Tendencies by Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick

By Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick

Combining poetry, wit, polemic and wonderful scholarship with memorial and autobiography, those essays have set new criteria of ardour and truthfulness for present theoretical writing. The essays diversity from discussions of Diderot, Oscar Wilde and Henry James to queer youngsters, political correctness adn the poetics of spanking. What unites trends is the imaginative and prescient of a brand new queer activism and idea which, although challenging and hazardous, can be motive, inclusive and enjoyable.

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131–31) 38 QUEER TUTELAGE Suzanne’s unknowing makes her invincibly attractive to the Mother and invincibly triumphant over the Sisters, even while—that is, exactly because —it insulates her from any consciousness that the most volatile of power negotiations is being conducted around and by herself. Is it any wonder that, far from passively lacking the knowledge that what is going on constitutes “sexuality,” she actively and even lustily repels it? She protests to the Superior, “I know nothing, and I would rather know nothing than acquire knowledge which might make me unhappier than I am now.

Or in the interactive speech model by which, as Sally McConnell-Ginet puts it, “the standard…meaning can be thought of as what is recognizable solely on the basis of interlocutors’ mutual knowledge of established practices of interpretation,” it is the interlocutor who has or pretends to have the less broadly knowledgeable understanding of interpretive practice who will define the terms of the exchange. ”1 Such ignorance effects can be harnessed, licensed, and regulated on a mass scale for striking enforcements—perhaps especially around sexuality, in modern Western culture the most meaning-intensive of human activities.

201. Further cited in the text as RG. PRIVILEGE OF UNKNOWING 31 of the problems that Tancock and his predecessors had encountered in trying to preserve her as a space of pure unknowing. Specifically, there is once again a problem about Suzanne’s obstinate sexual incomprehension; and once again, the only move from there seems to be a gesture of disavowing Suzanne as the locus of an illusion of specific individual identity. “Suzanne’s lack of awareness in sexual matters is,” Goldberg says, making a point of it, in itself not particularly important.

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