“Was not their mistake once more bred of the life of slavery that they had been living?—a life which was always looking upon everything, except mankind, animate and inanimate—‘nature,’ as people used to call it—as one thing, and mankind as another, it was natural to people thinking in this way, that they should try to make ‘nature’ their slave, since they thought ‘nature’ was something outside them” — William Morris

Friday, February 25, 2011

Rutgers Eco Conference: Cate Sandilands talk + mp3

Queer Eye for the Straight Guy. How to unthink heteronaturativity. Making the world safe for consumer capitalism and heterosexism. Queer there to give a liberal edge to a straight commodity. “Homonormativity.”

Colin and Justin's Home Heist. Another makeover show. The aesthetic intervention. But different. A married couple from the UK who live in Toronto. They flirt, bicker, have hissy fits. Desire to obliterate tackiness and blandness in the name of excess. “Because bad design, Canada, is a sin.”

Justin wears colorful corsages including large tree flowers. Bright paints. The virtues of an entirely pink household. The resulting intervention is not at all tasteful...it's loud but it works. Oddly pleasing.

Use of queer relational possibilities to imagine a different everyday.

Queer as description of more than human world and normative too.

To nodes in queer ecology:

(1) Queer nature as ontological condition. Myra Hird's work. Queerness found in every major animal group and so on. Intersexuality is common in many species. Sexual transitions within one animal's lifespan. (BTW here is my essay “Queer Ecology” on that.) Darwin's barnacles were gender ambiguous.

Making human cultural forms more curious by reference to the nonhuman. Making human forms uncanny. Patricia McCormack.

Cate does a very nice piece on my essay. Dawkins plus Butler as a queer coupling. “Species become themselves differently over and over again.” Rather like a drag queen in the literal performance of her life. Mesh as unimaginably open-ended set of possibilities. Desire to rethink what social science and humanities means by queer. Literary forms. A matter of being rather than perspective. (Sandilands puts the emphasis on perspective rather than being.)

I might question my inhabiting only zone (1) but no matter. And I might say that insistence on ontological queerness is political.

Limitations of humanist and anthropocentric assumptions about queerness.

But need to historicize and specify, hence

(2) Mode of Halberstam, Berlant, Warner etc. Politicization. Accounting for specific experiences and subjection.

Everything is queer impoverishes the notion of queer. We need a textured and specific history of the queer. Material reality of specific experiences and subjection. Where is the political challenge to ecological thought? Not just transgression for the sake of transgression.

Stein: conversations on rel between sexual politics and environmental justice. Contribution of lesbians to Eco thought (shout out to my buddies Vox Femina in Boulder CO—the deepest green witches you'll ever meet, and the queerest too). Struggles against oppression that is both sexual and environmental. Situatedness of stories of naturecultures. (Me: sorry, I kind of hate that term!)

Anderson and Erickson: life without future, lack of reproduction. Time space and life as natural.
Family time and time of inheritance. (But if this naturalization is talking about an illusion, isn't pointing that out very helpful?) Sandilands wants to think slowness in relation to reproductive continuity

Isherwood: heterosex as unpleasurable, merely mechanical reproduction.

The division of (1) & (2) is not absolute but pedagogically helpful, Sandilands asserts.


ai said...

Thanks for sharing these notes, Tim - they are appreciated. (We can't all attend all the conferences we'd like to!) And please pass on my regards to Cate if you get a chance.


Timothy Morton said...

Thank you mate I will. Baby okay?