Neither light nor language
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This paper takes the context of responding to the film, Dark Light (2014) by Maria O’Connor, as a provocation to engage with aspects of the work of Jacques Derrida on the animal and the human. Dark Light develops as an essay film that references a series of philosophers, establishing how various philosophical frameworks have questioned the boundary that separates the human animal from its others. However, Dark Light complicates this register of presentation of philosophical positions in three ways. It does so in a disrupting of cinematic conventions with respect to languages and their translations. It also presents an enigmatic visual score whose resonance with a voice-track is allusive and open. Thirdly, it grounds its ethics on a question of sexual difference, as if sexual difference primordially opens our concerns with animal ethics. Derrida’s The Beast and the Sovereign, precisely an encounter with philosophers concerning the separation of the human and the animal, itself opens with a tracing of sexual difference. The paper initially engages two tropes developed by Derrida, one concerning anthropos as a mediating of the divine and the bestial. The other concerns a differentiation between the notions of feigning and feigning one’s feign, as if this difference is that which separates the animal and the human. The paper aims to ask how one encounters Dark Light as phenomenon, how it might be considered otherwise than as a reification, a thing or object of encounter, as de-vivified representation. Perhaps, obscurely, we ask how life living becomes the radical agency of the film’s encounter.