Love and scandal are the best sweeteners of tea. —Henry Fielding

05 August 2007

Some Thoughts from ATHE

I jotted this down in response to a paper about Anna Deavere Smith and her two solo shows (Fires in the Mirror and Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992):
I keep thinking about bodies while I am here. The threatened uncovering of the queer body always contains the possibility of upsetting the status quo. In the dialogue about Anna Deavere Smith my thought was that contrary to so many critical assessments of her work that claim Smith disappears during her performances, Smith's performances never actually work in that way. On the contrary, her work foregrounds her own body. The performative gestures and vocal inflections belong to her (real-life) characters, but the performance event always focuses on the body of Anna Deavere Smith. Her body is the visual territory of her work and it is she who is the play's central figure, despite the play's argument.
Random thought:
Does Eve Sedgwick talk about men exchanging power with their sexual relationships? Are all male-male relationships—anywhere on the continuum between sexual and social—best defined as exchanges of power? This seems facile, but the hegemony of patriarchy as a system could mean that other ways of thinking male-male relations have become impossible
Can sex be thought at all? Do we need to think sex?
This is a riff on some thoughts from a guy named Jordan who teaches at Ohio University:
In musical theatre definitely (and in what other genres/spaces?) the absence of the queer is so conspicuous that the queer is effectively present. Musical theatre is such a good example of this because the unabashedly queer body of the male performer is displayed while that body enacts heteronormative gestures and re-inscribes heterosexual traditions such as marriage and patriarchal family structures. So the queer body is present though the queer is ostensibly absent.

The queer body asserts itself, demanding to be noticed, scrutinized by the straight gaze and queer gaze alike. We explore each other's bodies visually for signs, for possibilities, echoes of queer gestures, hints of a gay inflection in the voice. In the queer body resonates the potential for connection, unity; queer bodies coming together. As Elizabeth Grosz says: not for production or reproduction. The queer coupling doesn't produce anything but itself. But it is this potentiality, this capability of the queer body that threatens others. The display of the queer body itself displaces normativity, disrupting the status quo simply with its own presence. The queer body always threatens to commit a kind of violence.