Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Ranciere and Fish

I know I have been just letting this blog sit here for a bit. Sorry, I am still sending off applications to have funding to finish my dissertation next year. So, really, I am working on the long term stability of this blog.

Anyway, I wanted to link to this i.t. post about Ranciere on the internet and wikipedia. But this reminded me of a dream I had last night.

I know, I know. No one wants to hear about your dreams unless they were in them. Hopefully this will be an exception for the crowd that already reads my blog.

In the dream I was writing a chapter of the dissertation on fish. Now, there isn't a planned chapter about fish in the dissertation, but my dream self makes a pretty good argument that should be changed. In the dream I was making an argument about the logos/phone dyad as it is articulated in Ranciere's Disagreement. In this way I was agreeing with Samuel Chambers, who reads an anti-anthropocentrism in Ranciere's work. That Ranciere's work discovers an anthropocentric rip or tear in the classical conception of language (See Chambers article, here).I doubt this is an intentional argument by Ranciere (though if any of you are ever in the position to ask him about animals and anthropocentrism, I’d appreciate it). Anyway, I was working on this, and I was setting up the problem of the fish. The fish doesn’t even have (traditional) access to phone. I was doing this to ponder on why so many people call themselves vegetarians but still eat fish, and why some people might argue that fish cannot feel pain, and other nonsense. Kazez recently had a post where someone who identifies as a vegetarian not only eats fish, but claims they cannot feel pain (this might be a conceptual issue of what counts as fish. But if we mean fish as opposed to all forms of sea life, that seems totally nonsensical).
As Jonathan Safran Foer argues in Eating Animals:
As I came to see, war is precisely the right word to describe our relationship to fish-- it captures the technologies and techniques brought to bear against them, and the spirit of domination. As my experience with the world of animal agriculture deepened, I saw that the radical transformations fishing has undergone in the past fifty years are representative of something much larger. We have waged war, or rather let war be waged, against all of the animals we eat. This war is new and has a name: factory farming (p. 33).

This is where the dream stops being really useful (and the quotation of course wasn't exact in the dream), but I wanted to set up a distinction between the war against beings stuck between the dyad of logos and phone, and the war against those beings who exist outside of that dyad. But that is pretty much as far as I got before I woke up.