Horace Walpole's description of Mary Wollstonecraft: "hyena in petticoats" and a "philosophizing serpent."
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Sometimes I write for Sex and the State.
sometimes i think that it should be easy to stop caring about being attractive
about making myself legible under certain categories; because we all know it’s about legibility, this game of attraction and beauty; it’s about making yourself real and readable to other people, so that they can read you and then confirm for you the story that your body is supposed to tell
the story of your identity, a story which you have to reshape if it’s more appalling than appealing, more maudlin than tragic, more harold & maud than tristan & isolde
it should be easy to not care if your body can’t do or won’t do, if it can’t or won’t tell a pretty story
it should be a simple thing, not minding
but then i remember that even “not caring” is part of the game; even that has been commodified; even aloofness is a quality you have to cultivate like a crop, a personality trait you perform and offer to other people, tribute; the self-assured person whose inner beauty “emerges” and then gives them outer beauty; the success story; the ugly duckling, the ugly fuckling
so even the way out has been turned into a way in, and the only way in is to turn yourself inside-out.
i don’t understand people who have generic fetishes like “hairy guys” or “jocks.” all of my fetishes are manically specific like “straight white cisgender middle-class progressive liberal men who check their privilege a lot” and “straight punk men with good butts and rectangular faces” or “queer non-straight/non-gay men with radical socialist sympathies and a hidden collection of selfies with kittens.” not “jocks.” “jocks” would be easier.
Donna Haraway, A Cyborg Manifesto (via justaguywitharrows)
I am about to misread a work of Queer Theory. All apologies to Judith Halberstam.
“[I] advocate a complete dismantling of self, I explore a feminist politics that issues not from a doing but from an undoing, not from a being or becoming…but from a refusal to be or to become[…]This feminism, a feminism grounded in negation, refusal, passivity, absence, and silence, offers spaces and modes of unknowing, failing, and forgetting as part of an alternative feminist project, a shadow feminism which has nestled in more positivist accounts and unraveled their logics from within. This shadow feminism speaks in the language of self-destruction, masochism, an antisocial femininity[…]”—Judith Halberstam, The Queer Art of Failure, p. 124
Negation is madness if what you’re negating is the sense of a dominant order.
To undo and un-be and un-become a larger knot, a greater weave, the change you want to see in the world, etc., etc., etc., shut up.
What does it mean to find escape in madness? The mad is a comfortable trope for the haute bourgeoisie—who can afford to tell reality to fuck off—who can check themselves into rehab—who can go on their meds, off their meds, however they please, because they have meds and a safety net and people who simultaneously love them and have the money to make that love mean something to a hospital, to a shrink, to the world outside. (There is nothing so shameful that money cannot pretty it up; conversely, there is nothing so beautiful or natural or normal that a lack of money cannot render it repulsive on a visceral level. See: homelessness; depression & mental illness; addiction.) They can lionize the mad—because they won’t die—(immediately)—of their epistemology. Only the sane can afford to play at being insane. Only the sane would dare to call sanity a burden, or easily attainable.
I’ve seen this in literature, in movies, and in private conversations. So many private conversations lately that it’s too sad to even try and count them.
But of course there’s power in madness—you see your mind expand—shrink—spatter—loom—dip—and weave, all in one brief breath of time. Your interior turns into a Continent of heavy shadows, which pull at your neck like a happy, thrilling yoke. On some imaginary level of your Continent you know that it creates itself. The madness is its own mover, and Felix Volkbein laughing manically, maniacally, at Dr. O’Connor is only ever laughing at himself. The Continent emerges out of conversation with itself, and then it’s colonized.
Invaded and taken by visitors who write safari guides and classify and quarantine—(my thanks to the DSM)—who civilize the Continent.
Is it strange to resist this colonization? To practice a mental scorched earth and burn the structures left behind by the colonists? To keep some and immolate the rest? To keep, maybe, linear logic—but set fire to linear narratives of love, progress, acceptance, and family. To hold onto self-love while also appreciating self-annihilation and the opportunities it can bring.
When I first wrote this in a notebook I was in a clean, sanitized classroom—but I smelled autumn and I felt childhood and I could feel my body falling into warm dust; sometimes I am seized by a memory, a thought, a scent, and I’m removed from my body, or maybe placed deeper within my body, and I can forget where I am for an hour, two hours; and why would I give that up, for sanity, for a shrunken head horizon?
Because it is terrifying?
The Continent is dangerous. You can get lost. You can even die, sometimes for a long, long time, as if there is no more time left inside your head or outside of your body, where—they tell you—the world lives.
But if you gave it up then you would not have Circumference—that space outside of yourself which occupies that space within yourself—you would not be able to feel God for a Frontier and all the things you know that you don’t believe in but that you still sometimes feel when you’re at your maddest—and you wouldn’t be able to accept the terriblest moments of your life, because there would be no solace beyond your unbecoming.
The only value of the unbecoming—of the negative theology, the negative epistemology—is what is able to rush in to replace it. This is the value of zero, of annihilation and endless inner space. The only value is what can come out of nothingness. What can come out of the Continent, where you live and do not live.
My shadow feminism is certainly melodramatic, explosive, self-combusting, self-immolating, angry as fuck, willing to let you know it, unwilling or unable to hide or to “pass” (as straight, as happy, as wealthier or prettier than I am); it’s unlikely to make any significant impact, other than the undoings it might render in my own life (undoing straightness, undoing gender, undoing doing); it’s probably going to fizzle out, again and again, until it returns, again and again, to the Continent; which is, of course, where it comes from in the first place.
bell hooks, Talking Back (via allcameundonethemomentyoumeantit)
i’m in a bar in senegal and i might cry b/c i just posted that fucking post and i don’t know if i should have
The problem with being gay is that you really believe that you’ve escaped. That you’ve gotten rid of all the hang-ups drying out the sex lives of heterosexuals—that’s to say, the unenlightened future parents of more queers. The peasant population, we might say. Those who’ve yet to understand the joys of queer intimacy and still cling to outdated understandings of pleasure.
(Reading on: trigger warning for non-consensual sex.)