As I anticipated would be the case yesterday evening, I finished reading The Lives of Animals quite early in the day today. While I do not expect to make more than a passing reference to the slim volume in my Elizabeth Costello chapter, I did want to read the book and I am glad that I did so. Prior to beginning my dissertation on Coetzee, I had not heard of the Tanner Lecture series but, if The Lives of Animals is any indication of the symposium's capacity to spark intelligent cross-disciplinary discourse, I'm all for it. What I really enjoyed about the essays contained in the book is their ability to provoke reflection without resorting to the sort of hyper-specialized argot so common in academic publishing. True, specialists in a particular field might prefer deeper, more nuanced discussions of a given issue than what their discipline's representative contributes to the book, but he or she will no doubt also benefit tremendously from the less academically rigorous language employed by those writers speaking from other scholarly niches. This is not to say, of course, that The Lives of Animals is a dumbed-down version of academic writing but that it is, rather, an attempt to bridge disciplinary rifts by dispensing with unnecessary jargon and finding common ground. Indeed, the book is so successful at sparking interdisciplinary discussion that it has spawned at least two full-length works of Wittgensteinian philosophy (most recently Stephan Mulhall's The Wounded Animal) that seek to address the many important considerations the essays in The Lives of Animals brings to light.
For tomorrow: Read or try to get back into the swing of writing.