I’m reading Donna Haraway’s When Species Meet with a friend. We had a great discussion of the first chapter over breakfast this morning. The book is a solid choice for us to read because she’s a science-y person, and a dog person and I’m a Haraway person, so it’s a nice “collision” of our interests. I’m enjoying the book. The first chapter (and it appears to be true for the rest of the book) is almost light reading compared to Haraway’s other work. It’s still her typical methodology of hauling in everything and the kitchen sink into a cat’s cradle analysis of some interesting point of departure, in this case dog food, or a picture of a tree stump that resembles a dog, etc. And it’s still her lovely writing, with beautiful sentences:
Whom and what do I touch when I touch my dog? … My premise is that touch ramifies and shapes accountability. Accountability, caring for, being affected, and entering into responsibility are not ethical abstractions; these mundane, prosaic things are the result of having truck with each other. Touch does not make one small; it peppers its partners with attachment sites for world making. Touch, regard, looking back, becoming with — all these make us repsonsible in unpredictable ways for which worlds take shape. In touch and regard, partners willy nilly are the miscegenous mud that infuses our bodies with all that brought that contact into being. Touch and regard have consequences. (35-36)
This is a great passage to represent what she’s doing in this book. It shows the casual sort of writing style that still has many nuances and layers to it. For instance, she gives a long footnote detailing the etymology of truck. She uses the word miscegenous (which is not in my OED), which obviously comes from “mixed genus,” which is so very Haraway with its multiple connotations. The passage is all about accountability and consequences, which is her main ethical agenda. And what do we touch when we touch something? What a profound question.