Thursday, September 15, 2022

Baptist Morizot


There are philosophers who are also doctors, lawyers, and artists. Their philosophies are, one supposes, enriched by their side-vocations. Baptist Morizot is a French philosopher who is also an ethologist – the son of a veterinarian, he has studied both Spinoza and the ways of the wolf. Liberation summed up his work as a “philosopher-tracker” here:

“Baptiste Morizot, maître de conférences in philosophy at the University of 'Aix-Marseille, consecrates his work on relations between the human and living beings. WIth one peculiarity : he goes out when possible to do field work, as a “tracker philosopher”. In his book, On the Animal track, he recounts how, in following the traces left by the bears in Yellowstone, the wolves in Provence, the snow leopards of Kirghizistan or ever the earthworms in our apartment compost piles, he researches the quality of attention towards others that we have lost.”

This is a man who picks up where the late great Loren Eisley left off – but instead of a democratic humanism that separates the human against the “animal”, he wants to regain the hyphen – the human-animal. It is this which is “lost” – a loaded term.  Nostalgia will not shield us from the current drastic heating up of the earth, as Morizot knows. We know, from archaeology, that the human presence in a given territory coincided with the decline or extinction of “competitor” species. Think of the poor neandrethal! And the plenitude depicted on the cave walls.

However, Morizot’s great theme – the crisis in our sensibility, or what I would call the crisis  in the submerging of the human limit, the limit that once defined what we could do on this planet – is a great issue, both socially and philosophically. Last night, as with all nights, now, in Paris (until deep winter), I was bothered by mosquitos. Ten years ago, I do not remember such mosquitos. But now, they are everywhere, in the South of France – the tiger mosquito – and the North of France, to an extent unknown, as far as I can tell, one hundred years ago. The mosquito line in Europe used to begin in Rome, Which is not to say that mosquitos were unknown North of the line, but rather, they were not included among the natural vices – the lice, the fleas, the flies – that the Northern European worried about.

This is from Le Monde:

« The spectacular territorial expansion of the tiger mosquito has aroused growing anxiety. Originally from the forests of Southeast Asia, it has colonized, in the space of about twenty years, all the other continents except Antarctica. It is recognized by scientists today as one of the most invasive species in the world.

The maritime commerce in rubber tires and bamboo from Asia and the United States has played a determining rôle as the tiger mosquito was introduced into new continents, while trucks participated in its interregional distribution.”

The colonized colonize back – thus continuing the Columbian transfer, which once brought African mosquitos to the Caribbean and yellow fever to the Veracruz and New Orleans. Morizot laments the infantilization of our sense of the animal world – the side-by-side construction of factory hog farms and Peppa Pig. This, he thinks, has affected our dream-time and delayed our recognition (something that glimmers out from cave paintings) of our community with living things. I think he is right in as much as the collective sensibility is where things happen – where a certain degree of alienation (which Marx, in the German Ideology, defines in terms of bearability) becomes unbearable, for reasons no powerful muckety muck, policy dweeb or executive nudger will understand.

We are getting closer…


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