Extrapolation

Responsibilities of Kinship

The Amborg Gaze in Speculative Fictions about Apes

Extrapolation (2016), 57, (3), 251–264.

Abstract

I consider four works of speculative fiction that demonstrate the shifting ways in which we think of our cousins the apes: Gustave Flaubert’s “Quidquid Volueris” (1837), Franz Kafka’s “A Report to an Academy” (1917), The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate (2012), and We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler (2013). Knitting together speculative fiction, primate studies, and ideas of the post-human with the present episteme of seeing the world in Venn diagrams, evaporating genres, and liminal zones, I want to examine how such works, despite their often significant differences, portray our relationships with and obligations to other primates in quite similar ways: by extending the meaning of personhood. The “zone of occult instability” of Franz Fanon, the “contact zone” of Mary Louise Pratt, and the “shatter zone” of Diane Loesch in postcolonial studies thus meet Brooks Landon’s “zone of possibility” and Scott Bukatman’s “contested border zone” in science fiction. These various zones, an uncanny valley, do not necessarily make other animals metaphors for our condition but they can help us confront our troubled relationship by using speculative fiction.

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“Akeley, Carl.” Wikipedia. 15 Nov. 2016. Web. 17 Nov. 2016. Google Scholar

Applegate, Katherine. The One and Only Ivan. New York: Harper, 2012. Print. The One and Only Ivan Google Scholar

Bekoff, Mark. Minding Animals: Awareness, Emotions, and Heart. New York: Oxford, 2002. Print. Minding Animals: Awareness, Emotions, and Heart Google Scholar

Coetzee, J. M. The Lives of Animals. Princeton, NJ: Princeton UP, 1999. Print. The Lives of Animals Google Scholar

Corbey, Raymond. “Negotiating the Ape-Human Boundary.” Great Apes and Humans: The Ethics of Coexistence. Ed. Benjamin B. Beck et al. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Press, 2001. 163–177. Print. Negotiating the Ape-Human Boundary Great Apes and Humans: The Ethics of Coexistence 163 177 Google Scholar

Crist, Eileen. Images of Animals: Anthropomorphism and the Animal Mind. Philadelphia: Temple UP, 1999. Print. Images of Animals: Anthropomorphism and the Animal Mind. Google Scholar

de Waal, Frans. The Ape and the Sushi Master. New York: Basic Books, 2001. Print. The Ape and the Sushi Master Google Scholar

Flaubert, Gustave. “Quidquid Volueris.” The Apes of Wrath. Ed. Richard Klaw. San Francisco: Tachyon, 2013. 245–276. Print. Quidquid Volueris The Apes of Wrath 245 276 Google Scholar

Ford, Walton. Sanctuary. 1998. Pancha Tantra. London: Taschen, 2009. 86–87. Print. Sanctuary 86 87 Google Scholar

Fowler, Karen Joy. We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves. New York: Putnam, 2013. Print. We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves Google Scholar

Fowler, Karen Joy. “What I Didn’t See.” What I Didn’t See and Other Stories. Easthampton, MA: Small Beer, 2010. 169–189. Print. What I Didn’t See What I Didn’t See and Other Stories 169 189 Google Scholar

Gomez, Juan Carlos. “Are Apes Persons? The Case for Primate Intersubjectivity.” 1998. The Animal Ethics Reader. Ed. Susan J. Armstrong and Richard G. Botzer. 2nd ed. New York: Routledge, 2008. 169–174. Print. Are Apes Persons? The Case for Primate Intersubjectivity The Animal Ethics Reader 169 174 Google Scholar

Gordon, Joan. “Animal Viewpoints in the Contact Zone of Adam Hines’s Duncan the Wonder Dog.” Humanimalia 5.2 (2014). Web. 27 Jan. 2015. Animal Viewpoints in the Contact Zone of Adam Hines’s Duncan the Wonder Dog Duncan the Wonder Dog 5.2 Google Scholar

Gordon, Joan. “Gazing Across the Abyss: The Amborg Gaze in Sheri S. Tepper’s Six Moon Dance.” Science Fiction Studies 35.2 (2008): 189–206. Print. Gazing Across the Abyss: The Amborg Gaze in Sheri S. Tepper’s Six Moon Dance Six Moon Dance 35.2 189 206 Google Scholar

Haraway, Donna. Simians, Cyborgs and Women: The Reinvention of Nature. New York: Routledge, 1990. Print. Simians, Cyborgs and Women: The Reinvention of Nature. Google Scholar

Kafka, Franz. “A Report to an Academy.” 1917. Franz Kafka: The Complete Stories. Ed. Nahum N. Glatzer. New York: Schocken, 1971. 250–258. Print. A Report to an Academy Franz Kafka: The Complete Stories 250 258 Google Scholar

Kafka, Franz. “A Report to an Academy: Two Fragments.” 1917. Franz Kafka: The Complete Stories. Ed. Nahum N. Glatzer. New York: Schocken, 1971. 259–262. Print. A Report to an Academy: Two Fragments Franz Kafka: The Complete Stories 259 262 Google Scholar

Klaw, Richard. The Apes of Wrath. San Francisco: Tachyon, 2013. Print. The Apes of Wrath Google Scholar

Lippit, Akira Mizuta. Electric Animal: Toward a Rhetoric of Wildlife. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P, 2000. Print. Electric Animal: Toward a Rhetoric of Wildlife Google Scholar

Murphy, Pat. “Rachel in Love.” 1987. The Apes of Wrath. Ed. Richard Klaw. San Francisco: Tachyon, 2013. 103–138. Print. Rachel in Love The Apes of Wrath. 103 138 Google Scholar

Nussbaum, Martha. Frontiers of Justice: Disability, Nationality, Species Membership. Cambridge: Belknap, 2006. Print. Frontiers of Justice: Disability, Nationality, Species Membership Google Scholar

Nussbaum, Martha. “The Moral Status of Animals.” Chronicle of Higher Education 52.22 (2006). Web. Arcusfoundation.com. 27 Jan. 2015. The Moral Status of Animals Chronicle of Higher Education 52.22 Google Scholar

Robbins, Gary. “UCSD Exploring Why Robots Creep People Out.” San Diego Union-Tribune. 4 Aug. 2011. Web. 11 Apr. 2014. UCSD Exploring Why Robots Creep People Out San Diego Union-Tribune Google Scholar

Wise, Steven M. “A Great Shout: Legal Rights for Great Apes.” Great Apes and Humans: The Ethics of Coexistence. Ed. Benjamin B. Beck et al. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Press, 2001. 274–294. Print. A Great Shout: Legal Rights for Great Apes Great Apes and Humans: The Ethics of Coexistence 274 294 Google Scholar

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Author details

Gordon, Joan