A quick and slightly mischievous, slightly grouchy, slightly whatever response to a talk given by Jack Halberstam and written up here.
DISJECTA FOR JJH
(THIS HOMOSEXUAL SAYS ZZZZZZZZZZ TO STERILITY)
1. If in that city police rounded up mollies, queens, half-boys with a compact smuggled in their back pocket, if smuggled thus because unable to purchase; if, in that city, police also waited smiling next to the urinal, if in that city police also smiled at you from across the interview desk for the job you need; if under that sign we remember, we ask these questions.
2. If asking questions about the goods of survival isn’t posturing; if (only if) we remember the question of survival/extinction is also a question of timespans: minutes, days, weeks, years, centuries, aeons. If timeframes matter.
3. If we perform thus this intellectual operation: if we take unpromising raw materials (pets, Monty Python, humanism) and then move them around like objects in a shell game; if by means of prestidigitation we make the chain of meaning reproduction=(…)=ownership; if we hope that our audience marvels at our handiwork rather than asks simple questions like, is this true.
4. If in fact we are talking about the law of property rather than any law intrinsic to ‘humanism’; if in fact we are talking about inexorable valorisation rather than reproduction; if the blurring of these categories matters.
5. If the most blurred category in Halberstam’s work is ‘We’.
6. If the choices offered by JH are between anathematising beauty or clutching it in the face of doom; if portraying the totality of critical possibility thus we have already anticipated for our audience a proper mode of response, hard-nosed hard-bodied hard-minded anathematising joy or pansyish deluded sentimentalism; if we admit at no point the possibility of our response remaining out of our control.
7. If response is the wrong word here.
8. If we wonder ungenerously what the salary and stability is on which one can think sterility unexistence; if the death drive is only thinkable on the international jet or conference panel; if yes these are questions tired to ask but less tired when my bank balance has so often a minus sign in from of it.
9. If there is futurity and futurity; if the future has a habit of arriving anyway.
10. If this word redemption is continually used but with little sense of what it might mean save a generally bad thing to want to do; if I were offered the possibility of an absolute redemption would I take it (yes)
11. If in fact we are going to talk about things in term of a queer position then we reaffirm the reflexive humanism so apparently reviled by JH et al; if we can simply flit between this that and the other position then at root we still have the obstinate general human, who may take any position; if this is the reason so much contemporary queer theory reads like a humdrum exercise in formulaic #makeuthink; if this reversal that reversal this counterorthodoxy; if oh dear here comes Edelman again fucking Freud’s corpse; if yes Lee dear it does make you terribly cool.
12. If of course we have been engaged in a polemic against the strictures of biological reproduction and the heterosexual family since the beginning, if that has been the project from day one; if the counter to this is really a matter of really choosing ‘anti futurity’ and ‘antireproduction’ then this is not something you can merely put on college seminars but instead desire an extended death in a really very boring orgasmic haze; if the question isn’t actually non/futurity, but our reproduction versus theirs; if ‘ours’ might include reproductions other than the biological or heterosexual; if in fact it must.
13. If (sidebar) if all of this Edelman stuff is not itself apolitical, depoliticising; if despite our best attempts to rescue from its fascinated mirror gaze a viable queer politics such an effort is tendentious at best; if the opposing categories [reproductive, responsible, quasihetero, imperialist] [antireproductive, authentically queer, self-valorising, destructive] are not themselves bad categories; if Edelman mobilises a panoply of possible image-choices in the service of this distinction; if it is then surprising how under-control the uncontrollable is for Edelman, if it is then a matter of wearing the cooler intellectual clothes, if yeah man zombie politics, if yeah the queer is like death man. If in this there is no apparent terror, if there is in this no lack of control, if there is in this a studied dissidence.