Zoographies, Deconstruction, and Vegetarianism

ZoographiesWe are following up on yesterday’s post on animal studies with a look at the group blog The Inhumanities, which just completed its discussion of Matthew Calarco’s Zoographies: The Question of the Animal from Heidegger to Derrida. Cary Wolfe, a leading figure in animal studies, writes, “Zoographies is that rare breed of book that manages to provide both a critical overview and incisive intervention on the terrain of what is now called ‘the question of the animal.'”

In their discussion, contributors to The Inhumanities consider Calarco’s understanding of Agamben, Heidegger, Derrida, and other continental philosophers treatment of the question of the animal. The various posts elicited many comments from readers and also includes responses from Calarco.

One contributor speculates on a possible connection between vegetarianism and deconstruction:

Here is where I think vegetarianism can make a strong claim to the practice of deconstruction. Let us imagine Derrida as a young man. He realizes one day that philosophy, the whole thing, is founded on a couple great untruths or self-deceptions. Rather than saying, “philosophy is a load of bull,” he devotes his life to working from within that tradition to mar it indelibly. He was able to deconstruct philosophy by virtue of, and only because of, a position within philosophy. Today, we find ourselves realizing that the cultural infrastructure of the meat industry called Western Civilization (“carnophallogocentrism”) is a set of self-deceptions. From where do we dismantle it? Vegetarianism is not a position outside of the world, but it is a position within it that allows for different horizons to appear. The work of deconstructing vegetarianism would multiply those horizons, disbanding some and enriching others—but it is only from within such a vegetarianism (becoming-veg!n as Scu calls it) that such futures can arrive. I’m not sure there is much more of interest to be spun out from the culture of meat sacrifice after deconstruction. Veg!sm, on the other hand, puts humans at stake in the ever more fine-grained construction/discovery of living beings.

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