[-empyre-] MIA to IA

Judith Halberstam halberst at usc.edu
Fri Jun 15 00:06:10 EST 2012

OMG, I guess MIchael went from MIA to IA overnight! Hello Michael! There is just too much in these posts for a 'conversation' so i hope we can just find a few places that permit dialogue and go from there. It is nice to have a summary of your work Michael and I am sure we can all read through some of that material in a more lesurely way but since we are here to have a conversation,  I will engage with a few of your more polemical interventions here.

1) The questions about the politics of OOO and speculative realism, it seems to me, are questions that I might also direct to you in terms of these 5 or 6 lengthy posts - it is not a matter of whether we can find points of political engagement, of course we can find many active arenas of contestation in terms of the environment, the centering of the human and so on but there is an apolitical drift that comes in to the form of a high theoretical commitment to grand narratives and normative modes of theorizing. The theories that count and that get counted in OOO and SR tend to be masculinist most of the time and tend to cluster around enlightenment and post-structuralist theory or a particular, continental stripe: Hegel, Heidegger, Derrida, Zizek, Lacan, with a Butler or Braidotti thrown in for good measure but nary a mention of race, class or postcolonial thinking.

2) Your piece on Michael W. being misread is a bit misleading I think. Michael had an opportunity in the Chronicle to point to all the new work on queer theory, to produce more anticipation and less nostalgia, to really engage the project of Series Q as intended by Sedgwick - to open up nor close down conversations. Instead he offered a eulogy of sorts and sang an old song about identity politics. He has hardly been vilified or marginalized, let's face it, the guy is the Head of English at Yale - nice kind of margin if you ask me (not that I consider the English department at Yale to be marginal to much). In many ways, he centers exactly the US, the white guy gay theory and so on that you, Michael O-Rourke remind us, conveniently ignores queer theory as produced by the rest of the world!

3) As for the question of who counts and the definition of "queer" - oh my goodness, we are surely not going back to queer = gay/lesbian are we? When I said the straight people should leave queer theory to the queers, that does not, in any way, delimit queerness to gay/lesbian or even trans people. If you identify with the phrase "straight people" then i would love to hear how and why and in what capacity. If you identify with the marker "queer" and all your posts indicate that you do, then why is this offensive?

4) Finally, in response to this:

I am very slowly reading Zizek’s latest 1100 page magnum opus, Less Than Nothing: Hegel and the Shadow of Dialectical Materialism, which contains an anecdote about Turing (as an aside this book does have something to say about several of the issues under discussion here on Empyre this week: correlationism, speculative materialism, the Real, objects…) In his characteristically provocative introduction on stupidity and the differences between morons, idiots and imbeciles, Zizek writes: “Alan Turing was an exemplary idiot: a man of extraordinary intelligence, but a proto-psychotic unable to process implicit contextual rules” !!

Only Zizek could squeeze 1100 pages out of "Less than Nothing..." I always wondered who read entire books by Zizek...I am not sure I find Zizek always provocative so much as repetitive but I like the idea of  parsing out the differences between morons, idiots and imbeciles - Avital Ronell is way more interesting on Stupidity than Zizek could ever be but if Alan Turing was an exemplary idiot, then probably Zizek is a professional know it all - the moron and the idiot and the imbecile actually know stuff that is hidden from others who are "smart," the professional knower produces the knowledge structures that render others idiotic. The idiot after all is "one who lacks professional knowledge." Who produces professional knowledge, who knows in different ways? Who wants to know urgently, passionately and thrillingly? Who wants to know in order to be considered "knowing"?

All for now, from 
A Jetlagged Idiot

On Jun 14, 2012, at 2:35 AM, Michael O'Rourke wrote:

> When Zach first sent out the invitations to contribute to a week on computation and the nonhuman I have to confess that I read "computation" as pertaining to counting and that Zach must have meant who or what counts as queer? 
> With this misprision in mind I have a question for Jack stemming from my unease about something he said on Bullybloggers recently (http://bullybloggers.wordpress.com/2012/04/29/friends-with-benefits-the-kids-are-all-right-friends-with-kids/). While I am more than sympathetic to the readings Jack undertakes of the films it was the following sentence which gave me significant pause:
> "And this, ultimately, is why straight people should leave the queer theory to the queers"
> If Jack really believes this then I'm wondering where this leaves people like me or Calvin Thomas or, more importantly, Eve Sedgwick? Do we or the work that we do count? 
> _______________________________________________
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