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When Species Kiss: some recent correspondence between animots

By Lynn Turner

Abstract

This paper considers the figure of the interspecies kiss in works by Donna Haraway, Hélène Cixous, and Carolee Schneemann in light of the impact on animal studies by Jacques Derrida. I elaborate key elements of Derrida’s increasingly glossed essay "The Animal That Therefore I Am (More to Follow)" to show both their commonality with deconstruction more broadly and their conceptual importance in rethinking relations between humans and other animals in particular. These elements are not simply applied to Haraway, Cixous, and Schneemann but are interwoven with and developed by their works. I position the interspecies kiss, indeed the kiss in general, as performative. While "performativity" has become part of the lexicon of Visual Culture, often appearing simply in adjectival form, its more complex articulation in the work of Derrida is often overlooked. There the term, as part of his subtle displacement of signification, already impacts on what we thought was human property: rather than meaning residing in our organic, present possession, it becomes conditioned by a machinic, reactive repetition, the very quality that Descartes attempted to section off as the impoverished domain of the animal. Bringing organic and machinic into an enmeshed relation inevitably brings Haraway’s figure of the cyborg to mind, while the "doing" over "being" quality of the performative resonates with her emphasis on the relating of our encounters

Topics: L216, V350, Q200, V590, W640
Publisher: DePauw University
Year: 2010
OAI identifier: oai:eprints.gold.ac.uk:3738

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