By Cary Wolfe
In Animal Rites, Cary Wolfe examines modern notions of humanism and ethics by way of reconstructing a bit recognized yet an important underground culture of theorizing the animal from Wittgenstein, Cavell, and Lyotard to Lévinas, Derrida, Žižek, Maturana, and Varela. via exact readings of the way discourses of race, sexuality, colonialism, and animality have interaction in twentieth-century American tradition, Wolfe explores what it skill, in conception and significant perform, to take heavily "the query of the animal."
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Extra info for Animal Rites: American Culture, the Discourse of Species, and Posthumanist Theory
He observes, for example, that “no one can remain indifferent to a questioning of the liberal logic of production and consumption” (128). But when it comes to any serious examination of the relation between the de facto economic form of liberal humanism and environmental devastation, we ﬁnd the same sort of laissez-faire posture we witnessed earlier in his concept of democracy. Ferry’s proposed program for the “reformist ecologist” countenanced by his liberal humanism—as opposed to the revolutionary “deep” ecologists of the “new ecological order”—argues that “ecology ultimately blends into the market, which naturally adapts to new consumer demands .
But Jameson’s materialism helps us see what is scrupulously avoided in Ferry’s defense of liberal humanism: the very direct relations between concepts such as democracy in civil society and the economic structures that materialize or prevent them. In that light, Jameson’s analysis helps us tease out not only the “new frugality” of contemporary environmentalism but also the positive content, the material ground and effect, of what Ferry presents as the wholly negative, openended, and “free” character of liberal humanism.
Meanwhile, “ecology” has become what Jameson would call an “ideologeme” of postmodern culture, one that trades on the residual, modernist utopian charge of the concept of “nature” while reproducing the systemic logic of the postmodern itself. Nature, Jameson writes, is surely “the strong ﬁnal term and content of whatever essence or axiomatic . . ” In this sense, the end of nature “is surely the secret dream and longing” of postmodernism understood as the “cultural logic of late capitalism” (46).