Becoming-Grizzly: Bodily Molecularity and the Animal that Becomes



Werner Herzog’s documentary film Grizzly Man about the life and death of Timothy Treadwell invites us to consider the relation between Deleuze and Guattari’s concept of becoming-animal and phenomenological accounts of lived embodiment. In this paper I begin with a general account of becoming-animal and suggest that this concept is helpfully elucidated by considering the ways in which some aspects of Deleuze and Guattari’s practice can be understood as a rhizomatic phenomenology of our lived experience that in part extends the work of Merleau-Ponty. What emerges between the two philosophies is the possibility of bodily "molecularity" as a mode of lived embodiment. I argue that this molecularity is what enables the potential interpermeation of bodies across their differences, such as occurs in the event of becoming-animal. Alphonso Lingis’s descriptions of our becoming-animal as lived experience serve here as an evocative source for clarifying this proposition further. I conclude by returning to Herzog’s film to consider the risks and consequences of becoming-animal--not only for the human who becomes, but also for the animal who, as Deleuze and Guattari note, is no less transformed.


Deleuze and Guattari; Embodiment; becoming-animal

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