"Muscled Presence" : Douglas Livingstone's poem "Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Black Snake"
Douglas Livingstone's poem "Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Black Snake" is an artwork which addresses precisely these questions, seeking a manner of portraying the snake which is neither grossly appropriative nor wholly detached, neither ethically empty nor preachy. In its multi-angled structure, Livingstone attempts aesthetically "to establish and embellish ... a contact zone with the nonhuman animals who share our world with us, but accepting also that there exist considerable venues on either side of this contact zone that are, on the one hand, only human, and on the other hand, only nonhuman" (Malamud 2003, 45). Even in his more formally scientific work, Livingstone argues for the inevitability of such limits to knowledge, and for the value of the imagination in addressing them.
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Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: May 1, 2007