Having said that, the more I read in queer theory [in preparation for the panel at Kalamazoo], the more I can see its creative, and even its ethical, powers, while at the same time, I'm a little worried over what gets lost in its endlessly capacious modes of description and signification. In one sense, part of the power of queer studies, it seems to me, lies in the fact that it can be about pretty much everything, and everything, moreover, can be queered. But that also means it can be about nothing at all [and since even "nothing," like death, can be queered, then even "nothing" is not nothing]. Queer theory is generous, open, infinitely plastic, limber, forgiving of everyone and everything, and infinitely productive of different pasts and different futures. These are all good things. It is also exuberant, playful, joyful, and even loving. Good again. It attends to the marginalized, the dispossessed, the disappeared, the untouchables of history; indeed, it "touches" the untouchables, and even desires them and makes them lovable. Queer studies is affective and seeks relations that are always turning themselves inside-out, always multiplying their emotional and other affects so that they can be deployed across and beyond identities [human and non-human] and not ever remain enclosed within static residences or pressed under the weight of supposedly dead histories. This is, again, all to the good. But I sense, too, in Michael's, and in select other writings in queer studies [such as J.J. Cohen and Todd R. Ramlow's "Pink Vectors and Deleuze: Queer Theory and Inhumanism," RHIZOMES 11/12] a subtle disconnect between the idea, espoused by Michael O'Rourke in various places, here and elsewhere, that the future of queer studies will have something to do with a consideration of futurality [a futurality, moreover, that is tied to what might be called the unfinished business of (mourning) past human-becomings], and also with love and amity, and the idea, expressed by Cohen and Ramlow in their essay cited above, that queer studies ultimately aims at the "death of the human," where "the human is simply beside the point" and "death barely seems possible." Articulating this point in a slightly different way in his book Medieval Identity Machines, JJC wrote that queer theory, especially of a Deleuzan bent, helps us to see “the limits of the human as a conceptual category and demarcates a new terrain . . . where identity, sexuality, and desire are no longer constrained by ontology, 'muscle,' or lonely residence in a singular and merely human body” [p. 77].
I guess this is my long-winded way of asking Michael [and even Jeffrey] of how they might traverse or touch or negotiate this divide between a queer studies obsessed with things always about-to-arrive enclosed in "unlived possibilities" and the work of mourning and grieving [very human actions that are, so to say, bent over a certain absence or passing of what-was-human, and also interested in unfinished projects of loving and desiring what-was-human—in returning, even, to once-more-palpable romantic relationships with singularly beautiful human persons] and a queer studies intent on the death of the human. I was struck by a quotation of Judith Butler's [from Undoing Gender] that Cohen and Ramlow included in their essay [supposedly as a support for their assertion that Deleuze and Guattari aimed, together, not at the death of the author but the death of the human, and that Butler would concur]:
“We must learn to live and to embrace the destruction and rearticulation of the human in the name of a more capacious and, finally, less violent world, not knowing in advance what precise form our humanness does and will take.”
I see this statement of Butler’s as not one hundred percent in sympathy with a theoretical project that would aim at the death of the human, but instead as a wish for a differently articulated [spoken, but also lived] humanness that, while discarding [and, sure, killing off] earlier definitions of the human that depend on the demarcation [and suppression] of the supposedly “inhuman,” is somehow not ultimately inhuman, but more fully human. So I guess this leads me to a few more questions, such as: is it possible that, while “human” is a historically problematic description of who and what we are, that, indeed, queer studies is not possible without it? In other words, isn’t queer studies, to a certain extent, a type of flowering of that within us that is most human, most humane, most beautiful, most loving—but loving in a way and fashion that can only really be called human [and even, queerly human]? Not to mention, can queer studies even be thought by anyone/anything not-human? Is it not, in that sense, a very human production? Is it possible that, even if a certain form of queer theorizing could allow us the means whereby we might be able to throw the various atoms and molecules of our being across vast tracts of non-human spaces in order to hook ourselves, as it were, to an “infinitely connective machinery of desire” [Cohen and Ramlow], that our capacity to do this rests, to a certain extent, on our queerness as humans? Is being-human the most queer thing of all [if it involves our ability to always imagine what could be otherwise]? I have one other question, especially for Michael: in what way[s] is a queer studies concerned with futurality post-secular, even theological?