Camp with Edmund White: Cruising a Poststructuralist Gay Subject-scape
|Keywords:||愛德蒙懷特;後結構主義;解構;camp;Edmund White;poststructuralism;camp;vulnerability;homographesis;subject-scape||Issue Date:||2007||Abstract:||null
Critics of poststructuralism have used performative contradiction as a way to undermine the effort of poststructuralism. Performative contradictions are when and where contradictions are observed. The “normal rationality” is to quell out those contradictions to keep meaning and reason in order. However, this thesis starts with a position to rethink the importance of seeing performative contradiction as an art of camp. This thesis writes about camp, and takes camp as a tool to criticize one’s situatedness in one’s socio-cultural positioning in the term “subject-scape.” Through camping, one is enabled to see oneself and the others “otherwise” when there is a conflict between the performatives of the self/others and the social norms. It is argued in the way as it is performed through this writing that by cultivating a sense of camp we “let live” ourselves and others in situations where performative contradictions occur. Since gay people are often thought of as camp and as contradictory to an unquestionable natural plan and thus are excluded as illegitimate subjects in the heteronormative society, it is crucial here to utilize camp to work in their favor. To examine this idea, I read Edmund White’s novels as a pursuit of a camp homosexual identity, which never reaches a totalized and fixed condition as the knowledge/discourse of sexuality dictates or the normal path of a meaningful social life expects. Instead, the gay identity, understood by poststructuralism, is never fixated but remains a performative site that various discursive practices work to speak its truth. As complicated in the process of homographesis proposed by Lee Edelman, the meaning of homosexuality is infinitely deferred and in this unstoppable signifying process, and as a result, multiple meanings become possible and alternative stories are meaningful. And importantly, this status of confusion is not undesirable but is the foundation for celebrating life’s many alternative meanings and richness. The thesis also follows Edmund White to the AIDS epidemic in the 80s, and it is through camp used as a critique that keeps oneself at a critical distance from the constraints of the ideology of heteronormative able-bodiedness so that disabled and aging bodies can mean and be lived otherwise. It is also a critique of the normal society that aims to exclude those ill subjects as if they are from the outside, which is also an attitude that gets translated into denial and frustration when one faces illness and death in life and interpersonal encounters. I draw upon Judith Butler’s writing on ethics in the vein of Emmanuel Levinas to reconsider a community that takes as the undeconstructible a common “vulnerability” that makes us all human. It is argued that the vulnerable subject that lives a precarious life in that at times the life and the body are not fully controllable is also the subject that can love and care for the its other, which leads to a conclusion that what we do for the others is ultimately what we do for ourselves.
|Appears in Collections:||外國語文學系|
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