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Tydskrif vir Letterkunde

On-line version ISSN 2309-9070
Print version ISSN 0041-476X

Abstract

BURGER, Bibi. "Already half animal": object oriented ontologies, disability studies and Siegfried (Willem Anker). Tydskr. letterkd. [online]. 2019, vol.56, n.2, pp.28-37. ISSN 2309-9070.  http://dx.doi.org/10.17159/2309-9070/tvl.v.56i2.4423.

Willem Anker's debut novel, Siegfried, deals with the experiences of the eponymous character, who is mentally disabled and whose hands and feet are webbed. In this article, an attempt is made to investigate how the theories of Deleuze and Guattari, as well as object oriented ontologies, can be used to argue that the representation of the character of Siegfried involves a blurring of the boundaries between the human and the nonhuman. The second aim of this article is to establish whether such a blurring is ethically problematic, given the cruel ways in which people considered less human than others are often treated. Where the first aim is concerned, it is argued that Siegfried's interaction with the world challenges hegemonic ideas of human subjectivity, especially ideas of what constitutes normal humanity. In the character of Siegfried traces are found of what can be described, in Deleuze and Guattari's terms, as becomings. These becomings serve as lines of flight from blocked forms of human subjectivity. The boundaries between what is considered human and what is considered nonhuman are therefore indeed blurred. Concerning the second aim, it is argued that the novel can be read as a critique of the ways in which society treats disabled people, and that it can therefore be brought into dialogue with disability studies. The potential for object oriented ontologies to be apolitical (and even unethical, in this respect), is countered in the analysis of the novel by disability studies' activism and social commentary.

Keywords : becominganimal; Deleuze and Guattari; disability studies; object oriented ontologies; Siegfried; Willem Anker.

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