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Review Essay – Panexperientialism and Ontological Multiplicity: Notes Toward Creaturely Love and Creaturely Cosmologies

By Anindya Sekhar Purakayastha

Creaturely Love: How Desire Makes us More and Less than Human, Dominic Pettman, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2017

Creaturely Cosmologies: Why Metaphysics Matters for Animal and Planetary Liberation, Brianne Donaldson, Lanham: Lexington Books, 2015

Both these books are significant contributions in the domain of Critical Animal Studies and Planetary Studies as both launch a substantial critique of speciesism or species exceptionalism. While the first book deflates and deconstructs the anthropological claim about love being an exclusively human attribute, the second book deanthropologize the mission further by decentering the human through an exposition of creaturely cosmologies in which the category of the human is located within other creaturely multiplicities. The books adopt counter-philosophic responses to challenge philosophy’s anthropocentric bias that has led to the problems of the Anthropocene. While Pettman would rely on Ovid, Nietzsche, Deleuze, Salome, and others, Brianne Donaldson banked on Jainism and Whitehead’s Process philosophy to constitute her non-anthropocentric creaturely cosmology. Pettman begins by narrating how for both Freud and Berlant, love is a “sublimated form of libidinal attachment” and in similar vein the Christian distinction between Eros and Agape continues even today in secular and popular forms. For Bataille, however, love is simply a more intense version of erotic experience. Pettman`s book thus traces the different ways in which the concept of love has established itself in Western discursive practices revolving around Eros and civilization as Love is still venerated as spiritual, while desire is sneered as merely physical. In the beginning the book tries different definitions of love and problematizes the normative distinction between love and desire, where love is elevated as sublime human quality, while desire is carnal and animal like. This leads to the primary research question: “Do animals experience love?… do they have the symbolic wherewithal to upgrade mere attraction into the aesthetic exception of love?” (7) In a similar vein, another question that the book raises is: do those animals that call themselves human experience love? If the answer is yes, then what does this key term and the expression of this experience – in different narratives, image formations, etc – tell us about our “animal inheritance”? We, humans generally use the term ‘creature’ to inferiorise animals, or to belittle a ‘figure of abjection’ that is a mere animal or a monster and from such conventional attitude springs the “dominant and official narrative of Western culture that has always been an elaborate disavowal of our creaturely life” through the assertion of what Agamben called the “anthropological machine”.  This book defies this anthropocentric bias and argues that “on a certain level all eyelashes are eyelashes, whether they are connected to a pig, a dog, a giraffe, a human or an elephant … a profound kinship within or despite vast and undeniable biological and ontological differences” (8). This is an attempt therefore to focus on the possible “shared nature of being”, or on “being with and being-together”. To perceive therefore the creaturely aspect of ourselves is not to simply reduce the human to the animal or the opposite to elevate the animal up to the human but to introspect on what Bernard Steigler calls the “the non-inhuman within the inhuman-being” (8). Viewed from the religious angle of St. Augustine, the term ‘creaturely love’ signifies a spiritual lack. Seen through the Christian scholastic lens, love is something which is not redeeming as it is “temporal and material, thus mortal, human all too human.”  So the notion of creaturely love can never be disembedded from its religious connotations and it also proves how our acts of love was sacralized and authorized through the disciplining of the libido. Pettman concludes that “there are traces of divine libidinal economy in all earthly loves” (12). From here the author approaches both modern and premodern thinkers on the question of creaturely love and schematically he visits first the moderns such as Nietzsche, Salome, Rilke, Balthus, Proust, etc and subsequently goes back to Fourier, Fournival, medieval folktales and the poet Ovid and also to contemporary films to trace the themes of creaturely love. Modernists, Pettman shows, have raised some important queries on this count, problematizing in that way the very idea of the human. How is our humanity different from our animal heritage or legacy? How does human sexuality characterize our “species being”? The book, by raising these questions, aims to “foreground the importance of the animal figure in the canonical Western discourse of love and desire” (14). The second chapter refers to the film The Turin Horse (2011) that captures Nietzsche`s well known traumatized state after he witnessed a horse being tortured. Nietzsche`s seminal works such as Genealogy of Morals and Human, All Too Human have strong totemic aspects that enlist “figural and symbolic animals from his countermoral system – eagles, lions, asses, and so on” (16). Even Freud too viewed the horse as a totemic creature, which on many occasions figured in neurotic or psychotic narratives revolving around what Freud called the “anxiety animals” (17). Freud even used the horse as his own symbol for the id itself as it is a powerful and yet unruly animal that necessitates the disciplining mechanism of the superego. For Freud then, all humans are “centaurs” and horses have inherently libidinal or erotic connotations and they emerge as one of the primary totems of libidinal economies in general. So animals are “good to think with” as Levi Strauss famously maintained and mythical creatures help us to challenge traditional ways of looking into the human-animal divide. Pettman refers here to Vanessa Lemm’s book on Nietzsche’s “animal Philosophy” that identified the centaur as a “meta-hybrid, a centaur with wings and thus divided three ways by animal, human and angel” ( 18). Pettman observes that the “centaur is thus a figure that helps us explore the sly existence, dormant power, and erotic techne of what I would like to call “creaturely love,” that is, the nonhuman, ahuman, more-or-less-than-human passion or affect that attracts us to the other in a register beyond or outside the conventional discourse of soul mates” (18). All these points signify the “creaturely continuum” we inhabit on a very material and actual register with other life forms and the cultural or symbolic meanings that we, humans, democratically ascribe to animals really helps subverting the human exceptionalism. The rest of the book deepens this horizontality of creaturely continuum that does not allow the supremacy of the human species over other non-human “creatures”. The next chapter entitled “Groping for an Opening: Rilke between Animal and Angel”, therefore, discusses Rilke`s notion of the “Open” by which he implied “the free, actual, immediate, immanent stream of Being” unhindered and unfiltered by human self-consciousness. Rilke`s “open occurs outside the walls of the prison house of language – outside the interpreted world.” (22) Only the “epiphanic shock of love” can help us to glimpse the Open, the state of “atemporal bliss”, something that the animal, according to Rilke, has the privileged access, as Pettman quotes Rilke saying,

…we know what is really out there only from
the animals’ gaze; for we take the very young
child and force it around, so that it sees
objects – not the Open, which is so
deep in animals’ faces… (22)

If that be the case, then Rilke asks in his Ninth Elegy, why do we “still insist on being human” as our human bias takes us further away from the “pure unthinking ecstasy of the lark and the tiger, the gnat and the bat?” In this connection, Pettman reminds us that Nietzsche “wanted to be a flogged horse” in the company of Salome the lover and Rilke emphasized “his own animality, his own creaturely love” for Salome. The Centaur then is an ideal though paradoxical figure that symbolizes humanity living in harmony with its animal side. The book is actually suggesting here an “ontological moat between animal and human” (25) and although we always emphasize the human element in matters of the heart, there are artistic acknowledgement of the creaturely source of intense passion or creaturely instinct that leads us to the “immanence of the Open”. The conclusion we arrive at is that the “metaphysical surplus of the linguistic animal” (i.e. the human) is to be opposed to attain that creaturely freedom of the Rilkian Open – “That is what fate means: to be opposite/to be opposite and nothing else, forever” (25).

image002    image001

From Nietzsche and Rilke, the author now approaches Robert Musil, who has been called “a prose Rilke” and who also talked of love`s “disavowed creaturely aspect” and two of his short stories, which Pettman refers to, suggest that “human sexuality is but a heartbeat away from a bestial passion”, although unbridled lust has always traditionally been associated with animality in all Western discourses that distinguishes between Man and Beast. Musil problematizes the reductive dichotomy of animal-body versus human-soul by a project of “transindividuation” that foregrounds the animal aspect of human sexuality and makes us see ourselves as “first and foremost kinfolk of the beasts” (41). For Musil, animals “are people too: an ongoing realization that needs to be re-realized every day, lest it be erased and effaced by the conscientious workings of the anthropological machine” (42).

To reiterate his point, Pettman now goes to the distant past, referring to Richard de Fournival`s “Bestiary of Love”, which was composed in France in the middle of the thirteenth century that combined two genres of bestiary lore and epistolary romance. Fournival`s slim book is shown here as making an important contribution to the human understanding of creaturely love and Fournival`s menagerie underscores the “shared characteristics between lover and animal” (55). The book is portrayed as revolutionary for its time as it proves that love “activities of a man and a woman are by implication assimilable (and often inferior!) to the characteristics of so called lower animals… moreover love is not necessarily presented as a noble calling but as a crow picking out a man`s brain through his eye sockets” (55-56). Through this “zoological approach to Eros” and through an “iteration of Aesop`s fables”, Fournival, according to Pettman, makes clear the creaturely core of human desire (58).

The fixity of modern human species being is always opposed to the fluidity of the medieval species-being that resonates with the cosmology whereby a creature can metamorphose into something or somewhat radically different or combines into wonderful hybrids in popular imagination. Such “propoto-zoological” imaginaries are available in Ovid’s Metamorphoses, where a woman can suddenly get morphed into a tree, a bear, a bird, etc. The author finds in Ovid a classic case of the human/non-human indisctinction as in Ovid we see how our Gods are fascinated to enjoy disguising into specific animals such as rams, bulls, swans, horses, etc to manipulate ordinary mortals. Ovid’s world therefore is “radically in flux” and enunciates a “radically unstable ontology” that abandons our notions of “settled being” (73). Ovid provides brilliant examples of creaturely love in his poetic renditions and in him too we get examples of the hermaphrodite which is described as male or female, that is, who seems to be neither and both. This suggests a new human fusion or an exceptional transgendered figure. This leads the author to conclude that Nature since ancient times evinces a “queer heterotopia”, “pink in tooth and claw” (78). Ovid`s universe then is animated by constant change or by “a fickle metaphysics” (81). Ovid, Pettman rightly claims, renders his stories in such a way that metaphors are literally transfigured. So when someone is described as acting like a “wounded bull” is virtually turned into a wounded bull. Hence the

analogical miraculously becomes the actual … reality and its representation collapse together and fuse … and … it captures a truth at the heart of creaturely love. Human passions are not simply like animalistic ones but are indeed an expression of them. Alterity is not only an excluded other but a latent aspect of identity … (82)

Viewed from this Ovidian optic, “we are all anagrams of each other” and Ovid`s unique world argues for “an unfinished universality … in which every phenomenal form rhymes with many others and everything derives from the same flesh” (82). All these are pointing towards some ontological bridging that leads to transductive possibilities. In the subsequent chapters, the book brilliantly engages with different philosophical takes on life and living that can explain all these varied claims of ontological difference and repetition. In doing this, the author rightly refers to Manuel DeLanda`s notion of “flat ontology” that does not negate material differences but emphasizes the “non-hierarchical nature of What Is”. What Ovid does, therefore, is to remind us that “all recognizable figures in this world, of this earth, can be placed within the one, same demographic category” (84). Seen from this angle, “Moths become flying leaves” and “butterflies are flying flowers” and in this context the book refers to Agamben`s notion of the “elliptical poetics” that shows how language becomes mimetic of its subject

the mysteries of being, and being-with. It is also proleptic in the sense that it anticipates “the hieroglyph of a new in-humanity” that it seeks to bring into being, through incantation. Such words thus perform the idiom of the coming community which cannot be pinned down or identified. (88)

One marvels at the idea of such a coming community of new “in-humanity” where the human-creature hierarchy is demolished and being emboldened to imagine such imagined community of human-creature enmeshing we may adopt the Deleuzian lens to see that a “distinction between human, satyr, seal, or seductive software is a provisional and contextual one, soon to be dissolved by a different assemblage in the passage of time. Humans are thus exposed as merely one type of any number of cosmic “desiring machines” (105). The canon of human normativity is thus subverted and the conclusion of the book sums it up on how we can queer the canon and citing Plato`s Symposium, the author reminds us how “love is to be found in all animals and plants, and … in all that is; is not merely an affection of the soul of man towards the fair, or towards anything. Eros … was considered a vital force uniting all creatures – indeed, creation itself (108). So the old Freudian distinction between (animal) instinct and (human) drive takes a beating in view of the discussion we had so far because this book is speaking of a “shared affective heritage between all creatures, manifested to be sure in very different ways” (109). So the primary objective of this book is not to argue “that humans and animals are one, in some great Cosmic love-in; … [but to argue] that all loves are creaturely” (110). The foreclosure of our species-being leads to species hierarchies but we forget that “Humans are human in so far as they are an animal caught up in a process of hominization: the ongoing evolutionary, historical, and technical trajectory of the species. This process is ongoing, improvised, immanent and without clear direction or destiny” (110). So the end remains open, yes the Rilkean Open.

All the chapters in this book testify how the notion of creaturely love consolidates the paradigm of the anthropologiocal machine but for Pettman creaturely love is his term for the “anthropocentric ambivalence that lies at the heart of the dominant discourse on desire.” The “image repertoire” of love relies on animal metaphors and allegories and the idea of creaturely love is oxymoronic as nonhumans, we claim, do not love the way we do symbolically or linguistically but at the same time the idea of creaturely love challenges such chauvinistic species exceptionalism because the sovereign supremacy of the homo zoon logon is also challenged by ontological overlaps between humans and animals (111).

If Pettman prepares us for this coming community of ontological overlaps, Brianne Donaldson in her book, Creaturely Cosmologies: Why Metaphysics Matters for Animal and Planetary Liberation (2015) seeks to foreground a similar agenda of ontological conviviality by foregrounding the pervasive subjugation of animals in western thought. Such animal subjugation has been sanctioned, she claims, just because they are animals and Brainne critiques such circular logic of justified human domination throughout the book. Initially we are given statistical accounts of how ten billion birds and land mammals were slaughtered in 2012 alone in the United States to cater to human needs and how such slaughtering are justified as killing and abuse of animal are naturalized everywhere. Donaldson rightly observes in the beginning,

majority of global societies endorse the capture, transport, torture, breeding, selling and killing of creatures in unthinkable numbers and by grotesque means primarily because their captive bodies or disembodied flesh, fur, and fluids are highly desired, highly profitable and because their suffering is discounted and out of sight. (x)

So humanity colonizes/kills animals because they are animals. In fact the legitimization of animal killing is so deeply entrenched that any contrary logic fails to gather larger support. However, as we dethrone the category of the human in our analysis of the Anthropocene, a deeper engagement with philosophies of non-harm to other non-human beings as well as to the planet Earth assumes great significance. Donaldson’s book exactly does that by offering two metaphysical insights that challenge the anthropo-centric logic of animal subjugation by offering alternative planetary vision, namely the Indian philosophical tradition of Jainism and the Process relational worldview as enunciated by Alfred North Whitehead. Predominant Western World views in science, religion, philosophy, and politics universally “privilege human experience, knowledge and senses … as the authoritative lens through which to judge our vast universe” (xii) and to negate such man-centric hegemonies, this book distinguishes between “biased metaphysics” that advocates human supremacy and alternative “adequate metaphysics” that adopts a broader planetary approach to all creatures. Rather than moving towards post-metaphysical times, we should, Donaldson suggests, look for better metaphysical approaches that make us see how animals and other non-human creatures whom we exclude are historically and ontologically entangled with us and with whom we can collectively co-create the future of the planet. Donaldson would call the ancient Indian philosophical vision of Jainism that advocates non-harm to all entities and the Process relational thought of Whitehead as “creaturely cosmologies” because “they begin their analysis not by unequivocally privileging a specific understanding of human senses or desires but by seeking to explain those senses and desires through the broader active creaturely multiplicity” (xiv). Jainism begins with the notion of the “Jiva” that signifies a core vital force that sustains all life-forms. Both these metaphysical standpoints envisage “the creaturely multitudes” that animate the buzzing universe. Viewed from the perspective of Jainism and Process philosophy, every creature appears to be in a continuous process of unification between what is and what might be. Life happens, as Donaldson says, in these Deleuzian “ontological gaps” between “things, interbeing, intermezzo” (xvii). Our present state of being therefore is a “joint or hinge” between our past and the intangible future. For Donaldson, Jainism and Whitehead’s Process-relational thought posits every creature as such a hinge. Creaturely cosmologies provide a metaphysical grounding to socially, ethically, and politically affirm the value of individuals and communities currently excluded by humanistic hegemonic frames. Donaldson`s primary argument seems to be that any notion of planetary future would require radical transformative ways of living and thinking with our fellow citizens. Hence veganism alone would not suffice to constitute the alternative vision for creaturely multiplicity. Here Brianne would refer to Steve Best’s idea of radical reformation of animal liberation philosophy that sees the project of human animal, nonhuman animal, and earth liberation as inseparable projects. So our personal decisions to abstain from eating animal flesh and animal products, while highly laudable, are not adequate enough to transform our overall and fundamental attitude towards nonhuman fellow creatures and hence our veganism is to be supplemented “with cross-disciplinary and cross-movement engagement with broader systemic issues affecting creaturely life and our collective planetary future” (xix).

In a climate of anti-developmentalism in which we reject all Western normative, transcendent, humanist, and andocentric metaphysical bias, it is not sufficient to advocate such rejection of scientism or profit-oriented reason. To gather greater progress now, we also require, according to Donaldson, “fundamental inversions, dispersions, and reversals … into the realms of ontology, epistemology, action and discourse” (xix). Her whole book is a quest for such inverse-ontology and counter-discourse. Like Pettman, the all-important question Brianne raises in her book is: should we continue to get trapped within the closures of our fixed species being which is characterized by humanist, subjectivist, gendered, nationalist categories or we embrace cosmologies that deconstruct these categorical essentialism for a wildly abundant multiplicity of life in its creative becomings. The first chapter of the book revisits the newly emerging domain of critical animal studies by addressing three existing standpoints on animal studies such as the theories of identity, Difference, and Indistinction-based approaches to the human-animal question. Referring to Derrida and Judith Butler, both of whom have contributed in critical animal studies by rejecting the metaphysical approach, Donaldson would argue that one needs to “drive straight into this metaphysical gap to recover and develop alternate ontological accounts sufficient for our creaturely and planetary multiplicity” (xxi). In chapter two, Donaldson would engage with Whitehead`s Process-relational philosophy to underline the subversive features of “panexperientialism” as enunciated by Whitehead. Here the book elaborates on the idea of “intra-action”, a term the author borrows from feminist physicist, Karen Barad, and which comes out as the “central ontological/epistemological/ethical theme that shapes [her] entire project” in this book (xxi), Chapter three discusses in detail different aspects of Jain philosophy to bring to our notice the “intra-active” implications of Jainsim and Process philosophy respectively in the subsequent chapters. The Jianist notion of Ahimsa (non-violence), and Deleuze & Guattari and Donna Haraway`s post-humanist frames are utilized to actualize a “re-worlding” toward alternate futures.

The first chapter on critical animal studies rallies for a “radical social approach to veganism and animal rights that transcends bourgeoisie liberalism” that leads to “post-hierarchical world views and democratic and ecological societies” (4). The traditional onto-political ways of looking into the human animal question that emphasizes on identity based optics are critiqued to advocate a “proto-ontological” vision where the “proto-ontological” extends to Derrida`s insight

to the way we categorize the entire living world. Before we can even talk about what it means for you or I, a black man, a woman, a child with disability or an animal to “be”, we must recognize that we are already in networks of relationships, intra-actions, perception, … and response that happen before we can divide the world into categories of race, gender, function or species. The proto-ontological plane includes those aspects of the ontos, or being that exist outside our current knowledge regimes, categories or thought. (11)

Her entire book consolidates this notion of intra-action and the Indistinction based approach to animal theory signifies “the messy plane of proto-ontological relations that destabilizes the human/animal divide …” (11). Western metaphysics since Plato has relied on an essentialist approach of identity and hence fails to grasp this proto-ontological notion of inter-relation. Donaldson looks for alternative metaphysical traditions that allow such intra-action to happen. In her attempt to find new cosmologies of living, Donaldson would bring in Derrida`s gestures toward a wider metaphysical scope beyond the “phenomenological subject-as-presence”. Derrida envisages our ontological condition of life as more primordial than subjectivity, by replacing the ‘who’ by a ‘how’. For Donaldson, this shift from the ‘who’ to the ‘how’ is an intrinsic aspect of creaturely cosmology because “[h]ow is a processive verb that is underway in the ongoing development of the living in general.” Derrida, according to Donaldson, here moves from a logic of difference to processes of differance that are at work everywhere that means beyond humanity. In a brilliant articulation of Derridian philosophy of difference, Donaldson perfectly captures the central point when she says

Life is a verb of becoming or … nouns with perpetually destabilizing movement, an experience of opening. Derrida demonstrate that a how does not fit well into any political, personal, juridical, ethical or democratic framework, each of which demands a responsible who … Derrida turns away from active subjects to interrogate “different modes of the conception-appropriation-assimilation” of the other. (18)

In this context, Donaldson also engages with Judith Butler who she argues, in spite of her “personal commitment toward precarious life, is never able to theorize a cosmology wide enough to conceive of the truly strange. Though she troubles the human-animal binary through her difference-based approach, she fails to move toward a theory of indistinction” (21). Drawing on ideas of “cross-species conviviality” and “neighborliness” toward “fellow inhabitants of the world”, the book looks into metaphysical systems that can positively affirm the complicated, the lively, chaosmic multiplicity that results when the binary is leveled (27). This would lead to the paradigm of “co-feeling and com-passion”. Chapter two unfolds as a wonderful exposition and application of Process philosophy to accentuate Donaldson’s thesis for creaturely cosmologies. Conjoining the ideas of Deleuze, Guattari and Whitehead, this chapter underscores Deleuze`s theory of becoming animal, where he appreciated Whitehead for his process thoughts. Deleuze`s rhizomatic speculations explored the becoming of events as the “anarchic replacement for the stasis of being” (30). Donaldson perfectly applies this Deleuzian nomadism of non-stasis for her project of creaturely pluralism because we can in this way “co-create our world” in the process of becoming that would result in a “democracy of fellow creatures” (43). Chapter three focuses on Jain philosophical stance of Ahimsa or non-harm to all creatures and through a reference to Jain ideas of Jiva, Anekantavada or Nayavada and Syavada, it elucidates Jainism`s emphasis on multiple perspectives that can help in the formation of panexperientialism. Having elaborately discussed the two metaphysical streams of Process philosophy and Jainism, chapter four synthesizes the two standpoints by showing how Jainism and Process describe “the creative advance of creaturely life as one of active becoming rather than static being” (75).

In an attempt to decipher the deeper connotations of these philosophical ideas to substantiate her position, Donaldson narrates how the Jainist idea of the Jiva is “immanent and constitutive of its very indistinct and fluid identity. The actual occasion and Jiva do not do an action as pre-formed actors. Rather, they are the intra-active relation between what is given and what is possible” (76). Based on her studies of Jainism, Donaldson perfectly utilizes Jainist Ahimsa in her exposition of post-hierarchist society of planetary future when,

Ahimsa is not a doctrine that applies only to some fixed categories of life. Rather it is the practice of freedom that unifies every becoming with the broader universe of perceptive and provocative creatures, however strange and different they may be. Ahimsa is a direct intra-action aimed at proliferating all liberties … the science of peace is a two sided bridge between what is and what might be in every becoming. Ahimsa is always the dialectical intra-action of an indeterminate entity aiming toward fuller perception and deeper experience of the multiplicity. (90)

This is indeed brilliant staff and a perfect fusion of Jainist Ahimsa with objective of planetary becoming. If Jainism provides one version of the intra-action, then Process thoughts emerge as another form of intra-active becoming for Donaldson. Borrowing Whitehead, Haraway, and Deleuze, she explains how the notion of species is “far from the fixity of the biological discipline … species like the body are internally oxymoronic, full of their own others … [a kind of Whiteheadian creative multi-species crowd.” (101). We may recall here Pettman`s reference to Ovid`s discussion of ontological fluidity and this is how the project of creaturely love and creaturely cosmologies merge together. This is according to Donaldson also akin to Deleuzian “zone of exchange … in which something of one passes into the other” (102). Such zones of exchanges are possible if we adopt Deleuze’s call for the “nonphilosophical” or the “prephilosophical” and doing philosophy with the nonphilosophical is to actualize the idea of the “becoming minoritarian” or “becoming animal”, “becoming woman” – a disruptive act through which we can subvert hegemonic discourses and fixed identities. Donaldson quotes Deleuze and Guattari: “The philosopher must become nonphilosopher so that nonphilosophy becomes the earth and the people of philosophy” (103). So, “becoming-with” means tolerating differences so that we can co-shape the future with non-human creatures. Through these prolonged philosophical discussions, the book tries to show that

animal and planetary liberation must include the freedom of concepts as much as the freedom of bodies and the creaturely cosmologies of both Process and Jainism offer a provocative vision beyond loss, toward a future when that which has been excluded can be revalued in the present within transformative becomings of greater stature, prehension and co-feeling. (113)

The Epilogue of the book reevaluates what she has done through the chapters and it summarises how the book has “tried to think with and through these lesser known metaphysical systems so that they might become something else in our philosophical future … for the sake of its transformation and the overhaul of our collective life ways” (132). Donaldson claims that her chapters have created a “de/re/territorialisation of critical animal studies that can affirm a panexperiential universe. Both the books succeed in significant ways to plough new furrows in the domain of planetary studies.

Anindya Sekhar Purakayastha
is Associate Professor, Kazi Nazrul University, India. His current research engages with issues of the Anthropocene, radical political theology and postcolonial governance. He has been a fellow in the New School for Social Research, New York in 2017. He co-edits Kairos, the Journal of Critical Symposium and is one of the founding members of the Postcolonial Studies Association of the Global South (PSAGS). He can be contacted at


For more stories, read Café Dissensus Everyday, the blog of Café Dissensus Magazine.

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