Have library access?


As Donna Haraway suggests in When Species Meet, there can be many forms of "becoming with" nonhuman animals; some include killing them. The idea of trying to live together with species such as rats challenges our imaginations when compared with charismatic megafauna more likely to be the subjects of conservation campaigns. This article focuses on rats in relation to both a personal narrative about them invading the author's cabin and examples from literature, particularly T. Coraghessan Boyle's "Thirteen Hundred Rats" (2008). What is central for the author is the question of how to live together with rats: how can we translate theories and concepts from fields such as multispecies studies and ecocriticism into everyday life? While various forms of life must die to sustain us, whether they are mammals or fish or plants, we can also try to imagine other ways of being in the world, animal ways of being in the world, aiming to make our relationships with animals and environments more sustainable and grounded in symbiotic flourishing. But what about rats running across the living-room floor and destroying insulation inside the walls? Building upon recent work in biopolitics and multispecies studies, this article brings particular attention to the concept of idiorrhythmy as it was developed by Roland Barthes in a series of late lectures at the Collège de France. Idiorrhythmy can be seen as an ideal model for living together, a form of community in which individuals are not constrained by others because the rhythm of their interactions allows them to keep enough distance. Literary texts can illustrate not only this kind of ideal, but also what makes it fall apart. In the end, the author asks, how can this concept help us to think differently about various ways of living together with rats?


Agamben, Giorgio. Homo Sacer: Sovereign Power and Bare Life. Translated by Daniel Heller-Roazen, Standford UP, 1998.
Agamben, Giorgio. The Open: Man and Animal. Translated by Kevin Attell, Standford UP, 2004.
Barad, Karen. Meeting the Universe Halfway: Quantum Physics and the Entanglement of Matter and Meaning. Duke UP, 2006.
Barthes, Roland. How to Live Together: Novelistic Simulations of Some Everyday Spaces. Translated by Kate Briggs, Columbia UP, 2013.
Boyle, T. Coraghessan. “Thirteen Hundred Rats.” The New Yorker, 30 June 2008, www.newyorker.com/magazine/2008/07/07/thirteen-hundred-rats