Sunday, February 27, 2011

An Archive of Follow-Ups

Sorry, I cant seem to stop myself from using the increasingly stale "Archive of _____" formulation. As a quick, if somewhat delayed, follow-up to my last post, I stumbled across this passage in Sara Ahmed's The Cultural Politics of Emotion:

"My archive is perhaps not 'an archive of feelings' to use Ann Cvetkovich's beautiful formulation. Cvetkovich's method involves 'an exploration of cultural texts as repositories of feelings and emotions.' Feelings are not 'in' my archive in the same way. Rather, I am tracking how words for feelings, and objects of feeling, circulate and generate effects: how they move, stick, and slide. We move, stick and slide with them" (14).

We are all surprised to discover, I'm sure, that both Ann Cvetkovich and Sara Ahmed are more aware of their work's connections than I am. This will not stop me from expecting some sort of compensation from their collaboration. It also might not stop me from writing about said connection further, once I finish The Cultural Politics of Emotion, because I find public thinking to be kinda neat.

There have been some fantastic queer brewings, both political and not, in the past week or so, and I intend to mouth-off about them spectacularly in the next day or two. In the meantime, check out Roxie's latest post, where the puppy blogger weighs in quite nicely (and I don't just say that because either of Roxie's moms could quash my plans for graduation). Happy Sunday, folks.

Will Danger

Monday, February 21, 2011

An Archive of Girl-Power

Hey folks, sorry its taken me so long to get this sophomore posting up. I hope in the future to post more regularly, but we’ve had some thrilling goings on ‘round these parts. Also, I'm not totally convinced that this post necessarily properly belongs to this tiny portion of the internet, because, though decidedly queer, it tends to be a little more academic in focus than I had planned. As a result, this posting has been cross-posted at my good friend/parent/exact-same-person blog, Heterocide (You thought it was dead, didn't you?). At the risk of alienating some of my readers, then, I want to take a moment to think publicly (and briefly) about Ann Cvetkovich's lecture "Queer Ephemerality and the Counterarchives," before moving on to some hopefully more interesting material. (Really though, if you want to skip ahead, I won't be offended. And even if I am, I'll probably just leave a passive-aggressive whiteboard/post-it note about it.)

Ann Cvetkovich has come to town, and left the College Park area feeling a touch of archive fever. I will first say that her lecture was fantastic. Most thrilling of all, especially for a young English major with a penchant for getting up his own ass about theory, Ann's work doesn't originate in the academic sphere, something which usefully underscores the usually vexed link between scholarship and activism.

During the lecture, Ann said something to the effect that objects/archives "take the form of labors performed on them." Apart from feeling weirdly Marxist, this suggests an implicit phenomenological undercurrent to Ann's work, or at least makes me think of Sara Ahmed, who says, similarly, that bodies tend to take the shape of their orientations to objects and spaces. I find this interplay of objects, spaces, and bodies to be quite fascinating, and perhaps we can understand (or at least theorize) bodies to be archival materials in their own right. I wonder, then, how bodies might differently enable knowledge production and might shape the conceptual contours of the archive in decidedly queer ways. As a final speculative question, what do bodies archive?

Can we then understand bodies to be affective objects in the same way that other archival objects are (Ann Cvetkovich is quite interested in recovering the affective register of archived objects)? On the one hand, I guess this seems fairly self-evident, even if deceptively complicated. People create emotional attachments to bodies (their own and others), which in turn becomes a kind of affective labor that shapes both the subject and object of said emotional attachment. (After all, aren't we the primary objects of our own emotions?) This line of reasoning seems to suggest a complicated matrix of bodies, emotions, and selves, where, at the very least, we become archives (both psychic and physical) of our own emotions. Conclusion: Bodies are weird, but neat.

At any rate, when Sara Ahmed and Ann Cvetkovich release their co-authored article/book, I expect to get an acknowledgment. And maybe some royalties. 

Alright, alright, here endeth the academic bumbling. Please accept this very funny comic as a palate cleanser. 
For those of you who caught the grammy's (I did not), I hope you saw this fantastic tribute to Aretha Franklin. Queer or not, there's too much girl power on that stage to ignore. I can even forgive Christina Aguilera for being generally tasteless, even if she is fantastic. I was pleasantly surprised by Florence, whom I absolutely adore but is generally pretty rough live. Finally, this tribute gets a little awkward at moments because Yolanda Adams might actually be a better singer than Aretha herself. I won't tell. Enjoy, folks.

                                                                                                                                   Will Danger

(Image thieved from The Guardian)

Monday, February 14, 2011

An Introduction, Some (Light) Gaga Bashing, and the Homosexual Steamroller

Welcome, folks, to this obscure and totally un-recommendable slice of the internet. I find it equal parts appropriate and terrifying that my inaugural post comes on Valentine's Day, but that ratio seems appropriate for such a blog.

An introduction is in order: This is New Queer on the Block, and I want to be transparent about the fact that I am unsure what this project might turn out to be, though I am hopeful. My title is meant to suggest two things (three, if it registers to you my lack of creativity on a deadline). First, I intend this blog to contain my own musings and perceived queernesses, indulging my love of both trashy pop-culture and books (speaking of books, this is too good not to share).  Secondly, my title should warn you of my relative newness/inexperience, so while I think you'll find I am quite opinionated, it seems important to frame these opinions with the fact that I am a college student who, let's face it, may not be particularly in touch with the real world.

As I'm sure you've gathered, Will Danger is a thinly veiled pseudonym, behind which stands an exceedingly cynical college student who lies about his middle name, mouths off about things he doesn't really understand, and watches way too much Law and Order (SVU, of course). Welcome, and God bless those of you who are still reading.

Shall we dive right in? Anyone connected to a facebook/twitter feed has undoubtedly been made aware that Lady Gaga is at it again. I'll refrain from embedding the video here because, frankly, I don't want to watch it again. Whether I like the video or not is irrelevant though. My question here is, what do we make of Lady Gaga's attachment to the gay community, especially gay men? She seems to have located the gays as a cash cow, which she is now proceeding to milk dry. To be totally honest, I find Lady Gaga's convenient sexual tourism to be border-line offensive. Regardless of her own sexuality (I'm told she may be bisexual, though I am unable to find a reputable link to confirm this), this just seems like a dangerous bit of exploitation on her part. Plus, who on earth would wear something like this and deny that it's an effort? She just woke up one morning wearing a Kermit T. Frogg dress. Weird.

Secondly, the message of her new single, "Born this Way" might be both dangerous and uninformed. Do we really need someone fueling the flames of the etiology debate? If I decide to put on my blonde wig and 10 inch stilettos and spend my weekends riding the DC metro in Baby Spice drag, it hardly matters if I'm hard-wired to do so. Maybe bone up on some Foucault or D'Emilio, and then decide if you still think "born that way" or "choose to be that way" are your only options. What if you weren't born that way, Lady Gaga? What if you work hard to construct an outfit entirely of meat and figure out exactly where to wear it to set the most people a-talkin? Is it still ok?

In an effort to create the illusion of fairness, I will say that I think it's obvious that the gay community can count Gaga as a friend, and, if the number of gay folks who put on their boogie shoes to her beats on a weekly basis is any indication, she has certainly done quite a bit of good. I just wonder how much cultural or political capital we're supposed to invest in someone who is really just Madonna, part-two.

I'll close on another introductory note. This comic pretty perfectly embodies the (intended) spirit of this blog. The perfect mix of absurdity and militancy!

Be good(ish) folks,

Will Danger