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Reflections on Totemism Tomorrow: Horse Breeds and Breeding
in the United States and France

John Borneman

In 1984 and 1985, during my third year of graduate study, I wrote the article on Race and Breed to fulfill the requirement called the "Specials Paper" in order to advance to Ph.D. candidacy in anthropology at Harvard. Horses and horse breeds were unrelated topically to my actual Ph.D. research, which was to be on kinship and nation building in Germany, but I wanted to analyze something with which I was already familiar, experientially, unlike the mere textual knowledge I had of Germany. And I was already familiar with totemism – the relation of humans to animals and plants – for I had grown up on a dairy farm, and I had worked for eight years as an equestrian (dressage and combined training riding instructor) between the completion of my bachelor's degree and entrance into the Ph.D. program at Harvard. (Professors would come up to me and introduce themselves and say, "So I hear you write.") At the time, I was enthused about semiotics and hermeneutics, but I also wanted to understand the motivation of the sign, and the politics and perlocutionary effects of semiosis. My explicit theoretical goal was to understand the historical relation of the state to the nation – in the United States, Germany, and France – as embodied in changes in cultural categories and the symbolic work they do in everyday life. Hence, on one level, it is an article about the ideological motivation of the symbolization of breed and race in three places.

On another level the article on horse breeds is about comparison. Only through comparison could I clarify an outstanding difference that had puzzled me ever since my first trip to Europe in 1973: Americans use a multitude of standards in defining their light horse breeds whereas Europeans rely on a single performance standard. My studies in anthropology had introduced me to the debates on totemism, a mode of classification employed to relate animal and human groupings in so-called primitive societies, but had not been applied ethnographically to any particular case of the relation of animals to Western classificatory devices of race and ethnicity. I knew that breed and species classification was historical and changing, but the prevailing synchronic analyses of totemism steered me toward a fairly uncritical functionalist explanation. And, most important for me, while breeding and ethnic identification are experienced as innocuous and often naturalized, they are in fact highly political acts, "the creation, in our image, of a world of differentiated animal species." Their effect is that of a second order language, to validate systems of class, race, and ethnic differentiation. To address the question critically, I needed comparison, and comparison not of fixed national cultures that generate or reproduce themselves but of fluid and interactive units over time. I had, first, to understand how totemic classification of people and horses in Germany and France differs in the United States, and second, to trace both the historical derivation of national categories of breed and race and the ideological motivation of these categories as signs of difference.

With the benefit and clarity of hindsight, I can state this theoretically: the article compares at three levels: categories of breed and race, national societies, and state form. It compares in three places: the United States, Germany, and France. And it compares not things but relations of difference in one order to relations of difference in another. If nation and state were to be anthropological categories of analysis, I should be able to see their significance in relation to how people employ something so basic as totemic operations – establishing correspondences between people and animals – in Europe and America. If I were able to maintain the fluidity of all three units, then I might be able to understand their formation and interaction as singular yet translatable symbolic focus within world historical processes.

In the course of my research, I quickly realized that there is no simple evolutionary sequence in the development of breeds, yet as symbolic forms in any particular social formation they tend to stabilize over time. This stabilization is merely of a symbolic form, however, and not of a whole or culture. Moreover, the stabilization of form, such as in Anglo-Saxon ethnicity or in a Quarter Horse, appeared necessary for processes of differentiation at the level of state and nation. This differentiation is part of a formal operation, motivated partly by disidentifying with either some exteriorized other or an outside – what structuralism, in its Levi-Straussian version, identified as a key determinant of human thought. I traced this differentiation process comparatively for horse breeds, people classification, nation building, and state formation, each unit or level of difference generating its own logic yet dependent on the other levels, and on comparison and translatability, for definition.[1]

I will devote the rest of this essay not to talking about "totemisme aujord'hui" but "totemism tomorrow," and thus sustain the ethnographic and theoretical surprise about the symbolic forms of horse breeding that arrested me in the first place. For the sake of space, I will limit myself to examples from the United States and France.

Technical Replication Replaces the Sex Act

In the nearly two decades since I wrote the article, there have been some dramatic changes in the field of breeding and training. The European "warm bloods" now being produced are far superior athletes – larger, more powerful, more balanced – to the ones I had ridden professionally. What used to take eight to ten years to train for in dressage and performance now often appears reachable within four to six. Much of this is due to advances in breeding, including contributions from new reproductive technologies – artificial insemination, in vitro fertilization, genetic planning, egg transplants, and surrogate motherhood, for example. These are also forcing changes in the language and practices of sex and breeding. But thus far, the relation between human sex and animal breeding – the totemic operation – has changed much more in the United States than in France.

Language and metaphor might index some of these changes. Consider some of the "traditional" ways of talking about procreation and reproduction for horses and people. In English, German, and French, people "make love" (Liebe machen, faire l'amour), they "fuck" (ficken, baiser), they engage in "coitus" (Koitus, coit)[2] or in a "sex act" (Sexakt) or have "sexual intercourse" (Geschlechtsverkehr treiben, rapport sexuel), and they "come" (kommen, jouir). But only in English and German do people "have sex" (Sex machen).

If we take up the "scientific" and supposedly neutral language of evolutionary biology, English and German terms "to mate" (balzen) or to engage in "mate choice" (Balzverhalten), referring to people or horses, also have no direct French equivalents. In French, humans "partner" (partenaire) and engage in "partner choice" (choix de partenaire), and more recently can also have a sex partner (partenaire sexuel) – a term borrowed from English. Animals, by contrast, engage in coupling (accouplement) – a term used for people only as an insult, especially about "primitives," nonwhites, or "mental retards." Finally, some terms in all three languages are largely reserved for non-human animals: "breeding" (Deckakt, reproduction), "to breed" (züchten, la saillie de la jument or la monte) or "to inseminate" (besamen).

In sum, French terminology maintains a more radical divide between horse breeding and human sex than does German or English. Historically, all three languages developed equine terminology in the Middle Ages with respect to practices of chivalry, and later with cavalry warfare. And French, like English and German, still borrows many of the human terms of romance and applies them to horses, such as ascribing "gentleman" status to well-behaved stallions, or claiming a stud likes/loves a mare (il l'aime bien) or has a soft spot for some mares (un faible), usually gray ones. But in France, the tradition of the "noble" horse is a stronger mark of distinction, indexing both a glorious past of absolutist kings and Napoleon's victories and a bourgeois project of professionalization, including the control over highly detailed, specialized, and esoteric equine knowledge not used in everyday situations. Hence the distinction between humans and animals that is being effaced in the United States and Germany is more resistant to reworking in France, as horses stand in an indexical relationship to French nobility. They are much more than lowly pets.

With respect to language, the simple point I want to make is that the process of breeding/sex is expressed through metaphors that often try to differentiate (or to establish similarities) in language between horses and humans. But these differences have been unsettled by the introduction of new reproductive technologies used for both humans and horses, which presents the problem of putting them into language designed to maintain or bridge other differences. Especially in the United States, without a stable way of analogizing between human and animal species, the totemic operation of establishing metaphorical equivalences appears less relevant. For example, the practice of "breeding in hand," also called "natural breeding" (natürlicher Deckakt), where the stallion mounts the mare either freely in a field (monte en liberte) or on a lead rope (monte en main) in an environment controlled by handlers, has in many places dramatically changed or been replaced (except for the least valuable breeds), by practices associated with "artificial insemination (AI)" (künstliche Besamung). AI involves masturbatory ejaculation, capture of the semen, and insertion of a tube of frozen, cold, or warm semen into the mare. AI is not talked about this way; technological terms are preferred over collo­quial. All of these terms in the last sentence are in fact mine. Genital sex and its imagining is no longer necessarily a part of the process of repro­duction. Coitus with the opposite sex is replaced by temporally separate processes of ejaculation and insemination. The orgasm is subordinated absolutely to external conditions. A model of species replication is replac­ing species reproduction.

The highly erotic scenes of light horse breeding that I remember from my childhood are largely a thing of the past. I do not think these scenes are just a matter of my memory, for the fact that most breeders vehemently deny the eroticism while joking about sexual excitation (and sometimes themselves having sex after) suggests to me classic repression. The mare "in heat" will still be teased until she is in a frenzy, squealing and squirting wildly, eager to be mounted. The stallion will still be encouraged to think of his own pleasure in penetrating and dominating the mare. But now the mare's hind legs are hobbled to prevent her from kicking not the stud but the semen-handler as he enters her with his rubber-gloved arm, frozen semen tube in hand. Now the stallion's huge penis will no longer be guided by a careful stud-handler to enter a live mare but into a foam-padded wooden stockhorse dummy covered in horse hide. Gone is the speculation about whether the foal will be better if the mare and stallion are a "love match," or the mare is truly "ready to mate," or whether the stallion loses his erection because the handler touched the penis, or touched it too soon, or the mare's tail wasn't held properly to the side. Gone (I am speaking only of warm bloods here) are the stereotypes, largely projections, to which American breeders appeal for legitimation of their own practices: free range breeding as among the elegant French, disciplined and techni­cally controlled breeding as in Germany. We still have identification with the animal as the love-object (in France they still eat horses), but it is no longer an identification with the sex act. We might call it a return to poly­morphous perversity. The sex act is replaced by processes of technical replication, which are similar everywhere, in France, Germany, and the United States.

Replication, however, can be imagined for different purposes. To state the difference starkly: in France, the purpose is a strict, single performance standard arising out of a scientific and bourgeois understanding of the horse; in the United States, multiple performance standards are subordi­nated to fetishized differences that index class and race.

Soring and the "Big Lick": Conformation and the Tennessee Walking Horse

In 1984, I identified function and temperament, conformation, and color, as three breed criteria that are symbolically elaborated in order to differentiate horses. In the interim, the criterion that has taken on the most specifically American gestalt is "conformation"– basically, how the horse looks. In photos from advertisements in trade journals back in 1983, we can see fetishization of the Arabian head is distinguished by contrast with the Quarter Horse rear-end-both index conformational qualities typical of the respective breeds. U.S. American identification with appearance and beauty may be a constant cultural theme, but since the mid-197os there has been an explosion of interest in health and beauty and diet regimes, extending through all ages, ethnicities, races, and economic classes, manifested in activities such as weight lifting, aerobics, dieting and dietary supplements, the use of steroids and muscle enhancers, and reconstructive surgery. This remaking of the body into a more "natural beauty" has its direct counterparts in the horse world. Let me elaborate another American light horse breed that I mentioned only in passing before: the Tennessee Walking Horse.

Walking Horses claim descent from Thoroughbreds, Standardbreds, Morgans, and American Saddlebreds, with early contributions from Canadian and Narragansett Pacers. There are currently 360,000 registered Tennessee Walking Horses in the United States, and about 10 percent go to horse shows. They are primarily known for a special gliding gait, perfected for plantation owners and village doctors in early nineteenth-century Tennessee, and elsewhere in the old South. With this glide (instead of trot, walk, or gallop), one could ride for hours without fatigue, for either horse or rider. This gait is called the "running walk": the hind feet move in long flat strides while the front feet step high and the head nods in time. It is, needless to say, an impure gait, yet selective breeding has made it inheritable.

Breeders and trainers who show these horses in competitions win by exaggerating the movement of the running walk. Eighty to ninety percent of these trainers, according to most critical observers, resort to a practice called "soring." Several days before any show, trainers apply to the front legs chemical irritants, including kerosene, diesel oil, crotonaldehyde, and mustard oil (a relative of the poison gas used in World War I). The legs are left to "cook" under plastic wraps and bandages. Or, alternately, farriers over-trim the hooves or add thick pads to the shoes to raise the heels, or trainers put circular chains on the horses' ankle, the combined effect being that with every step the front feet hurt on impact with the ground.

Soring causes the horses to lower their hindquarters and snap their front feet briskly and hold them in the air longer and higher than they normally would. Known as the "Big Lick," this movement is an exaggerated parody of the breed's "natural" way of moving, but practically impossible to achieve without the use of pain. It is considered the ultimate in mainstream Walking Horse competition.

In the summer of 1999, the veterinarian Dr. Andrew Lang, who tends to the health of the ASPCA's shelter animals and heads up an Equine Advisory Committee in Tennessee, spent three days attending shows and visiting training barns. "Some horses," he wrote in his report, "appeared to be struggling just to make it around the ring .... When at last the horses were lined up along the rail for judgment, several appeared distressed, glistening with sweat, their eyes wide and their nostrils flaring as they caught their breath."

Dr. Lang asked a trainer if he engaged in soring. "'No,' he replied. Seconds later, he confessed. One night, years ago, he applied the caustic chemicals, wrapped his horse's front legs in plastic and bandages, and went to bed. Unable to sleep, he returned to the stable in the middle of the night, undid his handiwork and washed his horse's legs. 'Horses,' he said with tender conviction, 'are God's gift.'" To my knowledge, no German or French trainer would resort to God to justify limits on the use of torture to increase performance. To be sure, some Europeans also engage in abusive practices to increase the performance of their warm bloods, especially in the lucrative field of show jumping, but they do so clearly in the name of science or profit or national esteem. The peculiar U.S. American ideology involves the reintroduction of God, 0r religion, as a counterweight to the language of profit, profit earned through the production of "beauty."

Soring itself has a history, very much connected to the growth of a glamour industry in the United States. The official breed registry, later called the Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders and Exhibitors Association, was formed in 1935. Four years later, in 1939, the breed competed for the first time at New York City's Madison Square Garden, in what is called the National Walking Horse Celebration. With that national exposure, their popularity exploded, and the value of top horses rose as much as tenfold.

A recession in the 1950s reduced demand, and prices took a dive.  This is when soring entered. Many say it was an accidental discovery: a horse with a sore foot lifted its foot much higher and quicker, producing a flashier running walk. Soon, trainers began treating both front feet for pain accentuating rather than alleviating it – and voilà, the result was the Big Lick! In the 1960s, the situation had deteriorated to the point where horses' feet could be seen bleeding in the show ring. In 1970, the state entered: Congress passed the Horse Protection Act, which outlawed soring. Enforcement was entrusted to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), but little money was allocated for this purpose. In 1976, in a wave of deregulation legislation, Congress allowed industry organizations certified by the USDA to train their own lay inspectors. Still underfunded, these inspectors attend only about 50 out of 600 shows a year. In 1999, the USDA and industry and humane groups developed a new operating plan intended to improve enforcement-clarifying procedures and increasing penalties. At the same time, the industry was given a larger role in enforcement.

Meanwhile, breeders and trainers have improved soring techniques and made them harder to detect, giving the appearance of progress. Dr. Lang writes in his report, "Painful trimming and shoeing methods that cannot be detected without removing the shoes have replaced nails hammered through hoof walls and cut off at the surface or metal objects wedged between the shoe pads and soles that are gouged to the quick. Some horses are subject to mock inspections and beaten severely if they show signs of pain. Salicylic acid is used to burn off scar tissue and dyes or tattoos hide discoloration. Topical pain-killing sprays numb the skin before inspection, but wear off while the horse is in the ring." (For documentation of these practices, and a copy of Lang's report, see )

The framework in which I would like to interpret soring and the "Big Lick" sustains a paradox: Animals are both increasingly protected from humans (i.e., growth of societies for the protection of animals, including animal rights movements, even animal rights courses taught at major law schools) and increasingly commodified for humans in our games and competitions. We try to treat horses as forms of difference not already assimilated into our hierarchies on the basis of what they lack in human qualities, to attribute intrinsic value to them as a living species. But deprived of value based on our own explicit projections, on our anthropomorphizing, we then instead submit them to a more distanced arbiter: the market, which in turn transforms them into new commodity forms, for which we no longer feel directly accountable. Horses are both individuated family members with their own integrity and mere commodities in a big business. I will return to the economic aspects shortly, but first let me compare these changes in American breeding with the French.

 Scientific Rationality and "La Passion du Cheval 

Whereas in the United States the potential counterweight to commodification and the language of profit is religion; in France the potential counterweight to profit is "passion du cheval." At least since the Revolution, the cultivation of horses-breeding and riding have been part of a national project of improving Frenchmen and French animals, of a general "embourgeoisement." While indexing the French nation, horse breeding is also an activity connected to myths of the uniqueness and beauty of the countryside (terroir) and rural France. As of 1998, there were 45,000 horse breeders in France, of whom 1,023 were rated as professionals (those with at least nine mares). Today's highly subsidized farmers may still be heavily involved in breeding draft horses, but most light horse breeding (warm bloods), on which I will concentrate here, is a professional activity practiced by other social classes. The riders of warm bloods also usually come from the bourgeoisie.

The French state, through its centralized administration, has nearly total control over the regulation and direction of breeding and training. The bureaucracy charged with this task is the Haras Nationaux ('National Stud Farms'), one of France's oldest administrations. Created by Colbert in 1665 under Louis XIV, the National Studs were abolished in 1790 during the French Revolution, and then in 1806 re-established by Napoleon. Their early role was essentially military, and their royal and imperial history in defense of the French nation is integral to its attraction both in France and abroad. The National Stud represents itself as working in partnership with professional unions, local administrations, and nonprofit-making associations, but unlike in the United States, it actually directs the various activities within the French horse industry, which it divides into three sectors: racing, sport, and leisure – which the Haras also ranks in this order in terms of importance for breed improvement and revenue. The category "sport," which is concerned with light horses, is further divided into dressage, jumping, and eventing.

The National Studs are entrusted with a specific mission: to promote and develop horse breeding and all horse-related activities. It lists these activities as: definition and implementation of breeding policies, breed preservation and improvement, identification and maintenance of a central file of registration, registration and surveillance of horse-dedicated premises open to the public, collection and processing of economic and financial data on markets, trades and professions concerning horses and other equines, development and promotion of products as well as promotion of sporting techniques and practices, definition and implementation of main research and design trends, as well as programs developed jointly with Ministries and other administrations or institutions. In short, this is a quintessential Enlightenment project – the use of science for improvement and continuous rationalization of activities in the service of the French people.

The National Studs are also dedicated to the sale and breeding of Selle Français sport horses, but it also promotes other breeds, including the indigenous French Anglo-Arab (which are infrequently introduced into the Selle Français). Napoleon himself had created the "French Anglo-Arab," importing Arabians from northern Africa and crossing them with English Thoroughbreds, with some early nineteenth-century influx of "local" mares also of Thoroughbred or Arabian descent. The Selle Français are most similar to other European warm bloods, regional mixes of draft (Normandy cold blood) mares and English Thoroughbred stallions. Although the Haras Nationaux own only 23 percent of the stallions in the country, they sire 50 percent of French light and draft horse breeds. (Privately owned stallions sire more than 70 percent of foreign riding horses, racing horses, and ponies/donkeys.) Hence its strength rests not on having a monopoly on breeding but on its large administration that engages in research, regulates, and subsidizes local activities. Some breeds, like the Anglo-Arab, are strictly concerned with maintaining the purity of bloodlines. Others, like the Selle Français, must balance two goals: to maintain the purity of bloodlines or to improve the quality of the breed through mixing with better stock and to maintain the purity of bloodlines.

Since 1976, most of the breeding of the Selle Francais has been done with artificial insemination, using "fresh" (warm), refrigerated, or frozen semen. (Frozen is still forbidden with thoroughbreds.) The introduction of AI and other reproductive technologies has provided the basis for further rationalization of breeding. Several French breeders use embryo transfer to prolong a top mare's competitive career, using much larger draft horse mares as surrogate mothers. All foals in a given year must be named with a word beginning with the same letter of the alphabet, making it easier to track cohorts. And, in 1976, a centralized system of identification and registration was created, with horses receiving "papiers d'identité," identification papers like those for people (called simply "papiers"). These function like a passport, containing pedigrees and health histories, which will further serve purposes of genetic planning and tracking. (For the most informative site on French breeding, see .)

Despite this devotion to science and the rationalized production of superior horses, the horse is still attached to the noble and the elegant in France, and it is still identified with a communicative rationality, or even a non-rationality, what is called "la passion du cheval." This side of French breeding, or the mix of the emotional and rational, is illustrated by Pierre Durand, winner of the gold medal in the 1988 Seoul Olympics in show jumping on a 1.58 meter (slightly under 15 hands) Selle Français stallion named Jappeloup. Since the average height of show jumpers is closer to 16.2 hands, Jappeloup was absolutely tiny to go over such large jumps. Durand (whose name incidentally identifies him as prototypical Frenchman, like Joe Smith in English) has his own website, where he offers an ontology of this passion:  

It was at the age of 10 that I had my first real encounter with a horse. She was called Gitane. She completely seduced me, like a bolt of lightening, which ignited a double passion that has never left me: the first for horses, and the second for the practical realm of equestrian sport. Since then, my life has been conducted and dedicated to these loves of my life – after Gitane came Bonita, Urgence, Velleda, Laudanum, Jappeloup, Narcotique and, today, once again, Gentleman. Every one gave me incomparable joy and filled my life with formidable emotions. My family did not come from equestrian traditions so it was through my first instructor that I discovered the foundations of riding that were subsequently enriched essentially by observation, reading, and discussions with other riders. In the beginning, it was three-day eventing that drew me close to the three Olympic disciplines but, following a nasty fall at the age of 12, my parents decided that I should change to show jumping, which was considered less dangerous. Very soon, I dreamed of becoming an Olympic Champion like Pierre Jonqueres d'Oriola. And this childhood dream transformed into a sincere obsession in my adult years that a horse like no other gave me the opportunity to realize: he was called Jappeloup (http://www.annuaire-du-chre

After his gold medal victory in the Olympics, Durand became embroiled in several scandals that were perhaps related to the kind of self-promotion suggested in his description above. He appeals to both French Ur-myths, of science and of passion, but his interests clearly originate in passion. Following the seduction by the mare "Gitane" (a female gypsy and a very strong French cigarette), he engaged a succession of "lovers", many of whose names recall illicit passions: "Narcotique" drugged him, "Laudanum" (a favorite opium tincture of late nineteenth century ladies and dandies) opiated him, "Urgence" represented an irrepressible, compelling need. But not born into an equestrian family, Durand, like Rousseau's Emile, needed education: He was "enriched" through "observation, reading, and discussions," which enabled him to dream of "becoming an Olympic champion," and to transform this dream into a "sincere obsession" and to realize it with the horse "Jappeloup."

Durand's commitment to his "passion du cheval" was questioned in an unusual scandal concerning Jappeloup's death. After his Olympic achievement, Jappeloup became a national hero and was retired to stud. But he had problems breeding, or so it was rumored (I have been unable to find any record of foals he sired). Then one day he died in a mysterious fire. Durand, who in the interim had become not just a nouveau-riche Olympic champion but also a successful businessman and sponsor of events, with his own equestrian center and vacation and training resort, collected a large insurance premium. One high commissioner in the French Equestrian Federation said openly what many suspected: that Durand had killed Jappeloup to collect the insurance premium.[3] To make a long story short, Durand sued for libel and won. Today, he continues to advertise his "passion du cheval" while marketing his progeny, including most recently a foal from his mare "Narcotique," which he calls one of his "produits" (products, offspring).[4


Value in U.S. American light horse breeding is earned through the production of "conformation," meaning beauty, justified in the name of God; in France value is obtained through a scientific rationality that exploits the "passion for horses" with the help of the state. Let me develop this with two points by way of conclusion. First, with regard to my claim, in 1984, that all totemic classification is the result of a projection and hence inverse totemism. That was totemism yesterday. If a horse's value is intrinsic to it, as argued by many U.S. animal rights activists, arrived at without resort to analogy to humans, without resort to an identification with the animal as part of or (dis)similar to oneself, then there is no justification for a specifically human valuation of animals based on our relationship to them. How, then, to determine this intrinsic value? Without a totemic operation, where does the value of the horse come from? As I have illustrated above, herein enters the logic of profitability, value as determined by rules of market exchange, what Sahlins (1976: 211) argued made "the economic . . . the main site of symbolic production."[5] This logic holds increasingly in both France and the United States. Particularly in the horse world, initial capital and location in the economy are preconditions for participation in such an expensive activity.

While the market may be the site of symbolic production, however, it is no longer regulated by any invisible hand. Its force and motivation are discursively and publicly debated conditions for human self-definition, in which a logic of replication frequently asserts itself. Decoupling sex from breeding has enabled diverse experiments in kinship practices – sex, breeding, love, affiliation – wherein the human is radically refigured. Innovations in reproductive technologies and regimes of health and diet have been an integral factor here, contributing to a redefinition of the boundaries of life and death, and the relation of reproduction to replication. This bricolage in the kinship domain is in turn refiguring the horse as pet and commodity, as both comparable in value to humans (with its own – parallel – horoscope and lineage and diet and exercise regime and hospital and graveyard) – and as having no value outside commodity exchange – (hence valued more dead than alive as, for example, dog food or an insurance premium). There is a complicated feedback loop of desire here, in which we have a premonition of totemism tomorrow, driven by a logic of sexless identification and replication. In the United States this identification and valuation occurs partly by means of a repudiated totemism and in interaction with a highly reticent and largely ineffectual state, which, when it does enter the fray, seems largely beholden to the industry it is in charge of regulating. In France, value is still largely ascribed totemically with the state as a major player.

My second point: In both the United States and France, commodification encourages selective replication. With the possibility of replication in mind, the libidinal attachment to the animal can be divorced from any ordinary sex act. One's favorite horse can be replicated without sex. Both the procreative act and the death of the loved animal then become irrelevant when the loved object can be simply replaced through replication. Torture and death are no obstacles when replication is possible. Replication, understood as a compulsion to repeat, is in fact the opposite of eros or of love for the animal. Rather, it resembles what Freud associated with the death drive. By this he means striving to reduce tensions to null, to bring the living being back to the inorganic state. It is a drive initially directed inwards towards self-destruction but which subsequently becomes aggression directed towards the outside world. In this case, the aggression appears to be directed at the love object itself: the horse.

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