Sting and Branford Marsalis: “If You Love Somebody, Set Them Free”
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).
I Stop Writing the Poem
to fold the clothes. No matter who lives
or who dies, I’m still a woman.
I’ll always have plenty to do.
I bring the arms of his shirt
together. Nothing can stop
our tenderness. I’ll get back
to the poem. I’ll get back to being
a woman. But for now
there’s a shirt, a giant shirt
in my hands, and somewhere a small girl
standing next to her mother
watching to see how it’s done.
I came across this website today and thought it was pertinent to our continuing dialogue about “queer identities” with “no fixed referent.”
Halberstam – What’s That Smell?:
“Ferron’s songs have always been about time passing, about her place in time, her sense of her career in music as ‘moving forward by holding back.” I want to end with a closer look at one of her most famous songs, ‘Shadows on a Dime,’ to track the performances and performers who lie somewhere in between the ‘then’ of historical time and the ‘now’ of performance, the temporal drag and lag that allows some pieces of history to simply fall away and remain lost to narrative. Ferron represents what can be lost even for white lesbians in the relentless urge to universalize white lesbian culture and represent it as historically continuous” (183).