Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Facebook and the Censuring of Sexuality

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Wednesday, March 13, 2013


Regarding, etc.:
LOL@ ANTI-ASSIMILATION” HOMOS ON TUMBLR who still only give visibility to the same beige toned bearded dudes and who rehash the same monomyth of the homo outsider that only reinforces a queer canon produced and deemed valuable within the STRAIGHT academy.
GUESS WHAT y’all. your critique is as stale as the photos/gifs you’re reblogging.”
There are few things more annoying than in the midst of a delightful gathering, just after an arch punchline is delivered, than having to explain the joke to a pinched literal-minded guest, especially when the humor is meant to freight irony. We feel solidarity for the drag queen, who during her gig in Omaha is being hit on hard by a clueless suit who takes her for a woman looking for a trick when all she wants is to belt out some Barbara.
We all sigh in unison in our all-male bearded secret Wohngemeinschaft here in Berlin, but since we pity you, alone by your computer collecting Alie McBeal memorabilia, we’ll stoop to spell things out. We are not serious, or rather, we are seriously unserious, a stance, a joke, a hoax. Duh. Look at the Manifesto, “a modest proposal”, dig? Sorry, we know ambiguity is something some people only recognize in an essay, but when you encounter it in real life you become a mullah of PC puritanism. Alas, this is the Age of Snipe.
Ok! This is a performance, but off with the masks, flannel and phony beard for a moment:
We camp gender nationalism in all its forms, including the “beige bearded” version. In fact, beards, flannel and tattoos are our means of camping it up. The impossibility and awfulness of a homo-Israel, Iran or Utah —-places reason enough not to emulate nations—- are exactly what we loath! Of course we keep a straight-face, it’s necessary in show-biz. We’re doing the same thing with beards and tattoos that drag artists have done with hair and makeup in order to challenge gender strictures. Just because drag queens love their wigs and dresses does not make them an iota less powerful as critics of the straight dictat. Excuse us for not including a laugh track and having this vetted by the politically correct committee. We are fully aware of the “gender trap”, that is the point. We live in it, the gender hoax.
Where is this Straight Academy you speak of? (It sounds kinda hot! Is it like this?) Do they have a big Canon? Oops, sorry, we’re meant to be taking you seriously, but you can appreciate, that’s hard. We admire Foucault, Sontag, Butler, DA Miller, (amond many others), not because they are homos themselves, but because they are interesting and share our concerns… are they colleagues in the straight academy? If not, where is Queer U.? Faux theory, nous? All theory is faux to us, by its nature, unreified and thank goodness. And yes, we are mocking Theory with our “theory”, like everything else; sometimes you a little spice is fine, but don’t mistake salt for meat. Thick juicy meat, mmm.
We are proposing that everyone has their own unique gender and we all move through everyday life amid the complexity of many worlds. To do this, schemas and models are necessary, not to mention communities. Assimilation, separatism, and the like are stale ideas, but they are useful as tools to make a new agitprop.
In the wake of the AIDS crisis, homosexual men lost a great deal, not only human life, but also culture, knowledge and traditions. A project of reconstruction is busily at hand. To us, most of this project is heteronormed amnesia and just gross. Talk about monoculture! Most young men don’t even see an alternative to the way they live now. We do not propose Revenge of the Clones, rather, we take up this pose: looking back critically to a rich tradition that included different ideas about love, sex and friendship might warrant our attention (and humor).
p.s. So, lolz right back at ya.
p.p.s. Hey look! We’re all despising one another and laughing derisively in each other’s faces, this must be the rich, warm and welcoming gay community we all celebrate at Pride! Afraid this year we’ll pass, again. Thanks for the “invite”, “enjoy”! Happy “Pride”!
p.p.p.s. get it?
p.p.p.p.s. sigh.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013


sex can be restorative and transformative (not transcendent) -- even without love

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Queer Ek-sistenz, or Thinking While Being Fucked

What is the link (the thin, fleshy line) between desire and ex-stasy? Is ex-stacy a modality of queer? (yes!) How does this relate to the ek-sistenz (Heidegger)? some queer existentialism ... some other way to articulate the desiring subject (with jouissance underneath?) ...

Doing Queer Theory Without Queer Theory

A thought, which I will expand upon, which I will continue to edit this post ...

I wrote this in a footnote for a paper proposal: "Here, I would like to note that to deploy theorists, philosophers, and theories that have not been (fully) put to work in queer (visual) studies is to create another series of queer (visual) theories, which have not been organized into a logic and—I never thought I would state this—that have not been reified in Queer Theory (a proper—in all the senses of the term—name and discipline) that informs queer (visual) studies."

I think it important to do queer work, but not to have a knee-jerk reaction to picking up a queer theory or studies text, to do such work (rather a closed system, no?). I think it important to draw in other texts, which seem to have no connection to a queer project, but they may be deployed in queer work by reading the books and essays otherwise: in a word, to queer them, by reading them queery -- one can say anamorphically.

I think that the work, and this is an example, of Derrida, Cixous, Ranciere, Deleuze and Guattari can aid in creating new ways (ex.: languages, strategies, etc.) to not only do our queer work, but to queer the theories and philosophies of the aforementioned subjects. This is not to say that what I am thinking should be done is anything new -- Butler and Sedgwick have variously used philosophers to create queer theories and readings -- but what is new is to do such a trans-disciplinary practice even more, and more still. I don't think that queer is anything in-itself, but rather an assemblage, which must be re-assembled. And, it seems that queer theory has become rather inclosed, given it is 20 years worth of work, so we must re-open the field: find other texts to re-imagine what is to be done in and for queer theory and studies. After all, one aspect of queer(ness) is generative generousness.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Queer's Refusal

some thoughts on the past ...

When I started to study this thing called "queer theory," many a professor said that I need a definition, and I needed to prove why something was queer: in other words, do "proper" academic protocols. exegesis, and taxonomies. I also conflated gay and lesbian (bisexual and transgender were barely being entered into both gay and lesbian movements and certain parts of the academy) with queer, which is still done today. By the time I started my PhD work, I realized that any totalizing definition of queer, as well as any construction of a disciplined and proper methodology, was not only limiting to what I now call the affective force of queer and its radical (un-)becomings, multiplicities, and (un-)doings, but utterly misses the point of queer's work (which I just mentioned).
I decided, against the prodding of one too many faculty, to refuse any totalizing definition or method of queer; I could only ever offer temporary, strategic, and provisional definitions and methods. Interestingly enough, the loudest complaints came from academics who desired the order, systemization, propriety of a discipline, in my case art history. But queer cannot be, can never be, what these academics desired: it is anti-systematic (it is parasitical), it is improper, and it thrives in, and from chaos. Any limits on queer will reduce its generous and generative force, as well as its violent and turbulent becomings.
Since this realization, I have been more open to the momentary, the instant, the ephemeral, and the slight. I have been more able to encounter queerness, then when I worked from a narrow view of "what it was" -- which ironically it "can't be anything." I think the most profound thing we, those of us who "do" queer theory, can do is not only loosen-up our grip on queer theory, but allow queer to grab hold of us: to not ask what I can do with queer, but allow queer to do me, otherwise.

More to follow ...

"Gayness ... is not a state or condition. It's a mode of perception, an attitude, and ethos: in short, it is a practice. ... 'gay' refers not just to something you are, but something you do. ... And if 'gayness' is a practice, it is something that can be done well or badly." - David Halperin, How to Be Gay, 13

If it is a practice, which can be done "well or badly," and who can say which, then that practice may take place among friends -- it may(be) only be able to take place among friends, which may or may not end up in the act of sex. To enact gayness is not necessarily to be oriented toward same-sex relations (in the physical sense): in short, we must continue to re-imagine gay -- its performativities, affects, feelings, organizations, differences, styles, and modes of connectivity.
Foucault’s Laugh: A "Queer" Tactic Before Queer

“The Divine Comedy of [life] means we can retain the basic right to collapse into fits of laughter … an unexpected laughter which shame, suffering or death cannot silence." —Deleuze, Foucault, 25

In a photograph for The Advocate in 1982, Foucault is wearing a back, leather jacket, and he is taking about S/M (later he would specifically discuss fist-fucking) and theorizing on “inventing new possibilities of pleasure with strange parts of the body.” In France, he is wearing a turtleneck with a blazer, and he is lecturing on a hermeneutics of the self, a care of the self, and an aesthetics of existence—which is living and creating life as art and developing new modes of resistances and relations. This isn’t, as some have wrongly argued, Foucault’s “return” to the Self, the Individual, but rather a new way to look at and resist power, as well as a re-orientation and re-commitment to the forgotten Delphic Code: “care for thy self”—as opposed to “know thy self.” At both places he is joyous: smiling and laughing like a little boy who found new toys (for him, men’s fists, Crisco, and Greek and Roman texts). In both spaces of articulation, he is ecstatically articulating, exploring, and expanding upon his post-Discipline and Punish theories on power—now with more future oriented goals (but always without mandates, truth, blueprints) of creating resistances and life-styles (read: aesthetics) in relation to his re-readings of Ancient texts that opened him up to bios and aesthetics (not metaphysics), and creative lines of flight, which are tied to the histories and counter-memories of male-to-male sexual relations and friendship, as too the immediate vibrancies and virtualities of contemporary homosexuality; he articulates new inventions with the body/self: one can say an “updated” Delphic code of “(re-)invent your self.”

It is disappointing (but not surprising) that many philosophers, theorists, and historians have refused to explore Foucault’s ideas as a philosophizing through the body that were aided by his experiments with LSD and beautifully perverse pleasures—both of which he would indulge in while in San Francisco in the late seventies and early eighties. Without a doubt, he was performing the life of a “notorious man,” the “outcast,” the “criminal,” the “mad man” (the bodies/selves of his earlier works). Eventually, like so many explorers of the body, he came down with a “cancer” that, as the story goes, was nothing more and nothing less than the wrath of God—and one only for a select few. Foucault said, “A cancer that only gay men get!” He laughed at the idiotic mentality and the insipid and dull Christian-Euro-American moralism that fueled it (Eribon). He was right to laugh. His laugh, in this case, was a refusal of the Christian take-over and suppression of an aesthetics of existence and the invention of new modes of living in a vibrant word—instead of a religiousity that promoted ressentiment and damnation of the other: those godless fags. He laughed at the thought of a curse from God. He was performing a modern-day “mad” Nietzsche who knew the art of laughter.

It has been said that Foucault’s laugh, by those who knew him, was so loud in its bursting forth that it was like that unfurling of an ancient affect, and a perverse, mad, cunning joy in the form of noise (read: disruption). It was the kind of exploding laughter that would slice through conversations—erupting and rupturing and making heads turn: “its own exorbitant fist-fucking filled with exhalation and exaltation;” and “it was not the first, or even the last laugh, but the one that intrudes, unexpectedly” (Ricco). And in the eighties, like so many after him, there was laughter at the so-called punishment from the Divine, the damnation of the flesh and of acts, an interdiction against exploring the porous body with anonymous and multiple others. Foucault, much to the chagrin of many a gay and queer historians and theorists, neither wrote nor spoke about gay cancer, GRID, or, as we call it now, AIDS; rather, he laughed, and it is a laugh that can still be heard in dark alleys, sex clubs, unlit parks, public restrooms, and parked cars (and not too few hotel rooms after a “gay marriage”) today. Simply stated, laughter against moralism and power—be this power bio or religious (usually both).

Years after his (political) death, ACT-UP and Queer Nation would use humor to critique and short-circuit the moralisms of the church and/as state: placards read: “I am a shameless cocksucker!” “Wrap Your Candy!” and various kiss-ins and the continuation by many to explore anonymous and multiple sex acts. In laughter, sex continued as a joyous act, a refusal to power and its corollaries, and, what I call, a queer aesthetics of existence. Of course, there was rage and grief and an ever-widening array of affects, but it is laughter (rooted in joy) that I think we sometimes forget; we sometimes do not remember it as a refusal to power—which is such a gay-performative tactic: Laughing! Why is it that rage is privileged over joy? Yelling over laughing? Why not performatively reiterate Foucault’s laugh? Practice it and learn it, like so many of us do with his written work? And also, let us not forget that many of his books are filed with a joy, a laugh, a happy resistance to the matrices of power. Indeed, we may otherwise read and hear Foucault as doing a different, profound, and affective performative so that we too may play an-other, embodied enactment: laughter. I argue, through Foucault, that laughter can be a brilliant antidote to undermine the viruses of power and moralism. “Laugh, I tell you!” So, why only promote rage? Why only remember the anger? Is this not a kind of ressentiment—especially here and now? Why not joyously engage in the “sweetness of the fuck”—and laugh as we cum together (Haver)? Why not quote and think about the hilarious poems, essays, and books by people with AIDS in the eighties and nineties Celebrate what is under the “pinkwashing” or called “uncritical” by certain “queer” academics and activists! Why not say, “Fuck well, my dears, and laugh!” Why not sing “Married or poly-amorous, who cares the form, both can be restrictive in different lights, so let you porous body do what is wants to!”—a queer kind of Spinozism, an affectivity “materialized” by open mouth, showing teeth, and spastic (orgasmic?) vocal cords?
I think, in this era of homonormativity (which is not an entirely new phenomena—it is older than Stonewall) and the critiques by “radical queers” (as if “radical” was inherently progressive and political; it can be easily re-deployed to promote the most restrictive forms of law and order—and also half the time it is utterly boring and uncreative, but ironically in the name of “radicality”). Indeed, homonormativity and “radical queer” activism act righteously and seriously (“but, why so serious?”). I suspect, following Foucault, that it may do us well to remember to laugh—and one that is a loud, indecorous, sweaty, fleshy performance in the face of it all. Laugh like Foucault—and in doing so, perhaps, disrupt law and order and also enact a “queer differential with a difference”—as opposed to all the dullards on both sides of the binary that makes up the debates in gay culture, queer theory and studies, and current activisms and arguments from “gay marriage” to AIDS activism and beyond. I hope that all of the beautiful, perverse creatures that Foucault surfaced drown out the droning on with laughter! Finally, for now, I simply want to surface, but to be discussed at a later time, the necessity of Foucault’s laugh with what Sianne Nagai calls “stuplimity”—and see how an-other queer tactic, one engaged in joyous laughter as it mingles with a “sublime” stupidity (like when one is fucking, madly), may be of importance to escaping the binary machine that is dominating the discourses around gay or queer issues in Euro-America. (End of part 1)

— Robert Summers, PhD

Queer Futurity, Queer (&) Deconstruction

"Queerness is not yet here. Queerness is an ideality. Put another way, we are not yet queer. We may never touch queerness, but we can feel it as the warm illumination of a horizon imbuded with potentiality. We have never been queer, yet queerness exists for us as an ideality that can be distilled from the past and used to imagine a future. The future is queerness’s domain. Queerness is a structuring and educated mode of desiring that allows us to see and feel beyond the quagmire of the present… We must strive, in the face of the here and now’s totalizing rendering of reality, to think and feel a then and there... Queerness is a longing that propels us onward, beyond romances of the negative and toiling in the present. Queerness is that thing that lets us feel that this world is not enough, that indeed something is missing…Queerness is essentially about the rejection of a here and now and an insistence on potentiality or concrete possibility for another world." - Jose Esteban Munoz, Cruising Utopia: The Then and There of Queer Futurity

I deffer any comment on Munoz's argument on queerness to the future, perhaps for tomorrow, or, perhaps, never. I must differ comment in order to not engage with the (ironically) totalizing argument of what queer, ostensibly, is, which for Munoz, is "not yet here." Any more comment must be deferred (and differed), for a decomstruction to-come, which is already (un-)becoming in the ex-centric center his quasi-definition.

Queer Joy, Queer Happy

Queerness may be an affect (always pre-personal) that moves the body in ways that may then be articulated as the feeling called joy (of course there are many other feelings). Perhaps, queerness is a performative endeavour (never necessarily "intentional") that looks (is a visuality) like joy, or, some may say, happiness (which is also, in some ways, performative), because of certain movements of the body. For example, these boys are happy. Who are they? Happy, which in certain situations appears (appearance is all we have) queer, which is to say "normative" (an over-used term, indeed) enactments of one's sex and gender are (temporarily) destabilized - and, thus, queer is only ever a moment, a current, and a flow - always through the body (which may not always be a human body)