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Animal WorldsFilm, Philosophy and Time$
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Laura McMahon

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781474446389

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: January 2020

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474446389.001.0001

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Leviathan, Meat and the Annihilation of Worlds

Leviathan, Meat and the Annihilation of Worlds

(p.134) Chapter 4 Leviathan, Meat and the Annihilation of Worlds
Animal Worlds

Laura McMahon

Edinburgh University Press

Castaing-Taylor and Paravel’s Leviathan documents the daily activities of a commercial fishing boat, captured on multiple GoPro cameras. Its radically mobile, unstable audiovisual world represents a striking contrast to the long takes and static shots that shape the other films in this book. This chapter argues that Leviathan’s lack of durational attentiveness leads to a closing down – rather than an opening up – of animal worlds. While much attention has been devoted to the film’s sensory, immersive aesthetics, commentary has tended to elide questions of industrialized slaughter. This elision is striking given the celebratory framing of the film as nonanthropocentric by critical commentary and by the filmmakers themselves. Drawing on Shukin, the chapter traces how the ‘carnal traffic’ of Leviathan’s dying animals is simultaneously disavowed and exploited – by the film and its critical reception – as a form of theoretico-aesthetic capital that frames the film’s immersive, visceral vision as a return to a prediscursive ‘real’. In place of the durational attentiveness to animal lives traced elsewhere in the book, Leviathan’s flitting, indiscriminate vision reduces the fish to undifferentiated matter, closing down the possibility of singularity, the film’s deathly, fusional logic refusing what Jean-Luc Nancy calls the ‘spacing’ of the world.

Keywords:   Castaing-Taylor and Paravel, Leviathan, meat, slaughter, labour, fish, Shukin

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