Cover

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Half Title, Title Page, Copyright, Quotation

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Contents

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pp. vii-viii

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Preface

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pp. ix-xii

Suppose we considered the love of Antony and Cleopatra, Romeo and Juliet, or Swann and Odette from the perspective of the popular media-friendly genre “animals in love.” Here the lovers are not “people” per se but merely two creatures enamored with each other, like the two otters holding hands while floating in the water in the famous viral video. ...

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Introduction: On the Stupidity of Oysters

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pp. 1-8

“The stupidity of oysters is legendary.” So reads the opening sentence of Paul Reboux’s (2004) Animals and Love, a book virtually unknown outside of France and rarely read within it. This minor comedic gem—written in a dry, ironic style—presents a bestiary of different creatures, sketching the sordid or pathetic details of their diverse attempts to find (or avoid) companionship. So what makes the oyster so stupid? ...

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1. Divining Creaturely Love

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pp. 9-14

The question remains: which creature are we talking about when we talk of creaturely love? Is it a term that secretly unites all the terrestrial beings that have been divorced from each other by evolutionary time? Does it diagram an essential connection, despite radical difference (for instance, “the living”)? Or are there as many different types of creatures as there are species? Is it, in other words, legion? ...

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2. Horsing Around: The Marriage Blanc of Nietzsche, Andreas-Salomé, and Rée

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pp. 15-21

So recalls the original Lulu—Lou Andreas-Salomé (1990, 48)—of one of the most surreal and intriguing images we have of the infamously imposing and brooding philosopher.1 Here Nietzsche is “horsing about” with Lou herself and the reluctant, heartsick poet Rée. In that golden summer of 1882, this self-described “trinity" ...

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3. Groping for an Opening: Rilke between Animal and Angel

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pp. 22-25

Rilke’s poetry was part of a sustained attempt by the author to understand what he called the “Open”—the free, actual, immediate, immanent stream of Being unhindered and unfiltered by human self-consciousness.1 Rilke’s Open occurs outside the walls of the prison house of language—outside the “interpreted world”—and represents a type of unimaginable freedom of access and action, ...

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4. Electric Caresses: Rilke, Balthus, and Mitsou

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pp. 26-29

Rilke had a keen eye for creaturely affection in others as well. In 1920, as Europe reeled from the Great War, as well as from all the questions about human nature and progress that it provoked, the poet visited a close friend, Elizabeth Klossowska, near Lake Geneva. ...

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5. Between Perfection and Temptation: Musil, Claudine, and Veronica

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pp. 30-37

Robert Musil, whom the literary critic Frank Kermode described as “a prose Rilke,”1 went further still in using his own medium as a site of experimentation for considering love’s disavowed creaturely aspect. Two early short stories in particular, “The Perfecting of a Love” (Musil 1999b) and “The Temptations of Quiet Veronica” (Musil 1999c), ...

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6. The Biological Travesty

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pp. 38-43

Veronica could indeed be a character in Rilke’s eighth elegy: a woman who catches a glimpse of the Open which lies beyond human narcissism, but the faces of her would-be lovers keep blocking the view. Only forms of life that are unburdened by souls—or, more accurately, unburdened by the presumption of possessing a soul—...

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7. “The Creature Whom We Love”: Proust and Jealousy

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pp. 44-49

We reach for the word creature, in an erotic context, either when we want to slander someone we find repellent or when we want to exult someone we find exceptionally attractive. Any psychoanalyst will attest that such ambivalence is an essential aspect of Eros and that hatred is but the yin for love’s yang. But this rather “schizophrenic” usage of our key term is worth noting for other reasons, ...

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8. The Love Tone: Capture and Captivation

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pp. 50-54

In the slavish, almost automatic cleaving to the beloved that is the sign of passionate love, we seem to be “reduced” to an animal state. After all, Heidegger went to great lengths to detail the ways in which the human—and only the human—has the potential to awake from evolutionary captivation and go beyond those instinctual triggers ...

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9. “The Soft Word That Comes Deceiving”: Fournival’s Bestiary of Love

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pp. 55-59

Long before the modern explosion of industry and human striving, there were notable attempts to depict the mutual attraction and antagonism of the sexes as if these were in fact a matter of species or Umwelt rather than gender. One such text is Richard de Fournival’s Bestiary of Love, which was written in France in the middle of the thirteenth century ...

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10. The Cuckold and the Cockatrice: Fourier and Hazlitt

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pp. 60-65

One of the most disturbing, and historically significant, cases of animal symbolism was deployed throughout medieval Europe to identify and dehumanize Jews. Especially from the tenth to twelfth centuries, horns were forcibly placed on the heads of people identified as Jewish, ostensibly to represent their bestial, Satanic, and unholy status in relation to the true Christian. ...

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11. The Animal Bride and Horny Toads

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pp. 66-72

Figuring the beloved as an animal is a universal motif, with a history as long as humanity’s own. In traditional myths, legends, and folktales, cross-species romance is taken for granted, as in the “animal bride” story found throughout the world’s oldest narratives. As intellectual historian Boria Sax (1998) notes in his excellent book on this theme, ...

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12. Unsettled Being: Ovid’s Metamorphoses

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pp. 73-79

The fluidity of medieval species-being—the cosmology whereby a creature can transform into something radically different or combine into fantastic hybrids in the popular imaginary (and thus become an exhibit in proto-zoological treatises)—can be traced back in the Western tradition to the poet laureate of protean forms, Ovid. ...

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13. Fickle Metaphysics

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pp. 80-84

One important thing to note about Ovid’s specific depiction of metamorphosis is the way in which the altered subject both is, and is no longer, the self-same as before. Myrrha is thus still affected by shame and grief, even after becoming a tree, with the resin of her tears to prove it. ...

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14. Nymphomania and Faunication

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pp. 85-91

In one of his now classic methodological moves, Giorgio Agamben alerts us to the existence of an obscure and esoteric historical text that apparently sheds an entirely new light on a rather shadowy universal and timeless problem. One such text deployed for this purpose is the early sixteenth-century treatise by Paracelsus ...

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15. Senseless Arabesques: Wendy and Lucy

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pp. 92-96

We first meet Wendy (played by Michelle Williams) humming to herself while walking through a forest. She is playing fetch with her dog, Lucy (played by the director’s dog of the same name). Something about Wendy’s humming, however, suggests an anxious determination rather than a carefree disposition. ...

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16. The Goat in the Machine (A Reprise)

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pp. 97-105

Elsewhere, I have argued that we cannot discuss love without also discussing technology, given that the former is an instance of the latter.1 Love is, I maintain, an instance of technē: a meta-mode of what Heidegger calls “fashioning” or “bringing forth.” ...

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Conclusion: On Cetaceous Maidens

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pp. 106-113

“First, we must ask, does it have to be a whale?”
Such was the question posed to Herman Melville by a publisher named Peter J. Bentley, who had recently read the submitted manuscript of Moby Dick in 1851. Mr. Bentley felt that the story could be enlivened with a different kind of key character, for “while this is a rather delightful, ...

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Epilogue: Animal Magnetism and Alternative Currents (or Tesla and the White Dove)

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pp. 114-120

Over the past twenty years or so, Nikola Tesla has become a folk hero for the millennial tech-generation, who consider him the godfather of all visionary scientific mavericks and thus a key precursor to their own “disruptive” aspirations. But during the twilight years of his own life, Tesla was a much more withdrawn shadow of his former dynamic self, ...

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Acknowledgments

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pp. 121-122

This book would not have made it into print without the timely and ongoing support of Doug Armato, Carla Freccero, Anne Balsamo, and Carol Wilder, for which I’m most grateful. I’d also like to thank that wonderful, varied, and esteemed menagerie of humanoids who continue to inspire on a daily basis, ...

Notes

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pp. 123-146

Bibliography

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pp. 147-152

Index

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pp. 153-164

Further Series Titles

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About the Author

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