Interestingly, the essay begins with the story of how Macarena Gomez-Barris fell in love with Judith Halberstam, but the full import of the text performs a recognizable “homonormalizing” permutation of heteronormativity that provides a compelling example of what Puar describes as “U.S. sexual exceptionalism.” Quote:
Sexual exceptionalism also works by glossing over its own policing of the boundaries of acceptable gender, racial, and class formations. That is, homosexual exceptionalism does not necessarily contradict or undermine heterosexual sexual exceptionalism; in actuality it may support forms of heteronormativity and the class, racial, and citizenship privileges they require.” (9)
In Terrorist Assemblages Jasbir K. Puar contends that “State of exception discourses
rationalize egregious violence in the name of the preservation of a way of life
and those privileged to live it,” and in her summary of Giorgio Agamben’s work,
she highlights the intersection between a “biopolitics [that] continually seeks
to redefine the boundaries between life and death” and an American empire’s
conception of itself as both “unique” and “universal,” a “paradoxical claim” that
has, according to Amy Kaplan, “taken American exceptionalism to new heights” in
its frenzied “war on terror”—to an insidious place that Agamben likens to a
The temporality of exception is one that seeks to control itself; the frenzied
mode of emergency is an alibi for the quiet certitude of a slowly normativized
working paradigm of liberal democratic government, an alibi necessary to
disavow its linkages to totalitarian governments. The state of exception thus works
to hide or even deny itself in order to further its expanse, its presence and
efficacy, surfacing only momentarily and with enough gumption to further
legitimize the occupation of more terrain. Agamben likens the externally
internal space of the state of exception to a Möbius strip: at the moment it is cast outside it
becomes the inside” (9).
The comments about the “ex-gay” movement in today’s reading reminded me of a couple articles some friends of mine had posted on Facebook recently. Apparently, the movement has now ended, and Exodus International (the largest group) is shutting its doors. The homoerotic nature of some of the “therapy sessions” have caused a lot of pain, and this is now being addressed.
Adrienne Rich: What Kind of Times Are These
There’s a place between two stands of trees where the grass grows uphill
and the old revolutionary road breaks off into shadows
near a meeting-house abandoned by the persecuted
who disappeared into those shadows.
I’ve walked there picking mushrooms at the edge of dread, but don’t be fooled
this isn’t a Russian poem, this is not somewhere else but here,
our country moving closer to its own truth and dread,
its own ways of making people disappear.
I won’t tell you where the place is, the dark mesh of the woods meeting the unmarked strip of light—
ghost-ridden crossroads, leafmold paradise:
I know already who wants to buy it, sell it, make it disappear.
And I won’t tell you where it is, so why do I tell you
anything? Because you still listen, because in times like these
to have you listen at all, it’s necessary
to talk about trees.
I found this dance performance based on the figure of Ezili:
Diving into the Wreck
Our Reading on “Black Atlantic, Queer Atlantic” made me think of the poem by Adrienne Rich today, “Diving into the Wreck.” Although the article’s complexities of identity are far more intersectional than her poem, I thought it worth posting here because of all of the watery imagery and the temporal moments of re(memory) it seems to surface (at least for myself):
First having read the book of myths, and loaded the camera, and checked the edge of the knife-blade, I put on the body-armor of black rubber the absurd flippers the grave and awkward mask. I am having to do this not like Cousteau with his assiduous team aboard the sun-flooded schooner but here alone. There is a ladder. The ladder is always there hanging innocently close to the side of the schooner. We know what it is for, we who have used it. Otherwise it is a piece of maritime floss some sundry equipment. I go down. Rung after rung and still the oxygen immerses me the blue light the clear atoms of our human air. I go down. My flippers cripple me, I crawl like an insect down the ladder and there is no one to tell me when the ocean will begin. First the air is blue and then it is bluer and then green and then black I am blacking out and yet my mask is powerful it pumps my blood with power the sea is another story the sea is not a question of power I have to learn alone to turn my body without force in the deep element. And now: it is easy to forget what I came for among so many who have always lived here swaying their crenellated fans between the reefs and besides you breathe differently down here. I came to explore the wreck. The words are purposes. The words are maps. I came to see the damage that was done and the treasures that prevail. I stroke the beam of my lamp slowly along the flank of something more permanent than fish or weed the thing I came for: the wreck and not the story of the wreck the thing itself and not the myth the drowned face always staring toward the sun the evidence of damage worn by salt and sway into this threadbare beauty the ribs of the disaster curving their assertion among the tentative haunters. This is the place. And I am here, the mermaid whose dark hair streams black, the merman in his armored body. We circle silently about the wreck we dive into the hold. I am she: I am he whose drowned face sleeps with open eyes whose breasts still bear the stress whose silver, copper, vermeil cargo lies obscurely inside barrels half-wedged and left to rot we are the half-destroyed instruments that once held to a course the water-eaten log the fouled compass We are, I am, you are by cowardice or courage the one who find our way back to this scene carrying a knife, a camera a book of myths in which our names do not appear.