The bind of becoming nominally enfranchised while remaining culturally invisible “others” has been a central tension of the past century for groups with no access to textual histories of their subjectivity.
Sidonie Smith and Julia Watson, Reading Autobiography: A Guide for Interpreting Life Narratives (USA: University of Minnesota Press, 2001), p. 115
As art the autobiographical act always fixes that which is in process, making it a cultural artifact. By definition, then, autobiography must fail to create the life of the writer, but it enshrines consciousness, the ability to reflect upon oneself through the autobiographical process.
Sidonie Smith and Julia Watson, Reading Autobiography: A Guide for Interpreting Life Narratives (USA: University of Minnesota Press, 2001), p. 125.
What is at stake when a life is described as “representative”? Whose lives can be considered representative of a culture or a historical moment? Who determines which lives are representative? Where life narratives of the past are concerned, should Misch’s notion be definitive? As cultural critics have argued for well over a decade, such labelling of what is – or is not – representative is part of the cultural project of “naming, controlling, remembering, understanding” that sustains the patriarchal, and imperial, power to produce “knowledge” about the world. If only those people authorized as agents of existing institutions determine the economic value of lives, what are the consequences for our sense of which people can “get a life” and become cultural subjects?
Sidonie Smith and Julia Watson, Reading Autobiography: A Guide for Interpreting Life Narratives (USA: University of Minnesota Press, 2001), P. 116.
Hence the goal of schizoanalysis: to analyze the specific nature of the libidinal investments in the economic and political spheres, and thereby to show how, in the subject who desires, desire can be made to desire its own repression—whence the role of the death instinct in the circuit connecting desire to the social sphere. All this happens, not in ideology, but well beneath it.
“May I help you?”
Bron said: “I want to be a woman.”
“Yes. And what sex are you now?”
Which was not the response he expected. “Well what do I look like?”
She made a small moue. “You could be a male who is partway through one of a number of possible sex-change processes. Or you could be a female who is much further along in a number of other sex change operations: In both those cases, you would be wanting us to complete work already begun. More to the point, you might have begun as a woman, been changed to male, and now want to be changed to – something else. That can be difficult.” But because in a completely different context he had once used such a console for three months, he saw that she had already punched in ‘Male.’ “Or,” she concluded, “you could be a woman in very good drag.”
Thus, if politics in the symbolic is always a politics of the symbolic, operating in the name, and in the direction, of a future reality, the vision it hopes to realize is rooted in an imaginary past.
But “gay” and “lesbian” still present themselves (however delusively) as objective, empirical categories governed by empirical rules of evidence (however contested). “Queer” seems to hinge much more radically and explicitly on a person’s undertaking particular, performative acts of experimental self-perception and filiation.
Whorephobia remains pervasive in the social psyche, showing its ugliness even in sex-positive communities. The positive emphasis on sex work confuses “straights” into thinking that sex work is about sex, not work. That cognitive dissonance — the deep chasm filled with stereotypes and prejudices — interferes with the capacity of civilians to hear sex workers speak about their experiences. Stories that don’t conform to the “superhappyfunsexysexwork!” narrative tend to flummox pro-sex feminists; they can identify with privileged exotic dancers, porn performers and professional dominants (even fantasize about being one), but think “junkie whores” need to be rescued and should be prevented from working in their gentrifying neighborhoods. Such disrespectful treatment leads to silencing, ignoring, or rewriting what sex workers have to say.
For every ailment under the sun,
There is a remedy, or there is none;
If there be one, try to find it;
If there be none, never mind it.