Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Inactive until after the New Year

Sorry for not posting this sooner, as I kept hoping I would be able to get more online. However, this blog should start posting new content shortly after the start of the new year. I hope everyone is having a great winter break.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Danielewski's animal turn

During a recent, and truly epic bout of procrastination/writers block, I decided to try to figure out what the writer Mark Z. Danielewski is up to these days. He's the author whose debut novel, House of Leaves, is one of my favorites. I once, only half-jokingly, called it my favorite translation of Heidegger's Being and Time. It seems he in the process of writing a 27-volume novel entitled The Familiar, which is about a 12 year old girl who discovers a kitten. The first five volumes seem to be completed. Familiars are, of course, the pets (often evil spirits or demons in the guise of an animal) of witches and sorcerers and the like. These days, the most common image of a familiar is the black cat. All of this goes back to my recent post on animals and witches.

So, during all of this, I also discovered this mp3 of a lecture that Danielewski gave in Cologne, Germany Sept. 30th, 2010. In it Danielewski tells a very sad story (I might have teared up near the end) about cats, death, dying, growing odd, and all sorts of other things. As a novelist, he has a weird relationship with philosophy, which so obviously informs his work and discussion (here are some of the people whose work he cited in the talk: Bruno Latour, Graham Harman, Jacques Derrida, Giorgio Agamben, Ernst Bloch, Walter Benjamin), and I am not sure I would say his work on animals was original. But it was moving, smart, perhaps at time original, certainly worth the listen. It is long, and at times meanders. But I found it deeply satisfying and powerfully melancholic on some very fundamental level.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Rodopi Critical Animal Studies: Women, Destruction, and the Avant-Garde

The Rodopi Critical Animal Studies book series has its first book coming out, and it looks awesome (I particularly like the cover. In particular the CAS1 on the side. If I could rename my blog, it would probably be CAS0). According to Amazon, it is in stock, and ready to ship (who says us anarchistic, anti-capitalist CAS people don't understand the importance of the holiday shopping period?). Who out there is planning on being CAS2? 3? 4? Infinity? (CAS\infty is the other thing I would rename my blog).

Anyway, I haven't had a chance to read the book yet (review copy, anyone?), but I know several people who have, and by all accounts the first book is unique and exciting. Check it out.

Women, Destruction, and the Avant-Garde: A Paradigm for Animal Liberation

By: Kim Socha
Amsterdam/New York, NY, 2012, XIV, 258 pp.
Pb: 978-90-420-3423-5
€ 54 / US$ 81



This interdisciplinary study fuses analysis of feminist literature and manifestos, radical political theory, critical vanguard studies, women’s performance art, and popular culture to argue for the animal liberation movement as successor to the liberationist visions of the early twentieth-century avant-gardes, most especially the Surrealists. These vanguard groups are judiciously critiqued for their refusal to confront their own misogyny, a quandary that continues to plague animal activists, thereby disallowing for cohesion and full recognition of women’s value within a culturally marginalized cause.

This volume is of interest to anyone who is concerned about the continued—indeed, escalating—violence against nonhumans. More broadly, it will interest those seeking new pathways to challenge the dominant power constructions through which oppression of humans, nonhumans, and the environment thrives. Women, Destruction, and the Avant-Garde ultimately poses the animal liberation movement as having serious political and cultural implications for radical social change, destruction of hierarchy and for a world without shackles and cages, much as the Surrealists envisioned.



Foreword – Helena Pedersen and Vasile Stanescu: Series Editor’s Introduction: What is “Critical” about Animal Studies? From the Animal “Question” to the Animal “Condition”


Introduction: Rooting for the Avant-Garde

I. Avant-Garde Women Writers and Destruction in the Flesh

II. Staring Back in the Flesh: Avant-Garde Performance as an ALM Paradigm

III. Convulsive Beauty, Infinite Spheres and Irrational Reasons: Reverie on a New Consciousness

Conclusion: Love and Laughter Now: Plucking at Stems or Uprooting Oppression?

Works Cited


Kim Socha is an animal activist and sits on the board of the Animal Rights Coalition in Minneapolis, MN. Holding a Ph.D. in English Literature and Criticism, she works as a composition and literature instructor with publications in the areas of surrealism, Latino literature and pedagogy.