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59 2 The Modern Landscape of Sport Representations of the Foxhound Many of the broad concerns raised in animal studies over the past decade have been formulated in ethical terms of how humans treat animals, how humans respond to the animal gaze and recognize animal others for their capacity for responsiveness. Through laws and through taxonomies, a different—­ though not unrelated—­ element in human-­ canine relations gained real footing in the eighteenth century, and that is the overarching distinction between desirable and undesirable dogs, attractive and unattractive ones, for this distinction separates the dogs one might wish to respond from all others. This is an aesthetic concern that I would say predetermines any of the ethical questions about responsiveness or recognition. During the time that the English Parliament was turning to taxation as a method for reducing the numbers of undesirable dogs, many of the men holding a real stake in the debates were also involved in a long-­ term project that would transform existing hounds into a singular hound that would respond to their need to hunt foxes for sport. The result of this successful project—­ itself, perhaps, an offshoot of the Agricultural Revolution, when plants, animals, and the terrain of England were subjected to intense interventions for their improvement in desirability—­ was the first modern canine breed, the Foxhound. Although the techniques used to create this breed could not be called aesthetic in any sense, they were described as a performative intervention demonstrating sound aesthetic judgment. Similarly, foxhunting has been described since the eighteenth century as an aesthetic performance uniting and completing the landscape. The unimproved space in which sport and agriculture had previously been conducted called out in some way for a human intervention that would improve the space; the most significant intervention was that provided by the conceptually framed Foxhound. Derrida begins the close scrutiny he gives Kant’s aesthetic system by recalling that Kant himself refers to “the lacunary character [Mangelhaftigkeit] of his work.”1 Derrida then poses the question that will orient much of his reading: “and what if it [the lack, the lacuna] were the frame?”2 In relating the lack to the frame that Kant emphasizes as being key to beauty (as opposed to the sublime) and to an aesthetic theory, Derrida can begin thinking of the frame as that which is not within an artwork, nor without it;3 thus he turns to the parergon—­to which Kant refers in “The Analytic of the Beautiful” as being “only an adjunct, and not an intrinsic constituent in the complete representation of the object. . . . Thus it is with the frames of pictures or the drapery on statues, or the colonnades of palaces.”4 Of Kant’s examples Derrida says, “What constitutes them as parerga is not simply their exteriority as surplus , it is the internal structural link which rivets them to the lack in the interior of the ergon.”5 60| Chapter Two Consequently, “No ‘theory,’ no ‘practice,’ no ‘theoretical practice’ can intervene effectively in this field if it does not weigh up and bear on the frame, which is the decisive structure of what is at stake.”6 With this statement, Derrida is orienting his own reading of Kantian aesthetics, and at the same time pointing out that for that very aesthetics a sound judgment must work at this same degree of intervention. In other words, a performative judgment in the landscape must engage with “the decisive structure,” with the frame that is apparent in the lack, in the need at the heart of the landscape. In answer to the questions “Where does the frame take place?” and what is the parergon, Derrida responds, “The whole analytic of aesthetic judgment forever assumes that one can distinguish rigorously between the intrinsic and the extrinsic. . . . Hence one must know . . . how to determine the intrinsic—­ what is framed—­ and know what one is excluding as frame and outside the frame.”7 Within the Kantian system, and, by extension , within the regulated landscape of modern human-­ canine relations, the capacity to make this determination is what distinguishes a sound aesthetic (and, for that matter, legal) judgment . Not only does the lack begin the judgment as intervention, it also orients the sustained performance, to become the Zweckmäßigkeit ohne Zweck, the aim lacking an actual goal that counts for disinterested beauty. Thus, from its putative beginning to its fulfillment (in what Taplin calls the most perfected hound, for example), the aesthetic intervention is focused on, engaged in...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9781609175405
Related ISBN
9781611862584
MARC Record
OCLC
990618932
Pages
182
Launched on MUSE
2017-06-25
Language
English
Open Access
No
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