Burning Out the Animal: The Failure of Enlightenment Purification in H. G. Wells’s The Island of Dr. Moreau

  • Carrie Rohman

Abstract

Jacques Derrida’s recent and recurring interest in the problem of the animal signals the critical recognition in cultural theory of a non- human “other” that is crucial to our modernity and to our Western philosophical heritage. Derrida traces a certain recalcitrant humanism in Western metaphysical thought—especially in the work of such cardinal thinkers as Aristotle, Freud, Heidegger, and Levinas—which “continues to link subjectivity with man”1 and withhold it from the animal. In broad theoretical terms, Derrida characterizes the sacrificial structure of Western subjectivity as one that maintains the status of the “human” by a violent abjection, destruction, and disavowal of the “animal.” In other words, the sanctity of humanity depends upon our difference from animals, our repression of animality, and the material reinstantiation of that exclusion through various practices such as meat-eating, hunting, and medical experimentation.

Keywords

Burning Dust Cage Milling Assure 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Notes

  1. 1.
    Jacques Derrida, “‘Eating Well,’ or The Calculation of the Subject: Interview with Jacques Derrida,” by Jean-Luc Nancy, in Eduardo Cadava, Peter Connor, and Jean-Luc Nancy, eds., Who Comes After the Subject? (New York: Routledge, 1991), 105.Google Scholar
  2. 3.
    Slavoj Zizek, Enjoy Your Symptom (New York: Routledge, 1992), 136.Google Scholar
  3. 8.
    H. G. Wells, The Island of Dr. Moreau (New York: Bantam, 1994), 2.Google Scholar
  4. 12.
    Nick Fiddes, Meat: A Natural Symbol (London: Routledge, 1991), 2.Google Scholar
  5. 13.
    Carl G. Jung, Man and His Symbols (New York: Dell Publishing, 1964), 57.Google Scholar
  6. 14.
    Anne Simpson, “The ‘Tangible Antagonist’: H. G. Wells and the Discourse of Otherness,” Extrapolation: A Journal of Science Fiction and Fantasy 31, no. 2 (Summer 1990), 135.Google Scholar
  7. 20.
    Friedrich Nietzche, On the Genealogy of Morals (New York: Vintage, 1989), 85.Google Scholar
  8. 21.
    Max Horkheimer and Theodor W. Adorno, The Dialectic of Enlightenment (New York: Continuum, 1944), 6.Google Scholar
  9. 25.
    Judith Butler, Bodies That Matter (New York: Routledge, 1993), 107.Google Scholar
  10. 28.
    Jill Milling, in “The Ambiguous Animal: Evolution of the Beast-Man in Scientific Creation Myths,” in The Shape of the Fantastic (New York: Greenwood, 1990), 108.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Mary S. Pollock and Catherine Rainwater 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Carrie Rohman

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations