Thursday, August 25, 2005

Cultural imaginaries

For my birthday, Nikki gave me a copy of Joanna Russ' 1975 sci-fi classic, The Female Man, and I'm thinking about reviewing it here as I read it.

I became interested in the book when doing some research on feminist and queer theory, notions of multiplicity, non-linear narratives and appropriating language. Amongst other things, I read Susan Ayres' article on The Female Man, and was struck by her discussion of Monique Wittig and Judith Butler and the ability to "speak our way out of gender".

I began to wonder what it would mean to speak - and act - our way out of technology.

Surely, I figured, that would involve resisting what I see to be Hardt and Negri's rather masculinist multitudes and other collections of logical singularities, and instead favouring emotional, unpredictable and voluptuous multiplicities. This has everything to do with how we value the individual, and I believe we need to imagine other than democracies of singular differences.

Julia Kristeva and others have written extensively on how people cling to particular (stable) identities in times of (unstable) crisis, on our desire to belong. But how can we connect with others if we don't know how to be alone? How can we give when we are constantly in a state of need?

In more grounded terms, for example, I'm interested the kind of hope that comes from refusing, rather than merely acknowledging, privilege. I'm talking about being so daring as to give up one's prominent place at the table in favour of three (or a hundred) less prominent voices. I'm talking about moving beyond lamentation to action.


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