Valuing Dogs Encounters

In considering the value of encounters, why not start with prisons, since we have been touring other large industries in lively capital, and this one is immense? There are many places we might go—dogs terrorizing detainees in Iraq, for example, where the encounters that shaped enemies, torturers, and attack dogs made use of the social meanings of all the

"partners" to produce definite value in lively capital. International human rights apparatuses (and where were the animal rights outcries on this one?); franchised interrogation functions; and the moral, psychological, and financial economies of contemporary imperialist wars: who could deny that all these are at the heart of enterprise and investment? Or we could travel to the high-security, high-technology, soul-destroying prison in California's Pelican Bay to track the attack-dog production, dog-fighting culture, and Aryan gang operations run from the prison, resulting in the dog-mauling death of a young woman in her apartment hallway in San Francisco and an outcry for exclusion of dogs from public space in general (but not from apartment hallways).29

All of these prison dog-human encounters depend on the face-to-face meeting of living, meaning-generating beings across species; that is the encounters' power to terrorize and to reach into the core of all the partners to produce both dogs condemned to euthanasia when their usefulness is ended and people fit to carry on the profitable enterprise of the prison-industrial complex, as inmates, lawyers, and guards. However, I want to think about coshaping dog-human encounters in another prison context, one that makes me pay a different kind of attention to coming face-to-face across species and so to encounter value. Therefore, let's go to Animal Planet television again, this time to watch Cell Dogs.30 If dogs became technologies and patients in the world of hemophilia, then they have become therapists, companions, students, and inmates in the world of prison cells. It's all in the job description.31

Animal Planet focuses each week on a different prison work project that has reforming prisoners teaching reforming pooches their manners in order to place them in various occupations outside the prison. The narrative and visual semiotics are fascinating. First, the entering dogs have to be made into inmates in need of pedagogy if they are to have productive lives outside. Fast frame cuts have cell doors clanging behind the dogs, each of whom is then assigned to one prisoner-apprentice teacher, to live in the same cell with this individual human inmate for the duration of his or her joint subject-transforming relationship. Dog trainers teach the prisoners to teach the dogs basic obedience for placement as family member house pets and sometimes higher-order skills for placement as assistance dogs or therapy dogs. The screen shows the incarcerated dogs preparing for life outside by becoming willing, active, achieving obedience subjects. The pooches are obviously surrogates and models for the prisoners in the very act of becoming the prisoners' students and cell mates.

The technologies of animal training are crucial to the cell dog programs. These technologies include the postbehaviorist discourses and the equipment of so-called positive training methods (not unlike many of the pedagogies in practice in contemporary schools and child-counseling centers); some older technologies from the military-style, Koehler training methods based on frank coercion and punishment; and the apparatuses and bodily and mental habits crucial to making family members and happy roommates in close quarters. Another sense of technology is operating here too: in their personal bodies themselves, the dogs and people are freedom-making technologies for each other. They are each other's machine tools for making other selves. Face-to-face encounter is how those machines grind souls with new tolerance limits.

The canines must be modern subjects in many senses for the cell dog program to work. The dogs both require and model nonviolent, nonoptional, and finally self-rewarding discipline from legitimate authority. Both dogs and people model nonviolent, nonoptional, and self-rewarding obedience to an authority that each must earn in relation to the other. That is the route to freedom and work outside—and to survival. That death awaits the failed dog is a leitmotif in many of the programs, and the lesson for their teachers is not subtle. The traffic between performing and modeling is thick for both the humans and the dogs, who are teachers and students, docile bodies and open souls to each other. Life and death are the stakes in the prison-industrial complex. Prison reform discourse has never been more transparent. Arbeit macht frei.

Leaving the prison through the mutual self-transformation of dogs and people is the nonstop theme. The humans must stay behind to finish their sentences (some are lifers); nonetheless, when their dogs are successful canine citizen-workers outside, the human inmates leave jail in two senses. First, through their dog students, the convicts give themselves to another human person, to someone free, someone outside, and so they taste freedom and self-respect both by proxy and in their substantial presence in the flesh of both dog and human being. Second, they demonstrate their own reformed status as obedient, working subjects who can be trusted with freedom in a society divided into the outside and the inside. Part of the proof of worthiness is the human prisoners' act of surrendering, for the benefit of another, the companion and cell mate with whom they have lived for weeks or months in the only physically intimate, touching, face-to-face relationship they are allowed. The graduation scenes, which involve the human inmates sacrificing themselves by giving their intimate companions to another to achieve a better life for both, are always intensely emotional. I dare you to be cynical, even if all the knives of critical discourse are in your hands. Maybe it's not all "arbeit macht frei" here, but something more like "touch makes possible." Since I can't be outside ideology, I'll take that one, face-to-face and eyes open. The rhetoric that connects categories of the oppressed in these programs is not subtle (prisoners, animals, the disabled, women in jail, black men, strays, etc.); all belong to categories that discursively need much more than remedial training. However, these projects hold potential for much more promising entanglements that question the terms of these tropes and the conditions of those who must live them.

Perhaps it would be possible to rethink and retool cell dogs to work their magic to build subjects for a world not so fiercely divided into outside and inside. Marx understood the analysis of the commodity form into exchange value and use value to be a practice crucial to freedom projects. Maybe if we take seriously encounter value as the underanalyzed axis of lively capital and its "biotechnologies in circulation"—in the form of commodities, consumers, models, technologies, workers, kin, and knowl-edges—we can see how something more than the reproduction of the same and its deadly logics-in-the-flesh of exploitation might be going on in what I call "making companions."

In Making Parents: The Ontological Choreography of Reproductive Technologies, Charis Thompson compares and contrasts capitalist production with what she calls a "biomedical mode of reproduction," which I think of as core to the regime of lively capital. Thompson is studying the making of parents and children through the subject- and object-making technologies of biomedically assisted reproduction, a very lively area of contemporary investments of bodily, narratival, desiring, moral, epistemo-logical, institutional, and financial kinds. She is acutely alert to the classical processes of production, investment, commodification, and so on, in contemporary human-assisted reproduction practices in the United States. But she is adamant that the end of the practices makes a difference; that is, the whole point is to make parents by making living babies. Capital, volumes 1-3, did not cover that topic. Biocapital, volume 1, must do so.

In two columns, Thompson sets out the following lists, which I borrow, abbreviate, and abuse:32

Production Reproduction

Alienated from one's labor Alienated from one's body parts

Capital accumulated Capital promissory

Efficiency/productivity Success/reproductivity

Life course finite and descent Loss of finitude/linearity in life linear course and descent

Essentialism of natural kinds/social Strategic naturalization/ construction of social kinds socialization of all kinds

In practice, parents-in-the-making selectively seek out, endure, elaborate, and narrate various objectifications and commodifications of their body parts. Women do this much more than men do because of the fleshly realities of assisted conception and gestation. Many sorts of social stratification and injustice are in play, but they are often not of the kinds found by those seeking their fix of outrage whenever they smell the commodifica-tion of humans or part humans. Properly assigned, living babies make living parents content with their objectifications. Other actors in this mode of reproduction may be made invisible in order to ensure their status as nonkin and as reproductively impotent. The lure of kin making is the name of this promissory game of reproduction.

I am interested in these matters when the kin-making beings are not all human and literal children or parents are not the issue. Companion species are the issue. They are the promise, the process, and the product. These matters are mundane, and this chapter has been replete with examples. Add to those many more proliferations of naturalsocial relationalities in companion-species worlds linking humans and animals in myriad ways in the regime of lively capital. None of this is innocent, bloodless, or unfit for serious critical investigation. But none of it can be approached if the fleshly historical reality of face-to-face, body-to-body subject making across species is denied or forgotten in the humanist doctrine that holds only humans to be true subjects with real histories. But what does subject or history mean when the rules are changed like this? We do not get very far with the categories generally used by animal rights discourses, in which animals end up permanent dependents ("lesser humans"), utterly natural ("nonhuman"), or exactly the same ("humans in fur suits").

The categories for subjects are part of the problem. I have stressed kin making and family membership but rejected all the names of human kin for these dogs, especially the name "children." I have stressed dogs as workers and commodities but rejected the analogies of wage labor, slavery, dependent ward, and nonliving property. I have insisted that dogs are made to be models and technologies, patients and reformers, consumers and breedwealth, but I am needy for ways to specify these matters in nonhumanist terms in which specific difference is at least as crucial as continuities and similarities across kinds.

Biocapital, volume i, cannot be written just with dogs and people. I face up to my disappointment in this sad fact by rejoicing in the work of my fellow animal (and other critter) studies and lively capital analysts across lifeworlds and disciplines.33 Most of all, I am convinced that actual encounters are what make beings; this is the ontological choreography that tells me about value-added dogs in the lifeworlds of biocapital.

"McTrap." Copyright Dan Piraro, 2004. Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.

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