Animal Symbolism

Q: What do you think about totemism and animal symbolism and (as another form of symbolism) specific speciesist types of symbolism used to depict nonhuman animal lifes under specifically speciesist perspectives, like antlers … speciesist pictograms+ads, even some toys?

A:  Perhaps this can be reduced to “animal symbolism” which is probably a janus-faced story. What animal symbolism reveals, is the different localizations of how nonhumans are “projected” in different cultural contexts. The image created becomes visible, exact ideas remain unclear. That’s not to say that ideas and questions about the “images” can’t be rightfully phrased, yet symbolism always remains only a symbol (or token) and contains the ambiguities of such.

The ambiguity of the token itself might be even better to analyze than the images themselves, e.g.:

– You might have the image of impressive huge living animal body, yet a hunt might be indicated with spears, the ambiguity is that the animal body is depicted alife.

– You might have the impressive antlers of a dead animal body, the ascription might be that of the association being made with antlers as indicating to some people “nature’s social darwinistic rule, they believe they protect the wildlife whom they hunt at another instance”, the nonhuman referred to in the symbolism is one of the connotation of strength, culture and naturalness, yet the animal body represented or depicted is dead, the condition of death combiled with awe would indicate an ambiguity

– Or, human features in animal symbolism, can be “negatively” or “positively” connotated and are full of such ambiguities.

Definitely animal symbolism is a highly complex cultural phenomenon to decipher, in particular when it’s speciesist, because the disguise and twists of contents/information of the symbol-coding manifests authority and power.

Pictures or symbols of nonhuman animal bodys at Göbekli Tepe, Turkey.

Earthworms and animal rights

We believe that if our common notion of animal rights excludes invertebrates, like earthworms, we need to a.) analyze the speciesist paradigms that segregate animality, and b.) question the legitimacy of a solely humancentric (ethical, legal and philosophical) conception of a fundamental “right” on life and freedom.
Antispeciesist Animal Sociology

An autoethnographic note


This poem is a biographical sum up of what I think about the condition we live in, the zoocide we as “humanity” as a collective commit or support in some form of compliance unless we speak out against the fundamentals of (foremostly I believe biologistical) speciesism these days …

I wrote this in the 1990, posted it with a pic of myself from 1982 in 2007 here as a pdf: http://www.simorgh.de/philozoe/animalgardens/pdfs/breath.pdf

Now I blog it.

BREATH

SheHe puts himherself at the centre of alleverything – they
have sex and heshe comes out new and fresh –

again one more to add up to the all-human universe –
animal waste is waste that matters animals – adding up waste, mouth open for waste, so that
something fresh can come out healthy humanely, as necessary necessary necessary
human, for humanity enlargening its meaning with own individual density
human genuis 6 billion fold unity –

to add up animals inferiority dying out – on TeleVisi weighed out in just scales one dying out,
the big rest spreading out animal waste in secrecy –
breath human breath animal breath nonhuman non-existence. only in breath!

shehe put himherself at where shehebreathes, where else could the human individual feel
himherself triggering another desire, to put the outbreath in the centre outside –
dying out animal irrelevance no relevant breath –
comes from nonexistence tomorrow, in nonexistent animals that waste himher self-centers,
tomorrow shelved in memory history –

its blood takes part as supporting her his individual strength, the sex that procreates –
as history and in their own self important memory, the self-centred memory that is
commonly shared, and human individual sex history can’t be shared by unuseful genetic
aberrations in her desire – in his desire he makes the game his game – unifold
togetherness against unifold genepools that won’t make the game – …A=>

A=>… heshe share theirs to clear up more animal waste.
the I, the you, the us, the heshe “self-centres”, that keep up the game.

it turns on to be the superior game and it thrills to use reality, the physical fact, against
reality. a new nature game and the self-centered own history that finds itself in humansexual individuality, in the human individual physicalness, runs the game in the universe,
makes the game a rule, takes a bit out of the impossible (impossibility!) makes it it it it pain
waste

Segregative approaches

Question about segregative approaches, such as specifically in the discussion as found in e.g. here https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/w3csydct

Mind we come from a radical antispeciesist approach, hence we need to ask this.

Question 1 about the saving biological diversity approach:

  • Are they for captive breeding programs to halt the extinction of some species? If yes, how do they see the problematics of zoos? Do such problematics matter in the discussion about extinction, its causes and how the driving forces behind natural destruction can be addressed?

Question 2 about the saving biological diversity approach:

  • Life is a net, yet equally individual lives are meaningful (with humans and nonhumans). Positively seen we understand how life is built as an interdependent net. Yet oppressive mechanism also function as a “net”, yet one of destructiveness, meaning: Wildlife stands amidst mechanisms of a systemic zoocide and ecocide. When we name the net of life, we should also discuss the destructive mechanisms of the socio-political scale and not just highlight biological functioning.

Question 3 about the saving biological diversity approach:

  • When we face destructiveness that targets and sacrifices biological diversity, why do we exclude the nonhuman lives that are barred from the natural spaces and locked into machineries? Why is the connection of destructiveness towards life being treated in a segregative way? For the sake of keeping up the notion of taxonomical richness? Definitely not for nonhuman life itself.

Antispeciesist Animal Sociology

Thoughts about Animal Languages


Thoughts about the Languages of Animals

Palang Latif

This text is also part of the Edition Farangis: Animal Autonomy E-Reader 1.

I can’t see how a term such as ‘animal language’ could pose a problem to anybody when it directly refers to an animal’s way of communication. I am however critical of people who ‘translate’ animals in stereotype ways.

Nevertheless I could apologize for using a word that describes the phenomenon that humans see as exactly the very one criterion which most sharply shows the difference between humans and all other animals. The word ‘language’ has evolved in the human mind and possesses as such its linguistic legitimacy.

The word ‘language’ belongs to one of the core conceptions of the most drastic forms of negative speciesism. Regarding this presumed ground I have to stand upon, I apologize for the insufficience of my attempt to communicate something for which I can insofar only borrow this word, and I dare to ask you to perhaps think of a second word ‘language’ – free of value in a sense – which would only describe what we may not be able to describe yet within the borders of our set of regulations as we have them currently in regards to language; I am well aware that people usually don’t want to accept that this one human term ‘language’ can be used tightly paralleled to animal language, and that so far the word ‘animal language’ has only be tolerated on a scientifical level to refer to human parameters that have been applied to animal communication.

Animals speak their languages, but what their languages consist of, could only be understood if we communicated with them on a level that allows them to use their language.

Animal languages work like human languages, where you can translate what you understand and try to put how-you-can-understand-the-message or that what you understand into your terms of your language.The same happens when I talk to any other individual: I comprehend what she/he/it conveys in the restrictedness or unrestrictedness of my own terms. My terms don’t merely underly semantics – though they might be translated back and forth into semantics, morphems and syntax. My own terms and concepts have, in spite of their belonging to my system of language, a restricted meaning. In a very basic sense I have to rely on that what I understand or confer to that what I perceive.

The languages of animals (there are more animal languages than human languages of course) are seen by us as having a super restricted meaning. If we take the position of the nonhuman side in general, we can say though that human languages are restricted in that they only apply to humans. And seen from a standpoint which takes into account the question of perspective, I can say that if I don’t understand a dog, it’s because she belongs to a different animal ‘group’ when compared to my human group.

‘Communication’ infers meaning to the act of communicating on any level of any sound produced by a communicative agent.

Does language necessarily have to be connected to the history, the past, the present and the future of human progress? Why should animals have ever evolutionary or in any wise chosen to contextualize their existence with the human existence? A being of an animal group or I’d like to say an animal culture, clearly differenciates that what is important to their own existence; and I would call this rather their philosophy instead of just an evolutionary occurence.

I find it permissible to use a word of the human language to describe something I witness, on an experiential basis, about the side of someone (animals) who uses another language. Also ,I prefer to call the expresssed existence of nonhuman animals a philosphy, since it is too simple and anthropocentrically self-serving to underlie animal existence pure evolutionary ends. I do draw from my personal observations which seem sufficient for me to make my own judgements in this case and to make a decision about what to think here.

Basically I think that everybody knows that animals have their languages, but that we usually deny that these languages, that we don’t understand, have any meaning at all. But how would we not deny any meaning of animal communication that would go beyond the notions that our societies generally have about even the being itself of animals; we deny the fact of a self-authorative being of animals in itself in it’s whole meaning. So, no surprise that we draw major qualitative lines. In terms of language, we create a complicated building of restrictions to exclude the nonhuman animals from the comparatively tolerant perspectives that we have in regards to the pluralism of human languages. (It’s ok for a human language to be completely different, just because it’s human.)

We deny another animal that it’s not instinctal, because it’s not a human. You can indeed call everything an instict. Still you can’t really prove that it is “instict”. You can just put the ‘supposed carrier of an instict’ in a setting where they are treated as such instinctual things and seen as such, and interpreted as such.

Possibilities

Human rights in favour of animal rights may hopefully be another way to convey that an opinion of a human majority can’t represent a truth about any individual animal and the whole animal groups:The animal individual itself is a truth-bearer since it exists, and simply by that it represents, through how it lives (in its own rights and in its own terms) a truth. Just like I judge humans I meet by the impact of truth (their actions are possible just by shere existence), I would want to be as just as I can towards the ways in which individual animals live.
Art doesn’t function through semantics, since there are shapes and colours!
Micky Mouse doesn’t function through semantics, since there are figures and action!
Snowball doesn’t function through semantics, since there is Lisa taking her seriously enough!
Music doesn’t function through semantics, since there is play and composition!
Oppression doesn’t function through semantics, since there are suppressors
Love doesn’t funtion through semantics, since there is understanding and misunderstanding
Peace doesn’t funtion through semantics, since there are underlying actions … And this array could go on and on. Anyway, and still this is all part of our language?

What we do when we speak about ‘animals’ and ‘language’ is: We reduce the complexity of animal communication to linguitstical terms into which they may not fit. Instead of admitting the existence and relevance of other communicative systems as being really independent from our systems and thus not explainable through purely and solely biologcal criteria (insinct).

I have compounded two things:

1. the function of the term ‘instinct’ as a) serving to restrict the notion of a socio-ethical plane as to only having developed in and being attributable to humans and ‘human groups/cultures’ and b) its intended reduction of the scope and meaning of communication in nonhuman animals to a biologically explainable and manipulatively determinable code,

and 2. I have defined linguistics as an inadequate means of setting general rules for a communicative validity.

Instincts and linguistics are things that are working in our systems of categorisation.

In regards to the self-cetegorization going along with this, I also want to point out that our own language does not base a) on merely a functional basis neither in connection to the agent that uses language nor in connection with the subjects that language seeks to deal with, and b) that our language might also not just be a compound of what linguistics (and maybe physiological aspects of speaking added or so) alone can make out of it.

Generally: Cultural (in a non-homocentric sense, i.e. implying “the natural” on an equal scale)) and individual aspects play a role too, as well with humans as with animals when communicating!

I do state again that the word culture can to my opinion also be applied to animals – if one allows a culture to be really and profoundly different [from “our” cultures] too.


The Image on top is from the illustrated story “Morgh va Tokhm” by Farangis G. Yegane.

This essay ist also on my veganswines.com site at: http://www.veganswines.com/andishe/animallanguage.htm and published in my veganswines reader 08 (Paddling of the Ducks educational press) in a printed form.

See also: The species-derogative ascription of instinct, http://www.simorgh.de/objects/the-species-derogative-ascription-of-instinct/

Speciesism as a structure

Speciesism as a structure

It’s useless to choose the same pattern, the same structure that makes up structurally the frame and the architecture of an oppressive system. But we see this happen in the environmental movement and we see this in the antispeciesist movements. The structures applied to convey informational exchange and communication of ideas and thoughts about the issues, create the effective outcome and establish the inner contents themselves. If you apply hierarchically drive structures, you repeat humancentric patterns in “that” specific sense of humanhood. People though have a huge inhabitation to omit classical, typical human hierarchical cultural patterns. And they convey and transfer these patterns contentwise onto the fields of their activism.

When the entire plurality of animalhood has a manifold pattern, we don’t assume their practical patterns of social self-organization, instead we discuss them on the level of our hierarchical cultural concepts. Culturally we create clusters of “fame” as markers of social importance, and the weight of the contents created and conveyed is predetermined and shaped thereby. With our collective constructs we practically demolish the reality of other nonhuman-shaped social constructs, by negating their effectiveness and relevance in our communicative, reciprocal terms. That means: we could learn from the specific social forms of (communicative – thus fundamental) self-organization of the individuals, groups, living beings and entities we defend.

The first inhibitor, also driven by our structural approach, is of course the definitions we imprint onto the nonhuman realsm, and the lack of a will to understand and open up toward others with their own social codings as the standard. If we prioritize dominant, nonhuman-derogative human value systems (as specific human value systems) we therewith inferiorize the values, the meaningfulness of other views and positions in this world.

What is a must in animal advocacy and environmental activism, is to let go the hierarchical patterns when we approach systems that exist in the not-human realm. Our own dominant patterns are not nature given and “for all to be swallowed”, our patterns of prioritization as a group of dominant human beings is restrictive and stifling as a structure itself. People who uphold our typical cultural speciesist (…) patters, that suffocate other perspectives, are dominant by exactly aiming at social denying and negating plurality.

Gruppe Messel

No emotional separability between humanity and animality

No emotional separability between humanity and animality. Antispeciesist Animal Sociology.

Do I belong to humanity or animality in terms of my emotional relations, do I belong to both maybe equally?

This comment as a PDF

If I can chose whose fate I am affected by, and what types of injustice worry me most, I can also express that I feel the kind of injustice towards nonhumans worries me specifically, and that them being victimized makes me sad in a extreme way, same as with humans, … and if I would go further: how would it affect me when humans would be killed to be eaten, milked, inseminated against their will.

Who ever is subjugated to these procedures and this quality of suffering and injustice gets the specific type of attention for their fate … .

I was just thinking this when I saw headlines juxtaposed about human victims and murdered nonhumans being displayed, as if the fate of the nonhumans – which was much worse in such generalizable terms – was of less interest. To me it isn’t. But when I say this openly people try to stifle my point of view.

And of course if you set forth our limited relation to the nonhuman world, where nonhumans are reduced to “instincts” and biology, when you have the typical view about nonhumanity, then yes, you fulfill your own prophecies in your tiny world … but if you take nonhumans as who they are, you see the type of injustice is the real problem: why someone is chosen as a victim, why groups are so excluded and omitted that the ruling majorities of humans just keep oppressing them – by all means > that is the real terror.

Finally: Humans don’t have to be all on the same side when it comes to positions they hold about nonhumanity. It’s sad how humanity always seem to expect homogeneity in mind. #radical #antispeciesism

Palang LY, Gruppe Messel

Fragments on Zoocide I

Yes we can extend our discussion of > forms totalitarianism > to imply an outlook on the ongoing zoocide and ecocide.

Antispeciesist Animal Sociology

Gruppe Messel: Fragments on Zoocide I, PDF

Antispeciesism is not necessarily what speciesism isn’t

People who consider themselves to be antispeciesists mostly don’t see or don’t want to discuss the links between: ecocide, genocide and zoocide. The term and notion of a zoocide does not even exist for most in that correlation in their terminology. Many still hold the same assumptions about animality that base on ethical histories and theories within philosophy, religion, natural sciences that are the very cause of speciesism. Loving nonhuman animals at the same time as quoting biologist data for instance and instead of coining own liberated terms, antispeciesism today does not equal consistent antispeciesist thought so far. It helps with the symptoms but harms at the same time, by cementing nonhumans into a slippery slope concept of freedom and dignity.

Rights claimed only go as far as theories about nonhuman animals are compatible with it. Not breaking with the power of human definition, antispeciesism today misses to acknowledge that nonhuman animals are oppressed in the first place in their very own qualities of who they are, in their identities independent of humancentric frameworks. The denial of their independence happens parallel to them being bereft of their physical freedom and integrity, parallel to being tortured and murdered and physically, objectified to a human will to cause them the ultimate pain … .

Nonanthropocentric perceptions

Society acts as if animal degradation and zoocide were irrelevant, they separate these type of phenomena from questions about human existence and environmental ethics. Such blind spots form part of a lacking ability to speak about the fundamentality of the human-animal relation in constructive terms.

The only way humanity’s large collectives correlate to nonhumans is by assuming the own existential meaning could be placed on top of nonhumanity in arbitrary hierarchies, assuming that animal existence was of lesser meaningfulness in the universe, in the big scope.

However, animal history, past and present, can’t be relegated into these spaces humanity have created … for killing and torture, or equally into the communication structures of demeaning anthropocentrist propaganda, into any of the institutions of speciesism (ranging from zoological gardens to natural science museums), or into cultural murderous-rape habits of consumption:

Nonhuman cultural history is the life of this universe’s animal inhabitants, and not all human individuals would ever lie about this “crossroads truth” in human perception.

Being radical antispe …

A very rough expression of a feeling in regards to radical antispeciesism facing a conflict of being stuck in the middle of biologistic ‘animal lovers’ and nonhumanity-oblivious social justice clusters … :

If social justice work categorically excludes animal bodies, it’s questionable to my point of view. Saying this I don’t mean the type of implication that bases on “mild” speciesist, biologistic views of animality.

I come myself from a ‘mixed race’ background and I have grown up in a country where you would face exclusion if you did not fit into the right image of the virtual “false-ethicity-person” and the right cliché going along with that. It’s not like all foreigners or poc or mixed-race individuals were equally accepted or discriminated against. Much was and is dependent on the social function society ascribes you to take in the place you live.

Seeing a lot of people who come from socially comparable backgrounds such as mine working rightly for social justice, I wonder why the majority misses out on antispeciesist intersectionality though? To my point of view social justice can’t just evade questions of how concepts about animality and nature have been constructed in our societies. How can social justice turn an oblivious eye on zoocide and ecocide, when exactly those are facts that result from the very same foundations on which other oppressive systems thrived, and when those facts are taking place are all around us?

I believe that justice for humanity can hardly base on the oppressive constructs of animality and nature anymore, without being prolonged types of injustice.

We speak about the atrocities of the genocides, and meanwhile we speak about the ecocide, but when are we going to speak of the zoocide that is taking place?

What is it in people that makes zoocide and ecocide possible?

The assumption that only the “homo” is “sapient” (knowing) – as in the taxonomical classification of the Homo sapiens as the crown of creation by Carl von Linné / Carolus Linnaeus – expresses that nonhuman animal knowledge and the nonhuman living world is considered to be of lesser or no (relevant) type of knowledge (from a human perspective).

The human is assumed to be knowing, the nonhuman to be not knowing.

This type of thought enabled argumentations for massmurder on the biologistical basis.

Nonhuman morality relevancy



Altruism is often self-serving. Also caring for one another is like caring for oneself – unless someone is egotistical. The lines drawn in altruism just seem too sharp … Nonhumans morally act more altruistic than we humans do, one seriously has to admit. We believe such factors should be highlighted in the Animal Rights discourse, since making this invisible means making agency and social architectures invisible.
Gruppe Messel, Tierautonomie / Animal Autonomy