I want to tie this off with a bow and deliver it for Christmas. I want this to have a neat conclusion like a good college essay, like a good story, like a goodbye. What next, what next, what next? I have some senses of where to go, but those senses are inarticulate, they still feel untrained by even a constructed truth. The further I go, the more my conclusions become trailing pauses, and maybe that's not a mark of semester fatigue but a growing sense of the vast gulf that stretches upon all sides, the gulf of complexity and confusion in which shouted conclusions are lost acoustically, sent back in fragments.
I wanted, in short, to round out the semester with a kind of overview of sorts--an attempt, I suppose, to figure out what I can do to bring what I've learned in the course into my own life. Clearly, if that introduction is anything to go by, it hasn't been the easiest of projects. Hence the overwrought poetics there.
See, the thing is, I think I've got a sense now of how to apply the theory side of things to my own work. I have a sense of what it means to be a cyborg scholar.
At long last, in part due to my attempts to apply his ideas in the essay on Forbidden Voices, I think I have a solid sense of how to begin working with Latour's ideas about propositions and articulation. I can see applications of the ideas in particular to queer subjectivity--by shifting the discourse to one of propositions rather than absolute truths about queer nature, it might be possible to embrace ever more complex articulations of what it means to be queer.
This, in turn, potentially sheds some light on the idea of queerness in the animal kingdom. There's a real danger in applying broad human categories of behavior to animals, particularly ones as socially affected as categories of sexual behavior, but this drive to articulate while, to some extent, withholding conclusions can maybe allow for a greater understanding of nonhuman queerness that doesn't translate easily into simple metaphor.
And, of course, the move towards articulation mirrors the moves by Haraway and Sandoval toward a fragmentation of identities that is mirrored, as far as queer performativity is concerned, with the ever widening proliferation of queer identities, including, increasingly, categories such as "heteroflexible" that blur the lines between straight and queer. These seem to me like propositions rather than truth statements; ways of expressing a particular kind of existence that doesn't easily fit under a wide politically mobilizeable category.
So, I'm getting a sense of how the pieces fit together. The different scholars are talking to each other not just in real life but in the virtual space created by my knowledge of them, if that makes any sort of sense.
But where I'm falling short, I think, is the application of this theory not to my academic life but to my civilian life (leaving aside for the moment the question of whether or not I have a life outside of academia. Wow, that's a grim thought).
In other words, what next?
What do I do to bring these ideas into my lived experience, both in the realm of the material and the realm of the digital?
I have found this to be a deeply affirming experience in some ways. I love junk culture--pop and schlock and overblown nonsense. Seeing science fiction show up again and again in the writings of Haraway and others makes me feel so strongly that I'm not crazy for finding so much of value, so much that resonates, in these works. One way forward for me, then, is to treat my unseriousness a bit more seriously. I'm missing some pretty horrifyingly huge chunks from the Canon of junk culture, and it's time those holes were filled. (I've got a new Octavia Butler novel and a book of Ursula Le Guin's short stories sitting on my desk right now, waiting for when I need a break from writing essays.)
So that's one thing.
I've pondered M'Charek's discussion of the shifting nature of identity and its construction quite a bit these past few weeks, and in previous posts I've mentioned how difficult it is to escape that constructive process in the digital, but to some extent I do still believe that I can wrest some control of my identity in the digital world... or maybe wrest control is the wrong term. Rather, I can metamorphose into something different on the 'Net, I can slip and slide and play with my form. The practical limits of time and money and energy that restrain me in the material world from expressing myself as fluidly gendered do not weigh quite so heavy here in the realm of light. What's next for my persona here? I'm not really sure, but I'm excited to let go a little and see where my own mind takes me.
So that's another thing.
But these are just a couple of small things, and they're maybe not enough to lead me into the future. It feels like a grasping attempt at meaning more than a fully fleshed out plan for where to head with this new knowledge.
Maybe, however, that's simply the questing state that feminist--or broadly theoretical--discourse demands: a kind of continual process of becoming.
It surprises me in some ways that this semester we have talked very little about adolescence, another state of in-betweenness, an uncomfortable cyborg state. This feels like an adolescence in some ways, or maybe a first poking forth from the chrysalis, the emergence of a new insect into a vast world of moving colors. It's frustrating and disorienting to be in such a vast field, but it's also exhilarating, I think.
I sometimes hear that in a transhuman world of vastly increased lifespans and cyberization, transformation and continuous evolution will be impossible. I can't quite understand this mentality. Technology is a continuously disruptive force, as is biology, and externalities--the queering forces of nature--seem to always find their way back in.If I can't find a conclusion, it's because as a cyborg I'm in this state of perpetual becoming. My future identity is flexible plastics.
I am Cyborg Maria.
And we started with Janelle Monae so it's only fitting if she sings us out.