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fig.57—wolf whole + human parts = bird dog?


      Must love dogs, but mustn’t understand evolution? “That dog won’t hunt”—? Try this one: a domesticated C. Lupis responds to what linguists call indexicals, or deictic gestures; namely, it will look where you point—where you tell it to look. A wild C. Lupis will not. Pascal’s surmise notwithstanding, dogs represent our second­-most ancient eugenics: we selectively bred for human semiotic responses like <look­-where-person-points> to instrumentalize dogs—to make tools of them. Likewise, the dog’s “somebody home” look is one of human affect, for we put it there. Chattel—with cattle and capital, from Lat. capitalis ‘head’—historically meant livestock, children and human slaves. To turn a creature into a possession, one need only inscribe a mark, a name, a brand; by the same token, we grant or withhold titles, ranks and degrees to exercise control over each other’s rights and obligations—and so, an anthropological question: as we move from topical, physical, bodily inscription to taxonomic, symbolic, cognitive inscription, what—if anything—changes? 

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The inscription of a mark on the body does not simply possess a message value [...] signs command the things they signify, and far from being a mere imitator, the artisan of the signs accomplishes a work that calls to mind the divine creation [...] the three sides of a savage triangle form a territory [...] the triple interdependence of the articulated voice, the graphic hand, and the appreciative eye [...] the action of the voice of alliance, the passion of the body of filiation, the reaction of the eye evaluating the declension of the two.” 1972


 Despite esoteric prose, Deleuze and Guattari precisely pin the act of naming to a violation. How can a name be violent? While calling a tree “oak” may only serve to alienate us from it, calling pig “pork,” cow “beef,” and sheep “mutton” alienates them from their bodies while insulating us from our acts. And so it is for chattel, that ‘class’ as category reifies ‘class’ as caste: consequent to the 1066 Norman­ Conquest, the “low-class” Anglophone terms on the hoof (picg, cu, scep) were penned off from the “high­-class” Francophone terms on the plate (porc, boef, moton). To wit—bon appétit!

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