by Lucas de Lima on Nov.25, 2011
To practice queer poetics, for me, is to approach writing as a totally convivial and cannibalist act. Conviviality, as Jasbir Puar puts it, is the opposite of “resistance, oppositionality, subversion, and trangression.” While the impulse “to queer” might very well be antagonistic and disobedient to society, it ultimately emphasizes the collective and consumptive practice of living and dying-with. In this sense, the truly provocative thing about queerness is not that it speaks on behalf of a certain non-normative body, but that it enacts, appeals to, and dares to commingle and consume all bodies and things.
I think queer writing bypasses the typical shortcomings of language when it adopts the cannibalistic drive of the Ouroboros: it becomes what it eats, which are the referents (or ingredients) of its words. Far from merely denoting and delimiting experience, this writing unleashes sensation. As a hunger and force, sensation is indiscriminatory and undifferentiating. It is a deviating flow that transfers itself from body to object and back again, refusing to rest. Unlike identificatory labels such as “LGBTQI” and “Boyesque”/”Gurlesque,” queer writing gets so hungry that it unravels identity by devouring and collapsing categorical opposites like woman, man, animal, insect, vegetable, commodity, and corpse. You, too, risk turning into a faceless potato through the all-consuming queer text.
Because queerness, in my mind, is not limited to non-normative sexuality or humanity or any fixed subjectivity, it must take ecological and bodily instability as ground. By inhabiting states of violence, mutation, and abhumanity as the very landscape of their writing, Bhanu Kapil, Kim Hyesoon, and Raúl Zurita engage this model much more than self-identified gay writers such as Mark Doty and John Ashbery.
In contemporary American poetics, you might say that the Necropastoral and Somatic Poetics are bedmates of our potatoesque. An older forerunner, of course, is the Cannibalist movement of Brazilian modernism, in which Oswald de Andrade called for the voracity and promiscuity, as well as the porosity, of embodied writing:
What results is not a sublimation of the sexual instinct. It is the thermometrical scale of the cannibal instinct. Carnal at first, this instinct becomes elective and creates friendship. When it is affective, it creates love.