Nature is not natural and can never be naturalized — Graham Harman

Friday, September 14, 2012

After Queer, After Humanism Liveblog 1

Derek Woods (my new Ph.D. student!) introduces the shebang.

We are investigating the theoretical utility of queer as a concept, the human, posthumanities.

The moderator is Hannah Biggs, who is also in my Victorian Nonhumans class.

Marcel LaFlamme, “Furry/Hairy Life.”
Alexander Henry's settlement in North Dakota, 1801. (Wasn't called that yet.)
Bears vs the gym body. Marcel went to the pride festival in North Dakota. People like food and beer and they don't care about staying skinny, he heard. Masculinity, butch demeanor.
Fur Nation: history of Canada as a series of touches between fur and skin at the locus of the commodified female body.  Drawing on Nancy and Derrida. Growl, a social networking app for bears. Sense of schism in one of the informants. Freedom tied both to urbanity and to specific possibilities of dress and bodily comportment. He would be afraid to wear a tank top. People would throw red paint!
Scholarship sees bears as transgressive and not queer enough simultaneously.

Dolleen Manning, “Queering Settler Spectacles: An Indigenous Critique of Post-(De)humanism.”
Deleuze and Guattar: becoming animal represents an attempt to reconceptualize encounters with difference. Yet this concept treads a slippery slope between humanism and dehumanization, while appropriating indigenous concepts. No thrill in Wild West cast members becoming animal.
This is a twofold dilemma: cultural misconceptions and romanticizations of “being at one with nature.” Self-referential agency implied in totemic collapse or symbolic correspondence.
Buffalo Boy and Buffalo Girl.

Robert Azzarello, “Desiring Species: Darwin, Freud, and Environmental Ethics.”
This is, I know, going to be fascinating.
Freud burned his early writing. Post-Freudian analysis has exhibited a persistent and almost calculated ignorance of its own origins.
Darwin exerted a profound influence on Freud. Not only in his schooldays, but throughout his entire career.
Desire and species. What does desire mean for Darwin? What does desire mean for Freud? How are these two concepts related?
Darwin: Origin: “Nothing is easier to admit in words than the truth of the universal struggle for life...Yet, unless it be thoroughly engrained in the mind, I am convinced that the whole economy of nature...will be dimly seen or quite misunderstood” (1859, 108).
Issue of conatus. Spinoza describes it as the essence of all life. (Yet isn't this actually from Schopenhauer?) There is an ontological narcissism in species: a species desires itself and through that desire consolidates itself as a species.
The threats to survival always come from the outside.
Freud massively increases and complicates Darwin.
Leopold on the biotic community. What Darwin and Freud add to that?
Biophilia: 1960s, Eric Fromm coined it. Distinguished from necrophilia. >> Wilson. Made it into an attraction to novelty and lifelike processes.
Azzarello situates the death drive within a species. Adam Phillips says that the death drive is metaphysically incorrect.

Manscaping. How to display one's hair.
Fur and the fur trade.

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