By Derek Ryan
From caged orangutans to roasted pig, from puppy education to horse phobias, from speaking bees to ruminating cows, Derek Ryan explores how animals are encountered in theoretical discourse. throughout 4 thematically organised chapters on 'Animals as Humans', 'Animal Ontology', 'Animal existence' and 'Animal Ethics' he bargains prolonged discussions of Nietzsche, Freud, Lacan, Heidegger, Merleau-Ponty, Derrida, Deleuze, Singer, Nussbaum, Adams and Haraway between others, in addition to energetic readings of up to date literary texts through Carter, Coetzee, Auster and Foer. meant as a source for researchers, scholars, lecturers and all these drawn to human-animal relationships, Animal thought: A severe Introduction offers an obtainable and authoritative account of the demanding situations and power in wondering and with animals.
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Extra info for Animal Theory: A Critical Introduction
On discovering this ‘Lizzie went down to inspect the instrument of destruction. She picked it up and weighed it in her hand’ (378). We never read of Lizzie using the hatchet, but the implication is that the tyrannical combination of patriarchal rule and this violence against the pigeons was too much for her to take. Lizzie appears to feel an alliance with these animals. In ‘Lizzie’s Tiger’, animals are more prominent still. Carter returns to the four-year-old Lizzie in a move that might initially seem to be about seeking explanations for her adult actions in her childhood development.
Lacan pays close attention to the observed phenomenon, studied at great length by the Austrian ethologist Karl von Frisch, whereby: 34 an imal t he o ry when a bee returns to its hive after gathering nectar, it transmits an indication of the existence of nectar near or far away from the hive to its companions by two sorts of dances. The second is the most remarkable, for the plan in which the bee traces out a figure-eight – a shape that gave it the name ‘wagging dance’ – and the frequency of the figures executed within a given time, designate, on the one hand, the exact direction to be followed, determined in relation to the sun’s inclination (by which bees are able to orient themselves in all kinds of weather, thanks to their sensitivity to polarized light), and, on the other hand, the distance at which the nectar is to be found up to several miles away.
Instead of reading such symbols ‘in accordance with their values as pictures’ we should consider them ‘in accordance with their meaning as symbols’ (169–70). Dreams have a ‘secret meaning’; their ‘riddles and contradictions’ must be ‘solved’ only through careful interpretation (50; 70). In Freud’s discussions of specific dreams, animals frequently play a key role in his attempts to make sense of the riddle of symbols. Where in other texts Freud admits failings in human understanding about the experiences of actual animals, he is much more comfortable dealing with animals in the abstract, once they have been transformed into figurative devices.
Animal Theory: A Critical Introduction by Derek Ryan