Thursday, January 19, 2012

Luco & Gender Performance & the Dog

The dog brought up a relevant point in his last blog. A point I am unsure he actually meant to make, but make it he did, and so I am compelled to comment.

Perhaps you are familiar with Judith Butler. If you are not, I would advise you become so. She is one of those rare philosophers who captivates me; I must admit, reader, that most philosophers rather bore me and often even offend me, but not Butler. The work she has done with the concept of gender and on gender as performance have been, for me, life altering.

They have been life altering because of the awareness she breathed into me. In Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity she writes: "As much as drag creates a unified picture of "woman" (what its critics often oppose), it also reveals the distinctness of those aspects of gendered experience which are falsely naturalized as a unity through the regulatory fiction of heterosexual coherence. In imitating gender, drag implicitly reveals the imitative structure of gender itself - as well as its contingency. Indeed, part of the pleasure, the giddiness of the performance is the recognition of a radical contingency in the relation between sex and gender in the face of cultural configurations of causal unities that are regularly assumed to be natural and necessary" (Butler 175).

Butler states here elegantly what the dog, in his vast inelegance, got at with his "Dog in a Dress" entry. If gender is a thing which can be imitated, then it is itself a construct (albeit a construct we grip with locked fists and eyes streaming with tears for the "sanctity" of nature and/or of God). That the dog somehow came to this conclusion on his own, in a ridiculous dress no less, is a matter I find just a little depressing.

Or very depressing. Let us not pretend you do not know me, reader. Let us not cower behind convenient fictions. Oh, would I were a cat who could crow at the dog's accomplishment, but my heart recoils that he, with his bean brain, has come to this idea on his own. Without Butler.

Without any books at all.

Without even deeply considering the consequences and implications of his own, pure joy.

He is like a kitten (or rather like a puppy I suppose - I detest those creatures so!) who stumbles into a ball of yarn and mewls string theory at the ceiling fan. Sigh.

It is just that I work at this, reader. Do you identify with me? I work and I study and I research and I log onto the computer, read his blog, and the dog has come up with something akin to brilliance (I do not actually believe him capable of brilliance. This is deepest chagrin guiding my words).

Perhaps instead of reading tonight I will lie as he does on the couch and stare into space. Perhaps then I will be able to come up with something worthwhile to write about.

But I very much doubt that.

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