The Anti-Civilizational Queer: Reconceiving the Subject-Subject Consciousness of the Radical Faeries
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The first section of this thesis is a consideration of Harry Hay’s writings about “subject-SUBJECT” consciousness and Sanford’s critiques thereof. A refutation of Hay’s writings on the topic, which is not a central component of Sanford’s dissertation, is where Sanford’s work ends. I find it important to present the conversation between these two Faeries, Hay and Sanford, as a backdrop for my own exploration of the topic. My consideration of subject-subject consciousness is noticeably different in form than either of theirs, however. Hay’s writing on the term is epigraphic and bombastic; Sanford’s writing, while mixed with affect and narrative in other areas, is purely theoretical on this point. My writing on subject-subject consciousness dispenses with Hay’s melodrama and moves nearer to Sanford’s narrative academic style while prioritizing my own experience and operating within a crudely phenomenological framework. Because of the nature of this academic work, my thesis here is inseparable from my involvement with myself and the Faeries. The work of myself that I am doing here thus begins as I reconceive subject-subject consciousness by interweaving my experience of Faerie community and texts that have helped me comprehend and embody Faerie relationality. The second section is an analysis of the term which I have, along with Sanford, come to most closely identify with the ethics of Faerie community: attention. I primarily define attention using the writings of Simone Weil, principally through an examination of attention’s counterpart, force. The clarity with which Weil explicates what she terms force allows me to discuss force’s antidote, attention. I more fully form my conception of attention by examining the closely Faerie-aligned novel The Faggots and Their Friends Between Revolutions, in which I locate a series of scenes of communal healing and mutual aid. [note on scenes] These scenes lead my discussion to the embodied nature of attention, which I again primarily conceive of through the negative. Attention at this point in my writing will be seen as the antidote of trauma, here understood in one facet as the corporealization of force. I rely here on the work of Marian Dunlea, which incisively explores how we can identify and counteract the embodiment of our trauma. Section three is then an approach toward Faerie ethics from the starting point of the subject’s relationship to themself. I draw primarily from Judith Butler’s writing about the subject’s partial self-opacity. I, however, move beyond the subject via the anti-civilizational critique of Baedan, a queer anarchist journal out of Seattle. I explore what Baedan terms domestication and the struggle against it within Faerie community, which can be seen as attempts to bring the subject in communion with themself. The alienation of the subject from the human – a reformulation of Butler’s subject’s partial self-opacity via a discussion of Agamben’s consideration of apparatuses, itself a building upon Foucault’s thought of the same term – is combatted as a means of realizing an ideal of ethical relationality that I view as aligned with the mandates of attention. I thus position Faerie ethics as aligned with the embrace of civilization’s decomposition elucidated by Baedan. Finally, I explore Faerie gender practices as a site of the refusal of civilization. I challenge Butler’s drive toward intelligibility in her conception of gender performativity by linking intelligibility to subjecthood and therefore civilization. I consider how Faerie gender practices instead emphasize our inherent unintelligibility, which exposes a drive within Faerie community toward what Butler terms precarity. I then link precarity to chaos and explore ways that an embrace of precarity and chaos has been exhibited to me in Faerie community. I further conceive of precarity and chaos, as conditions of our existence, to be necessary sites of embrace in the pursuit of ourselves. This leads me to what I perceive to be the call of Faerie ethical relationality.