an education in progress
As a party with a regular book club, we’ve put together a syllabus of the texts (and films) that shaped our journey of sexual empowerment and permanent queer becoming. According to Jose Esteban Munoz, “we have never been queer,” in the sense that “queer” is never a stable state of being or an identity marker one can wear like a badge of distinction. If “queer” is better understood as a political tendency, a lens through which to “feel that this world is not enough,” a permanent striving for self-liberation and social transformation, then our efforts to inch utopia closer to reality should include a continuous process of inquiry and learning. Now, more than ever, in a culture consumed with performative gestures and digitalized spectacles, we believe: BOOKS IS POWER.*
1. Scandalous Feminism
Silvia Federici. Caliban and the Witch: Women, the Body and Primitive Accumulation. Brooklyn, NY: Autonomedia, 2009.
Virginie Despentes. King Kong Theory. New York: Feminist Press, 2010.
Family, warlike virility, modesty — all the traditional moral values are intended to keep the genders in their assigned role. Men as soldiers for the state, women as the slaves of men. In the end, we are all enslaved, our sexualities confiscated, policed and normalized. There is always a social class which has an interest in maintaining things as they are…
Jo Freeman. “Bitch Manifesto.” 1968.
Shulamith Firestone. The Dialectic of Sex: The Case for Feminist Revolution. New York: Bantam Books, 1970.
Monique Wittig. The Straight Mind and Other Essays. New York: Beacon Press, 1992.
Karen Finley. A Different Kind of Intimacy: A Memoir. New York: Thunder Mouth Press, 2000.
Shannon Bell. Fast Feminism. New York: Autonomedia, 2010.
Mira Bellwether. Fucking Trans Women. 2018. [buy this zine & support the author!!]
Bini Adamczak. “On Circlusion.” Mask Magazine, July 2016.
I wish to propose to you a new term, one that has been missing for a long time: “circlusion.” It denotes the antonym of penetration. […] We need it because the affliction of penetration still rules supreme over the heteronormative imaginary and its arbitrary division of bodies into “active” and “passive.”
Melissa Grant. Playing the Whore: The Work of Sex Work. New York: Verso, 2014.
2. Cruising as a Way of Life
Tim Dean. “Chapter 4: Cruising as a Way of Life.” Unlimited Intimacy: Reflections on the Subculture of Barebacking. Chicago: Chicago University Press, 2009.
…what seems salutary about cruising is how it can involve intimate contact with strangers without necessarily domesticating the other’s otherness. Thus I would like to rephrase my opening question more pointedly: Why should strangers not be lovers and yet remain strangers?
Sam Delany. Times Square Red. Times Square Blue. New York: New York University Press, 1999.
Samuel Delany. “Ash Wednesday.” Boston Review, May 2017.
Patrick Califia. Speaking Sex to Power: The Politics of Queer Sex. San Francisco: Cleis Press, 2002.
Elisa Glick. “Sex Positive: Feminism, Queer Theory and the Politics of Transgression.” Feminist Review 64. Spring 2000.
3. Permanent Queer Becoming
[Queerness] is not about an identity in and of itself. Nor is it about some Liberal fantasy for the absence or overcoming of identity. Queerness is about the struggle against identity construction, knowing full well that one can never escape or transcend those cultural systems which dominate us through the imposition of identities.
Paul B. Preciado. Testo Junkie: Sex, Drugs and Biopolitics in the Pharmacopornographic Era. New York: The Feminist Press, 2013. Excerpt.
Tim Dean. “Homosexuality and the Problem of Otherness.” In Homosexuality and Psychoanalysis, eds. Tim Dean and Christopher Lane. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2001.
Mckenzie Wark. “The Potential of the Queer: On Jose Esteban Munoz.” Public Seminar, February 2019.
Paul B. Preciado, “Letters from a Trans Man to the Old Sexual Regime.” Texte zur Kunst, January 2018.
Two differential factors nevertheless separate the queer aesthetic from that of the straight normativeness of the old regime—the ancient régime: consent and the non-naturalization of sexual positions. The equivalence of bodies and the redistribution of power.
Julia Serano. Whipping Gild: A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity. Berkeley, CA: Seal Press, 2016.
Juliet Jacques. Trans: A Memoir. New York: Verso, 2016.
Richard Seymour. “None Shall Pass: Trans and the Rewriting of the Body.” Salvage, March 2017.
Terre Thaemlitz. “The Revolution Will Not Be Injected.” June 2015.
VIDEO: ContraPoints. “Gender Critical.” March 2019.
4. Reduce< Refuse< Rave : Are Parties Political?
Barbara Ehrenreich. Dancing in the Streets: A History of Collective Joy. Henry Holt, 2007.
Jose Esteban Munoz. “Conclusion: Take Ecstasy with Me.” In Cruising Utopia. New York: New York University Press, 2009.
Taking ecstasy with one another, in as many ways as possible, can perhaps be our best way of enacting a queer time that is not yet but nonetheless always potentially dawning.
Luis-Manuel Garcia. “An Alternative History of Sexuality in Club Culture.” Resident Advisor, January 2014.
Terre Thaemlitz. “Midtown 120 Blues.” 2008.
Terre Thaemlitz interviewed by Luis-Manuel Garcia. “Terre Thaemlitz on Queer Nightlife: Un Unabridged Interview.” February 2014.
Ashkan Sepahvand. “Everything I Learned about Technocapitalism, I Learned at Berghain.” As part of the conference #FOMO, curated by Steven Cairns and Rosalie Dubal, Institute of Contemporary Arts. London, May 29-31, 2015.
Ashkan Sepahvand. “When the Body Seems Destined to Experimentation.” In …ment, Issue 6: “Displacement,” eds. Rebecca Bligh and Federica Bueti. London: journalment, 2015.
Martti Kalliala. “Club Ruins.” Flash Art, November 2016.
It is ostensibly funny how power plants and factories have assumed a function — the club — diametrically opposed to their original use: dissipating excess energy through physical and affective work without obvious utility, such as dancing, the chemically accelerated depletion of dopamine and serotonin stocks, and nonreproductive sex. But only ostensibly, as today we live with an energetic surplus so far beyond what we require for survival and reproduction, that the vast majority of human activity is devoted to pursuits that fall under the categories of ritual and ceremony: the seemingly irrational sacrifice of time and resources for no obvious gain. If the pointlessness of clubs is comical, so is pretty much everything else we do.
tobias c van Veen. “Technics, Precarity and Exodus in Rave Culture.” Dancecult: Journal of Electronic Dance Music Culture, 1(2), 2010: 29-49.
RA Exchange. “EX220. Der Klang der Familie.” October 2014.
George McKay (ed.). DIY Culture: Party & Protest in Nineties Britain. London: Verso, 1998.
Good Trouble. Utopia Now: Rave and Resistance in the Middle East. December 2017.
The Queer Mafia. “Safe(r) Spaces Remixed: Ground Rules for Our Parties.” Toronto.
5. On Labor (of Love) in the Age of Clubbing
Bojana Kunst. “Prognosis on Collaboration.” First published in: Prognoses über Bewegungen, ed. Gabriele Branstetter, Kai van Eikels, Sybille Peters, B-Books, Berlin, 2009.
Vika Kirchenbauer. “Aesthetics of Exploitation.” 2017.
Jan Verwoert. “To All Those Who Set the Stage.” Keynote Lecture at Smart Museum of Art’s symposium “Of Hospitality,” May 2012.
Jan Verwoert. “Exhaustion and Exuberance: Ways to Defy the Pressure to Perform.” Pamphlet for Art Sheffield 08 “Yes, No and Other Options”, 2018.
Sex work is one of the fastest growing industries today. And, without wanting to turn ‘sex work’ into a loose metaphor, I still feel that the unconditional readiness to perform whenever and wherever that is expected from freelancers as well as from artists and intellectuals operating in a project-based arts economy somewhat resembles the pressure put on the sex worker to always get it on.
Catherine Breillat [preferably everything!!]
Daisies (Chytilova, 1966)
The Killing of Sister George (Aldrich, 1968)
Jeanne Dielman, 23, Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles (Akerman, 1975)
A Question of Silence (Gorris, 1982)
Born in Flames (Borden, 1983)
The Gold Diggers (Potter, 1983)
Vagabond (Varda, 1985) [and more…]
Working Girls (Borden, 1986)
Daughters of the Dust (Dash 1991)
Party Girl (Scherler-Mayer, 1995)
Watermelon Woman (Dunye, 1996)
Naar de Klote (Kaganof, 1996)
Baise Moi (Despentes, 2000)
Strella (Koutras, 2009)
Victoria (Schipper, 2015)
* Please don’t buy books on Amazon!! It’s a giant vampiric machine that sucks the lifeblood of its workers, competitors, local businesses and diverse urban neighborhoods. Alternatively, you can try subscribing to aaaaarg.fail [a great free academic book resource] or order books through abebooks.com [slower delivery for much lower prices from private sellers worldwide].