Humanimality

Cultura 4 (2):157-175 (2007)
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Abstract

From the Greek satyr to the American Mickey Mouse and from the Chinese dragon to the Egyptian Sphinx, animals and animal/humans have come throughhuman imagination into myth, legend and story. This combination or fusion of animal and human in literature presents a double signification. At the same time that our attention goes to the animality of the human, we may also entertain the human(al)ity of the animal. Besides blending of physical and psychological characteristics, these ancient and modern characters of world texts may embed authentic experiences of communion or communication between humans and animals. The texts may be understood as signifying the limits of both the human and the animal and the possibility of the humanimal. Humanimality signifies the fusion of human and animal which dissolves the ordinary dualism of human subject and animal object and allows for intersubjectivity unmarked by specific biological limitations. This kind of intersubjectivity occurs in the contact of communication and is often an occasion for awe on the part of the human if not of the animal. We may understand such awesome communication as imitation, non-verbal cooperation, and as teaching and learning. Three poems by the author, reproduced in the Appendix, “The Ravens Fly Yet,” “Neighbors,” and “The Lesson,” provide the literary fields in which humanimal phenomena may appear.

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