The following is Foucault’s explanation of the impetus behind his The Order of Things. I offer it as a reminder that categorisation, like the search for definitions, theories or explanations, is a nuanced art.
“The book first rose out of a passage in Bores, out of the laughter, that shattered, as I read the passage, all the familiar landmarks of my thought – our thought, the thought that bears the stamp of our age and our geography – breaking up all the ordered surfaces and all the planes with which we are accustomed to tame the wild profusion of existing things, and continuing long afterwards to disturb and threaten with collapse our age-old distinction between the Same and the Other.
This passage quotes a ‘certain Chinese encyclopaedia’ in which it is written that ‘animals are divided into: (a) belonging to the Emperor, (b) embalmed, c) tame, (d) sucking pigs, (e) sirens, (f) fabulous, (g) stray dogs, (h) included in the present classification, (i) frenzied, (j) innumerable, (k) drawn with a very fine candle hair brush, (l) et cetera, (m) having just broken the water pitcher, (n) that from a long way off look like ‘flies’.
In the wonderment of this taxonomy, the thing we apprehend in one great leap, the thing that, by means of the fable, is demonstrated in the exotic charm of another system of thought, is the limitation of our own …”
We assume taxonomies and typologies create spaces for everything once and once only. Dewey and Linneaus take note. Foucault understands the quandary and John Shotter writes that “as adults n the western world, what we ignore, even in the study of ourselves, is the coming into being of things. We tend to think in terms of finished things, like solid objects. we are not well versed in methods of thinking about unfinished things, things still open to yet further development, fluid things.”
My ontological interests lie here, because the map, as they say, is not the territory. Being, becoming, emergence are the edges of knowing and unknowing. The world of en=mergence loves the present participle.
Today’s ‘animal’ photos offer giraffe spotting in Nairobi, Kenya (and yes, some so far off they looked like flies); the craze for cute animal onesies; our dear departed Golden Retriever, Angel; puppy taking a break from antique selling, Le Marais, Paris; geese conversing, NSW paddock; superb art inMusee du Louvre and up close and personal in Petra, Jordan.