Response to "Fear of the Unfamiliar" By Matthew Roy Reeves
(04/20/10 15:51:23)Related animal: Hermit Crab “Fear of the Familiar” delves into five categories that ironically confront the “characteristically postmodern dissolution of categories…in which categories and boundaries remain firmly in place” (166).
“Persistence of Animal Categories” describes different perspectives on an animal by comparing their wild and domesticated behavior. Philosophers Deleuze and Guattari describe “three kinds of animals:… ‘demonic animals,’ ‘state animals,’ and individuated animals.’”(168).
“They Are Perfectly Safe” describes the aversion of postmodern artist and philosopher toward domesticated animals. Baudrillard described the desire for these beings stemmed from an anxiety of castration. I find the desire is light-hearted and less sexually compensatory, however.
“An Unlikely Alliance” unites the artist with the animal in the creative process. “Sentimentality” strikes at the root of postmodern aversion toward pets, given that animals cannot live as they are perceived by their owners without unnatural removal from their wild origins. Taxidermist Emily Mayer explains that “when looking at the realities of death as well as life in the wild, ‘its hard to sentimentalize.’” (174).
“Living Inexpertly with Animals” reveals the casual interest in experiencing life in an interspecies environment. Postmodern painters are mentioned to paint their pets from life, where the sharing of the space is the collaborative effort (180). “Philosophers and Their Cats” legitimize the interspecies lifestyle among postmodern thinkers. Derrida’s cat, for instance, “allows him to see something of the otherness of all non-human animals” (186).
My final thought regards the audience of the fear of the familiar. Humans are the intended spectators of philosophical inquiry or artistic endeavors. Using animals is merely a base bridge to their personal levels, their vulnerabilities. Do not postmodern thinkers subsequently transform the animal into a pet by presenting their despising of the role of the pet to the audience?