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polymexina in theoryishotcrew

:D here's my list.

1. The Methodology of the Oppressed by Chela Sandoval
2. Soul Talk by Gloria Akasha Hull
3. Culture and Truth by Renato Rosaldo
4. Thirdspace by Edward Soja
5. Homo Ludens by Huizinga
6. Tales of Dark Skinned Women by Gargi Bhattacharyya
7. In Other Worlds by Spivak
8. Queer Phenomenology by Sara Ahmed
9. "A Cyborg Manifesto" by Donna Haraway
10. "Situated Knowledges" by Donna Haraway

:braces self:



Interestingly, "Spivak" is the only name or title on that list I even vaguely recognize. With that in mind:

1. Here is the "Product Description" Amazon gives for Queer Phenomenology:

Focusing on the “orientation” aspect of “sexual orientation” and the “orient” in “orientalism,” Ahmed examines what it means for bodies to be situated in space and time. Bodies take shape as they move through the world directing themselves toward or away from objects and others. Being “orientated” means feeling at home, knowing where one stands, or having certain objects within reach. Orientations affect what is proximate to the body or what can be reached. A queer phenomenology, Ahmed contends, reveals how social relations are arranged spatially, how queerness disrupts and reorders these relations by not following the accepted paths, and how a politics of disorientation puts other objects within reach, those that might, at first glance, seem awry.

Philistine that I am, I can't help but find the use of "orientation" in this description obnoxious. It appears to be trading opportunistically on homophony to push a very strained and implausible analysis. What exactly is distinctly spatial about being queer?

2. Evidently someone named Renato Rosaldo wrote something called Culture and Truth. But I'm not interested in Culture and Truth or Renato Rosaldo. I'd just like to hear your own answer to this one: what is Truth? (Oh, and what does it have to do with Theory?)
(Well, I suppose it's not exactly homophony, since sexual "orientation" surely derives from some spatial sense of "orientation". But the spatial part has long since drained away, and reasserting it appears entirely unmotivated to me. Can you convince me otherwise?)
<3 I have no idea if I can convince you otherwise! But I'll try to make Ahmed a little less obnoxious. <3

Okay, she's using orientation in this way to be like, "What orients you to a particular body? What cues you to desire what you desire?" So for her the idea of orientation is very much about the externals that direct you to want or feel particular things. She's got this one really great passage where she's thinking about repetitive stress disorder and carpal tunnel syndrome, and then starts talking about heteronormativity as a kind of cultural RSD -- the marks left on the psyche and the body as a result of repeated disciplining into an orientation.
Like if hegemony was a nun with a ruler? It'd whap your hand until you wrote straight as hell and were also heterosexual.

So, being queer and being left handed are the same thing? They have historically been treated similarly. But I think left handedness has finally been accepted and we may have even officially apologized for oppressing it.
I had enough of your left handed comments, you sinister queer.
I don't know, I still see people being teased for being left handed.
writing, speaking and sexuality are so closely linked (e.g. the sound of one's voice is an index of sexual desires)- of course, our nun here is ideally asexual, which makes her phallic ruler all the more terrifying.

Images and the tropes of transference are such good ways of talking about theory.

Is "What orients you to a particular body?" just pure metaphor? Why not say "what attracts you to a particular body?"? Unless I'm missing something, it's the same point, with more natural language.

The idea about hetenormativity is interesting. Is it supposed to afflict everyone, or just queer people? That is, suppose someone is unambiguously inclined to heterosexuality, a Kinsey scale absolute 0. Has that person still suffered psychic marks on account of cultural heteronormativity?
She's using orient because she's talking a lot about directionality, location, and place-making. So it's not just about attraction as in OMG BOOBS or whatever... it's also about, say, lingerie as a signifier of sexy times. The accessories of sex/desire, say, or the accoutrement.

She'd say that that's why heteronormativity is so toxic. You can be oriented towards heterosexuality but then be disciplined into heteronormativity.
Also: she is using Said's point about the Orient and its conquest being sexualized for Westerners as a jumping off into some of her reflections on cultural identity.
I'm actually a Kinsey 0. Or at least I have been told this by every single person. I would say surely I have suffered psychic marks on account of heteronormativity.
Attracts is also a metaphor but one that shifts the point of focus. Orientation is an internal push whereas attraction denotes an external pull. One only seems more "natural" based on the intuition, or "feelings" of one as a native speaker within a present context. But that doesn't make it less metaphorical. The use of orient, however, is the more appropriate metaphor here because of the spatial as well as the fact that "oriens" from which the word derives is the cardinal directional term for the east. The metaphor thus does double duty here and the "orientalism" and spatial notion of orient as an internal push are evident and appropriate.
(Haha I'm tempted to answer your truth question by doing a Dark Tower reference. More soon!)
Please do! We have already discovered the Highlander Theory of Truth (there can be only ONE!).

My Understanding of the Truth by Jake Chambers

In conclusion: everything Stephen King wrote ever is the truth.

Edited at 2010-07-13 02:04 pm (UTC)
Sandoval highlights that postmodernism comes out of dominant culture's abrupt realization that shit's unstable and unsure, and that this is a realization marginalized people have been having for generations. She suggests -- and I'd agree -- that truth's a convenient concept contingent on what's politically and socially useful at the moment. It's always conditional, and also always deployed in a utilitarian manner.

I honestly haven't really thought about what that has to do with theory. I'm thinking that it highlights that reality is unstable- and for me theory provides a just-so! story to navigate that instability. Like, I don't know if what Ahmed's saying about RSD and heteronormativity is "true" or not, but it's got some explanatory power that I find really useful in clarifying some questions I have about the wedding industry in the US. ;) So it'll do.

Edited at 2010-07-13 03:41 am (UTC)
I would take issue with the notion of truth being something always "useful", especially politically and your description of her position strikes me as a little less than subtle: i.e. it is fashionable to call all truth "political" and "useful." It speaks of a level of presentism that marks Americans mostly but also feminist scholars (frighteningly). Would she allow for any "truth" that isn't conditional?

Also, I bring this back to my above comment about when and how theory happens--theory is not a method, but a way of thinking that comes about when the old conventions become unsatisfying (shit's unstable and unsure!). If we think of theory within that frame, how does postmodernism really differ from other theories? And (I think postmodernism is a good example here, though structuralism is harder, no?) is theory a stabilizer or destabilizer?
I am also not a fan of homophony play--like the popular "Herstory" for "History." The Greek word ἱστορία (hope I put that accent correctly) is already gendered feminine but people don't know enough (or care enough) about etymologies to get that.Oh, well.

Edited at 2010-07-13 12:15 pm (UTC)
You just hate the wymynz, Kat. Embrace your feminine desire to spell words wrong as a meaningful act of defiance of the patriarchy. Embrace it like a wymynly mother embraces her sisters.
You mean cisterns, not sisters, right? Like repositories?
Clearly I need to attend Remedial Incorrect Spelling for Wymyn.
I think you might mean "wombanly" :D
No, I hate wombats.
Are we wombats now? They have pretty laid back lives so I can dig that.