Tag Archives: beginnings

When I was first visiting York University to decide if I would accept my offer of a place for PhD study (a little more than two years ago!) I had the privilege of seeing Eco Homo? Queering Bodies, Queering Sustainability, an incredible “textual choreographic conversation dance” between Cate Sandilands, now my advisor, and Michael Morris, now a dear friend and fellow traveler. I am delighted to know there is an HD recording of the piece and that it’s on Vimeo!

Michael’s two blogs (Michael J. Morris and ecosexuality: reorientations/reterritorializations) are linked in the Blogroll and are well worth your time.

[reblog] Eco Homo? Queering Bodies, Queering Sustainability | ecosexuality: reorientations/reterritorializations.

Sexual ethics names the realm of consideration in which questions and practices of leading a good sexual life might be framed and thought.

sex ≠ sexuality ≠ sexual difference
sex: act/s
sexuality: relations and related self-understanding
sexual difference: the irreducible difference of at least two {Irigaray}

Desire is neither a response to objective provocation, nor it is it a pure expression of subjective will. Desire is a directional force {Grosz} that invites interactions which portend the temporary emergence of a subjective position or an objective fixation. There are no subjects or objects apart from lines of desire.

To be responsible to desire is not the same as being responsible for desire. Responsibility to desire commits one to tracing the transversal lines it draws through and across a life. Responsibility to desire is delimited and general. Responsibility for desire establishes the particularity of a relation and demands a witness. Responsibility for desire is partitive and acts within the particular boundaries of a real relation.

Sex with desire is a commitment to encountering a force which is proper to none of the participants. It is contact with primary movement. Sexual ethics demands a willingness to be moved beyond the confines of categorical self-expression. Every encounter is emotional and therefore every encounter entails the ‘risk’ of a commitment.

Sex which aspires to be/come without emotion is solipsistic in the most terrifically narcissistic way.

Radical indeterminacy and total openness are not starting points, they are the real conditions for desire. Categorically limited relational structures, such as monogamy, must never be assumed. If they are to obtain, their immanence must be mutually/plurally acknowledged and their terms must be clearly delineated. Categorical relational structures desired by one, imposed on the other, are patriarchal. Enforcing or assuming these relational structures unilaterally is a form of violence and must be refused.

If one yields to desire, one falls in love. If one radically accepts the generative force of desire, one is reinventing love. {Rimbaud} The former disposition expresses lack, the latter excess.

Only a coward chooses cruel endings.

Collective subjects of a radically open relation may abdicate responsibility for their particular desire, but they may never subvert responsibility to desire. One who seeks to abdicate responsibility to desire commits oneself to a subjectivity which treats all relations as objective and externalizable. This dangerous and violent condition is conservatively megalomaniacal, serving only an unacknowledged desire for abstract power over all relations. Acceptance of the collective subjectivity of radically open relations establishes a discontinuous continuity which reënacts the initial condition of all desire (including that which would be disavowed in an abdication of responsibility to desire) with the embodied emotional awareness of the chronological past.

This is the only ethical position in which to start a new relation out of the old.

Outline for praxis.
Liquid; solid.  The wet object.  A stone.

“Small torso”

© The Isamu Noguchi Foundation and Garden Museum, NY


Pronunciation: /ɛˌrəʊtəʊˈdʒɛnɪk/
Etymology: < Greek ἔρωτο- , ἔρως love + -genic comb. form.

= erogenic adj.
1909 in Cent. Dict. Suppl.
1922 J. Riviere tr. Freud Introd. Lect. Psycho-anal. 264 The gratification obtained can only relate to the region of the mouth and lips; we therefore call these areas of the body erotogenic zones.
1924 J. Riviere et al. tr. Freud Coll. Papers II. 39 A certain degree of directly sexual pleasure is produced by the stimulation of various cutaneous areas (erotogenic zones).
1955 H. Marcuse Eros & Civilization (1956) ii. 39 The pleasure of the proximity senses plays on the erotogenic zones of the body.
1968 Economist 25 May 25/3 Libido transcends beyond the immediate erotogenic zones.

/hysterionics = hysteria + histrionics

hystericize v. /hɪˈstɛrɪsaɪz/ (intr.) to go into hysterics.
1894    Westm. Gaz. 5 Dec. 3/1   The Newest Woman queens it here In all her last uncomely guises; A screaming Sisterhood severe Hystericises.

histrionic, adj. and n.

Pronunciation:  /hɪstrɪˈɒnɪk/

Etymology:  < late Latin histriōnic-us , < histriōn-em ; compare French histrionique (1769 in Littré)

 3. Pathol. histrionic paralysis (see quot.). histrionic spasm, spasm of the facial muscles.

1886    New Sydenham Soc. Lexicon,   Histrionic spasm.
1893    New Sydenham Soc. Lexicon,   Paralysis, histrionic, Bell’s facial palsy, so named because the power of facial expression is lost.

Christian Schad, Sonja (1928)


Pronunciation:  /ˈgræfɪ/
Etymology:  < French graphie system of writing.


A graphic symbol representing a phoneme; = graph n.3
1955    Trans. Philol. Soc. 138   The characteristic insular graphies of the later twelfth century boef, beof, bøf do not deserve to be dismissed as Anglo-Normanisms.
1962    N. Davis & C. L. Wrenn Eng. & Medieval Stud. 56   Whereas original long e and o are not infrequently represented by the graphies ee and oo, original short e and o are never so represented.
1968    Medium Ævum 37 87   The same graphy appears in the same manuscript in the form beniscun.
1970    Jrnl. Eng. Place-name Soc. 2 16   The graphy gu for [g] before e, i arose in French after initial gw had been reduced to g at some time before the late twelfth century.

This is the only season I know at the moment.  It is neither festive nor cheerful.  It is full of americanos and sleeping too late and feeling guilty for sleeping too late.  It is full of counterbalancing narratives and tragic re-reading sessions and terrible realizations about the theoretical incompatibility of ideas.  It is also full of light (and life) at the other end.

Right now I am working on an essay for ‘Matters of Nature’ the course for which I read Kipfer (on Lefebvre) and Swyngedouw (on Rancière).  I am trying to consolidate and rework material that I had gathered for my MA.  I am also trying to use this paper as a stepping stone to my 2012 AAG (American Assoc. of Geographers) paper to be delivered on a ‘Plant Geographies’ panel.  The subject/object: New York’s High Line.

At the moment I am trying to consider the problem of agency.  There are multiple ways of thinking about how the High Line (HL) came to be.  I am interested in who and/or what enacted the transformation of the space over time.  I am also interested in whether or not it would have been possible to deal with the HL through a politics or a strategy of human inaction; what is the politics of ‘doing nothing’?

The HL was constructed between 1929 and 1934 as a public safety intervention to deal with deaths being caused by trains that had been crossing at ground level along the West Side of Manhattan.  It functioned for nearly five decades to deliver raw materials to the doorways of factories and firms through which the structure ran.  My scope is not so large; what I am interested in is the period beginning around roughly 1980 when the structure was no longer being used for rail traffic.  This is when it began to be inhabited by ‘vagabond plants’ – industrious species of grass and wildflower that wandered around New York and found themselves taking up residence on the rocky, seemingly inhospitable terrain of the HL.  There are multiple other accounts of what else might have been going on at that time in, on, and around the HL.  These include: Sex in the shadows beneath, raves up top, drugs on the top, drunken parade goers sneaking up top and getting stuck…not to mention the migration of SoHo galleries up to Chelsea, one of the neighborhoods through which the HL passes.

As in my previous research on the west side waterfront of Manhattan, I am interested in understanding that which or who becomes enfolded (enrolled) in the reinvention of  ‘derelict’ spaces.  In this case, it begins (at a minimum) with two gay men – Robert Hammond and Josh David, founders of Friends of the High Line (the organization that would eventually become responsible for converting the structure into a publicly accessible ‘park’) – and a landscape of plants which helped them to capture the imaginations and the contributions of New York’s fashion, political, and economic elite.

My essay begins with the images taken by landscape photographer Joel Sternfeld in order to explore the enfolding of ‘wildness’ in the city and the taming of the unwieldy politics of neighborhood transformation gentrification.  And since this is where my essay begins, it is where this post ends.  See you on the flip side, lovers.

From the series "Walking the High Line"

Joel Sternfeld's "A Railroad Artifact, 30th Street, May 2000"

Well, I’m tired of thinking, “I should start a daily writing practice.”  So, here it is, just what the world needs: Another graduate student/narcissist with a blog!

Queer Urban Ecologies marks the beginning of an online presence for a project I have worked on in various ways since the phrase first occurred to me in 2006 as a student at NYU’s Program in Metropolitan Studies.  You may know that I have been interested in the intersections of the city, the natural, and the sexual/embodied since my first days in New York.  Since then I have worked on two major research projects, one focused on the queer history and ecology of New York City’s West side waterfront and one focused on the more recent invention of the High Line as an ecological icon.  The latter is work in which I am still involved and on which I will continue to write and reflect here.  The former indubitably informs my interests, but is a less active project at this moment.  The current manifestation of my academic work is as a PhD Candidate in the Faculty of Environmental Studies at York University.  In that regard, this blog will play a vital role in my aggregation of pieces of writing, commentary, and intellectual experimentation.  I hope to use this space to engage with what I am reading and thinking about in the context of my ongoing academic work.

I also see this as a space of refraction and imagination.  I hope to use this blog not just to circulate content with pithy taglines (though this will obviously still happen) but also to engage more meaningfully with already circulating bits of knowledge, culture, media, art, and writing in the blogscape and on the intersphere.  Refraction has always been more interesting to me than reflection; despite my general desire to get away from the dominance of optico-geometric spatial and linguistic metaphors (hey Lefebvre, you’re here early!) the first step is to choose one that at least departs form the pallid genre of reflection.  I’m more interested in how things change when they pass through various media.  Queer Urban Nature is one such medium, doubtless it will be of varying density.

Finally, I hope this will be a space of engagement with the many talented people I have encountered across the world in the last several years in New York City, Budapest, the UK and elsewhere.  Where platforms like Facebook serve as a sort of passive surveillance vehicle and steroidal address book/event planning service, I hope this will be a space where we might become embroiled in more substantive and ongoing discussions of topics which interest folks working, writing, thinking, and acting in areas of urban, queer, and ecological scholarship, activism, and experimentation.

And, in the words of one unnamed supernerd with whom I used to share an office space, there you go.  Please waste your time with me as we dance together through the strange world that is Queer Urban Ecologies!

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