Lesbian 'Phallus' or Gratuitous Rudeness? (was Re: Cop Shows....)

Alec Ramsdell a_ramsdell at yahoo.com
Wed Feb 3 12:05:07 PST 1999

---Yoshie Furuhashi <furuhashi.1 at osu.edu> wrote:

> I said the 'Lesbian Phallus' because we are supposed to be having (or
> supposed to have had?) the JudyFest, and in connection with Butler,
> been thinking of how the concept of performance in particular (but
> post-structuralism in general) has become more and more
_voluntaristic_, as
> it has become more widely disseminated and (how shall I say)
> (or Anglo-Americanized?).
> Closer to its putative beginnings, pomo had more of a pleasant
> anti-humanist flavor. 'Performance' didn't mean 'putting on an act' or
> switching from one persona to another as an act of will or even
whim; it
> referred to the construction of sexed/gendered subjects (and their
> vicissitudes) that does not go through the realm of consciousness.

I know I sound like a broken record each time I bring up my sporadic e-mail access, but it has bummed me out in regards to JudyFest. But I've found a computer, and have a few minutes, so . . .

Yoshie points out something important here that dovetails with some of my recent thoughts on Butler. Some days ago, also, Dennis wrote about Butler's *questioning*, and for me that questioning is often of itself very compelling. In my view Butler is strongest and starts articulating her most useful answers at the intersection of performativity and psychoanalysis. And it's important to keep in mind that the category of the "performative" spans a range of uses, from the dynamics of drag to a theory of signification (this was brought up re: citations). Butler engages the latter most fruitfully in "Arguing With the Real" (_Bodies That Matter_), critiquing Zizek's use of it, and looking at it in the context of the descriptivist/anti-descriptivist debate.

Maybe the middle ground of this continuum of performativity is best sketched in Chs. 5 and 6 of Psychic Life. In Ch. 5 Butler speculates on the usefullness of the performative as a "working through" of melancholy. In Ch. 6 she considers the tropological construction of "melancholy," considering the term at its most elastic until psychic space itself is a production of melancholy, and melancholy a species of that "turn" informing the whole book. I read this as a way through the ostensible impasse of melancholy as (essentially) constitutive of the ego. With the performative, can this way through materialize in bodily acts, where the ego re-fashions itself, so to speak, and "works through" melancholy?

Ch. 2 also struck a chord with me. And since this is (was?) JudyFEST, I thought I'd post a pertinent poem. To indulge in a little narcissism! :-) It's all about a circuit of Baaaaad Conscience.

Baby Steps

1. My body's missing. Lines, whose broken words still hold what promise would resolve, pain, step by step, repairs.

2. What promise would resolve my body's missing lines? Pain? Step by step repairs? Whose broken words still hold

3. pain step by step, repairs what promise would resolve, whose broken words still hold. My body's missing lines

4. whose broken words still hold. Pain. Step by step repairs. My body's missing lines what promise would resolve.

Alec _________________________________________________________ DO YOU YAHOO!? Get your free @yahoo.com address at http://mail.yahoo.com

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