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There are conditions for my presence here in this troubled space of possibilities. I ride into this ring on a horse made of debts. My mind is mortgaged, sectioned by the speculative economy, promised to five different banks and one Federal Government, divided and subdivided, securitized and resold. Somewhere a man is ordering offal. Foreclosure is a failure of the imagination. Poverty, if not yet, is always about to be. Precarity is a tinnitating torment, a financial tattoo.

One of my loans, originated by a now bankrupt company called My Rich Uncle, claimed to determine the interest rate based on academic potential through a program called PrePrime™, funded by a German bank. The bank used a proprietary algorithm to determine intellectual value. This is the loan that carries the highest rate, a bigger cliff than the rest. It has doubled in size. And I am there, singing a smart tune, a fool dancing at the edge with a little flower, a tiny dog nipping at my heels. My bottom line is a looming fiction of red ink and proliferating zeros. My ability to survive is directly related to my ability to materialize thought. I am forestalling crisis. Deferment is a weak tactic, but a necessary one. I’m trying not to let this house of promissory paper implode under the weight of external pressure. I’d rather burn it from the inside. 

Better yet, I hope that the ground itself is moving. Movement portends an earthquake, tectonic tactics. In the wake of a disaster of the ‘real economy,’ the speculative economy of my mental activities might be freed from the burden of all this financial history. All this paper. All these fictions. I’d never make the same mistake twice. Of course, I can still wish for Jubilee, but I don’t hold my breath. We, the lost generation of debtors demand the right to bankruptcy! Or else, We Refuse To Pay! As it stands, we simply can’t.

The speculation I name is distinct from the speculation of philosophical detachment. Instead, it is wrought by real conditions in which the object called my mind is claimed by speculative capital. My resistance often feels like feeling more than it looks like action. Speculation is what would force me to take possession of my mind, to intensify my relationship to my mind beyond the point where it is clear what belongs to whom. My mind to me or me to my mind? What’s the difference anyway? I can never forget the body that aches, that grabs my mind at the root, pulls it down my spine, returning it to the ground, upside down, stood on its head––or––right way around again. 

The body loves, even if the mind is slow to figure out the cost of proliferating zeros.

Instead of possessing my mind, I try to make and remake it without forgetting where I am from and without presuming where I am going. I carry my house on my back. I dig and dig an dig into the floor beneath, seeking a different geology and geography, one of shifting grounds and antipodean alliances. My dwelling is not a house of cards, but a tent, a collapsable shell, wind whipped, held down only by my laying weight. As I dream it onto the page, this tent not a dwelling at all, but a conveyance to other worlds.

My challenge, at least in this context, is to turn the foolishness of messianic hopes––the hope for a freedom to be bankrupted, to demon-etize work such that the art and joy of living and loving is enough, not just for me, but for all––into a different kind of (non)work.

 A work of justice and imagination, a work of collaboration and transformation. I need this space as much as I want it. It is already here and yet to come. Each book in the stack is another contribution to a library of dreams: a vast hallucinatory apparatus made of paper and ink and imagination. Not enough, but sufficient to muddle through, good enough for now.

My readings are preludes and postscripts. Preludes to the worldly work to come, postscripts to eight years of trying to locate myself intellectually in and through urban studies, geography, anthropology, and sociology. (There was work before as well. And locations after.) Eight years of failing to locate myself definitively and seeking to make this failure a virtue. Nomadism, yes. But more queer than nomad; wandering with a weedy sensibility, taking root around, growing fast, moving on, returning in a season, or else when the ground is disturbed. I’m tough to get rid of! I move as a means to survive and strive. In movement I find multiple relationships (family friendspartnerslovers) which serve as loving landmarks in an otherwise harsh landscape. Response-ability to these lands is a longer term geographic and emotional struggle en route to becoming more fully political and ethical.

My readings are also smokescreens for the work I do everyday, work beyond and beholden to value. They are attempts at inhabiting texts; at finding, in texts, a habit. They are not final destinations. They are not conclusive statements. They are renderings, wrestings, and recapitulations. 

Even though I have spent considerable time reading, I have spent a less considerable amount of time writing. I was distracted by doing, organizing, feeling like I was making space for something yet unknown. I was responding to the ‘fierce urgency of now.’ I needed those spaces and times to find the courage to share readings that I know are incomplete, inevitably imperfect, and, at times, in/appropriations of the work of others. They are a product and a process. A project of the univers(e/ity), that most complicated social location for particular kinds of imperfect dreams. That place for dreaming amidst real and ruined lives. Is it expanding or contracting? Either way, it is not yet a free space, it is not yet what it needs to be.

I suspect that I appear to be very comfortable with abstraction, or at least fond of it. And, while there is a fondness (a groundedness, fond) in abstraction, it is not on account of comfort. That ground is more about testing a limit, testing how uncomfortable I can remain. If I can make this discomfort a virtue. That is where I feel most ready to change. I am ready for new kinds of discomfort, new kinds of uprooting and overturning, new kinds of action, reading, writing, and doing. 

But discomfort cuts both ways. It can be a high summer day with no air conditioning, a discomfort that makes you want to be suspended in the middle of a block of ice, no clothes to cloy the skin, every rhythm slowed down, barely a heartbeat. Comatose until the rush of fall, the Academic New Year (of the Horse), wakes you again. Or it can be the warm discomfort of a room where you know you belong, a room where your presence alone is a good indication of your willingness to let presuppositions die. “I don’t know who I am here and I’m going to fuck this up.” I never find it easy to know which rooms these are and I am never certain who will mistake my fallen body for another stone on the broken road.

I follow weeds (whether I write them or not) because they lead to disturbed grounds. They push through pavement. We work together. Borne on wind, dropped in shit, cast away from the intended crops, we land in places where we just may grow. No less striving for hoping to remain unnoticed. No less interior for needing to be recognized in our unfolding.

Mine is a history of unlikely alliances. Queer marriages stretching across oceans despite apparently irreconcilable differences. So, my writing is always in and through queerness as my lived specific, but generalizing, difference. Writing difference in a philosophical––conceptual, practical, political––mode is, for me, always already writing queerness, which is what brings me here in any case and in all actual cases.

My readings are also always ‘about queerness’ in some sense, if queerness is my wandering, my constant attempt at turning over old ground, never settling in one place for too long. I move even if I wish I never had to get out of bed, that soft paradise of immobilities, belonging to another time, the sweet oblivions of sleep. I never know for sure who I am, never know for sure whom I will encounter. What responsibilities will be born in that encounter? Such openness may be foolish, but I don’t care or I can’t help it or both. It is just this world. I find it necessary to start with love and deal later with the consequences. 

Lately, my strategy has been too small or the world has felt too big. Love, the beginning, is stretched too thinly across oceans, enfleshed worlds stretched by late liberalism. These memories require enormous energy to stay afloat, to keep from sinking to a soft landing on the abyssal plains of the Ocean of Betweenness. A flight is lost at sea. I’ve killed so many dinosaurs back and forth back and forth back and forth. I cannot afford it, but there’s always credit. Symptom of my generation. Fake money supports emotional globalization. We put it to use creating different, better fictions. Our little G8 summits, just you and me, leaders of our free world. Autonomous states of feeling. Calling into being new collectives. Making new rituals. Taking care of her.

In some sense, these readings are personal, they are a live struggle, even as they are trying to avoid solipsism. They are part of a long attempt to be and become otherwise, to grow and die seasonally. They are uncertain in that I have never been sure if the academy is best for me, even if I have also never been sure that I can live without it. Intelligence is not enough at this point, survival needs more than intelligence. Thriving even more. Courage is hard to come by. These readings are not courageous enough for me, but they are a start.

Still, I’m ready for scrutiny. Please push. I know I don’t need to invite you to push, that is why I am here, dancing on the edge of the cliff. I’m ready! But it feels more honest if we name what we are doing and if we know what it is we are being invited to do. Especially when our positions are not equal and may never be, differentiated by age and titles, money and origin, sensibility and experience. Yet we are joined by the tender threads of shared interest and a commitment to knowledge and to each other, to a world ‘other than what?’ We do not know. To a world folded out of the that one we do. At least I think so. Maybe I should ask. Maybe I don’t yet know what binds us to each other other than these words and the room we’ll share to discuss them, the institution and its spaces, its archives and ways of knowing. In both moments, I deeply appreciate that what we are doing is an unfolding, a getting-to-know-you, full of excitements and unspoken joys, full of fears and strange mysteries, not without abundances and privations, oriented toward precarious and actual professionalization.

My readings are a place to start, again. They are a hinge between the thinking and the doing and the thinking again. They are a roll of the dice, an old game, a rare privilege, a necessary passage, a wrestling with giants, a glamorous flip of my hair on the edge of a broken heel, a handful of glitter thrown out a window on a grey winter day.

They are not finished but it is time to move on. To shuffle again.

Reference

Lefebvre, H. 2008 [1981]. Critique of Everyday Life: From Modernity to Modernism (Toward a Metaphilosophy of Daily Life). London, UK: Verso.

I haven’t written much either on or off the blog this year. To be honest, I’ve been quite distracted working through my Saturn Return. This has involved shedding outmoded beliefs and understandings of myself and the various worlds in which I live or aspire to live, cultivating passions, finding new ways to ground myself, and, perhaps most challengingly, trying to develop intellectual, ethical, and personal practices and forms of discipline and punish focus that will sustain me as I slog through The PhD.

On that front, I’ve been deep in the comp swamp, reading books of ‘philosophical import,’ negotiating the nebulous fog of questions regarding my purposes and intentions; seeking personal truth among the perils of the professionalization process; examining why I felt it necessary to tackle “giant men” of philosophy in a sort of Kill The (mostly already dead and unkillable) Idols effort. If nothing else, I am learning that I love a good takedown piece, even if I never actually get around to writing it. I’m also learning that reading Deleuze is a lot like doing calculus in High School; something I find it ‘good to know’ so I can maybe never think about it again when I’m done. Though, it is useful to know core texts inside and out for moments when I am forced to parry Philosophical Manspeak.

When it comes to QUE, I still think I haven’t found a centerline for how to use the site. Archive building? Vanity project? Echo chamber? Wandering notwithstanding, it remains refreshing to have something which I can attend to only when it feels right, with out too much self-consciousness. It’s a nice antidote the more scripted processes I have to negotiate on the daily. And so, most of my posts in the last months have been a mashup of media, ‘wordartpoems,’ and photos.

As the year draws to a close, I find myself on the brink of starting a more dedicated writing practice, not only in preparation for my dissertation, but also because writing is the craft I’d most like to develop, the skill I think I’m most prepared to hone through practice and failure. I certainly don’t expect my dissertation to be an exhaustive creative effort, so I’d like this site to be a space of other kinds of writing, other kinds of experiments.

With that in mind, considering I’ve got so many ‘saved drafts’ regarding turning points and transformative emotional, intellectual, embodied, and spiritual moments this year, I thought a good place to start would be with some of the most challenging, beautiful, and lasting moments of 2013. Over the next ten days, look for a series of short posts with moments culled from memory, notebooks, and the saved drafts folder. I love a good processing sesh, don’t you?

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

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

[Three:Force|Subject/Object]
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.

[Four:Responsibility]
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.

[Five:Encounter]
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.

[Six:Absence]
Sex which aspires to be/come without emotion is solipsistic in the most terrifically narcissistic way.

[Seven:Departure]
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.

[Eight:Declension]
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.

[Nine:Endurance]
Only a coward chooses cruel endings.

[Ten:Portability]
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.

Dianne Chisholm (2010:367) quoting Deleuze and Guattari in “Biophilia and the Ecological Future of Queer Desire,” her chapter of Queer Ecologies: Sex, Nature, Politics, Desire

“A Thousand Plateaus conceptualizes desire as a force that is ontologically immanent to all life on earth, and that propels ‘earth moves’ across and between geological strata and biological orders.  By mapping the transversality of symbiogenesis across the vertical lines of genealogical descent, Deleuze and Guattari ask us to think rhizomatically like an earthbound desert nomad, and to not (or not only) think aborescently (transcendentally, linearly) like a European metaphysician.  Thinking, they say, should look to

the wisdom of the plants; even when they have roots, there is always an outside where they form a rhizome with something else – with wind, an animal, human beings (and there is also an aspect under which animals themselves form rhizomes, as do people, etc.). “Drunkenness as a triumphant irruption of the plant in us.”  Always follow the rhizome by rupture; lengthen, prolong, and relay the line of flight; make it vary, until you have produced the most abstract and tortuous lines of dimensions and broken directions.  Conjugate the deterritorialized flows.  Follow the plants…Write, form a rhizome. (D+G 1987, 11)

Joseph Paxton, Dryandria Longifolia (1834), Paxton’s Botanical Magazine (scan by author, courtesy U Toronto Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library)

When I’m writing plants, I’m writing aggregations; I’m writing milieus and interactions.  Same as any body, but vegetality makes the difference.  I want to ask phenomenological questions: How do they do what they do?  What is their desire?  What are they making?  I am not as concerned with how I will know what they do.  I’m following Jakob von Uexküll’s ambling methodology in “A Foray into the Worlds of Animals and Humans” (2010 [1934]):

We begin such a stroll on a sunny day before a flowering meadow in which insects buzz and butterflies flutter, and we make a bubble around each of the animals living in the meadow.  The bubble represents each animal’s environment and contains all the features accessible to the subject.  As soon as we enter into one such bubble, the previous surroundings of the subject are completely reconfigured.  Many qualities of the colorful meadow vanish completely, others lose their coherence with one another, and new connections are created: A new world arises in each bubble. (43)

Joseph O’Neil notes in his “Translator’s Introduction” to Uexküll, “The complications of translating Jakob von Uexküll’s text begin with its title. The text describes itself as a series of Streifzüge, of forays, of rambles, a walk-through” (2010:35).  Rambling – as I so often do – is one way to find the thought bubble.  Intentional ambling or, more simply, cruising.  I am perhaps more immediately concerned not with the “animals living in the meadow” but with the livingness of the meadow, vibrating as it is with life in a series of layered ‘moments,’ as Uexküll goes on to explore them.  My imagining is not fully separable from the image of another person, the third (or second) element, bobbing in the bramble (if that’s the kind of space we’re in), hiding behind some foliage, part of a plumage.

As I enter October, I enter a month of rigorous writing, some of which I’ll share here in fragmentary, visualized, mediatized ways.  I’m following about four lines of desire in the next month:

1.  Finally writing past the High Line.

2.  Finding plants and figuring out how they live from the ground.

3.  Recalling my subjectivity as writer, queering it (again), getting into the dirt, doing.

4.  Realizing some connections and constellations in the handfuls of queer theory texts I’ve sifted through in the last 6 months.

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