The killing of San Francisco resident Diane Whipple in front of her Pacific Heights apartment door in San Francisco in 2001 by Presa Canario dogs provides a framework in this article for identifying a “carnivorous virility” in the merging of man and dog. Dogs, according to Donna Haraway, are “fleshly material-semiotic presences”: not a metaphor, a substitute or surrogate, and at the same time not the name of a discrete material otherness (what sometimes gets called nature). Their designation as both material and semiotic suggests a way to think about this case as a meaningful instance of transspecies becoming. Thus the virile figure, in this story, is a hybrid species, a cynanthrope. Haunted by a long genealogy of dog-human merger and by a history of colonial, racial, and species encounters, the humans and dogs in this story join forces in a becoming that current humanist frameworks are unable to contain. If we are, finally, as Haraway asserts, partners (with dogs) in a crime of evolution, it is not a crime prosecutable through the assignment of blame to the sovereign subject conceived in humanist terms. Newer ways to think agency, subjectivity, and social collectivity will need to be forged for the evolution of this social, but not altogether human, species-being.
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Carla Freccero; Carnivorous Virility; or, Becoming-Dog. Social Text 1 March 2011; 29 (1 (106)): 177–195. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/01642472-1210311
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