Monday, February 06, 2006


Here's a comment on a previous post that I think is worth bringing to the front where it won't get lost:

Anonymous said...
I recently submitted a paper proposal about ravishing animals i.e., animals that ravish, not animals that are ravished) to a seminar on the natural world in e.m. england and was surprised to find my topic reconfigured under the rubric of "monsters." My animal sources didn't strike me as particularly "monstrous" (the three I listed were a cow, a monkey, and a donkey). I also foregrounded the proposal with a discussion of Brownmiller's erroneous, but rather fascinating, imagination of primal history. (in it, she boldly states that man is the only animal that rapes, which made me even more surprised that I was perceived to be talking about monsters. In some ways, my animal examples were: cow, monkey, donkey, human).

In his comment, JKW roughly defined monsters as "representations of the body fragmented or in expanding pieces." Here's my question to JJC or JKW or the internet world at large: what's the role of activities in configuring the category of monsters? Using the seminar's rubric, wouldn't it matter more what these little green one-eyed cartoons DID (rather than just what their corporeal being suggested?)

Is monstrousness performative? Good question. Maybe the difference is between monstrous as an adjective and monster as a noun: humans can be monstrous, rape-inflicting cows can be monstrous [apparently], but wouldn't a monster have to be that being precariously dwelling between the human and the cow, a minotaur?

"Monster" is difficult to define, but I always come back to category violation and improper admixture. I entitled this post "inexclusion" because the monster often winds up exiled through some gesture of repudiation (and typically that gesture also grants some dominating identity a temporary stability) -- but at the same time incorporated through that very gesture, becoming an essential support for the dominant, the ideal, the normal. That's why the monster is so intimately related to the queer. Both also intermix anxiety and desire.

So, Anonymous (weren't you the author of Primary Colors?), I would tentatively say that when a monkey, donkey or cow is ravishing a human, it is acting monstrously, stepping far beyond what is permitted for its category. The same with a human who practices bestiality, no?

Last, to return to Mike and green monsters: I think we can see already why he and his buddy Sully are monsters who've been evacuated of their monstrousness. They possess the bodies but don't play the roles.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Ahhah--thanks! You've helped me hone my paper's point: a cow who ravishes a man is monstrous. a man who ravishes a cow is monstrous. and a man who ravishes a woman is ??? Or, to use one of my sources: a woman who uses a cow to ravish a man who tried to ravish a girl is ???

I like Mike's category-- monsters who have been evacuated of their monstrous-ness. Clearly, I've got to go read your monster theory book. (My ultimate goal in this paper is to explore how these tales of animal ravishment help elucidate the contours of ravishment. It's such an oblique historical term. The real trick will be finding a way to use what you term as inexclusion as a clear path to... inclusion?) thanks, jjc. --anon.