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Modern Animalism

Modern Animalism: Habitats of Scarcity and Wealth in Comics and Literature

Copyright Date: 2012
Pages: 160
  • Book Info
    Modern Animalism
    Book Description:

    Drawing on a wide range of scholarship, from environmental economics to psychology, Glenn Willmott examines modern and post-modern allegories of the environment, the animal, and economics, highlighting the enduring and seductive appeal of the modern primitive in an age when living with less remains a powerful cultural wish.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-9558-0
    Subjects: Language & Literature, Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-2)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 3-23)

    You face a square of transparent glass hemmed in by immutable black walls. Within its depths of clear glass flow delicate translucent blobs, rings of luminous membrane alive with a languid self-exposure. Reaching, touching, contracting, hanging in space, they secrete startling effects of colour and imperceptible motion. They slide over and against each other, or face each other, in static, pregnant emptiness as you face them. Something tugs at you, the pull exerted by pictures of life, but here without any recognizable face or form. Is it because these small, radiant figures evoke a memory of cellular plasm under microscope...

  5. Chapter One Modern Habitats
    (pp. 24-45)

    I have argued thatThe Waste Land, Mrs. Dalloway, andUlyssesall represent mimeses of environments of productive throughput, as a foil against which to challenge conventional notions of scarcity and abundance, and related assumptions about how value is produced and sustained in answer to needs and desires, in modern economic thinking. I have also suggested that the biophysical basis of the concept of throughput may be expanded to include materials and by-products that are not only physical (including physical energy) and biological (including labour power), as would normally be regarded by economic theorists. One might include psychical capacities and...

  6. Chapter Two Problem Creatures
    (pp. 46-68)

    Though economic visions are diverse in modernist and postmodernist art, it will be evident from the preceding discussions that the renunciation of conventional abundance, the radical questioning of needs and desires, and the search for alternative forms of wealth and satisfaction seem to have a common iconology with which the reader is invited to identify: the creaturely synthesis of human and animal, sometimes human and technological (including the technology of writing), sometimes all three. This post-human figure ranges across hybrid species, from the simian Sweeney to Slumberland’s strange denizens, to the lexically dislocated animals and saints that supplementThree Lives...

  7. Chapter Three Surviving History
    (pp. 69-92)

    Against the bitter harvest of modern economic life, out of which it is born, the creative desert ofKrazy Katevokes desires to live otherwise, and in a dream of renunciation and asceticism that imagines new industries of warmth and delight, to be modern otherwise. But we humans are not cartoon kats, it must hardly be said, and cannot change ourselves and history with a cartoonist’s tabula rasa and graphic genius. This dream lives on into many forms of contemporary art and literature, but so does the problem of making it real, of telling a story that gets us from...

  8. Colour plates
    (pp. None)
  9. Chapter Four Growing Wonder
    (pp. 93-117)

    On first consideration, those I have calledproblem creaturesmight seem to dwell only in the margins of the great tradition of modern literature – as principal figures in comics and other non-canonical forms and genres, or as subsidiary elements in canonical texts. While I and other writers do strive to shed light on the unsuspected number of non-human creatures scurrying beneath the floorboards of this canonical literary tradition, and to give greater significance to their sightings, it is also true that for Western readers such creatures have always already played a principal role in the bright light of day, and...

  10. Conclusion
    (pp. 118-120)

    I have argued that modernists and their postmodern creative successors offer great challenges to our economic imaginations. In order to do so, I have drawn from a wide range of differently situated modernisms and habitats, from Europe to North America and Japan, and cast light on commonalities in the folds of individual expression. In diverse forms and styles, and from a variety of planetary sites, these writers and artists have refused a reigning modern ideology of consumer abundance, and have sought to express new kinds of wealth within figures of scarcity. Whether achieved by an exercise of imaginative renunciation and...

  11. Notes
    (pp. 121-126)
  12. Works Cited
    (pp. 127-132)
  13. Index
    (pp. 133-136)