Tag Archives: writerly ambitions

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.

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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