01 December 2012

I'm reading a book

Nesses anos todos na academia lidando com os estudos literários e a teoria literária compreendi que o impacto de certa obra numa cultura para o amelhoramento ou correção de injustiças de todos os gêneros é real, e, portanto, tem o seu valor como disciplina. Com prazer, passei pelo marxismo, feminismo, pós-colonialismo, gênero, queer theory etc junto com os textos que admiro sem deixar de lado, claro, o valor estético que me encanta, sobretudo. Mas ainda faltava alguma coisa para além dos direitos humanos que os estudos literários ignoravam: os direitos dos animais. Felizmente tenho descoberto que há alguns estudos que começam a questionar tal falta; vim a saber disso por mim mesma porque na academia nada se fala sobre o assunto. Enfim, abaixo selecionei enxertos da introdução do livro Animal Rights and the Politics of Literary Representation (2002) cujo autor é John Simons. 
Karl Marx wrote that ‘the history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles’.  This model of the centrality of the human experience was an attempt to recoup the possibility of a teleological hermeneutic on the grand scale. The sorts of changes in both social attitudes and structures and in literary studies to which I have alluded above represent a progressive erosion of faith in the possibility of such a grand vision. Marx has been rewritten and the term ‘class struggles’ has been replaced by ‘gender conflict’, ‘racial antagonism’, ‘sexual prejudice’ or any other phrase which sets out the strife between the able and not able, the old and young, the colonised and the coloniser. In this book I am proposing that there is yet another way of rewriting Marx:

The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of the struggle between
          humans and non-humans. 
What would literary studies look like if animal rights had attained the same priority and the same urgency of concern as the kinds of human rights…?
...[a]s I worked on the texts and as I read around and researched the field I found myself frequently overwhelmed with anger and dismay. Tragedy is marked by pity and terror and anyone who spends as much time as I have in the last few years studying the ways in which humans treats animals will encounter plenty of both.
When we turn to relationships of struggle between humans and non-humans we immediately note that only one side has any ability to effect a voluntaristic participation. To use an example that puts it plainly: we eat animals because we want to, we do not have to and common sense suggests (pace arguments about the revolutionary benefits of domestication, which is not voluntaristic anyway) that animals do not like being eaten. If you doubt that, visit a slaughter-house. It therefore follows that to speak of ‘Animal Liberation’ is to use the term ‘liberation’ quite differently from the way it is used in a quaint old phrase like ‘Women’s Liberation’. There is no social contract between humans and non-humans and therefore their interactions are not at any fundamental level socialised. Which is not to say that individual humans and individual animals cannot interact in ways that may properly and sensibly be described as social.