Re: [Foucault-L] PRECISION Need reference: Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick

Hi Nathan, Tiffany, et al,

I agree with the general thrust of Nathan’s argument, but would just add that we need to exercise caution in using the word ”arbitrary.” On one level, certainly, such categories, classifications, self-identifications are completely arbitrary: they are historical constructs that do not refer to essences and could thus be otherwise. However, on another level, and precisely because they are historical construct, they are anything but arbitrary since they emerged out of very specific programmes for governing individuals, groups, and populations. They are political technologies that form objects of knowledge and sites of intervention; they are also, of course, technologies of the self.

Affably Yours,

> -----Original Message-----
> From: npr4@xxxxxxxxxxxx
> Sent: Wed, 8 Feb 2012 10:07:34 +0530
> To: foucault-l@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
> Subject: Re: [Foucault-L] PRECISION Need reference: Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick
> On Wed, Feb 8, 2012 at 3:30 AM, Tiffany P.
> <princeptiffany@xxxxxxxxxx>wrote:
>> To
>> Nathaniel: I don't get what's wrong with your 3 propositions. I would
>> even
>> say
>> I agree with all of them, I find these "categorizations" even more
>> "natural" (meaning: intuitive) than the homo/hetero one. But maybe
>> I'm too queer? Haha.
> Tiffany,
> Okay, so what do we mean by "more in common"? More in common **with
> respect
> to what**? More common with respect to sexual predilections? Yes,
> certainly. But if that's all she's saying, she is hardly saying anything
> at
> all. In fact it's a complete tautology.
> Look, there are an awful lot of ways for two people to be like and unlike
> each other, and I don't see how whether a person licks pussy or not (for
> example) should outweigh all the others. Straight men are interpellated
> in
> a vast number of ways that are totally different than the way women are.
> Sure, it is possible that one particular straight man who licks pussy may
> have more in common with a particular woman who does. But Sedgwick is
> saying that the mere fact of licking pussy means they will necessarily
> have
> more in common. And this strikes me as utterly absurd.
> So I ask: is her theoretical position simply that the kind of sexual acts
> a
> person likes to perform is categorically more important than any other
> fact
> about them? Is it more important than how they think about themselves?
> How
> they themselves feel about those acts? How their culture categorizes
> them?
> Fine. Let that be her dogma. But I don't think there's any denying that
> this is completely reductive. It's practically a paradigm case of
> reductiveness. It not only reduces the whole of human existence to
> behavior, but unlike the now discredited behaviorism (which at least took
> into account the whole range of behaviors) it reduces everything even
> further: to one type of behavior (chosen by the theorist herself).
> Ryan, your interpretation of what Sedgwick/Butler had in mind sounds much
> more plausible to me. I am sure Sedgwick must not have meant the
> statement
> to be taken in a literal manner, but more as a provocation. I just happen
> to be one of those people who values clarity and precision of thought and
> writing. But to take up the more interesting angle you have suggested,
> "because sexual acts cut across conventional sexual identities, they
> reveal
> the arbitrariness of those categories, and that erotic desire is not just
> about who you want but also about what you want to do," I would just like
> to add that the way we categorize sexual acts is just as arbitrary as the
> way we categorize sexual identities. So although I accept that it may be
> useful to pose the one against the other and see how they may conflict,
> let
> us not lose track of the fact that both involve arbitrary categories. And
> it seems to me that a more fruitful avenue would be to move away from
> ethological categories to ones that relevant to the people themselves
> (i.e.
> the people whose identities and acts Sedgwick and those she argue against
> are categorizing).
> Cordially,
> Nate
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  • Re: [Foucault-L] PRECISION Need reference: Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick
    • From: Nathaniel Roberts
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    Re: [Foucault-L] PRECISION Need reference: Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, Nathaniel Roberts
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