Monday, July 20, 2009

If You've Ever Been To Heaven, This Is Twice as Nice

Walking from J.'s apartment to the Wilson Red Line entails passing through a brief strip of nasty neighborhood. This afternoon, on my way home, I passed three black kids, one of whom carried a red plastic toy gun, which he pointed at me with a "BANG". All I could do was "pssh" at this child trying to be a man, pretending to shoot a faggot. Of course, humiliation was probably not the best response to give a kid whose pride is already challenged. Still, there needs to be a better way to display one's masculinity than by overtly playing out a violent fantasy.

I was speaking with friends yesterday, both of whom are black academic queers, and it was generally agreed upon that when we say "gay" we mean "White Bourgeois Men". In the aftermath of that conversation, confronting my own response to this kid took the following valence: Was this kid "shooting" me because I am a faggot--wearing Jackie O sunglasses, singing Brittney (whence this entry's title), and walking as though on a fashion runway? Or, was it because I am a White Bourgeois Man in a neighborhood that is swiftly gentrifying? Gentrification is, in no uncertain terms, a hostile action, a not so subtle displacement of a population through means of economics.

That said, let me be clear: there is no excusing this kid's violent pantomime. It was a punk thing to do, whether because I'm a faggot or a Bourgeois neighborhood-usurper, or both. While implicated in structural social injustice, I am not the power-player that should rightly be the target of this kids discontent--assuming, of course, he saw me primarily as a White Usurper, not a faggot.

This event, I think, highlights the "Foucaultdian Knot" of late-modernity: it is impossible to discern economic influences from sexual influences, the sexual from the medical, the medical from the moral, the moral from the juridical, the juridical from the economic, ect, ect. This is often called "intersectionality" and thanks to Angela Davis we know the famous "race, class, gender" troika. The advantage, no doubt, of pomo-homo politico-cultural theory is that it pluralizes the domain of factors framing any given social interaction. Whereas a Marxist would look with near exclusivity at the economic dimension of the interaction, or a Feminist would read the overt act of violence through a liberal lens of harm, the pomo-homo reads the scene without collapsing any of the multiple tensions that animate the scene of address. The capacity, therefore, for queer theory to aspire to the level of immanent critique, to, like Nietzsche, leave no stone unturned, hold its appeal for me. When practiced scrupulously, it resists reductionistic accounts precisely because it problematizes the entirety of the scene's foundations: the whole of the Foucaultdian matrix is under scrutiny in the synchronic moment of critique.

I talked to the Old Man just now about this scene, and he revived my profound appreciation for psychoanalysis. He said, you are right to see this kid over-compensating, and you are also right to note that humiliation is not the best tact, precisely because when you are willing to act in such a manner, you don't know what lengths you are capable of going to in order to prop-up the delusion of control. This, he says, is the paranoid posture, and it is dangerous to the extent that the there are no limits what people will do to flee confrontation with their own trauma. This, of course, launched me into a conceptualization of society writ large as an apparatus of escape: late-modern capitalist society is a perverse therapy of sorts, a schizoid-inducing flight from one's self.
Last night was something wonderful on a number of levels. J. met Moneypenny, with whom I spent more time over drinks, and then we rode our bikes up the lake and went to bed. It was the first time I've ever ridden my bike with someone other than my Old Man or my Momma. I value my time on my bike as a chance to challenge myself, to race against myself, to push my body and my limits. But it was nice to ride with J.
I don't work today, so I'm off to help J. organize his room, which is currently is boxes or tossed haphazardly all over the floor. I'm on the road to killing my chest cold--thank you modern medicine!
Life is good.

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