As I read Queer Art Of Failure I find it more and more amusing that the big critique for lots of people of queer theory is that it’s an identity politics when thats the thing everybody (at least from what I’ve read, especially in Muñoz and Halberstam who could well be foregrounding that element due to these critiques) is really strenuously opposed to working in that field. I guess it’s that same tendency to read Derrida as saying THERE’S ONLY LANGUAGE or Foucault as EVERYTHING IS DISCOURSE, willful or convenient misreadings that serve a totally ideological purpose in the long run.
Which isn’t to say its impervious to critique, or that these are universally irrefutable authors or anything. I’m just interested by the desire to claim primacy for a certain kind of politics that relies on a misapprehension of other, alternative political forms and modes and methodologies. I’m thinking in particular of žižek and Jameson and Harvey I guess here (all of whom resist in particular queer theory). I think the question of method is an especial issue because of how resistant to a “capitalism in itself” (D&G) queer theoretical approaches seem to be.
Totally agree. I think also part of the “willful or convenient misreadings” stem from a refusal to really engage with the texts and all their ambiguities. Ambiguities make philosophers really uncomfortable, and I think a lot of people resist Foucault, Derrida, and a lot of queer theorists because these texts don’t give clear cut (prescriptive) answers. Queer theory for me is fundamentally invested in “que(e)rying” those “straight(forward)” methodologies and modes of being (see what I did there?)
@1 year ago with 19 notes
#queer theory #hookedonsemiotics
Anonymous asked: what is your take on accusations of Foucault's misogyny?
I’ve never heard it quite phrased like that, but if you mean certain feminist critiques of him as being male-centric or phallogocentric, I think there’s some validity to them. That opening anecdote in HoS v.I about the “game of curdled milk” with the “town idiot” and the little girl is ambiguous enough to be offensive (especially that phrase he uses, something like, “oh life’s innocent pleasures” or whatever sounds a bit like he’s romanticizing this pre bio-political time and borders on erasing a very real violence that this girl, fictional or not, might have undergone). But if you take these instances in the context of his work, Foucault was very clear about his own kind of ambiguity towards power (in the same way Marx was pretty ambiguous towards capitalism)—he’s not arguing that we go back this the old Machiavellian model or anything (as if we could), so that’s why his treatment of the anecdote seems out of place. And I do think that in terms of politics/praxis, his work is much more useful to feminists (and queers) than a lot of so-called “feminist” theorists—even if he was a “misogynist” (which I don’t think he was), it wouldn’t change that.
On a related note: the curdled milk anecdote always really bothered me since it kind of epitomized my one hesitation with Foucault: sometimes he risks a kind of historical erasure in his genealogical account of power relations. Take for example his treatment of “homosexuality” as having been recently invented, medicalized, scrutinized, brought under the both productive and controlling hand of biopower. He’s very clear that “homosexual” acts have always existed, but the homosexual as an identity or category did not, and again the ambiguity here might suggest he thinks it was better before, or at least easier before, to enact same-sex desire without the scrutiny of the State or whatever institution trying to control it. Of course we know that rather than attempt to produce/control/medicalize homosexuality, in the past institutions have simply condemned the acts we now associate with it, even to death. I don’t think Foucault is arguing we go back to that or anything, but his point I think is that resistance in the old top-down model of sovereignty was much easier, and he wants to move away from identity politics and towards micro politics, or “bodies and pleasures,” for a more strategic resistance of biopolitical regimes (“resistance” being a tentative, non-agency related thing here). I think something like the modern and mainstream LGBT rights movement in the US is a great example of why the so-called liberation embedded within the discourse of/on the homosexual is problematic, however, my issue with Foucault’s treatment of homosexuality in this schema is two-fold:
1. He’s a little too ambiguous in his historical analysis and borders on erasing the violence that many people we would now consider gay faced.
2. Although I agree with his critique of identity, I think there’s something to be said for the community that stems from a kind of identification (the queer community in this case) that is, to me anyway, super necessary and politically viable. So I think there’s something to be said here of the difference between identity-as-individualization and identity-as-communalization. Being that Foucault himself was out and talked about how queerness is a way of life centered on friendship, and also that we need to “work on being homosexual,” it’s not something one just is—I don’t think he would be in disagreement with me here.
Anyway sorry that was long but I’d love to hear your thoughts guyz.
@1 year ago with 9 notes
#Anonymous #Foucault #queer theory #queer politics
To reduce desire to the regime of the One or the Same—even to name it under a phallocentric economy either as the dominant heternormative center or as its negative Other—would be to replace or subsume the absolute hetereogeneity and rhizomatic movement of the desire-machine to a static desire-as-lack. Queer time and space—what I will refer to as a haunted/becoming temporality and virtuality—allows us to disrupt the normalizing schema, whether hetero- or homo-normative, of what Dana Luciano has called chronobiopolitics. As with most theoretical projects then, this paper deals with certain (queer) possibilities of/for resistance, but a resistance that cannot be reduced to representation (political or otherwise) or rely on a free and willing subject-agent. However, given the out-of-joint existence that queers live, there is a political and ethical imperative of responsibility to the other and of committing ourselves to the justice of radical critique. This critique can only be just in a queer conception of time as becoming or as haunted/out of joint, and therefore relies on a certain conception of the future-to-come.
This waiting for the other and for the event makes possible any justice not reducible to the law, and it is always tied to a spirit of radical “infinite critique.” A refusal to posit ends, to conceptualize the future as a culminating utopic telos, is what allows us to wait for the (radically) other—for an event that is always already prefigured by a certain specter to which we must remain accountable in order to be just. These ghosts, queer by virtue of their radical alterity and disturbance of ontological and epistemological frames, belong neither and both to the past and future. They represent the real loss of life we paradoxically fail to mourn—as Derrida describes the mourning of a loss that is never properly lost—that returns as a specter that wounds and will continue to wound—to remain an open wound for—the queer community (the devastation of HIV, the sanctioned and pervasive violence against queer people at the hands of the State and other institutions, etc.). But these specters are also before representation and signification, of a difference prior to these forms of queer identity, of a kind of “absence” (in the Derridian sense, not of the negative, but of alterity) that makes any presence possible. Queers themselves occupy a kind of unintelligible space and time, and as such we are particularly exposed to this vulnerability that manifests itself as an apparent loss or negativity (“the genesis of the appearance of negation”), but is actually more deeply rooted in a productive movement of difference that is “the genesis of affirmation.” An affirmation of this precariousness could not rely on negation then, or a nihilistic rejection of the future, rather this affirmation is necessary to think the future at all and it relies on a certain kind of waiting that is itself vulnerable to the unpredictability of the future, a radical uncertainty that Merleau-Ponty describes at “the Terror of history.”
I do not mean to elide the very real loss and trauma that has haunted queer life and politics. I mean only to say that this loss is not an absence or negation but a generative movement that itself allows for queer life and politics and begs a responsibility to and before those we have lost and will lose. This loss that haunts is not properly present or absent, but exists at the limits of being and thinking, that is, in a hauntology. This loss does not belong to a Hegelian negativity that relies on the logic of the Same, rather it initiates a moment of the in-between, the intermezzo, as Deleuze and Guattari put it, of becoming that marks the present. But this present would not be possible without the trace of the past and the future always already haunting it from within (as opposed to from outside), of an absolute difference that is “no longer in the form of an external difference which separates, but in the form of an internal Difference which establishes as a priori relation between thought and being.” A queer ethics and a concern for justice cannot occur then without an affirmation of difference and a certain thinking of the future…
 Deleuze, 206.
 Merlou-Ponty, Maurice. Humanism and Terror.
 Deleuze, 86.
@1 year ago with 25 notes
#queer theory #queer politics #queer temporality #queer virtuality #Deleuze #hauntology #derrida #futurism #my writing
…I’d like to query the relation however, between the inside self/subject and outside other/object that this week’s readings also seem to resist. The critique here—employed by de Beauvoir, Fanon, Said, and others—that normalization is a process of exclusion that produces an inside hegemonic subject and inscribes the other to the outside upon which it is dependent, is a process that always, at least partially, fails. These categories are not always distinct and they’re certainly not always stable or totalizing. The concept of the other also relies on a notion of the subject that itself relies on recognition and signification—problematic for reasons we don’t have time to explore. For now, the “failure” of subjectification might provide us some ground for theories of resistance that do not depend on the trope of an inside/outside dichotomy.
If the other’s place in this framework is circumscribed as (perceived) lack, the desire of that which is other is likewise purportedly based on lack. Sadomasochism as a kind of “perverse” (i.e., “other”) desire gets inscribed within these terms. The reading is often one of the possession or dispossession of power, the emptiness or fullness of desire, or the denial of or satisfaction of pleasure. Besides relying on an obvious binary of presence/absence that is problematic for the reasons mentioned, this reading of sadism and masochism is limiting and reductive. I differentiate the terms here because, like Deleuze, I think they are very different impulses—not completely isolated but certainly not two sides of the same coin, as Freud thought. The masochist’s supposed passivity is not connected to lack (the lack of pleasure or the lack in a deferral of pain), it is rather, a productive deferral, “waiting or suspense as a plenitude, as a physical and spiritual intensity” (Deleuze 54).
…Elizabeth Freeman’s treatment of interracial sadomasochism in Time Binds: Queer Temporalities, Queer Histories is intimately linked to a radical rethinking of temporality and history. She argues for the potential of the masochistic body, allying it to “black physicality” by quoting Saidiya Hartman in saying that the “subjected body that anchors the scene of white subjectification also, potentially, ‘holds out [more] possibility of restitution [than] the invocation of an illusory wholeness or the desired return to an originality plentitude’” (137). Freeman maintains the subversive possibilities of the other’s submission or perceived passivity in the sadomasochistic relation. Freeman situates these possibilities within “sadomasochism’s temporary destruction of the subject” which she in turn links to its unique “suspended” temporality, i.e., a time of “attendance” (153). This deferral of time that plays out in the interracial sadomasochistic scene of Isaac Julien’s film The Attendents lends itself to an eroticized hauntology that is concerned with “attending to the body as a site of pleasure” (162). It is not unusual that Freeman invokes Derrida’s notion of hauntology here, since he characterized hauntology as a paradoxical temporal haunting—the ghost of the past haunting the present—but also as a spectre of otherness. Neither fully past nor fully present, hauntology occurs in an inbetween time, a becoming time, a time that folds in on itself replacing the linear chronology of legitimizing history with the possibilities for the playfully flexible reworking Freeman argues for. Derrida’s work dovetails nicely here since he too is concerned with the issue of “attendance” as an ethics of hospitality and responsibility before the other…
@2 years ago with 8 notes
#from a presentation I did a while back #alterity #sadism #masochism #queer theory #my writing