Zoogenesis: Thinking Encounter with Animals offers radical new possibilities for encountering and thinking with other animals, and thus for the politics of animal liberation. Examining the machinations of power that legitimize the killing of nonhuman animals, Zoogenesis shows too how thoroughly entangled they are with the ‘noncriminal’ putting to death of human animals. Such legitimation consists in a theatrics of displacement that transforms singular, nonsubstitutable living beings into mute, subjugated bodies that may be slaughtered but never murdered. Nothing less than the economy of genocide, Iveson thereafter explores the possibility of interventions that function in the opposite direction to this ‘animalizing’ displacement – interventions that potentially make it unthinkable that living beings can be ‘legitimately’ slaughtered. Along the way, Zoogenesis tracks just such ‘animal encounters’ across various disciplinary boundaries – stumbling across their traces in a short story by Franz Kafka, in the bathroom of Jacques Derrida, in a politically galvanising slogan, in the deaths of centipedes both actual and fictional, in the newfound plasticity of the gene, and in the sharing of an inhuman knowledge that saves novelist William S. Burroughs from a life of deadly ignorance. Such encounters, argues Iveson, are zoo-genetic, with zoogenesis naming the emergenceof a new living being that interrupts habitual instrumentalisation and exploitation. With this creative event, a new conception of the political emerges which, as the necessary supplement of an ethical demand, offers potentially radical new ways of being with other animals.
In praise of Zoogenesis
“Encounters between human living, and other living entities, and between fictive and imaginary, Aristotelian and Cartesian animals are here staged with respect to competing notions of life and value, of writing and of literature. The discussion is focused through the antinomies that the human is/is not animal and that the flesh is/is not living, leading into an encounter with Stiegler’s notion of capitalism as pharmacology: the processes of drugging, dismantling and reconstituting human animality. Richard Iveson reads a variety of sources with insight and discrimination, contributing highly effectively to this recently emergent and rapidly expanding new life form: zoogenesis.”Joanna Hodge, Professor of Philosophy, Manchester Metropolitan University, UK
“The ‘Animal Turn’ in philosophy and the humanities is now itself in need of proper theorisation. It is not simply that this relatively newfound object for philosophy must lead to a reformed understanding of the animal but also, at least potentially, our image of what counts as human and even as thought as well. Yet the question remains as to whether the Animal Turn in Theory really has gone beyond the usual abuses of the animal associated with so much previous philosophy – whether the animal still only appears as a proxy of one or other human philosopheme (‘différance’, ‘becoming’, ‘bare life’, even ‘posthumanism’). In what must be one of the most thorough and exhaustive treatments of philosophy’s recent encounters with animality, Richard Iveson here gives us the means to evaluate where the animal-human dyad has been most successful (and dangerous) when staging an ‘ethics of the unrecognisable other’. With both impressive scope and penetrating critique, it allows us to think through a comprehensive rearticulation of ‘the human’ in a radically subversive manner.”
John Ó Maoilearca is Professor of Film Studies at Kingston University, London, and the author of Postural Mutations: Laruelle and Nonhuman Philosophy (Minnesota Press, 2015)