Date: Wed, 18 Aug 1999
Subject: oh my god: cut-ups / "homosexualization of the New York School"

>>> R M Daley <R.M.Daley@M.CC.UTAH.EDU> 08/13/99 04:45pm >>>
>>>1. please see sedgwick's intro to Novel Gazing, puclished Duke Press 1997 for a primer on "queer theory" which departs ferociously from, says a thousand goodbyes to, freud and his cronies whose arrested sexual (theory) development foisted repression on any and everything not deemed 'natural' or 'biological'

Is that what Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick is saying? She uses the word "natural" only once, about the pleasure/reality principles, and for that, she places it in
(ironic?) scare quotes: "This leaves pleasure-seeking as an always . . .
underground wellspring of supposedly 'natural' motive" (p. 16).

As far as "his cronies", what about the Melanie Klein Sedgwick takes
half her title from ("Reparative") and champions?

I don't know if I would call it a "primer"; to me, it seems a rather fine
hermeneutical point she's sifting. And neither Sedgwick nor queer
theory are that proscriptive: she repeatedly advocates a kind of
scholarly libertinism ("turns these essays take away from existing
accounts of how 'one' should read, and back toward a . . . fecund
question of how one does", p. 2; "for someone to have an unmystified,
angry view of . . . systemic oppressions does not . . . enjoin on that
person any specific train of epistemological or narrative consequences",
p. 4).

Yet, the queer theory people I personally knew in 1997 took considerable
umbrage at Sedgwick's dictating to the community, labelling them. There
are good reasons to take exception with her "Paranoid Reading and
Reparative Reading".

Sedgwick seems to be taking her psychoanalysis menu-style, picking
and choosing which Freudianisms she'll keep and which throw out.
Even if, as you say, she's expurgating repression (repressing
repression), the whole essay is, of course, about nothing less Freudian
than--- paranoia! That's like saying no USA, but keeping Washington,

Which still doesn't keep Kathryn Bond Stockton and Anne Chandler, to
name only two of the essayists in Novel Gazing, from going right
ahead and using their fill of Freud for their queer theory (50-51, 224n).

All the same, hasn't Sedgwick's new and improved model 1999
Dialogue on Love out-trumped her own 1997 "Paranoid Reading . . ."
into obsolescence, as far as repression goes? 1997: she may have had
motives for rhetoric against queer theory's (other writers') reliance on
psychoanalysis and repression,--- but when, 1999, it came to her
memoirs and 'fessing up as to how she actually spent those years, she
has no bones about publishing transcripts (cut-ups!) from psychotherapy
sessions where she paid to unveil her own personal repressions.
Doesn't that seem like double standards, prohibitive queer theory (no
repression) versus indulgent private praxis (yes repression)?

Regardless, when I added "I mean this as queer theory, . . . which is
always speculative" as the last sentence to my post (Sedgwick
wrote: "there are important phenomenological and theoretical tasks that
can be accomplished only through local theories and nonce taxonomies;
the . . . mechanisms of their relation to stronger theories remains the
matter of art and speculative thought", p. 23), maybe you're right and
it's not queer theory; I shouldn't have blushed: I tossed that in as
apologetics only because I was afraid someone might think what I wrote
was "anti-gay." --- I wrote, "it's commutative, not additive", and
Sedgwick wrote, "The desire of a reparative impulse . . . is additive
and accretive" (p. 27): the two differentiations don't really seem that far
apart to me.

But even if I am mistaken, she's already gotten there ahead of us: "'the
importance of 'mistakes' in queer reading and writing . . . has a lot to do
with loosening the traumatic, inevitable-seeming connection between
mistakes and humiliation. . . . (A) lot of queer energy, later on, goes into .
. . practices aimed at taking the terror out of error, at making the making
of mistakes sexy, creative, even cognitively powerful" (p. 25).

Maria Damon, for one, seems to agree about Earl Jackson that a good
connection between "the homosexualization of the New York
avant-garde" and cut-ups can at least be argued. Are you saying there
is no connection?

>>>3. not everyone has to have babies - some women don't have babies
- some women who fuck with men don't have babies - some women
who fuck with women don't have babies - some women who fuck men
have babies and then give them away - . . .

Gertrude Stein couldn't have said it better. (I did identify "the childless
homosexual" as a fallacy.) True, all exhaustively true. But that's
empiricism. I was speaking hypothetically.