QUEER, PART 1(IN ITS SENSE OF NOT SOLELY RELATING TO SEXUAL ORIENTATION)IN LITERATURE: A CREATIVE EXPLORATION/CLARIFICATION OF WHAT IT MEANS TO ME. BY STEVEN BENSON

I feel the need to clarify to myself, and, I hope, to others, the concrete MEANINGS of the word queer, when used in senses outside its other meaning of a re-claiming of the perjorative implications of ” queer” as a term of disapprobation/insult(as referring to homosexual orientation).

To me , then -and this is at least partly subjective-queer, in this (non sexual orientation specific) sense means:

1.(allowing for )differance/difference, (be it personal idiosyncrasy, nonconforming to hegemonic norms), in ANY way. So, we can have queer, quirky protagonists and even narrators(Sebald, Proust) with their own (melancholic/epiphanic) worldview and we then have those queer(in this sense) moments of eg, in “Rings of Saturn” the sebaldian narrator realising that all this world is an illusion as he looks through a “tear” in time on Dunwich Heath; or Proust with his quasi-mystical detailing of the hawthorns’ beauty in Book One of “A la recherche du Temps Perdu”. Of course, there are overlaps, in many writers, with the other sense of queer,(as I have written about at some length in relation to Sebald in particular, though his characters/narrators tend towards an internalisation of a manmade/natural (external) catastophisation worldview, which it might be misguided to pretend is some twisted form of what Halberstam called “The Queer art of Failure”, 2011; but I shall be exploring, one day, whether Sebald has any more  NON-sexual-orientation based queer moments!)

2.the GAPS in the text between the writer/reader, which the creative and participatory and reparative reader has to fill in, from his/her own subjective reading; but also an attempt at getting at what is IN those gaps, for the AUTHOR ,more (but never wholly ) objectively:for instance,  what is the (sometimes) censored,for example, gay or female writer, SAYING, parallel to/in despite of the stringencies and censorship of his/her time, (which exigency dictates he/she follow); in other words, what is HIDDEN/COVERED/COVERT in the text, which links into:

3.the reader’s PERFORMATIVITY, the very creative and valid role the reader enacts in, for example, using a historically informed stance, to elucidate a subtext, strangled by (self?) censorship: for example, teasing out and playing with the gay subtexts of Baron Corvo, Forster, Whitman(not so sub!); or, ludically, using reader/author identification(repairing yourself as well as the author-by, for instance, utilising gay-content texts to help you come out yourself: this approach much frowned upon, as “reading for personal catharsis” in the hegemonic and tediously reductive “close reading” liberal humanist litcrit school!Let them frown and feel insecure!)

4.The physical and psychological androgny of characters like Orlando(obviously reflecting elements of Woolf’s OWN psyche) and Eadie/Eadith in Patrick White’s “Twyborn Affair”https://towardsutopia.wordpress.com/2011/04/20/patrick-whitethe-twyborn-affair/. This is queer.

5. CONTRAPUNTAL WRITING.  All is explained in this post on “L’emploi du temps”(Michel butor)http://decayetude.wordpress.com/2012/07/04/michel-butor-comments-on-lemploi-du-tempspassing-time-1957trans-jean-stewartthe-novel-deconstructs-before-our-eyesbutors-labyrinth-of-time-and-memory-by-steven-benson/. This is queer.We are messing with time boundaries, how we THINK time(in memory); it is queer because we are pushing the (time!) boundaries.

So queer, in this more wide- embracing and creative sense(not that being a sexual nonconformist isn’t creative!)is pushing all kinds of socially constructed/acceptable boundaries and norms, allowing difference and idiosyncrasy, writing in different times and voices at once (polyphonically), PERFORMING the text in a dialogue between author and reader.

Finally, I want to aver that there are links here with the political(as in personal is political AND as a catalyst for PRACTICAL political action)that this performative, creative, participatory way of reading a text can make: reading a literary text thus, queerly, in the above(and other!) senses IS politically queer. You could say I am an lgbt/queer literary activist!

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About decayetude

ENTHUSIASMS: CLASSICAL MUSIC, ESPECIALLY OBSCURE ROMANTIC COMPOSERS; BACH/HANDEL LITERATURE, ESPECIALLY THOUGHTFUL, WELL-WRITTEN(STYLISTICALLY)NOVELS W G SEBALD WALTER BENJAMIN THEODOR ADORNO(JUST BEGINNING!) AESTHETIC PHILOSOPHY GAY MEN'S WRITING;QUEER THEORY STIMULATING DISCUSSIONS(EMOTIONALLY AND INTELLECTUALLY) GOOD RICH THICK ESPRESSO MICHAEL PONTI SPRITUALITY/LIFE'S "AURA"(BENJAMIN), WHATEVER TRANSCENDENTAL THING YOU WANT TO CALL THIS MEMORY-the elusiveness thereof. LOST TIME AND AN ATTEMPT AT ITS REDEMPTION(NON THEISTICALLY/RELIGIOUSLY)
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