Post Modernity is the passive aggressive character of Enlightenment… continually desiring a different contemporary moment, PoMo-sapiens label violence in the past. The Post- category is an addiction… as if colonialism ever stopped and its simply the after-moment and of course those identity modules have been declared spoken and known now no longer suitable critique or even simple observation…but there are other positions barely explored already in the category of falsely known. I don’t want to say temporality, backward or slow (having just seen Jack Halberstam’s zombie bandwagon show)… but the Post-perspectives do speak to me the deadness of academic speech models. Its tendency to put into the grave prematurely… ejaculate prematurely. The theorizing of human rights is nothing more than a nuanced discussion in the defense of class structure. ‘The Right Side of History’ syndrome has many refusing the possibility of being wrong. My response or concluding action is to embrace the ‘double bind’ of PoMo-Sapienism, admit that I doubt I’m able to write from the perspective of Right and then continue anyway within this form of academic argument acknowledging it as a mode of failure for me. The investment in ‘good’ schools purchases the ability to be right—the feeling of right. What I loved so much about This Bridge Called My Back and In Search of Our Mother’s Gardens was their exploding of right/wrong categories–something I consider rudimentary appraisal–in favor of sharing, repurposing, listening… These works didn’t fake as if they were authored by a singular force, instead they grew from the observation of nuance and a spiritual place beyond the bodies or brains that keep us from the things we should already know. These feminisms weren’t thesis driven arguments in my recollection, I encountered them as events. They weren’t essays to be lukewarm about… or worse ‘gotten’ right? The ‘it’ of these works isn’t here yet. It’s not done with us… they are the profound haunting that Avery Gordon unsettles this moment and every moment thereafter in her articulations of Ghostly Matters which are able to outlive these dark ages of post-positions that thinkers love to maintain thought with… When the now is finally known to be animated by unknowables the process of knowing or rather the futile struggle to reduce discomfort to the confines of being known re-present the Post- as a false knowing… as if violence and pain are knowledge producing… aren’t they overwhelmingly forgettable? Isn’t forgetting the most accessible means of survival? And the brutal limitations of forgetfulness… the designation of you as the unreliable narrator of your own experience on behalf of the project of healing. You must remember, recount and re-remember pain that never quite feels the same, because that’s the trick of healing: it’s simply pain felt differently over time. Nothing more. Healing is another life-building technique designed to blame victims for their failure to convert properly to a system that requires their subversion (probably definitely ripping off Lauren Berlant here). It’s these expectations that have theorists living in the afterlife… being post-everything… or rather as I see it, holding our breath waiting for uncomfortable conversations to finish… resolve themselves… and leave us in a mutual peace. My problem with post-politics is this manifest destiny they prescribe… feeling and knowledge as a place… that inevitably ‘it’ will pass and therefore we should live as though we survived its passing. This is about as much contextual introducing as I’m capable of right now… first we need to build the office.
The following will consist of oversharing unfounded conclusions, and come to in waves of interest and then out of body alienation. Remember affirmation is not my goal so you are absolved of the responsibility of ‘loving’ or ‘liking’ anything. In the interest of working under the influence of bad theory I think I might like to transform this space into a psychoanalyst’s office. Let me assure you so much patient progress and trust is built with a fine interior design SO let us reimagine this space and build together the office in which my subconscious speaks to yours. Maybe my fantasy might be best supported by your collective labor to consider the non-human perspective. Please allow the potential disappointment of my subconscious to channel itself into the excitement of becoming an Eames chair or a Kosta Boda water pitcher… maybe there’s a Chihully blown glass sculpture ambivalently displayed to the side of the room standing in the place of poorly projected investment… awaiting some maintenance man to move it’s un-evolved aesthetics to the foyer given that its wild color pallet fails to allow the grays and blacks their gravity?
I am doing this because once I had to work as a Bruce Nauman piece in which I had to curl into a ball in the corner of the gallery and try to become a sphere… the show was appropriately titled The Quick and the Dead.. at the end of 2 hours I wasn’t a ball… nor was ‘I art,’ I did however transcend the realm of human. I definitely wasn’t human. I think this is an invitation for you to re-experience the role of listener as the sofa who listens or how the sofa listens… or leather chairs arranged around Eames table so as to position the tasteful owner of said table and chairs as the holder of truth and therefore extender of an invitation to the good life (Berlant again here). Who will be the setting in which I drink the Kool-Aid of subconscious discovery without first spending hours, weekly over years rehearsing? From which arrangement of interior design legitimacy will I find the diving board of mental nudity from which I jump into the cold baths of wake-the-fuck-up-life-isn’t-so-bad? Please be the furniture in the office of my life… the office in which I finally touch real… stop believing in ghosts… give up on god, and enter modernity…believing instead that connection is a violence worth perpetrating.
Here this is the office!
Confession: Patrimony was a poorly thought, completely impulsive title… and I’m not ready to submit fully to the power of its suggestion. Most of my titles include parentheses and colons so when I was asked to keep it short I wanted it to sound familiar to my oeuvre of blaming men for everything while also embracing the fact that in my work… any word will do cause titles are just the beginning not a marketing line for a book or a keyword for the JSTOR search engine. Patrimony is generally the possessions or estate left behind by daddy… I feel like I might also include myself, a zombie baby if you will, in the yard sale of life that my father left behind. Distant fathers make sluts and existential memoir writers of everyone I know, so I promise not to take this too far while laying all my weight on you my beloved sofa. I once after years of Christian identified therapists had the most amazing sex doctor give me a truly revelatory therapeutic breakthrough: ‘Not everyone is affected by their family.’ It was instant relief really and truly… most of my alienation stemmed from my failure to even want things to be different. I liked being omitted from the daily dramas of family… that their banality need not be a life-consuming conversation. There are always silent falling outs… someone always needs money… this shifts and all the while I am never interested in anyone’s side of the story. What if no one is to blame really and I become quite simply an object left behind. Not a pile of grief or longing… just simply a witness… a former implement or tool used to establish their sense of belonging together.
I apply the same sensibility to the queer appropriations of family. I could go on and on about Tim Dean’s Unlimited Intimacy issues… but I feel like I’ve already given him too much credit as a polemic and that is truly not what he is… let me just say that he borrows notorious misogynist Allen Ginsberg’s sentiment “A hard cock can’t lie” in order to prove the man power of porn as real, undeniable on screen desire when compared to vaginas which can be so deceptive in performing pleasure. (Yes, this is published theory, but my audience doesn’t punish itself the searching for the affect of justice.) Anyways the barrier free contact creates a viral baby and according to Dean, this alternative blood relation becomes a community structure… even if only lived in brief interludes orchestrated online. Again, this another community organizer here failing to see the incongruence of costs in participation: He writes as though San Francisco rents, sex club membership fees and health insurance are a given… with no concern for the very anti-radical displacement of capital by those eager to seroconvert in the name of belonging. And I believe this fault of believing money is a given is what allows blind neoliberal refuge in family… or queer strategies of reconstructing a unit that according to Firestone is the basis of capitalism. I finally got around to reading the entirety of Dialectic of Sex, it was just reprinted this year and so much of my thoughts here are indebted to her. Firestone writes the cultural evolution of children as property… I think that works for my conception of self as patrimony left behind. We can’t build a post-patrimony cause I think the act of being owned as object isn’t a position left behind so easily within the garage sale of life… I think it depends too much on the display… what else alongside you is also for sale, desired and purchased. I think that’s why I personally trip up selling myself to a job, or to a lover with galaxies of stars in his eyes… convincing friends to ‘hang in there cause I’m worth it’–what if I’m not? What if the rejections… denial and painful losses are the only things making a person like me tolerable? A friend recently recounted the story of an acquaintance who was overstepping before concluding: Maybe some people loved their children too much?
I really believe Firestone’s abolition of family brings a reparation for those of us without or made outside in the name of their togetherness because it is the measure with which a not-so-rugged individual might also survive a very late capitalism so eager to outlive its day (Aimé Césaire).
On paper, I look terrible for the position of love. Lovers love to say things like: ‘Well his family lives in NYC but we’re meeting them in the Hamptons…” or “Tenured” or “Diamonds.” The individual melts in these scenarios where convenience and luxury makes love feel stronger. No one yearns for an individual saddened by the realization that his own betterment… while entirely possible… will not be easily constructed without a series of violent oversights. Especially one smart enough not to trust herself with the ‘right’ usage of power. Professionalism loves to exclude the under qualified or those unconvincing in professional drag… and I want to be post-professional: so many people I worked alongside made me want to ask ‘Can you just admit that you’re faking it?’ Almost all labor is in the symbolic now… Why do you think I do academic drag? The industry around convincing people they’re specialized is booming. People need to hear: You’re special. I believe the total embrace of this symbolic labor moment (also forecasted by Firestone who calls for the abolition of schools) is to admit the self as little more than a free box at a garage sale discarded before its time of value, maybe only repurposed anachronistically at best.
I’ve watched ambitious friends become unlovable… on their path toward whatever neurotic fantasy renders them incapable of speaking of anything else but the soul crushing pressure of endurance reaching. This is where the love comes in… the love they have fills their gaps of sense…while leaving me recognizing their love as cheap performance. One unbearable task after the next filled in with love—the amnesia potion… their futures are in some post-category already… love drunk and unable to see that such is professional economy in this new era of a merely symbolic work force… the only person for this position is the one willing to reach infinitely.
I really embrace this left-behind-ness… certainly much more than a Vibrant Matter. I think of post-human and consideration of objects as perspectives are only fragile masks for classist bodies desiring a post-class dialogue… A veil made thin by their approach toward persons–who being mere objects are only animated or stagnant by their paternal legacies. Isn’t the consideration of a coffee table and inherently bourgeois preoccupation? In theory doesn’t such a post-human, or consideration of the non-living perspective, simply forge a new unknowable as merely distraction from the ghost… the angry god… the curse… the gaps in this conversation… gaps in belonging… gaps in life and gaps in the ability to do so that cannot simply be filled by love. The coffee table is not the only thing in between us so let us not pretend that reverence for its dull perspective will get you to finally consider mine.
In public, presentation of the losing battle should be spoken of in terms of strategy for winning. That the loser wants to win, and he most certainly doesn’t go down without a fight. The narrative of the loser is one fraught with violence… his position irrupts—understandably or not—and the seemingly concrete trajectory of his character in combination with his situation brings out the unsightly last brawl of losing destiny. Every portion of his life in retrospect is revised in narration of ‘should have’ or ‘if he would’ve’ bringing out the folly of losing in us all… we always narrate ourselves outside of losing. We narrate only the action in terms of winning as realization of self… not that someone who forecasts his losing could actually be actualized—cause after all he still might win—he doesn’t know. Indeed whatever violence that makes the loser known to us should actually be a nuanced testament to how many losers fail to be known. The story of the quiet loser… arguably the self-aware loser… is lost without violence.
I think the mandate for losing gracefully—with a handshake or a smile and a wave, or most commonly, in silence with no one watching, is the final gag rule on losing without violence. What if a loser could tell a story we were capable of hearing… without the intervention of violence? A compilation of losing struggles told outside the conditional sentiments… the violence of belligerantly wishing that some other destiny was upon us. I think that’s what I loved so much about Moraga and Walker… both consumed the traditions of non-winners and imaged a very tangible and present legacy still among us now.
Do not be fooled the new symbolic work force is eager to plug in more losers who see money and think falsely accomplishment. We need a new language of the loser that recognizes—maybe not a language actually—maybe instead we need a means of recovering the loser from the pile of junk in the yard sale of life. Walker looked to the garden… but our world is considerably different now with smart people looking to the dump for answers. Let us now re-imagine ourselves as the loser leftovers from daddy’s garage sale already now in afterlife—discarded and now found by some smart person ready to consider the perspective of the discarded for the greater good… maybe they’re ready to hear us now.