ABSTRACT

This paper attempts to propose the idea of “animal ghosts,” a collocation Jacques Derrida might have the chance to come up with, by bridging two significant topoi in his later philosophy—l’animot and spectral haunting—to rethink his critique of human-animal binarism through his view on ghosts and spectrality, and to conceive of a notion of haunting that is less anthropocentric. Beginning with an examination of the potential impropriety of collocating “animal” and “ghosts,” this paper traces Derrida’s review of the philosophical discourses that have together shaped the conceptual division between “the human” and “the animal,” and then, in the course of this tracing, has its attention focused on the chimerical term animot. This hybrid coinage problematizes the general concept of “animal” in the singular form by revealing a “crypt” within humanity in which abuse and violence against animals have been buried and foreclosed. Three allosemes—the chimerical, the grotesque, and the cryptic—serve as conceptual knots that associate the many-in-oneness of “the animal,” the etymological root of the grotesque as “of the cave,” and Abraham and Torok’s metapsychology of the crypt and intersubjective phantoms. Finally, following a supplement of selected illustrations of possible animal ghosts in art and literature, the paper concludes with an ethical speculation that, as the experience of haunting precedes manifest apparitions, animals can haunt even without having faces or souls.

KEYWORDS: soul, crypt, hauntology, Jacques Derrida, l’animot