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The exemplification of human denial in the essay what an animal

In his groundbreaking Animal Man 1988-90[1] Grant Morrison is concerned with the ways in which man and animal reflect upon each other, and with the way in which man, ultimately, cannot conceive of himself outside of a relation to the animal. Indeed, as the writer of Animal ManMorrison took the opportunity to create an avatar of his own social and political ideologies: The present essay takes its cue firstly from Singer's observation, therefore, and looks closely at the way Morrison uses Animal Man to detail his philosophical stance on the animal question.

Ironically, however, it turns out that it is exactly Morrison's use of metafiction which provides some of his most profound insights into the animal experience. Our second cue relates to the problem of the human representation of the animal, and the difficulty in avoiding a representation which frames an animal's experience in human terms or which, in trying to evade this first trap, excludes the animal altogether.

"Meow-meow language." "Aaoowm?"

Nonhuman Experiences in Graphic Narratives," where he argues that "narrative affords a bridge between the human and the nonhuman," and indicates the range of available approaches when he states that "stories provide this link not merely by allegorizing human concerns via nonhuman animals or engaging in anthropomorphic projections, but also by figuring the lived, phenomenal worlds … of creatures whose organismic structure differs from our own" 159.

Herman develops a scale by which to distinguish between what he characterizes as coarse-grained and fine-grained representations of nonhuman experiences 166. At one end of the scale, coarse-grained representations "encompass nonhuman experiences but remain anchored in humans' own interactions with their environment" 166. Such representations include animal allegory, where "nonhuman animals function as virtual stand-ins for humans" 167and anthropomorphic projection, where "human motivations and practices continue to be used as the template for interpreting nonhuman behavior" 167.

At the other end of the scale, fine-grained representations "anchor interpreters in a conception or model of what it is like for nonhuman agents to interact with their environment on a moment-to-moment basis" 166. Such representations include zoomorphic projection, which "shows what it would be like for human characters to take on nonhuman attributes" 167and what Herman terms Umwelt exploration, which shows "a concern with nonhuman ways of encountering the world" 167.

As Herman emphasizes, it is important also to examine "how the representation of what it is like for nonhuman characters to experience events is shaped by medium-specific properties of graphic narratives" 160.

In this context, when it comes to delivering his message, we will argue that Morrison seems unwilling or unable to exploit the multimodality of comic narratives to deliver an exploration of animals' Umwelten. In fact, Morrison's progressive politics are not matched by his superficially conventional representation and philosophical understanding of the animal question.

Animal Man does criticize humanity's constant need to distinguish itself from animals, and define itself against animals, in order to create a hierarchy of power which places humans over animals. But, in his treatment of some of the characteristics that are often used by philosophy to divide humans from animals—for example, good and evil, language, reason, and being-in-the-world—Morrison could be accused of redrawing rather than undermining these distinctions.

However, taking our third cue from the work of Jacques Derrida, and in particular his The Animal That Therefore I Amwe further argue that, ultimately, Morrison's narrative is not concerned with bridging the divide between humans and animals, but rather that it comes closer to Derrida's position on the question.

Derrida is enormously concerned with the question of animals, but he is not the exemplification of human denial in the essay what an animal interested in restoring to animals what philosophy has normally deprived them of, and arguing from that basis that humans should therefore treat animals better. Because, for Derrida, this approach leaves untouched the assumption that some things, such as language, are proper to man and, as Matthew Calarco states, "the logic of the proper functions to draw a simple and reductive line between human and animal" 104.

Even an effort to extend that line, or to promote certain animals say the higher primates above the line, still excludes most animals. Derrida, therefore, has first tested these clean divisions by questioning whether humans have a unique claim to traits such as technology, spirit, or an awareness of death.

At the same time, Derrida does not seek to erase oppositions between humans and animals because, as Lisa Guenther points out, the aim of his approach "is not to say that we cannot identify meaningful differences, but rather that there is no definitive difference between humans and all other animals" 152.

Given that "the ontotheological philosophical tradition is fundamentally humanist and anthropocentric" Calarco 104Derrida has looked to frame the debate in a new way. When he quotes Jeremy Bentham's question about animals—"Can they suffer? Regardless of how we define them, therefore, animals confront us and call for a response; "animals have the capacity to interrupt one's existence and inaugurate ethical and political encounters" Calarco 106.

Following the encounter, the character, revealed as a character and therefore deprived of a proper self-identity, falls from the position of man, and, paradoxically, becomes more humanly alive as a finite and vulnerable being living in a world in which animals also live. Animal Man, therefore, cannot serve as a straightforward allegorical representation of political and philosophical ideals, which perhaps explains some of the inconsistencies in the presentation of the animal question. As Morrison explains in his introduction to the first volume, his "intention was to radicalize and realign the character of Buddy Baker" as he "becomes involved with animal rights issues and finds his true vocation in life" np.

  1. Derrida, Animals and Women.
  2. Following the encounter, the character, revealed as a character and therefore deprived of a proper self-identity, falls from the position of man, and, paradoxically, becomes more humanly alive as a finite and vulnerable being living in a world in which animals also live.
  3. The issue becomes the story of a translation between worlds, and shows "how a concern with nonhuman ways of encountering the world can reshape humans' own modes of encounter" Herman 167 , not by opening the readers' eyes to a nonhuman way of encountering the world as such, but by opening the readers' eyes to the ways in which their language shapes any experience of such an encounter. Vaughan and Niko Henrichon's in Pride of Baghdad where, as Herman describes, "they use speech balloons to confer on the lions a capacity for human language" 170 , but Herman's criticism of this approach is that it remains at the level of anthropomorphic projection, because "the text also invites readers to construe their experiences via models drawn from the human domain—at the risk of flattening out, or even voiding, the phenomenological specificity of nonhuman encounters with the world" 170.

In effect, therefore, the series purposefully opens with a conventional understanding of the animal so that a more radical view of animals can later evolve. That Buddy Baker and Grant Morrison start from contrasting political and philosophical positions is evident if we consider the superhero name that Buddy has chosen for himself: We could ask how we are supposed to read the two terms of this name given that they are not typographically linked in any way, as with Spider-Man, to suggest a merging of some kind, or a hybrid offspring.

We could ask what is added to or subtracted from the man called "Animal Man" given that, scientifically speaking, a man is already an animal? The name "Animal Man" is tautological, but at the same time it speaks to the binary thinking of animal and man. It reminds us that, as Derrida observes, "The animal is a word, it is an appellation that men have instituted, a name that they have given themselves the right and the authority to give to the living other" 23 and what this word does is to "corral a large number of living the exemplification of human denial in the essay what an animal within a single concept" 32.

For Derrida, "This agreement concerning philosophical sense and common sense that allows one to speak blithely of the Animal in the general singular is perhaps one of the greatest and most symptomatic asininities of those who call themselves humans" 41. They do not leave room for any simple exteriority of one term with respect to another. It follows that one will never have the right to take animals to be the species of a kind that would be named The Animal, or animal in general.

It is for this reason that it is so significant that Buddy's first foray as Morrison's Animal Man pits him against B'wana Beast, a man with the power to communicate with animals and to merge animals, to create chimeras. The final page of the first issue, therefore, does not bring Animal Man face-to-face with the animal but with a monstrous animot, a singular plurality of merged laboratory monkeys Fig 1a lurid mess of limbs and faces.

Here, Morrison confronts Buddy with the inadequacies of his conception of the animal by creating a creature which both speaks to the multiplicity of the animot but also figures, in a very material way, the violence done to animals in reducing them to the animal fig. This represents an attempt, therefore, to make Buddy realize that "there is not only one border, unified and indivisible, between Man and the Animal. The name "Animal Man," which seems to set Animal and Man on either side of the one border, limits a discourse on animals which itself must speak of and to the chimera, must be multi-faceted, multi-faced, many-limbed.

Animal Man must become, by the end of the series, Animot Man. The story begins with the slow movement of the character B'wana Beast striding towards something not yet revealed. Presented as free indirect discourse, B'wana Beast's thought, "Why did we ever come down?

Why did we come down out of the trees" 1. In the panel, his neighbor, Violet Weidemeir, whose cat he is trying to save, is crying, "Watch you don't fall now, Buddy! It's a long way down! He has "just absorbed some agility from the cat" 1. This is when we first get to see Animal Man in action, but it is not the moment of revelation for Buddy.

He had already discovered his powers, and this is not, therefore, his origin story, which is revealed only halfway through the series. This way, Morrison eliminates at the very beginning the import of the "origins" in the superhero discourse, and in a sense, questions the "originary" impact the exemplification of human denial in the essay what an animal the story of Genesis.

Much later in the series, we will learn that Animal Man was dissembled by aliens, who used the so-called "field" 18. It is explained that each essence is like a Platonic "ideal form" 18: When Animal Man absorbs the power of an animal, therefore, it is the essence of the animal he draws on; his powers relate to The Cat and not a cat. The presence of an animal serves to merely wake up and make functional a particular beast-essence in his DNA.

This order, of creation and fall, of course follows the path of Adam's story, which is key to the beginning of both Morrison's and Derrida's text. In the process of his creation, man is given power over the animals. In the first book of Genesis, Adam and Eve are told to "Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground" 1.

In the second book, which is the second telling of the story, Adam, even before the creation of Eve, is given the task of naming the animals: He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name" 2. God's summoning of the animals so that Adam might name them is the inauguration of man's authority over the animal.

The significance of this naming is evident in the opening storyline of Animal Man also, where the names assigned by Buddy's neighbors to their cats, Rufus and Sheba both Biblical namescontrast with the self-identified, "signed" 3.

Laboratories, Roon and Djuba B'wana Beast's friend and the reason for his arrival in the city. Following his fall, Animal Man is expelled from a garden, though in slightly less dramatic circumstances than Adam: Morrison further underlines, however, the deliberate parallels with the Biblical story by having Buddy return home to find his wife Ellen singing, "We could go on living in the same old way … a garden of Eden, just made for two" 1.

In a further reference, when Buddy dons his Animal Man costume, he puts a jacket on too because, he says, "it's kind of embarrassing wearing a skin-tight costume" and appearing naked 1. Knowing nakedness, and embarrassment at his nakedness, Animal Man removes himself both from the Garden of Eden and the animal kingdom.

Throughout the first four issues of Animal Manthis Edenic subplot runs alongside the main story. As Buddy tracks down the B'wana Beast, Ellen and her daughter Maxine encounter four hunters in woods described as "a regular Garden of Eden" 2.

The second issue opens with the Weidemeirs' missing cat, Sheba, shown hunting a rodent, her actions contrasting with the senseless killing by the hunters of a bird in the first issue because the cat has litter of kittens to feed.

The neat juxtaposition of the cat's rapacious-looking face as it attacks the rodent with the nameplate which hangs from its collar stating "My name is Sheba" 2.

At the same time, the events that follow frame this as a savagery without evil intent. With the appearance of the serpent 2. Such actions might remind us of Martin Heidegger's observation that, "However ready we are to rank man as a higher being with respect to the animal, such an assessment is deeply questionable. This discourse is later reinforced by Buddy when, in an act of pure revenge, he goes to kill Lennox, the man who has murdered his family.

Holding his discarded jacket in his hand, so that he is effectively naked once more, Buddy tells himself that he "must be an animal. An animal" in order to murder this man without compunction. Buddy, therefore, seems at this point still to be a believer in the "cruel and capricious" 2. The lesson of this subplot seems to be summed up by B'wana Beast's observation that, "We were given paradise … and … we're murdering the world.

Extinction Of Animals Essay

It represents an implicit warning to Animal Man: But, at the same time, the subplot indicates some of the difficulties facing Morrison as he looks to re-educate Animal Man. Morrison wants Buddy to change his spots, so to speak, on the animal question, but Morrison himself falls into the trap of conventional understanding too in his struggle with how best to tackle animal rights.

He places an emphasis in the opening issue on the fall of Animal Man, but what he needs to remember is that "the animals were named, before original sin" Derrida 18.

The Animal emerges in advance of any conception of good and evil; indeed, what Derrida seems to say is that good and evil emerge from that encounter where a man stands naked face-to-face with an animal: Perhaps Morrison is on the right track when an encounter with the chimerically merged laboratory monkeys is described as being "confronted by a fabulous new lifeform. It was like watching Adam rise up out of the dust on unsteady legs. Nevertheless, the continuing tension between Morrison's desire and his execution will become apparent as we focus now on some of the common terms that emerge in the debate on animal and man, in particular language and being poor-in-world.

Labs who reduce animals to weapons, a food supply, and test subjects. The lead scientist, Dr. Myers, discusses the genetic differences that allow him to classify animals, and explains that his work involves exactly scientifically drawing the line between the human and the animal, by distinguishing between "the lower animals and the higher primates, like apes and men" 3.

What Buddy sees in the laboratories plays a large part in his adopting by the end of the arc an ethical and ideological stance in opposition to a mindset that views animals as mere supplements to a human existence. In the end, seeing how much animals suffer, he expresses an ethical stance, "the work you're doing here is barbaric and immoral.

I'm ashamed I ever got involved" 4. The ethics here arise from the encounter with the gaze of the other, the animal. Labs and merges Djuba's dead body with Myers fig. Commenting on this sequence, where Djuba-Myers learns what it is like to be subject to experimentation, Herman draws attention to what it is like for Myers to be deprived of verbal expression: But here the reduction of agency is doubly profound, because Djuba-Myers is aware of having been moved down in the hierarchy that Myers had exploited and helped maintain—a hierarchy whose topmost level is occupied by those capable of human speech and the forms of domination, technological and other, that it enables.

As Derrida puts it, among the many "questions concerning what is proper to the the exemplification of human denial in the essay what an animal is "Does the animal have not only signs but a language, and what language?