Sunday, June 14, 2009

Exclusion versus loss of life

This will be the final post on the bear statue, I promise. The last thing to note with this structure is its place in a general economy of "things to see" at the park, the most noticeable counterpart being the nearby duck pond. There are probably fifty ducks in this pond of varying plumages and god knows how many koi fish swimming in the water.

Recently two swans were added. I learned from talking to old-timers that there had been previous installments of swans but that people would kill them under cover of night (senselessly, it seems). There is no monument to this violence. The new swans assume a kind of identity with their predecessors. Two faces of violence and monument in the park, a hundred feet apart. The loss of a human life must be remembered ("in loving memory," not just the remembered being loved, but the very act of memory being the new cathexis-object for this love) and the loss of animal life must be effaced, not metaphorically or mimetically, but identically.

There is an important difference drawn here between exclusion and loss of life ordered by the concept of the animal other. Exclusion of animal life is memorialized; loss of this life is not. Loss of human life is memorialized; its (inclusive) exclusion is not.

Following the line of thought connecting animals to the Agambenian economy of inside/outside, we find this process registered in material culture as a question of aesthetics or, more specifically, design and architecture. How animals are reduced to bare life or mistaken for bare life is a question of mis/representation, both philosophical and popular. One point of entry for altering this ellision is in the depiction of animals in public works and public places.

The question of how metaphoricity handles animals must remain open for another day. But if we can't memorialize violence against animals without simply importing their lives into the obverse biopolitical economy structured by anthropological concepts, then we must develop new representational tactics for bringing to thought this injustice in a way true to its being.