppose Sophies cruelty to her mothers humanness. The fishs death actually helps reveal the mothers cruelty. The latter did not hesitate to imprison the fish in a washbowl, making them suffer a prolonged living death for her own pleasure. Cast in this light, Sophies gesture becomes unwittingly one of liberation, a wild political act of sorts. The animal presence does indeed alter the political makeup of these narratives. Christianity does not only serve a moral purpose, but also a political one. A good Christian, if one is to believe the Countess stories, never rebels against social constraint and injustice. He or she accepts them humbly. He or she triumphs over the wickedness of the mighty by presenting the left cheek, just as poor Blaise did in the novel that bears his name. Written after the novels I focus on here, Pauvre Blaise is the perfect illustration of the successful Christian novel. The son of the castles gatekeeper, Blaise will finally get the better of the wicked Jules, the landlords son, thanks to his

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humble and meek demeanor. As a result, Jules will become a good master and a good Christian. Animal adventures or episodes are relatively scarce in this novel in which humanity and Christianity seem to rhyme without major problems, and where the behavior of the child-hero, docile and already on the way to adulthood (he is eleven), is in full agreement with the parental and moral law. Blaise happens to kill a cat in the course of his story, and he does so deliberately, acting more in this sense like M. de Ran than like Sophie in Les Malheurs. No impulse attracts him to the cat; he doesnt have any relation to him and he actually hardly identifies him as such. Their chance encounter takes place near a cemetery in a chapter called The Ghost-Cat. Blaise throws a stone at the cat to defend himself and his companion Jules against what he perceives to be a threat. One could read the chapter as a successful attempt to avert the possible return of animality within the so-called human world: doesnt a ghost name whatever threatens to return from beyond firmly established borders? In the universe of Pauvre Blaise, the question of the opposition between good and evil is settled. One is not confronted with the kind of ethical complications I have strived to underline in Les Malheurs de Sophie or even Les Petites Filles modles. Needless to say, I was bored when I reread it. One chapter however, entitled An Elephants Revenge, belies the facile enforcement of the Christian doctrine. The Second Empire was perhaps the foremost era of circuses and menageries. Baudelaires Swan is an escapee of one of these menageries, a soul mate in this sense of all the convicts on the run variously celebrated by Hugo and Rimbaud. An elephant is an exotic animal. Like all these exotic creatures displayed in paintings or at Parisian crossroads, it points metonymically toward the colonial enterprise to which its capture and attractive foreignness are linked. I have emphasized up to now a certain lack of historical contextualization in the Countess novels. The numerous allusions in her stories to the various colonial endeavors of her time are all the more striking, if discreet. In her first novel, Les Petites Filles modles, one learns at the turn of a sentence that M. de Fleurville met a cruel death in a fight against the Arabs (my emphasis). At the end of the Malheurs, Sophie and Paul play at imagining America, as they are about to embark toward that destination with their families. They picture it under the double heading of the animal and the savage: Sophie [] We will see turtles in America. Paul And magnificent birds; red, orange, blue, purple, pink ravens, unlike our incredibly ugly black ones. Sophie And parrots and hummingbirds. Mama says there are a lot of them in America.

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Savages and animals share the same attributes, while eliciting split affects and fantasies. The reasons for both their conflation and their distinction are easy to fathom. But lets return to our elephant. After he is done with his tricks, the elephant is allowed to rest in a barn where Jules and Blaise come to visit him and watch him eat. Soon, Jules starts to prick the elephants trunk with a long pin. After a while, the elephant avenges himself, spraying water at the boy through his trunk with a force that throws him to the ground. Whatever the stated morality of the novel, this vengeful gesture gives real pleasure to the reader. In a similar move, Cadichon avenges the death of his friend Mdor, by violently throwing off August, who is responsible for the dogs death. August falls in a muddy hole and almost drowns. A good Christian should not avenge himself. Blaise suffers Juless persecutions without flinching. But animals are not Christian, even though Cadichon will later embrace to a certain extent the morality of his masters. The vengeful animal applies the law of retaliation, according to a logic of retributive justice. If he follows a moral precept, then, it is not one found in the New Testament but rather in the Old one. In this sense, the animal can be said to be somewhat Jewish. Sophie gets angry in Les Malheurs and Les Petites Filles modles. But her fits of anger never reach the stage of overt conflict with parental figures. They occur sometimes without cause and they die down like storms. They are thus different from vengeance, which is often premeditated and which always tries to answer an unjust action, itself the more or less deliberate result of an abusive exercise of power. Vengeance, in this sense, is political, all the more so when the avenged offense is one suffered by a third party rather than by the avenger himself, as is the case with Cadichon. Animals are the only ones to avenge themselves and others successfully in the Countess works. They are therefore the only ones to have a political dimension and design, since politics is not an option for humans in the Sgurian universe. As Mdors avenger, Cadichon becomes a third person between the martyr dog and the children. The place of the third, Derrida reminds us as he echoes Emmanuel Levinas musings on the question of justice, is indeed that of the first call for (or appeal to) justice.13 By adopting the position of the third, and more specifically of the witness for the prosecution, the donkey becomes a political animal.14 With their political subtext, however unwittingly woven into the text, his Memoirs take on a critical dimension. In the Biblical tradition, the donkey already figures as a witness, therefore as the quintessential third person. The donkey that carries Isaac toward the designated place for his sacrifice is the sole witness to the debate between Abraham and God. A donkey also witnesses Jesus birth in a barn with another companion, the ox. But these donkeys are both mute and

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passive. No one, no thing testifies for what they think. What their silence testifies to then, if anything, what it points toward, is their own exclusion from the pact that is being established under their eyes and ears between mankind and God. The silence of the donkey in this case is not only the muteness of one who does not speak, but at least as much that of one to whom one does not speak. Cadichons position is entirely different from that of its forbearers. Not only does he witness everything that happens or that is said between humans, whether openly or secretly, as if he himself were God or the omniscient narrator he is made to be; not only is he capable in this respect of both reporting and analyzing the scenes he witnesses, but he is also constantly addressed, even called upon. Above all, he does testify in writing to the possibility of a relationship between animals and humans qua animals, beyond all linguistic and racial borders. With regard to his position as witness-prosecutor, the dedication of Cadichons Memoirs to his little master deserves our attention. As a codified gesture, a dedication contributes to the definition of a pact between writer and reader. In theory, a dedication belongs to the tradition of the homage paid to the addressee. An act of deference, it either recognizes or performatively establishes a hierarchy between addressor and addressee. Yet, the first sentence of Cadichons dedication undermines its traditional function by formulating a fundamental reproach: My little master, you have been good to me, but you have shown contempt toward donkeys in general. In order to better instruct you on what donkeys are, I write these Memoirs and offer them to you. The gift to the dedicatee thus turns at once into a condemnation. And it is because Cadichon occupies the position of the third between his little master and the donkeys in general, whose fate he has managed to escape thanks to his exceptional endowment, that he is able to testify on all donkeys behalf. His Memoirs are construed as an attempt to reestablish both the truth and the dignity of donkeys in general and as a lesson delivered at once bluntly and deftly to the little master thanks to his mastery of the rhetorical art of persuasion. The anaphorical stamping of the formula You will see, repeated four times, presents the theses Cadichon wants to demonstrate as if they were already ascertained.15 But if Cadichons deconstruction of anthropocentric assumptions and their idiomatic manifestations, if the call for justice16 in this open letter seem to limit themselves exclusively to his kind, Cadichons Memoirs as a whole show that his testimony against injustice and the arbitrary boundary between animals and humans encompasses all animated living beings. After all, his best friend, the one on whose behalf he rebels against the abusive sovereignty of mankind, is a dog. Between them and between animals in general, there is no hierarchy or boundary of communication. As Cadichon reminds us at the beginning of Chapter XXIII,

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Ive already said with regard to my friend Mdor that we animals understand each other without speaking like men do; the movements of our eyes, ears and tails replace articulated speech among us. The care Cadichon takes to distinguish within the donkey realm between male donkeys, female donkeys and baby donkeys in his open letter to his master was already a sign of his analytical refinement and the depth of his political sense. It is as if, in order to protest against both the injustice and the racism to which donkeys are subjected as a generic kind, to show how one is implicated with the other and to avoid repeating the same mistake he denounces, he had to recognize and emphasize the different subject-and-social positions (masculine, feminine and infantile) within his own kind in order to do justice to them in their specificity. Likewise, Cadichon includes in his call for justice any creature treated as an ass, be he or she a human being, as is the case in the episode featuring the performing donkeys showman and his son, whom the former calls an animal and beats down accordingly. In light of these considerations, one should have a look at the general conversation between all the children featured in the novel, which takes place in Chapter XXI, in Cadichons presence. Among the children are the two model little girls, as well as a certain Henri, who bears the same name as both the Countess of Sgurs grandson, and the dedicatee of Cadichons Memoirs. The children discuss Cadichons behavior, and wonder why he shows so much hatred toward Mdors murderer. Henri claims that all donkeys are asses17 whereas Camille, one of the model girls, asserts that donkeys are only asses because they are treated as such. A moment earlier, she had turned to Cadichon and addressed him directly, thus including him in the circle of the conversation. And she had suggested nothing else to him than that he write his Memoirs.18 Thus, if Cadichon chooses to dedicate his Memoirs to Henri, Camille can be said to have been his muse. This metatextual moment, which reflects and has the children and the donkey reflect on the rationale and conditions of production of his narrative is worth stressing. Note also that once again it is a girl who sides with the animal (la bte), albeit in a less brutish manner than Sophie. Could it be because the donkey is the immemorial carrier of the proletarians claim that Cadichon plays, if not without his knowing, at least without the Countess knowing, the role of spokesman for the oppressed? The word proletarian, which gave birth to various cognates precisely during the Countess lifetime, comes, as one knows, from proles, which designates the animals offspring. Physical strength and exertion, as well as the ability to reproduce oneself, are the proletarians only means of survival. The proletarian in this sense is like an animal and has the exact same role as a beast of burden. Hasnt the donkey been the exemplary beast of burden in Western and Mediterranean cultures? The donkey made the mills wheel turn; he dragged the heavy stones with which buildings were built. He is in this

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sense a prototype for the proletarian. True, the donkeys that walk the masters children around in the Countess narratives are functionally and symbolically closer to domestics than to proletarians. But the threat of their downgrading to the status of beast of burden never ceases to hang over them, if they misbehave.19 That is the reason why, even after Cadichon changes his demeanor and converts to more Christian feelings, he reasserts the political aim of his writings by granting himself the right to admonish all the little masters of the world on the very last page of his Memoirs: My Memoirs might amuse you, my little friends. At any rate they will make you understand that if you want to be well served, you have to treat your servants well; that those you deem dumb (btes) are not so dumb as they look to you; that a donkey is endowed, like anybody else, with a heart that allows him to love his masters or feel pain when they mistreat him, and with a will either to seek vengeance or show his gratitude; and that he can, depending on his masters, be happy or unhappy, and turn into a friend or into an enemy, as ass-like as he is. (My emphasis.)20 Cadichons final speech is all the more remarkable for its moral authority, an authority that comes to reinforce the authority of his narrative voice. Such authority is seldom granted by the Countess to a creature of inferior standing, be it animal or human. I started with the question of autobiography. I will end with it. The sharing of narrative authority between the grandmother-author and the writing donkey can also be read in the exchange of their attributes and a certain conflation of their features. It is as if each one had swallowed the other, in a rare case of reciprocal incorporation of human by animal and conversely.21 The old donkey, for the writing donkey has reached old age, gives himself the right to lecture little children just like a grandmother would do. The grandmother shows an understanding of the animal and of the relations between mankind and animals, which allows her to comprehend Cadichon in terms other than those dictated by the Christian ethos of guilt and repentance. Therefore she is able to follow Cadichon in his deconstructionist critique of the anthropocentric opposition between man and beast. The Countess may not know it, but her narrative makes it known to us: she is he and he is she. The issue presents itself quite differently in Les Malheurs de Sophie and Les Petites Filles modles. Here, the main take on the stories told is not that of an old donkey writer who draws a portrait of the artist as an ass, but that of a tiny little girl, whom the author-writer knew intimately. As we said earlier, a narratological analysis of the relation between narrative voice and character is not of much use, given the scant and

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repetitive nature of the narrative devices. What one can say is that the two narratives do focus their attention and ours on what we might call Sophies experience. One may remember that the book of Sophies misfortunes starts with the minute account of the destruction by Sophie herself of her wax doll. This systematic work of destruction (first the dolls eyes melt, then her lips get discolored, then her hair is burnt, then her legs are cut off and finally her head is broken) is followed by the narrative of her burial in Chapter II. Interestingly, the dolls funeral is the most unequivocally joyful moment in the whole book: One had never seen a more joyful burial. True, the dead person was an old doll without color, hair, legs or head, whom nobody loved and nobody missed. Thus did the day end happily. The whole episode easily lends itself to a Freudian reading. If, as Freud says in his lecture on femininity, the girls relation to her doll is a metaphor for her relation to her mother; if, as he writes further, the doll (Puppe in German and poupe in French) represents the girl, while she herself plays the role of her own mother toward her; if the girls play with her doll testifies to the erotic intensity of the bond between daughter and mother in so far as the possession of the much desired doll seals the phantasmatic union of mother and daughter in the pre-Oedipal phase, then one reading of this initial scene cannot but impress itself on the reader.22 The primordial scene of the narrative, the destruction of the doll, can be read and has been read as a selfdestructing gesture on Sophies part a reading supported by the two chapters respectively entitled The Wet Hair and The Shaven Eyebrows, which recount Sophies self-inflicted injuries to her own image. The violence of the dolls handling, as extreme as it is unconscious, may represent the violence exercised by the mother in the name of the pedagogical imperative, at least as Sophie experiences it. Indeed, each time Sophie hurts her doll, she believes she does her good. Moreover, the Malheurs fictional universe, as well as that of Les Petites Filles modles, is one entirely dominated by feminine and maternal figures. As many critics have noticed, fathers are quasi absent from these narratives and boys play only secondary roles. What is at stake is indeed the relation between mothers and daughters. And when a mother gives her daughter one or the other of these novels to read, she obviously restages the scene of this relation. One can also, however, read the scene of the dolls destruction, a destruction which starts with the loss of her eyes, hence of vision and face (visage in French), as the loci and channels of identificatory processes, as a gesture targeting the daughters image inasmuch as she is an image of her mother, that is, more radically, as an attack against the human face, as an

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attempt to resist humanization, indeed humanity in every sense of the term. The two readings of course are not mutually exclusive, quite the contrary. If the dolls destruction points to Sophies desire to become or remain animal; if, at the same time, one cannot but notice that Sophie treats her animals (ses btes) the way she treats her doll, harming them for their and her own good, doesnt that turn animals into figures or manifestations of what the subject cannot and should not say about and to her/himself, figures then of what comes out when she/he tracks her own trails in writing? In other words, animals would be Sophies alter ids, if I may say, rather than her alter egos, since she doesnt really recognize her image in them. Indeed, even if Sophie identifies briefly with the robin in Les Petites Filles modles, on the whole as we have seen, her relation to or with the animal remains non-specular: there is no mirror-effect between them, hence no process of idealization at work, no reflective mechanism that would prompt super-egoic reactions.23 To borrow Derridas words, I am (suis) the/an animal, in so far as I follow (suis) it/him/her. I follow the animal, I chase it/him/her, I run after what/whom I dont know myself to be; I want it/him/her while I chase it/him/her and I chase it/him/her because I want it/him/her, a strange operation of intense desire and repulsion, capture and flight well rendered by the irreducible ambiguity of the verb to chase. Hence also the metonymic structure of the relation between children and animals in these narratives, where the chass-crois and the side-by-side elude the humanizing and psychologizing face-to-face that founds anthropocentered relations. It would be too quick and easy, as I suggested in the beginning, to group these novels by the Countess together under the banner of moral idealism, alongside other edifying writings and more specifically writings by women aimed at a large and somewhat popular audience. Such idealism cannot be simply moral, nor such moralism ideal, as soon and as long as a statement such as You will kill animals implicitly underwrites the human(ist) You shall not kill. Finally, if gluttony (gourmandise) one of Sophies main characteristics is a sin punished again and again in these novels, and if the wolf, the paramount animal embodiment of gluttony, is both feared and abjected, the wolf nonetheless prevails and triumphs in the numerous passages that describe moments of oral delectation with a precision in the detailing of the absorbed food that stands in sharp contrast with the general scantiness of the narrative. The obvious oral jouissance belies the condemnation of gluttony or

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gourmandise. In the Countess of Sgur lives a wolf who, though ignored or unacknowledged, leaves a long trail in her writings. That may have been the main point of attraction of her novels for me. A gourmande myself (so much so that I devoted my first critical writings to the question of orality and obviously like to come back to it), when I recall these childhood readings, it is not the punishment scenes, as impressive as they indeed are, that come back to me, but the taste of country bread and cream of the Countess narrated snacks that fill my mouth. Yet, if the textual treatment of gluttony can be read as the revenge of the wolf, the Countess zoophilia is not a simple matter either. I have dwelled on a few episodes recounting the deaths of animals. These episodes, numerous in kind, are characterized by a narrative and descriptive exuberance which warrants the comparison with the scenes of snacks (goters) and meals. And if the place and role assigned to animals contradict in important respects the tenets of idealist philosophy and aesthetics, one would nonetheless be mistaken to ascribe this propensity to animals slaughter to a naturalist conception of animated life (animals are cruel; man is an animal; therefore man is cruel). It is not because of mans animalistic essence or quality, not because man acts as a wolf toward wolves and men alike, that the Sgurian human being is cruel toward animals. A certain human cruelty is markedly distinct from animal cruelty. Moreover, the dissymmetry of their respective fates is evident. If animals (or beasts) and humans do seem to threaten each other equally, the animals are always the ones to die at mens hands in the Countess narratives, not the other way round. One can read the murderous impulse toward animals as a manifestation of an infantile sado-masochistic tendency, a tendency both complicated and reinforced by Sophies libidinal conflict, as evidenced in her behavior toward herself as well as others. More generally, one can recognize in a certain intensification of the violence against animals, or at least in the insistent representation of this violence, the symptomatic expression of a cultural crisis or conflict, which has to do with the very definition of the relations and boundaries between humans and animals in modern times. Since I am limiting my inquiry here to the realm of literature (albeit a form of literature explicitly bounded up with social discourse), one only has to think of other literary works of the period for a confirmation of this hypothesis, one that Derrida also makes in The Animal That Therefore I Am (More to Follow): I am thinking for instance of the central motif of the hunt in Maupassants work, of his treatment of dogs in his short stories, or, closer even to the Countess, of Baudelaires semi-ethnographic account of dogs lives in Belgium, and his striking and repeated evocation, again in Pauvre Belgique!, of a fair show which consists in eating dogs alive. The Countess of Sgur is the contemporary of Joseph Arthur de Gobineau, whose Essay on The Inequality of The Races appeared in France in

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1853, as well as of Charles Darwin, whose work On the Origin of Species By Means of Natural Selection; or, the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life was published in England one year before the Countess published the Mmoires dun ne. On the one hand, hers was a capital period for the formulation of racialist theories and the launching of civilizing missions in Africa and elsewhere; on the other hand, this was also the time when the established boundaries between animalkind and humankind were radically questioned with the help of science. That helps explain why the gatekeeper Nicaise has recourse to a properly racialist argument to justify the destruction of the hedgehogs in Les Petites Filles modles, why the savages from America are compared to wild beasts more dangerous even than wolfs in the Malheurs, and, conversely, why Henriette, one of the little girls who populate the world of the Mmoires dun ne and who side with Cadichon, finds herself engaged with a stable boy in a witty discussion involving the questioning of the arbitrary distinction between the animal and the human realms.24 On the one hand, then, the Countess times were characterized by an unprecedented epistemological and philosophical narrowing of the distance between animals and humans in the Western world, a narrowing which put in jeopardy the anthropotheocratic pact sealed through the ritual or symbolic sacrifice of animals. On the other, and consequently, this species border trouble provoked as is often the case a reassertion and consolidation of that border, of which the new racialist discourse, premised as it was on the distinction between man and animal, was one manifestation. This attempt to push away or move away from the animal at the very moment when it becomes clear that it follows us or rather that we follow (from) it closely was redoubled and reinforced by another cultural mutation: the fast replacement of the living being (be it human or animal) by the machine. Industrialization programmed the disappearance of the animal. When it stopped being an agent or at least an auxiliary of production, it fell to the status of a mere object of consumption. The intensification of animal hunting and the increase of various forms of animals ill-treatment can thus be read both as a defensive reaction against species confusion and as a result of what Heidegger has called the modern domination of technics. Think of Hugos toad, which the poet welcomes in his poetry along with other rejects of industrial modernity. He too is a victim of mens cruelty, and even womens, but not of other animals.25 A great witness and analyst of modernity, Baudelaire describes the modern animal condition precisely as one of martyrdom both real and symbolic: martyr is the qualifier he uses to sum up the fate of those animals with whom Hugo, his illustrious predecessor and rival, commiserates.26 Finally, the same Baudelaire makes readable the ways in which the transformation of a certain experience and understanding of animated life affects the notion and

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treatment of sexual difference. Woman is abominable because she belongs to the natural realm, because like animals she is deprived of the function and status of producer of manufactured goods.27 Thus woman tends to take the place of the animal (la bte) in Baudelaires work as well as in the writings of many of his contemporaries. This is a radical departure from the Enlightenment perspective, which cast women as the moral sex; that is, as the main agents of the civilizing process, as the upholders of culture. It is as if the difference between human and animal had been displaced only to find itself both recast and reaffirmed in the difference between the sexes, conceived from then on as a difference between man and female. Insofar as the Countess of Sgurs writings side with the beast and animals in general (la bte et les btes), it is fair to describe her literary intervention as the work of a woman, even of a feminist in spite of herself. In her fictional world, if, as Ferdinand says, one could easily mistake many men for beasts, only an animal (une bte), or else a little girl deprived of any kind of symbolic authority, is able to deconstruct established oppositions and essentializing tautologies: for little girls who love animals, whether they are mischievous or wise, a donkey is not an ass.

NOTES
1 2

All translations of the Countess works are mine.

I draw this line from La Fontaines fable The Wolf and the Lamb, translated in English by Norman Spector as Witness the case were now going to cite.

Neither animal nor beast adequately translates all the connotations attached to the use of the word bte in French. See below. Bte can be used both as a noun and as an epithet in French: it means at once beast, or animal-like, dumb; and prone to blunders or mischief (btises). Allusion to the Balzacian short story Une passion dans le dsert, which recounts a passionate love between a soldier sent to the colonies and a panther. See for instance the early poem Rve pour lhiver, or the 1872 poem called Honte. The Illuminations are also full of btes (see Aprs le deluge or the Shakesperian Bottom). The Deliriums of A Season in Hell mention the poets love for a pig and celebrate the moucheron enivr la pissotire de lauberge, amoureux de la bourrache et que dissout un rayon. Le loup criait sous les feuilles/ En crachant les belles plumes/ De son repas de volailles:/ Comme lui je me consume (Poem without a date, generally included among the poems of 1872). Such absence may be thought of in light of Naomi Schors analysis of George Sands idealism. A special case must nonetheless be made for Mauprat, the most animal-

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littered, indeed animal-like novel of George Sand. On the one hand, each character is endowed with an animal double according to a conventional equivalence between humans and animals (the wise Patience has an owl, the faithful Marcasse a dog, and the wild Bernard is compared to a wolf). On the other hand, the libidinal charge and erotic violence of the narrative are figured through the recurring topoi of the animal hunt and the wild galloping of the horses. The main female character, Edme, is not only a disciple of Rousseau: she is an Amazon. (On animality as a modern metaphor for libidinal energy, see Akira Mizut Lippit, Electric Animal. Toward A Rhetoric of Wildlife.)
9

Allusion to two of La Fontaines fables: The City Rat and the Field Rat, The Cicada and the Ant.

On the relationship between the birdcage and the human female condition, and more precisely between a cage and marriage, between cage and case to get married is literally to get into a cage or into a case in many Romance languages (se caser in colloquial French, casar in Spanish and Portuguese) see Montaignes Essays (Book III, Chapter V: On some lines of Virgil): If [a wife] is lodged in [her husbands] affection as a wife then her lodging is far more honorable and secure [] We cannot do without [marriage] yet we go and besmirch it, with the result that it is like birds and cages: the ones outside despair of getting in: the ones inside only care to get out. See also Derridas commentary of this passage in his seminar on December 19, 2001.
11

10

Ds quil est saisi par lcriture, le concept est cuit [As soon as it is seized by writing, the concept is done (in)]. This witty sentence whose two verbs have culinary overtones in French can be found on the back cover of the French version of Jacques Derrida by Geoffrey Bennington and Jacques Derrida.

On this topic, see Derridas analyses of the partition between humans and animals by God in Genesis (The Animal That Therefore I Am 15-18). [] one might imagine that the animal, the animal-other, the other as animal, occupies the place of the third person and thus of the first appeal to justice, in between humans and the faces of those who look upon each other as brothers or neighbors. But no. When Levinas reflects on the other of the other who is not simply a fellow and brings the question of justice to the fore, that nonfellow remains human (The Animal 112). Here Derrida interrogates from an animals angle Levinas anthropocentric assumptions with regard to the nature of the third person (the other of the other) whose intervention brings forward the question of justice. In particular, he takes up Levinas argument in a piece by the latter from 1984 entitled Peace and Proximity, published in English in Emmanuel Levinas, Basic Philosophical Writings. Derrida had already devoted some thinking to this particular piece in Adieu to Emmanuel Levinas (32).
14 13

12

In French, the word for witness le tmoin literally means the third person. Tmoin derives from the Latin testis which is thought to be an alteration of terstis, from tristis: le troisime, the third.

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15 You will see, my dear little Master, how I, a poor donkey, and my little friends, male donkeys, colts and jennies alike, we have been and still are unjustly treated by men. You will see that we are very witty [] You will see finally that after finishing this book, no one will be able to say any longer: he is as stupid as an ass, as ignorant as an ass []. Rather, one will say: he is as witty as a donkey, as learned as a donkey (my emphasis). 16 I, a poor donkey and my little friends, male donkeys, colts and jennies alike, we have been and are still unjustly treated by men [].

Henri: Pooh! All donkeys are alike and whatever they do, they will only ever be donkeys [i.e.: asses, translators note]. Its a shame, my Cadichon, said Camille, that you are becoming more and more angry and malicious. You force us to love you less and less. And what a shame that you cant write! You must have seen so many interesting things, she continued while stroking my head and neck. I wish you could write your Memoirs; I am sure they would be really entertaining!
19 In the chapter entitled The Punishment (XXII) the grandmother does mention the possibility for Cadichon to be reduced to the status of beast of burden, if he continues to misbehave (faire des sottises): I urge the youngest among you, she says to the children, not to mount him. At the first misdemeanor on his part, I will give him to the miller who will make good use of him and will have him carry loads of flour. 20 18

17

The rhetorical aggrandizement indexed by the pluralization of the addressee (mes jeunes amis) turns this final parabasis into a real harangue. Note also the shift of vocabulary from the subjective and emotional register of feeling to the political assessment of intersubjective relations: not only can a donkey be happy or unhappy, but he can turn into a friend or into an enemy, depending on the way he is treated by his superiors. In Little Red Riding Hood, only the wolf swallows the grandmother.

21 22

See On Femininity. The word Puppe used by Freud in German and its cognate poupe in French come from the popular Latin puppa, which itself comes from pupa, meaning little girl in Classical Latin. The mirror stage described and theorized by Lacan does not only testify to the imaginary formation and character of the ego; the division it produces or entails between self and image does not only prefigure the symbolic split of the subject between a self-reflecting consciousness and the unconscious; it is also what prompts the formation of an ideal image, which enables the narcissistic cathexis. In short, the process of idealisation is bound up with the formation of the specular image.
24 23

See Chapter XXIII, The Conversion: Henriette [] I want everybody to be well-treated, animals [les btes] as well as men. Ferdinand, with a malicious look Notwithstanding the fact that one could easily mistake many men for beasts, if it were not for their standing on two feet.

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Henriette, smiling That is the reason why one commonly says: dumb as a hayeater [bte manger du foin]! Ferdinand [] You are as wittyas witty and smart as a monkey! Henriette, laughing Thank you for the compliment, Ferdinand! What are you, if I am a monkey? Ferdinand [] if I misspoke, lets say I am an ass, a nitwit, a goose.
25

The Toad is exactly Cadichons age. The poem first appeared in the first series of The Legend of the Centuries (XIII) in 1859. In this sad moralistic tale, only a poor donkey who bows under his burden tries to spare the martyred toad further suffering.

It is from strength itself and from the certainty that it gives to one who possesses it that the spirit of justice and of charity is derived. Thus in the poems of Victor Hugo there constantly occur those notes of love for fallen women, for the poor who are crushed in the cogwheels of society, for the animals that are martyrs of our gluttony and despotism (my emphasis). See Baudelaire, Reflections on Some of My Contemporaries. I. Victor Hugo.
27

26

Allusion to Baudelaires famous sentence in Mon Cur mis nu: Woman is natural, therefore abominable.

WORKS CITED Baudelaire, Charles. Reflections on Some of My Contemporaries. I. Victor Hugo. Baudelaire as a Literary Critic. Introd. and trans. Lois Boe Hyslop and Francis E. Hyslop, Jr. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1964. Bennington, Geoffrey and Jacques Derrida. Jacques Derrida. Paris: Seuil, 1991. Comtesse de Sgur, ne Sophie Rostopchine. uvres compltes. Ed. Claudine Beaussant. Paris: Robert Laffont, 1990. Derrida, Jacques. Sminaire: la bte et le souverain, Vol. 1 (2001-2002). Ed. Michel Lisse, Marie-Louise Mallet et Ginette Michaud. Paris: Galile, 2008. The Animal That Therefore I Am. Trans. David Wills. Ed. Marie-Louise Mallet. New York: Fordham University Press, 2008. Freud, Sigmund. On Femininity. New Introductory Lectures on Psychoanalysis: The Standard Edition. Ed. Peter Gay. New York: Norton, 1965. La Fontaine, Jean de. The Complete Fables of La Fontaine. Trans. Norman B. Spector. Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 1988.

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Lippit, Akira Mizut. Electric Animal: Toward A Rhetoric of Wildlife. Minneapolis and London: The University of Minnesota Press, 2000. Montaigne, Michel de. The Essays: A Selection. Trans. and ed. M.A. Screech. London and New York: Penguin, 1993. Schor, Naomi. George Sand And Idealism. New York: Columbia University Press, 1993.

Deconstruction and Petting: Untamed Animots in Derrida and Kafka


Joseph Lavery
This essay reads Kafkas short story Die Sorge des Hausvaters in relation to Derridas text Che cos la poesia? I argue that both Kafka and Derrida are invested in the importance of the figure of the pet for a critique of humanism, and I develop this theme over an extended analysis of these two texts treatments of comparative etymology. I conclude by distinguishing the body of the pet from that of the machine, the thing and (implicitly) the animal by examining its relationship and structural proximity to the figures of outliving and the remnant.

1. Grammatology and domesticity Is grammatology a domestic science, or is it best left to the professionals? This question precociously overlays the institutional, disciplinary and professional codes occasionally called deconstruction with the claims deconstruction makes about the violence of language, the character of literariness and the origins of geometry. It does so in order to force the reflection that, despite the anti-institutional leftist politics out of which deconstruction emerged and which have been, for many decades, nourished by the utopian impulses of deconstructive thought, the academic institution of deconstruction constitutes a police force within the academy. Such deconstruction operates not only as a canonizing body, as John Guillory has so effective argued, but as the acid test of the professionalism of an initiate. Among all the liberatory effects of the events collectively referred to as theory, there has been a profoundly repressive one: the production and regulation of a process of professionalization in the humanities which is committed to a kind of categorical and conceptual technocracy. How best to interrupt this process? First, it is necessary candidly to acknowledge a categorical difference between two contemporary deconstructive modes of criticism. One strand of contemporary criticism, elements of which may be seen in the work of scholars from postcolonial studies, gender and sexuality studies, disability studies, and diverse outgrowths from traditional cultural studies, have apparently picked up the check for deconstruction, identifying and explaining vernacular acts of deconstruction in the lived experiences of marginalized subjects. This move tends to be coincident with a sense that deconstruction is a first stage, prior to politics, whether the sense of politics is taken to be primarily textual (as in

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the continuing utility of deconstruction in the so-called canon wars) or pertaining to the realm of jurisprudence and the critique of law (as in Judith Butlers recent work on precarity). For other writers, deconstruction continues to be, in the afterlife of its major practitioners, a familiar and productive strategy for the reading and re-reading of canonical literary and philosophical texts. This species of deconstruction, which is as likely to take place in (one of the few) continental philosophy departments as within literary studies, understands itself as a recuperative and legitimizing reading of the institution of deconstruction. If it is less likely than its counterpart to be embroiled within the most visible political battlegrounds of the humanities, it nonetheless sees itself as part of a wider left critique of philosophy, one which evades and eschews the apparently unsophisticated identity thinking produced by the convergence of deconstruction and cultural studies. While these two approaches diverge dramatically in their sense of the political character of deconstruction, they share a sense that deconstruction can be thought in terms of professionalization. The first legacy of deconstruction is constantly and emphatically committed to a logic of the profession, and particularly to the recuperation of the excluded into the profession. It demands professional representation for its subjects, and in return it demands that the profession itself spend more time paying attention to the world outside the university. The second tradition holds that the utopian project of deconstruction is available only at the end of a long, subjectivating process of reading; it continues to read deconstruction as a kind of bildungsroman in which the subject of deconstruction achieves selfknowledge only after it has been subjected to various procedural and counterinstitutional interventions. This deconstruction sees its aim, then, as becoming not merely a profession, but to become the hegemonic profession of the humanities. As will have been quite clear, my sympathies are more with the first school than the second. Nonetheless, the aim of the present work is to think deconstruction as institutively resistant to both logics, and indeed to any thinking of professionalization. We understand deconstruction least when we police its operations; we undermine its critical power most devastatingly when the work of paleonymy becomes the exchange of predetermined categories. My reading of the animot in Kafka and Derrida is an attempt to think deconstruction as a satire on the profession, indeed, as a satire on the distinction between domestic and professional forms of labor in any case, especially through the careful unworking of the binary logic that such a distinction presupposes. One consequence is that deconstruction is no longer on the side of the technocrat, but becomes an act of affection. Kafka and Derrida, I claim, produce deconstruction that is affectively literate. That is to say, this work wishes to think of deconstruction itself as a kind of pet in the house of the profession.

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Work towards a pet deconstruction could take many forms, and in some senses the short stories of Franz Kafka are not a particularly good place to seek such a thing. But it is my claim that Kafkas writing uses the figure of the pet as a kind of deconstruction: a deconstruction of various traditionally explosive binaries (inside/outside; human/animal; word/thing) but also a thinking of the animot which would only find its full exploration in Derridas later writing on the animal. Kafkas shorter fiction rarely budged from the topic of the pet, which will become a companion animal or species at one point and then something entirety uncompanionable at the next. This is frequently posed as a meditation on the verb haben, to have. How does one have an animal? The narrator of A Crossbreed is as baffled as baffling on the subject: I have a curious animal, half kitten, half lamb (426). The creature is exterior and interior, cat and sheep, had and not-had. It spends its time seeking out nooks: Lying on the windowsill in the sun it curls up in a ball and purrs; out in the meadow it rushes about like mad and is scarcely to be caught. It flees from cats and makes to attack lambs. On moonlight nights its favorite promenade is along the eaves. It cannot mew and it loathes rats. Beside the hen coop it can lie for hours in ambush, but it has never yet seized an opportunity for murder. (426) Curled up in this coop, waiting to ambush but unable to move, the creature literalizes Kafkas famous definition of writing, in his Diaries, as assault on the last frontier, an assault, moreover, launched from below (263). But unlike Kafkas writing in his own person, A Crossbreed will not insist on the human subjects will as the motor for creativity in fact the companion species here are not human at all, only those animals brought in front of the curious animal. Children come to visit: sometimes they bring cats with them; once they actually brought two lambs. But against all their hopes there was no recognition. The animals gazed at each other with their animal eyes, and obviously accepted their reciprocal existence as a divine fact. (426) Without recognition: reciprocity and divinity. If there are pets that block the word haben in Kafka, there are also figures whose animal/vegetable/mineral presence in the house overturns it, subverts and subjects it to the hysterical logic of the cute. Or at least, there is one, one of the strangest creatures in literary history, Odradek, the word, the rebel-pet. Deleuze has rightly noted Kafkas obsession with the limits of domestic geography: Kafka was obsessed with a roof weighing down on someones head: either their chin will be horribly crushed into their chest or

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the top of their skull will break through the roof (Painting 182). Odradek is the gremlin in the house that disrupts its ability to be a home, but he is also the animot in language which mimics the postures of its epistemologies, razzes at its disavowals, purrs at its ignorance. In a certain sense, then, Odradek is deconstruction. Since the text of Odradek appears in five heterogeneous paragraphs, grouped together under the heading The Cares of a Family Man, we can cite it in full: Some say the word Odradek is of Slavonic origin, and try to account for it on that basis. Others again believe it to be of German origin, only influenced by Slavonic. The uncertainty of both interpretations allows one to assume with justice that neither is accurate, especially as neither of them provides an intelligent meaning of the word. No one, of course, would occupy himself with such studies if there were not a creature called Odradek. At first glance it looks like a flat star-shaped spool for thread, and indeed it does seem to have thread wound upon it; to be sure, they are only old, broken-off bits of thread, knotted and tangled together, of the most varied sorts and colors. But it is not only a spool, for a small wooden crossbar sticks out in the middle of the star, and another small rod is joined to that at a right angle. By means of this latter rod on one side and one of the points of the star on the other, the whole thing can stand upright as if on two legs. One is tempted to believe that the creature once had some sort of intelligible shape and is now only a broken-down remnant. Yet this does not seem to be the case; at least there is no sign of it; nowhere is there an unfinished or unbroken surface to suggest anything of the kind; the whole thing looks senseless enough, but in its own way perfectly finished. In any case, closer scrutiny is impossible, since Odradek is extraordinarily nimble and can never be laid hold of. He lurks by turns in the garret, the stairway, the lobbies, the entrance hall. Often for months on end he is not to be seen; then he has presumably moved into other houses; but he always comes faithfully back to our house again. Many a time when you go out of the door and he happens just to be leaning directly beneath you against the banisters you feel inclined to speak to him. Of course, you put no difficult questions to him, you treat him he is so diminutive that you cannot help it rather like a child. Well, whats your name? you ask him. Odradek, he says. And where do you live? No fixed abode, he says and laughs; but it is only the kind of laughter that has no lungs behind it. It sounds rather like the

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rustling of fallen leaves. And that is usually the end of the conversation. Even these answers are not always forthcoming; often he stays mute for a long time, as wooden as his appearance. I ask myself, to no purpose, what is likely to happen to him? Can he possibly die? Anything that dies has had some aim in life, some kind of activity, which has worn out; but that does not apply to Odradek. Am I to suppose, then, that he will always be rolling down the stairs, with ends of thread trailing after him, right before the feet of my children, and my childrens children? He does no harm to anyone that one can see; but the idea that he is likely to survive me I find almost painful. (428) This is a story of obsession, but it is also a story that generates obsession. Walter A. Strauss has referred to Odradek as a miniature version, mise-enabyme, of Kafkas entire work (31), and the story has been pored over by Walter Benjamin, Harold Bloom, Rodolphe Gasch, Slavoj iek and Werner Hamacher. When the work is not accorded a specifically privileged role in Kafkas corpus, it is often nonetheless regarded as important or, as Deleuze and Guattari put it, admirable (Components 40), a term which aptly sums up the curious ethical thrust of The Cares of a Family Man. Here I propose to read this piece of writing, if reading somehow escapes its gentle but decisive eradication of interpretative strategy, in relation to Derridas equally incomprehensible text Che cos la poesia? what is poetry? a text initially published in Italian in the poetry journal Poesia. The answer Derrida offers to the question of his title can be summarized as: a hedgehog. But in the publication of the French version the following year, Derrida explains his texts complex reading of the figures of translation, poetry and the animal in relation to the Odradek figure. The theme of the Poesia edition, Derrida explains, was what is poetry, but there was a second, unwritten dimension to the project: the question Che cosera la poesia? [what was poetry?] is addressed to the dead, this time to the Odradek by Kafka. At the moment he or she is writing, the living respondent does not know the answer given by the dead one: it appears at the end of the issue and is the choice of the editors. Destined to appear in Italian, this response exposes itself in passing, sometimes literally, in letters and syllables, the word and the thing ISTRICE (pronounced IZ-TRRITCHAY), which, in a French connection, will have yielded the hrisson [Elizabeth Weber adds in Points in English, the hedgehog]. (475)

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Derrida implies, then, that the sounds of istrice offer a phenomenological account of the strictures, restrictions and constrictions of poetry, but also that this particular trisyllabic word-thing responds to Odradek. How can we read Odradek as a hedgehog-poem, and what does it mean to do so? 2. Pet translations Derridas multilingualism in this text, like the polymorphous perversity of the etymology of Odradek, is constitutive of the play of particularity and difference which, he will claim, constructs the poetic object. Published in simultaneous translation, Che cos la poesia? like its subject, exhibits the quality of thrownness-into-the-road: neither the one nor the other, the animal thrown onto the road, absolute, solitary, next to (it)self (289). In addition to the resonance between istrice and restriction, the hedgehog theme also points to the differences between animals in different languages at the level of concept. The istrice is not, strictly, translatable: Erinaceus europaeus, the West European Hedgehog, which is indigenous to Britain, would not be the Atelerix algirus or Algerian Hedgehog, native to France. This latter species would originally have been thought of as identical to its West European cousin, but was granted species authority in 1842, due to its lighter coloring than its Western European variety. The differences between these two species are certainly minor. The Italian istrice, however, is likely to belong to a different order altogether, in fact a rodent of the genus Hystrix cristata, the Crested Porcupine. (Both porcupine and the French porc-pic make reference, like hedgehog, to a perceived swinishness in the creatures.1) The recognition of the animal is first and foremost, then, a misrecognition, like the gaze of the sheep and cats at the crossbreed of Kafkas story. As poetry to language, so Odradek to the family home, the pet that has you: this appears to be the reading of Kafka that Derridas paleonymy gestures towards. Such a reading responds directly to the traditions and difficulties of translating this story into English. The most invested terms Kafka uses and reuses here Ziel, Sorge, Wesen are all more or less untranslatable categories proper to German; other terms (notably Hausvater) may be literally translatable, but not without some profound sense of loss. I lack the time to do these questions justice at this point, but will pause a little on the title, Die Sorge des Hausvaters. Cares suffices as a translation for Sorge, with the caveat that the German term produces a greater sense of affective and even existential disorientation than the English may muster. Willa and Edwin Muirs family man is a complex and legitimate translation of Hausvater, but it covers over some of the terms complexities: the German need not mean the actual head of a real household, but could be the governor or pastoral officer of a residential institution a care home or boarding

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school. This ambiguity is important to the story because the final lines, in which the narrator describes my children and my childrens children, should not be taken to mean literal, familial offspring. The register and title of Kafkas story pose familial relations as a hypothetical, even a fiction. Other translations of Hausvater offer partial solutions and additional problems: Ronald Gray suggests caretaker (128), which lets slip the gender of the subject but does aptly link the subject of the story to the house, rather than the family per se; Harold Bloom suggests Paterfamilias (8), which alters the tone dramatically but emphasizes the fictiveness of the kinship here. The stakes are high, in part, because of the general canonical tendency to overwrite the figure of the Vater in Kafka with his own father, a tendency that all of his writing plays with. Michel Carrouges is not alone in having cast Kafka as Odradek and his father as the Hausvater (38). If such a reading is to be pursued, it must take into account the specifically non-paternal aspects of the father here; the oddly non-familial climate of Kafkas stories. Literature will be a space for familial difference, not similitude. This may also be the meaning of Kafkas famous anti-psychoanalysis a demand for the protection of difference by literature, the erection of a space safe from familial interrogation. As he writes of literature in his Diary, it can offer a possibility for discussing the differences between fathers and sons.2 Of course the problem of translating Hausvater is not incidental to the story itself, which is concerned with the ways in which generations write each other and the role that multilingual borrowing (Slavonic/German) plays therein. Kafkas intervention, if it can be so called, is that such a process is irresistibly mediated through the figure of the affectionate pet. The story that Kafka narrates from impossible etymology through affectively ambiguous companionship to the end of reproductive, heteronormative temporality is presented to us as a cute little story about a talking thing. It is remarkable how tempting it has proven to generations of Kafka scholars to resolve the deftlyconstructed and effectively defended ambiguity of Odradeks origin. The process of paleonymy, kicked off by Kafka in fictional form at the beginning of his story, has been played out by scholars for nearly a century. The most dominant reading follows the analysis by Wilhelm Emrich that Odradek can be analyzed in Slavic as a diminutive noun form of odraditti meaning dissuade, and accordingly, translating Odradek as something like little dissuading thing. Emrichs analysis therefore explicitly vindicates the first group of lexicographers in the story. The second most dominant strand derives from Hans Joachim Schoeps and regards the word as a bastardization of the Czech odrodek, or one who is outside the series, outside the law (Tauber 72) or out of the lineage (Hamacher 321). The third discernable tradition which, while the most diffuse, still holds a certain coherence regards the word as a coded reference to Kafkas Judaism. Max Brod was the

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first and most ardent defender of this view, writing that the word offers an array of possibilities suggestive of renegade: renegade from ones race, rod, renegade from the council, rada, the divine decision of the creation, rat. [] From this you can understand that Kafka writes, alongside the general tragedy of mankind, in particular the sufferings of his own unhappy people, homeless, haunted Jewry, the mass without form, without body, as no one else has ever done. (107) The reading of Odradek as a reference to Jewishness is taken to be a Freudian reference by Bloom, who sees, in terms not wholly dissimilar to Emrichs, an instance of denial, or Kafkas synecdoche for Verneinung (10). More recently, Jean-Claude Milner has seen Odradek as a six-pointed star of David because it is an encrypted half of dodekahedron, or twelvesided shape, a reading reiterated by Slavoj iek (117). There are also minor interpretations: Hamacher significantly develops this odd index of Odradeks in a trawl through Kotts dictionary: odraditti means to alienate, to entice away, odranec means rags, odranka means a piece of paper, patchwork of a text; odratti means tear off; odrbati means scrape off, rub away; odrek means the renunciation; odrh means reproach; odrod and odrodek mean the one without a kind (321). To this odd index of Odradeks we could add at least dreck, meaning crap in German and shit in Yiddish; Trenderl or dreidel, the spinning top for Jewish children which was the subject of a story in the Hannukah issue of the Prague Zionist newspaper Selbstwehr, immediately preceded by The Cares of a Family Man (Bruce 155-156); and die Rade, which is the corn cockle. I have only one contribution to make to this ongoing debate which, while clearly absurd, is also very good fun. We have become accustomed to reading Kafkas K, which Klaus Mann calls the fatal K (137), as a kind of sigil, not really a letter at all: I propose that it therefore be read separately from the rest of the word Odradek. Kafkas diaries give us many reasons to read this letter as autobiographical in the strangest way. For example: I will be alone with Father this evening. I believe he is afraid of coming up. Should I play cards [Karten] with him? (I find the Ks ugly, they almost offend me; yet I write them, nevertheless, they must be very characteristic [charakteristisch] of me.) (Tgbucher 375) What is actually characteristic of the writer here? The letter K itself, or Kafkas using it in spite of its being offensive to him? The letter K is a hinge between the various figures of writing Kafka develops in this passage and

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throughout the diaries his familial anxiety, his sadomasochism, the jouissance of being feared. Almost a signature, the K ends Odradek to sign off on the emergence of writing from the body. Here, it is an animal body, too: Dorade + K, sea bream, Odradek, writing. Paleonymy, the deconstructive inhabiting and investigating of old words, is shown by Kafka to be indispensable to the logic of the family. This inquiry overturns the logic of the bildungsroman by literally inverting it, producing what Kafka calls a bildung des Wortes, an account of the word Odradek that narrates language from the perspective of productive forces. The Muirs account (from bildung) obscures the explicitly literary and paleonymic thrust of Kafkas vocabulary. Peter Fenves translation is more apt from this perspective: on this basis they seek to ascertain the formation of the word (319). Emrich attempted to translate Odradek into German, based on the derivations he perceived as most important, and came up with Abrchen. How could we think of turning the skein of common words formed by Odradek into an English equivalent: Diddlek? Rembak? Noddonk? The K is probably invaluable, as is the diminutive sense and the sense of being overworked, even encrypted. However, the word is pronounceable and fits quite easily into a linguistic series; as with Lecercles reading of Lewis Carrolls portmanteaus, the word Odradek conforms to the phonotactic rules of language (33). In the case of Odradek, this phonotactic conformity works in all of the languages with which Kafka was familiar, what Deleuze calls the great four Hebrew, Yiddish, German and Czech and of course it is pronounceable in English too. In any case, the irruption of the proper name Odradek into a synchronic system of common nouns is not without consequences. It does nothing to efface the permanent effect of Odradek, in his trickiness and undecidability. When you ask him where he lives, he tells you no fixed abode, at least according to the Muirs. In German, he tells you that he lives at an Unbestimmter Wohnsitz an unfixed abode. Fenves more literal translation reveals a more substantial comparison: undetermined address (325). The address exists, but is in itself Unbestimmter, the word (like the English indefinite) that constructs the indefinite article. The house itself is improper, indefinite, not fixed. The first response (Odradek) is now seen in a more fruitful light: the word itself is an indeterminate address, in the sense of Anschrift, which, like the Unterschrift, would always give Kafka such anxiety. In the same way the Hausvater expects laughter to deictically peg the body to language, we expect signatures to deictically peg the name to an object. Odradek does neither. By allowing this other into our family, into our home, we have rendered irreversible a flaw that might have otherwise naturally eroded: there is an odradek looking at us in the home of our language.

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3. The arabesque body / legs, catachreses, organs Great fleas have little fleas upon their backs to bite em/ And little fleas have smaller fleas, and so ad infinitum. This familiar series of bugs is both cute and sublime: cute in that we enjoy fooling ourselves into finding it risible; sublime in that it radically alters our perceptions of space and time. It calls to Haraways hinge between material and semiotic productions, forcing us to read the text of nature as a series of inter-species encounters. Freuds frequent readings of architecture invite a similarly vertiginous perspective. For Freud, the inhabiting of a house by animals is figuratively related to the phenomenological reality of a headache real bodily pain produces the dream image of infestation. In The Interpretation of Dreams, he writes: separate portions of a house may stand for separate portions of the body; thus, in a dream caused by a headache, the head may be represented by the ceiling of a room covered with disgusting, toadlike spiders. (45) For Freud, as for the Kafka of The Metamorphosis, there is something about the permeability of the house by animals that undermines the subjects ability to conceive of herself as fully human. But Freud and Kafka also share another figure for thinking through the imaginative dumbshow of animate objects: the spool. In Beyond the Pleasure Principle, Freud recounts observing a young boy, with whom he shared a house, flinging a reel into his cot and retrieving it. His observation, the foundation of the famous fort/da paradigm, was that the child had invested the spool with the characteristics of his mother, and was staging her primary abandonment of him either, and Freud remains somewhat undecided, in order to master the traumatic event and thereby acclimate to it, or to enact imaginative revenge on the mother with a defiant statement meaning Alright, go away! I dont need you; Im sending you away myself! (54). In either case, Freud is describing a species of petting: the child renders the traumatic human drama minor by reducing its scale and making it a source of pleasure and companionship. And the irascible Freud can hardly contain his own mixed feelings about the adorable boys petulance: this good little boy had the sometimes irritating habit (53). Cuteness, in other words. What this story helps us to see in Kafkas spool but, of course, it is not just a spool is that it too figuratively replays the family drama, but this time from the perspective of the Hausvater. The infinite potential for Odradeks existence mocks the narrators own attempts to theorize a future for his children and grandchildren in harmony with the rhythms of heterosexual temporality. Odradek is a queer figure in that he undermines what Lee Edelman has theorized as reproductive futurism, the temporal logic tethering

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the political tout court to compulsory heterosexuality. Edelmans analysis lends itself just as well to Odradek as to the fort/da: In a political field whose limit and horizon is reproductive futurism, queerness embodies this death drive, this intransigent jouissance, by figuring sexualitys implication in the senseless pulsions of that drive (27). This way of thinking, however, opens up a terrain which has yet to be considered: what does it mean that these moments of irreducible, even foundational queerness, in Freud and Kafka, come from the animating of spools, the turning of spools into animals, words and little people all at once? Against himself, perhaps, J.J. White offers us a useful term when he disavows a link between mediate, contested territories in the various Kafka stories set, like The Cares of a Family Man, on the stairs. White writes: any link via staircases between Odradek and the imperial messenger is probably at most an arabesque (85). Its a strange proposition: the link is arabesque, by which we understand ornate and whimsical, yet oriental and mysterious, impressively formulated but distant, other than the main point of West European non-arabesque discourses on Kafka. But could Odradek himself not be described as arabesque, in these and other senses? The arabesque body, the sign of an interior infinity, would resemble the body demanded by Derridas poem: eat, drink, swallow my letter, carry it, transport it in you, like the law of a writing become your body: writing in (it)self (Che cos 292). Like the stairway in Kafka, the logic of the arabesque does not fully belong to the inside, or rather it opens up an inside/outside inside the inside. And, still like the stairway, the figure of Odradek entails a thinking of a dance, a pirouette that perhaps emerges from the arabesque. The arabesque is also the ballet pose in which the dancer is poised on one leg, the other perpendicular, suspended and extended away from the body: it is Odradek himself whose legs are in the arabesque: but from the middle of the star protrudes a small horizontal rod, and this rod joins up to another at a right angle (428). Arabesque is a helpful term for us here: in the staircases of his stories, Kafka calls into question the limits of the domestic and inside, and pulls exteriority ever closer to the centre of being. Queerness would be a name for the arabesque body. The arabesque logic of spatiality, by which the outside is always already inside, can also help us to think the question of Odradeks animality the sense that he shares some, though by no means all, characteristics with the animal. As I mentioned at the outset, there is a translation problem here: Odradek, we know, is a Wesen a being, a creature, an entity, but also a philosophical category descriptive of quiddity, whatness, ipseity. The Wesen is neither word nor body, but denotes the incorporation of words and the textuality of bodies: it is the already arabesque body; the body which is not simply internal to itself. Kafka forcefully insists on the prior textuality of the arabesque body; we know exactly what Odradek looks like. It/he is a spool, covered in multicolored bits of thread, matted together, with a protruding pair

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of rods, and by means of this latter rod on one side and one of the points of the star on the other, the whole thing can stand upright as if on two legs (428). But the passages lack of ambiguity in fact redoubles its ambivalence and the urgency with which questions present themselves to us: is Odradek a machine, or an organic body? If the former, does he have a purpose, and was he built? Are there any organic parts at all? Is he a kind of human-cyborg? Or a human-animal hybrid? An animal-cyborg? If he is an organic body, why does he so resemble a spool, and why the thread and wooden appearance? There is a pedigree to this kind of investigation of Kafka deriving from Vladimir Nabokovs masterful analysis of The Metamorphosis in which, through entomological analysis, Nabokov adduces a provocative (and defiantly extra-textual) reading of Gregor Samsas situation: curiously enough, Gregor the beetle never found out that he had wings under the hard covering of his back. While Nabokov had the weight and learning of an e(n)tomological tradition to help him specify the form of Gregors condition, the prospective odradekologist must create his own principles deriving from the specifics of the Wesen he is analyzing. These, again, are not questions that Kafka will permit us to answer, since the very pronouns are inconsistent: er es At one moment animal and animot at the next, Odradeks outward form carries threads, lines of questioning that must be pursued into the object-creatures guts; to find his heart. Animal, vegetable, or mineral; zoology, lexicography, or mechanics? One choice is to restrict the enquiry to the question of engineering, acknowledging that Odradek was surely more likely made than born. Perhaps he is either a machine in his own right, or a component part of an invisible, larger machine. This view was first articulated in English in 1948 by Herbert Tauber, for whom Odradek seems [] to be part of a machine (72). Taubers briefly-sketched argument is that Odradek exposes to the Hausvater the machinery of the higher law to which he himself is subject (72). The limitation of Taubers analysis is that the Hausvater is incapable of reconciling senseless Odradek with any kind of law, the law of purpose and telos formulated in the fifth paragraph (428). The mechanical argument is given a true theological character by Heinz Politzer in a comparison with In The Penal Colony: There is a certain similarity between the thing Odradek and the execution machine; although both are described realistically in great detail and with much ironic gusto, both serve as messengers from a world far beyond any reality we know. (67) But, again, why messenger? Is there an angelic Odradek within the machine? Politzer is certainly right to describe the gusto with which Odradek is created, however, and this creativity leads to another kind of

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engineering: Deleuze and Guattari use Odradeks status as a strange and useless machine (Kafka 40) to account for another perceived thwarting, here of the texts development into a longer or more sustained work: a text that includes an explicit machine will not develop unless it succeeds in plugging into a concrete socio-political assemblage (since a pure machine is only a blueprint that forms neither a story nor a novel). Kafka thus has many reasons to abandon a text, either because it stops short or because it is interminable. (38) Their understanding of the machine is outlined in most detail in Anti-Oedipus and A Thousand Plateaus: the term machine is used to describe any auxiliary apparatus or technology which performs tasks on the behalf of lifeflows, those being psychic or erotic movements. A machine is not, however, a totally closed system: every machine functions as a break in the flow in relation to the machine to which it is connected, but at the same time is a flow itself (Plateaus 39). Already there is one specific difficulty in describing Odradek as a machine in this way: if he is a technology or apparatus, how can we possibly avoid reading him as having a purpose or, in the DeleuzoGuattarian vocabulary, responding to a life-flow? We can certainly see Odradek as a flow itself, but to what if not the world far beyond reality is he connected? What would a machine be if it were unplugged, but continued to spin off into infinity, operating a universal thwarting-function? Odradek is more engaged in the narration of the story itself than Deleuze and Guattari imagine, and does indeed have an animal, even human, demeanor. He is cute, evasive and pathetic. If Odradeks movements do not immediately seem to belong to a socio-political assemblage with regard to the Hausvater or the text, nor does he seem simply disinterested or not plugged in. Deleuze and Guattaris understanding of Odradek as pure machine or strange and useless machine does not seem to account for what Harold Bloom has rightly termed his harmless and charming demeanor (10). The little man, or, more specifically in this case, little old man, is one of the figures analyzed by Derrida in his penetrating essay on Kafka, Before the Law, in which Derrida performs a great Freudian inversion on the account of the elderly gentleman, which we can here see in the Hausvaters treatment of his timeless companion: The adjournment until death of the elderly child, the little old man, can be interpreted as non-penetration by premature ejaculation or by non-ejaculation (209). Like the little old man, Odradek walks with the aid of a stick. But it is not so simple: his own limbs, as points of the stars, are not merely appendages to a corpus, but the totality of that corpus. There is no star but limbs. This theme, of an object seeming to be a leg or being used as a leg, a simulacrum of a leg, hangs off Odradek like a thread to be followed around Kafkas other stories. It seems particularly to call to the stiffening of

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the legs in The Judgment, in which, at the crucial moment of revelation, Georg Bendemanns father seems to resemble Odradek, with stiff perpendicular legs which seem to radiate, like light from a star: and he stood up quite unsupported [frei] and threw his legs out (85). Georgs fathers body seems to become a glowing, stiff limb: his communication, judgment and mental state are communicated by the denial of a differentiation of the limb, a rejection of the localization of the limb to protuberances, and the reincorporation of the limb at the centre of his body. The process is also seen in the relationship between The Metamorphosis and A Country Doctor. For Gregor Samsa, his multitudinous legs are the debased and inverted image of legs as a symbol of sexual pleasure and motility, and are simply the crap of his body that gets in the way and must be blocked out: shutting his eyes to keep from seeing his wriggling [Zappelnden] legs.3 Zappelnden is translated by Edwin and Willa Muir as struggling (89), but might better indicate wriggling or fidgeting: it is the rubbishy, neurotic activity of an ineffective, immobile body. After numerous mentions of these numerous legs, towards the storys conclusion, Kafka begins to provide the reader with counter-examples of legs in which they are treated as properly sexual and effective extuberances. It is through the figure of the limb that Gregors state of being is contrasted with his mothers legs which seem to overtake the lower half of her body: His mother lay in her chair, her legs stiffly outstretched and pressed together (134). Mrs. Samsa is arrayed here as the archetypal Oedipal ban: supine but stiff, she pushes her body out as a limb, while closing it off into a torso. By the end of the novella, the bodies have ceased to use external limbs for their ostensible purposes at all, as the daughter of the family seems to stand up, bodiless, into a realm of hope and disembodied bliss: And it was like a confirmation of their new dreams and excellent intentions that at the end of their journey their daughter sprang to her feet first and stretched her young body (139). This deeply erotic figure perversely concerns the disembodiment of a young girl, a temporary resolution to the dichotomy many-crap-legs/one-strong-body shed as a snakes skin. The many-crap-legs, scummy, bacterial and ineffective, take flight, through the wormhole of the wound, to the body of another boy who dies from a huge wound in his thigh in A Country Doctor. The eponymous narrator is to treat a sick boy, who at first appears to be quite healthy, but who, upon closer examination, has a large wound in his leg that, it seems at first, will certainly kill him. Inside the hole in his leg, itself reminiscent of Gregors fatal apple-wound, the doctor finds: Worms, as thick and as long as my little finger, themselves rose-red and blood-spotted as well, were wriggling from their fastness in the interior of the wound toward the light, with small white heads and many little legs. (223)

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The insectoid legs-within-a-hole-in-a-leg complete the cycle of contamination enacted by the limb in Kafkas stories: the normative structure which conceives of and delimits the idea of the leg as an upright, external limb, that holds the limb at arms length, is infested by interior limbs. Like the spines of a hedgehog, which in English seems to emphasize the plurality of that which should have remained singular, the weaponization of the body. If we are to read the (Freudian, Kafkan) spool and the (Heideggerian, Derridean) hedgehog in relation to each other, along an axis of the arabesque, it would nonetheless be important to emphasize the role that organs play in these two figures. For Derrida, a poem may be a hedgehog, but it is learned by heart the organ strangely outside of the machine, or, as Derrida puts it, a certain exteriority of the automaton (Che cos 295). Odradek laughs as though he has no lungs: there are no internal organs here. But one would need to be careful about reading Odradeks body as though it were an organ. Adorno was the first to see the potential problems here. In the final section on occultism in Minima Moralia, he writes, the offal of the phenomenal world becomes, to sick consciousness, the mundus intelligibilis. It might almost be speculative truth, just as Kafkas Odradek might almost be an angel (240). (We are reminded again of the tendency of critics to think of Odradek as carrying some kind of message.) The English term offal, like the German Abflle, points us to an entirely distinct sense of the organ: the term, from off-fall, while originally used to mean the organic matter that literally fell off the carcass during disemboweling, has come to signify all parts of an animal not as frequently consumed as the others, including many external parts: tails, ears, trotters, genitals, snouts, etc. Adornos sick consciousness reads Odradeks animal labor purely in terms of surplus exchange-value. This kind of reading is also performed by iek in The Parallax View. iek pays serious attention to The Cares of a Family Man, and offers a substantial challenge to the reading of the limb in Kafka by reading Odradek, conversely, as a lamella, an external organ. iek writes: Odradek is simply what Lacan [] developed as the lamella, the libido as an organ, the inhuman-human undead organ without a body, the mythical presubjective undead life-substance, or, rather, the remainder of the Life-Substance which has escaped the symbolic colonization, the horrible palpitation of the acephalic drive which persists beyond ordinary death, outside the scope of paternal authority, nomadic, with no fixed abode. (117-118) ieks lamella refers to a zombie organ that has grown up alongside the Hausvater but escaped the symbolic colonization which has overrun the rest of the house. Like Edelman, iek sees radical potential for the death drive in overcoming the repressive order of the Symbolic.

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A hedgehog learned by heart: this paradoxical phrase, as suggestive of petting as of poetry, may perversely describe Odradek. It is also, selfevidently, a catachresis: Odradek and hedgehog both inhabit dead metaphors and animate new ones, approaching the principles of paleonymy and grammatology with an affect that Derrida names humility. Or rather, addressing the addressee of poetry, Derrida summons the humility that you surname, thus transporting yourself in a name beyond a name, a catachrestic hrisson (Che cos 296). To return finally to the theme of translation, then, we might end by noting that the word remnant, leaping out of the third paragraph of the Muirs translation, almost has the form of a catachresis. The Muirs write that one is tempted to think that it is only a broken down remnant. The German offers us no such possibility: one is tempted to think jetzt sei es nur zerbrochen, literally, and that it is merely broken. On one level, this translation is simply a distortion: a broken thing is not a remnant of a whole thing, and the Muirs translation shows evidence of a Benjaminian understanding of Odradek as a mimetic emblem of the brokenness of history. Edwin Muir certainly suggests this reading in his critical work on Kafka: [Kafkas] is in its unique way a complete world, a true though unexpected reflection of the world (36). For other readers, however, the figure of Odradek as a kind of remnant seems to endure: for Laura Quinney, Odradeks status as a remnant is precisely what constitutes the uncanny feelings aroused in the Hausvater and alienates him from the processes of the house: Odradek is a shadowy remnant of consciousness, [a] wavering presence that become[s] uncanny because [his] residualized subjectivity appears as otherness, an otherness which resists codification and assimilation (224). Perhaps a defense of the Muirs phantom remnant could be established on the basis of Nicholas Royles description of the Derridean remnant, which attempts to articulate the difficulty of thinking remains other than on the basis of what was once present (361-362). The anxiety of the Hausvater certainly poses a kind of question of the remnant, that Odradek will outlive him, and be a remnant after his own death. The story ends, after all, with what I have described as a queer resistance to reproductive futurism on the basis of the theme of outliving: He does no harm to anyone that I can see, but the idea that he might outlive me [berleben] I find almost painful (283). To outlive [berleben], to survive, but also to live out, as in he lived out his life in penury. The ber exceeds the re-, super-, extra- and meta- prefixes in English, leading to surplus or excess, as in berrest, or excess leftovers. The berleben which constitutes the Hausvaters fear is, of course, the last word of one of Kafkas better-known works, which, in having the last word, comes closest to outliving its own narrative form, in German though not quite in English:

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Like a dog! he said; it seemed as though the shame of it was to outlive him. (The Trial 231) Wie ein Hund! sagte er, es war, als sollte die Scham ihn berleben. (Der Prozess 444) It should be no surprise, by now, that the figure of the dog and the figure of outliving should entail such mutual dependence, such companionship, in Kafkas work. If his contribution to literature is simply to insist on it, in its own terms, as forcefully and as silently as can be thought possible, we might also say that literature was always, for Kafka, a pet project.

NOTES Hlne Cixous has sought to understand the porc-pic as an anagrammatic untying of the corps-pic.
2 3 1

Tagebcher 206. My translation. The Metamorphosis 89. The translation is slightly amended.

WORKS CITED Adorno, Theodor W. Minima Moralia. Trans. Edmund Jephcott. London: Verso, 1979. Bloom, Harold. Introduction. Modern Critical Views: Franz Kafka. New York: Chelsea House, 1986. 1-16. Brod, Max. Franz Kafka. Trans. G. Humphreys Roberts. London: Secker and Warburg, 1948. Bruce, Iris. Kafka and Jewish Folklore. The Cambridge Companion to Kafka. Ed. Julian Preece. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002. 150-168. Carrouges, Michel. The Struggle Against the Father. Franz Kafka: A collection of criticism. Ed. Leo Hamalian. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1974. 27-38. Deleuze, Gilles. Painting Sets Writing Ablaze. Two Regimes of Madness. Trans. Ames Hodges and Mike Taormina. Ed. David Lapoujade. New York: Semiotext(e), 2006. 181-187. Deleuze, Gilles and Flix Guattari. Kafka: Toward a Minor Literature. Minneapolis: University of Minneapolis Press, 1986.

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A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia. Minneapolis: University of Minneapolis Press, 1987. Derrida, Jacques. Before the Law. Acts of Literature. Trans. Avital Ronell and Christine Roulson. Ed. Derek Attridge. London: Routledge, 1992. 181-220. Che cos la poesia? Points Interviews 19741994. Trans. Peggy Kamuf. Ed. Elizabeth Weber. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1995. 288-299. Edelman, Lee. No Future: Queer Theory and the Death Drive. Durham: Duke University Press, 2004. Emrich, Wilhelm. Franz Kafka. Frankfurt: Athenaeum, 1960. Freud, Sigmund. The Interpretation of Dreams. Trans. James Strachey. London: George Allen, 1952. Beyond the Pleasure Principle. Beyond the Pleasure Principle and Other Writings. Trans. John Reddick. London: Penguin, 2003. 45-102. Gray, Ronald. Franz Kafka. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1973. Hamacher, Werner. Premises: Essays on Philosophy and Literature from Kant to Celan. Trans. Peter Fenves. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1996. Haraway, Donna J. Cyborgs to Companion Species: Reconfiguring Kinship in Technoscience. The Haraway Reader. London: Routledge, 2003. 295-320. Kafka, Franz. Tagebcher. Ed. Max Brod. New York: Schocken, 1954. Briefe 1902-1924. Ed. Max Brod. New York: Schocken, 1958. Der Prozess. Die Romane. Berlin: Schocken, 1965. The Trial. Trans. Breon Mitchell. New York: Schocken, 1998. The Complete Short Stories. Trans. Willa and Edwin Muir. Ed. Nahum N. Glatzer. London: Vintage, 1999. Lecercle, Jean-Jacques. Philosophy Through the Looking Glass: Language, Nonsense, Desire. London: Hutchinson, 1985. Mann, Klaus. Preface to Amerika. Franz Kafka: A Collection of Criticism. Ed. Leo Hamalian. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1974. 133-150.

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Nabokov, Vladimir. Lecture on the Metamorphosis. 11 Dec 2009, 19 Apr 2010. <http://www.vahidnab.com/kafka.htm>. Politzer, Heinz. Parable and Paradox: In the Penal Colony. Franz Kafka: A Collection of Criticism. Ed. Leo Hamalian. New York: McGrawHill, 1974. 65-80. Quinney, Laura. More Remote Than the Abyss. Modern Critical Views: Franz Kafka. Ed. Harold Bloom. New York: Chelsea House, 1986. 221-235. Royle, Nicholas. The Remains of Psychoanalysis (I): Telepathy. Deconstruction: A Reader. Ed. Martin McQuillan. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2000. Strauss, Walter A. On the Threshold of a New Kabbalah: Kafkas Later Tales. New York: Peter Lang, 1988. Tauber, Herbert. Franz Kafka. London: Secker & Warburg, 1948. White, J.J. Cyclical Aspect of Kafkas Short Story Collections. Paths & Labyrinths: Nine Papers from a Kafka Symposium. Ed. J.P. Stern and J.J. White. London: University of London Press, 1985. 80-97. iek, Slavoj. The Parallax View. Cambridge: MIT Press, 2006.

Say the Ram Survived: Altering the Binding of Isaac in Jacques Derridas Rams and J.M. Coetzees Disgrace
Adeline Rother
In Rams, Derrida writes, For each time, and each time singularly, each time irreplaceably, each time infinitely, death is nothing less than an end of the world (140). This chapter considers the consequence of Derridas enigmatic maxim for the practice of animal sacrifice. In closing the world of one animal, can sacrifice affirm the continuity of lineages, boundaries, traditions, oaths indeed of the entire human world? Bringing Derrida into conversation with Coetzees Disgrace and with passages from Genesis, this chapter interrogates an investment in sacrifice as a cut that creates the world.

J.M. Coetzees Disgrace ends with an obscure decision regarding the life of an animal. With the words, Yes, I am giving him up, an assistant in an animal shelter, David Lurie, delivers a crippled dog to Bev Shaw, a veterinarian who performs euthanasia (220). In Davids statement, the yes is followed by a partial cogito (I am). David also employs a prepositional verb phrase implying completion (give up), and for the first time refers to the dog not as it, but as him. And yet, no statement could be more undecidable from an interpretative point of view. Does this final sentence this spontaneous and solemn sentence of death, this rendering of the beloved and unique animal announce an animal sacrifice, or does it constitute an ethical pledge to carry and support the animal in putting it down, even if this means imperiling or sacrificing the I? In his essay Rams: Uninterrupted Dialogue Between Two Infinities, the Poem, Jacques Derrida raises the question of sacrifice in relation to the end of the entire world. In an enigmatic refrain, he states that the death of each being human, animal or divine signifies the absolute end of the one and only world (140).1 But when confronting the inevitability of surviving certain friends and loved ones, Derrida determines that he must carry the other, and the world of the other, beyond the end of the entire world. He affirms, I must then carry [the world], carry you, there where the world gives way: that is my responsibility (161). But in carrying the other beyond the others death, one must impossibly endure through the end of the world. Carrying the other, one must inevitably sacrifice the others singularity and reduce the fullness of the others world, at least to some extent. Derrida

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therefore insists, Its a question of carrying without appropriating to oneself. He writes, To carry now no longer has the meaning of to comprise [comporter], to include, to comprehend in the self, but rather to carry oneself or bear oneself toward [se porter vers] the infinite inappropriability of the other []. (161) Derrida grants that carrying the other, though it entails a certain risk of sacrifice, is the only way to carry or sustain oneself. Quoting Paul Celan, he writes, For no one bears this life alone (163). But the work of countersignature, of bearing oneself toward the others enunciation, and offering an inflected, interpolating response, may moderate the risk of sacrifice by obliging one to risk the speech and signature of the self. In the terms legal acceptation, to countersign is to add ones signature to a document that has already been signed usually by someone else, but occasionally by oneself (for example, in a consulate, when one is required to reproduce ones signature in order to prove ones identity). When Derrida adopts the term, he affirms and embraces the activity of signing, while troubling the notion that the repetition of our signature like the repetition of sacrifice can permit us to prove or sustain our identities time after time. In responding to the others enunciation or to a signature as complex as a literary corpus, we find our own signatures, idioms, and worldviews inevitably altered and signed. In Disgrace, the last dog to be euthanized is a dog that nearly sings (215), inviting David into a strange form of call and response that could resemble the uninterrupted dialogue mentioned, and longed for, in the title of Derridas essay. Of course, within Rams, Derrida qualifies even the best of dialogues as virtually uninterrupted and nearly continuous (139). Incessantly, he considers the melancholy interruptions in our sustained and sustaining conversations with the other, interruptions ranging from shifts and lapses in the self, to irresolvable misunderstandings between friends, to the ultimate interruption of an interlocutors death. In Disgrace, David does confront the ultimate finitude of self and other, but he glosses over faults, lapses, and complications, both in the other and in himself, when he consigns the singing dog to the flames (144). Beginning with I, saying I am, David bears the other up. The novel ends when David signs, Yes, I am giving him up (220). But Davids yes, like Derridas virtually, hints at the existence of an implicit and unbounded dialogue whenever the I is announced. Saying yes, David concedes to a vague sense that someone is approving his performance in the theatre of euthanasia (142). With some irony, he has already named this grand Other, calling it the universe and its all-seeing eye (195).2

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Saying yes, responding to Bevs question (Are you giving him up?), David may lapse in his responsibility to countersign the voice of the singing dog (219, 143). In fact, this dog nearly disappears during sacrifice, and is seemingly replaced by a sacrificial lamb. In the book of Isaiah, the prophet is compared to a sacrificial lamb, not because the prophet never speaks, but because he never blames God for setting him apart from the rest of society. The prophet was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth (Isa 53:7).3 When David calls the singing dog to the veterinarians table, it hurries over eagerly, yielding to David like a lamb, a male lamb, a him (220). Though the lamb-dog does open its mouth, excitedly licking Davids face, it does not protest the fate of being sacrificed or set apart (although the other dogs do, by madly snapping left and right) (143). Perhaps the singing dog, like a beloved child, is saved from sacrifice, but at the same time effaced and victimized when substituted for by this figure of the silent, compliant sacrificial lamb (220). Certainly, the traces of sacrifice in this scene point us toward a darker reading, to use Davids term, of Davids love for this dog and other animals (118, 219). Sacrifice is at work in Davids interactions with Driepoot, other animals, and with human beings as well. However, Davids work for dogs is frequently interpreted not as sacrifice, but as an obscure calling to carry and respond to animals at the moment of their greatest alterity, in and beyond the moment of death. Derek Attridges reading of Disgrace is perhaps the best-known and most impressive contribution to this angle of understanding. In Age of Bronze, State of Grace: Music and Dogs in Coetzees Disgrace, Attridge figures dog-work within the paradigm of the pure and disinterested gift. The two tasks Lurie undertakes in his state of disgrace, dog-work and creative production, although each can be seen as bizarre and as bizarrely conjoined in his mode of living at the end of the novel, do have a common thread. Both manifest a dedication to a singularity that exceeds systems and computations: the singularity of every living and dead being, the singularity of the truly inventive work of art (116-117). In putting forward this argument, Attridge may in fact downplay the importance of sacrifice, conceived somewhat narrowly as penance or a search for redemption. Referring to Davids virtual sexual assault of a young woman early in the novel, long before his involvement with the dogs, Attridge writes that, Luries commitment to the dead dogs cant be thought of as an attempt to counterbalance the sexual wrong that began the sequence of events it culminates (115). Attridge also notes the absence of the word penance from Davids self-reflections, adding, [I]t would be a misreading of his behavior with the dogs to suggest that he is taking on an existence of suffering and service as expiation for his sin (116). Because the mongrels are of no value to contemporary society (and are in fact a drain on the

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economy), David cannot fulfill his debt to the young woman, to her family, or to society, by suffering on their behalf. Instead, Attridge argues, dog-work explodes this debt, transcending its conditions in the passage to another economy defined by disinterested service and bestowals of unearned, unexpected grace. Though I agree with Attridge that dog-work does not function as the absolution of a debt, I think it can be understood as sacrificial in a different sense. Dog-work, and especially the killing of the lamb-dog, is not the redemption of Davids crime against the young woman, Melanie Isaacs, but may be an effort to complete it, impossibly, upon an ever-shifting chain of substitutional animals. Davids sacrifice of the singing dog, Driepoot (three-leg), recalls the classical image of the sacrificial lamb, but also restages the burnt offering of Isaacs ram, a struggling animal that is caught by its horns in a bush. Thus, David becomes a figure of Abraham, and is forced to wrestle with Derridas wager that the death of the animal signifies the end of the world as a whole. Derridas hyperbolic maxim with existential and ethical implications is restated in his short preface to Chaque fois unique, la fin du monde, where he writes, Death, death itself, if it exists, leaves no place, not the slightest chance, either for the replacement or for the survival of the only, unique world (11).4 This formulation gives rise to a world picture in which all life strives for continuity, produces God and the entire world in the face of perpetual perishing. Derrida perhaps includes sacrifice in this striving when defining God as such; in a surprising moment, he writes, God signifies this: death can bring an end to one world, but death does not signify the end of the entire world (11).5 If animal sacrifice brings an end to one world, it not only does not signify the end of the entire world, but rather forges the entire world, generating an aura of a higher life even as the animal is excluded from it. One anthropologist, Nancy Jay, has even criticized sacrifice for masquerading not as death at all, but as birth as a form of male childbearing that relegates maternity to a second, more animal order of reproduction.6 When Derrida inscribes sacrifice into the work of interpretation in Rams, figuring countersignature as the act of writing upon the almost bodily uniqueness of a work of literature, while allowing ones own idiom to be altered and signed, he acknowledges the necessity of bridging, of communicating, of making contact, and of giving rise to some degree of worldly ground. But sacrifice loses its fantasmatic status as the cut that worlds, as a hyphen in a slash, as Derrida indicates in glossing a verse by Paul Celan (The world is gone, I must carry you). Even in a potentially sacrificial encounter, poeticized with an idiom of signing, writing, sealing and the pact, self and other meet in a virtual arena in which there is no ground or table for sacrifice. Derrida writes,

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No world can any longer support us, serve as mediation, as ground, as earth, as foundation or as alibi. Perhaps there is no longer anything but the abyssal altitude of a sky. I am alone in the world right where there is no longer any world. Or again: I am alone in the world as soon as I owe myself to you, as soon as you depend on me, as soon as I bear, and must assume, head to head or face to face, without third, mediator, or go-between, without earthly or worldly ground, the responsibility for which I must respond in front of you []. (158) In the uncertainty of this encounter, the temptation to create the world through sacrifice persistently remains, a point that Derrida foregrounds in selecting Genesis 22 (the near-sacrifice of Isaac) to explore the necessity and destructive potential of engagement with the other. The sacrifice of Isaac (or Ishmael) belongs to the three Abrahamic traditions, Islam, Christianity, and Judaism. As a seminal narrative that fathers Father Abraham, the Akedah is perhaps particularly vulnerable to the infinite usurpations that form the basis of dissemination. In lines of textual inheritance, or in lineages of fathers and sons, dissemination describes the inherent but obsessed losses that drive the performance of sacrifice as a sublime sign of filial continuity and relation with the gods. In Genesis 22, slaying and burning the animal on the pyre prepared for Isaac elicits, or at least precedes, Gods blessing of an exceedingly copious posterity, of descendents which are nonetheless figured as sand grains and distant stars and not in terms of lineages and lines.7 Derrida, developing the suggestion of dissemination in the texts poetry of sand-grains and stars, questions the animal sacrifice that seems to repair the virtual rupture of Abrahams line. Self-consciously replicating the intervention of the angel that saves Isaac, Derrida intervenes on behalf of the ram. Or perhaps, he faces the animal as Abraham does, observing its struggle for life and even imagining the consequences of the rams escape not in order to erase the future set out before Abraham, but to question the deflection of filial uncertainty onto the fatherless animal. The Biblical chapter, which ends with a list of Abrahams nephews and nieces, begins when God orders Abraham to take Isaac, his and Sarahs only son (but not the only son of Abraham), to an unnamed high place in the distant land of Moriah, where Abraham is to sacrifice Isaac for a burnt offering (Gen 22.2). Accompanied at first by two servants and an ass, Abraham and Isaac accomplish the final part of the journey alone. After several days of walking, Abraham

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Adeline Rother [] came to the place which God had told him of; and Abraham built an altar there, and laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar upon the wood. And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son. And the angel of the LORD called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham: and he said, Here am I. And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me. And Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold behind him a ram caught in a thicket by his horns: and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the stead of his son. And Abraham called the name of that place Jehovahjireh [Jehovah/YHVH will see]: as it is said to this day, In the mount of the LORD it shall be seen. (Gen 22.9-14)

Though the ram is sacrificed as a burnt offering in the stead of Isaac, the animal is not presented as a substitute for Abrahams son. At stake in the narrative is Gods outrageous request for a human child, a form of sacrifice forbidden by law in Leviticus 18.21, which bans offering children to Moloch, or passing them through fire. Isaac is furthermore a beloved child, referred to as, thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest (v. 2). This love only heightens the undesirability of Isaacs sacrifice from the perspective of the historical audience. In fact, Isaac asserts his own categorical difference from the sacrificial animal when he puts a question to his father. First, Abraham and Isaac take leave of the two servants and the ass. At this point, Abraham transfers the wood for the sacrifice presumably borne by the ass until then onto Isaac himself (v. 5-6). This implied transformation into an animal makes Isaac suspicious, prompting him to say, Behold the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb for a burnt offering? (v. 7). When Abraham reassures Isaac that God would provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering, Abraham admits privately that God has transformed the boy into a lamb (v. 8). Gradually, Isaacs humanity is restored through a certain passing of the torch: the wood transferred from the ass onto Isaac and prompting his mention of the lamb, is later arranged under the boy in preparation for his sacrifice; however, the wood ultimately serves as a pyre for another animal: not the lamb, but the lamb transformed into the full-grown sheep that God provides. Throughout, Abraham has borne the duty of sacrificer even as the

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identity of the victim remains in flux. When the wood finds its proper destination and is set aflame, sacrificial law is restored; a passage is made from a morally contemptible slaying to one that is codified in Biblical law. This passage is marked by the rhythm and relativity of time. Whereas Abrahams knife hesitates over Isaac long enough to allow the contretemps of the angels intervention, the sacrifice of the ram is executed quickly and with no mention of Abrahams knife (v. 13), again suggesting the incommensurability of the beloved son and the sacrificial animal. In Derridas reading of Genesis 22, as reimagined through a poem by Celan (Grosse Glhende Wlbung), Abrahams arc of violence is halted twice: first by the angel that intervenes for Isaac, and again by the ram, who fights for its survival. Derrida champions the animal, no doubt, but may also accentuate a struggle implied in the Biblical narrative, when the ram is pictured locking horns with a pseudo-ram in the form of a shrub. If Abraham fails to sever the enraged animal from its adversarial double, or finds the branching horns turned upon him, the sealing, reparative sacrificial fire becomes improbable. The violence directed at Isaac will continue to reverberate. The blessing is also deferred, an authorial coup by Derrida that is not meant to again inflict existential uncertainty upon Abraham, but to question its sacrificial projection upon the animal. Though Gods blessing lays down seed, it was composed by Biblical authors in a retrospective search for roots. This search is not problematic in itself, unless it ascribes finitude onto the animal or another outsider, including the enemies that Abrahams descendants will possess at their gate, according to the blessing of God (v. 17). When Derrida disrupts the killing of the ram, disturbing the blessing of God, he refuses to stand on ground that is gained by displacing finitude onto the animal other (147). Coetzee also stages and interrupts the sacrificial slaughter of Isaacs ram in Disgrace, leaving his Abrahamic figure, David, in need of some substitute or of some alternative. In virtual dialogue with Derrida, Coetzee gestures toward an alternative to sacrifice in an otherdirected ethics of listening and response.8 In Coetzees novel, David Lurie, fifty-two, is a professor of Communications at a fictional university in Cape Town, South Africa (4). Early in the novel, he jeopardizes his professional life by seducing a college student, Melanie Isaacs, into an affair involving sex he calls, not rape, not quite that, but undesired nonetheless, undesired to the core (25). Although their story provokes outrage among students and faculty, Davids colleagues offer a path to professional rehabilitation that David refuses to take. He leaves Cape Town to stay with Lucy, his only child, who manages a farmhouse, a market stall, and a dog kennel in the uplands of the Eastern Cape. Soon after his arrival, three strange men descend on Lucys home, raping Lucy, beating David, and killing the kenneled dogs.

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In the weeks and months after the attack, Lucys exact thoughts and memories are never revealed, but she struggles with depression and gradually accepts the realization that she is pregnant. David tries to find his footing again in two different ways, composing a libretto about Byrons mistress, Teresa, and volunteering at an animal clinic where injured or unwanted animals are put to sleep. Every single weekend, a number of dogs must be killed. Afterwards, their corpses are sheathed in plastic, and then cremated at a hospital incinerator. David takes over the latter part of the work, folding the dogs bodies so they wont become broken or jammed, and placing them in the plastic shroud. He then drives the dogs to the incinerator, and gradually begins staying with the dogs bodies in order to feed them into the flames (work normally done by laborers) (141-146). The final scene of the novel takes place during a session of euthanasia (144). Twenty-three dogs have already been killed (219). Bev Shaw, the veterinarian in charge, gives David the chance to save the young dog that showers David in generous affection (215). But deciding to euthanize this dog as well, David calls the dog, and then, Bearing him in his arms like a lamb, he re-enters the surgery. I thought you would save him for another week, says Bev Shaw. Are you giving him up? Yes, I am giving him up. (220) Contemplating the stunning coup of this final scene, Rita Barnard has described it as a reminder of the radically new, and has even cautioned against beating it into shape with a critical shovel, in reference to the way the dogs bodies are processed by laborers before David takes over the job (222-223). But if we treat the final scene as a radical departure from the body of the novel, we risk another sort of interpretative violence: not the battering to which Barnard alludes, but something resembling Davids own actions when he sublimates the dogs into ashes. In the critical literature on Disgrace, the many signs and fragments of the Binding of Isaac have not been considered; in fact, the novels sacrificial thematic has been largely passed over in enthusiastic and sometimes exuberant discussions of the focalizing characters involvement with animals. Certain readings culminate in a sort of euphoria over Davids work for dogs, a feeling that may be driven by the suppression of sacrifice from Davids relationships with women and from his obscure involvement with animals, including the twin-like slaughtersheep, the he-goat, and the dogs.

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An s pluralizes the biblical name of the character Melanie Isaacs, inscribing her in a chain of substitution and incomplete or disappointed sacrifice. In Disgrace, Melanie shares her name and identity with a sister, Desiree Isaacs, a schoolgirl dressed in uniform who has Melanies eyes, Melanies wide cheekbones, Melanies dark hair (163). Both are assimilated to the figure of the girl child who does not own herself, as David says of Melanie: in other words, in Davids half-ironic fantasy, they tremble on the border between human and animal, sexual maturity and childhood, self-possession and possession by the other (53, 18). Melanies animal aspect is part of her seductive power. David fixates upon her coarse-knit sweater, black tights, and little black woolen cap (9, 11, 26). A diminutive horn is even visible in the delicate whorl of her ear (25). Through scattered references to sacrificial law in the Hebrew Bible, ovine Melanie is further identified as an acceptable sacrifice. David describes her as a firstborn child, and repeatedly admires her perfect body (164, 23). Falsifying his classroom records, he marks her attendance as unblemished (41). Davids sexual possession of Melanie, which he qualifies as not quite rape, even bears comparison to the near-sacrifice (or not-quite sacrifice) of Isaac in Genesis 22 (25).9 When David mounts Melanie upon the low elevation of his living room floor, he suffers a petite mort that Coetzee suggestively compares to falling from a mountain top: he finds the act pleasurable, so pleasurable that from its climax he tumbles into blank oblivion (19). When David revives, he discovers that the girl is lying beneath him, her eyes closed, her hands slack above her head, a slight frown on her face (19). In Caravaggios Sacrifice of Isaac (Princeton version), the boys bound hands express a certain calm; in Rembrandts Sacrifice of Abraham, they are invisibly pinned at the small of his back.10 Melanies unbound hands lack any definite expression, but her stretched arms suggest bondage and exposure to harm (a situation that Melanie may indeed desire). But in a clever reversal, David is the one ligatured like a sacrificial beast. Whereas Melanies tights and panties lie in a tangle on the floor, Davids trousers are around his ankles (19). Coetzee transitions quickly from here to Davids classroom lesson on the poet in the Alps in the sixth book of William Wordsworths Prelude (21). David asks his students, The majestic white mountain, Mont Blanc, turns out to be a disappointment. Why? (21). Unconsciously, he interrogates the phenomenology of his own disappointment after the incomplete sacrifice of Melanie. Like a visual image burned on the retina, as David lectures, discussing Wordsworths metaphysical poetics, Mont Blanc replaces the Moriah of Davids living room floor, forming a chain, or mountain-chain, of erotic resemblances. In broader terms, the duplication of the sacred place

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points to the recurrence of sacrifice as a supposedly perfect accomplishment that is nonetheless repeatedly performed. Another Moriah is outlined as David compares the Alps of Wordsworth to local mountains of South Africa. The European mountains are like the Drakensberg, David suggests, struggling to engage his class or like Table Mountain, which we climb in the wake of the poets (23). Table Mountain, a landmark overlooking the city of Cape Town, is a plateau surrounded by peaks and cliffs. It looks uncannily like an elevated, sacrificial slab, hewn by cosmic forces. As Melanie and her substitutes continue to free themselves from Davids embrace, a shifting Moriah remains as the fantasmatic bedrock of passing rapture and inevitable disappointment. The evasion of Melanie continues to haunt David in his exile, as he admits in speaking of something unfinished in the business with Melanie (190). When attempting to reconcile with Melanies father, David speaks of being at a loose end (165). Of course, David had previously been left in a lurch when Soraya, a well-liked prostitute, permanently cancels their weekly meetings in the opening pages of the novel (11). This sense of unfinished business is one force compelling David to create the weekly appointments with the dogs. At the same time, in working with dogs and especially Driepoot, David stages an ideal interaction that transcends everyday interactions with others, others with shadows [and] complications, as David remarks with frustration (170). David is tired of shadows, of complications, of complicated people; he loves his daughter, but there are times when he wishes she were a simpler being: simpler, neater (170). By sacrificing Driepoot in all its idiot simplicity, he momentarily removes the folds and frictions from relations with people, and from dog-killing, which David finds increasingly traumatizing and exhausting (170). To trace an additional fold (a word that also denotes an enclosure for sheep in Disgraces verbal-imaginary networks), Davids sacrifices in the clinics inner room evoke an essential erotic scene of folding, enfolding, and escape (5). Though Driepoot allows David to collect him in his arms, the other dogs lock their legs on the clinic table (143). But after they have been killed, David folds their limbs before rigor mortis sets in, making the classic shape of the sacrificial lamb (219). This folding takes place within enclosed spaces, which render the power of the sacrificer absolute while also presenting the possibility of escape. Likewise, Davids seduction of Melanie is framed by barriers and thresholds, conducted within walls; one night, he enjoins her to stay while enabling her release, reluctantly unlocking the garden gate and allowing her to wriggle out (18): He reaches out, enfolds her. For a moment he can feel her little breasts against him. Then she slips his embrace and is gone. (17)

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Davids libidinal scene complicates his relationship with his daughter, Lucy, who demands recognition as a fellow adult. David knows this telling the man who wants to marry Lucy that She wants to live her own life but he also keeps his daughters childhood bedroom, and twin bed, unchanged in his house in Cape Town (202, 26). After the attack, David follows Lucy into the dog kennels, where she is attending to the dead and dying dogs. In the parameters of the fantasy space, David is reduced to the bumbling desirous father. My dearest child! he says. He follows her into the cage and tries to take her in his arms. Gently, decisively, she wriggles loose. (97) And again, with Lucy, My child, my child! he says, holding out his arms to her. When she does not come, he puts aside his blanket, stands up, and takes her in his arms. In his embrace she is as stiff as a pole, yielding nothing. (99) Folding the dogs, sheathing them in bags, David makes a routine of these idealized exertions of gentle power. When Driepoot appears, his scene repeats, He opens the cage door. Come, he says, bends, opens his arms. The dog wags its crippled rear, sniffs his face, licks his checks, his lips, his ears. He does nothing to stop it. Come. (220) Enfolded in the room of mirrors, Melanie, Lucy, Driepoot and others assimilate traits of one another. They also bear traces of intertextual doubles (including Lolita, the Nabokovian girl-child, who is remembered in Davids reference to Driepoots lolloping and by Coetzees repetition of the number twelve).11 But Driepoot and Melanie take on the special relationship of Isaac and the ram, of the royal child and the whipping boy, of the beloved firstborn that can be taken by God, and the livestock firstling that redeems him (Exodus 13). This embedded bond is indicated by a subtle play of similarities. When David spies on Melanie during her play rehearsal, he is ravished by her wiggling bottom, a canine image applied more fittingly to Driepoot when the excited mutt wags his crippled rear for David (25, 220). The room in which Driepoot is to be put down is described as a surgical theatre, which connects the dogs gripping death to Melanies performance at the chic Dock Theatre (142-143, 190). The stage is haunted by euthanasia as one modality of modern violence toward animals: David notes that it was formerly a cold storage plant where the carcasses of pigs and oxen hung waiting to be

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transported across the seas (190-191). In these theatre spaces, circuses of animal suffering, David occupies a strange position between participant and spectator in the killing of animals. From our perspective, he becomes a witness to animal suffering in modernity, whether in animal shelters, scientific laboratories, or windowless slaughterhouse plants. Coetzee pushes the concept of the double to its limit by linking Melanie to the ram-dog through a series of oppositions. While Driepoot is deformed (unfit for sacrifice, according to Biblical law), Melanie is perfectly formed (30); whereas Melanie is impervious to the so-called cat-music that David plays as he wills the girl to be captivated, Driepoot, the dog that likes music, is a captive audience fascinated by the sound of [Davids] banjo (15, 219, 215). Again, in these connections, Coetzee may establish a registry of human violence toward animals. In The Others: How Animals Made Us Human, Paul Shepard remarks that German medieval Katzenmusik (or cat-music), a ritual and social genre analogous to the French charivari, imitated the cries of cats being tortured in the streets (276). In a final indication of the links between them, Melanie and Driepoot are bound together by proxy in the pair of half-grown slaughter-sheep, purchased by Lucys neighbor, Petrus, for a party to celebrate the birth of a son (113, 126). The pair is tethered on a desolate patch of earth where they have no access to food or water. David, though irritated at first by their bleating, finds himself strangely disturbed by the manner in which the condemned sheep are being kept (123). He puzzles, A bond seems to have come into existence between himself and the two Persians, he does not know how. The bond is not one of affection. It is not even a bond with these two in particular, which he could not pick out from a mob in a field. Nevertheless, suddenly and without reason, their lot has become important to him. (126) Here, and throughout the novel, recurring images that are seemingly incidental indicate, without unveiling, the patterns in Davids mysterious impulses. In this case, the stammering of bond may point to the Binding of Isaac. Indeed, David compares the sheeps slaughter to the open-air sacrifices practiced by non-priests in the Hebrew Bible. He remarks that the celebrants, cooking the sheep, send a pleasing odor skyward, which David, godlike, judges offensive: Soon there comes on the wind the stench of boiling offal, from which he infers that the deed has been done (127). In a clarifying afterthought, he adds, the double deed. With this splicing of one deed into two, David inscribes the slaughter-sheep into diverging chains of doubling and substitution that lead progressively to Melanie and to the novelending dog. Describing the victims as black-faced Persians, he points to Melanie (Melni: the dark one), and to the clothes she wears (dressed

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from top to toe in black, with a little black woolen cap); moreover, remarking that the sheep do not own themselves, do not own their lives, David echoes his assertion that Melanie does not own herself (123, 18). However, in a second chain of association, the sheep are linked to Melanies canine substitutes. At a loss for how to rescue the sheep, David contemplates pen[ning] them up in the dog cages (18, 26, 126, 206). Of course, when David asserts that Melanie Isaacs does not own herself, he adds, perhaps he does not own himself either (18). But this is part of Davids belief that his responsibilities are evacuated whenever he is ravished by a womans beauty. Indeed, when David later refuses to excuse Melanies absences from class, citing his professorial responsibilities, he notes that Melanie does not dignify the word with a reply (35). In general, David is skeptical of the notion of taking responsibility. But in his cynicism he embraces the opposite extreme, concluding that the source of his impulses is dark to him (33). In this sense, David becomes like Abraham, abandoning responsibility to his child when ravished by the all-consuming voice of God. Indeed, David is linked to Abraham in numerous ways. If the literal meaning of Abraham is exalted father or my exalted father, this is the role assumed by David in the relationship with Melanie. One morning, David comforts Melanie as she sobs in Lucys childhood bed, the place he chose for her to sleep. There, there, he says, nearly murmuring, Tell Daddy what is wrong (26). Later, when Melanies father (the other father, the real one, 67) comes looking for Professor Lurie in the corridors of the university, David says without thinking, Here I am (37). The phrase is one that Abraham utters three times in Genesis 22, responding to God, to the angel, and to Isaac as well (v. 1, 7, 11). Moreover, the word intervenes punctuates all of Disgrace (53, 130, 145, 173), ringing popular retellings of the Biblical story and indicating Davids stubborn belief that forces more powerful than Melanie are to blame for ending the affair. He says, Melanie would not have taken such a step by herself []. She is too innocent for that, too ignorant of her power (39). He instead blames Melanies father, describing him like the Wizard of Oz, concealed behind a screen: He, the little man in the ill-fitting suit, must be behind it (39). Finally, Coetzee alludes to the multiplication and dissemination of Abrahams descendants when David wonders whether old men like himself should indeed father future generations (190). David concludes it unnatural to broadcast [] old seed, tired seed, seed that does not quicken (190). Lucy agrees, encouraging David in his struggle to abandon his characteristic paternalism. She says, You cannot be a father for ever (161). In addition to the binding of Isaac, another episode concerning Abrahams paternity and Isaacs very life is encrypted in the catastrophic attack on Lucys farm. This time, David plays the role of Abraham in relation

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to Sarah, his wife. Whereas Abraham and Sarah dissimulate their relations when dwelling among the Egyptians and the Philistines, posing as siblings and not as husband and wife (Gen 12:9-20, Gen 20), David and his daughter, Lucy, find themselves living not as father and daughter, flesh and blood, but as a stereotypical married couple. David remarks, As inexorably as if they were man and wife, he and she are being driven apart []. Their very quarrels have become like the bickerings of a married couple, trapped together with nowhere else to go (134). In Genesis 18, God visits Abraham and Sarah in the guise of three strangers. Abraham rushes frantically to show the strangers hospitality, offering scarce water for washing their feet, asking Sarah to prepare bread, and selecting the choicest calf from his herd to be dressed by a manservant (v. 4-7). After a sumptuous meal, the strangers inform Abraham that Sarah will have a son. Sarah, eavesdropping, laughs at the prospect of conception, saying, After I am waxed old shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also? (v. 12). The immaterial gift of improbable conception does reach Sarah, transported by the strangers words. Thus, even as Abrahams paternity is assured, his conjugal authority is compromised, as Sarah, standing at the opening of her tent, hears the strangers intimate promise and offers her audible laughter in exchange. The attack on Lucys farm accentuates these libidinal undercurrents, giving more room, or greater hospitality, to the suggestion of sexual ravishment, seizure of wealth, and circumvention of conjugal authority in the Biblical narrative. Gift-bearing marauders, the divine visitors arrive in Disgrace on what David calls a day of testing (94). David and Lucy are walking with the dogs. When three men approach with long strides from over the horizon, David and Lucy offer them a nod, a greeting, without expecting or inviting them to stop (98). The strangers request hospitality themselves. Asking to use Lucys telephone, they open a line into ethereal alterity. When Lucy asks, Why must you telephone? they mention an accident, a baby (92). Lucy lets them in, first locking the dogs in the kennels and instructing David to stay outside. They rape her (an event unseen), ignoring Davids plea from outside the house to Take everything. Just leave my daughter alone (94). When their work inside is done, the strangers use Lucys rifle to slaughter the dogs in the kennels, eliminating Lucys defense system in an amplifying remembrance of Abrahams slaughter of a calf from his herd. The ice cream they devour in Lucys kitchen before leaving may even recall the butter and milk with which Abraham and Sarah regale their guests (96). But despite the exploitative nature of the strangers passage, it bears the ambivalent status of a pharmakon, as David implies when describing the probable rapist as strikingly handsome (92). In this expression, spoken before the rape, David presciently fuses the extreme violence of the strike to the chance of beauty for Lucys child. There are other glimpses of the brighter life Lucy envisions

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when, deciding to go through with the pregnancy, she determine[s] to be a good mother (216). In the early morning, before the strangers arrive, Lucy admires the auspicious, lucky geese that visit her each year (88). The same morning, chiding her father, Lucy laughs (91), recalling Sarahs laughter at the notion of having a child after menopause (Gen 18.9-15). Two events in Coetzees novel, the attack on the farm, and the sacrifice of Driepoot, stun us in a first reading, and always retain their frame of incongruity. But regarded as encryptions of Genesis 18 and 22, these events can surprise us again: they become rewritings of ancient material, and of ancient surprises, no less. One word that does not surface often in the patterns of Biblical allusion in Disgrace is sacrifice. Lucy uses it once in the sense of self-sacrifice, but David detects an intention to sacrifice him. Lucy says, I must have peace around me. I am prepared to do anything, make any sacrifice, for the sake of peace (208). David demands, And am I part of what you are willing to sacrifice? Shrugging, Lucy replies, I didnt say it, you did. David shoots back, Then Ill pack my bags. Here, David activates a chain of packing metaphors that figure two modalities of sacrifice in the novel: being sacked like the dead dogs, wrapped in black plastic bags and being sent packing, like the Biblical scapegoat loaded with iniquities and expelled into the wilderness. David, repeatedly sent packing, projects this condition onto lower-ranking others that, in some cases, he quite literally packs. Soon after telling Lucy that he will pack his bags, David takes refuge in the clinic with the three-legged dog, and turns again to his outlandish opera (215). Not without an air of resignation, David foresees having to fold [Driepoot] up and pack him away in his bag (219-220).12 Another possible trajectory is traced in Davids interaction with Driepoot. When David takes refuge in the clinic, Driepoot invites David into an absurd and unpredictable musical routine of call and response, nudging him toward a greater acceptance of humility and humiliation. In the clinic, David works on his opera, strumming his banjo and humming the very limited lyrics that he writes. Driepoot, enchanted by the music, smacks its lips and seems on the point of singing too (215). In the beginning, David is inclined to allow Driepoot to loose its own lament between the strophes that he composes. He wonders, Would he dare do that: bring a dog into the piece []? (215). Ultimately, he says no, which compels us to ask Davids frequent question: why? One answer lies in Davids emblem and most enduring flaw: the burnt and slow-healing ear. During the attack on Lucys home, the intruders use household alcohol to set David on fire. He goes to the hospital with burns on his scalp, face, and eye, but he notes, the flange of his right ear is the only part of him that actually caught fire (106). Eventually, David reaches a point where [only] the ear still needs daily attention (141). When David sacrifices the dog that wants to sing, and that wants David to sing, David fails to attend to the ear, as

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Coetzee indicates through the mirroring of events: the hospital incinerator where the dogs are burnt up presumably sits on the grounds of Settlers Hospital, where David was treated for his wounded ear and promptly discharged (220, 116). When David returns to the periphery of the hospital, where he feeds the dogs into the incinerator, he may transfer his burn-wounds to the dogs, while also stubbornly keeping them raw. The incinerator signifies the perpetuation of Davids deafness to others: it is a realm of silence where David nourishes his preference for the eye, noting a sign in three languages and scrutinizing the activities of the laborers, whose sodality he does not wish to join (145). Before determining to sacrifice Driepoot, to wheel the bag into the flames and see that it is burnt, burnt up, David even represses a thought of the untrained ear (219, my emphasis). He wonders, Is it too late to educate the eye? (218). Following David to the incinerator can be obscurely gratifying. Perhaps it makes us feel that lives are being concluded properly, even sublimely, without residue. David is magnetized by dog-work but has difficulty listening to Lucy and answering her call to recognize the fullness of her world. In a number of conversations and arguments with David, Lucy struggles to convince him that she is like him, like all others at the center of an entire world (198). She affirms, I have a life of my own, just as important to me as yours is to you (198). Hinting that the problem lies with her fathers burnt ear, she writes in a letter, You are not listening to me [...] I am not the person you know (161). Listening to Lucy, and gradually knowing her, would lack the possibility of perfection and completion he finds in dog-work, a weekly cycle of incineration and sweeping clean. Like poetic interpretation in Derridas essay, the relationship with Lucy presents David with the trial of an encounter, of an open-ended test on the borders of the sacrificial paradigm. In Great, Glowing Vault, Celan protracts the rams killing to a point of infinite deferral. The singular animal is bodied forth infinitely, allowing Derrida to register its refusal to submit generously to sacrifice. In Coetzees novel, idealized representations of the lamb to the slaughter do appear in the final moments, in a scene of closure that corresponds to the sudden appearance and burning-up of the ram in the Biblical story. Almost as soon as Driepoot appears, he surrenders trustingly to David, tolerating Davids embrace and crossing the threshold to oblivion like a lamb (220). The novel as a whole, however, questions the exaggerated pliability of Driepoot, who would die for [David], he knows (215). Coetzee troubles the deflection of ordinary perishing onto idealized images of the animal, and gestures toward a non-absolute alternative to sacrifice in an other-directed ethics of listening and response. In the encounter with alterity, there remains the risk of sacrificing the others enunciation in order to protect ones naked ear (Disgrace 120). Derrida inscribes this condition in the catachretic figure of the wounded

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mouth. For a short period, David hangs upon the others speaking wound. When he hums the music to his opera, feeling the blood hammering in his throat, Driepoot licks his lips and almost sings or howls (215). In Derridas words, both sustain an animal alertness that, [] keeps attention forever in suspense, breathless, that is to say, keeps it alive, alert, vigilant, ready to embark on a wholly other path, to open itself up to whatever may come, listening faithfully, giving ear, to that other speech. (Rams 146) But in the breathless suspension of sacrifice, one doesnt remain passive, but rather attempts to countersign the vulnerable elocution of the other. David merely hums, but he should have brought himself to sing to Driepoot, who sits up, cocks its head, listens, and seems ready to sing in return (215). Derrida continues, speaking about poetry, Even when one recognizes and this is my case that on the side of the poem there is a wounded mouth, speaking, one still always risks suturing it, closing it. Hence it is the duty of the reader-interpreter to write while letting the other speak, or so as to let the other speak. It is this that I also call, as I was saying a moment ago, countersigning. [] One writes some other thing, but that is in order to try to let the other sign: it is the other who writes, the other who signs. (Rams 167) In Disgrace, Lucy might be the one to best represent this art of countersigning. After the attack, David finds Lucy taking in the carnage of the dog-pens in an impossibly faint, radically transfigured iteration of the sacrifice of Isaac (97). Lucy attends to one dog that remains alive with a gunshot wound in its throat. The dogs agony, its very wounded mouth, appeals to Lucy, almost from beyond the limit of the world. The dog with the throat-wound is somehow still breathing. She bends over it, speaks to it. Faintly it wags its tail. (97) Bending, speaking, breathing with and for the other, Lucy creates peace for a dog whose life is seeping out. David learns from Lucy and performs the same work for the dogs in the clinic. However, this moment of carrying the other is shattered in a tragicomic intervention of the angel of the Lord. David comes wailing: Lucy! causing her to look up with a frown (97).13 Is it proof that his ear still needs daily attention? Isnt it Lucy who has been listening faithfully, giving ear, to that other speech?

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NOTES
1

Rams belongs to a larger constellation of contemporaneous material, including a brief preface to the volume Chaque fois unique, la fin du monde (9-11). See also Derridas interview with velyne Grossman, The Truth that Wounds, as well as Derridas eulogy address for Hans-Georg Gadamer, entitled, Comme il avait raison! Mon Cicrone Hans-Georg Gadamer. See Derridas essay, Ulysses Gramophone: Hear Say Yes in Joyce. Coetzee seems to respond to Ulysses Gramophone in Elizabeth Costello, in Costellos recorded interview about Joyces character, Molly Bloom. See Elizabeth Costello 9-15. Mark Sanders, while not highlighting the Derridean yes in Davids affirmation, makes a fascinating argument about the novels final phrase, Yes, I am giving him up. Though giving up belongs to a category of verbs that David terms perfective (including seal off, burn up, and finish off), the verbs progressive form, I am giving, implies suspension, process, and non-completion. Biblical citations are from the King James Version.

4 My translation. Derridas words are, la mort, la mort elle-mme, sil y en a, ne laisse aucune place, pas la moindre chance, ni au remplacement ni la survie du seul et unique monde [] (Avant-propos, Chaque fois unique, la fin du monde). 5

My translation of Derridas phrase, Dieu veut dire: la mort peut mettre fin un monde, elle ne saurait signifier la fin du monde.

According to Jay, groups that sacrifice are often acutely concerned with father-son lineages, including the cultic lineages of legitimate priests. Additionally, sacrifice is almost never performed by women (with the exception of aged women and virgins, in some cases) (152, note 2). The rites, Jay argues, overcome the role of childbearing women in the reproduction of society, affirming a more essential male intergenerational continuity through sacrifice, a bloody demonstration of birth done better (xxiv). In Disgrace, Coetzee inscribes the classic opposition, which Jay explores, between pure, male, sacrificial blood, and the contaminating blood of women (though all blood is regulated and potentially dangerous). When David muses that the blood of life is leaving his body, he compares himself to a clean sacrificial animal whose blood must be drained into the ground (see Gen 9:4, Deut 15:23, 1 Sam 14:32). And yet, David rejects affiliation with the blood of women, glossing blood-matters as a womans burden, womens preserve (104). While glamorizing his own sacrifice, he fixates uncomfortably upon sanitary napkins (180), Lucys staleness, unwashedness (125), Lucys blood-stained mattress (121), and all that falls under menstruation, childbirth, violation and its aftermath (104).

The blessing reads, By myself have I sworn, saith the LORD, for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son: That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies; And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice (v. 16-18).

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To the series Celan-Derrida-Coetzee, in which the Genesis story is reopened with a focus on the ram, one could add Caravaggios two oil paintings of the sacrifice of Isaac (c. 1600). Particularly in the painting referred to as the Princeton version, Caravaggio presents the ram as a dog-like partner to the intervening angel. Hlne Cixous also brings the animal presence in the Akedah into relief, identifying the donkey as Abrahams confidant. See Writing blind: conversation with the donkey. Dominick LaCapra argues that Derrida elides the sacrificial animal, and the question of victimization more broadly, in his reading of Genesis in The Gift of Death, where he focuses instead upon Abrahams impossible position between imperatives (the absolute imperative to obey God, and the ethical imperative to preserve the life of his son). However, when Derrida returns to Genesis 22 in his later essay, Rams, he focuses on the animal as a key problem, a shift in focus that highlights the problem of victimization both in the Genesis story and in a broader theoretical tendency to valorize sacrifice or sacrificial qualities (182-183).
9

Here is the passage in full. Melanie has been wined and dined at an expensive waterfront restaurant. It has begun to rain: sheets of water waver across the empty bay. Shall we leave? he says. He takes her back to his house. On the living-room floor, to the sound of rain pattering against the windows, he makes love to her. Her body is clear, simple, in its way perfect; though she is passive throughout, he finds the act pleasurable, so pleasurable that from its climax he tumbles into blank oblivion. When he comes back the rain has stopped. The girl is lying beneath him, her eyes closed, her hands slack above her head, a slight frown on her face. His own hands are under her coarse-knit sweater, on her breasts. Her tights and panties lie in a tangle on the floor; his trousers are around his ankles. After the storm, he thinks: straight out of George Grosz. Averting her face, she frees herself, gathers her things, leaves the room. In a few minutes, she is back, dressed. I must go, she whispers. He makes no effort to detain her. He awakes the next morning in a profound state of well-being, which does not go away. (19-20)

Rembrandts painting is available at Rembrandt: The Complete Works. <http://www.rembrandtonline.org/>.


11 Lucy and Soraya (with her honey-brown body) are especially linked to Lolita in her adult and pubescent instars (1); but Melanie is as well, appearing on the threshold of her apartment in Lolitas sloppy felt slippers (Lolita 269; Disgrace 24). To give just one example, Lucys corpulent, asthmatic bulldog (Katy) resembles the dog of Lolita, heavy and old, who loped alongside [H.H.s] car like a fat dolphin, but was too heavy and old to keep up (Lolita 280). This image helps H.H. complete his picture of Lolita metamorphosed, like Lucy, into an unlovely but endearing (and milkskinned) mother-to-be. 12 David never considers destroying the pages of his opera, but this represents an unexplored trajectory in Coetzees storyline, one that wends its way through another

10

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novel by Nabokov. In Pale Fire, John Shade performs a weekly ritual in which he admits creative failures but also covers his traces. As Nabokovs delirious narrator informs us, Shade crafted verse on index cards but destroyed drafts the moment he ceased to need them (9). One brilliant morning, the narrator watches Shade, burning a whole stack of his index cards in the pale fire of the incinerator before which he stood with bent head like an official mourner among the wind-borne black butterflies of that backyard auto-da-f (9). However, Shade saved twelve draft-cards out of a sneaking fondness for them (9), as David feels a particular fondness for Driepoot, the twenty-fourth dog, and must decide whether to save him for another week (215, 219). Davids very name may connect him to Nabokovs pale fire and to Shades ritual of self-immolation. By a single alphabetic step, Lurie becomes lurid. The adjective is contradictory: it means both pale and glowing, like pale fire, like the dim fires of the hospital incinerator on the horizon (150), and like Davids personality: his temperament, though intense, has never been passionate (2); his style in bed is lengthy, absorbed, but rather abstract, rather dry, even at its hottest (3). There is another iteration of the angels interruption just prior to Davids sacrifice of Driepoot, which is in turn interrupted by the end of the novel in Coetzees selfconscious authorial coup. Lucy is bent over at work among the flowers, surrounded by bees in their seventh heaven (217); David, clearing his throat, calls Lucys name loudly and prompts her to look up this time with a smile. Even at this bright moment, a sinister lining is present: there is mention of the truck that David uses to take the dogs to the site of cremation (211), and there is also Katy, a placid ram-dog like Caravaggios, who raises her head then comes to sniff Davids shoes, perhaps sensing his movements around the clinic and the incinerator. Katy is in fact the only dog that the attackers spare when they shoot the dogs in the kennels. David tells a neighbor that he and Lucy lost the dogs, of course, all but one (115). David may therefore exceed the programmatic spirit of the attackers when he kills the last dog, Driepoot, telling Ben Shaw that there is one more (220). As the twenty-fourth dog, Driepoot is, like Katy, the seventh dog (110), precariously marked for the ritual metering of time.
13

WORKS CITED Attridge, Derek. Age of Bronze, State of Grace: Music and Dogs in Coetzees Disgrace. Novel 34.1 (2000). 98-121. Barnard, Rita. J.M. Coetzees Disgrace and the South African Pastoral. Contemporary Literature 44.2 (2003). 199-224. Coetzee, J.M. Boyhood: Scenes from Provincial Life. New York: Penguin Books, 1998. Disgrace. New York: Penguin Books, 2000. Elizabeth Costello. New York: Penguin Books, 2003.

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Cooper, Pamela. Metamorphosis and Sexuality: Reading the Strange Passions of Disgrace. Research In African Literatures 36.4 (2005). 22-39. Derrida, Jacques. Ulysses Gramophone: Hear Say Yes in Joyce. Acts of Literature. New York: Routledge, 1991. 253-309. Avant-propos. Chaque fois unique, la fin du monde. Paris: Galile, 2003. 9-11. Comme il avait raison! Mon Cicrone Hans-Georg Gadamer. Il y aura ce jour, la mmoire de Jacques Derrida. Ed. Georges Leroux, Claude Lvesque and Ginette Michaud. Montral: limpossible, 2005. 53-56. Rams: Uninterrupted Dialogue Between Two Infinities, the Poem. Trans. Thomas Dutoit and Philippe Romanski. Sovereignties in Question: The Poetics of Paul Celan. Ed. Thomas Dutoit and Outi Pasanen. New York: Fordham University Press, 2005. The Truth That Wounds: From an Interview. Trans. Thomas Dutoit. Sovereignties in Question: The Poetics of Paul Celan. Ed. Thomas Dutoit and Outi Pasanen. New York: Fordham University Press, 2005. LaCapra, Dominick. History and its Limits: Human, Animal, Violence. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2009. Jay, Nancy. Throughout Your Generations Forever: Sacrifice, Religion, and Paternity. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1992. Nabokov, Vladimir. Pale Fire. Berkeley: Berkeley Medallion Books, 1962. The Annotated Lolita. Ed. Alfred Appel, Jr. New York: Vintage Books, 1991. Sanders, Mark. Disgrace. Interventions: The International Journal of Postcolonial Studies 4.3 (2002). 363-373. Shepard, Paul. The Others: How Animals Made Us Human. Covelo, CA: Shearwater Books, 1996.

Crowds and Powerlessness: Reading //kabbo and Canetti with Derrida in (South) Africa
Rosalind C. Morris
What links the post-Enlightenment humanist discourse on the animal to that on Africa? What traces of being otherwise can be excavated from within the linguistic memory and narrative traditions of those who have, historically, been asked to signify Africanity? And when is the possibility of being otherwise that against which purgative violence is organized? Reading back from contemporary South African discourse on the human and the African, as framed by the problem of foreigners, animals and their rights, this chapter revisits Wilhelm Bleek and Lucy Lloyds material on /Xam mythology. Reading in light of Derridas late work, The Animal That Therefore I Am, it not only seeks the traces of /Xam thought about possible conceptions of human-animal being, but also seeks to bring that thought to bear on Elias Canettis rendering of /Xam myth in his monumental work, Crowds and Power. Under the specter of xenophobic violence, as it materialized in South Africa in 2008, we conclude here by considering how and why the predicament of being simultaneously modern and African is articulated in contemporary South Africa as a question of the animal as citizen, by figures as diverse as Thabo Mbeki and J.M. Coetzee.

For Anne, Antjie, and Ingrid

They are animals. They treat us like animals. This statement, uttered by a Somali immigrant in South Africa following a recent eruption of what has been called xenophobic violence, expresses an obvious and commonplace sense of othering. It is a nearly universal gesture to abuse others by naming them as animals. But if one listens carefully to these words, one can also discern in them something more specific. Here, animality designates the kind of being that lacks compassion, that does not care for the suffering of others, and that disavows others precisely by withholding from them a capacity to suffer. It stages a complex mirroring between compassionless humans and suffering animals. It is the kind of statement made possible only in the aftermath of Jeremy Benthams extraordinary rephrasing of the question of humanitys relationship and obligation to its animal others. Can they suffer? he asked. Derrida reminds us of the importance of this question, and its partial displacement of language and Reason as the definitive and exclusive attributes of humanity at a turning point in European history (The

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Animal 27). We will have occasion to consider Benthams intervention in some detail below, but in the meantime I wish to focus on the logic and idioms structuring local understandings of the recent violence in order to draw out what was, and is, the problem of Africanity in South Africa today. Only then will it be possible to understand its relationship to the animal question. The events of which the above-cited, anonymous immigrant spoke erupted in May of 2008, when a series of violent, collective actions were aimed at individuals identified as foreigners. These so-called foreigners were residing in poor townships of major metropolitan centers, especially Johannesburg and Cape Town. Alexandra Township, of Johannesburg, was the putative origin of this phenomenon, but it was also observed elsewhere, and, though largely contained, it continued to manifest in more rural regions quite remote from the wealthy centers of capital. The violence directed against so-called foreigners was remarkable for its rapidity, intensity and organized, collective nature. It was also remarkable for its cruelty. Victims were chased from their homes, their property burned or otherwise destroyed. Many were physically assaulted by groups, pummeled with household implements and left unconscious or presumed dead. Women with small children were not spared. Most horrifyingly, some people were burned alive in that form of execution which arose in South Africa during the antiapartheid struggle called necklacing.1 In Gauteng Province alone, sixty-three people died in these assaults, which took place over a period of less than one week, and approximately 100,000 people were rendered homeless.2 Police, eventually backed by the military, managed to restore order to those townships where the violence had occurred, and massive counter-protests, featuring the slogan, Shame on Us, emerged almost instantaneously. Explanations of the violence have tended to invoke the class differences that now operate in a country that foreswore a fuller revolution and the politics of redistribution in the interest of peace and the creation of black capital. Working class and unemployed South Africans responded to the events of May 2008 with a commentary that, no doubt, captures much of the truth of the situation, if not the nature of the violence. Staggeringly high unemployment rates (exceeding forty percent in many townships), inadequate housing, and poor, sometimes non-existent services (water, electricity and sewerage) have generated an economy of severest scarcity. Every new body taxes these already stretched resources. Moreover, a government effort to provide housing through the Reconstruction and Development Program, which erects about 180,000 houses per year, has in some places been subverted. Bribery and corruption have permitted some people to access housing ahead of those who are merely in line for such benefits, and some of those thought guilty of bribery are non-citizens, or have

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arrived in RDP areas more recently than those who have been waiting (whether for services or something else) since the programs inauguration. This being in line is, of course, the symptom of industrial modernity in South Africa, an iconic mark of its bureaucratic systems and the organizational protocols of its main industry, mining. Thus, the great sefela artist, Ngoane Tooane Motsoafi, sings of the in a file people who obediently work in the mines, and dreams of corpses forming a line. The forms of work and of death are almost interchangeable for him, and with the bravado typical of sefela artists, he mocks this submission to the line.3 For township residents today, however, it is the violation of the line, the patient waiting for that to which one is supposedly entitled but which seems endlessly delayed, that constitutes the biggest threat. Breaking into this line, not waiting ones turn, is tantamount to bringing death to others; it make them wait in line too long, indeed until death. There is no doubt that these economic pressures are deeply implicated in the violence of 2008. Nor is there any doubt that perceptions of corruption and bribery are accurate in many but certainly not all instances. Moreover, South Africa is now home to some 3,000,000 people who are classed as illegal immigrants, and its infrastructure and political institutions are not equipped to sustain them. Nonetheless, the nature of that implication remains unclear. For the violence was most acute in areas which had enjoyed significant improvement in service delivery over the past decade, and relatively successful reconstruction programs. A report by metropolitan police head Robert McBride claimed that personal conflict underlay many of the assaults, and that criminals opportunistically seized on the riots, offering protection services to foreigners and then either identifying those who refused them or participating in the destruction of their property and persons. Even so, McBride acknowledged that it was xenophobia that created the opportunity (Basson 6). Recognition of a bias against foreigners has been circulating in South Africa for at least ten years, and it has been noted that the phenomenon is common among all of the most developed nations in the southern African region. Yet, it is remarkable that most of those communities with long-term histories of migrant labor, and transient but formally recognized populations of non-citizens, were relatively quiet during the 2008 riots. Most mining towns, for example, remained peaceful if tense, and while violence certainly afflicted some mining communities, it was much more prevalent elsewhere. Sometimes, this quietude was itself well-organized,4 but the strange distribution of xenophobia begs us to ask whether the violence is, in fact, adequately described by that word, xenophobia. There are many reasons why one might be tempted to call this violence xenophobic, for it is accompanied by a vociferous demand a demand attempting to become a commandment that foreigners leave, that they go

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home. Many South Africans read this politics of expulsion, which ironically encodes a commitment to the idea of home, as either primordially African or as a function of the colonial uprooting of people from the homes to which they would otherwise have been attached. Some also see the turn to an ideology of autochthony or indigeneity as, itself, a function of colonial modernity and its aftermath.5 Percy Zvomuya, writing in the Mail and Guardian, takes up the first position, to argue that Africans on the continent have never liked one another [] Ever since Europes powers sat down in Berlin in 1884 to divide Africa among themselves, Africans have internalized the differences the Europeans foisted on them in their quest for empire and wealth. Zvumoya adduces a painful litany of incidents from across the post-colonial continent in which one group of Africans has tried to expel another from the national territory that it claims to rightfully dominate. Striking among these is his invocation of Robert Mugabes reference to totemless aliens, namely Malawian and Zambian farm-workers whom Mugabe blamed for supporting the Movement for Democratic Change (his opposition) in Zimbabwe. Many of the foreigners who were attacked in South Africa were, of course Zimbabweans, their numbers having swelled during recent years as a result of agricultural failure and massive inflation, not to mention political violence in their home country. But Zvumoya somewhat mockingly recalls the less arcane derisions heaped on those same Malawians and Zambians, but also Mozambicans, by earlier Zimbabweans. And he continues with like tales from Botswana, Nigeria, Zambia and elsewhere. Writing against the analyses proffered by Zvumoya is Jacob Dlamini. The two cultural critics represent something like the extreme poles of thencurrent discourse about the violence within South Africa, and between them a whole array of competing claims and vexed questions have been articulated. For his part, Dlamini suggests that neither economic competition within a specifically South African economy nor a primordial aversion to difference lies at the roots of a phenomenon that he also terms xenophobic. The xenophobic attacks do not come from the inability of South Africans to deal with difference. The causes of this despicable bout of violence and madness are many, but the mere fact of difference is not one of them, he insists. Quite rightly, he observes the long history in which people from neighboring states have been integrated as part of the labor force in South Africa not only as miners but also as shoemakers and tailors, and as participants in local struggles against apartheid. He does not remark, though he might have, that migrant miners from Lesotho were actually granted many of the rights associated with citizenship, including voting, under the first South African constitution thereby demonstrating how complex and capacious are the forms of relation between natives and foreigners in recent South African history (Neocosmos 5). In any case, claims Dlamini, the South African

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economy is not bounded in ways that are isomorphic with the political boundaries of the nation-state. Accordingly, he argues that it is necessary to speak of a unified southern African economic region. Yet, if there is truth in this analysis (and there is much), it is a truth that reinvigorates the enigma of xenophobia: The tragedy of recent events is precisely that the perpetrators of these evil acts ignored this very rich history of integration between locals and migrants. In response, Dlamini rejects the economizing efforts by ANC leaders to demand hospitality on the grounds that members of the governing party who went into exile during the apartheid years were the recipients of generosity in other nations.6 Why make the experience of a small minority the basis of a national ethics of hospitality-as-debt, asks Dlamini. In the end, however, he merely extols the virtues of humanism in the face of the unanswerable question: What transformed foreignness into a force that people felt they had to expel? Thus, he asserts that the responsibility to be kind to others must come out of humanitys perennial concern about what it means to be human. What then, is the nature of this violence which, in so many ways, seems to have been torn from the pages of Elias Canettis Crowds and Power and especially that part of the text devoted to baiting crowds? And what conception of the human writes hospitality as one of its constitutive elements? We will return to the latter question at the end of this essay. Here, I want to focus on the question of violence. Baiting crowds are, for Canetti, those crowds which form spontaneously around the explicit goal of killing (if only by expelling) single individuals, whose presence is thought to bear the menace of death: The crowd advances towards victim and execution in order to rid itself once and for all of its own deaths, he writes. The crowd is destined for failure, however. Canetti continues, But what actually happens to it [the crowd] is the opposite of this. Through the execution, though only after it, it feels more menaced than ever by death; it disintegrates and disperses in a kind of flight. The greater the victim, the greater the fear (4950). One can imagine that, in places where food and housing are so short as to threaten individuals with starvation and death by exposure to the elements, the presence of others can itself feel like the force of death. But which others? Who is an other? This is the question that the events of 2008 in South Africa so urgently pose. The question must be asked on two levels, first on the level of who, specifically, was systematically victimized by so-called xenophobic violence in South Africa (and perhaps in other comparable contexts). The second question concerns the way in which the enactment of violence against others is read as an index of a persisting alterity in and of South Africa. The two questions, we shall see, converge in the category of Africanity. A Human Rights Watch report notes that the first attacks in Alexandra Township were preceded by a community discussion of crime, and that, during a public forum, foreigners were said to be responsible for the crime

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that currently afflicts Alexandra. Robert McBrides report even goes so far as to suggest that community crime-fighting associations and a state-sponsored Take Charge program may have ironically created the conditions of possibility for massive scapegoating. Having determined that crime was itself foreign, crowds in the township called Beirut, (the irony could not be more acidic), marched under the soaring call of the following chant: Khipha ikwerekwere (kick out the foreigners). Who are the foreigners? Like many other townships, Alexandra is home to people from all over South Africa, people who speak isiXhosa, isiZulu, seTswana, seSotho, siVenda, English and Afrikaans among other languages. It is an urban community, whose very existence on the periphery of Johannesburg makes it a magnet for migrants from across the country and the southern part of the continent. A perusal of video shot by journalists during the week of rioting shows that the foreigners were identified as those without papers. In other words, they were those who could not demonstrate that they are South African, or at least legal residents with rights to the goods and services provided by the South African state. This is a remarkable fact, for it indicates that there might otherwise have been confusion about who is a foreigner. One woman, with loudspeaker in hand, can be seen on an independent journalists video agitating the crowd, telling them to go house to house, shack to shack, demanding papers. If there are none, she harangues, the shacks must be burnt. Stories of similar incidents abounded in the South African press for weeks after the initial violence broke out. The fact that the foreigners were to be identified as those without papers indicates how powerful the idea of the state is even among those with little state-based education. Calls for assaults on people without papers reveal that it is the state which mediates, by recognizing, the identity of the countrys residents. As much as any discernible visible difference, or any obvious racial stereotypy, the recognition (or lack thereof) by the state in the form of papers seems to have provided the alibi for violence in 2008.7 Those without papers (the sans papiers of South Aftica) are, of course, those not eligible for government support services, and a lack of papers is one of the mechanisms by which poor people are denied their title to land and other resources now as under apartheid. Often, such people and their advocates deride the injustice of this regime of papers, and indeed, the history of the anti-apartheid struggle is replete with a kind of insurgency that specifically targeted the paper-giving rituals of a state which used documentation as the means to implement its politics of difference-as-inequality. Passbook protests, in which black people burned the passbooks that the state required them to have at all times, but especially while traveling, are the signal example of this kind of protest.8 Today, the lack of papers among both poor South Africans and non-South African migrants creates a problem of identity, of course. And, on occasion, there is the possibility that the two may be confused. The risk is exacerbated

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by the fact that many of the language areas and hence spaces of belonging in southern Africa overlap but also confound the boundaries of the nation-state. Thus, for example, SeTswana is spoken in Botswana as well as in South Africa, the Tsonga spoken by Shangaan people is found in Mozambique but also in Limpopo Province, and SiSwati is similarly spoken by the Swazi people in Swaziland, Mozambique and South Africa. There are many more comparable examples. Moreover, the fact that some foreigners may be able to lay claim not only by bribery, but through processes of naturalization to resources that are designated for South Africans also suggests that there is confusion. Foreigners, it seems, may also be able to assume the appearance and even the place of South Africans. Or at least some South Africans fear such a possibility. Indeed, this possibility is constantly invoked by those who assert that the foreigners are usurping the place of South Africans in the line for RDP housing, or water, or electricity. The reverse is also true. South Africans without documentation can be treated as foreigners, as evidenced by the fact that nearly thirty percent of those killed in the xenophobic attacks were originally from South Africa, and hence could claim to be South African (Basson 6). The problem, then, is not foreigners per se, but the possibility that the category of the foreigner may be unstable, that it may be impossible to know who is a foreigner and hence that one could be evicted from ones rightful place as someone in and of the place which is South Africa. Here, violence seems to be born of a need or a desire to produce a difference that otherwise cannot be so clearly discerned. In this context, the relative impunity of Asian workers (Japanese sushi chefs, for example), not to mention Europeans, is revealing. Khipha ikwerekwere in this context also means: I am not a foreigner. Indeed, this claim, which is only partly a claim to national belonging, may be one of its primary meanings. And it has as its spectral other side a mirror image of comparable instability, bitterly expressed as a loss of identity among foreigners. Thus, Zimbabwean journalist Munyaradzi Makoni, who sought refuge in South Africa seven months prior to the attacks in May, writes, Thousands of refugees are not sure of who they are any more.9 If the recent violence in South Africa is partly born of fear, the kind of fear that menaces the baiting crowds described by Canetti, it is also partly because this statement, I am not a foreigner, is vulnerable to question from both sides. In 2008, poor South Africans felt themselves to be at risk of losing their relative access to resources that would mark their difference from other Africans. And it is against other Africans that most violence is directed. Perhaps, one should say that the loss of relative access would be the ironic sign of their becoming African and not only South African. I say ironic both because such access has not, historically, been either a right or an actuality for this group of people, but also because it is precisely this becoming

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African that South African President Thabo Mbeki claimed as the basis of the post-apartheid regimes re-orientation, and of his own (post-Mandela) program of continental recovery, which he terms African Renaissance.10 To be an African: this is the lure and the terror that confronts South Africans after the fall of apartheid. It is ideologically invested and affectively disavowed. It conjures a sense of authenticity but also of dysfunction, the idea of priority but also of failure. At the origin of humanity, Africans are also those whose states are repeatedly said to be (and often are) failing them. Accordingly, ideologues of an African Renaissance avow continental solidarities while working class residents of South Africa live in horrified thrall to the inflationary despotism of Robert Mugabes Zimbabwe. A FutureFact survey of 2,500 South Africans found that 70% of township dwellers, and 64% of suburban residents believe South Africans are superior to other Africans. On the question of border patrol, 76% of township residents and 86% of suburbanites advocate strict limitations on emigration from troubled African countries.11 South Africa is riven by the competition between a popular fear of Africanity (among people of all races) and an elite avowal of it, between a common desire for isolation as the means of guaranteeing exceptionalism, and a solidarity that seeks recognition of Black South Africans belated arrival to the status of postcoloniality. Let us then consider what is entailed by the avowal of Africanity in South Africa. Thabo Mbekis famous, I am an African speech which, until his overthrow by populist rivals at Polokwane, some believed would have the same force for contemporary South Africans as Nelson Mandelas Rivonia Trial speech had for his generation, was delivered when he was still Deputy President, on the euphoric occasion of the adoption of the new constitution. It begins, not incidentally, with beginnings, and these are axiomatically African. On an occasion such as this, we should, perhaps, start from the beginning, he says. So, let me begin. I am an African. Africanity and origin are interchangeable terms, here; the one implies the other. The rhetorical structure of the entire speech, punctuated repeatedly by the phrase, I am an African, identifies the sources of this Africanity as, quite simply, being in the place of Africa. It is not possible to read this text in its entirety here, but for our purposes it is worth noting the degree to which the speech incarnates and articulates the twin but competing ambitions of nationalism and pan-Africanism. The nationalist dimension is dominant at the level of function, but the panAfricanist ambition rings repeatedly throughout the speech. In the doubling of these two interests, the idea of indigeneity emerges as the basis of all claims to authority. Power accrues to the one who is in place, and in the place of his or her origins.

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It is thus first of all the landscape from which Mbeki draws his identity. Subsequently, it is the animals and the desolate souls of the Khoi and the San, whom Mbeki describes as perished, that are named as ancestors.12 The Khoi and the San fell victim to the most merciless genocide our native land has ever seen, they who were the first to lose their lives in the struggle to defend our freedom and dependence [sic] and they who, as a people, perished in the result [sic]. Claiming descent from the European colonizers as well as those whom they killed, enslaved or conquered, Mbeki then advocates memory, including that of ones ancestors murderousness, as the key to humanity: Today, as a country, we keep an audible silence about these ancestors of the generations that live, fearful to admit the horror of a former deed, seeking to obliterate from our memories a cruel occurrence which, in its remembering, should teach us not and never to be inhuman again. Among the most unexpected gestures in this speech is that in which Mbeki, asserting his Africanity, also contemplates the possibility of the animals having citizenship. It is one of the moments in which the concept of the nation comes radically into question, and when the continent both grounds and vanishes beneath the nation. At times, and in fear, I have wondered whether I should concede equal citizenship of our country to the leopard and the lion, the elephant and the springbok, the hyena, the black mamba and the pestilential mosquito. A human presence among all these, he continues, a feature on the face of our native land thus defined, I know that none dare challenge me when I say I am an African!13 The invocation of two sets of original co-habitants in the historical space of South Africa namely the animals and the Khoi and San peoples is significant. These two groups have almost invariably been identified as the original inhabitants of southern Africa by both colonial writers and anti-colonial nationalists, to say nothing of post-colonial historians. Between them and the historical era is the event of European arrival, and all that it entails. It is with them (the San and the Khoi, often lumped together as Khoisan), and with their interrupted relationship to animals that the question of the foreigner is introduced in South Africa. One might say that the era of colonialism is the era of the foreigner an era marked by the arrival of Europeans, the importation of slaves from the Malay archipelago, the expulsion of residents from their lands, and the subsequent recruitment of migrant workers from now-restricted agricultural areas to the mines. But it is also the era of contact with the foreign, via the capitalized trade with distant regions. For the other (South) Africans, the speakers of Bantu languages who migrated into the Cape from regions further north, both before and after the Europeans arrived, the European arrival meant the displacement by capitalism of that awkward and sometimes violent balance between the hunter-gatherer San and the agropastoralist Khoekhoen and Bantu peoples.14 It meant the arrival of a foreignness that could not be accommodated except through compulsion. It also meant the transformation

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of local antagonisms under the laws of commensurability and opposition. The Khoekhoe and the San, referred to as Bushmen and Hottentots by Europeans who subjected them to colonial domination, came to forge new and unexpected alliances with each other, even as they were co-opted into wars against the Bantu-speakers. Yet, as Mbekis speech insists, their communities would be mercilessly reduced. Initially, their destiny, as those whom Europeans recognized as original inhabitants of the area, appeared to be death. In the nineteenth century, originariness was understood to be that which is surpassed, or to use Canettis language, that which is survived rather than that which survives. In this respect, it is a quality attributed to both Africans and animals. Not that which survives, but that which is survived. It would be tempting to say that this understanding puts the Khoekhoen and San in the position of animals, but this would not be quite correct. It would be more accurate to say that the Khoekhoen and the San, but especially the San, were subjected to this positioning because they were deemed not to have separated themselves sufficiently from the animals, or because they attributed too much power to animals. This is a way of saying that they were thought to lack a discourse of the animal-as-Other. Perhaps this was a correct assessment, though a wrongly valued one. Mbeki himself acknowledges and, to a certain extent, reproduces the appearance of that persistent intimacy, that being-with-animals for which the San came to be known throughout the world. But what is the nature of that intimacy for Mbeki? He can almost imagine citizenship for the animals, and he can (almost) do so out of fear. His statement is extraordinary for its vivid identification of fear as the basis for granting citizenship to an other. The animals named are mostly predatory, or at least enormous (the springbok stands alone as a relatively innocuous, vegetarian beast). In other words, they are beasts that could inflict death on a human, which could, in this limited physical sense, claim dominion in the place where humans also live. Of course, the animals are not granted citizenship. Citizenship is only for human beings, and moreover, only for humans native to a place or naturalized in it. Hence, in South Africa, it can be granted to Europeans, as well as Malays and Chinese, to Xhosas as well as Zulus, Khoekhoen as well as San. Animals may, in a certain manner, have rights, but not citizenship. One doesnt attribute to them duties. And this is because they are assumed at least within the terms of Western logocentrism to be incapable of either responding or assuming responsibility.15 Perhaps this is why some of the people persecuted by recent violence have said that they are being treated like animals. They have been given no opportunity to call into question the terms by which their persecution is being prosecuted (this questioning of the question is the gesture of response rather than reactivity). Perhaps too this is why some people have referred to those perpetrating the violence as being like animals, for those committing the

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violence seem to feel no sense of responsibility to those who have taken their place within the space of South Africa. In both cases, the specter that seems to be haunting the burned out townships is that of a feared confusion between those who are committing violence and those who are being violated. What does it mean to identify the other with an animal? To fear the other in oneself as an animal? To fear the possibility that one could become an animal? To fear that the boundary between what one is and what one is not lacks categorical stability? What is the history within which this question has been posed? What is the relationship between the question of Africanity and the question of animality in a history by which Enlightenment thought, reaching its apotheosis in Hegel, posits these two as the twinned figures of otherness, and the twinned objects of fear (to borrow a phrase from Hobbes)? How has this history figured in South Africa, where Africanity has been the name of both enslavement and liberation, and where, today, the question of the foreigner sublates within itself the question of the animal and the question of Africa? To answer these questions requires more than can be accomplished in an essay such as this. Nonetheless, we can begin to respond to this question by turning and returning to some of the iconic texts within which these questions have, however obtusely, been posed. As the foregoing paragraphs may already have intimated, my point of departure is Elias Canetti, whose efforts to theorize the history of tyranny makes the case of the Bushmen (/Xam San) the basis for a counter-discourse on modernity. It is Canetti who comes to mind in the violence of today, and whose efforts to think of the violence of another moment led him to South Africa. Reading with but also against Canetti, I move back toward the texts on which basis he derived his theory of crowds and transformation, namely the work of Wilhelm Bleek and Lucy Lloyd. The reader is asked to linger with these texts, to stay and to listen, to encounter what will no doubt seem foreign in order to grasp the enormity of the challenge of a difference which does not offer itself, immediately, to explanation or (what is worse, and what is perhaps Canettis failure) to reduction such that difference becomes that alterity against which the self-sameness of the West is established. Moving forward, I return to Canettis questions with J.M. Coetzee and Jacques Derrida, to understand, once again, why it is that South Africa today is the scene of the most urgent effort to rethink the relationship between Africanity and alterity, humanity and animality, alterity and co-existence. If, following the end of apartheid, the world watched South Africa with such bated breath, it was, I believe because the entire philosophical edifice in which was incarnated the project of Enlightenment thought with its valorization of Reason taking the form of a radical opposition between humanity and animality was being challenged. That this challenge has generated anxiety, that it has occasioned the violent affirmation of nationalism (perhaps the most familiar form of Enlightenment modernism), and that it has seemed at times destined to collapse into neo-

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primitivism should not blind us the great thought experiment which South Africans now labor to inhabit on behalf of a much larger world. Let us then return to the Khoekhoen and the /Xam San, who, after all, have not departed. It is not the case that the Khoekhoen and the San have perished so completely as to be merely desolate souls haunting the vast expanses of the beautiful Cape. Although the question of extinction remains one of controversy, and although it is still common to hear people, from Thabo Mbeki to Neil Bennun, say that they have entirely vanished from the world, there are, according to Geoffery Blundell, approximately 110,000 San people living in South Africa, Botswana, Namibia and Angola.16 But the myth of this disappearance has sustained the narrative of colonization for many centuries. For a long time, the San were known to Western audiences, and to South African audiences, primarily on the basis of the linguistic and ethnographic efforts of Wilhelm Bleek and Lucy Lloyd who, in the middle and late nineteenth century, worked with /Xam (members of the Bushmen/San language community) individuals to learn their languages, compose lexicons and dictionaries, record their myths and legends, and otherwise produce an account of the knowledges that they, individually, continued to bear in however fragmentary form. The men and women whom they interviewed and worked with had been incarcerated in colonial prisons, and were survivors of a devastating frontier campaign, as well as the typically destructive epidemics that afflicted the indigenes of the Cape (just as they afflicted most other indigenous populations in the world). The care and systematicity of the Bleek and Lloyd efforts to learn from and of the /Xam have not been surpassed to this day, and the dictionaries and compilations of narrative that they generated remain incomparable sources for anyone seeking to know something of the /Xam world in the moment that they encountered it. In 1911, Lucy Lloyd published an edited edition of the compilations that she and Wilhelm had generated under the title of Specimens of Bushman Folklore. Elias Canetti would later refer to it in his own work, Crowds and Power, as the most valuable record of early humanity, and on its basis, would devote an entire chapter to Presentiments and Transformation among the Bushmen (337). In that chapter, he would attribute to the Bleek and Lloyd text an understanding of how Bushmen really think and feel about what it means [] to think of a creature other than himself (Crowds 340). This understanding (accurate or not, real or phantasmatically projected) held Canetti fast, for it was transformation that he understood to be at the heart of the crowd, the only social phenomenon in which people overcome their putatively instinctual aversion to contact with others. The theoretical problem, which he believed to be a historical problem, was to explain how the overcoming of an aversion to others could simultaneously be the origin of

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a process by which the expulsion of the foreigner, and indeed the survival by killing of the other/foreigner, comes to define political life. To understand this, Canetti turned not only to human origins but to what he believed was the original mode of relation to animals. What amazed Canetti about the Bushmen described by Bleek and Lloyd was the degree to which they simultaneously identified with the animals of their presentiments, and yet remained separate from them. Indeed, without identification, the Bushmen would have lacked the magic of transformation. But without continued separation, says Canetti, the presentiment would be meaningless (341). In all of the transformations associated such presentiments, Canetti writes, one body is equated with another (340). This equation is not quite a substitution, however. Writing of a transformation in which a hunter identifies with a springbok, Canetti writes, The man feels the black hair on his ribs as though he were wearing the animals skin; but it is his own skin (341). Moreover, the mans capacity to retain a certain distinction between himself and the object of his presentiment also permits him to differentiate between the multiplicity of beings with whom he might, successively, identify. A Bushman can become this or that, but this and that remain separate from each other, for between transformations he always becomes himself again (341). Ultimately, the form of separation that is both most complete and indicative of the most profound proximity namely the moment in which the hunter slays his prey and possesses it is death. In Canettis words, the Bushman feels the living animal, his body becomes its body, moving and watching as it does. But he also feels the dead animal, as an alien body pressed to his own and in a state in which it can no longer escape him (342). The passage to which Canetti refers in Crowds and Power is that section titled Bushman Presentiments, in Specimens of Bushman Folklore. It commences thus: The Bushmens letters are in their bodies. They [the letters] speak, they move, they make their [the Bushmens] bodies move. They [the Bushmen] order the others to be silent; a man is altogether still, when he feels that his body is tapping [inside]. A dream speaks falsely, it is a [thing] which deceives. The presentiment is that which speaks the truth; it is that by means of which the Bushman gets [or perceives] meat, when it has been trapped. (Specimens 330) In a note to this section, which was recorded in the now silent /Xam dialect spoken then by the Bleek informant, //kabbo, in February and March 1873, Wilhelm Bleek notes that the word used for letters was !gw, which was used to denote both letters and books. According to Lloyds notes, //kbbo explained that the beatings in their bodies [] are the Bushmans letters,

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and resemble the letters which take a message or an account of what happens in another place (Specimens 331).17 In an earlier note, also appended by Lloyd during the editing stage, we find the following statement: They feel in their bodies that certain events are going to happen. There is a kind of beating of the flesh, which tells them things [] (330). The entire note appears almost verbatim in Canettis book, conjoined to the body of the main Bleek text neither appears in quotation marks.18 Canetti is not interested in whether or not these presentiments are true, he says, but he nonetheless speculates that the /Xam may retain faculties that we have lost (339). For //kabbo, it mattered greatly that presentiments, rather than dreams, communicated the truth. This, at least according to the narrative that he provided to his interlocutor, Wilhelm Bleek, was the basis of his success as a hunter. But for Canetti, the truth that matters is not that which constitutes the content of the presentiment; it is, rather, the fact of having presentiments, which permit the /Xam to traverse the boundaries of selfhood. This traversal is not limited to that between humans and animals, but includes that between persons. Indeed, the category of person itself traverses what those in the West, and those who are heir to its philosophical traditions (including Thabo Mbeki) tend to refer to as the animal and the human divide.19 The significance of the Bushmens presentiments and their talent for transformation, is inseparable, for Canetti, from the question of human origins. In the enormously long period of time during which he lived in small groups, he, as it were, incorporated into himself, by transformation, all the animals he knew. It was through the development of transformation that he really became a man; it was his specific gift and pleasure (Crowds 108, italics in original). This becoming human thus entails the incorporation of an animality that is both foreign and constitutive of man. That transcendence sees the small group become a larger crowd that simultaneously realizes itself and emerges from the smaller group, becoming what Canetti describes as the increase pack. More than this, however, it entails the autonomization of human increase, and specifically a detachment of human increase from that of other animals. For Canetti, this detachment and investment in human increase is itself a transformation and it is the propelling force behind the spread of men (107). It is not yet the full autonomization of increase, in the fetish of quantity, but it moves humans in that direction. We can note here that this transformation marks the accession to the human. It is the mark or trace of its realization. Being human means separating the ends of humans from the ends of animals. It is the moment at which animals become the mere instrument or means for human ends. Thus we can see that it also marks the arrival of a kind of instrumental reason. Whether this moment constitutes the emergence of the human or the emergence of the modern, which is to say the emergence of a post-Enlightenment conception of the human as that opposed to the

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animal, remains to be seen, and it is perhaps the mark of Canettis own ensorcellment by modernity that he cannot mark the difference between these two, but we shall return to this question later. Let us linger here on the moment of transformation. The structure of transformation by which humans emerge in Crowds and Power is not without its internal contradictions. The pack, Canetti argues, owes its origins among men to the example of animals [] Men have learnt from wolves (96). It would seem then that the mimesis of animals (those kinds of animals which formed packs) was part of a structure binding humans and animals. This mimetic capacity was there at the beginning, and even among the apes to whom humans are related, writes Canetti. Hence, he engages in a thought experiment aimed at a deepening of the concept of mimesis one that would liberate it from the instrumental telos of producing mere adjustments to the environment: To understand how we have become human beings, the most important thing would surely be to examine the imitative faculties of apes (Human 12). It is unclear how this observation of apes would lead to a discernment of what made humans emerge as such, but, as in the discussion of the increase pack, it is clear that some kind of detachment occurs, and that this detachment emerges from a kind of doubling between human and animal, a doubling which is as much like a fold as a division. One nonetheless wants to know what permits the mimesis to occur in the first place. Or, to put the matter slightly differently: What division between animals and humans authorizes the gesture by which animals exist for humans as example? How does the animal come to be that which is posited in its difference or otherness from the human? In the earliest moment of Crowds and Power, a moment that anticipates without foreshadowing the discussion of the Bushmen, Canetti writes, the knowledge of the animals by which he was surrounded, which threatened him and which he hunted, was mans oldest knowledge. He learnt to know animals by the rhythm of their movement. The earliest writing he learnt to read was that of their tracks; it was a kind of rhythmic notation imprinted on the soft ground and, as he read it, he connected it with the sound of its formation (31). So, at the origins of human existence, there is a creature that both reads and mimes the animals with which he or she shares the planet, with which he is continuous, but from which it is always already departing. Let us not fail to recognize that these origins have a form which has been retrojected from the present in an act that attributes to particular contemporary, living people the quality of being merely residual (it will be some time before this residual status is translated into originariness). The reading that also permits the miming of animals is, in Canettis analysis, performed in and on the body, as it was for the /Xam people whom Bleek and Lloyd interviewed. As such, it effects a transformation of the person in whose body the tracks make themselves felt. The reading of tracks

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or traces is, of course, the skill for which the /Xam are still, today, most famous, and it is their extraordinary abilities to discern the movement of animals from their tracks that informed and informs their hunting practice, and which made them such desirable members of the South African Defense Forces which employed them in the border wars against Angola.20 As Jacques Derrida has taught us, this discernment of traces is common to all acts of reading, and may indeed qualify as a minimal definition of reading.21 However, such reading is not a uniquely human gesture, even in Canettis estimation. Nor is the covering of tracks (and here Canettis early work moves in the direction though it falls short of the more rigorously philosophical text that Derrida wrote at the end of his life, LAnimal que donc je suis). In Canettis analysis, when the gesture of self-concealment fails, there is the possibility of covering over ones capacity to make tracks. This latter concealment takes the form of playing dead, a gesture of incomplete transformation that Canetti locates nearest to the center of the circle, the point which is still (Crowds 345). When being pursued by a predator, the pursued hopes to be given up as dead, to be left lying on the ground while his enemy goes away. This very common kind of transformation, is well known and attested in the case of animals, writes Canetti (345). His task, however, is to draw a limit between animal feints and a linguistic deception that, he implies, is properly human. The narrative of a dissimulation born of simulation, which, in Canettis account, meets its limit in the example of those immortals (he invokes Proteus and Thetis) who were subject to fate because they could not feign death is, not incidentally, the subject of the very first /Xam text in Bleek and Lloyds Specimens of Bushman Folklore. Perplexingly, Canetti never mentions it. At the beginning, as it were, in the first origin myth of the trickster deity, Mantis (widely thought of as a primary deity among the /Xam), the god is described as one who cheated the children by becoming a hartebeest, by resembling a dead hartebeest. He feigning death lay in front of the children (Specimens 3). The children take the feint seriously, cut up the seemingly dead hartebeest and commence to transport the meat home. But they are soon terrified when it reassembles itself, each of its parts acquiring life and rejoining itself to the other parts, speaking as they do so. The Mantiss feigning of death, it seems, is not so much an effort to escape death the Mantis does not die without also being able to restore itself but in order to frighten and fatigue the children by appearing as that kind of creature who, because assumed to be dead, can terrify them by acting as itself, namely a living thing. So, the narrative concludes, he yonder will sit deceiving (at home), while we did cut him up with stone knives (splinters). -tt! He went feigning death to lie in front of us, that we might do so, we run (Specimens 15).22

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There is, one notes, a double deceit here: in the first the Mantis appears in the form of a hartebeest; in the second the living creature appears in the form of the dead, indeed in the form of that which can die something to which the Mantis is not otherwise subject. This double deceit or pretense is, however, not quite the kind of pretense at pretense that Lacan made the constitutive mark of the human. As Derrida observes, in his trenchant rereading of Lacan, the difference between the kind of pretense that entails a playing dead and true lying is the possibility of telling the truth in order to lead the other astray, in order to have him believe something other than what is true (LAnimal 128). For Lacan as for so many others in the postCartesian tradition an animal does not pretend to pretend. He does not make tracks whose deception lies in the fact that they will be taken as false, while being in fact true ones, that is, that indicate his true trail.23 The animal is not subject of the signifier, which is to say, it does not have language. Canetti, writing in the same moment, also shares Lacans fundamental commitment that animals do not possess and are not possessed by language, and that they do not, as a result, lie. Thus, he writes, A talking animal would be no more than a human being (Human 221). But, it seems safe to say, the /Xam from whom he sought to learn so much, and on whose practice of transformation he based the theory of the crowd, did not. In /Xam discourse, the full capacity for deceit is accorded to animals, at least in their original state (and this attribution accompanies a lack of binary structures counterposing the human and the animal). At the same time, /Xam mythology contains a complex discourse in which the absolute alterity of death is understood precisely to be that which erases the tracks of those who are subject to (and who are speakers of) language. The wind does thus when we die, the wind makes dust, because it intends to blow, taking away our footprints, with which we had walked about [] and our footprints, which the wind intends to blow away, would (otherwise still) lie plainly visible (Specimens 397-399). The passivity of the account is remarkable; the erasure of ones tracks, anticipated by the living but effected by a force that exceeds any possibility of a specular exchange, or identificatory misrecognition, seems to steer clear of the Lacanian error, at least as diagnosed by Derrida. It does not rest on the assumption that only human beings are capable of erasing their traces, and of knowing that such erasure is effective. Traces erase (themselves), like everything else, but the structure of the trace is such that it cannot be in anyones power to erase it and especially not to judge its erasure, even less so by means of a constitutive power assured of being able to erase, performatively, what erases itself (LAnimal 136). So writes Derrida. It would seem that the /Xam men and women of Bleeks and Lloyds time recognized, as Derrida recognizes, not the relative capacity for deceit among humans (as their definitive attribute) so much as the ambiguity of the threshold between humans and

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animals, an ambiguity not unrelated to the recognition, recounted in the myth of the wind and death, that neither humans nor animals are masters of the signifier to the extent that they can ensure the erasure of their own tracks and traces. Let this not become a sentimental discovery of deconstructionist ethics in /Xam form. For the quixotic reading of traces is also the foundation of hunting that pursuit of the others death which transforms the other into the instrument of ones own survival. Nonetheless, if one takes seriously the idea that /Xam thought bore (and perhaps still bears) within itself a different conception of the relationship between animals and humans than that which operates in post-Cartesian thought in the West, one must still resist the temptation to write this difference under the sign of Africanity. What I wish to argue here is that the emergence of a concept of the African coincides, and is indeed inseparable from the emergence of something called the animal, and moreover that such a formulation of categorical difference, of otherness (on which basis Enlightenment subjectivity constitutes itself), takes place in and as modernity. It is a modernity that Elias Canetti misrecognized as the human, universalizing a particular tradition of thought that was itself premised on the withholding of universalizability from the African. It is this history that discloses itself in the movement of Bleeks and Lloyds texts, that is then reiterated, intensified and extended in Canettis, and that marks the current discourse on the political in South Africa. It is, of course, not the question of the human so much as the question of tyranny that compels Canettis analysis. And, in his estimation, the origins of tyranny are found less in the capacity for transformation than in the prohibition on it. It is this prohibition or delimitation of transformability that he sees emerging in the lives of people like the Bushmen, whom he believes he has discovered in Bleeks and Lloyds pages: Without transformation he could not have obtained his food, but it was also something imposed on him, and which continued to be imposed even after he had satisfied his hunger. He felt as though there was nothing but movement everywhere and his own being was in a state of continual flux; and this inevitably aroused in him a desire for solidity and permanence only to be satisfied through prohibitions on transformations. (Crowds 383) Power emerges here as the relative capacity for stability, and the simultaneous power to transform others. Other than murder, the original form of that gesture by which a person turns others into things they are not, is, according to Canetti, slavery. In slavery, men are turned into animals,

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whether singular or collective. The single slave is analogized to the dog, the group to cattle. Thus, Canetti concludes the section of his book on transformations with a certain bitterness: Once men had succeeded in collecting large numbers of slaves, as they collected animals in their herds, the foundations for the tyranny of the state were laid (384). It is not incidental that the first limit to transformation is introduced in the very passage where Canetti describes the feigning of death by the animal being sought as prey. Remarking that it would have been useful if Thetis and Proteus had been able to feign death could have escaped their fate he then remarks on why this was impossible: because, as gods, they were immortal. They could not imitate what they were, could not dissimulate a death that was not proper to them (Crowds 346). The tyrant, we might say, aspires to this power, which is also a vulnerability: the escape from transformation. Because such an escape is impossible, he demands that others die before him, or at least that they be taken with him (397). The tyrant is the one who, aspiring to immortality but faced with death, transforms into the survivor by commanding others to die. In a sardonic moment in August 1945, having seen the closure of World War II and the seeming apotheosis of tyranny in the bomb that had been invested with the terror of the supernatural, Canetti remarked, what glee at the thought that the animals could survive us (Human 72). This would be the true end of the survivor. The human survivor. The human as survivor. One cannot help but remark the fact that, for all his enthusiasm about Bleeks and Lloyds work, and despite his repeated testimony to the lessons learned in reading about those he termed Primitive Peoples, Elias Canetti paid relatively little attention to what the /Xam said. His nearly verbatim reproduction of //kabbos testimony about presentiments has, as its counterpart, near silence about what //kabbo offered as explanation of the relationship between animals and humans. Quite remarkable in a book about transformation, Canetti neglected the asides and notes, embedded in or accompanying almost all of the stories and myths recorded by Wilhelm Bleek, about the fact that, in the beginning, humans and animals were not differentiated in any absolute sense. One of the most common clarifying comments accompanying the myths in Specimens of Bushman Folklore is one explaining that the character in the story was formerly a person. This applies not only to animals springbok, ostriches, lions and so forth but also to elements, such as the wind. Moreover, these creatures and elements often transformed one into the other, an occurrence that took place with apparent regularity in the First Time. Thus, for example, The Wind was formerly a person; he became a bird (Specimens 107). The animals-aspeople are often depicted as wily; they are frequently recounted seducing, abducting, deceiving, beating and killing other persons. In the tale about the origin of death, for example, the Moon instructs a hare to descend to earth to

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tell the people that they will not die, but will rise again as does the moon each night. The hare, grieving over the death of its own mother, which it believed to be irrevocable, refused to bear the Moons message as instructed, and instead told the people that they too would die and never more arise. The Moon, in a fit of pique over this petulant but nonetheless effectual deceit, struck the hare and cleaved its lip. As additional punishment, the Moon commanded that the hare became altogether a hare (Specimens 57-65). This becoming altogether what one is lies at the center of /Xam mythology and marks the difference between two temporalities, that are usually referred to as the time of the First Race, or the First-at-Sitting-People (sometimes the First-There-Sitting-People), and that of the present-day world. As Neil Bennun aptly summarizes, The First-at-Sitting-People often ate each other, they fed their families on their own innards and they did not feel bound to keep their own shapes (15). This state of fluidity and mutual consumption ended when a certain Anteater, bereft of children, abducted a Springbok girlchild (through elaborate deceit, but also, more importantly, on the basis of the Springbok mothers refusal or inability to dissimulate the identity of her child24). When, later, a Lynx desired the anteaters forcibly adopted child for his wife and abducted her in turn, the Anteater burrowed frantically after him in an effort to recapture the Springbok. The Lynx, forewarned of the Anteaters approach by the young Springbok who, like her human descendents, discerned the future by attending to the trembling of the earth, set a trap for the Anteater. And she, enraged at having been foiled, hurled a reciprocal curse that ended an era. The curse commanded the animals to assume a permanent posture the Lynx became a creature who walks at night, the Springbok a creature who stands and feeds on bushes. But the matter did not end there. The Lynx responded, and the Anteater was similarly cursed to become, like the Lynx, a being that inhabits the night.25 It is in the aftermath of this world-transforming curse an act of naming as violent as anything in Genesis that transformation assumes its modern dimensions in /Xam mythology. Thus, for example, J.D. Lewis-Williams and D.G. Pearce describe this structure as characteristic of all contemporary discourse and art produced by shamans and other descendents of those who appeared, to Bleek, Lloyd, and so many others, to be on the verge of death: A hunted eland may turn out to be the rain. A man can become a lion. A jackal barking in the night may be a shaman come to see if the people are safe and well fed [] For the San, transformations like these are part of everyones thinking, if not their experience; they are part of life (159). The time after the First-there-Sitting-People, or the Ancient Race, as Bleek and Lloyd translated the phrase, is one marked by restricted transformation, to use Canettis language. The transformations that follow the end of the First Time are regularized and even ritualized. This restricted transformability is, as we have already seen, a quality that he recognizes and takes on in his own

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theorizing, but where he attributes it to the human, the /Xam myths posit it as a function of a naming that originates with animals-as-persons, and that is marked by the emergence of distinct identities, but not of a generic distinction between the animal and the human. This does not mean that the /Xam make no distinctions, but it is also the case that the category animal translates poorly in /Xam. The absent binarity between the animal and the human in /Xam has, to the extent it has been recognized at all, generally been interpreted by linguists and anthropologists as evidence that /Xam language is poor in abstraction. Terms for abstract ideas are rare in the vocabularies of the Khoisan languages, wrote Isaac Schapera, the great student of Radcliffe-Brown and anthropologist of southern Africa. But in terms dealing with veld lore, wild animals, and birds, trees, herbs, and roots, the chase, all the wealth of description which that entails, the languages are remarkably rich.26 In the monumental dictionary that Lucy Lloyd assembled under the tutelage of her brother-in-law, and on which basis all subsequent studies of /Xam language are based, there is no single term that denotes what, in European languages, is called the animal. There are words that cover the concept of game animal, namely that which can be hunted and eaten, but no categorical noun that would include those creatures that are not hunted along with those that are, and nothing against which the human can draw its own boundaries, and constitute itself as such. This is interestingly revealed in the English index to Lloyds dictionary, where the entry for Animal is followed by a list of /Xam terms that includes: !ka ha (a small wild animal which eats mice), kam ge (wild animal or game), and pwo: (game?).27 None of these can be said to perfectly translate the English word for animal. Moreover, the entries for individual species, such as ants or anteaters, lizards or lions, are provided with contrastingly numerous /Xam terms. It would be tempting to assume a corollary to this proliferation of specific terms attaching to single species and the apparent absence of a single category in which to encompass them all, namely that the /Xam do not therefore also have a single category for humans. But they do, although this term is itself incommensurable with the human, in the Western postCartesian sense. As already suggested, the /Xam term is not defined by the absolute binarity in which the human and the animal, written in the singular, are counterposed. Lloyds dictionary identifies the term !e (or !) as the plural designating men or people. What Specimens of Bushman Folklore makes clear, however, is that this term also encompasses animals, or at least animals who formerly were persons. It is perhaps not surprising in this context that that there is no recording of the term with which the /Xam denoted themselves as such. Just as !e is the plural of person in /Xam, Khoekhoen is the plural of khoe, meaning humans or people, but /Xam is actually a Khoekhoen word meaning, quite simply, cattleless. It is a

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negative designation, a name given by others, to remark an otherness in which the /Xam seem relentlessly to have been shrouded an otherness that finds itself most poignantly articulated in the repeated insistence on their having already died. They are the people, it seems, who have been known only in relation to death. No doubt this is why, in Canettis mind, they are the quintessential other of the survivor. He continued to write of them for years: After more than twenty-five years I am still an apprentice of the bushmen. More than I can learn from them, I dont want to know. But I have not come very far in my knowledge of them, for atom bombs and moon voyagers disturb me and constantly interrupt my study (Notes from Hampstead 24). Canettis distractions by modern technologies of death notwithstanding, he seems to have attributed to /Xam people an unlimited aspiration to transformation, one unmitigated by the incipient forces of tyranny that would finally condense themselves in the form of the totalitarian state. However, one should recognize that the /Xam of Bleeks time also identified their neighbors in terms of their alterity an alterity that seems to have been relatively immune to transcendence. //kabbos account of his journey to the Cape, where he was to be incarcerated for livestock theft (a common crime born of hunger among the marginalized /Xam), is a poignant and pathos-filled testimony to the fraught relationships between the Xam and their Bantuspeaking neighbors, as both were being encompassed by European colonialism. I have said to thee that the train [fire wagon] is nice, //kabbo told his eager amanuensis. I sat nicely in the train. We two sat in [it], we [I] and a black man. The account continues and includes a story of //kabbos near falling from the train, as well as his rescue by a woman. It also includes, as is common in /Xam narrative (which abounds in repetition), another account of the black man. It is, of course, told to a white man: I sat beside a black man; his face was black; his mouth [was] also black; for they are all black. The two speak to each other, the black man asking //kabbo where he comes from, and //kabbo responding though we do not know in what language they communicated; in the 1870s it was probably the emergent local Dutch creole, Afrikaans.28 Speaking thus to each other, inquiring after a lost and longed-for home, //kabbo nonetheless reflects on the identity of his traveling companion with a certain retrospective derision: White men are those whose faces are red, for they are handsome. The black man he is ugly, thus his mouth is black, for his face is black (Specimens 299). It is important to bear in mind the context of this exchange, //kabbo having been released from the prison into the care of the Bleeks for the purposes of facilitating the great linguists researches. At the time, there was a widespread belief among European scholars that the /Xam and Khoekhoen were racially distinct from the Bantu-speaking blacks of sub-Saharan Africa,

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and moreover, that they were both purer on account of their proximity to human origins (compared to the putatively degenerated darker races), and more directly related in language to the Egyptians and other speakers of what were called Hamitic languages. The relative interest in and valorization of these cultures, which Bleek took to an extreme, also manifested itself in the effusive admiration for their narrative accomplishments. In 1863, in the preface to a translation of Hottentot materials in the library of the governor, Sir George Grey (the largest such collection in the world at the time), Bleek wrote, The great ethnological difference between the Hottentots and the black nations of South Africa has been a marked fact from almost the earliest acquaintance of the Europeans with these parts, and occasional stray guesses [] have already for some time pointed to a North African origin for the Hottentots (Preface xiv). In this case, Bleek was treating the Hottentot and Bushman traditions as closely related and nearly identical, by virtue of their difference from the Bantu tradition (despite the differences in language structure, and the presence or absence of sexing). In the violent comparison with the latter, he not only thought the literature of the Hottentots to be important because it exceeded what had been imagined by Europeans to be the intellectual incapacity of these people, but he also remarked its superiority to anything produced by the Negro nations and went so far as to suggest that it had been employed almost in the same direction as that which has been taken by our own earliest literature (xiii). The point here is not to reproduce this discourse and its assumptions which were among the more enlightened of their time, however racist they must now appear but to make clear that //kabbo, speaking in 1871, was already well aware of the world into which his words would enter. He grasped fully the hierarchy of power that had both removed him from his home and suspended him in the dubious category of informant. His arrest had come in the wake of the Korana war of 1868-69, on the northern frontier, where the Korana had developed a long-standing tradition of cattle raiding into a form of resistance to European settlement. They had received support from /Xam in this endeavor, who often also took livestock for food, and it was for such theft that //kabbo had been arrested, by a black man in the service of the colonial regime (Deacon 19). For these reasons, contemporary historians rightly question the fantasy of authenticity that infused Bleek and Lloyds project. Yet, one need not reject their texts as the mutually contrived hallucination of Europes other. The narratives told by the /Xam and recorded by the German linguists remain an incomparable document of resistance, for in them is the trace of an imaginative world in relation to which even the most ambitious anthropologist must admit a lack of mastery. To read them is to confront much that remains enigmatic, as well as much that is fabulously familiar. And in the asides, the acknowledgments of forgetting, and the simple invocations of vanished elders who knew more, the texts testify to

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something that escaped the traces of both memory and the unconscious in living persons. //kabbo longed to return home, not least because he felt that, at the Bleek residence, he did only womens work, keeping house and working to the point of exhaustion when what he desired was a mans task and pleasure of listening to stories, conveying that which is learned on journeys, examining the homes and the natural environment of the places where he would visit others to hear their tales, repairing his hut (Specimens 299-317). But of course, the world of home was being radically altered by the new land politics of a still-expanding colony. In this milieu, a complex dependency between Bleek and //kabbo was mediated as well by the knowledge, conceded by //kabbo, that prison life on Robben Island was still worse. Though it was a kind of imprisonment, and though it entailed the double ignominy of doing womens work and being transformed into an object and not merely a bearer of knowledge, Bleeks home did offer a chance to tell stories and to escape the brutal labor of the lime-works in the pleasures of talk however diminished in form from the raconteurs practice that defined everyday life in the Bitterpits (//kabbos place) before his arrest. The mutual estrangement that is written into //kabbos account of his arrest by a black man is not, thus, transparent evidence of a primordial tribalism. Nor does it testify exclusively to the historical specificity of that kind of solidarity which can, today, be advocated by Mbeki and disavowed by xenophobes. It is inseparable from the history of colonialism, from the encompassment of one set of differences by a another structure of opposition. Let us note the distinction here between difference and opposition. The slippage between these two is precisely the slippage on which xenophobia is erected. As Michael Neocosmos reminds us, it is a slippage encouraged by the state. And, of course, the states discourse is one embedded in larger philosophical traditions. Accordingly, it is the history of the transformation of difference into opposition, and of otherness into Africanity and animality, that we need now to consider. Once men had succeeded in collecting large numbers of slaves, as they collected animals in their herds, the foundations for the tyranny of the state were laid (Crowds 384). So writes Elias Canetti. It is, of course, well known that the arrival at the southern tip of the African continent, like the arrival elsewhere on the continent of Africa by European traders, also inaugurated the era of transcontinental slavery. It is also well known that the putative end of slavery, in South Africa as elsewhere, was often merely supplanted by slavery by a different name, in the form of indentured labor. Not only were those who obtained their freedom after abolition and emancipation forcibly entered into apprenticeships that often withheld from them the rights that legislative reforms were supposed to guarantee, but their new status lacked

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even the protections of the office established for that purpose under an earlier dispensation, namely the Protector of Slaves (Christians). For several decades more, destitute individuals who were encountered by colonial forces on the frontiers of the expanding South African state were simply captured and distributed as servants to the colonists (Deacon 19). This was the fate of many of the /Xam as well as Korana and Griqua in the area north of the Orange River after 1879, the area to which many of Bleeks and Lloyds informants returned (Deacon 23). By the time the /Xam were collaborating with the Korana (Khoekhoen people, as were the Griqua), they had already overcome an earlier antagonism.29 The autodidactic historian of South Africa, George McCall Theal wrote in his introduction to Bleeks and Lloyds book that every mans hand was against [the Bushmen] and that By the Hottentots and the Bantu the Bushmen were regarded simply as noxious animals [] destroyed with as little mercy as if they had been hyenas (xxxi, xxix). In Theals analysis, the early settler colonialists soon adopted the sentiments of the Khoekhoen and Bantu, and treated the /Xam as people without a right to the soil over which they roam, as untamable robbers whom it was not only their interest but their duty to destroy (xxxi). It is not possible to trace here the process by which the shared sufferings of the various indigenes of South Africa became the basis of new solidarities, ones that could encompass the formerly opposed /Xam and the Khoekhoen. But we can recognize it in the story of //kabbo, arrested among those who had aided the Korana in cattleraiding. The long history of the forging of new if fragile alliances among these two groups and the Bantu-speakers especially Xhosa and Zulu speakers stretches between the moment narrated in the account of //kabbos train ride and the speech that Thabo Mbeki delivered at the promulgation of a new constitution premised on the assumption of equality, and phrased in the idiom of Africanity. Its emergence is the improbable achievement of an anticolonial resistance that, for the better part of a century, made the transcendence of difference the cornerstone of liberationist discourse.30 If apartheid, and its predecessor state forms were organized around the systematic cultivation of difference (through the adumbration of minutely calibrated racial categories), the formal policy of the African National Congress worked on the basis of non-racialism. Though challenged by the Black Consciousness movement in the 70s, it was this policy that informed the new constitution, over whose joyous birth the then Deputy President asserted his Africanity. But what does it mean to be an African, to lay claim to a position which, for four or five hundred years, has been inseparable from the transformation of humanity into animality under the sign of slavery? What does it mean to claim both Africanity and the modernity which constituted itself by rendering Africa as its other? Can modernist discourse accommodate a conception of humanity that is not premised upon the

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oppositional structure by which the human and the animal are pitted one against the other? Historians of the modern must confront the fact that the expansion of the category of the human in the discourse of human rights, such that it encompasses the long-excluded bearers of blackness, has been accompanied by the radical questioning of the limits of the human. Why? What is the relationship between the extension of rights to black Africans and the questioning of human privilege? Does the final repudiation of white privilege necessarily entail the abandonment of rights as the exclusive entitlement of the human? How shall we answer this question without reducing the philosophical interrogation of Enlightenment discourse to a mere reaction formation? The terrain is fraught, but no less urgently broached as a result. Let us then turn from the /Xam and the hyper-invested (by Canetti) possibility of a counter-discourse on the relationship between animals and humans. Let us turn to a certain convergence between the otherwise very different writings of Canetti and Derrida, and place them alongside those of the South African writer who, more than anyone else, has articulated a critique of that modernist opposition between the human and the animal on which basis the enslavement of Africans occurred, as much as did the industrialization of killing in the interest of human increase. Here, then, are three texts: one from Canetti, one from Coetzee, and one from Derrida. The first, by Canetti, appears in a chapter entitled The Arrival of Animals, in the memoir of his childhood called The Tongue Set Free. Canetti is recalling, from the vantage of one who has witnessed the death camps of Nazism, a field trip organized by his most revered teacher. The trip to a slaughterhouse is preceded by numerous careful discussions in which the teacher, a Mr. Fenner, assures the students that the killing of animals is now (in contrast to the earlier days) painless, even humane. Thus readied for his trip to the abattoir, the young Canetti is nonetheless overwhelmed by the spectacle of a pregnant ewes body, opened to reveal the tiny fetus within. The sight horrifies the young boy and prompts him to utter the word Murder. The teacher appears to understand the young Canettis sentiment. Indeed, he seems to have anticipated it. It is because the war materialized a perceived affinity between the otherness of animals and of Jews that Mr. Fenner had taken such pains to prepare the children for their tour of the abattoir. But the point of the recollection is the recognition that the knowledge had had no capacity to mitigate the horror or the event, or the pity it would induce. Indeed, they were correlate with each other. Writing retrospectively, Canetti is aware of the word murders potential to appear excessive in relation to animal slaughter, for after the Holocaust, the category of the human has been shored up in direct proportion, it would seem, to its violation during the war. The word came easily over my lips because of the war, Canetti recalls (The Tongue 229). This easy vocalization

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of murder is also the mark of an intimacy between language and violence. In a related entry from 1949, Canetti asks whether animals have less fear because they live without words, and indulges a fantasy about a rebellion in a slaughterhouse. Knowing that such an uprising shall never come to pass, he remarks, things we eat daily, they sing like the men in the fire (Human 115). As Derrida has shown, the passivity that Canetti attributes to the animal in a gesture linking the genocide of people with that of animals, is a quality which owes itself to the extraordinary intervention of Jeremy Bentham, that great technologist of gentle punishment. Can they suffer? asks Bentham, simply yet so profoundly. Derrida repeats the question. He does so after asserting that the period inaugurated by Benthams question has been organized by two developments: the unprecedented [] subjection of the animal, and the emergence of pathos as the primary structure of war between those who kill animals without pity and those who defend such pity (LAnimal 27-29). Derridas delineation of this double development is preceded by a self-conscious restaging of Canettis analogy: One should neither abuse the figure of genocide nor too quickly consider it explained away. He continues with an additional complication. Traditional forms of treatment of the animal have been transformed by the joint developments of zoological, ethological, biological, and genetic forms of knowledge, which remain inseparable from the techniques of intervention into their object [] namely the living animal. The industrialization of production for consumption, which he observes at the base of modern relations to the animal, leads Derrida to contemplate through reversal the familiar metaphor by which animals and Nazi victims were conceived in terms of each other: As if, for example, instead of throwing a people into ovens and gas chambers (lets say Nazi) doctors and geneticists had decided to organize the overproduction and overgeneration of Jews, gypsies, and homosexuals by means of artificial insemination, so that, being continually more numerous and better fed, they could be destined in always increasing numbers for the same hell (LAnimal 25-26). Derridas text also marks the difference between the genocide of the Nazis and that of the industrial food industry as being governed by a practice of dissimulation, one that produces death precisely by appearing to invest in life, or at least continued existence. This investment is inseparable, Derrida tells us (just as the young Canetti intuited), from a certain ambition to render the killing of animals humane. So, it is not a matter of those who resist the discourse of compassion being the sole perpetrators of that violence to which the animal is especially subject. On the contrary, the discourse of pity binds pathos with the pathological, and constitutes something like an autoimmunological principle at the heart of the modern. How different is the killing of /Xam myth where the killing of animals-as-persons occurs

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without mercy, but within a highly restrictive economy. /Xam myth, we might agree with Canetti, shows through contrast to what degree the modern mode of death through investment in life dissimulates the cruelty of its own murderous machine by infusing it with pity for the dying. The /Xam kill unapologetically, but openly and within severe limits. Derridas point, of course, is that the two-centuries old process inaugurated by Benthams question is simultaneously a transformation and a continuation of a discourse that accords to the human the power of naming. The capacity to suffer is, as Derrida notes, an odd capacity, being marked not by the power of being able, but of being able not to be able. This becomes the basis of that war identified by Derrida between the one who kills and the one who pities. And all on the basis of a difference whose nature and force resides in language. The animot, a playful word in which Derrida hopes his (francophone) listeners and readers will hear not only word but also plurality (thanks to the homonym that links animals [animaux] and the neologism animot [pronounced anim]), is untranslatable in English. Nonetheless, we can remark what the phrase, the animal-word indicates: namely, that it is the word, animal, or rather the generalizing abstraction of the animal from the plurality of what are called animals that makes possible the naming of the human. And it works by rendering human he who calls animals animal. Derridas response is not to overturn the opposition that, historically, has oriented all forms of humanism, but to proliferate the limit of the human in a manner that destabilizes the opposition between humanity and animality. It is not that there is no difference between animals and humans, he says, but rather that the differences are many, indeterminate, shifting; in their multiplicity they reveal the limit of the human to be abyssal. It is, Derrrida says, the drawing of a singular limit in the effort to immunize the human against that to which animals are subject by humans that becomes the source of toxicity, or auto-immunity: a self-protectivenesss that cannot not be selfdestructive. By this gesture of opposing (figured and reiterated in the evolutionary biologists preferred metonym for humanity, namely the opposable thumb), the humans who are heir to the Western humanist tradition perform the most invidious violence. Indeed, Derrida suggests, it is this very gesture that enables the industrialization of killing, the massive, organized slaughter-houses wherein the impeccably efficient and putatively painless deaths of animals animals raised only to die to serve humans are manufactured. It cannot escape the notice of anyone who reads literature from South Africa that the arguments developed by Derrida in The Animal That Therefore I Am, based on the 1997 conference at Cerisy, are structured by a set of questions

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that run directly parallel to those posed in the extraordinary works of South African novelist J.M. Coetzee, and especially in The Lives of Animals and Elizabeth Costello. In the former, where readers first encounter the story of Elizabeth Costello, a fictional novelist delivering lectures on the question of animals at the invitation of a somewhat more punctilious animal rights philosopher named Peter Singer, there is staged that war of which Derrida writes between the advocates of pity and their opponents. Elizabeth Costello commences her lecture with a passing reference to Kafka, but she truly embraces her subject with a discourse upon the possible linkage between Nazi death camps and industrialized slaughter. She commences by citing the same metaphor-turned-clich at the heart of Derridas meditation: They went like sheep to the slaughter. They died like animals. The Nazi butchers killed them. Denunciation of the camps reverberates so fully with the language of the stock-yard and slaughterhouse that it is barely necessary for me to prepare the ground for the comparison I am about to make. The crime of the Third Reich, says the voice of accusation, was to treat people like animals [] (Lives 20)31 After reflecting upon an afternoon drive in which she saw no drug-testing laboratories, no factory farms, no abattoirs, Elizabeth Costello remarks, Yet I am sure they are here. She knows that the visual absence of cruelty is the structure in which it is produced. And so she continues, Let me say it openly: we are surrounded by an enterprise of degradation, cruelty, and killing which rivals anything that the Third Reich was capable of, indeed dwarfs it, in that ours is an enterprise without end, self-regenerating, bringing rabbits, rats, poultry, livestock ceaselessly into the world for the purpose of killing them. (Lives 21, Elizabeth 65) Elizabeth Costello self-consciously resists the Western discourse of man versus beast, of reason versus unreason. In making her case she has occasion to impugn Kant for failing to pursue his own insight and to chastise Descartes for a failure of imagination. Reason, she says, contra Kant, is not the being of the universe or of God, but merely one tendency in human thought (Lives 23, Elizabeth 67). Descartes is rebuked for his conception of the animal as machine rather than embodied soul (Lives 33, Elizabeth 78; Derrida too interrogates the animal-machine metaphor). And she then explains that what permits both the Nazi slaughter of humans and the more generalized Western slaughter of animals is the incapacity for sympathy, that which would allow people to share the beings of another (Lives 34,

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Elizabeth 79). In a passage that cannot but recall the Bleek and Lloyd collection of /Xam myths, Coetzee has Elizabeth Costello assert that There are no bounds to the sympathetic imagination. Fiction, like shamanism perhaps, is the writing of an imagination by which one thinks oneself into the existence of another. But sympathy is not pity, she might have reminded her readers. Pity condescends from one side of a categorical divide; sympathy endeavors to cross it. There are detractors to Costello, of course. Coetzee leaves his readers uncertain as to the authors own position on her discourse, and he offers characters who reiterate most of the major trends within Western philosophy. Within the novel, an audience member and dinner companion insists that animals lack shame (Lives 40, Elizabeth 85). A poet accuses Elizabeth of adducing a false reversibility between the terms of an analogy; that Jews are treated like cattle, he says, does not men cattle are treated like Jews (Lives 50, Elizabeth 94). A philosopher by the name of Thomas OHearne (stand-in for Heidegger) insists on the categorical distinction between humans and animals on the grounds that animals do not die in the sense of being conscious of their impending death as the threat of absolute annihilation (Lives 64, Elizabeth 109).32 Each of these arguments is refuted by Costello, whose insistent rejection of post-Enlightenment pieties not only mirrors but seems to follow the structure of Derridas argumentation in The Animal That Therefore I Am. Even so, Coetzees novel seems, in many ways, to perform that pretense at pretense which constitutes the essence of the lie and hence of the human for Lacan in a formula with which Derrida takes umbrage; it pretends to be a philosophical treatise or at least a series of lectures, knowing that it will be treated as a novel which is trying to dissimulate itself as non-fiction, all the while being a treatise or series of lectures (and hence, non-fiction?). Nonetheless, the overt discourse on animals and the question of right also has a parallel that can be traced in the more conventional novels. Their accumulating narrative is sutured together in The Lives of Animals in a moment that, not coincidentally, also brings Coetzee closest to Canetti. In a conversation with her son, Elizabeth Costello remarks that animals are treated less like things than prisoners of war, and that (here she cites Aristotle), war and hunting are the same thing. In the era of absolute victory, compassion becomes possible but it does not ultimately negate the more primitive sense of complete possession and moral immunity vis--vis the stranger, the other who is now prisoner. When, in response to this disquisition, her son reminds her that prisoners of war are less often killed than treated as slaves, the author Costello responds, Well, thats what our captive herds are: slave populations. Their work is to breed for us. Even their sex becomes a form of labor (Lives 59, Elizabeth 104). Slavery, the origin of tyranny, the first real transformation of humans into animals: such was Canettis thought. In Coetzees writings, humane

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slaughter transforms animals into slaves. It is important, in this context, to note the careful differentiation between that kind of violence which generates slavery, and that which constitutes mere subjugation in the work of Coetzee. In the Booker-prize winning novel, Disgrace, which charted the paranoid space of the first transition from white rule, a white woman raped by three black men on the piece of land that she refuses to call a farm, is confronted by her father. He is angered at her apparent submission to the events, and her decision, moreover, to bear the child which results from the rape. When he says that They want you for their slave, she responds in the negative, Not slavery. Subjection. Subjugation (159). Perhaps the fact of not becoming a slave is a function of not being treated as an animal. The narrative of Disgrace stages the relationship between men and animals as one of identification and misrecognition conducted in the space where naming might have occurred. The violent double bind of such naming is fully and painfully disclosed. The white characters find it difficult to not analogize the black men with wild dogs, and in their vengeful assault on the white woman, the black men own this characterization, taunting their victim thus: Call your dogs! No dogs? Then let us show you dogs (160). But, and the point cannot be passed over, this showing is not a naming, nor a response to being named. It is the refusal of a gesture, naming, which, by virtue of the metaphoric linkage between animal and black man, is less an interpellation than a name-calling; a hailing that obstructs rather than solicits response or any possibility for responsible relation. One can say that in inhabiting the violent linkage between blackness and animality, they disclose the violence of that naming which granted white humans domain. But there is a more immediately South African set of referents to this narrative as well. In Coetzees novel, the awful enactment of a colonial script foretold is itself written into the account of the books unreliable narrator, David Lurie, and that of his daughter, both of whom recognize two distinct modes of relating to animals. One of these, what the characters refer to as the African mode, confronts the imbrications and responsibility of humans in the killing of animals. The other, which generates both abattoirs and humane societies oriented around the gentle elimination of unwanted creatures, bears the stamp of European cultural history. At a feast to be offered by Petrus, one of Lucys assailants, David Lurie expresses suspicion of the fact that Petrus is bringing the slaughter-beasts home to acquaint them with the people who are going to eat them (124). Lucy rebuffs his squeamishness by asking him, What would you prefer? That the slaughtering be done in an abattoir, so that you neednt think about it? Wake up, she commands him, this is Africa. David Luries psychic transformations in the course of the novel move him between the competing poles of a European tradition. Early on, in a conversation with the daughter whose friend, Bev, operates a kennel, David Lurie insists on the difference between animals and humans and argues that

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kindness to animals should not be premised on a misrecognition of any identity between the two. He urges her, As for animals, let us be kind to them. But let us not lose perspective. We are of a different order of creation (74). In the aftermath of his daughters violation, however, Lurie takes up the task of caring for the animals over whose gently hygienic deaths Bev presides. At the end of the novel, he has learned [] to concentrate all his attention on the animal they are killing, giving it what he no longer has difficulty in calling by its proper name: love (219). Here, what stands in the place of the proper name, which is precisely not what the naming of animals generates, refers only to a relation between others though not any or all others. One cannot help but note here a certain resonance with the passage from Lacans crits cited by Derrida in The Animal That Therefore I Am. It is the passage in which Lacan explains the constitutive lack of the human subject as originating in the incapacity to prove ones own existence. For I can only just prove the Other that he exists, not, of course with the proofs for the existence of God, with which over the centuries he has been killed off, but by loving him, a solution introduced by the Christian kerygma (317).33 David Lurie has come to love that other with which he cannot identify an other whose otherness must take the form of either animality or death, or both. It enables him to kill this other, of course. But this facilitating of what we call, so revealingly, a humane death should not blind us to the other fact of David Luries transformation. Namely, that he does not learn to love the black man, as her daughter says she will. Moreover, the novel cannot be separated from the antecedent text in which the structure of care for those whom one wounds or kills first appears. In Waiting for the Barbarians, the Magistrate, a narrator as unreliable as is David Lurie, chooses a lame woman from among the prisoners taken by the Colonel over whom he presides. Her broken ankles and scarred face, her pitiable condition and her vulnerability to the soldiers who prey upon her, lead the colonel to invite her into his quarters where, over a period of days and weeks, he tends her wounds, bathes her, and guiltily seduces her. One is struck by the physical parallel between the Magistrates choice of a woman with broken ankles, and David Luries favored dog, whose crippled hind legs do not support him. And one could say much about the precise structural parallels that bind these novels, as well as the departures that Disgrace makes from Waiting for the Barbarians on the question of Africanity. But above all, it is necessary to observe that, somewhere along the trajectory that stretches between Waiting for the Barbarians in 1980 and Disgrace, the latter published in the same year as The Lives of Animals, the object of care has changed. Animals have replaced the colonized as the beings on whom the burden of alterity falls, and whose receipt of benevolence is demanded as the corollary and the compensation for subjugation. But if the conclusion of Disgrace can be retrojected into the

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earlier works, the benevolence offered to the barbarians, like that given to animals (but not that which defines the vindictive violence of Petrus sublimated anticolonialism), would be the gesture accompanying slavery, and not merely subjugation. In this sense, slavery means both the treatment of humans like animals, as Canetti and Coetzee would agree, but also, as Derrida and Elizabeth Costello insist, the regimentation of death through the investment in hygiene and continuity, legitimated on the basis of pity. At the end of Crowds and Power, Canetti remarks on the utter helplessness of the religions of lament, and especially Christianity, but also Buddhism. The figure of the suffering man, the dying man and the man who ought not to die, has been killed off, as Lacan would say. All that is left is the image of suffering as that with which every wounded being can identify. In the aftermath of his de-transcendentalization, the figure of Jesus becomes the figure of the individual who ought not have been destroyed but who nonetheless is. Accordingly, Canetti says the religions of lament give their blessings to whatever happens (Crowds 467). Coetzee echoes this sentiment but gives it a specifically South African cast and inflects it with the critique of colonialism when he has Elizabeth Costello visit her sister, a nun who works in KwaZulu Natal. Elizabeth finds the Christian concern with Christs body morbid and attributes it to the Catholics, but Blanche, or Sister Bridget as she is now called, reminds her that it was the Reformation and not the Catholic tradition that made the dead Jesus its fetish. And she condemns the young men from Oxford and Cambridge who, in an earlier moment of Enlightenment missionary zeal, had promised the Zulus the deification of science. Those young fellows from Oxford and Cambridge and St. Cyr offered their new barbarian subjects a false ideal. Throw away your idols, they said. You can be as gods [] Come to our schools, they said, and we will teach how. We will make you disciples of reason and the sciences that flow from reason; we will make you masters of nature. Through us you will overcome disease and all corruption of the flesh. You will live forever. (Elizabeth 141, emphasis in original) Blanche or Sister Elizabeth laughs at the absurdity of this promise, and lauds the Zulus who knew better. But when Elizabeth asks if she is certain that they do not attend church because of the promise of a better afterlife, Blanche insists, I promise nothing except that we will help them bear their cross (141). If I understand Derridas project in the Animal That Therefore I Am, it is precisely to reject the otherwise tempting reading of such a dialogue as being structured by mutual exclusion and binary opposition. There is a relationship, he argues, between reason and pity, between the development of a rational

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order of killing and the form of pity that abandons itself to the provision of care for those whose wounds are the effect of its own machinery. One cannot extricate oneself from either without enormous, as yet unforeseen consequences, and one cannot simply embrace the alternative either. There is a structure of the double bind here; reason and kindness are both the opportunities and the liabilities of an Enlightenment project whose consequences remain, as Canetti says of Christianity, inexhaustible. One wonders why there is so little mention in the fractious dialogue between Elizabeth and Blanche of sacrifice. Would not sacrifice provide the idiom for differentiating a killing that exceeds instrumentality, that is not merely part of the subjection of animal life to the demands of human increase? Might sacrifice not provide a name for that killing which is immune to pity? Certainly, the anthropological discourse that is otherwise so frequently invoked by Coetzee is redolent with the language of sacrifice. Indeed, it makes the practice of sacrifice (that act both apotheosized and ostensibly terminated in the Christian crucifixion) a definitive if not exclusive attribute of Africanity. And if Coetzee shies from the topic (except in the muted reference to Petrus slaughter), it is a searing issue in contemporary South Africa, and one around which the question of human and cultural rights is staged in competition to that of animal rights, and made the ground of various claims to Africanity. Thus, for example, in January 2007, Tony Yengeni, the former Chief Whip of the African National Congress, was released from prison, where he had served five months of a four year sentence for fraud in a case linked to corruption investigations of Jacob Zuma, then president of the ANC. Upon emerging from prison, Yengeni and his family held a public celebration and cleansing rite at which they slaughtered a bull and two sheep, with Yengeni commencing the process by stabbing the bull with his familys spear. This rite, performed in the name of tradition and staged in the eminently modern space of a Cape Town suburb, elicited a fury of media attention, and competing claims as to the propriety of the gesture, its possible cruelty and its amenability to prosecution. The South African Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to animals was initially said to be considering legal action on the grounds that the slaughter contravened the Animal Protection Act. After intervention on the part of the South African Human Rights Commission, the SPCA determined that the circumstances surrounding the slaughter, when considered in relation to the demands of culture, did not constitute cruelty. The Department of Arts and Culture added its voice to the Yengeni defense when its spokesperson, Sandile Memeni, not only asserted the Departments intention to stand by Yengenis search for meaning, purpose and the redefinition of the relationship with the cosmos, God and his ancestry, but

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noted the hypocrisy of critics who did not also impugn Christian, Muslim or Jewish traditions of sacrifice. He concluded that there is no universal standard to look at this matter. The provincial secretary of the ANC added the following remarks, We African people will practice our culture and no one under the sun will ever stop us. This is part of our being human. We can observe that sacrifice and Africanity have been fused in the ANC secretarys defense but only on the horizon of rights. To be African, and to honor the obligations of sacrifice, is a right because such sacrificial acts are constitutive of African humanity. Events like the Yengeni family slaughter occur weekly in the suburbs of South African cities, and invariably generate a comparable discourse of accusation and counter-accusation. More often than not, critics are white, while defenders of the practice are black. And many of the arguments against such killing are made on hygienic grounds. Some critics have even advocated the establishment of ritual abattoirs, so as to keep the killing out of sight, but this has been rejected on the culturalist grounds that the blood has to spill in the home, where the ancestors dwell, and a family elder must announce the occasion to the ancestors on behalf of the family. The blood is symbolic because it is the giver of life. Coetzees Elizabeth Costello would probably have a slightly different response, one that does not root itself in the defense of other traditions so much as it registers the complicity of the concealment with the killing. One might even imagine that she would oppose the secreting of such killing on the grounds that it would constitute the final subjugation of local tradition to the violence of the Enlightenment. But perhaps the naming of such tradition as African already expresses that encompassment. To be African is, inevitably, to be African for others. Let us accept (at least for a moment) the assertion made by those who claim to be Africans, and those who do not, that the form of ones humanity is expressed in the manner of treating animals. Let us, for a moment, accept the notion that, historically, those who inhabited what is now called South Africa did conceive of all animals merely as the means to their own relative increase. This does not mean that some of them (Khoekhoen and Bantuspeakers) did not cultivate their animals, that they did not breed and select from among the fittest and hence, that they did not subject their animals to their own interests and kill them. But, and here Derrida offers an unprecedented intervention with his reading of Bentham, they did not ground their modes of death-dealing in pity, or make this mode of killing a sign of the humane. The opponents of the Yengeni slaughter emphasized the fact that the animals cried out, and that, as such, they demonstrated their discomfort and pain, even fear. The defenders of it asserted the necessity of a communication between the dying and the dead; the animals death cry disclosed a certain suffering to be sure, but more importantly, it made visible to the ancestors the fact of the sacrifice, and hence of the fidelity of their

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heirs. Thus, though both sides agreed that the animal suffered, the terms by which this suffering became a ground for the claim on humanity were utterly and ineradicably opposed. Between them, the idea of rights promised a means of commensuration and adjudication, but it failed as a method of translation. Here, then, in a theater of contemporary history, was enacted a drama from the pages of Coetzees fiction, not as a white fantasy of African rapacity submitted to by guilty liberals, but as a contest between the demands of a culture that kills out of condescension and pity dissimulated as necessity, and one that kills within a relatively closed circuit of debt and obligation, sometimes economized as vengeance.34 It may be helpful to recall here that, prior to his arrest and then release from prison, before his scandalous assertion of Africanity, Tony Yengeni had been a stalwart of the modernist, anti-racialist ANC, having joined it during the heady days of 1976 when student protests culminated in the Soweto massacre. He had been a friend of national hero Chris Hani and a member of the armed wing of the ANC called Umkhonto We Sizwe (MK). While in prison on terrorism charges for his leadership of the MK in Cape Town, he was tortured by Jeffrey Benzien. In the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), Tony Yengeni and Jeffrey Benzien re-enacted the torture, in which Yengenis head was placed in a wet bag and he was ridden like an animal, and threatened with death. In the hearings, Yengeni famously asked, What kind of man are youI mean the man behind the wet bag? And Benzien responded, I ask myself the same question.35 These lines comprise the epigram for Ingrid de Koks extraordinary poem, What kind of man, part of a series of poems written in response to the TRC and first published in Terrestrial Things. What kind of man mounts another/ in deadly erotic mimicry, then puts a wet bag over his head/ to suffocate him for the truth? [...] We have no other measure but body as lie detector.36 It is as if the poem aims to distill the long cruel legacy of Enlightenment thought, in which the human is marked by the capacity for deceit, and in which the reduction to animality is the only means of effacing the doubt that afflicts one in the face of another who cannot be fully known. Elias Canetti recognized that San thought contained within itself one alternative to this philosophical tendency, but conceded that he had not yet learned enough from it to know how not to inhabit his own genealogy. And, in his constant return to a conception of humanity as being marked by both language and the capacity for deceit, he reproduced it. Man [is] the animal that notes what it murders (Human 224), he wrote, having already recognized the scandal of refusing humans the exclusive benefit of a commandment against killing and having termed the killing of animals murder. One way to understand Benziens torture is to recognize that it sought not information but speechlessness, which is what is implied by the term,

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trauma. The information that Yengeni might have relinquished would have come in the moment that he began to recover from the terror of death in order to evade it. But within a philosophical system that accords humans the exclusive capacity for language, rendering other beings speechless is tantamount to treating them as animals. At that point, they will not be able to deceive or to dissimulate, and hence to evade the power of the torturer. Benzien was torturing Yengeni as an African (as categorized by the apartheid regime), as a member of the African National Congress, and as a person opposed to the withholding of human rights to Africans. Benziens torture literalized the logic by which animals and Africans are transformed one into the other (as occurred in slavery) not as among the San, where such transformation is conditioned by the personhood of both, but in a manner that withholds subjectivity from either. Speechlessness, or muteness, is not, one must insist, silence is not a withholding of words that might otherwise have been exchanged. What I have written, very cursorily, under the shorthand of name-calling rather than naming must stand as a placeholder for the kind of non-relation, the un-responsible (rather than irresponsible) effect of a gesture that performs categorical violence. In the case of Benzien, this practice also earned for him the moniker of animal. One of his other torture victims remarked that, despite a capacity for charm and civility, he can change [] behave like an animal. We are reminded here of the victims of xenophobic violence who said of their attackers, They are animals. They treat us like animals. In this reversibility, this non-identificatory circuit of mutually mimetic accusations, there is condensed the history not of humanity, perhaps, but of a certain Enlightenment humanism which now counts (South) Africa as another place of residence. In the museums and speeches that invoke the cultural death of the /Xam, and in the persisting memory harbored in the otherwise alienated and transformed languages of //kabbos distant relations, however, there are also traces of something else, namely a way of comprehending the world that is not premised on the radical opposition between something called human and something called animal. In these archives of both disavowal and grief, plumbed by such diverse thinkers as //kabbo and Canetti, Mbeki and Yengeni, there are traces of this other thought. That these traces have not been entirely effaced, despite efforts to eliminate them, suggests something about the nature of signification an open process that has us as much as we have it. Perhaps the wind will ultimately take them. In the meantime, they give to be thought the possibility of being otherwise.

NOTES
1

In necklacing, a persons head is doused with alcohol, a tire is placed around their necks and then they are set alight.

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Basson 6. The Mail and Guardian derives its figures from an internal report written by metropolitan police chief Robert McBride. Sefela is a Sotho genre of performance in which singers compose and perform narratives about their experience as migrant laborers moving to and from the mines. Full of irony and bravado, attesting to the freedom and also the ignominy of work on the mines, as well as the complex relations with those who remain at home, the genre is performed by men, though it has a counterpart among women called seoeleoelele. The sefela referred to here was recorded by Mrs. Mokitimi in 1981, and is reproduced by David Coplan (131). Thus, for example, in Khutsong, an anti-government coalition that formed to oppose redistricting, organized anti-xenophobia rallies and enforced its policy of hospitality partly in order to demonstrate its control over an area where the municipal government had lost much of its authority. Jean and John Comaroff, in particular, have argued that the turn to a politics of indigeneity has emerged in South Africa as modernist forms of political reckoning are overwhelmed by postmodern ones, with the idea of the rights-bearing individual being dislodged by that of the native-born person as the ideal of the citizen-subject. They also argue that the emergence of xenophobia, allegorized in discourses about other kinds of aliens, such as plants and animals, reflects the contradictions of a neoliberal emphasis on open borders and free markets, an emphasis implemented by nationstates that nonetheless remain territorially defined and hence concerned with border maintenance. See Naturing the Nation (649). Michael Neocosmos, arguing with and against the Comaroffs, asserts that xenophobia in South Africa must be understood as the product of a state discourse in a specifically decolonizing context. Drawing parallels between Fanons Algeria and transitional South Africa, he notes that xenophobia emerges when state discourse permits a slippage to occur between the foreigner-asoppressor/colonizer and the foreigner-as-outsider. He argues (and I would concur) that such a slippage occurs when a local bourgeoisie, effecting an identity between anticolonial nationalism and decolonization, moves itself into the place of the deposed power without effecting a structural transformation of the relationship between state, society and capital. His example from South Africa is the Black Economic Empowerment initiative, an ANC policy aimed at the creation of black capital, which stands in the place of more radical programs of redistributive economic justice. (From Foreign Native to Native Foreigners 12, 15-18). Yvette Christians (personal communication, July 2008) reminds me that Dlamini himself overlooks the many kinds of informal exile that also took place, and that encompassed individuals who were not official members of the ANC. He perhaps underestimates, as a result, the full extent of hospitality afforded by neighboring states to South Africans who were fleeing apartheid.

In this regard, Neocosmoss claim (6) that a crude racial stereotypy informs xenophobic violence seems inadequate. No doubt such a stereotype is at play and informs much police and other violence, but the video I have seen of the 2008 riots clearly shows that the inspection of papers constituted a switch point, and that the mere appearance of foreignness was not always sufficient to incite violence.

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8 Isabel Hofmeyr narrates with exceptional acuity the battle to implement a regime of power based in literacy and the fetish of papers. While she notes the complex struggles between forms of literacy and orality, going so far as to suggest that indigenous leaders resisted colonialism by oralizing the documentary tradition of the colonial state, she also makes clear that the territorialization of power, and the establishment of apartheid even avant la lettre through practices of cartographic demarcation and literal fencing worked by subjecting everyone to the power of writing and hence, papers. 9

Makoni 25. The Big Issue is a glossy magazine on contemporary issues in South Africa, produced by an NGO of the same name as part of a skills development program aimed at the promotion of social responsibility.

At the time of writing, I had not yet read Antjie Krogs new book, Begging to be Black, in which she responds to Mbekis politically pragmatic and economically oriented goal of African renaissance with an ethics of self-transformation born of her reading of South African history and specifically the biography of the Sotho King Moeshoeshoe. For Krog, influenced by Paul Pattons reading of Deleuze, becoming African, or becoming black means abandoning European Enlightenment forms of identity for a sense of social indebtedness and entailment, in which identity is radically dependent on non-separation from others. A translator of /Xam myth/poetry, her account is perhaps as influenced by the Bleek and Lloyd collection as by the narrative of Moeshoeshoe as an alternative to militarist nationalism embodied in Shaka Zulu.
11 What we feel, warts and all, in the Mail and Guardian. The paper quotes an attitudes survey produced by FutureFact, an independent research company sponsored by or subscribed to by corporations in South Africa. 12 The terms Khoi and San are colloquial versions of the more formal khoekhoen and San. The /Xam are a subcategory of the San. As ethnonyms, Khoi and San have replaced the older, colonial designations of Hottentot and Bushman respectively. In this essay, I use the terms as they are used by the authors who deploy them and according to the conventions of the time. Thus, when citing Mbeki and popular discourse about the khoekhoen and San, I use the terms Khoi and San. When referring to the writings of Bleek and Lloyd, and those like Canetti who relied on them, I use the terms Hottentot and Bushman. In all other cases, I defer to the current protocols of naming established by contemporary indigenous communities, and the anthropologists who inform their self-representation. Accordingly, khoekhoen and /Xam are the default terms here. Both of the languages are click languages, but orthographic practices have changed somewhat since Dorothea Bleek publisher her dictionary of /Xam. In general, I follow the practice of the writers cited.

10

In fact, Mbekis somewhat remote bearing and patrician demeanor and diction are often invoked by common people as evidence that his Africanity is indeed in doubt, that he is too influenced by Europe. In any case, he is not always, perhaps even rarely, deemed one of the people in the populist sense. And this fact made him vulnerable to the populist movement led by Jacob Zuma, which overthrew Mbeki at an ANC conference in Polokwane, December 2007.

13

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14 There is a significant debate about whether the Khoekhoen and San people should be categorized as a single group of people, both originally inhabitants of South Africa, or if the Khoekhoe should be considered secondary migrants, who brought agriculture and who remained, until the colonial era, in conflict with the more nomadic San. There is not space to assess this argument here, nor am I equipped to do so. Nonetheless, readers are asked to bear in mind that the opposition between nomadism and agropastoralism is an analytic gesture, and that there was constant exchange sometimes violent between Khoekhoen and San people despite other, linguistically based differences. 15 For a full discussion of what it might mean to respond, and not merely react, and for a critique of the analysis that has presumed the easy opposition between responsive and responsible humans, and reactive but irresponsible animals, see the discussion in Derridas And say the animals responded? in The Animal That Therefore I Am. Also Spivak.

Nqabayos Nomansland 16. Blundell provides an excellent overview of the history of debates surrounding the putative extinction of the San and the possible ways of accounting for colonization and creolization as well as the interdependence between San and both Khoekhoen and Bantu-speaking peoples. He notes that the San have, recently, engaged in a major legal action in which the patenting of indigenous knowledge for the purposes of revenue generation has been protested. Pharmaceutical corporations have been eager to obtain such patents for weight-loss and other health products, and have often justified their lack of revenue sharing on the grounds that the San are extinct. The San, it must be noted, vigorously disagree. See especially Nqabayos Nomansland 16-28. If archaeologists and anthropologists have revised their concept of San extinction, to accommodate historical change while acknowledging linguistic loss, it is nonetheless the case that most popular writers and perhaps most people believe the San to have vanished. See, for example, Neil Bennun. For a more scholarly treatment of this same narrative, see Andrew Bank, and Janette Deacon and Thomas A. Dowson. The spelling of //kabbos name appears in two forms in Bleek and Lloyds collection, both with and without an accent over the a (). I have used the unaccented form as default, as it appears as such on the frontispiece portrait of the great story-teller. However, when quoting Lloyds comments which spell his name as //kbbo, I have left the spelling as is.
18 This pattern of unmarked citation and textual integration describes most of the Canetti chapter. It is not merely ironic that the /Xam narratives have, since their earliest inscription, been subject to appropriation and plagiarism. Innumerable translations and renderings of these narratives have been published by South African and other writers, more often than not under the name of the translator, with acknowledgment of Bleek and Lloyd, but rarely of the individual /Xam narrators. A notable exception in this regard is Antjie Krog, whose volume includes in its very title the names of the narrators whose words the poet re-renders. 19 Many writers have remarked on this trans-species mobility in /Xam thought. Thus, for example, Mathias Guenther writes, Ambiguity becomes a palpable state, as ordi17

16

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nary reality is suspended through trance, human becomes animal (70). J.D. LewisWilliams and D.G. Pearce, citing Guenther, summarize the situation thus: A hunted eland may turn out to be the rain. A man can become a lion. A jackal barking in the night may be a shaman come to see if the people are safe and well fed. [] For the San, transformations like these are part of everyones thinking, if not their experience; they are part of life (159).
20 /Xam hunting traditionally makes use of small poison arrows. These arrows could not in themselves fell most game, and certainly not large game as is found in southern Africa. Hence, the arrows are poisoned and the shooter himself does not pursue the animal. Rather, members of his community wait until the poison can have achieved its effect and then follow the animal to its death-scene, where they await its final demise, then butcher and distribute the meat. Such trackers can generally discern the size, sex, age and state of health as well as time of passing of an animal from its tracks by assessing the depth of the imprint, the destructive effects of wind, the pattern of dew traces, the presence of more recently deposited seed and dust, and so forth. 21

Derridas theorization of the trace was first developed in Of Grammatology but continued to be refined and extended across the body of his work.

For other stories about Mantis, including different versions recorded by Wilhelm Bleek and Lucy Lloyd, see The Mantis and his Friends: Bushman Folklore.
23 24

22

crits 305. Cited in Derrida, Animal 129-30.

In this story, the anteaters desire for a girlchild is well known by new Springbok parents, who always present their newborns as males, regardless of their actual identity. The guilelessness of the abducted childs mother, her incapacity to pretend that she has actually borne a male, allows the anteater to identify the object of her desire and she then steals the infant from its mothers arms. The mothers grief makes no impression on the anteater, who simply sends her away, bereft and in despair. Nor does the mother receive comfort from her own mate, who heaps scorn on the maternal Springbok for her failure to tell the lie that would have protected their offspring.
25 26

Bennun Chapter 1.

Schapera 438. Scharpera uses the term Khoisan to refer to the language groups encompassing both hunter-gatherers and agropastoralists who are now separated out as Xam/San and Khoekhoen. He uses the now discarded and pejorative term, Hottentot to refer to the Khoekhoen. Linguistically speaking, he divides the Bushmen languages into three groups, Southern, Central and Northern, the /Xam being members of the Southern Group. Many shared lexical units and grammatical structures bind the languages of Khoekhoen and /Xam, but there are also a number of differences. Most notable among the latter is the sex-denoting or gendered nature of /Xam and the lack of such a feature among most Khoekhoen languages (Schapera 419-38). In the English index, pwo appears, but there is no entry in the main /Xam lexicon under this spelling. There is, however, an entry under the spelling pwai, with two alternative spellings, translated as game. In all probability this is the term that
27

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ought to have appeared under the English animal. Elsewhere, pwi and pwe, the plural form of pwai, are translated as meat. Lloyd 685. According to J. David Lewis-Williams, the Bleeks initially communicated with their /Xam informants in a form of Dutch (Afrikaans was already emerging as a distinct language but is often referred to as Dutch at this time). See 21-25.
29 28

In an appendix to Specimens of Bushman Folklore (436), in which he recounts his photographing of Breakwater Convict Station prisoners in Cape Town (1871), Bleek remarks the case of a young /Xam man who said he had actually been raised by Korana since early childhood. The remark evidences a long and deep intimacy between the former enemies, one that exceeds the merely instrumental collaborations suggested by the narratives of cattle-raiding.

30 In this sense the South African project of decolonization differed fundamentally from the Fanonian project, which was premised not on the transcendence but the repression of difference. In Fanons estimation, decolonization entailed the radical decision to remove from [the nation] its heterogeneity. And it would therefore inevitably be confronted with the question of minorities. The radical decision, a necessary corollary but also inversion of the colonial failure to differentiate among those whose otherness it hypostatized as the basis of domination, was not formally embraced by South Africa, and despite its possible conjuration by the generic category of the African in Mbekis speech, he is also careful to insist on the multiplicity of histories and identities that are sustained within the category. For Fanons analysis of the question of difference in and for the project of decolonization, see The Wretched of the Earth (35). 31 32 33

This same passage appears, as does much of the book, in Elizabeth Costello (64). Derrida, The Animal 154-55. Cited in Derrida, The Animal 140.

34 One can speak of this structure of debt and obligation in a variety of ways. In South Africa, it has often been read in the idioms of mutuality, ubuntu, or moral economy (depending on ones position). For discussions of these issues, particularly as they were raised by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, see Kwame Gyekye, Martha Minow, and Richard H. Bell.

The South African Press Association release for July 14, 1997 actually quotes Yengeni as asking, What kind of human being could do that? I am talking about the man behind the wet bag. Ingrid de Kok, What Kind of Man? forms part of the series, A Room Full of Questions, in Terrestrial Things; reprinted in Seasonal Fires.
36

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WORKS CITED Bank, Andrew. Bushmen in a Victorian World: The Remarkable Story of the Bleek-Lloyd Collection of Bushman Folklore. Cape Town: Double Story, 2006. Basson, Adriaan. McBrides xeno report. Mail and Guardian. 11-17 July 2008. 6. Bell, Richard H. Understanding African Philosophy: A Cross-Cultural Approach to Classical and Contemporary Issue. London: Routledge, 2002. Bennun, Neil. The Broken String: The Last Words of an Extinct People. London: Viking, 2004. Bleek, Wilhelm H.I. Preface. Reynard the Fox of South Africa; Or, Hottentot Fables and Tales. Trans. Wilhelm Bleek. London: Trbner and Co, 1864. Bleek, Wilhelm and Lucy Lloyd. Specimens of Bushman Folklore. Ed. Lucy Lloyd. London: George Allen and Co, 1911. The Mantis and His Friends: Bushman Folklore. Ed. Dorothea F. Bleek. Cape Town: T Maskew Miller, 1924. Blundell, Geoffery. Nqabayos Nomansland: San Rock Art and the Somatic Past. Studies in Global Archaeology 2. Uppsala and Johannesburg: Uppsala University and the University of the Witwatersrand, 2004. Canetti, Elias. The Tongue Set Free: Remembrance of a European Childhood. Trans. Joachim Neugroschel. London: Picador, 1979. Crowds and Power [Masse und Macht]. Trans. Carol Stewart. New York: Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, 1984. The Human Province. Trans. Joachim Neugroschel. London: Picador, 1986. From Notes from Hampstead, 1954-1971. American Poetry Review. Nov/Dec 26.6 (1997): 24. Christians, Yvette. How disposed of: The Liberated Africans, Symposium on the Abolition of the British Slave Trade, John Hope Franklin Center, Duke University, Sept. 2007. Coetzee, J.M. Disgrace. Waiting for the Barbarians. London: Secker and Warburg, 1999 [1980].

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The Lives of Animals. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1999. Elizabeth Costello. London: Secker and Warburg, 2003. Coplan, David. In the Time of Cannibals: The Word Music of South Africas Basotho Migrants. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1994. Comaroff, Jean and John Comaroff. Naturing the Nation: Aliens, Apocalypse and the Postcolonial State. Journal of Southern African Studies 27.3 (1 Sept 2001): 627-651. de Kok, Ingrid. What Kind of Man? Terrestrial Things. Cape Town: Kwela, 2002. Deacon, Janette and Thomas A. Dowson, ed. Voices from the Past: /Xam Bushmen and the Bleek and Lloyd Collection. Johannesburg: Witwatersrand University Press, 1996. Derrida, Jacques. Of Grammatology. Trans. Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1976. The Animal That Therefore I Am. Trans. David Wills. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2008. Dlamini, Jacob. Moral duty, not political debt, binds us to foreigners. Weekender 31 May 2008. Guenther, Mathias. Tricksters and Trancers: Bushman Religion and Society. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1999. Fanon, Frantz. The Wretched of the Earth. Prefaced by Jean-Paul Sartre. Trans. Constance Farrington. London: Penguin, 1990. Gyekye, Kwame. Tradition and Modernity: Philosophical Reflections on the African Experience. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997. Hofmeyr, Isabel. We Live Our Years as a Tale that is Told. Portsmouth, N.H.: Heinemann; Johannesburg: Witwatersrand University Press; London: J. Currey, 1994. Human Rights Watch, South Africa. Punish Attackers in Xenophobic Violence. Human Rights News. 23 May 2008. 8 June 2008 <http://www.hrw.org/english/docs/2008/05/23/safric18935.htm>. Krog, Antjie. The Stars Say Tsau: /Xam Poetry of Dia!kwain, Kweiten-ta//ken, /A!kunta, Han#kasso, and //Kabbo. Cape Town: Kwela, 2004. Begging to be Black. Cape Town: Random House Struik, 2010.

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Lacan, Jacques. crits. Trans. Alan Sheridan. New York: W.W. Norton, 1977. Lloyd, Lucy. A Bushman Dictionary. New Haven: American Oriental Society, 1956. Lewis-Williams, J.D. Believing and Seeing: Symbolic Meanings in Southern San Rock Paintings. London: Academic Press, 1981. Lewis-Williams, J.D. and D.G. Pearce. San Spirituality: Roots, Expression, and Social Consequences. New York: AltaMira, 2004. Makoni, Munyaradzi. A Rapture of Hatred. The Big Issue 132.12 (6 June 2008): 25. Mbeki, Thabo. Statement of Deputy President T.M. Mbeki on behalf of the African National Congress, on the occasion of the adoption by the Constitutional Assembly of The Republic of South Africa Bill 1996. Cape Town. 8 May 1996. 8 June 2008 <http://www.anc.org. za/ancdocs/history/mbeki/1996/sp960508.html>. Minow, Martha. Between Vengeance and Forgiveness: Facing History after Genocide and Mass Violence. Boston: Beacon Press, 1998. Neocosmos, Michael. From Foreign Native to Native Foreigners: Explaining Xenophobia in Post-apartheid South Africa: Citizenship and Nationalism, Identity and Politics. Dakar: Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa, 2006. Ritual Slaughter in City Suburbs Here to Stay. The Herald 26 June 2006. Schapera, Isaac. The Khoisan Peoples of South Africa: Bushmen and Hottentots. New York: Humanities Press, 1951. Spivak, Gayatri Chakravorty. Responsibility. Boundary 2, 21.3 (1994): 1964. Theal, George McCall. Introduction. Specimens of Bushman Folklore. Wilhelm Bleek and Lucy Lloyd. Ed. Lucy Lloyd. London: George Allen and Co, 1911. Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Amnesty Hearing: Geoffrey Benzien. Cape Town, Oct 1997. 5 Jan 2010 <http://www.doj. gov.za/trc/trc_frameset.htm>. What we feel, warts and all. Mail and Guardian 11-17 July. 37. Williams, Murray and Natsha Prince. Yengeni Ritual Spearheads Cultural Row. Independent on Line. 23 Jan 2007. 26 June 2008

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<http://www.int.iol.co.za/index.php?set_id=1&click_id=124&art_id =vn20070123110405125C219612>. Yengeni Turns Tables on Former Tormenter. 18 July 2008 <http://www. doj.gov.za/trc/trc_frameset.htm>. Zvumoya, Percy. Commentary. Mail and Guardian. 23 May 2008. 8 June 2008 <http://www.mg.co.za/articledirect.aspx?articleid=339923& area=xenophobia_insight>.

Tout Autre est Tout Autre1


James Siegel
Confrontation with peoples from different ethnicities no longer has the power to shake Western identities in the way it had during the period of decolonization and before. It is as though all forms of social difference are now easily bridgeable. This is arguable. But the necessity for the production of social difference still exists if one follows. Jacques Derridas essay on the animal.

If all essents went up in smoke, it is the noses that would differentiate and appreciate them. Heraclitus, Fragment 7

I. The Other revised The other taken into account by ethnography has been the peoples of different cultures. That type of otherness is suspect today. Suspect to such a degree that the practice of ethnography, particularly in the United States, has been revised. One is not surprised to read that an American anthropologist has lived in a part of the world remote from her country, has become fluent in the language, has spent years there and has discovered no important differences, at least once the anthropologist attends to the persons she knows. When ethnography takes this form it can be accused of undermining its own first assumptions. In France the conclusions drawn from this state of affairs have been brought to the fore with such force that many ethnographers feel that their discipline is threatened. The opening of the Muse du Quai Branly was also the closing of the ethnographic section of the famous Muse de lHomme. The rich collections of the latter were transferred to the new museum. Really, one could think one is dreaming. Everything one reads on the subject is unbelievable.2 Thus remarked the eminent anthropologist Louis Dumont when the project was announced. It is unbelievable that the ethnographic museum might disappear. It, according to Dumont, makes the work of ethnographers available to the public. It forms a part of their instruction. It tells them, he implies, of the peoples of the world. Without it they would be ignorant. One is in a world of dreams if one thinks one could live without ethnography.3 The anthropologist Jean Jamin published an article at the time, Faut il brler les muses dethnographie? (Is it Necessary to Burn the Museums of Ethnography?), the answer to which would be yes if

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the ethnographic other is not merely out of date but morally and politically suspect as many think. The question was the nature of the value of the museum objects. The new museum was seen by anthropologists as an art museum. But this was disputed. The purpose of the museum, said President Chirac in his address at its inauguration, was to honor peoples formerly despised. The new museum would render justice to the infinite diversity of cultures and in doing so would manifest another regard for the spirit of peoples and civilizations of Africa, Asia and Oceania. One might think that the ethnographic museum from which the bulk of the collections came, the Muse de lHomme, had done just this. It is the calling of ethnography, indeed, to render justice to the diversity of peoples. But listening to President Chirac, one has the impression that the ethnographic museum had to be dismantled for there to be a new view for diversity, both of peoples and of civilizations. And of course the diversity displayed at the Muse de lHomme reflected the understanding of peoples under colonial rule. An entirely different approach was called for, one that would dissipate the aura of colonialism the old museum emanated and so put the relation of France to its former colonies on another basis. That the new institution does not have a more descriptive title reflects the inability to find a suitable term for ethnographic artifacts that have become aesthetic objects. Throughout his speech Chirac spoke in pairs sometimes it was peoples and civilizations, sometimes arts and civilizations. There was no dispute about the word civilization as there might have been fifty years earlier. But between art and people there was a choice to be made. Ostensibly there was to be room for both, but most ethnographers are not clear that room was left for their study. There had been a passionate debate between ethnographers on one side and art historians, curators and dealers on the other. It concerned first of all the designation of what was to be in the new museum. The objects were mainly (but not entirely) from the Muse de lHomme.4 Were they then still to be used to illustrate the lives of peoples, or were they now to be shown for their aesthetic value? One question was how best to understand others (not to mention who exactly these others are or were); another was how to honor them. It was necessary to multiply points of view in order to give a certain depth to the arts and civilizations of all the continents. In order to do that, old views had to be dissipated. It was not only the outdated views of ethnographers but those of the general public which were in question. The prejudice in which the ex-colonial peoples were held had to be erased, and this would come about by showing the cultural achievements of these peoples. The word other here persisted, but it passed between the other view (ours, the viewers) to the change in the status of the others (them), those to be viewed otherwise.

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Between the things to be seen and the viewpoints there is an unsettled relation in the presidents speech. To see the exhibition would be to change the way one sees, but the directions this would take could not be stated in advance. The established way of placing the other, the ethnological viewpoint, was clearly to be discarded. And this in the interest of views more open and more respectful, dissipating the fog of ignorance, of condescension and arrogance of the past which have been so often present and have nourished suspicion, contempt and rejection. Condescension and arrogance, suspicion, contempt and rejection would be replaced by admiration. And with this the credit for the objects would fall to the nations where the objects had been made. Ethnic designations were kept but they now had the status of, for instance, medieval in medieval art. One admired these objects while bracketing the beliefs surrounding them as belonging to the past. Credit no doubt would be given to France for making this gesture. No doubt particularly so because the high aesthetic value of the objects reflected the refined taste for which France is well known. France could be proud that the objects, though nearly all collected under colonialism and whose ownership was often disputed, formed a part of its patrimony. Objects were at the center of the museum, as they are in most museums. But objects had been lost sight of by social anthropologists for some time.5 Instead of classifying peoples through their things, or seeing the inner motivations of peoples through objects, anthropologists had turned to the direct study of society. Anthropology in France too had developed in this direction especially, but not entirely, outside the museum for some time. This, however, by itself did not seem to excuse anthropologists from furthering a view of others said to be morally, culturally and politically out of date. The museum stood for ethnography. It was not that ethnography was to be eliminated, but that it would have to take other forms. There was to be a place for this in the museum as attested to in particular by the participation of LviStrauss, after whom an auditorium in the museum was named, but the director of the museum has clearly indicated that objects without aesthetic value were not to be included.6 For many anthropologists, the closing of the ethnographic museum seemed to mark an end of an era; where it left ethnology was unclear. Tracing the treatment of objects in ethnographic museums placed the dilemma in perspective. It is just this that Benoit de lstoile has done in a study of French ideas of the other as seen through the evolution of the museum. I will follow his schema in the following paragraphs. De lstoile begins with the cabinet des curiosits, the collections of odd unclassified objects. He cites the study of Krystoff Pomian on the collectors of the Renaissance. Pomian shows that some of these objects from far-off places were collected not for their use value but because of their

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significance as representatives of the invisible, of exotic countries, of different societies, of strange climates (213, Pomian 49). These objects eventually were separated from those considered art objects. The cabinet of curiosities contained things without a principle of selection. They amounted to an encyclopedia of the world according to de lstoile. Some objects, collected in far-off parts of the world, came to indicate distance and things unknown. This resulted in a generalized other, more or less the equivalent of something, anything, unknown and from anywhere. With the rise of science, the objects became classified and separated from art objects. The attempt at classification is at the beginning of the ethnographic collections. From the start ethnography almost literally domesticated, gave a home to, the strange. It reduced strangeness by showing its rationality or its place in scientific thinking. It is just this endeavor that is thought no longer to be necessary and, worse, to classify in anachronistic ways. Those of us who believe we show contemporary ways of life and escape this anachronism are not thereby freed from the charge associated with it: that we do not let others speak for themselves. The new display of old collections might, in its way, be a more direct form of communication between cultures if, only, it could free itself from the aura of the primitive, as Jacques Chirac wished, and if it could be bound to national heritage.7 The germ of the conflict between ethnography and art was already present at the separation of the cabinet of curiosities from the art gallery in the seventeenth century. Objects to be considered scientifically on the one hand; those to be appreciated aesthetically on the other. Often objects were contested. Were they to be considered evidence of historical and cultural development, or were they to be seen as art? Objects from the Americas collected for the Louvre in the middle of the nineteenth century because they attested to the origins of art were transferred to the new Trocadro museum at the end of that century when it was decided that they did not in fact do so. They did not show a great page in the history of humanity but another art altogether.8 The Muse dethnographie du Trocadro, founded in conjunction with the Universal Exhibition of 1878, developed the natural science project in evolutionary terms. The thinking of the time consolidated a hierarchy with savages at the bottom. But the museums collections and classifications had other consequences as well. Jean Jamin points out that each piece collected, classed and presented in the museum not only counted as a witness [of the history of humanity] but also counted as proof []. Rivet, the director of the museum, according to Jamin, used the word proof, a word taken from the law, as a way of giving ethnology the task of rehabilitation of oppressed and marginalized cultures (15). Proof, then, of the value of otherwise unappreciated cultures. This appreciation, however, did not change the centrality of focus on origins; the origins of civilization and the origins of art

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were at the heart of the idea of collection. Aesthetic value was even considered a danger by Rivet since focusing on it could mean bypassing the collection of everyday objects useful for the classification of ways of life.9 Meanwhile, ethnology evolved under colonialism, and the idea of the other became progressively differentiated. The Colonial Exhibition of 1931 represented the ways in which colonialism gave value to natural wealth left unexploited by natives. This included the peoples themselves who were said to be in the process of development under colonial aegis. Thus the static view of races which were once and for all whatever they were originally gave way. Ethnography had the task of completing this encyclopedia. Art ngre was included because it was thought to be sufficiently ancient to show the origin of this evolution (de lstoile 49). This showed the way to the study of aesthetics particular to specific cultures. And in so doing it removed the ethnographic exegesis of art from the continued popular belief in a generalized and savage other. Thus, for instance, Michel Leiris, an important collector of objects for the ethnographic museums and a friend of Picasso, remarked of one of his friends masks from the Ivory Coast that it has a combination of quasi geometric elements each of which can be perceived in a relatively autonomous way and at the same time taking the value of a sign in the whole of a face imaginatively reconstituted by the viewer (Crise ngre 1139).10 Once one knows that a face is not an imitation from nature but a construction made out of quasi-geometric units, one can arrange these units mentally and find a face.11 Plastic elements become read as signs. Reading them, one reaches a face, but without the code one cannot read and is left with the generalized, hence possibly with the savage. There is a particular aesthetics, not ours. Through it one understands the object as a mask with a particular designation. Without this the mask appears to represent an inchoate intention, a nightmare of the uncivilized perhaps; but if one appreciates it it seems to speak of something we cannot grasp but we intuit nonetheless. It is beautiful, we say. Knowing the code, one knows what the mask says. Kantian ideas of beauty and pleasure then do not apply. Nor do ideas of savagery; both are banished in favor of understanding. One needs ethnography to generate such understanding. But popular understanding did not evolve along the same lines as ethnography. The latter showed the specificities of different cultures. The former remained invested in the spectral and global otherness out of which ethnology had emerged. Thus the importance of art ngre, meaning certain objects of Africa and Oceania discovered to be art, a discovery confirmed by the interest of artists such Picasso, Matisse, Vlamink and others, but to which both the English translations black arts and Negro arts seemed still to apply. The word art indicated something worthy of appreciation. What went with the other term was an understanding of this art as savage and even magical. The Rapport gnral of the exposition of 1931 notes that

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It does not take much imagination to evoke bloody ceremonies of suppressed cults, monstrous celebrations in the glades, strange marriages of love and death behind these masques and sculptures.12 Beauty and savagery then contended or perhaps reinforced each other in popular appreciation of the objects. The history of the treatment of the objects under consideration is full of ambiguities. On one side, ethnology, accused of racial stereotyping even when it works against the generalized view of savages. On the other, aesthetic interests displacing ethnology, ignoring the place of objects in social life and thereby accused of ethnocentricism for bypassing local ideas of aesthetics and, by neglecting the peoples who made the objects, leaving them open to prejudicial judgments. There is also the question raised by the seemingly inexorable pull of aesthetic attraction of objects said to be fetishes and which were in the main religious and magical objects in their places of origin. Though the savage other apparently vanished, the objects that sustained interest remain attractive under another name without asking whether there is a connection between the magical and the beautiful. The idea of beauty and the idea of the wild are mixed also in Kant for instance, the beautiful being originally wild or, in French, sauvage. It is not surprising then that the beautiful and the savage should appear together. In the Quai Branly, magic is entirely subsumed under a generalized aesthetics. Something is worth looking at even if one knows nothing about it. French ethnology had sidestepped the problem not by avoiding the topics of magic or aesthetic appeal but by focusing on a broader issue. Paul Rivet, in describing the project of the ethnological museum and its research, wrote The most humble tool, the most imperfect, the crudest pottery is as much, or even more worthy of study [] than the most finely decorated vase.13 Not long before Apollinaire had complained about the results of such thinking. Speaking of the Muse de Trocadro, the predecessor of the Muse de lHomme, he said that it hid the aesthetically valuable and for that reason was practically not visited. The museum, he noted, had a great number of masterpieces by African and Oceanean artists. But, in a phrase that anticipated the criticism of the Muse de lHomme, he said The collections are mixed in a way to satisfy ethnic curiosity (curiosit ethnique) and not aesthetic sentiment.14 This was precisely the charge repeated later particularly by Jacques Kerchache, an art dealer and friend of Jacques Chirac to whom credit for the idea of the new museum has been given.15 The opening of the new museum, then, brought a conflict of values aesthetic versus ethnographic. The latter extended far beyond the limits of the discipline if one listened to the argument of anthropologists. Their cry at the closing of the ethnographic section of the Muse de lHomme was heartfelt. Thus Louis Dumont, whom we quoted above, continued in a column in Le Monde:

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Until the 18th Century art was understood as mechanical arts, craftsmanship, and the beaux-arts. Since then the latter has been elevated to coincide with absolute Art, but many artists continue to think of themselves as artisans. One can say that in speaking of arts premiers one actually imposes a modern notion of beaux-arts on cultures which do not recognize the term. Would you separate the parietal art of Lascaux from craftsmanship? To obtain an abstract equality with that which comes out of our own culture one proposes to look at the beaux-arts from other places with the presuppositions of bourgeois parvenus. Either one sees objects in the terms given by their fabricators and thus understands them or one sees them falsely. The falsity consists in imposing an aesthetic and an idea of place which belongs to a certain culture, one amongst many, that of the culture within which the museum was established. Differences between cultures are obscured, the result being a false view. The charge against ethnographers in return is that even their differentiated view of peoples is now out of date. The differences they insist on are irrelevant in the world today and, once again, they leave open a route toward prejudice. The argument is complicated and even ironic. On the one hand, the case against the ethnography museum is that it consolidates a distorted view of the other. Distorted either because in spite of itself it fosters ideas of savagery, or else because it furthers views of cultural identity frozen during colonial times and now out of date and demeaning. The argument against the art museum is similar: it imposes an aesthetic in place of an interpretation on objects and thus on peoples and is ethnocentric. Before the closing of the ethnology section, popular interest in the museum had declined considerably. In part because the museum was under financed. But in part also because what drew crowds to it before seems to have evaporated. The interest in the ethnographic other had dissipated, surely in large part because of the work of anthropologists who meticulously delineated the reasonableness of the societies they studied. But also because the peoples who had made the objects were known under their ethnic names which now, instead of making them seem exotic, left them entirely without connection to museum visitors. The peoples to be honored by the new museum were peoples whose ethnic designations were subsumed under national designations. The slippage from ethnic to national identities matched a change in European popular mentality, one that was aided by the presence of former colonial peoples in the mtropole where they were known not as speakers of Wolof, for instance, but as Senegalese or simply as Africans. It is the designations on their passports that determine who they are, not their ancestry. And if they have no French visa, they are deported to their homeland, which is a state. The state, not even the nation and certainly not

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ethnicity, determines identity both politically and, though to lesser degree, in the museum. It is true that ethnic designations are still attached to museum objects, but the honor falls on citizens of states. The new museum designed to honor certain peoples is clear about who is honored. It is the heirs of the people who made the objects, thus linking ethnicity and state. But who exactly are these heirs? Speaking of Nok sculptures made 2000 years ago but claimed by the Nigeria of today, Antony Appiah comments: When Nigerians claim a Nok sculpture as part of their patrimony, they are claiming for a nation whose boundaries are less than a century old, the works of a civilization more than two millennia ago, created by a people that no longer exists, and whose descendants we know nothing about. We dont know whether Nok sculptures were commissioned by kings or commoners; we dont know whether the people who made them and the people who paid for them thought of them as belonging to the kingdom, to a man, to a lineage, to the gods. One thing we know for sure, however, is that they didnt make them for Nigeria. (119)16 The famous Benin sculptures are known as such, but does the honor fall to Nigeria where the capital of the Benin kingdom was located, or to the neighboring state, Benin? How can national identity claim the fabrications of the peoples who lived in the area before the nation and before colonialism? Is there necessarily an heir at all? If there is, how is it that such objects are inherited? By their influence on subsequent artists? By genealogical connections between peoples? By the pride of the peoples of a nation in those who lived there before them? By seeing and liking them? The new museum claims a universality for these objects; anyone from anywhere is capable of appreciating them on the basis of a general idea of beauty common to people as humans. The national designation, once accepted, leaves ethnographic analysis in the place, at best, of art history. It might explain social conditions of another time, but such knowledge is optional in considering the value of the objects. Once the important designation of the object is national, thus part of the political world of today and so part of the world as a whole, value comes to be measured by a universally valid aesthetic. Enjoyment of these objects opens to all: Parisians, not to mention those from any place in the world who might visit the museum as well as peoples of say, Nigeria, amongst those designated as the heirs to these objects. Whatever ritual purpose the objects might have had is a matter of the past and is only incidental to their contemporary status. They are beautiful now, they were then and there; now and forever and even before, the future included; for all time and all places.

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Universalism of aesthetic appreciation comes into being along with the diminishing of cultural differences of all sorts. A former curator of the Pompidou Center for Modern Art and then director of the Muse national dart moderne, Germain Viatte, who guided the Quai Branly to its completion, thought that the foreign was unavoidable in Paris. One is constantly confronted with it, and right here. One cannot cross through our cities without being constantly confronted with cultural alterity. But familiarity dissolves exoticism; mere alterity is left. The exotic evaporated; the foreign was no longer strange. But there are still exotic cultures, and one therefore needed a new sort of museum to respond to this change of comportment of our European countries with respect to exotic cultures.17 The exotic, limited to the museum, differentiated from the people at its origin by the renaming of these people, still has a place. Anthropology has been accused of exoticism. But now exoticism will have a safe place within art. The museum will preserve the exotic whereas anthropology, contrary to the charge against it, reduced it to the familiar. The work of anthropologists, in this view, is complete. Being already familiar with alterity, one no longer needs anyone to explain it. They are now understood. But there is still a they, those one sees in Paris from the ex-colonies in particular. And behind them, as it were, in their past or, at least, somewhere else, the exotic persists. It is now, however, sealed off in the museum. In the museum as it has now been constructed, the exotic does not infect presentday immigrants. The universalizing of aesthetic appreciation valorized now by the museum has drained the exotic from them. They no longer raise specters. The Quai Branly, of course, is designed to further good relations with the ex-colonial countries. The charge against it has been ethnocentricism, imposing as it does a particular notion of beauty. The further question is whether the political aim itself is achieved. A rather different view than that of President Chirac was given by the former Minister of Culture and Tourism of Mali, Aminata Traor. She had this to say in an open letter sent to the French president on the occasion of the museums opening: So our works of art have the right to the city just where we, in the aggregate, are forbidden to stay []. The artworks which today take the place of honor at the Muse du Quai Branly belong first of all to the disinherited peoples of Mali, Benin, Guinea, Niger, Burkina-Faso, Cameroon and the Congo. They form a substantial part of the cultural and artistic patrimony of these without visas of whom some have been shot dead at Ceuta and Melilla and these without papers who are daily tracked down in the heart of Europe and, when arrested, sent back in handcuffs to their countries of origin.

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Indeed, anyone living in certain areas of Paris, when rounding a corner is all too likely to find a group of police surrounding a sans papiers, usually African but often enough Indian, Pakistani or Chinese as well. (The list is incomplete.) Honoring the peoples who made the objects displayed in the Quai Branly thus in no way ameliorates the economic and political views that lead to the deportation of migrant workers from France. One wonders if the Kantian notion of beauty does not reveal its savage foundation too clearly when applied to the art of the museum. If so, it all the more effectively conceals prejudice under the name of the beautiful all the while that it preserves it. From this point of view prejudice would no longer be the direct rejection of the objectionable foreigner. Rather, the idea of savagery would be held in concealment in certain cultural forms, honorable ones, and then applied, no doubt unconsciously, to those who are its heirs and so remain contaminated. Under the skin, so to speak. This, at least, is one possibility. But I do not think it is the likely effect of museum display. One can turn to someone interested in museums in general and the ethnographic in particular for another view. According to Georges Bataille, in 1930 museums produced the desire to be what was on display. Today museums are a great and unexpected success, not only for their riches but also because they offer the greatest spectacle of a humanity liberated from material cares and devoted to contemplation. It is on Sunday that he observes the crowd exit from the Louvre. One has to keep in mind that the halls and the objects of art are only a container of which the contained is formed by the visitors: it is the contained that distinguishes the museum from private collections. (Muse 300) What visitors see or rather comprehend is not what is given to them to see. They see something else, and this something else is given by their identification with the figures they have contemplated. The canvases are only dead surfaces and it is the crowd that produces the play, the bursts, the glints of light described technically by the authorized critics. At five on Sundays at the exit of the

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Louvre, it is interesting to admire the flow of visitors visibly animated by the desire to be the like of the celestial apparitions which their eyes still hold in fascination. (300) Bataille speaks of the visitors to the Louvre, but his remarks refer to the peoples whose artifacts appear in ethnographic museums as well: When a native of the Ivory Coast puts polished axes from the Neolithic in a container full of water, bathing them in it, offering poultry to those he believes to be thunder stones (fallen from the heavens in a clap of thunder), he only prefigures the attitude of enthusiasm and the deep communion with objects which characterizes the visitor to the modern museum. The museum is the colossal mirror in which man contemplates himself finally in all his faces, finding himself literally admirable and abandoning himself to the ecstasy expressed in all the art revues. (300)19 The impulse behind the museum is universal in Batailles view. But the museum itself is not. He notes that the first museum was founded by the Convention in July 1793, thus during the Terror. The origin of the modern museum was thus tied to the development of the guillotine. He implies that here is an effect of the crowd (a notion as recent as the possibility of anonymity) in the museum. Viewing in private, one is known to others and thus more surely to oneself. In a crowd, it is said, one loses ones identity and thus loses oneself to the objects. If this happens in the ethnographic museum, identification with the objects is strengthened by ideas of evolution, which said that those on display were an earlier version of oneself. It is not by accident that Bataille speaks of the stone axe and the guillotine. There is a violent, even revolutionary element. The possibility of identification with the other upsets established hierarchies particularly when that other is foreign. This passes through objects. It might be indirect but is not less radical for that. The items displayed might be beautiful and presumably free of contemporary political significance, but the hierarchy of taste, one of the foundations of social hierarchy, will be upset. As Nlia Dias, the author of a history of the Trocadro museum, remarks, Everything happens as if the valorization of certain types of extra-European art inevitably brought with it the questioning of the Occidental idea of art and, consequently, of that of the art object (Quai Branly 73-74). The museum offers a potential source of value outside the normal. And the acceptance of this value makes the viewer like those who made the objects or who are pictured in them, no matter how savage they might be. Jacques Kerchache, who first had the idea of the Quai Branly, originally wanted tribal arts put in the Louvre. Apollinaire before him had the same

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idea. To do so would change the hierarchy of tastes. In the end, Kerchache was successful in having a place made for them in the Louvre, thus putting these pieces on a par with masterpieces. It is not clear that the objects currently in the Louvre will remain there. Meanwhile, the Quai Branly establishes their special worth. But the hope for radical change suggested by Bataille does not occur. The assimilation of such works remains equivocal since the change in taste does not bring new sorts of people into the top of the hierarchy, with the exception of a few brought there for window dressing.20 Nor is it clear that today it reformulates tastes. Instead it establishes the French patrimony. It no longer owns the colonies, but much of their most valuable cultural productions are subsumed by France, they belong to it, not simply by legal or illegal possession, but through excellent French taste that appreciates beauty.21 Seeing oneself in the other as Bataille described of course is not geographically or culturally limited. But when and how it takes place depends on prevailing conditions. When Sartre wrote about such a moment in 1948, it was the beginning of the era of decolonization. In an introduction to an anthology of poetry in French from the Caribbean and Africa edited by Lopold Sdar Senghor, Sartre wrote this: Here [in their poems] erect black men look at you. I wish you to feel as I do the shock of being seen. Whites have enjoyed three thousand years of the privilege of seeing without being seen [] Today these black men look at us and our look returns in our eyes; black torches in their turn illuminate the world. (ix) No one had ever thought there could be a return of looks between whites and blacks. Then, through poetry written in French, it occurred. In retrospect it seemed it could always have occurred and no doubt did. But it went unnoticed. And this was for cause. The result for whites of being seen in the eyes of the black other (NB: singular) is to discover that our whiteness seems to be a strange, pale varnish which keeps our skins from breathing, a white jersey [maillot] worn at the elbows and knees, under which, if we could remove it, we would find the true human flesh, flesh the color of black wine (ix). At the time when Africans were accused of practicing magic, to allow oneself to exchange looks with them for whites would mean seeing that one was them, just as the visitors to the museum saw themselves as what they saw there. The result was said to be political revision, even revolution. To see the return gaze of Africans is no longer to count on the unselfconscious rightness of white everyday lives. Something else is lodged in them to which they are blind. For Viatte in Paris, this moment, now wrapped in familiarity, is much less possible. He easily meets the gaze of the Senegalese, so defined by his passport. But for Sartre in 1948, without this encounter whites were blind to

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themselves. Their sight will be returned when they see Africans en face. And when it is, everything will be different. Thus the possibility of the ethnological other, in the museum or not, in another time. This moment is linked to the ideas that governed the foundation of the Muse de lHomme, particularly the idea of the document. The document was at the heart of the museum, according to Bataille and to others who published in the magazine Documents in 1929-1930. These included Paul Rivet, the director of the museum, and Georges Rivire, who described the aim of the ethnographic museum in that journal. Rivet, according to Jean Jamin, saw the museum objects as documents. They were the proof needed to put peoples in evidence. Jamin uses the term interchangeably with material witnesses. The anthropological use of document came to mean its use value, to use Marxs term adopted by Dennis Hollier in speaking of Documents. Use value, in this context, had a double significance. For ethnographers this meant the equal value of all objects, the seeing of them without judgment. Their aesthetic worth, for instance, did not matter; what counted was their provenance. As such, a document was irreplaceable. It is there that it joins the idea of use value in Marx. Use value is always singular. In Marx it occurs before the exchange with other objects in the course of which an idea of value necessary in exchange is produced. In the ethnographic conception of the time, only the place of the object in its original location matters. The idea leads easily to the notion of context. An ethnographic object might be inexchangeable but it could be explicated by describing its place. The idea of place was slippery after all, contexts are variable.22 The document is not a representation. Rather it forms part of whatever it documents; it belongs to the time of its origin. But as a document it is removed from its provenance. It thus refers, one says, to its origin, being at a distance from it. But it does not necessarily bring with it its original context when it makes this reference. It only attests to the existence of its provenance, to the object belonging to that moment and that place. Whatever reflections it might stimulate do not belong to it as document. The document says what it says; as a document it is incontrovertible in saying that this belongs to that time or place or event. The question it raises is not its sense but its validity, the degree to which it can be accepted as authentic. Whatever associations it might provoke are irrelevant to it as a document. As a document it refuses all speculation. For Bataille, the ethnographic museum offered radical possibilities linked precisely to the change of context that occurs when an object becomes a document without becoming an object of exchange. The document in refusing all substitutability nonetheless stimulates associations that have their provenance outside of it. Take, for instance, a piece entitled Les Pieds Nickels. It is about comic figures favored by French children at the

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beginning of the twentieth century and about the Aztec god Quetzalcoatl. Batailles two pages on them begins, A Mexican god, thus Quetzalcoatal, amuses himself by gliding down the mountains seated on a small plank. More than anything else expressible in the usual repertoire of words, he always seems to me to be one of the Pied Nickels. The God (Quetzalcoatl) amuses, and moral liberty depends on amusement. There has to be something else to render us this necessity, Bataille says. And he finds it in the Pieds Nickels and regrets that it is mainly children who read it. But the Pieds Nickels have had a constant appearance amongst the children of all social classes since their first appearance in 1908. I cant help being crudely taken with the thought that men, not at all savage, not having paradise at their door, have generously erected playthings (fantouches) into gods and have reduced themselves to the role of playthings, to the point of regarding curiously, but with a big knife, what is inside the stomach of the screaming plaything. And, he concludes, an individual is not a plaything, he is a player, or he is both at once [] Amusement is the most crying need, and of course, the most terrifying of human nature (216). If amusement is the most terrifying need of human nature, it is because to cry with laughter is to put the serious, hence the authoritative, aside. One might kill without justification and without condemnation. This is the world of everyone before they have the identities that come with adulthood, the world of children. What in France is relegated to children Mexicans have given to a god. Something ridiculous, a fantouche, only serious to children, is taken seriously by Mexican adults; even given an ultimate seriousness, one that offers no justification and so is indistinguishable from amusement. And in doing so, children show a possibility that adults decline. The latter, in France, refuse to elevate the amusing, the ridiculous, into Gods. It is to their detriment. Mexicans satisfied their need. But we do not. Or rather, adults recognize the need for amusement since they give the Pieds Nickels to children. But then they take it away. Life is not a burst of laughter, educators and mothers of families in effect say to children, not without the most comical gravity, Then, with a light hand they give them the Pieds Nickels to browse, but with the other, they brutally take them away. Amusement is restored but brutally kept in check. Seriousness reigns. Quetzalcoatl was a serious possibility for French people so far as Bataille was concerned because seeing his image awakens something out of their own past. This past here is not contained in the history of all humanity, but is limited to those who read Pieds Nickels and not necessarily all of them. If one sees Quetzalcoatl in the usual ethnological way, he stays where he was in Mexico as Bataille used the term. But conjoined to a figure known in childhood, the result is not nostalgia for that time but the presence of the Aztec god. Quetzalcoatl, for that instant at least, lives in France and works on its inhabitants.

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The lack of seriousness of Quetzalcoatl in Mexico becomes important in France. It does so via the memory of another moment when amusement was taken seriously. All that is needed for amusement to become serious again is the making of a correspondence. But the Pieds Nickels are only one possible point of conjuncture with that god. And it is not certain that Bataille meant that the same conjunctions worked for everyone. In the museum people fill in what they see. It is, as we have said, no doubt an effect of the loss of identity said to occur in crowds. (We recall that for Bataille the museum is coterminous with the revolution, thus with its crowds.) The loss of identity allows a correspondence that would not be made if one were contemplating Quetzalcoatl in private. But there is no assurance that everyone fills in what he or she sees in the same way; no assurance either that each finds his resemblance in the same figures in the Louvre. One cannot know if the trigger setting off conjuncture is the same for everyone. The singularity or use value that Bataille insisted on makes it impossible to establish. All that one can say is that there is a moment of conflation of what one sees and what one knows in one way or another, a conflation not necessarily brought about by resemblance or any other attribute. If we follow the way in which Quetzalcoatl on his sled is seen through the Pieds Nickels, we see that almost paradoxically the very singularity of the object taken from elsewhere is the source of its effectiveness in communicating to those who see it in the museum. Quetzalcoatl makes sense only if we use that phrase loosely as it is used in common speech. Its sense is its capacity to be confounded with the Pieds Nickels. Quetzalcoatl seems then to somehow light up, to stimulate further thinking. This figure from elsewhere, now in a museum, then refers to France, or rather a France as it might be and even mentally is. Precisely as a document from elsewhere it inflects life in France. No archeologist of Mexico I am sure would recognize this figure as Bataille presented it. And that is also a source of its force. It escapes Mexico to remake the French. It speaks to them, telling them that they are us. Or, more precisely, that we are them. We are them already; we did not know it. To be so it was not and still is not important to believe in Quetzalcoatl in the way that one believes in God. It is not even necessary to lay bare the source of correspondence between this figure of Aztec origin and something hidden in us. It is only necessary that the connection be, somehow, in one way or another, felt and thus set into operation. Precisely because the document has no sense as such other than this peculiar and limited form of reference, it offers itself as a challenge to recognition. As a result, the form used to recognize it outside its provenance is far-fetched, in a literal sense; idiosyncratic in its logic, unverifiable, and quite probably different for each viewer. As such, there is no assurance that one can necessarily find a biographical reference to explain the connection.

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One can only say that Bataille thinks it is the case in this instance. It seems necessary that there be a trajectory of the object through the viewer, but what (if any) associations are made cannot be established with assurance. At the same time, it is important that Quetzalcoatl was seen in the museum of ethnology. The museum gives the terms by which one domesticates this moment. By domesticate I mean here give a home to the perceptions the museum has stimulated. The elsewhere or foreignness of the object to oneself is relocated geographically and culturally. Taking the term for ones own, one has a relation with this place. It is in this manner that the ethnographic museum could upset European cultural hierarchies. There is something foreign inside these remade hierarchies and there is something inside ourselves, though forgotten and thus foreign to us, that allows us to find ourselves within the new structure. The museum catalyzes their juncture. Inadvertently, of course. This is the other found in the ethnographic museum. But it does not take the form that ethnographers would give it. When Rivet used the word document, he meant something quite different, closer to a notion of authenticity that then would be reduced to the schema that would be imposed on objects, granting them generality.23 The interpretation that began with objects with the aim of producing an understanding of cultures had the museum as its center. But another sort of ethnography developed in the Anglophone world with Malinowski in particular. The long stay in a single place with the aim of showing the practical reason of life there left the study of objects behind. One can say that the witness, the person who could attest to the nature of life in far away places, replaced the collector and the analyst. Both the study of objects and the direct study of societies were domesticating in a positive sense of the word. They showed the common humanity of the peoples studied and thus related peoples to one another. Ethnography took the route of generality to accomplish the same end the establishing of a place for the foreign as the ethnology museum did for Bataille through its display of singularity. The study of objects came to seem outdated when evolutionary classification depended on the frozen identities of the peoples who made the objects, despite the work of many to counter this trend. But it was the success of both ethnological methods and the grand historical changes that came with the end of colonialism that deprived ethnography of the means to elicit interest in the unknown. It has been two generations since there has been an Anglophone anthropologist capable of speaking to those wanting a general culture, much less a figure such as Bataille who linked peoples on the basis of incomparable (because ungeneralizable) differences. When the place of the object could be made explicit, the document had served its purpose. Around it a view of everyday life formed. The document as Bataille understood it served, rather, as a peculiar form of communication

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between cultures. Peculiar because the meaning of Quetzalcoatl as Bataille explained him could in no way be verified. It remained idiosyncratic. One learned nothing much about Mexicans as he anachronistically termed Aztecs, but one felt in touch with them. This view could only be eroded by ethnographers patient explication of local context. The difference between the two forms of document can be seen in a passage from Michel Leiris account of his expedition in Francophone Africa collecting for the Trocadro museum. The following excerpt from his notes was made in the south of colonial French Sudan: The old man who has been teaching me the mysteries of the mask society since the day before yesterday for the second time since yesterday took out an astonishing text in secret language. I took down the text, l read it aloud with its intonations, and the old man, delighted, got up, clapped his hands and cried, Pay! Pay! (Excellent! Excellent!). But at the moment of translation everything went wrong. The secret language is a language of formulas, made up of enigmas, of cockcrows, of puns, of cascades of phonemes and interpenetrating symbols. The old man, thinking that I really wanted to be initiated, applied his usual principals of teaching. When I asked for a translation of a word or an isolated phrase, he lost his place and had to start over from the beginning and go to the end, but he got mixed up and, naturally, gave me a different text each time. Playing the role of teacher, when I interrupted he became furious and shouted Makou! (Silence!).24 This formula is effective only through the exactness of its repetition, not through its semantic content. But what is repeated is unclear, not only because it sounds to Leiris like cockcrows and interpenetrating symbols but because it varies with each repetition. Leiris presumes that the teacher cannot repeat any particular word of the text accurately unless he starts from the beginning. Each time he is asked to do so, the teacher gives a different text. Another example, however, indicates that Leiris misunderstands what the teacher is doing. Enraged with a man who came to sell gris-gris. When I asked for the magic formulas one has to pronounce to use them, each time I made him repeat one of the formulas in order to take it down, he gave a different version and each time it came to a translation, more new versions. (Miroir 211) This seller of amulets, giving the text that goes with them, also gives a different version each time. The text is never an original, it seems. It is,

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rather, only one instance of what is said magically. The teacher of the first example, asked for a translation, understands that there is no movement from one language to another possible. Instead the magical text fulfills itself, to use a Benjaminian construction, differently each time. Magical language here is secret language, meaning that an original, authoritative version is never revealed, not that the language that it takes in practice is itself secret. The series of cockcrows and interpenetrating symbols that carries it forward never arrives. It is never understandable, it is never precisely repeatable and its sounds cannot all be identified. Leiris therefore resorts to approximation of the sounds and to concluding that they are conflations of symbols and animal sounds. Leiris, however, thinks it can and should arrive; there should be an identifiable, authoritative version and it should be understandable. He tries to take it down accurately, to the frustration of his teacher who, no doubt, thought his pupil an idiot and to Leiris who obviously held the same opinion of his teacher and the seller of gris-gris. The secret language is revealed to Leiris, but he never knows it. The secret here is not its content whether it actually has a content is unclear. One learns this secret language only by repeating it. But what one repeats one does not know. It is as though magic arrives from a different and unfindable source each time it is used. The old man knows the secret does not depend on a content which might be paraphrased nor on matching his own recitation with whatever issued from his mouth when he last said it. It depends, rather, on seeing that it is communicable, that it is even communicability itself, and he is delighted when Leiris seems to be affected by his, the teachers, recitation. But when Leiris interrupts the recitation in order that one of its elements be reiterated, the teacher finds serious misunderstanding. Reiteration is impossible and therefore no text can be constituted. Instead there is iteration, which is at once unique and yet seems to be a repetition of something. With that it seems that something has been said. To borrow the terms used by Samuel Weber in reading Benjamin, the sheer mediacy, or inbetweenness of the formulae, has to be taken as such.25 Even to call these formulae, which means the repetition of the same words, is wrong. This language has no generic title neither formulae, nor incantation accurately names it. That would mean that the words refer to ascertainable versions of themselves and this is wrong. The magic of language depends not on lack of reference but on references never being reached. When something is communicable and yet does not arrive one cannot predict the result. In the case of Leiris and the teacher, the teacher is enraged in the first instance; in the second it is Leiris. It seems that at least one of the pair has to be. They are in communication with each other but they have incompatible ideas of how magical language works. It is not only that Leiris does not understand them, the other. The teacher also misunderstands not only what Leiris wants, but magical language itself. Suppose the language

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had worked as it was supposed to. Leiris would then have been initiated into the mask society. He would be one of them. Magical language would then be understood in the fashion of the place. A hierarchy would be established. One would no longer be able to speak of the mediacy of language, only of its social effectiveness, meaning its capacity, finally, in some way or other, to achieve an intention and so to obscure the moment we have noticed. The mediacy of language is marked here by the fury it incites as it communicates but does not join. Not linking but adjoining, placing people mentally next to one another, as it were, across cultures only to make war. But perhaps war is not the only possibility. There could be merely the confusion experienced exiting from the museum after seeing something with aesthetic force. Aesthetic force here is not exact. One does not appreciate what one sees as though there is a difference between subject and object; one loses that difference between oneself and the object. The force of magic can make one into the other through a form of communication that is never appropriated but only suffered. There is still magic within beauty. Except that magic, in societies where it is recognized, can consolidate new identities. The confusion of identities on exiting from the museum in a society where magic is denied inflects social intercourse only indirectly. At best the object asserts itself through the individual only surreptitiously, without his knowledge. There is then no understanding between cultures through the art museum, only communication. And, as has been often pointed out, this communication is rapidly put into aesthetic terms that do not correspond with its culture of origin. One sees the need for a serious weighing of the value of understanding with all the complications of different ways of understanding versus the value of communication. As it stands, magic, hidden in a museum such as the Quai Branly under the guise of beauty, might stimulate the radical possibilities of the age of Bataille and Sartre, but then is reduced to contemporary understanding of aesthetics. Such a movement would form the substance of honor while permitting the fearless expulsion of those honored from the country. At the same time, it is not certain that magic has been definitively discarded nor that the domestication of ethnic others marks the end of the totally other.

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The exchange of glances across boundaries opening a reflection of social order takes place differently today. We turn to the encounter of Jacques Derrida and his cat, described in LAnimal que donc je suis. Derrida asks, can one say that the animal looks at us? He expands: I often ask myself, me, in order to see, who I am and who I am at the moment when, naked, in silence, taken by surprise by the look of an animal, for example, the eyes of a cat, I have difficulty, yes, I have difficulty not to be embarrassed.26 If Derrida is almost embarrassed in front of the cat then, of course, he will have exchanged glances with it. The thought of such an exchange occurs to Derrida in an instant of surprise. It brings a comparison of himself and the cat. In front of the cat who looks at me naked, could I be ashamed like an animal [bte] who does not any longer have a sense of its nudity? Or on the contrary shame like a human who keeps the sense of nudity? Who am I then? Who should I ask if not the other? And perhaps the cat himself? (20) Derrida asks himself in what identity he could be ashamed if he could not restrain his capacity to be ashamed in front of an animal. Is it because, like the cat, he does not feel nude or is it because he does and therefore shamefully attributes to the cat the ability humans have to trigger shame? It is as if I am ashamed, then, naked in front of the cat, but also ashamed to be ashamed. But he keeps his embarrassment in check. The encounter puts his identity into question and leaves him to think how he might find out who he is, even perhaps asking the cat. But he does not think about what the cat must think of him; he does not ask the cat who he is. The shame he imagines is not like the awkwardness of the white confronting a black who sees that he is dressed unnaturally in his white skin and thinks that he should be like the person in front of him. Who am I then? he asks, but the question does not lead to an answer, as it does in Sartre. There are, rather, two answers. He could be like the cat, that is, without a sense of nudity, or he could retain his sense of being naked and then attribute to the cat the possibility of triggering this shame. In one instance he is the cat, as it were; in the other, the cat is he, that is, human. There is no resolution, and the remainder of the book does not expand the two possibilities. Instead it leads to a reflection on what makes his confrontation

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potentially embarrassing and on the failure of previous philosophers to think about such an encounter. If Derrida has difficulty restraining his embarrassment in front of the cat, if the cat triggers shame and thus opens the two possible effects of being ashamed, it is because this cat is not symbolic and is not a type. (I must say right away that the cat of whom I speak is a real cat, it is not a figure of a cat. 20) If it were a figure of a cat, Derrida would not be ashamed to be ashamed. A figure is always at a remove from whatever it figures. This cat is not like that. It is a singular being, not a figure, nor an example of a type cat. Were the cat just a cat, his look could be disregarded. But precisely this particular cat cannot be reduced to an animal, a cat (hence without shame) and therefore embarrasses him. It embarrasses him precisely because it offers a look which meets his own, but the source of that look is and remains enigmatic. Why he should be embarrassed by the cat is never made clear and cannot be made so. Precisely as a singular being, a totally other, the cat at once causes shame and offers no identity with which to resolve it. Derrida is only possibly like the cat while this singular being cannot be appropriated as himself since the totally other offers nothing to appropriate. At least it does not do so before it is elaborated into a figure. There is, in fact, nothing in the exchange to make it memorable. We do not see a menace, for instance. It is easy therefore to dismiss, and that is what philosophers before Derrida seem to have done. Philosophers before Derrida have disregarded the returned look of the cat. It simply did not signify for them. There are basically [] two great forms of theoretical or philosophical treatment of the animal [] There is first of all the texts signed by people who no doubt have seen, observed, analyzed, reflected the animal but have never been seen by the animal. They have never come across the look of an animal posed towards them [] If ever one day they had been seen furtively by the animal, they have taken no account (thematic, theoretical, philosophical) of it; they have not been able or not wished to draw any systematic consequence from the fact that an animal can, face to face, look at them, clothed or nude, and, in a word, without a word address itself to them; They have taken no account of the fact that what they call animal can look at and address itself to them from one origin or another. (LAnimal 31) The cat was ignored by other philosophers. Which does not mean that it did not communicate with them and even initiate the communication. From where, that is in what capacity, they might have done so is necessarily uncertain. Treating it as what they call an animal, they have dismissed this

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possibility of communication. They too might have felt shame without being able to resolve it into terms of identity. Had they done so, precisely the status of the particular animal would have to be considered. But the cat being what they call an animal, they could and probably did merely dismiss what they saw. Or they refused to consider that the communication with the cat implied an embarrassing form of self-consciousness. Embarrassing because the animal in front of them shamed them apparently for reasons which they could not take seriously, it being only an animal who looked at them as they looked at their respective animals. The question Who am I arises at the crossing of these two singular generalities, the animal (lanimot) and the I, the Is (76). There Derrida asks himself, What is happening? How is it I could say I and what am I doing then? And moreover, me, what am I and who am I? (76). When one says I to the cat, one cant know that the cat understands I as the person uttering that instance of discourse. The sign I belongs to language and is a generality, transcending the individual who uses it. But in front of the cat, this sign is not shared. Within this pair, it belongs only to Derrida (if we can call him that) and is thus singular. In front of this cat, Derridas language is confined to himself. Language as we know it, language as speech, becomes useless, and with that the sense of identity that comes through it as one speaks, saying I, finding oneself as the speaker, makes no sense. But nonetheless, something seems to cross between the two creatures, even if nothing is said that can be reproduced. At this point we are not far from the situation of Leiris and his teacher. There also, there was communication but no understanding. Who is this cat? It lives in Derridas house, but it is not exactly his, he tells us, and therefore not exactly a pet. Pets, one supposes, are the residue of the time when working animals often lived in the houses of the peasants who owned them. They were not, however, part of the family in the way that pets are. One might well, for instance, kill them for their meat. It is with the bourgeois family, separated from work, that pets appeared in the form we know them. They fill in a certain space. They are, for instance, perfect siblings, especially to children who do not have them, but as well to those who do. One does not fear their rivalry, for instance. They are said often to look like their owners or their owners to look like them. Projections beginning in kinship are easy to make with them. It is in this capacity ordinarily that people speak to animals and that they imagine the animal responding, though before that the workhorse or the water buffalo of the tropics were also spoken to. Can one say, then, that the cat cannot speak? They cannot speak to certain people. If they speak to children it is because children find transferential relations in them. Adults might do so as well, but, out of convention, hearing the animals response they refuse to accept the independent being of the cat. The answer of the pet is never

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contentious and usually is reassuring. As too the domestic animals that preceded the pet, though perhaps less so. The workhorse, for instance, beaten by its master who depended on it for a livelihood, no doubt repeated his owners feelings. So too the water buffalo, the familiar animal of much of the tropics, is spoken to by its caretakers. The cat who lives with the Derrida family was not a pet and not a domestic animal. At least not at the moment he followed Derrida into the bathroom. The animal can be a substitute human: Everyone is in agreement on this subject. The discussion is closed in advance. It would be dumber than the dumb animals [plus bte que les btes] to doubt it. Even the dumb animals know this. (So ask the ass or the ram of Abraham [] They know what happens when men say, here I am to God, so accepting to sacrifice themselves, to sacrifice their sacrifice or to pardon themselves). (52) The sacrificial animal can be such because he stands for a human, sometimes a son. If he knows what is in store for him, it simply points to the identity given to him by transference and which allows him to speak and be spoken to. The cat who enters the bathroom with Derrida, who looks at him, has been stripped of his transferential possibilities: Non, mais non, my cat the cat who looks at me in the bedroom or in the bathroom, this cat who is perhaps not my cat [mon chat ni ma chatte] it does not represent, as an ambassador, the immense symbolic responsibility which our culture has always laid on the feline race [] If I say, it [he, il] is a real cat who sees me nude, it is to mark its irreplaceable singularity. When he responds to his name [] he does not do so as a type, cat, and even less so as a cat [chat ou une chatte]. Even before this identification, it comes to me as this irreplaceable living being who enters my space, in this place where he can encounter me, see me, indeed see me naked. (26) This cat of which Derrida speaks has no symbolic significance. It does not stand for anything or, for that matter, for anyone, Derrida in particular. It is possibly not even his cat. It cannot be sacrificed. If there is a sacrifice here, it is Derrida himself who is offered up. He, naked in front of the cat, is no longer Jacques Derrida. He has given up his social identity, or had it taken from him, including his name. There is only the gesture, the exchange of glances which, taken into account, tells of the impossibility of this gesture ripening into the symbolic or the semiotic. Derrida questions his own identity when he finds himself in that situation and asks whom he should ask to find it. Who am I then? Who should I ask if not the other? And perhaps the cat

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himself? (20). But he does not ask the cat, no doubt because this cat has been deprived of its transferential associations, leaving nothing to address. (Had he done so, the reply would not be repeatable.) Instead Derrida turns to other philosophers who have never mentioned being possibly embarrassed by the gaze of an animal. Such an event has been excluded from serious philosophical consideration. It is an ambiguous moment. To take the cat seriously is to risk being exposed by a philosophical judgment. But if one is correct and one is a philosopher oneself, one is embarrassed on their behalf. They missed something elementary and Derrida is embarrassed to be grouped with them. Suppose Derrida made no reflection on the neglect of philosophers before him. What if instead he spoke of the exchange of looks with the cat. Had this been the case we would have looked for the reasons for this moment. We would have searched his biography for something like the Pieds Nickels as the basis for his recognition of the cat. Very likely we would not have found it. No doubt Derrida also did not find it or did not look for it, occupying himself instead with the reasons for his predecessors neglect of the possibility of such an exchange. If he had merely reported the exchange alone the encounter with the cat would possibly be uncanny. The exchange might seem to be based on something other than the established relationship master and pet, perhaps which would have called for a search for the basis of a transferential moment. Once the cat appears as something other than the cat, and we do not know what that might be, the exchange would be unsettling. But this cat has no references; there is no figure to unpack. What is left to trigger shame is simply its glance, or rather, its return glance. Something passes between them. At a moment of nakedness Derrida notices and is embarrassed. But for no given reason other than the sense of having been seen and having noticed that he was so. Derrida is ashamed or embarrassed, but also ashamed to be ashamed. Seeing the cat look at him, he moves to the cat that philosophers have never exchanged glances with. It is this absent cat, absent from Derridas predecessors experience or at least from their accounts, that then appears in front of him. This is what previous philosophers did not see. But once seen it reveals nothing about itself, nor does there seem to be anything special to be revealed. It is not, for instance, the return of earlier cats, thus producing the uncanny. It is merely the cat that followed Derrida into the bathroom and that stimulated his thinking about philosophy. The cat that looks at Derrida has a reference that is plain to see once one looks (or thinks). One does not find a presence that calls for references that need to be revealed. This cat is, indeed, totally other. It is taken as such rather than being transformed into something to be wondered at or made into a figure of evil, of beauty, of wisdom in the way of the savage other whose otherness is threatening. It is not a figure, Derrida says. It is simply an other, one out of all others who is

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totally other. Stop. Or rather, think about why this totally other has not been thought about. Follow this cat. Follow it to philosophers who ignored animals. Follow it further to the totally other before the uncanny has been attributed to it. Follow it further to the appearance of totally others but not uncanny ones as they manifest themselves in other forms and places.27 When Sartre speaks of the exchange of regards of whites and Africans, of the exposure of the former that would occur through it, the African formerly without significance takes on significance and hierarchy is drastically revised or perhaps collapses. It is close to what Bataille imagines when amusement is taken seriously. Blood flows. Sartres African produces uncanny effects. Seeing him, the white man comes to feel unnatural to himself. To exchange regards with the African nonetheless would be to domesticate the savage from the European perspective; to restore a hidden reality. It could then banish the uncanny. It is politically and morally right to affect an exchange of looks; it turns the savage into a person capable of being integrated into European society. One can understand Sartres picture of the confrontation of whites and Africans by contrast to Hegels description of Africa. There is no such exchange of regards of whites and Africans in The Philosophy of History. They were not capable of becoming partners is such a transaction. To do so would be to take the insignificant as demanding a response. Instead, Hegel proposed Africans be brought into the dialect in the only way he could imagine it being done by becoming slaves. Slavery, he thought, though unjust, was a mode of becoming participant in a higher morality and the culture connected with it (99). Sartres white man feels his clothes are unnatural. He is uncanny to himself. To tame that feeling, he has to understand the African, to grant him the universality that Hegel felt he lacked and in this way to be able to exchange normally with him. And thus to accept him as a political actor. At that point we arrive where we were in the consideration of the ethnically different other before the Quai Branly and before Derrida. But the assumptions of the last two are not in agreement. In the first, a certain universality reigns. In the second, precisely leaving out the universal leaves the basis of communication. Derridas cat provokes an exchange between the two of them. An exchange devoid of transcendent categories appropriable through the voice; thus a nonlogocentric means of communication. It is precisely on this basis that all others can be totally other. At once other, that is, something one has a relation to that is not us, and totally other, with nothing in common. And in particular without an uncanny dimension that would restore significance once revealed for what it is. And thus make the totally other something less than that. The sans papiers may not speak my languages. But when I meet him, whoever he is, he is a singular other and he can be a totally other. He is not to

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be found in the Quai Branly and not to be feared as he once was. Historical circumstances the end of colonialism in particular, of course have stripped him of his savagery but left him vulnerable. The Quai Branly does little to help him. Derridas formulation gives him, along with all of us, a total otherness that, when it arrives, shows us to be in communication of a sort we had not earlier recognized. And then?

NOTES
1

This article is an abridged and revised version of the article of the same name in Siegel, Objects and Objections of Ethnology. Non au Muse des arts premiers. Ibid.

2 3 4

For an English language account of the sources of the collections in the Quai Branly, see Sally Price. For an account of the war between ethnographers and their opponents told from the point of view of the first, see Bernard Dupaigne. This happened earlier in America than in France. See William Sturtevant who, decades ago, complained that anthropologists (Americans) were making no use of the extensive collections stored in museums.

Stphane Martin, the director of the museum, noted in an interview that ethnographic museums have the weakness often to present contemporary productions indiscriminately []. He continues, They do not take into account that in not taking into account of universal rules, good or bad, of contemporary art they exclude themselves from the cultural stakes. Aesthetic value takes precedence. Peoples whose objects do not count in the cultural stakes will not find themselves on display in the museums. He gave as an example contemporary Inuit art, which is never exhibited in the same locations as Warhol or Yinka Shonibare, who were celebrated at the Venice Biennial. William Sturtevant long ago pointed out that the early history of ethnography was independent of collections. The objects from the cabinets of curiosities were not the basis for it. Rather, the development of ethnology [] grew instead out of written collections of customs-compendia from travelers accounts and from classical literature of such things as religious customs and marriage customs a different kind of collecting []. But, as he also points out, the development of museum collecting and the development of ethnology were simultaneous, leaving objects important. The situation in France was different than in the United States. The French museum was a much more important site of ethnological research. Moreover, objects put on public display, available for direct inspection, even though accompanied by ethnographic information, allowed for a popular understanding of cultures that could be quite different from that of ethnographers. In particular the idea of the savage (a word less ambiguous in English than in French) remained lodged in much of popular mentality. Making the provenance of these objects national rather than tribal would presumably cleanse them of this association.

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8 9

See Rolande Bonnain. For the history of the Trocadro museum see Nlia Dias.

According to Georges Henri Rivire, the Trocadro, the ethnology museum Rivet headed, the predecessor of the Muse de lHomme, could become a beaux-arts museum, its objects grouped together under the aegis of a single aesthetic. A poor principle which in truth would end in upsetting the picture that ethnography gives. The result would be a chance collection of objects.

Jamin says of Leiris here that he does not posit an equivalence of African and Western art objects but rather shows that Africans have their own aesthetic.
11 Franz Boas described Northwest Coast Indian objects in a similar way in Primitive Art. 12 De lstoile 54, quoting the Report gnral of the Exposition, page 377. Rudolf Gasch stresses in The Idea of Form that the idea of beauty arises for Kant primarily out of nature, that is, out of the undefined wilds. 13 14

10

Rivet quoted in Jamin (15).

Apollinaire was concerned too about rising prices. France was being left out as German conservators had funds available. Fetishes sold for a louis five or six years ago are today regarded as extremely precious objects [] It is time for France, whose extremely varied colonies are so rich in works of art, to save the rest of exotic civilizations. He suggested a new museum, the equivalent of the Louvre, which was, finally, the idea that prevailed nearly a century later. For Kerchache and his role in placing arts premiers in the Louvre and the Quai Branly, see Raymond Corbey.
16 Appiah adds that the Nok could, nonetheless, as a culture rather than a people, have descendents. Even so, If Nok civilization came to an end and its people became something else, why should those descendants have a special claim on those objects, buried in the forest and forgotten for so long? And, even if they do have a special claim, what has that got to do with Nigeria, where, let us suppose, a majority of those descendants now live? (120). For another extended discussion of this issue see James Cuno, especially Chapter five, Identity Matters, 121-145. I am indebted to Magnus Fiskesj for bringing this book to my attention. 17 In part too because along with this it became harder to conceive how to present cultures. According to Benoit de lstoile, the last exhibits were, for instance, influenced by formats derived from popular media. The ethnography museum died in the first place by indifference: the indifference of the state, which was parsimonious in the final years, and the indifference of the public. In 2001 the Muse de lHomme had only 110,000 visitors, half of two years earlier. Whereas it had been part of the avant garde at its opening, the sections of that time that remained seemed out of date while the renewed galleries became an anachronism, according to Benoit de lstoile (204). 18 Aminata Traor concluded her letter by apostrophizing the objects of the museum. I would like to address once more these works of the spirit that will know (sauront) 15

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how to intercede with public opinion for us. We miss you terribly. Our countries, Mali and the entire African continent have suffered upheavals. The God of money has been added to the Christian and Muslim gods who contest your place in our hearts and your functions in our societies. You must know something of the transactions that have brought certain new acquisitions to his museum. It is the driving force of the market called free and competitive which is supposed to be the paradise on earth when it has only brought the abyss to Africa [] Do you not hear more and more lamentations of those who have taken the terrestrial path, losing themselves in the Sahara or drowning themselves in the waters of the Mediterranean? [] If so, do not stay silent and do not feel yourselves to be impotent. Be the voice of your peoples and witness for them. Remind those who want you so much in their museums and French and European citizens who visit them that the total and immediate annulling of the external debt of Africa is primordial []. See also her Lettre au Prsident des Franais propos de la Cte dIvoire et de lAfrique en general. Traor speaks for our countries, Mali and the entire African continent as the aggrieved parties rather than those of the collectivities of the time. It makes one wonder in what capacity she apostrophizes the objects. Is it in the manner of those who made them and for whom they were often religious or ritual objects, or is it as a literary figure of today?
19 Deep communion with objects is much less evidenced in museums today where ubiquitous cameras have replaced eyes. But Batailles observation is not out of date. Taking pictures rather than looking also acknowledges the pull of the objects. For whatever reason, but not excluding the savagery within beauty even if it is now mediated by a culture of celebrity and market value.

Witness the appointment of Rachida Dati, a woman of Mahgrebian descent, as Minister of Justice. It is this ministry which administers the deportation quotas, often enough through illegal maneuvers.
21 It is as part of a heritage rather than, with certain exceptions (such as Aminata Taor to a certain extent), as magical or religious objects that the objects of the Quai Branly are reclaimed by nations where their provenance is found. Controversies over ownership mark the formulation of national identity, and in that capacity they become objects of political controversy. One of the arguments against returning the objects is that the recipient nations do not have the means to keep them. This is often euphemistic, masking the well-known fact of major theft and resale of returned objects. This is not, of course, because Africans do not value them, but because they understand their value. Their actions mirror the close relation of the market and the museum in Europe. There is, indeed, a world market. Not merely was the idea of the Quai Branly conceived by an art merchant, but there were also four major auctions of art in Paris of the type displayed on the occasion of the museums opening. One wonders if the same sort of claims would have been made had the objects remained in the Muse de lHomme. Perhaps. But with some exceptions the objects are not reclaimed because of religious or magical value but for their place in a patrimony, a term much more closely tied to their value as commodities. Ethnological value remains use value. It is less vulnerable but by no means immune to being exchanged in the market. The patrimonies of nations have long been filled with booty turned into commodities. The very attempt of the French state to conceal the magical use of so many of these objects

20

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by substituting transcendent beauty as their important attribute raises disputes about ownership easily resolvable were it a question of religious or magical artifacts whose use is particular to certain peoples. It is an open question whether the objects of the Quai Branly have been cleansed of their magic.
22 James Clifford points out that the ethnographic object could shock in the same way as the surrealists productions. This according to Clifford is by the abandoning of the difference between high and low culture. One could show an object as valuable (worth seeing, even unavoidable) that had until then been thought mundane. Apparently the very display was enough to achieve this effect.

At the present moment, ethnography must be nothing other than comparative. In the beginning it is useful and even indispensable to give minute and complete descriptions of collections, to draw up inventories, and to accumulate conscientiously catalogued documents. The document here begins as possibly unique and ends by being one of a type. The reduction of singularity rather than its use seems to have been the aim.
24 25

23

Entry of October 31, 1931, apparently made in Upper Volta (Miroir dAfrique 233).

This is how Samuel Weber interprets the magical language posited by Walter Benjamin in On Language as Such and on the Language of Man. Webers interpretation of Benjamin yields another Benjamin altogether apart from the one Anglophone readers have concentrated on. Following it further would be likely to expand the issues discussed here in fruitful new directions.
26 LAnimal 18. All translations from this work are my own. After I had finished this piece, David Wills excellent translation appeared with the title The Animal That Therefore I Am. I recommend it to anyone who wishes to read this extraordinary book in English.

One has then to ask what became of the uncanny. How is it that the appearance of the totally other occurs without it? I cannot say except that it possibly marks our epoch, one that differs in important ways from the time after each of the world wars. It is not that the possibility of total destruction that occupied the minds of people then is not present now. But its terms are different. We, the peoples of the industrialized world are responsible for its coming regardless of national identity. We cannot blame this destruction on an enemy unless we turn against ourselves. The reflection of such destruction in the totally other then disappears. Uncanny moments are then not magnified into social fears.

27

WORKS CITED Apollinaire, Guillaume. Exotisme et Ethnographie. uvres en prose compltes, vol. 2. Ed. Pierre Caizergues and Michel Dcadin. Paris: Gallimard, 1991. 254-287.

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Appiah, Antony. Cosmopolitanism: Ethics in a World of Strangers. New York: Norton, 2006. Bataille, Georges. Muse. Documents, vol. 2 (1930): 300. Les Pieds Nickels, Documents, vol. 2 (1930): 214-216. Boas, Franz. Primitive Art. New York: Dover, 1955. Bonnain, Rolande. LEmpire des masques: Les collectionneurs darts premiers aujourdhui. Paris: Stock, 2001. Chirac, Jacques. Discours prononc lors de linauguration du pavillon des Sessions au Muse du Louvre. 13 April 2000. 5 May 2007 <http://www.elysee.fr/elysee/elysee.fr/francais/interventions/discour s_et_declarations>. Clifford, James. The Predicament of Culture: Twentieth Century Ethnography, Literature and Art. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1988. Corbey, Raymond. Arts Premiers in the Louvre. Anthropology Today, 16:4 (August 2000): 33-65. Cuno, James. Who Owns Antiquity? Museums and the Battle over our Ancient Heritage. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2008. 121-145. Derrida, Jacques. LAnimal que donc je suis. Paris: Galile, 2006. Dias, Nlia. Le Muse dethnographie du Trocadro. 1878-1908: Anthropologie et musologie en France. Paris: ditions du CNRS, 1990. Le muse du Quai Branly: Une gnalogie. Le Dbat 147 (Nov-Dec 2007): 65-79. Dumont, Louis. Non au Muse des arts premiers. Le Monde. 25 Oct 1996. Dupaigne, Bernard. Le Scandale des arts premiers: La vritable histoire du Muse du Quai Branly. Paris: Mille et une nuits, 2006. De Lstoile, Benoit. Le Got des Autres: De lExposition coloniale aux arts premiers. Paris: Flammarion, 2007. Gasch, Rudolf. The Idea of Form. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2003. 1-41. Hegel, G.W.F. The Philosophy of History. Trans. J. Sibree. New York: Dover, 1956. Hollier, Denis. Les Dpossds. Paris: Les ditions de Minuit, 1993.

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Jamin, Jean. Documents et le reste De lanthropologie dans les basfonds. La Revue des Revues 18 (1994): 15-22. Faut-il brler les muses dethnographie? Gradhiva 24 (1990): 65-69. Leiris, Michel. La Crise ngre dans le monde occidental. Afrique Noire: La Cration plastique. Paris: Gallimard, 1967. Miroir dAfrique. Ed. Jean Jamin. Paris: Gallimard, 1996. Un muse pas comme les autres: Entretien avec Stphane Martin. Le Dbat 147 (Nov-Dec 2007): 5-22. Perron, Corinne. Muse du Quai Branly: Une lettre dAminata Traor. 29 juin 2006. 5 May 2007 <http://www.ustke.org/syndicat/2006/06/29/ 211-musee-du-quai-branly-une-lettre-d-aminata-traore>. Price, Sally. Paris Primitive: Jacques Chiracs Museum on the Quai Branly. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2007. 81-110. Rivet, Paul. Le Muse dethnographie du Trocadro. Documents, vol. 1 (1929). 54-58. Rivire, Georges Henri. A propos du Muse des sorciers. Documents, vol. 2 (1930). 109-116. Sartre, Jean-Paul. Orphe Noir. Anthologie de la Nouvelle Posie Ngre et Malgache de langue franaise. Ed. Lopold Sdar-Senghor. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1948. Siegel, James. Objects and Objections of Ethnology. New York: Fordham University Press, 2010. Traor, Aminata. Lettre au Prsident des Franais propos de la Cte dIvoire et de lAfrique en gnral. Paris: Fayard, 2005. Sturtevant, William C. Does Anthropology Need Museums? Ed. Daniel M. Cohen and Robert F. Cheney. Natural History Collections: Past, Present, Future: Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington. 17 November 1969. Vol 82. 619-645. Weber, Samuel. On Language as Such and on the Language of Man. Benjamins Abilities. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2008. 4047.

Meditations for the Birds


David Wills
This chapter muses over the status of a recorded bird song in order to raise certain questions concerning non-ratiocinative utterance, and concerning forms of repetition or response. Are the birds making music, or simply mimicking, parroting or aping themselves? Is their song a call and response, a chant, or simply a repetition? Is it a theme and variation, indeed an improvisation, or rather a mechanical repetition, or indeed reproduction? Those questions are examined in the context of Derridas call for another thinking of life, of the living, within another relation of the living to their ipseity, to their autos, to their own autokinesis and reactional automaticity, to death, to technics or to the mechanical [machinique]; and they are developed through analysis of Descartes mechanical imaginings in the Second Meditation, and of the hauntings of reaction in response in his writings more generally. If, for Descartes, it appears that one comes to be by thinking only against a certain background of inanimation, one has to understand that over and against the more general difficulty, which we are only beginning to deal with, of distinguishing auto-motion from automatism.

1. Original realistic plush beanbag birds with authentic sounds I recently learned that a gentle squeeze is all you need to brighten your day with [] natural [bird] songs. What is not stated, however, is the fact that you have to repeat the squeeze over and over, many many times, should you wish to brighten your whole day. Unless you be one of those cheerful souls whose whole day can be brightened by a single avian utterance lasting just a few seconds. Even then, however and it is here that the problem really begins it isnt immediately obvious whether what you have heard can in fact be defined as a single utterance. What you get from that one gentle squeeze sounds like a single repetition of a musical phrase or bird call. But the sounds produced by one squeeze do not perhaps constitute a single repetition; what one hears may indeed be a single bird call or a single performance of that call which consists of a single repetition of a series of notes. For example, in the case that will be my paradigm, a certain bright red plush beanbag bird, when squeezed, emits eight notes (it is doubtful whether the standard Western chromatic definition of a note applies), then pauses, then again emits the same eight notes. To determine whether what one has heard is one or two calls, one would have to research the literature and understand differences among call, song, repeat and serial singing behavior.1 In the meantime, however, we have to accept and interpret the decision of the Cornell Ornithology Lab, for it is thanks to

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that institution that one hears the repetition just referred to, it being the source of the genuine recorded sound for incorporation in certain toy birds produced in association with the National Audubon Society and Wild Republic.2 You squeeze once, and the bird sings once, but its song is half composition and half repetition, or a composition that is pure pleonasm, a series of notes followed by its own redundant and tautological repetition. I have verified that repeatedly, by squeezings of Cardinal, American Robin, Common Loon, and Blue Jay. I consider the number of repetitions of the experiment, that is to say my repeated squeezing of Jay, Robin, the Cardinal and the Loon, to be sufficient for me to have scientifically proven the fact of that tautological repetition in the case of the Cornell/Audubon/Wild Republic birds.3 You squeeze once, but they always sing their song twice they always sing their song twice. Or at least, what they utter once, they utter twice. Or, differently put, they utter once what twice they utter, they utter once when twice they utter. A whole series of questions comes thus to be raised: is that song a verse, or rather a refrain? Are the birds making music, or simply mimicking, parroting or aping themselves? Is their song a call and response, a chant, or simply a repetition? Is it a theme and variation, indeed an improvisation, or rather a mechanical repetition, or indeed reproduction? For those questions come down to the question of what life is in it: what amount of life in the sense of what form of life comes out of such a squeeze? How can we answer that question given that these are toy birds rather than real birds? And given that they utter recorded real sounds rather than real live sounds?4 The fact that live sound means something different to a bird than it does to a human has obviously led to a distinction between a dumb animal and thinking human, rather than to an interrogation concerning the definition of life. But we should perhaps think again, as Derrida advises in terms that we shall return to, think another thinking of life, of the living, within another relation of the living to their ipseity, to their autos, to their own autokinesis and reactional automaticity, to death, to technics, or to the mechanical [machinique] (The Animal 126). Short of resolving the question of the life of sound, however, we might consider the matter of vision and appearance. The squeezable birds are said to be realistic, their sounds authentic. Yet we know that a certain level of realisticness is sufficient for an artificial bird to be visually recognizable by, or trustworthy for, others of the same, or similar species. As long as a wooden decoy can stand in for a duck, I feel sure that the original realistic plush beanbag toy would be able to function as a visual simulacrum of the cardinal, robin, loon or blue jay. But such self-deception is not limited to birds. Descartes, we also know, accepted, in principle at least, to be deceived by human decoys in the form of mechanical androids let loose in the streets of seventeenth-century Holland: But then if I look out of the window and see men crossing the square, as I just happen to have done, I

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normally say that I see the men themselves, just as I say that I see the wax. Yet do I see any more than hats and coats which could conceal automatons? (Meditations 21). The French text is here more descriptive than the Latin from which the English translation is drawn: cependant que vois-je de cette fentre sinon des chapeaux et des manteaux, qui peuvent couvrir des spectres ou des hommes feints qui ne se remuent que par ressorts [yet what do I see from this window but hats and coats which could conceal specters or fake men that move only thanks to metal springs] (uvres 281). Within the space of a few pages Descartes imagination twice considers the human form to clothe a lifeless machine, either hats and coats covering automaton passersby, or, when it comes to his own living body, alternatively something like a moving skeleton with organs and limbs attached, or a contraption of bone and flesh that can be best observed when dead: the first thought to come to mind was that I had a face, hands, arms and the whole mechanical structure of limbs which can be seen in a corpse [toute cette machine compose dos, et de chair, telle quelle parat en un cadavre] (Meditations 17; cf. uvres 276). But if Descartes is given to imagining or finding a lifeless machine beneath the human form, he considers that to be a means of proving his possession of powers of thinking that transcend those of the imagination or what they call the common sense, such as are available to the least of animals. Any old animal can believe what it sees; only a thinker can deduce what it sees to be other than what it is, for example either dead or alive. No faculty of non-human animal sense perception, Descartes would have us believe, can lead a lowly creature to determine whether coats and hats, seen from a distance, hang on live humans or inanimate automatons. No such faculty will, conversely, permit the lowly animal to know a piece of wax as anything other than a piece of wax. Or, in the precise terms of a Descartes not at all confused by the question of what is really alive enough to put on a hat and coat, only a thinker can undress a piece of wax: Any doubt on this issue would clearly be foolish; for what distinctness was there in my earlier perception? Was there anything in it which an animal could not possess? But when I distinguish the wax from its outward forms take the clothes off, as it were, and consider it naked [mais quand je distingue la cire davec les formes extrieures, et que tout de mme que si je lui avais t ses vtements, je la considre toute nue] then although my judgment may still contain errors, at least my perception now requires a human mind (Meditations 22; cf. uvres 282). As Derrida comments, The animal that I am not, the animal that in my very essence I am not, Descartes says, in short, presents itself as a human mind before naked wax (73). According to certain observations and deductions in Descartes Second Meditation, therefore, the capacity of the human mind, in going beyond sense perception and the common sense, in contradistinction to the capacities of the animal, progresses as follows: it sees its body stripped down to a lifeless

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machine; it understands that in order not to remain at the level of seeing, which might perceive real clothes to hang on lifeless automatons, it needs to employ cogitational judgment; and finally, such judgment or thinking raises the human above the animal by undressing a piece of wax. At best there would seem to be some hesitation, not to say confusion, over how to describe the life form that is reason, at worst one comes to be by thinking only against a certain background of inanimation. Derrida again: Descartes prudence [] incites him to abstract from the I am his own living body, which, in a way, he objectivizes as a machine or corpse (these are his words); so much so that his I am can apprehend and present itself only from the perspective of this potential cadaverization [] in order to define access to a pure I am, [he] must suspend or, rather, detach, precisely as detachable, all reference to life, to the life of the body, and to animal life. (72) Descartes thinking being establishes itself not only in contradistinction to the animal life of the body, but further than that, in relief against figures he supposes to be those of a lifelessness defined by automatic and inanimate life. He therefore installs a bizarre and paradoxical imbrication of forms of life human, animal, and mechanical whose hierarchical separation is much less clear than one might hope or expect. 2. Extended, flexible, and changeable wax Descartes wax, from the category of bodies which we touch and see, begins within the artisanal ambit of the animal, having not yet quite lost the taste of honey. It is still very much bees wax. Once it is put by the fire it is found to be not after all the sweetness of honey, or the fragrance of the flowers, or the whiteness, or the shape, or the sound, but rather a body which presented itself to me in these various forms a little while ago, but which now exhibits different ones [] take away everything which does not belong to the wax, and see what is left: merely something extended, flexible and changeable (Meditations 20). What the wax loses in order to become something conceptualized by the mind is, among other things, its animality, in the sense of the knowledge of it that derives from smell/taste (honey) and hearing (the sound it made, while still solid, when rapped with a knuckle). Before being undressed, or in the process of being undressed, the wax will be divested of its sensible finery [parures] or facing [parements]; namely, of what, in it, remains animal or exposed to animality (The Animal 73). Even though Descartes is trying to argue for knowledge of properties in wax, or properties of the object/body in general, which do not derive from

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perception, when he comes back to the possibility that knowledge of the wax comes from what the eye sees, and not from the scrutiny of the mind alone (21, my italics), he seems to acknowledge that the concepts of extension, flexibility and changeability are owed to a primary visuality. It is in order to counter that, as if to distract from the persistence of vision, that he has recourse to the image of automatons referred to above. For if elimination of what I suggested was the animal sensory field is not enough to prove a perception derived from purely mental scrutiny, and if a form of visual life still reasserts itself as the means of knowledge beyond the other senses, then such an illusion will be remedied by raising the specter of automatic men. First remove the animal; then, if that doesnt work, introduce the androids. That is how one can isolate a truly human thinking being. What are we to make of extension, flexibility and changeability, in fact? On the one hand they are the basis for this distinction between what is known by the imagination, or sense perception, and what is perceived by the mind, and define, therefore, the proper conceptions of a body, everything [] located outside me (22). The extension, flexibility and changeability of the object as scrutinized by the mind should be understood to transcend all of the following: what is known when one sees first a piece of wax, then sees it melting and spreading out; what is known when one first sees the piece of wax at hand, inside, and then looks out the window to the hollow men; what is known when one first sees wax, solid or melted, then looks out to hats and coats, concealing real men, or springs and sprockets; and what is known when one first imagines on the basis of the senses, and then thinks on the basis of the mind. For in each of those cases of knowledge, and in the relations among them, extension, flexibility and changeability would also seem to be involved. Extension, flexibility and changeability are not properly speaking properties of the object, not what the object reduces to once its animal sensibility has been removed and once it has been threatened with the absolute lifelessness of automatism; rather they are the conceptual properties by which the object comes to be defined by the mind rather than by the senses. There is therefore nothing to prevent the mind from extending, flexing and changing in its turn. However, in order to avoid seeing the mind devolve back into an object or body, we would presumably have to find a way to describe those mental transformations, which did not depend in any way on visuality as representative of the senses in general; we would have to understand an extension whose concept eluded or excluded visuality. 3. Not only virtuoso but artist birds Though it would be absurd to downplay the role of visuality in non-human animal sense perception, clearly scent and sound function there at a far higher

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level than they do in the human sensorial hierarchy. We might expect the way a bird conceives of a body to differ from human understanding precisely because the animal assigns a different perceptual and cognitive function to sound. Birds even self-extend, among other means, by singing. In the first place, what does that do to their status, in Descartes terms, within the category of everything located outside me? Does the bird change and extend by means of song in the same way that a piece of wax does? Even he, I suspect, I think, would find the analogy to be somewhat perverse, although we know that he has allowed for automatic animals machines [having] the organs and outward shape of a monkey or some other animal that lacks reason (Discourse 139), animals we should presume to be as inanimate as a piece of wax just as he allows for spring-loaded automatons in hats and coats crossing the village square. In the second place, what does a birds sonic self-extension do to its status as a (non-)thinker if it is thereby able to know and understand something like territory surely a question of the extension of bodies in a way that we cannot conceive of? Birds use song to mark territory. But we would have to understand the bird song, even in its territorial function, as different both from protolinguistic utterance, and from communication as we normally conceive of it. To the extent that it is a matter of proclaiming ones radius of influence to whatever other animals are to be found within earshot, it has no known or presumed, no specific addressee: it is a generalized dissemination, or, as Deleuze and Guattari have it, a deterritorialization: Sound owes [its] power not to signifying or communicational values (which on the contrary suppose that power), nor to physical properties (which would privilege light over sound), but to a phylogenetic line, a machinic phylum that operates in sound and makes it a cutting edge of deterritorialization (348). Deterritorialization is no longer about the simple extension of territory. It may have something to do with the flexibility of territory, and indeed, its changeability, but no doubt in a way that goes beyond the means by which those properties manifest themselves in heated wax. Deterritorialization would be closer to what we understand in Derrida as a force of diffrance: We must already remark that the territory is constantly traversed by movements of deterritorialization that are relative and may even occur on the spot [] A territory is always en route to an at least potential deterritorialization (326, translation modified). Deleuze and Guattari prefer such terms as vector, or transversal: What holds all the components [of a territorial assemblage] together are transversals, and the transversal itself is only a component that has taken upon itself the specialized vector of deterritorialization (336). The privileged figure for such a deconstruction of territory is the ritornello or refrain, exemplified as well by a childhood lullaby or round, Prousts Swanns Vinteuils little phrase, as by the bird song. But the ritornello doesnt necessarily work transversally or deterritorially. To the extent that it serves to comfort and

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reassure, to operate as a placard or posted sign, it represents a powerful gesture of territorialization: In animals as in human beings, there are rules of critical distance for competition: my stretch of the sidewalk (321). The conservative function of the ritornello is all the more powerful by virtue of its aurality. Sound, and by extension music, are just as capable of falling into the black hole of fascism as of capturing mute and unthinkable cosmic forces: Since its force of deterritorialization is the strongest, [sound] also effects the most massive of reterritorializations, the most numbing, the most redundant (348). What is there, therefore, in the repetition of a refrain, that causes it to lean one way rather than the other, in favor of deterritorialization rather than reterritorialization? For Deleuze and Guattari, the answer resides in the capacity to hazard an improvisation (311), a capacity recognized in birds, in particular as their simple territorial sweep or sway gives way to the transversal effects of courtship, sexuality, or sociality. No longer do they simply repeat their calls like a beacon foghorn, warning off competitors or enemies; instead they become musicians, introducing style: What objectively distinguishes a musician bird from a nonmusician bird is precisely this aptitude for motifs and counterpoints that, if they are variable, or even when they are constant, make matters of expression something other than a poster a style since they articulate rhythm and harmonize melody (318). The white-crowned sparrow, like the ovenbird, the Chingolo sparrow, the European redwing, and splendid sunbird, has a single song. At the other end of the scale, the brown thrasher is reputed to be capable of over 2000 different songs, and the nightingale, of up to 200. It is possible that a male sedge warbler never repeats exactly the same sequence of sounds twice during his lifetime. Some birds with a small number of songs seem capable of doubling their repertoire by singing either an accented or unaccented song type, one for territorial defense and the other for mate-attraction. Indeed, ethologists believe that the latter two purposes constitute the grand taxonomic distinction for all songs. There is far from universal agreement, however, concerning what constitutes a different song, and hence concerning the repertoire of each species. To take a single example from among my original realistic plush beanbag examples bluejay, robin, cardinal, and loon the cardinal is said by one authority to have a repertoire of eight to twelve songs (Catchpole and Slater 165), and by another to produce an innumerable quantity of songs (Saunders 241). The Cornell Ornithology Laboratory reduces that variety to a single whoit, whoit, whoit, whoit, whoit, whoit, whoit, whoit repeated twice (which may also be a single whoit repeated sixteen times). What he is in fact saying sixteen times, according to the accepted version of the catchphrase, is what cheer. That differs from the Robins Kill im, cure im, give im physic, and the Bluejays Thief! Thief! Thief! Thief! Thief!

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Thief!, too strident to appear beautiful to the human ear.5 Are any of my species not only virtuosos but artists in Messiaens terms, cited by Deleuze and Guattari (316-317)? For that talent seems in the final analysis to imply less a quality of composition than a quality of performance, the ability to sing better than a competitor. And it seems also to be identifiable in the first place in territorial songs, hence in the fixed, placarded, identitarian, potentially fascist repetition of the ritornello. That suggests that the quality of a performance might be determined by its quantitative superiority, by the number of simple repetitions, by a form of mechanical reproducibility; he sings loudest who sings most, longest, or last. But, to return to Descartes terms of reference, there might after all be some analogy between the visible extension of wax, and sonic extension such as the bird song; and indeed, a difference between melting wax and undressed wax. Melting wax could be compared to competition over territory: the further one is able to extend oneself, however thinly one is finally spread, the greater ones territorial reach, even to the point of the liquefaction into virtuoso song or evaporation into artistic composition. But once it comes to courtship, a bird no longer simply extends; it undresses oneself, attains the property, principle or concept of extension. And in dancing, singing and mating beyond even that, beyond extension, beyond thought, the bird deterritorializes into cosmic music such as Descartes could never have possibly heard. 4. God as super-extended cosmic bird Would we prove the existence of God if we were to conceive of him singing like such a super-extended cosmic bird, only silently? After all, Descartes ontological argument doesnt work too well. In the Third Meditation, he famously insists that the ideas he has have to have come from elsewhere. He then goes on to categorize his ideas in terms of his own self-representation, followed by God, corporeal and inanimate things, angels, animals and finally other men. That list is reduced to two categories where the first (the ideas of men, animals and angels) is found to be derived from the second (myself, corporeal things and God). However, he excludes things from the latter group because I can see nothing in them which is so excellent as to make it seem impossible that it originated in myself (29), which leaves, therefore, himself and God as the source of all ideas. Continuing in the same vein he surmises that almost everything could derive from him, everything, that is, except the idea(s) of God: a substance that is infinite, eternal, immutable, independent, supremely intelligent, supremely powerful, and which created both myself and everything else (if anything else there be) that exists. All these attributes are such that, the more carefully I

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concentrate on them, the less possible it seems that they could have originated from me alone. So from what has been said it must be concluded that God necessarily exists (30). Within this logic, birds (animals) derive from wax (things), which derives from me who derives from God. God self-extends infinitely yet remains immutable; however extendable he be, he is neither changeable nor versatile and therefore not wax; and, since ideas of animals are still more derived than those of things, definitely not a bird. When yesterdays wax returns in Descartes Third Meditation (we understand it to be the same wax today, and we wonder whether, if honey is the sole food that never spoils, that gives a certain immutability to wax?) there is a modified version of yesterdays concept of it determined by extension, flexibility and changeability; he now adds substance, duration and number. But, he opines, as for all the rest, including light and colors, sounds, smells, tastes, heat and cold and the other tactile qualities, I think of those only in a very confused and obscure way, to the extent that I do not even know whether they are true or false, that is, whether the ideas I have of them are ideas of real things or non-things. Among those varied qualities, heat and cold will become the exemplar of material falsity, the representation of non-things as things, because the ideas which I have of heat and cold contain so little clarity and distinctness that they do not enable me to tell whether cold is merely the absence of heat or vice versa, or whether both of them are real qualities, or neither is (30). Where does that leave all the rest, including light and colours, sounds, smells, tastes? Sound, for example, and in particular: is it so unclear and indistinct that we are to understand it as merely the absence of silence? Music as the absence of noise? And where does that leave the bird song? As the absence of rational speech, we might expect a Descartes to respond, but then language and song would be like heat and cold, and we would have no more certainty of the clarity and distinctness, or even of the reality of one (language), than we would of the other (the bird call). Perhaps, instead, we should understand a bird song as the absence of what some observers have identified, for example in the Blue Jay, as primitive or vestigial: The bird has the head uplifted in a song pose, and produces a series of mixed warbles and twitters which carry only a short distance and are altogether different from the ordinary noisy calling of the bird [] I regard this singing effort of the Blue Jay as primitive, that is, as an indication that the Blue Jays ancestors were real singers. In short, the bird at certain times reverts to the ancestral song. But such a song [] has no significance for the present life of the bird (Saunders 104). The hypothesis is of an ancestral Blue Jay with a different repertoire, living a whole other prior life, relating wholly differently to territory and mating; or else, of a real singer Ur-bird, wholly song, pure, perfect, perhaps infinite musical expressivity, the god of all birds to which todays humble Blue Jay can compare itself only in the

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mode of imperfection, but proving thereby that such a total song, and God as that song, exists. 5. The model animal response industry There is a type of reciprocity in Descartes movement though angels, animals and men, through things, to me, and finally to a God who is everything. We should read it that way if we are not to advocate in the robes of the evil demons advocate that there is a confusion of deductive and inductive logic, or a circularity of argument from the generality of life and things to the particularity of God as perfect and infinite generality. We should instead hear angels, animals and men breathing or singing the idea of them through things to me and on to God, who breathes back into or sings back into me, us, them, everything. A call and response bird chorus of ideas flooding the universe with song. Response, after all, is everything. As long as it can be differentiated from reaction it is everything, and, as much as thinking, it is us, what makes us human. That is so from Descartes all the way to Lacan, Derrida will argue. Derrida finds in Descartes letter to an unknown addressee of March 1638 a more explicit formulation of the dilemma of the end of Section 5 of the Discourse. In the Discourse, automatons made to look like monkeys are presumed to possess entirely the same nature as those animals, whereas automatons made to look like men can be distinguished from real men by two means (139-140). The first of those means concerns response, and on that question the 1638 letter is particularly explicit: never, unless it be by chance, do these automatons respond, either with words or even with signs, concerning what is asked of them (uvres 1004, my translation). But, as Derrida points out, in the letter, the rhetorico-fictive frame of Descartes explanation is somewhat strange. We must imagine this: [A creator of automatons] who would never have seen any animals other than men, [but who] would nevertheless be capable, as homo faber or technicus, as engineer, of manufacturing automatons that resemble humans for some, and animals (a horse, a dog, a bird, says Descartes) for others, resembling them enough to be mistaken for them [] They would imitate (Descartes word) as much as was possible, all the other actions of the animals they resembled, without excluding even the signs we use in order to witness to [] our passions, such as crying out when struck, or fleeing when there is a lot of noise around them. (80)

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Imitation and reaction aside, animals, like these automatons, and especially automatic animals, cant reply to a question. Ask a lifelike automatic animal created by a fictitious man who has never seen an animal other than a man whether it is real, and it may be baffled, but it wont have a good answer to the question. In contrast to the situation of the Meditations, though, and the clockwork hats and coats crossing the square, here at least we are dealing with sound and utterance, and not just visual experience. When Lacan raises the question of animal language and response as one of gesture, he does so firmly within a regime of visuality. In The function and field of speech and language in psychoanalysis, it is a matter of the dance of the bees and the code by which they indicate the direction of and distance to the nectar. But their dance doesnt constitute a language because of the fixed correlation of its signs to the reality that they signify (crits 84). For Lacan, bees dance in code to which other bees react, in contrast to humans who speak in language to which other humans respond. In Propos sur la causalit psychique we learn further how the maturation of the gonad in the hen-pigeon is a reaction to the sight of a fellow creature of either sex, even as a mirror reflection (crits 189-190). Beyond his surprise at the purity, rigor, and indivisibility of the frontier that separates [] reaction from response, Derrida asks more specifically how that can be so when, especially when and this is singularly so for Lacan the logic of the unconscious is founded on a logic of repetition, which, in my opinion, will always inscribe a destiny of iterability, hence some automaticity of the reaction in every response, however originary, free, critical [dcisoire] and a-reactional it might seem (125). The destiny of iterability functions, in Lacan as in Descartes, as a technological drift. Not just because of the logic of repetition, and hence of the automaticity of the unconscious, but also in the mediation by simulacrum that is the mirror stage. There is something strangely analogous, even if the analogy be a reverse one, between the coming-to-identity of the human as lack and misrecognition by means of the specular image, and the coming-tocogito by means of the misperception through a Dutch window of welldressed automatons. Descartes uncanny compulsion is by now familiar to us: wherever there is an animal or often even a man it seems that the chimera or fiction of an automatic one is never far away. The connection functions in him like some automatic reaction, the haunting, precisely of an inevitable automaticity. So, pace Cornell, he will have foreseen the original realistic plush beanbag birds with authentic sounds. Even a well-trained artisan who has never seen an animal other than other men, provided he has given himself wholeheartedly over to the study of mechanics (uvres 1004, my translation) could have dreamed them up. I dont know whether the songs they sing bear witness to their passions, and they dont appear to be cries

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uttered such as when they have been struck, even if gentle is probably not a scientifically rigorous word for the squeeze required to make them sing. All the same, what they utter or emit are indubitably automated sounds, manufactured to the extent of being recorded; neither live, nor en direct, these bird songs remain irrevocably technologized in one side and out the other of their authenticity. Songs of live birds become dead, mechanically reproduced sounds. A living bird who heard their sound would very likely respond to them, but no one who stopped to speak or to sing to these birds would think for very long that they were alive. Living is understood to require what Derrida calls a certain auto-motion, an auto-kinetic spontaneity [] [the] power to move spontaneously, to feel itself and to relate to itself. However problematic it be, that is even the characteristic of what lives, as traditionally conceived in opposition to the inorganic inertia of the purely physicochemical (125). But what if something in the original realistic plush beanbag birds were to revive them; what if that were precisely the repetition of their song? What if, even before the Cornell Ornithologists decided to repeat the sequence of bird sounds according no doubt to some better-founded scientificity than Wild Republics marketing departments choice of words what if, even before the song were transmitted and translated into a code of territorial protection, or a code of mate attraction, there were in it sufficient autopoeisis, auto-affection, and auto-kinesis to constitute nevertheless a form of life, a word we should henceforth use only between quotation marks. For, as Derrida insists, it is no longer so easy to distinguish that life from what we presume to be its inanimate opposite; to distinguish automotion from automatism. His objection to Lacan is not that there are no parameters or criteria for distinguishing between reaction and response, between code and language, and between animal and human: Far from erasing the difference a nonoppositional and infinitely differentiated, qualitative, and intensive difference between reaction and response it is a matter, on the contrary, of taking that difference into account within the whole differentiated field of experience and of a world of life forms [] of reinscribing this diffrance between reaction and response, and hence this historicity of ethical, juridical, or political responsibility, within another thinking of life, of the living, within another relation of the living to their ipseity, to their autos, to their own autokinesis and reactional automaticity, to death, to technics, or to the mechanical [machinique]. (126) How much life is there in a bird song technologically separated from its living voice? How does that change if it sounds sufficiently alive to have another animal respond to it? And especially if it thereby gives rise to a

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mating process and the reproduction of life? Do we make our inalienable distinctions between reaction and response and between animal and human precisely in order not to have to deal with those questions? So that we can reassure ourselves that we we who know what a response is and how it is different from a reaction would never be so nave as to respond, in the sense of starting up a conversation with a recorded voice? Even if, when that recorded voice is a voice that sings, we are all too ready to sing back to it or along with it? Descartes uncanny familiarity with automatons should no doubt be understood as a function of the mechanicist tradition that he was heir to. Indeed, the mechanical monkeys of the Discourse are mentioned in the context of a treatise he had written, a summary of which makes up much of the final two sections of his essay. That treatise has come down to us in truncated version as the Treatise on Man, and the latter text details the workings of a human body that Descartes supposes to be nothing but a statue or machine [] made by the hands of God (99). Thus every fictional manufacturer, having given himself wholeheartedly over to the study of mechanics, whom we encounter in Descartes, has standing behind him the transcendent divine artisan, and every separation of body from mind is reinforced by a determinate opposition between animate life and inanimate machine. But elaboration of that opposition inevitably calls the distinction into question, and the machine of the body often seems to invade the mind. For example, he would compare the nerves of the brain machine with the pipes in the works of fountains in the royal gardens, its muscles and tendons with the various devices and springs which serve to set them in motion, its animal spirits with the water which drives them (100). In a sense, Descartes is already performing the task Derrida sets for us of taking this grand mechanicist and what is also called materialist tradition back to the drawing board to the extent of reinterpreting not the living creature called animal only, but also another concept of the machine, of the semiotic machine, if it can be called that, of artificial intelligence, of cybernetics and zoo- and bio-engineering, of the genic in general, etc. (76). He at least problematizes the generic purity of philosophical discourse. Not only are man and animal persistently shadowed by the machine, but his persistent recourse to fictions such as, precisely, the robotician without experience of animals, and his propensity for fables in general, function as a mechanicist and indeed automatic penchant within that discourse, his own little artisanal fiction industry manufacturing fabulous machines that both animate and respond to his reasoning. Furthermore, response itself is something of a generic industry within Descartes discourse, presuming we are able to distinguish it from reaction. Was it reaction or response that led him not to publish his treatise? He made that decision after learning that persons to whom I defer and who have

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hardly less authority over my actions than my own reason has over my thoughts (Discourse 141) persons, that is, who are likely to react to his actions as fast as his reason responds to his thoughts disapproved of the work of someone else. We know that someone else to be Galileo and the persons to whom he euphemistically defers to be the Most Eminent Cardinals of the Commissionary General of the Inquisition. So respond or rather react he well might, remembering how he once held his own hand to the fire and thereby learned something of the similarity of the human body and a body of wax. Remembering what he recounts in the Meditations, react he well might. The question is the prime concern of three letters to Friar Mersenne between November 1633 and April 1634. Each time he makes his position clear: But for all the world I did not want to publish a discourse in which a single word could be found that the Church would have disapproved of; I have decided wholly to suppress the treatise I have written and to forfeit almost all my work of the last four years in order to give my obedience to the Church [] I seek only repose and peace of mind; Though I thought [my arguments] were based on very certain and evident proofs, I would not wish, for anything in the world, to maintain them against the authority of the Church [] I am not so fond of my own opinions [] I desire to live in peace and to continue the life I have begun under the motto to live well you must live unseen. He writes the motto, which he repeats after Ovid, in Latin for the benefit of the Cardinals. Bene vixit, bene qui latuit (Correspondence III: 41-42). One wonders how well a parrot would be able to ape those words in the face of the threat of the fire, or how much one would have to slur bene vixit, bene qui latuit for the words to become the whoit, whoit, whoit, whoit, whoit of another Cardinal. What cheer it seems obvious they scarcely resemble. It can sound or sing as consonantly in English: he lives well who lives latently. Descartes is heard making slightly improvised versions of the same adage or refrain in the Discourse and the Meditations, praising the Dutch peace (Discourse 126), deferring to the Church (Meditations 6), insisting how small an intellectual territory he seeks to control. My point is by no means to question his courage or resolve Part Six of the Discourse is not without irony towards those whom God has set up as sovereigns over his people or those on whom he has bestowed sufficient grace and zeal to be prophets (142) or to suggest that he is reduced to parroting a Cardinal, but rather to suggest that, whether it be a matter of his words and actions upon hearing of Galileos misfortunes, or some other preemptive maneuver on his part, the more reflexive or genuflective his response, the more likely we might be to interpret it as reaction. However, response [rponse, responsio] is explicitly the word he wants in the machinery of debate that he establishes after completing the Meditations. He invites debate on his work (objections) to which he will then respond or reply (put Responsio ad objectiones, rather than Solutiones

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objectionum, in order to allow the reader to judge whether my responses contain the solutions or not) (Correspondence 340).6 One could as well imagine the initial objections being called responses to the Meditations, and Descartes replies being called objections. Be that as it may. A response, Derrida again notes, is also what the Letter to *** presents itself as: The letter seeks itself to be a response, it presents itself in response to certain questions, a deferred or mediated response [] Consequently, and especially within those responses, [there is] the question of the response of the automaton, or of the animal as automatic responder [rpondeur automatique, also answering machine] and therefore without response. (85) Any reading is automatically, (as a matter) of course, pleonastically, like a mechanical semantic reaction or echo, by definition, a response. Descartes repeats that he dislikes the business of writing books (Discourse 142), that he has never had an inclination to produce books (Correspondence 41), suggesting that he would prefer not to write and so not to invite or incite responses. He would prefer to think or sing to himself in auto-affective response or auto-responsive affect. That is how he would protect himself from any possibility of receiving a response tinged with a reaction, from the hint of automatism that he automatically is inclined to manufacture, it seems, whenever it is a question of an animal speaking. Fortunately for us, we havent had to take him too seriously. Something like reflex, impulse, instinct, or drive and Freud and Lacan both should have their word to say about the remainder or not, lack or not of animal in each of those took over, so that he did indeed write and publish books, even in the face of the Index and Inquisition. Once that were so, from the invited objections of 1641 all the way down to the present, the answering machine one that Descartes could not have imagined in [its] refinements, capacity and complexity all the powers of reaction-response that today we can, and tomorrow should be better and better able to attribute to machines, and to another concept of the machine (Derrida 84) one with a parrot-like synthesized human voice repeating that the machine is on, is on. 6. My body, my fire, this water Descartes perhaps steps back from the absolute material falsity of such things as light and colors, sounds, smells, tastes, heat and cold, from their being known, as he maintained in the Second and Third Meditations, only in a very confused and obscure way. He perhaps revises their lack of clarity and distinctness when, in the Sixth Meditation, returning to material things, he

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accepts that in respect of them he is taught something by nature. For example, still on the matter of heat and cold, he understands that because he feels heat when I go near a fire and pain when I go too near [] There is simply reason to suppose that there is something in the fire [] which produces in us the feelings of heat or pain (57). He understands that perhaps thanks to Galileo, Giordano Bruno and others, or perhaps because he is confident he can control the ardor of his Santpoort hearth. From the beginning, he is next to it, in reality, in his dressing gown, and in his dreams (13); he comes closer to it, perhaps close to pain, in order to put his wax where he can watch it melt (20); next day, yesterdays wax, restoked fire, still sitting by it, although he doesnt tell us what he is wearing (26); finally, flames and stars in his eyes and the idea, again, of getting so close that it hurts (57). Fire, we know from the Treatise on Man, is the anima or animal itself, the very lively and pure flame called the animal spirits (100). Fire is the privileged example for describing bodily reaction, the one one kindles near hand or foot operating in circular response, reaction or reciprocity with the one in the pineal gland, as graphically shown by the illustrations in the Treatise.7 Of water nothing is said in the Meditations, but in the Treatise it serves, however paradoxically, to illustrate the means by which that flame of the animal spirits brings about the articulations of the body. According to the analogy of the royal garden fountains mentioned above, there occurs a whole aquatic carnival between pineal gland and external heat source, complete with visitors entering the grottos, a bathing Diana, Neptune, water-spewing sea monsters, and finally the rational soul residing there like the fountainkeeper (101). A veritable mechanics of the fluid once his imagination gets going in order to explain how burning spirits breathe life into limb in the body of these fictitious mechanical men designed to explain the workings of real men I did not yet have sufficient knowledge to speak of [] in the same manner as I did of other things (Discourse 134); as if, once again, in a proliferating call and response between animal and machine, reality and fiction, and now also fire and water. Even at the pineal seat of things, therefore, we find not only the expected and now familiar opposition between animal spirit and a type of clockwork automatism, here figured by a Promethean technology derived from fire the spontaneous combustion of one of those fires without light [] whose nature I understood to be no different from that of the fire which heats hay when it has been stored before it is dry (134). We also encounter an opposition between that originary technicity of fire and one of water. For as the royal gardens fountains analogy demonstrates, he more easily finds in water than in fire a form of mechanical immediacy, a turbine instantaneity designed to allegorize corporeal articulation. In Amsterdam, Santpoort, and roundabout, we imagine, there was much too much water, no doubt beginning in the walls and constantly threatening to

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drown the natural and automatic hats and coats out in the street. All through his meditating, Descartes is not about to get dressed to go out and experience it. Too little fire, far too much water; stay close to the fire. For twenty years he has been trying to stay dry, since November 1619 it seems, if we believe Baillets biography as it relates to the beginning of Part Two of the Discourse, where we find him all day shut up alone in a stove-heated room.8 That stove-heated room (un pole) reads, in its archaic usage, as a room that is all stove (un pole). It is Descartes own word, of course, the Discourse, unlike the Meditations, having been written in French. We can read it as a metonymy of his invention, a case of the fire spreading from its container somewhat more artisanal or technological than a simple hearth extending to engulf the room; or else a case of the word placed near the fire of signifying drift, melting and extending sufficiently to engulf the room as a liquid, like water, allowing him to relax and meditate as if in a warm bath. In the pole metonymized as heated room we could perhaps trace a movement from animal reaction to ratiocinative response, but there would still be the same sound on either side of that divide, or of that mirror, from pole to pole, (de pole pole in fact until he is poil and naked as a jay bird or as wax in his bed, dreaming of the body he doesnt know he has), the same call and response from automation to animation, pole pole repeated however loony as if from the gullet of some fictitious bird pressed into meditative service.

NOTES
1 2

See for example, Catchpole and Slater 9-11, 185.

Audubon Birds by Wild Republic is a collection of original realistic plush beanbag birds with authentic sounds. These beanbag marvels are a perfect replica of the original species in the way they look and sound. Wild Republic, the toy brand of K&M International, Inc., has partnered with Audubon to create this line of genuine plush birds. Each birds lifelike design and detailing is the result of input from Audubon. In addition, the authentic sound in each bird has been provided by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and represents hours, months and even years of extensive fieldwork conducted by expert recordists.
3

In the interests of scientific rigor, I should note the following: 1) the number of repetitions of the experiment is determined by the number of times daily my daughter, after having her diaper changed and examining first her snow baby (courtesy of Deeanna Rohr), and second her fish mobile (courtesy of Liana Theodoratou and Eduardo Cadava), casts her eyes longingly toward the birds (courtesy of Sharon Cameron); 2) since the very beginnings of my investigations I have felt compelled to give two squeezes to each of the four birds mentioned above, producing two (or four) repetitions of the call, either because I seek to compound by a factor of two my daughters pleasure, or because there is some automatic impulse or desire at work in favor of

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a repetition of a repetition, a call and response effect, or for some other unconscious or unknown reason; 3) the gentle squeeze that the manufacturers cite is sometimes not enough to call forth the song, and a more complicated manipulation and variation of grip and pressure, at times bordering on violence, is required. However, up to this point, never have I failed, in the end, to make each bird sing.
4

The onset of autumn prevents me from testing the probability of receiving a response, from a live bird, to my recorded sound. However, before I experienced the authentic Cornell-approved sounds of the birds in question, I accidentally observed during the height of summer that a cardinal that happened to be roosting nearby responded to a relatively cheap, flat and toneless electronic version of its call emitted from a battery operated baby-rocker. See Brand, Songs 75, 79; and More Songs 83. Lettre Marsenne, 18 Mars 1641, in uvres de Descartes, Correspondance III 340. See Treatise on Man 103, and uvres et lettres 823, 865.

5 6 7 8

He was especially prey to another type of fiction at that time, namely dreams, but by the time of the Discourse they have become convers[ations] with myself about my own thoughts (116). See note 1 at both Philosophical Writings, Vol. I 4 and 116.

WORKS CITED Brand, Albert R. Songs of Wild Birds. New York: Thomas Nelson and Sons, 1934. More Songs of Wild Birds. New York: Thomas Nelson and Sons, 1936. Catchpole, C.K. and P.J.B. Slater. Bird Song: Biological Themes and Variations. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995. Deleuze, Gilles and Flix Guattari. A Thousand Plateaus. Trans. Brian Massumi. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1987. Derrida, Jacques. The Animal That Therefore I Am. Trans. David Wills. New York: Fordham University Press, 2008. Descartes, Ren. The Philosophical Writings of Descartes, Vol. III: The Correspondence. Trans. John Cottingham, Robert Stoothof and Dugald Murdoch. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985, 1984, 1991. Vol. III. Discourse on Method. The Philosophical Writings of Descartes, Vols. I, II, III. Trans. John Cottingham, Robert Stoothof and Dugald Murdoch. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985, 1984, 1991. Vol. I. 111-151.

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Meditations on First Philosophy. The Philosophical Writings of Descartes, Vols. I, II, III. Trans. John Cottingham, Robert Stoothof and Dugald Murdoch. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985, 1984, 1991. Vol. II. 1-62. Treatise on Man. The Philosophical Writings of Descartes, Vols. I, II, III. Trans. John Cottingham, Robert Stoothof and Dugald Murdoch. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985, 1984, 1991. Vol. I. 99-108. uvres de Descartes, Correspondance III, Janvier 1640 - Juin 1643. Ed. Charles Adam and Paul Tannery. Paris: Vrin, 1971. uvres et lettres. Paris: Gallimard, Bibliothque de la Pliade, 1953. Lacan, Jacques. crits. Paris: ditions du Seuil, 1966. The function and field of speech and language in psychoanalysis. crits: A Selection. Trans. Alan Sheridan. New York: Norton, 1977. Saunders, Aretas A. A Guide to Bird Songs. New York: D. Appleton-Century Company, 1935.

CONTRIBUTORS
Anne E. Berger was Professor of French Literature at Cornell University and is currently Professor of Gender Studies and Literature at the University of Paris 8, where she heads the Centre dtudes fminines et dtudes de genre. She has written on the Enlightenment, modern poetry and poetics, women writers, deconstruction, feminist criticism and the cultural history of feminist theory, the politics of language, and the cultural politics of the Maghreb. Her recent publications include Algeria in Others Languages (Cornell University Press, 2002), Scnes daumne: Misre et posie au XIXe sicle (Paris, Champion, 2004) and Genre et Postcolonialismes: Dialogues transcontinentaux, with Eleni Varikas (Paris, Editions des Archives Contemporaines, 2010). Marie-Dominique Garnier is Professor of English literature at the University of Paris 8 (formerly Vincennes), where she teaches seventeenth-century poetry and drama, modernism, literature and philosophy (Derrida, Deleuze), and, more recently, Gender Studies. She has published essays and book chapters on Shakespeare, Donne, Milton, De Quincey, Dickens, Joyce, T.S. Eliot, and Woolf, and a book on George Herbert (Didier Eruditions). She has worked in the field of literature and photography and edited Jardins dHiver with the Presses de lcole Normale Suprieure (1997). She is also a translator of Samuel Pepys, Sir Thomas Browne, and, more recently, Madeline Gins Helen Keller or Arakawa. She co-organised with Joana Mas (University of Barcelona) a conference at the University of Paris 8 (December 2007), on the writing of Hlne Cixous (Cixous sous x dun coup le nom, PUV, 2010). Joseph Lavery is a student in the Program in Comparative Literature and Literary Theory at the University of Pennsylvania. His research focuses on nineteenth and twentieth century Anglophone and Francophone literature, with special interests in aesthetics, aestheticism, Orientalism, psychoanalysis, and colonial allegory. Ginette Michaud is Professor in the Dpartement des littratures de langue franaise at the Universit de Montral. She has published on Roland Barthes, James Joyce, Jacques Ferron, Jacques Derrida, Hlne Cixous and Jean-Luc Nancy. She has co-directed three volumes on Derrida: tudes franaises (Derrida lecteur, 2002) with G. Leroux; the Cahier de LHerne. Derrida (2004), with M.L. Mallet; and an issue of the Cahiers littraires Contre-jour (2006), la mmoire de Jacques Derrida, with G. Leroux and C. Lvesque. Her most recent publications include Battements du secret littraire. Lire Jacques Derrida et Hlne Cixous. Volume 1 (Hermann,

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2010), Comme en rve... Lire Jacques Derrida et Hlne Cixous. Volume 2 (Hermann, 2010), and Veilleuses: Autour de trois images de Jacques Derrida (Nota bene, 2008). She is a member of the international editorial committee in charge of the publication of Jacques Derridas seminar, of which the first volume La bte et le souverain, Volume I, 2001-2002, edited by M. Lisse, M.L. Mallet and G. Michaud, was published in 2008, and the second in 2010. Rosalind C. Morris is Professor of Anthropology and Associate Director of the Center for Comparative Literature and Society at Columbia University. She is also a former Director of the Institute for Research on Women and Gender at Columbia. A scholar of both mainland Southeast Asia and South Africa, she has published widely on topics concerning the politics of representation, mass media, the relationship between violence and value, gender and sexuality, and the changing forms of modernity in the global South. Her most recent book is Photographies East: The Camera and its Histories in East and Southeast Asia (Duke, 2009). Adeline Rother is a Ph.D. candidate at Cornell University with a Masters degree in tudes fminines from the University of Paris 8. She is formulating a dissertation on how certain enduring themes sacrifice, reproduction, man, and animal are being transformed in a biologistic age. Marta Segarra is Director of the Centre Dona i literatura and Professor of French and Francophone Literature and Feminist Theory at the University of Barcelona, and Associate Scholar at the Centre dtudes fminines et dtudes de genre at the University of Paris 8, where she has been Visiting Professor. Her more recent books are Nouvelles romancires francophones du Maghreb (Karthala, 2010), The Portable Cixous (Columbia University Press, 2010), and Traces du dsir (Campagne Premire, 2008). She has also edited several collections of essays, including, most recently: Rver, croire, penser autour dHlne Cixous (with Bruno Clment, 2010), Le Dsir et ses interprtations (2008), Lvnement comme criture: Cixous et Derrida se lisant (2007), and Polticas del deseo: literatura y cine (2007). James Siegel is an ethnographer whose specialty is Indonesia. He has published several books on that country dealing with politics, religion, witchcraft, literature, language and other topics. He was for a long time the co-editor of the journal Indonesia. Claudia Simma is agrge de Lettres Modernes. She teaches high school French literature and tutors at the Institute of European Studies in Paris. She studied at Zurich University before enrolling in Literary Studies at the Centre dtudes fminines et dtudes de genre at the University of Paris 8. Her doctoral thesis, written under Hlne Cixous direction at Paris 8 in 2000, is titled, Penser (le) toucher de lil en lisant La Passion selon G.H. de

Contributors

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Clarice Lispector. Her publications include articles on Hlne Cixous (Points de rencontre, Rue Descartes, 2001; and A screen of love, The Oxford Litterary Review, 2002). She is currently translating Hlne Cixous book Manhattan into German. David Wills is Professor of French and English at the University at AlbanyState University of New York. Originally from New Zealand, he taught previously in Australia and Louisiana. Following earlier publications on modernist (surrealist) or post-modernist (Pynchon) literature, and film theory, his work of the last fifteen years has concentrated on articulations of the human and the inanimate, particularly in Prosthesis (1995) and Dorsality (2008), where he argues for the originary technicity of the body and for an imbrication of nature and machine that takes place outside our field of vision, reorienting our ethical, political and sexual relations. His work on Derrida includes a book of essays (Matchbook, 2005) that concentrates on deconstructions engagement with questions of reading, in particular relations between (slow)-reading and the speed of technology; and translations of Droit de regards, Donner la mort, La Contre-alle, and LAnimal que donc je suis. He is writing a new book on forms of technological life.