#II inside animals / animals inside

i. humans and nonhumans & ii. a bestiarium vocabulum

a double issue

spring, 2022

i. humans and nonhumans

The history of philosophy is tautologically a history of philosophical thinking, but who was the thinker and, perhaps most interestingly, her companions?

Asking our writers to engage in the many relations of humans and animals – the co-existences, the companionship, the antagonism – has led to a great amount of intriguing contributions. We decided to divide this wide range of texts into two parts, making #II. inside animals / animals inside a double issue. Alongside this first part, there is a second one collecting research on specific animals in the form of a bestiary.

If the bestiary plays with the notion of something escaping categorization, this part reflects on the act of categorization itself, gathering texts, poetry and interviews under the topic of Anthropocene, humanity and non-humanity. Investigating our companions has been a practice in listening, not only to the barking, growling and tweeting, but also to the wind that sounds through the foliage, and to the cracking of the ice – the texts here are engaging in the non-human forms of being in general, building an issue extending from the micro bacteria within us to the planet Mars. Additionally, it has raised questions concerning the actual practice of listening, the experience of something else: a different shape and a different way of being, sounding, touching – moving outside of you, recognizable through you, sharing your world.

Philosopher Peter Godfrey-Smith argues that the history of animal consciousness is not best viewed as a clear break between non-conscious and conscious ways of being. To Differens, he explains it as a genuinely gradual process, starting with primitive but experiencing organisms evolving along different lines to the multitudes of consciousness that we see today. The take-away from his studies, Godfrey-Smith says, is not only that some animals experience the world in ways that seem ambiguous and non-intuitive to humans, but that there is more experience altogether in the animal world: “There is just more sentience around than I thought”, as he puts it.

In two theoretical contributions that perhaps are best read back-to-back, Oscar Tellini and Jeanne Degortes introduce a number of lesser known theorists of animality into the Nordic discussion. Tellini’s evocative essay presents the South American philosophers Julieta Yelin and Gabriel Giorgi and their contributions on biopolitics and post-humanism, in relation to developmentalism in South American literature. Closer to home, Jeanne Degortes leads us on a trail of the Belgian phenomenologist Baptiste Morizot, tracing his thoughts on the relation between human and animals, and the creation of the category of “Nature”, a conceptualization of something that is diametric opposition to humans.

How are we to understand what escapes conceptualization? Touching on the illuminating power of the paradox, art studio Nonhuman Nonsense describes how art and storytelling help us rethink fundamental questions, leading to new ways of understanding as well as more progressive political solutions. As an addition to this debate, we are introduced to the Museum of Nonhumanity, by the artist duo Gustafsson&Haapoja, that shows the historical construction processes in which the idea of the human, as separated from the animal, is formulated.

Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, these topics have taken on a different character. Despite the importance of the current ecological crisis and the need to rethink coexistence, it has been hard for us to think about anything other than the people suffering in Ukraine and in other wars right now. We would like to spare a thought for the victims of the war and insist on that human cruelty is a tradition humans actively continue, it is not the destiny or determination of our species.

/ The editors of Differens Magazine

Amanda Winberg, Lapo Lappin, Johannes Stenlund, Astrid Elander and Niklas Kuckeland

individual contributions for #II. inside animals / animals inside. i. humans an nonhumans:

Jonas Gren
x Dikter ur Antropocen

Leo Fidjeland och Linnea Våglund
x I samtal med Nonhuman Nonsense

Oscar Sebastian Tellini
x Crisis of Humanism, Alternative Biopolitics and Developmentalism in Latin American Animal Literature

Peter Godfrey-Smith
x Searching for the roots of consciousness: An interview with Peter Godfrey-Smith

Jeanne Degortes
x Repairing the Attention to the Living World:
Following the Tracks of Nonhumans

x Museum of Nonhumanity

untitled, Mark Peckmezian

ii. a bestiarium vocabulum

In the recent article “Monster as Medium: Experiments in Perception in Early Modern Science and Film”, written by the filmmakers Sasha Litvintseva and Beny Wagner, the duo poses a paradox between taxonomy and monstrosity. They write: 

Coming across this term [taxonomies of monsters], we wondered how monsters could possibly be subjected to taxonomical categorization. Weren’t taxonomies those modes of classification that whittle down the excesses of imagination in order to produce quantifiable objects of knowledge? And aren’t monsters, conversely, the unruly forms that emerge when imagination spills over the bounds of reason? To insert a living being into a taxonomic logic is to conceptually arrest the fluidity that animates life. Yet monsters would seem to resist this, as they are amorphous, composite beings that somehow evade the restrictions by which the world of ordered appearances must abide.[i.]

Flirting with this interrogation and paradoxical relation raised by Litvintseva and Wagner, we in Difference Magazine started working on the second part of #II. inside animals / animals inside, with the aspiration to achieve a bestiarium vocabulum; a vocabulary for thinking critically about the relationship and conflicts between modes of categorization and modes of the living object, being categorized. For this reason, this part of #II. inside animals / animals inside has collected texts on individual animals, exploring their role and relationship to humans and human conceptualization.

The result of this collection, ii. a bestiarium vocabulum, begins with a plunge into the world of an animal with a special status among humans: we start by entering the world of dogs. As a guide for the blind, as a guardian of gateways to unknown worlds, like the Greeks’ Cerberus, and as a bridge between man and animal, photographer Mark Peckmezian’s dogs crack open the issue and take on the role of escorting us through it. We stumble into the worlds of other animals, along the way, such as the world of the octopuses, horses, birds and primates. At last, we once again come to engage ourselves with one of the human’s closest friends, the cat, here not as the homely, familiar, but as the utterly alien; as an abstract and technological gaze.

By asking ourselves questions such as where does the animal and the monster overlap?, how can the animal be thought without its attributed monstrosity?, or is the horror of the monster the same as the horror of the conceptless?, we have oriented ourselves towards this final form of our work that, rather than answering these questions, attempts to show something in the spaces in between.

Some aesthetic theories suggest that our cognition represents objects more naturalistically, more naked and truthful to the real thing, when we lack linguistic concepts of it. Some of these theories, like that of Nicholas Humphrey in his famous article “Cave Art, Autism, and the Evolution of the Human Mind”, try in this way to explain why cavemen depicted animals so lifelike but humans so abstractly, like stick figures, by referring to the evolution of human cognition and language. It is supposed that we developed concepts for particular animals and plants later than for particular humans and human relations. Humphrey suggests that when our eyes lack linguistic concepts to guide our vision, they remain innocent and nakedly spectating. Accordingly, the impressions, or at least the representations, like those made by the cave painters of animals without particular names, remain lively and perhaps, if we were to take one step further, frightening?

As an echo of the first dichotomy, between taxonomy and monsters, between concepts and the conceptless, we in Differens Magazine want to invite the reader of ii. a bestiarium vocabulum to activate their vision and attention to what lies outside of the conceptualized. To the questions between the questions and to the texts between the texts. To the monster and its innocence in both animals and humans, incapable of grasping the other or herself, always incapable of being grasped, but perhaps not impossible to be depicted or seen, clearly…

In conclusion, we invite you to the convergence of the frightening and the conceptless and we hope that these thoughts will, much like the mentioned echo, continue to resound throughout your reading.  

[i.] https://www.e-flux.com/journal/116/379558/monster-as-medium-experiments-in-perception-in-early-modern-science-and-film/)

/ The editors of Differens Magazine

Amanda Winberg, Lapo Lappin, Johannes Stenlund, Astrid Elander and Niklas Kuckeland

individual contributions for #II. inside animals / animals inside. ii. a bestiarium vocabulum

Mark Peckmezian
x In Conversation with photographer Mark Peckmezian

Peter Gärdenfors
x The Human Need for a Future

Axel Rudolphi
x In a Tentacled Neighbor’s Garden

Nicole Pergament Crona
x Ecce Equus!

Nicole Miller
x For the Birds: Beauty in Human-Avian Companion Agency

Olivia Fert
x Interspecific connections and cyborg eroticism: about the cat, Kitch, and the camera in Carolee Schneemann’s short film, “Fuses”

untitled, Mark Peckmezian

Publisher / Ansvarig utgivare:

Amanda Winberg

Publishing place/ Utgivningsort: