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The Animals in Us – We in Animals

Edited By Szymon Wrobel

In art and literature, animals appear not only as an allegoric representation but as a reference which troubles the border between humanity and animality. The aim of this book is to challenge traditional ways of confronting animality with humanity and to consider how the Darwinian turn has modified this relationship in postmodern narratives. The subject of animality in culture, ethics, philosophy, art and literature is explored and reevaluated, and a host of questions regarding the conditions of co-existence of humans and animals is asked: Should discourse ethics now include entities that initially seemed mute and were excluded from discussions? Does the modern animal rights movement need a theology, and vice versa, is there a theology that needs animals? Are animals in literature just metaphors of human characters, or do they reveal something more profound, a direction of human desires, or a fantasy of transgressing humanity? This book provides answers and thus gives a new impetus to a so far largely overlooked field.
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From Agamben to Saville’s Bellies. Transgression into the Animal Condition in Post-Humanity, Primitive Humanity and Contemporary Art


Ewa Łukaszyk


The reflection presented in this article in three distinct “steps of inspiration” (Agamben, ethnology and art) interrelate apparently distant spheres of problems and cultural phenomena. The starting point is given by Agamben’s idea of the apocatastatic “opening of the community,” overcoming the human condition defined by exclusion. The second move will explore an ethnological inspiration. We will reflect upon the archaic search of transcendence through the animal and in the animal, corresponding to the stage of man before the “invention of monotheism” which introduced the concept of divinity defined by reduction and abstraction. As a working hypothesis, it is assumed that the monotheistic concept of God radically driven away from any biological analogy precedes and shapes the concept of humanity defined by exclusion from the universality of biological life.


Agamben; Saville; ethnology; contemporary art; animal condition; post-humanity; primitive humanity; transgression into animality.

In this experimental reflection, I will follow three steps of inspiration: Agamben, ethnology, art. Namely, trying to connect and interrelate apparently distant spheres of problems and cultural phenomena, I will progress towards a commentary concerning the works by a contemporary British artist, Jenny Saville. The starting point is established by Giorgio Agamben in his essay L’Aperto. L’uomo e l’animale (2002), bringing into consideration a medieval image: a 13th century illumination of Hebraic Bible conserved in the Biblioteca Ambrosiana in Milan. The miniature illustration, of mystical and messianic inspiration, refers to the vision...

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