Klavan On The Culture

Annals of the Academy: What Do The Professor Say?

My schoolteacher daughter recently sent me the above video which her third grade students can’t stop watching and talking about. Given that it’s had over — get this — 200-million hits, I must’ve been among the last people to know it existed. If you’re wondering, it’s made by a Norwegian comedy duo named Ylvis, who apparently set out to make the worst music video ever. I find it very witty.

Watch it — and then read the paragraph beneath — which (and I swear this is true) is a description of a talk given this month at the Interdisciplinary Humanities Center of the University of California at Santa Barbara by Patricia MacCormack. The talk, entitled “Ethics, Animality and Ahuman Theory,” seeks, as far as I can make out, to get us to stop, as they say, privileging our human condition and start thinking of animals as equal to ourselves. Really, read the whole thing:

This talk seeks to radically alter trajectories by which the term ‘animal’ is understood, both in nonhuman and human incarnations. It is founded on the urgent ethical imperative to think animality differently and beyond humanism in order to project ecosophical futures. It is premised on two key themes: an absolute critique and repudiation of speciesist discourse, and a desire to liberate subjectivity from human discourse and subjectification. The paper asks: what can the human be as its own animal, at once no longer fetishising non-human animals, and also giving up the majoritarian species category human toward ahuman theory — an ethics of absolute alterity? What takes us from human systems of thought, acknowledging ourselves as lives without the intervention of excluding and oppressive human discourse? The catalysts for this are limitless. Some examples could be found in certain forms of art encounters, libidinal events, abstraction, literary and filmic experiences, political activism, transgressive practices, ecosophical and chaosmotic becomings, any examples which take us to the outside. Ultimately the question of care toward material alterity, ethics and care is: “what makes possible our thinking beyond thought within a human episteme?” This question is one which must be addressed in order to truly liberate all organic bodies from oppression toward freedom of expressivity and becomings.

Now I discussed this with my dog Dash over a bowl of dead cow and she said, “That would be the stupidest thing I ever heard if I could understand what it said. But I can’t — I’m only a Golden.” I appreciated her humility, but I assured her her species was not the problem.


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