This is really just a short bit to say that James “Scu” Stanescu has a new article out in Hypatia named “Species Trouble: Judith Butler, Mourning, and the Precarious Lives of Animals.” It appears to be behind a pay wall if you are not on a university network, and I have heard that you can probably find it at this mediafire link if you wanted to.
I’m glad to see it finally printed, especially since MLA from Prodigies and Monsters and I both get shout-outs in the notes sections of the paper.
To help pull you in a bit, here is the introductory part of the paper, which is essentially about the phenomenology of the meat aisle.
This paper begins at perhaps a weird place: the grocery store. Imagine pushing your cart or carrying your basket as you have hundreds of times before. You end up at the back of the grocery store, near the meat counter. Displayed before you are all the wares of the butcher’s trade, all the prime cuts of meat. On the left are the T-bone steaks; to the right is all the ground beef. In front of you are some ribs; next to them are some chicken breasts. On the corner of the display is the lobster tank, where, out of the dozens in it, you can pick out your own lobster to take home. You look at this sight, with people picking their way through all these products, figuring out which will make the best dinner. And suddenly, the scene in front of you shifts. No longer are you seeing normal products of everyday existence. In front of you is the violent reality of animal flesh on display: the bones, fat, muscles, and tissue of beings who were once alive but who have been slaughtered for the parts of their body. This scene overtakes you, and suddenly you tear up. Grief, sadness, and shock overwhelms you, perhaps only for a second. And for a moment you mourn, you mourn for all the nameless animals in front of you. Those of us who value the lives of other animals live in a strange, parallel world to that of other people. Every day we are reminded of the fact that we care for the existence of beings whom other people manage to ignore, to unsee and unhear as if the only traces of the beings’ lives are the parts of their bodies rendered into food: flesh transformed into meat. To tear up, or to have trouble functioning, to feel that moment of utter suffocation of being in a hall of death is something rendered completely socially unintelligible. Most people’s response is that we need therapy, or that we can’t be sincere. So most of us work hard not to mourn. We refuse mourning in order to function, to get by. But that means most of us, even those of us who are absolutely committed to fighting for animals, regularly have to engage in disavowal. We will turn our attention very shortly to the work of Judith Butler. We will do this in order to begin to chart a queer and feminist animal studies—an animal studies that celebrates our shared embodied finitude. It will be at times strongly theoretical, but it begins and ends in the same place—mourning the unmournable, seeking after a thought strong enough to confront that display of flesh at our local grocery store, one that will not turn its head, one that will not just take a deep breath and keep pushing the cart away.
If that is even remotely interesting to you, I suggest reading the entire thing. I plan to use the paper when I eventually get around to doing the digital environments piece I have been thinking about, and maybe it can be helpful for you, too!