Over at Bully Bloggers, I’ve posted the short MLA presentation I gave on Justin V. Bond and Occupy Wall Street. In it, I am thinking, feeling really, my way through some ideas about Nancy’s concept of being singular plural, the occupation movement, and the transgender grain of the voice.
Ryan Moore has an article in the Chronicle Review about punk studies. It seems to have been online for free for a minute, but may now be behind a pay-wall. The provocation is “Is punk the new jazz?” not in a strictly musical sense, but in the sense of a cultural form that has lost popular traction as it has gained academic credibility. Luckily, Moore immediately points out the obvious differences between punk and jazz, bringing in helpful discussions of hip hop and blues along the way.
My main quarrel with the article is its US-centrism — as intimated by the above-mentioned genres. They have the inevitable effect of placing punk in “the story of American music,” where it does and doesn’t belong. Where is a discussion of punk in relation to ska, reggae, 2-tone? And, for an article on the relationship between academic theory and musical subcultures, I was truly surprised to see Bourdieu name-checked but not Dick Hebdige.
Maybe everybody is supposed to already know their British Cultural Studies backwards and forwards by now. But somehow I can’t help but feel that the historiography of punk is being placed in a too-convenient national frame (not just in this article, but it’s a case in point). The linearity of the national frame seems to make it easier to periodize punk through generational logics (“kids these days”), a “straight time” of reproductive temporality that would be complicated by transnational frames.
“Real America” converges on Iowa caucuses today for one last attempt at forestalling the inevitable Mitt Romney nomination. I’ve lost track of which candidate has been the latest to pop-up in the game of “I’m not Romney” wack-a-mole. But I hope it’s Rick Perry, he of the hilarious “Strong” campaign ad, complete with Brokeback Mountain jacket and ersatz Aaron Copland-esque music. We’re here, we’re queer, and we designed everything you’re wearing and listening to!
I hope queer theory isn’t having a near death experience, but its life just flashed before its eyes. Over at the Chronicle Review, Michael Warner has penned a mid-length intellectual memoir of the first twenty years of the project, on the occasion of the conclusion of Series Q at Duke University Press.
Generously, Warner resists the temptation to call the project over, or failed (although he does nominate his preferred theoretical concerns — secularism and normativity — as the ones that ought to preoccupy queer theorists most, at the expense of other keywords like — affect, temporality, and empire):
Far from being conceptually vacuous, queer theory now has the shape of a searching and still largely undigested conversation, rich enough to have many branches, some different enough to be incommensurate with one another.
Out of curiosity, after reading Warner’s essay I went through the Worldcat catalogue this morning, looking for books with the phrase “queer theory” in the title. To my surprise, I had read almost none of them. Most were trots of various genres: introductions, ‘key concepts,’ etc. This makes me think that, at least in terms of book publishing, queer theory is not so much undigested as ,predigested, something that people already think can be summed up and sorted. As a phrase it has fallen victim to the very powers of ignorant knowingness that the late Eve Sedgwick anatomized in The Epistemology of the Closet.
I look forward to celebrating the publication of the Sedgwick’s posthumous collection of essays, The Weather in Proust, later this week at the MLA in Seattle.
This blog is beginning with words, but I’ll be getting back to music anon. Happy New Year!