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31 Jul
2020

A Dirty South Manifesto Sexual Resistance and Imagination

Category:ACADEMICIAN

SOLUTION AT Australian Expert Writers

A Dirty South Manifesto Sexual Resistance and Imagination
in the New South
L. H. Stallings
university of california press
157
The calls for a moral revival . . . . . . . moral arguments . . . . and moral choices . . . . . . in the South
Seem sweet Like honey In a cup of tea More or less the same Unchanging Soothing in routine And familiar . . . . are for an Old South
What has been o$ered up for the New South, the Nuevo South, and the Dirty:
. . . . a Slow tongue . . . . . . . Dirt a Red Worm Deity . . . . and a Honeysuckle God . . . . . .
Honeysuckle, Not Honey Sucka! Manifesto
158 / Honeysuckle, Not Honey Sucka! Manifesto
By WeUsIOurU Is neither immoral or amoral Female, Queer, and Trans Insurgency Is natural Like all life-sustaining living things in nature Must grow, sometimes wildly, above ground and below
ground Like vines that shade, hide, coddle, and embrace Like roots that stretch out further below than the eye can
see
Rise up honeysuckles, burrow deeper red worms Threaten all that lie in your path Nourish what has been displaced Su$ocate with floral and musk the cleanliness Their perfume pretends to be Shit all over what has been starved and emaciated Choke it with your vines, But o$er your sweet dew to your peril Men, moral or immoral, are not bees or hummingbirds
Be the red worm in the dirt. Be the honeysuckle on the vine
Honeysuckle . . . Not a Honey Sucka!
159
Despite public rhetoric that stridently insists upon the apolitical nature of teaching, teaching and learning have never been apo- litical. Not for the colonizers and enslavers, and not for the colo- nized and enslaved. The dismantling of public liberatory educa- tion, be it defunding or privatization through chartering or diversity initiatives, intends to cease the process of decoloniza- tion that was initiated with the intervention of Black studies, ethnic studies, and women’s studies in communities and learn- ing institutions. Moreover, a divestment from arts, music, and performance in all centers of learning has also lessened the strides that might be made by those previously mentioned areas of study. Together, these factors encroach upon movements of sexual resistance in less visible and deadly ways.
Years ago, Gloria Anzaldúa explained that “We are taught that the body is an ignorant animal; intelligence dwells only in the head. But the body is smart. It does not discern between external stimuli and stimuli from the imagination. It reacts equally viscerally to events from the imagination as it does to
Coda
160 / Coda
real events.”1 What might our twenty-first century bodies need to remember? How significant is the imagination to resistance about gender, sexuality, and violence? In an undergraduate class on intimate partner violence, I have taught three short fictional pieces together—Zora Neale Hurston’s “Sweat,” Estela Portillo Trambley’s “If It Weren’t for the Honeysuckle,” and Lynn Not- tage’s “POOF!”—alongside Critical Race Feminism law articles, and critical essays on intimate violence. I do so because these short pieces teach how, even in the face of violence, magic and imagination must be a first and last resort. Hurston’s female pro- tagonist in “Sweat” is saved from an abusive husband by a poi- sonous snake in a laundry basket. Nottage’s female protagonist is delivered from her husband’s abuse when she wishes him to hell and he spontaneously combusts. Trambley’s female protagonist delivers herself and other women from an abusive man because she believes the honeysuckle gods cultivated and o%ered up to her the poisonous mushrooms that end his life.
In each story, women writers present nature as a magical and ethereal force that supersedes any religious institution’s moral authority over their lives. For women of color, the fantasy of end- ing physical, mental, and sexual violence is both a militant and a magical process that is not captured by public protest, campaigns for votes, or reliance upon systems and structures whose founda- tion is male patriarchy sustained by white supremacist coloniza- tion. When the hope for something between political structure and anarchy or between morality and immorality paralyzes the less powerful, the magic makers find a way to convince them that radical action does not have to be violence by their own hand: that it can be the establishing of systemic confrontation with the fiction of moral authority. Their stories insist that the practice of magic can become a mode of fugitivity, a creative force to imag-
Coda / 161
ine the world away from the violence of men. Radical nonvio- lence is not passive. Radical nonviolence is knowledge, learning, and teaching magic. A Dirty South Manifesto began with thoughts on intersectionality, but it ends with a coda on bridges and tunnels.
As in the past, the work of Gloria Anzaldúa continues to be important in building bridges between multiple and diverse communities. When Anzaldúa insisted that “I am a wind- swayed bridge, a crossroads inhabited by whirlwinds,” she was describing the burden that women of color are tasked with in saving themselves and others.2 Her words certainly seem pro- phetic today as new whirlwinds threaten to break bridges that have already been built. Though Roe v Wade is still legal, the ramifications of “legal” and “moral” seldom apply to girls and women of color. Brett Kavanaugh’s Senate confirmation pro- ceedings for the vacant Supreme Court justice seat brought to the forefront of America the lives of three di$erent women: Anita Hill, Christine Blasey Ford, and Jane Doe. Their stories demonstrate the ways in which the sexuality and bodily auton- omy of women continue to be contained, controlled, disre- garded, and misrepresented by white male patriarchy.
Before and during Senate confirmation hearings of Kavanaugh, it was revealed that an unaccompanied and undocumented sev- enteen-year-old immigrant girl, given the pseudonym Jane Doe, who had escaped abusive parents was denied access to abortion after she was told she was pregnant by doctors in the border internment camp. Kavanaugh issued the dissent that impeded her from having the abortion earlier in pregnancy, rather than later. Understanding the significance of this dissent, Jane Doe’s attorney, Rochelle Garza, testified on behalf of Jane Doe and other immigrant women about the threat that Kavanaugh’s
162 / Coda
appointment to the court poses to women’s lives and bodily autonomy. She began with these words:
There is no other way to describe the borderlands than a place where absolutely everything converges, and everything coexists. The reality is that our communities sit at the intersection of local, state, national and international policy, and as a result, our commu- nities are complex. Our families are complex. It’s perfectly normal to find a U.S. Border Patrol Agent with a non-citizen grandmother that he or she visits over the weekend in Matamoros, our sister-city in Mexico, or even siblings that aren’t all U.S. citizens and fear being separated from each other should an immigration o$cial happen to learn about their status.3
Garza provides insights about the borderlands that depict peo- ple still externally and internally struggling with settler coloni- alism. Her perspective exceeds the vision of African American former president Barack Obama, who in 2012 issued the execu- tive branch memorandum DACA (Deferred Action for Child- hood Arrivals), an immigration policy that provided temporary deferral of deportation for up to two years, renewable, for chil- dren who entered the United States before they were sixteen years old. As many less than optimistic and concerned citizens noted at the time, the application process could become a sur- veillance tracking system of children and adults that could prove harmful to them if a xenophobic president or House came into power. Such is the case now in the era of MAGA. The people who put children in cages do not believe in the snake god of Gloria Anzaldúa, or in Gloria Anzaldúa as a minor god. Other- wise we would not be here, trapped in a moment, debating and defending mostly brown children’s right to live as fully in the world as we do in our dreams and imaginations. I want to believe in the covert existence of spies and infiltrators in ICE and the
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Border Patrol, but there are too many journalists reporting sto- ries about white, Black, and brown agents who rape and kill, and kill and rape women in the internment camps and away from them.4
Anti-immigration measures in the Southwest, when coupled with border militarization, produce human tra%cking, sexual terrorism, and violence on immigrant women and children, in addition to exploitative labor practices along the borderlands and in the interior of the southeastern United States. For exam- ple, over the last few years, the state of Georgia has passed a number of bills that directly target immigrants. The Georgia Security and Immigration Compliance Act (SB529), which passed in 2006, states that employers must “verify the legal sta- tus of all new employees and . . . provide documents on each per- son working for them” when requested by local and state gov- ernments.5 Another example, Georgia’s Illegal Immigration Reform and Enforcement Act (HB87), is an immigration act that requires employers to verify immigrant status and use citizen- ship as an employment eligibility factor, makes it possible for local police to randomly check the status of anyone they suspect of being unlawfully in the country, enables local police to enforce federal immigration laws, and makes it a crime to inten- tionally transport undocumented people or o-er false a%davits about undocumented immigrants’ status.6 Alabama has passed similar laws.
In Georgia, these acts are complicated by a history that posi- tions race in a Black/white binary, particularly in cities like Atlanta. In border states there has been a longer history of cul- tural exchanges between African Americans and Latinas/os: for example, Los Gorras Negras (the Black Berets) were a multieth- nic group that fought for social transformation starting in 1969 in
164 / Coda
New Mexico. Elsewhere in the South, however, dynamics of race are complicated with regards to industry and to historical politics. In their essay examining how Latino individuals are being racialized in the Southeast, Irene Browne and Mary Odem “argue that in moving beyond the Black/White binary, state laws that racialize Latinos create a two-dimensional cate- gory, with a homogenized ‘Latino’ category as one axis and an illegal/legal distinction as the second axis.”7
In addition to these concerns regarding racial formation and immigration policies, there are also other factors to consider. In his speculative examination of labor and futurism in the Nuevo South, Curtis Marez attends to considerations of labor and tech- nology when discussing agriculture robots and drones, particu- larly to the “struggle between agribusiness corporations and farm workers over technology—especially visual technologies such as cameras—as means for projecting competing futures.”8 Marez’s study has implications for how the logics for and against immigrant labor have shifted and changed, while xenophobia and racism remain.
Calls for a moral revival or reliance upon moral authority also often overlook crucial populations such as LGBTQ youth. Cur- rently, LGBTQ youth homelessness is at an all-time high. Churches and state agencies continue to ignore the problem for clear-cut reasons. As one national report noted, “the most preva- lent reason for homelessness among LGBTQ youth was being forced out of home or running away from home because of their sexual orientation or gender identity/expression.” More than half of the surveyed homeless youth (55.3 % of the LGBQ youth and 67.1 % of the transgender youth) reported this as the reason for their homelessness, and LGBTQ youth of color are dispropor- tionately represented in these statistics.9 Runaway and homeless
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LGBTQ youth who engage in survival crimes are then at a greater risk for contact with the criminal justice system. When the True Colors Fund partnered with the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty to compile their National Index on Youth Homelessness, they ranked New Orleans eighth in the nation in e$orts to prevent or end youth homelessness, and positively highlighted that Louisiana’s decriminalization e$orts focused on lessening runaways’ contact with the juvenile justice system; but the report also suggested that the state needs to improve e$orts centered on LGBTQ youth.10 Fortunately, community organiza- tions in New Orleans have o$ered an example of how to address racial and sexual justice around young people. Congress of Day Laborers and BreakOUT! created the From Vice to ICE cam- paign, which provides a decolonial approach to addressing the complications that arise from nonnormative gender and sexuali- ties. In the booklet, organizers explain, “Vice to ICE is now the name we use for our campaign or areas of our work that recog- nizes the intersections between our struggles for liberation, as well as our intentional building with those whose lives are at the intersections of these identities—LGBTQ undocumented com- munities in New Orleans.”11
Congress of Day Laborers was founded by immigrants and day laborers who were involved in the reconstruction of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. Led by men and women of color, the organization provides grassroots organizing address- ing exploitative labor practices that pit communities of color against each other. BreakOUT! was incubated in 2010 by found- ing members Milan Nicole Sherry, Jonathan Willis, Lhundyn Palmer, Kenisha Harris, Amhari Alexander, and De-De Jack- son, along with founding director Wes Ware, who later formally organized to create an organization committed to ending the
166 / Coda
criminalization of LGBTQ youth and their survival practices. In addition to working with Congress of Day Laborers, the organization has worked closely with Women with a Vision (see chapter 3). BreakOUT!’s We Deserve Better and From Vice to ICE campaigns have emphasized discriminatory policing prac- tices in New Orleans as major political issue. The group’s e$orts are significant because they are led by and comprised of mostly Black transgender and gender-nonconforming youth. Their mission prioritizes individuals who are seldom considered in discussions of sexual rights and sexual citizenship, young peo- ple between the ages of thirteen and twenty-five.
Coauthored by BreakOUT! and Congress of Day Laborers, the From Vice to ICE Toolkit was created to address the Crimi- nal Alien Removal Initiative, which was an Obama-era initia- tive that authorized raids of racially profiled communities. The toolkit also addresses the quota-based arrest practices of ICE and the New Orleans police and sheri$ ’s departments. Inter- spersed with personal accounts of members’ experiences with state violence, the booklet includes vital statistics and notable summary information: “Louisiana has the highest deportation rate per capita than anywhere else in the country, and New Orleans has the highest incarceration rate per capita than any- where else in the world. Louisiana is also home to the highest per capita immigration arrest rate in non-border states and new data continues to show the disproportionate arrest of LGBTQ youth, specifically Black and Brown transgender and gender nonconforming youth.”12 The toolkit centers decolonial literacy practices that emphasize language and culture as relevant to activist praxis involving gender and sexuality, while also chal- lenging the foundations of moral authority that might invalidate the prioritizing of gender and sexual marginalized communities
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and their sexual praxis. Understanding that its potential mem- bers may be monolingual or bilingual (English or Spanish), the tool kit begins with a statement about language justice, but it also includes instructions for carrying out nonverbal icebreakers to navigate the language barrier. From there, exercises to develop consciousness and community—such as story circles, a dance activity o$ered by a founder of Two Spirit Journal utilizing Whitney Houston songs, and a workshop curriculum—are introduced. Often assessed as secular practices elsewhere, dance and song are notable tools of spiritual and political intervention throughout the toolkit. The toolkit prompts individuals to engage their bodies and space di$erently than in political organ- izations where the secular and sacred are axiologically opposed. Notably, the toolkit does not critique religion or religious insti- tutions. An appendix containing a glossary and brief histories of slavery, colonization, and gender and sexual discrimination (in English and Spanish) completes the toolkit. From Vice to ICE demonstrates the importance of transformational coalitions, multiple literacy practices, and a transnational lens.
Years ago, another southern writer o$ered a belowground per- spective on the Black and brown coalitions she deemed necessary for what was coming based on immigration policies from the 1980s. It took Kentucky writer Gayl Jones decades, five other criti- cal, creative, and poetic books, and words from her mother’s crea- tive writing to produce her last published novel, Mosquito. The novel is about protagonist Sojourner Nadine Jane Nzingha John- son, aka Mosquito, a Black woman truck driver and conductor of a new underground movement, who “wants you to know the truth of the story, for the purposes of the revolution.”13 For Jones, trans- formative coalitional politics among Black and Latino people cannot only happen in the public, political aboveground space
168 / Coda
where prying white normative gazes look longingly, hoping for these groups’ assimilation into the majority population.
As Mosquito travels the Southwest, becoming more deeply involved in the sanctuary movement of getting immigrants into the United States, a history and future beyond the current Black/ white binary unfolds. When she talks to Father Ray, who is not an actual priest, about the sanctuary movement, she quips “But for a organization so secretive as y’alls, y’all got a lot of books about y’allself. Seem like if y’all such a secretive Sanctuary movement wouldn’t be all them books on y’all.” The dialogue continues, stressing the importance of underground work:
He replies, “ . . . We ain’t really the mainstream Sanctuary. The mainstream Sanctuary think that the more they’re known the safer they are. That’s why most sanctuaries declare themselves. We’re more like the what they’d call the Nicodemuses of the movement. We don’t declare ourselves.”
Say What? What’s a Nicodemus? The ones who believe the more secret we are the safer we are.14
Throughout the novel, Jones makes sure to assert that transfor- mational coalitional politics must begin in imaginations that sit- uate histories, memories, and bodies in a place and time far away from those created by slavery and colonialism. The stream of consciousness novel drops nuggets of knowledge about Black and Latino histories and connections before and after conquest, as well as during colonization. As her Mexican and Black char- acters engage each other on their own terms, they learn more about each other. There is no successful insurrection without language, spirituality, and culture that have survived or have been decolonized. Once mutual comprehension is addressed, someone must risk being misunderstood for further truths to be unveiled.
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The misunderstanding between these characters about the sanctuary movement(s) provides a fitting way to conclude this work’s celebration of and thankfulness for sexual resistance in the South and its critique of moral authority in contemporary progressive southern politics. Jones’s representation of the Nico- demuses of the movement as a nod to secrecy, or to secret socie- ties within movements, suggests that the publicness of decoloni- zation and resistance is not the only tactic. The pursuit of sexual and gender equity and freedom requires declaration and action, but it will also require a particular type of vulnerability. The Dirty South has proven as much. Thus, if we begin with the premise that decolonial sexuality and gender are as important to insurgency as weaponry and intelligence gathering, espe- cially as it relates to what have been classified as asexual or non- sexual political issues, then maybe the foundation of insurgency becomes a type of vigilante justice that understands that law and legal measurements are already corrupt and cannot be the basis of change alone. Once the bridges have been built, we must have cultural architects who can transition those bridges into tunnels in opposition to the walls now being built. This is not simply about quests for citizenship and safety, but about new modes of being human and embodying freedom.
Notes to Pages 154–163 / 187
21. “Big Freedia Takes ‘Full Responsibility,’ ” Louisiana Weekly, March 7, 2016, http://www.louisianaweekly.com/big-freedia-takes- full-responsibility/.
22. See Cahshauna Hill’s statement in Brentin Mock, “Why Big Freedia Shouldn’t Do Jail Time Over Housing Vouchers,” CityLab, March 17, 2016, https://www.citylab.com/equity/2016/03/why-big- freedia-shouldnt-do-jail-time-over-housing-vouchers-fraud/474159/.
23. Daniel Kreps, “Big Freedia Reschedules Mississippi Show Can- celed Due to Twerking,” Rolling Stone, March 4, 2016, https://www .rollingstone.com/music/music-news/big-freedia-reschedules-mississippi- show-canceled-due-to-twerking-236848/.
24. Ashon T. Crawley, “Circum-Religious Performance: Queer(ed) Black Bodies and the Black Church,” Theology and Sexuality 14, no. 2 ( January 1, 2008): 201–22, 202.
coda
1. Gloria Anzaldúa, Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza, 2nd ed. (San Francisco: Aunt Lute Books, 1999), 37–38.
2. Gloria Anzaldúa, “La Prieta,” in This Bridge Called My Back: Writ- ings by Radical Women of Color, eds. Cherríe Moraga and Gloria Anzal- dúa (New York: Kitchen Table, Women of Color Press, 1983), 205.
3. “Testimony of Rochelle M. Garza, Managing Attorney, Garza & Garza Law, PLLC, before the Committee on the Judiciary, United States Senate, Hearing on the Nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court of the United States,” September 7, 2018, https://www .judiciary.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/Garza%20Testimony.pdf; for video of her testimony, see “Rochelle Garza Testimony,” CSPAN, Sep- tember 7, 2018, https://www.c-span.org/video/?c4748267/rochelle- garza-testimony.
4. See Valeria Vera, “Border Patrol’s Not-So-Secret: The Normal- ized Abuse of Migrant Women on the U.S.-Mexico Border,” Interna- tional A&airs Review (Fall 2013); and Alice Spire, “Detained then Violated,” The Intercept, April 11, 2018, https://theintercept.com/2018 /04/11/immigration-detention-sexual-abuse-ice-dhs/.
188 / Notes to Pages 163–168
5. HCS SC 529, Georgia Security and Immigration Compliance Act, https://votesmart.org/bill/1127/georgia-security-and-immigration- compliance-act#3229.
6. HB87, Illegal Immigration Reform and Enforcement Act of 2011, http://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/en-US/display/32190.
7. Irene Browne and Mary Odem, “ ‘Juan Crow’ in the Nuevo South? Racialization of Guatemalan and Dominican Immigrants in the Atlanta Metro Area,” Du Bois Review 9, no. 2 (October 2012): 321–37, 322.
8. Curtis Marez, Farm Worker Futurism: Speculative Technologies of Resistance (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2016), 119–54.
9. Soon Kyu Choi, Bianca D. M. Wilson, Jama Shelton, and Gary Gates, “Serving Our Youth 2015: The Needs and Experiences of Les- bian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Questioning Youth Experiencing Homelessness,” True Colors Fund, June 2015, 5, https://truecolorsfund .org/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/Serving-Our-Youth-June-2015.pdf.
10. True Colors Fund, “State Index on Youth Homelessness, 2018,” 79–80, https://drive.google.com/file/d/14hCgF6gwxF7At2kanWLulciE1 NPN-Z5C/view.
11. BreakOUT! and Congress of Day Laborers, From Vice to ICE: Toolkit, 2017, p. 4, http://nowcrj.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/06 /engVicetoICE_FINAL.pdf.
12. BreakOUT! and Congress of Day Laborers, From Vice to ICE, 12. 13. Gayl Jones, Mosquito (Boston: Beacon Press, 1999), 616. 14. Jones, Mosquito, 307.
Introduction Feeling Utopia
A map of the world that does not include utopia is not worth glancing at. -Oscar Wilde
Q U EE R N ES S I S N OT 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 imbued with potentiality. We have never been queer, yet queerness exists for us as an ideality that can be dis- tilled 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 al- lows us to see and feel beyond the quagmire of the present. The here and now is a prison house. We must strive, in the face of the here and now’s total- izing rendering of reality, to think and feel a then and there. Some will say that all we have are the pleasures of this moment, but we must never settle for that minimal transport; we must dream and enact new and better pleasures, other ways of being in the world, and ultimately new worlds. Queerness is a longing that propels us onward, beyond romances of the negative and toiling in the present. Queerness is thatthing that lets us feel that this world is not enough, that indeed something is missing. Often we can glimpse the worlds proposed and promised by queerness in the realm of the aesthetic. The aes- thetic, especially the queer aesthetic, frequently contains blueprints and sche- mata of a forward-dawning futurity. Both the ornamental and the quotidian can contain a map of the utopia that is queerness. Turning to the aesthetic in the case of queerness is nothing like an escape from the social realm, insofar as queer aesthetics map future social relations. Queerness is also a performa- tive because it is not simply a being but a doing for and toward the future. Queerness is essentially about the rejection of a here and now and an insis- tence on potentiality or concrete possibility for another world.
1
Queerness as Horizon Utopian Hermeneutics in the Face of Gay Pragmatism
for John
I 8 E G I N TH IS chapter on futurity and a desire that is utopian by turn- ing to a text from the past-more specifically, to those words that emanate from the spatiotemporal coordinate Bloch referred to as the no-longer- conscious, a term that attempts to enact a more precise understanding of the work that the past does, what can be understood as the performative force of the past. A 1971 issue of the gay liberation journal Gay Flames in- cluded a manifesto by a group calling itself Third World Gay Revolution. The text, titled “What We Want, What We Believe/’ offered a detailed list of demands that included the abolition of capital punishment, the abolish- ment of institutional religion, and the end of the bourgeois family. The en- tire list of sixteen demands culminated with a request that was especially radical and poignant when compared to the anemic political agenda that dominates contemporary LGBT politics in North America today.
16.) We want a new society-a revolutionary socialist society. We want liberation of humanity, free food, free shelter, free clothing, free transportation, free health care, free utilities, free education, free art for all. We want a society where the needs of the people come first.
We believe that all people should share the labor and products of society, according to each one’s needs and abilities, regardless of race, sex, age or sexual preferences. We believe the land, technology and the means of production belong to the people, and must be shared by the people collectively for the liberation of all.1
When we consider the extremely pragmatic agenda that organizes LGBT activism in North America today, the demand “we want a new society ”
19
20 Queerness as Horizon
nt’s standards. Many people would d’ . b the prese . isllli may seem naive y t· 1 or merely utopian. Yet I contend that th ss
d imprac 1ca 1 er these deman s as . hese words from the no- anger-conscious to e 1 e in pulling t ” ,, . th’ . £ arlll is great va u 1he use of we m 1s mam esto can be rn:
f the present. 1. . h 4 •~stak a critique o ” ,, . licit in the identity po 1tlcs t at emerged afte h-
d the we imp d’ ld rt e enly rea as 1 t· on group. Such a rea mg wou miss the p . . ur. ld Gay Reva u i . . . . oint 1h1rd vvor k to a merely identltanan logic but instead t · 1h. “we” does not spea ” ” h . ” o a 1s . 1h ” ,, speaks to a we t at is not yet conscious,, th · f futunty e we ‘ e logic O . h. . being invoked and addressed at the same mom future society t at is h 11 . . b ent,
t t to describe who t e co ective is ut more nea 1 The “we” is not con en . r y . h t th collective and the larger social order could be wh t describes w a e 1. d ” ‘ a . ld b 1h particularities that are iste – race, sex, age or sexual 1t shou e. e h £
£ ” e not things in and of themselves t at ormat this “we”. pre erences -ar , indeed the statement’s “we” is “regardless” of these markers: which is not to say that it is beyond such dist~n~tions or due to these differen_ces but, instead, that it is beside them. Tius is to say that the field of utopian pos- sibility is one in which multiple forms of belonging in difference adhere to a belonging in collectivity.
Such multiple forms of belonging-in-difference and expansive critiques of social asymmetries are absent in the dominant LGBT leadership com- munity and in many aspects of queer critique. One manifesto from to- day’s movement that seems especially representative of the anemic, short- sighted, and retrograde politics of the present is ‘~l Together Now (A Blueprint for the Movement);’2 a text written by pro-gay-marriage lawyer Evan Wolfson that appeared on his website, freedomtomarry.org. Wolfson’s single-minded text identifies the social recognition and financial advantages offered by traditional marriage pacts as the key to what he calls “freedom:
I
Freedom for Wolfson is mere inclusion in a corrupt and bankrupt social or- der. Wolfson cannot critique the larger ideological regime that represents marriage as something desirable, natural, and good. His assimilationist gay ~olitic~ posits an “all” that is in fact a few: queers with enough access to cap- ital to tmagine a life integrated within North American capitalist culture. It goes almost without saying that the “all” invoked by the gay lawyer and his followers are normative citizen-subjects with a host of rights only afforded to some _(and not all) queer people. Arguments against gay marriage have ~~en articulated with great acumen by Lisa Duggan and Richard Kim-3 But it is Wolfson’s inv t· f h ttli ,u oca ion o t e termfreedom that is most unse ng.
vvolfson and his b • , h f fr doJ.11, H we sites r etoric degrade the concept o ee omonormative c lt al d l’ have u ur an political lobbyists such as Wo ison
Queerness as Horizon 21
degraded the political and conceptual force of concepts such as freedom in the same way that the current political regime of the United States has degraded the term liberation in the case of recent Middle Eastern foreign policy. I invoke Wolfson here not so much as this chapter’s problem or foil but merely as a recent symptom of the erosion of the gay and lesbian political imagination. Wolfson represents many homonormative interests leading the contemporary LGBT movement toward the goal of “natural- izing” the flawed and toxic ideological formation known as marriage. The aping of traditional straight relationality, especially marriage, for gays and lesbians announces itself as a pragmatic strategy when it is in fact a deeply ideological project that is hardly practical. In this way gay marriage’s de- tractors are absolutely right: gay marriage is not natural-but then again, neither is marriage for any individual.
A similar but more nuanced form of what I am referring to as gay prag- matic thought can be seen in Biddy Martin’s work, especially her psycho- analytically inspired diagnosis that queer critique suffers from an andro- centric bias in which queerness presents itself as the “extraordinary” while at the same time fleeing the charge of being “ordinary:’ Being ordinary and being married are both antiutopian wishes, desires that automatically rein themselves in, never daring to see or imagine the not-yet-conscious. This line of thought that I am identifying as pragmatic is taken from its ver- nacular register. I am not referring to the actual philosophical tradition of American pragmatism of Charles Peirce, William James, or John Dewey. But the current gay political strategy I am describing does share an inter- est in empiricism with that school. Gay pragmatic organizing is in direct opposition to the idealist thought that I associate as endemic to a forward- dawning queerness that calls on a no-longer-conscious in the service of imagining a futurity.
The not-quite-conscious is the realm of potentiality that must be called on, and insisted on, if we are ever to look beyond the pragmatic sphere of the here and now, the hollow nature of the present. Thus, I wish to ar- gue that queerness is not quite here; it is, in the language of Italian phi – losopher Giorgio Agamben, a potentiality. 4 Alain Badiou refers to that which follows the event as the thing-that-is-not-yet-imagined,5 and in my estimation queerness too should be understood to have a similar valence. But my turn to this notion of the not-quite-conscious is again indebted to Bloch and his massive three-volume text The Principle of Hope.6 That treatise, both a continuation and an amplification of German idealist prac- tices of thought, is a critical discourse-which is to say that it does not
— 22 Queerness as Horizon
r. the present. Rather, it critiques an aut away irom . h . S . onatu avert or turn h might call straig t time. traight time tell ta}. l’ty t at we s us th
izing tempora I b t the here and now of our everyday life. 7 1h at h . no future u . . . . h eon} t ere IS . d . that of reproductive maJontanan eterosexu 1. Y . romise IS a ity; th
futurity P h t refurbishing its ranks through overt and sub ·a’· e I of t e sta e s1 lZed spectac e d . In No Future, Lee Edelman advises queers th f repro uct10n. at th acts O • “kid t ff”s Although I believe that there is a lot to like b e future IS s u · . . h 1 a 0ut
1 . mostly its disdam for t e cu ture of the child 1 Edelman’s po emic- . – ul- 1 t to Speak for a notion of queer futunty by turning to Blo h’ timate y wan c s
critical notion of utopia. . It is equally polemical to argue that we are not qmte queer yet, that
queerness, what we will really know as queernes~, does not yet exist. I sug- gest that holding queerness in a sort of ~ntologically humble state, under a conceptual grid in which. we do not claim to always already know queer- ness in the world, potentially staves off the ossifying effects of neoliberal ideology and the degradation of politics brought about by representations of queerness in contemporary popular culture.
A posterior glance at different moments, objects, and spaces might of- fer us an anticipatory illumination of queerness. We cannot trust in the manifestations of what some people would call queerness in the present, especially as embodied in the pragmatic debates that dominate contem- porary gay and lesbian politics. (Here, again, I most pointedly mean U.S. queers clamoring for their right to participate in the suspect institution of marriage and, maybe worse, to serve in the military.) None of this is to say that there are not avatars of a queer futurity, both in the past and the present, especially in sites of cultural production. What I am suggesting is that we gain a greater conceptual and theoretical leverage if we see queer- ness as something that is not yet here. In this sense it is useful to consider Edmund Husserl, phenomenology ‘s founder and his invitation to look to horizons of b · 9 Ind d ‘ · t . emg. ee to access queer visuality we may need to squm , to stram our vision and force it to see otherwise beyond the limited viSta of the here and now. ‘
To critique an overarching “here and now” is not to turn one’s face a~ay _from the everyday. Roland Barthes wrote that the mark of the uto- pian 1s the quot’ d · 10 S · an . . 1 ian. uch an argument would stress that the utopI Is an Impulse th t d as somethin th:t ~e see in everyday life. This impulse is to be glimp~e cap·t li Thig. Is extra to the everyday transaction of heteronormattve 1 a sm. s quotid’ 1 d · uto- p . b d ian examp e of the utopian can be glimpse Ill ian on s aflili f t
‘ a ions, designs, and gestures that exist within the presen
Queerness as Horizon 23
moment. Turning to the New York School of poetry, a moment that is one of the cultural touchstones for my research, we can consider a poem by James Schuyler that speaks of a hope and desire that is clearly utopian. The poem, like most of Schuyler’s body of work, is clearly rooted in an observation of the affective realm of the present. Yet there is an excess that the poet also conveys, a type of affective excess that presents the enabling force of a forward-dawning futurity that is queerness. In the poem “A pho- tograph,” published in 1974 in the collection Hymn to Life, a picture that resides on the speaker’s desk sparks a recollection of domestic bliss.
A photograph Shows you in a London room; books, a painting, your smile, a silky tie, a suit. And more. It looks so like you and I see it every day (here, on my desk) which I don’t you. Last Friday was grand. We went out, we came back, we went wild. You slept. Me too. The pup woke you and you dressed and walked him. When you left, I was sleeping. When I woke there was just time to make the train to a country dinner and talk about ecstasy. Which I think comes in two sorts: that which you Know “Now I am ecstatic” Like my strange scream last Friday night. And another kind, that you know only in retrospect: “Why, that joy I felt and didn’t think about
24 Queerness as Horizon
h. £eet were in when is d my lap, or when I looke down and saw his slanty
Shut that too was eyes , ecstasy. Nor is there
‘ly a downer from necessan it:’ Do I believe in the perfectibility of man? Strangely enough, (I’ve known un- happiness enough) I do. I mean it. I really do believe future generations can live without the in- tervals of anxious fear we know between our bouts and strolls of ecstasy. The struck ball finds the pocket. You smile some years back in London, I have known ecstasy and calm: haven’t you too? Let’s try to understand, my handsome friend who wears his nose awry.11
The speaker remembers the grandness of an unspectacular Friday in which he and his addressee slept in and then scrambled to catch a train to a din- ner out in the country. He attempts to explain the ecstasy he felt that night, indicating that one moment of ecstasy, a moment he identifies as being · marked both by self-consciousness and obliviousness, possesses a poten- tially transformative charge. He then considers another moment of ecstasy in retrospect, a looking back at a no-longer-conscious that provides an af- fective enclave in the present that staves off the sense of “bad feelings” that mark the affective disjuncture of being queer in straight time. .
The moment in the poem of deeper introspection-beginning “Do I believe in/ the perfectibility of /man?”-is an example of a utopian desire
Queerness as Horizon 25
inspired by queer relationality. Moments of queer relational bliss, what the poet names as ecstasies, are viewed as having the ability to rewrite a larger map of everyday life. When “future generations ” are invoked, the poet is signaling a queerness to come, a way of being in the world that is glimpsed through reveries in a quotidian life that challenges the dominance of an af- fective world, a present, full of anxiousness and fear. These future genera- tions are, like the “we” invoked in the manifesto by the Third World Gay Revolution group, not an identitarian formulation but, instead, the invoca- tion of a future collectivity, a queerness that registers as the illumination of a horizon of existence.
The poem speaks of multiple temporalities and the affective mode known as ecstasy, which resonates alongside the work of Martin Heidegger . In Being and Time Heidegger reflects on the activity of timeliness and its relation to ekstatisch (ecstasy) , signaling for Heidegger the ecstatic unity of temporality-Past, Present, and Future. 12 The ecstasy the speaker feels and remembers in “A photograph ” is not consigned to one moment. It steps out from the past and remarks on the unity of an expansive version of temporality; hence, future generations are invoked. To know ecstasy in the way in which the poem ‘s speaker does is to have a sense of timeli- ness’s motion, to understand a temporal unity that is important to what I attempt to describe as the time of queerness. Queerness’ s time is a step- ping out of the linearity of straight time. Straight time is a self-naturaliz- ing temporality. Straight time ‘s “presentness ” needs to be phenomeno- logically questioned, and this is the fundamental value of a queer utopian hermeneutics. Queerness ‘ s ecstatic and horizonal temporality is a path and a movement to a greater openness to the world.
It would be difficult to mistake Schuyler’s poem for one of Frank O’Hara’s upbeat reveries. O’Hara’s optimism is a contagious happiness within the quotidian that I would also describe as having a utopian qual- ity. Schuyler’s poetry is not so much about optimism but instead about a hope that is distinctly utopian and distinctly queer. The poem imagines another collective belonging, an enclave in the future where readers will not be beset with feelings of nervousness and fear. These feelings are the affective results of being outside of straight time. He writes from a depres- sive position, “(I’ve known un- / happiness enough),” but reaches beyond the affective force-field of the present.
Hope for Bloch is an essential characteristic of not only the utopian but also the human condition. Thus, I talk about the human as a relatively sta- ble category. But queerness in its utopian connotations promises a human
Queerness a 26 s Horizon
d. upting any ossified understanding f thus isr . . . o th h . not yet here, ff a gay and lesbian antmtopianism th . e ll-that is . to stave o . . h . at is 1he point 1s 1 . s of the pragmatic ng ts discourse th . Very man, ‘th a po e1111c 1 d . at 1n h tainted wi ly politics but a so esire. Queerness and muc . s not on as Uto . f itself hamstring . based on an economy of desire and desi . Ptan
o . formation . h ring. ‘Thi formation 1s a . d t that thing that 1s not yet ere, objects s . 1 s directe a . Th . and rn desire 1s a way . h ticipation and promise. e desire that 0- h burn wit an 1 propel ments t at h” is born of the no- onger-conscious the . h s , “A hotograp . ‘ rte r Schuyler s P b distinct pleasures felt m the past. And th es. f emem ranee, us Past
onance O r ff h affective perils of the present while they e bl Pleasures stave o t e ‘ na e a . is ueer futurity s core. . desire that topian and there is somethmg queer about the utopi·
Q!Jeerness is u ‘ . h ddb 11 an. . d cribed the utopian as t e o a or the maniac n In Frednc Jameson es . d . . . . . 1. . ‘de straight time and ask for, esire, and 1magme anoth deed to 1ve ms1 er
‘ d 1 i·s to represent and perform a desire that is both utopi·an time an p ace . . . and queer. To participate in such an endeavo~ i_s not ~o rmagme an isolated future for the individual but instead to participate m a hermeneutic that wishes to describe a collective futurity, a notion of futurity that functions as a historical materialist critique. In the two textual examples I have em- ployed we see an overt utopianism that is explicit in the Third World Gay Revolution manifesto, and what I am identifying as a utopian impulse is perceivable in Schuyler’s poetry. One requires a utopian hermeneutic to see an already operative principle of hope that hums in the poet’s work. The other text, the manifesto, does another type of performative work; it does utopia.
To “read” the performative, along the lines of thought first inaugurated by J. L. Austin, is implicitly to critique the epistemological.14 Performativ- io/ and ut~pia both call into question what is epistemologically there and signal a highly ephemeral ontological field that can be characterized as a doing in futurity. Thus, a manifesto is a call to a doing in and for the fu- ture The t · · 1 “d . · u opian impu se to be gleaned from the poem is a call for 0• mg” that · b · • ” . . is a ecommg: the becoming of and for “future generations. This re1ection of th h d · · d d by th e ere an now, the ontologically static, is m ee , e measure of h . d r . Th omonormative codes, a maniacal and oddball en eavo ·
e queer utopia · d f liti al and 1 1
n proJect a dressed here turns to the fringe o po c cu tura pr d • I · drawn t o. uction to offset the tyranny of the homonormative. tis o tastes ideal · d d ge or indeed ‘ ogies, an aesthetics that can only seem od , stran ‘
queer next to th d . . . alcy-desiring hom e mute stnvmg of the practical and norm osexual.
Queerness as Horizon 27
‘!he turn to the call of the no-longer-conscious is not a turn to norma- tive historical analysis. Indeed it is important to complicate queer his- tory and understand it as doing more than the flawed process of merely evidencing. Evidencing protocols often fail to enact real hermeneutical inquiry and instead opt to reinstate that which is known in advance. Thus, ractices of knowledge production that are content merely to cull selec-
~vely from the past, while striking a pose of positivist undertaking or em- pirical knowledge retrieval, often nullify the political imagination. Jame- son’s Marxian dictate “always historicize”15 is not a methodological call for empirical data collection. Instead, it is a dialectical injunction, suggesting we animate our critical faculties by bringing the past to bear on the pres- ent and the future. Utopian hermeneutics offer us a refined lens to view queerness, insofar as queerness, if it is indeed not qqite here, is nonethe- less intensely relational with the past.
The present is not enough. It is impoverished and toxic for queers and other people who do not feel the privilege of majoritarian belonging, nor- mative tastes, and “rational” expectations. (I address the question of ratio- nalism shortly). Let me be clear that the idea is not simply to turn away from the present. One cannot afford such a maneuver, and if one thinks one can, one has resisted the present in favor of folly. The present must be known in relation to the alternative temporal and spatial maps provided by a perception of past and future affective worlds.
Utopian thinking gets maligned for being naively romantic. Of course, much of it has been naive. We know that any history of actualized utopian communities would be replete with failures. No one, other than perhaps Marx himself, has been mor.e cognizant about this fact than Bloch. But it is through this Marxian tradition, not beside or against it, that the prob- lem of the present is addressed. In the following quotation we begin to glimpse the importance of the Marxian tradition for the here and now.
Marxism, above all, was first to bring a concept of knowledge into the world that essentially refers to Becomeness, but to the tendency of what is coming up; thus for the first time it brings future into our con- ceptual and theoretical grasp. Such recognition of tendency is neces- sary to remember, and to open up the No-Longer-Conscious. 16
Thus we see Bloch’s model for approaching the past. The idea is not to at- tempt merely to represent it with simplistic strokes. More nearly, it is im- portant to call on the past, to animate it, understanding that the past has a
s Horizon 28 Queerness a
h . ch is to say that rather than being stati · nature, w i h c and ~- perfonnative . It is in this very way that t e past is perform . ‘UCed the past does t~mg~ d it seems important to put the past int atre. Fol~ lowing a Blochilal~ t :e;o ‘view the tautological nature of the p~ p ay vith
nt ca mg m d esent ‘ll the prese ‘. . 1 st exclusively conceive through the par · .a.ne t which is a mo . arneter presen , . If naturalizing endeavor. Opening up a qu 8 of
. ht time is a se – 1 h 1 eer Past . straig M, . ideological tactics. B oc exp ains that 1s enabled by arxian
. h scued the rational core of utopia and made it con Marxism t us re . . . crete 11 th Core of the still idealistic tendency of dialectics. Rom as we as e . . an.
. . d t understand utopia, not even its own, but utopia th ticism oes no . . at has become concrete understands Romanticism and makes inroads into iti in so far as archaic material in its archetypes and work1 contain a not yet voiced, undischarged element.11
Bloch invites us to look to this no-longer-conscious, a past that is akin to what Derrida described as the trace. These ephemeral traces, flickering il- luminations from other times and places, are sites that may indeed appear merely romantic, even to themselves. Nonetheless they assist those of us who wish to follow queerness’ s promise, its still unrealized potential, to . see something else, a component that the German aesthetician would call cultural surplus. I build on this idea to suggest that the surplus is both cul- tural and affective. More distinctly, I point to a queer feeling of hope in the face of hopeless heteronormative maps of the present where futurity is indeed the province of normative reproduction. This hope takes on the philosophical contours of idealism.
A queer utopian hermeneutic would thus be queer in its aim to look for queer relational formations within the social. It is also about this temporal project that I align with queerness, a work shaped by its idealist trajectory; indeed it is the work of not settling for the present, of asking and looking beyond the here and now. Such a hermeneutic would then be epistemologi- cally and ontologically humble in that it would not claim the epistemologi- cal certitude of a queerness that we simply “know” but, instead, strain to ~ctivate the no-longer-conscious and to extend a glance toward that which is forward-dawning, anticipatory illuminations of the not-yet-conscious. The purpose of such temporal maneuvers is to wrest ourselves from the ~resent’s stultifying hold, to know our queerness as a belonging in par· hcularity th t · d’ f li · al im· a is not 1ctated or organized around the spirit o po tic passe that characterizes the present.
Queerness as Horizon 29
Jameson has s~ggested that for ~loch t~e present is provincial. 18 This spatialization of time makes sense m relation to the history of utopian hought, most famously described as an island by Thomas More. To mark
:he present as provincial is not to ridicule or demean the spots on queer- ness’s map that do not signify as metropolitan. The here and now has an opposite number, and that would be the then and there. I have argued that the then that disrupts the tyranny of the now is both past and future. Along those lines, the here that is unnamed yet always implicit in the metropo1i- tan hub requires the challenge of a there that can be regional or global. The transregional or the global as modes of spatial organization potentially dis- place the hegemony of an unnamed here that is always dominated by the shadow of the nation-state and its mutable and multiple corporate inter- ests. While globalization is a term that mostly defines a worldwide system of manufactured asymmetry and ravenous exploitation, it also signals the encroaching of the there on the here in ways that are worth considering.
The Third World Gay Revolution group was an organization that grew out of the larger Gay Liberation Front at roughly the same time that the Radicalesbians also spun off from the larger group in the spring/ summer of 1970. Although they took the name Third World Gay Revolution, the group’s members have been described by a recent historian as people of color. 19 Their own usage of the term “Third World” clearly connotes their deep identification with the global phenomenon that was decolonization. It is therefore imperative to remember this moment from the no-longer- conscious that transcended a gay and lesbian activist nationalist imagi- nary. For Heidegger “time and space are not co-ordinate. Time is prior to space:’20 If time is prior to space, then we can view both the force of the no-longer-conscious and the not-yet-here as potentially bearing on the here of naturalized space and time. Thus, at the center of cultural texts such as the manifesto ”All Together Now (A Blueprint for the Movement)” we find an ideological document, and its claim to the pragmatic is the prod- uct of a short-sighted here that fails to include anything but an entitled and privileged world. The there of queer utopia cannot simply be that of the faltering yet still influential nation-state.
This is then to say that the distinctions between here and there, and the world that the here and now organizes, are not fixed-they are already be- coming undone in relation to a forward-dawning futurity. It is important to understand that a critique of our homosexual present is not an attack on what many people routinely name as lesbian or gay but, instead, an ap- praisal of how queerness is still forming, or in many crucial ways formless.
Queerness a 30 s Horizon
. Ultimately, we must insist on a qu ‘ is utopian. . 1 eer fut . rnesss forJ.11 . •sonous and mso vent. A resource th Ur1ty Quee t is so poi at ca
b ause the presen h c.uture is indeed the no-longer-cons . nnot ec know t e 1 1 cious h b discounted to b extinguished but not yet discharged . . ‘ t at e_ lace that may e in its Uto.
thing or P pian potentiali~ the Kantian nature of his project as the “saving” of a”
Bloch explain . th remarking that Kant’s rationalism is not ra. . e” It 1s wor . . lf . Ill.ere} tionahst cor : . . indeed rationalism itse is refunctioned. No 1 Y
d • this instance, . onger hel up in h 1 r used by universalism to measure time and . f nalism t e ru e d . . . space. 1s ra 10 , k tionalism is transforme via a political urgency. Ra In Blochs wor ra k . –
. . t dismissed but is instead unyo ed from a politics of th tionahsm is no d h “· . al I e . H bert Marcuse discusse t e 1rrat10n e ement in rational pragmatic. er . . I . ‘ – ity” as an important compo~en~ of_ 1nd~stna s~c1e~ s nature. Irrational- ity flourishes in “established 1nstitutions -marnage 1s ?erhaps one of the very best examples of an institution that hampers rat10nal advancement and the not-yet-imagined versions of freedom that heteronormative and homonormative culture proscribe. 21 In Marcuse’s analysis the advance- ments in rationality made by technological innovations were counteracted by gay pragmatic political strategies that tell us not to dream of other spatial/temporal coordinates but instead to dwell in a broken-down pres- ent. This homosexual pragmatism takes on the practical contours of the homonormativity so powerfully described by Lisa Duggan in her treatise on neoliberalism, The Twilight of Equality?22 Within the hermeneutical scope of a queer utopian inquiry rationalism is reignited with an affective spark of idealist thought.
Abstract utopias are indeed dead ends, too often vectoring into the es- capist disavowal of our current moment. But a turn to what Bloch calls the no-longer-conscious is an essential route for the purpose of arriving at the not-yet-here. This maneuver a turn to the past for the purpose of critiquing the p t · 11’ · n, fu . res en , 1s prope ed by a desire for futurity. ‘-dleer · b tunhtyl does not underplay desire. In fact it is all about desire, desire for ot arger semiab t · b al o . s ractions such as a better world or freedom ut s ‘
more immedi t I b se d a e y, etter relations within the social that include better x an more plea s D ·d
Harvev h sure. ome theorists of postmodernity, such as aVl ” ave narrated d’ a1· liti s of the collect· ·ty sex ra Ic ism as a turning away from a po c . if 1v1 toward th · d· • . h’ A Bne History oif lr z·b 1. e in
1v1duahstic and the petty. 23 In 1s f lveo i era ism H d’ . no neoliberalism In hi arvey plots what he views as the con itio al · · s acco t “Th . . . . 1£ xu -1ty and identity b un , e narc1ss1stic exploration of se , se .
ecame th I • . ” In this e eitmotif of bourgeois urban culture.
Queerness as Horizon 31
account, the hard-fought struggles for sexual liberation are reduced to a “demand for lifestyle diversification.” Harvey ‘s critique pits the “working- class and ethnic immigrant New York” against elites who pursue “lifestyle diversification:’24 The experiences of working-class or ethnic-racial queers are beyond his notice or interest. Harvey’s failing is a too-common error for some, but not all, members of a recalcitrant, unreconstructed North American left. The rejection of queer and feminist politics represented by Harvey and other reductive left thinkers is a deviation away from the Frankfurt School’s interest in the transformative force of eros and its im- plicit relationship to political desire. The failings and limits of commenta – tors such as Harvey have certainly made queer and utopian thinkers alike wary of left thought. Thus, I suggest a turn to previous modes of Marxian philosophy, such as the work of Marcuse or Bloch. The point is not to succumb to the phobic panic that muddles left thinking or to unimagina- tive invocations of the rationalism cited by neoliberal gays and lesbians. The point is once again to pull from the past, the no-longer-conscious, described and represented by Bloch today, to push beyond the impasse of the present.
I swerve away from my critique of the failures of imagination in the LGBT activist enterprises to Harvey for a very specific purpose. Harvey represented a fairly more expansive and nuanced critique in his previous work on postmodernity, writing that was thoughtfully critiqued by queer theorists such as Judith Halberstam. 25 But Harvey ‘s work has become, like that of many Marxist scholars, all too ready to dismiss or sacrifice ques- tions of sexuality and gender. Furthermore, these mostly white writers have, as in the example I cited in the preceding paragraph, been quick to posit race and class as real antagonisms within a larger socioeconomic struggle and sexuality and gender as merely “lifestyle diversification.” In many ways they are performing a function that is the direct opposite of white neoliberal queers who studiously avoid the question of ethnic, ra- cial, class, ability, or gender difference. This correspondence is represen- tative of a larger political impasse that I understand as being the toll of pragmatic politics and antiutopian thought.
Concrete utopias remake rationalism, unlinking it from the provincial and pragmatic politics of the present. Taking back a rationalist core, in the way in which Bloch suggests we do in relation to romanticism, is to insist on an ordering of life that is not dictated by the spatial/temporal coordi- nates of straight time, a time and space matrix in which, unfortunately, far too many gays, lesbians, and other purportedly “queer” people reside.
rness as Horizon 32 Quee
as horizon is to perceive it as a modal· queerness 1ty of To see h t mporal stranglehold that I describe a ecstar . . which t e e . . . . s strai h ic tune lil d tepped out 0£ Ecstatic time 1s signaled at th g t tillle . . upte or s . e .rn 1s mterr announced perhaps m a scream or grunt f 0lllent
feels ecstasy, f o pl one . t ntly during moments o contemplation wh easure d ore unpor a en one I ‘ an m r. om one’s past, present, or future. Opening O 0oks b k at a scene 1r . . . nese}f ac t· n of queerness as mamfestat10n m and of e t . up to such a percep 10 a- . cs atic ti
uch more than the meager ouenngs of pragmat· Ille offers queers m . Ic gay an . i·t·cs Seeing queerness as honzon rescues and embold d lesbian po 1 1 · . ens con
h as freedom that have been withered by the touch of ne lib · cepts sue . . . . . . . o era} th ht and gay assimilat10mst politics. Pragmatic gay politics oug . present themselves as rational and ultimat~ly more doable. Such politics and their roponents often attempt to descnbe themselves as not being ideological
;et they are extremely ideological and, more precisely, are representativ~ of a decayed ideological institution known as marriage. Rationalism need not be given over to gay neoliberals who attempt to sell a cheapened and degraded version of freedom. The freedom that is offered by an LGBT position that does not bend to straight time’s gravitational pull is akin to one of Heidegger’s descriptions of freedom as unboundness. And more often than not the “rhetorical” deployment of the pragmatic leads to a not- doing, an antiperformativity. Doing, performing, engaging the perfonna- tive as force of and for futurity is queerness’s bent and ideally the way to queerness.26
Notes to Chapter 1 193
·o Jiistory; Count(Er)I~g _Gene~ations,” New Literary History 31 (2000)· ~pacld g Eli’zabeth Freeman, Time Bmds, or, Erotohistoriographv” S . 1,.,, · _744; 1 • h . . ,, octa iext 727 (ZOOS): 57-68; Caro yn Dms aw, Getting Medieval: Sexualities and Com- 84-BS p e-and Postmodern (Durham, NC: Duke University Press 1999) G •fies, r, . n n · , ; aya-rnunt th Jmnossible Desires: ‘-
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