Antennae on Tom Tyler's Ciferae

By Eric C. Brown

tyler_ciferaeTom Tyler’s trenchant study of anthropocentric and philosophical discourse, part of Cary Wolfe’s impressive “Posthumanities” series, is an important addition to the literature on human knowledge and epistemology, approached here through philosophy’s unsteady preoccupation with non-human animals. The book itself is something of a marvel—modeled on the medieval bestiary, it comes complete with ornamental capitals, eclectic marginal glosses, and around the border of the pages an illustrated menagerie of animal “indices”—many drawn from these earlier bestiaries. There are in fact 101 of these accompanying figures, each part of a running paratextual commentary on the myriad animals cited throughout the text, so that the book doubles as a kind of illuminated encyclopedia.

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