This essay explores three recent celebrated novels that are concerned with the consumption of meat: Joseph D’Lacey’s Meat, J. M. Coetzee’s Elizabeth Costello, and Han Kang’s The Vegetarian. The essay develops the critical terms xenoflesh, zoē poetics, and carnojectivity in order to further understanding of these novels and their wider bearing on human-animal relations. Building from the classical distinction between bios and zoē (political and “bare life”) described by Giorgio Agamben, this essay theorizes an occluded flesh that is violently excluded from discourse: xenoflesh. Industrial farming and its product, meat, is one of the most fundamental ways of enforcing this division of the flesh across modernity. As my essay explores, D’Lacey’s, Coetzee’s, and Han’s novels forge a new zoē poetics: an ethical, speculative, and ecological aesthetics that investigates how the meat is one of the most deeply inscribed modes of silencing the uncanny call of xenoflesh.
Xenoflesh: A Zoēpoetics of Meat
Simon Ryle is associate professor of literature at the University of Split, Croatia. He has published recently or has forthcoming work on Deleuze and Shakespeare, the Greek genealogy of Anthropocene waste, and oil capitalism horror fiction.
Simon Ryle; Xenoflesh: A Zoēpoetics of Meat. boundary 2 1 November 2020; 47 (4): 63–99. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/01903659-8677839
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