Last night we gathered in Amsterdam and discussed Haraway’s When Species Meet. In contrast to the two preceding meetings the discussion did not focus that much on the epistemology and ontology in Haraway’s work. We, rather, tried to understand how we as individual human beings relate or should relate to other beings like our ‘lapdogs’ or ‘OncoMouses’. The structure of our discussion developed in similar ways as the structure of the book: quite unstructured and associative. For some, the lack of a clear argumentative structure and explicit normative argument was a bit disappointing. Others, liked Haraway’s style and her ability to make an implicit argument without clear identifiable premises and conclusions. Her style emphasizes the fact that we, together with our ‘companion species’, are thrown into a messy world in which we are dependent upon the actual encounters with each other. Within these ‘unidirectional relations of use’ (p. 71), a different mentality or attitude towards the other is needed which is more than the mere keeping track of the pros and cons on a balance sheet. Other topics we discussed, and statements which might be relevant for our Manifesto are the following:
- Playing in the mud
- To respond, meets to respect
- Start sharing suffering!
- The theatre of cruelty
- Being speechless (as a human)
- “I think cosmopolitical questions arise when people respond to seriously different, felt and known, finite truths and must cohabit well without a final peace. If one knows hunting is theologically right or wrong, or that animal rights positions are dogmatically correct or incorrect, then there is no cosmopolitical engagement. Perhaps I project too much from my own personal and political experience in these areas, and I am too easily swayed by friendships and, face-to-face (or book-to-book), getting how the world is to someone else. But these qualities are among those that define the talents of social animals like us, and I think we ought to make more, not less, use of them when species meet. ” (p. 299)
I’m afraid I did not write all other proposals for the Manifesto down myself (there was something with a comma?). Luckily, our Manifesto is just as open to interpretation as what it means to ‘become with’, so please feel free to add your thoughts to the list of statements above! Lastly, someone had an interesting idea about performances. Please develop and share it via the blog 🙂