Monday, February 09, 2009


In his work on mimicry, Callois makes it clear that an insect's ability to camouflage itself does not have a survival value-- it does not protect the creature from attack or death, and in fact may leave it open to even more hideous and unimaginable forms of death. He cites the case of a caterpillar cut in half by pruning shears, or the insect devoured by a member of its own species who mistakes it for a leaf...

Callois introduced a wanton dimension to his explanation of such features of animal existence. Camouflage, the capacity to imitate one's habitat or surroundings, far from performing an adaptive function, witnesses the captivation of a creature by its representations of and as space, its displacement from the center, from a "consciousness" of its place (in its body, located in space) to the perspective of another. The mimicking insect lives its camouflaged existence as not quite itself, as another.

-- Elizabeth Grosz, Animal Sex: Libido as Desire and Death

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