Read on Twitter:
“the difficult territory where eros and grief overlap…where the absence of the body is…an evocation of the vanished and lingering soul”
Sounded awfully familiar. Ran a search. It’s from Mark Doty’s intro to James L. White’s The Salt Ecstasies. And thanks to the ellipsis marks, one’s curious — what got left behind?
It’s an elegiac mode that recognizes and identifies the difficult territory where eros and grief overlap, where tenderness is charged with physical fellow-feeling, where the absence of the body is inscribed as a charm for and an evocation of the vanished and lingering soul
The dear love of comrades – fellow feeling. Inscription. Charm.
What we quote and what we leave out are telling. That is obvious. In the context of queer poetics this has been on my mind of late. I noted in Not Fully There that Clint Burnham quotes from Alan Davies’s review “Steve/steve” of Steve McCaffrey’s critical writing collection, North of Intention [Writing 25, (1990) p. 57] Here is Burnham quoting Davies:
In light of the consistent attention that McCaffery pays to the visual, the “bar” also brings to mind how the signifier (S) and signified (s) are separated. As Davies notes in “Steve/steve” (the title, of course, plays with the Saussurean diagram), “It’s troubling to me that the Signifier and signified have been made to assume the missionary position. … [M]eaning is inherent in discernible differences. … [T]he thesis seems homophobic in extremis” (57). He charges that the bar is that of conventional heterosexuality, which schematic is reproduced in Saussurean linguistics; Shifters, then, while formally akin to the gay strategies that Chadwick identifies, is still complicit with compulsory heterosexuality. Although the lyric is being deconstructed, the lyre is still powerful.
Here is Davies’s restored (with my emphasis):
It’s troubling to me that the Signifier and signified have been made to assume the missionary position and that Sausure’s thinking doesn’t ever depart them from it. Also significant among his theses is the one that ordains that meaning is inherent in discernible differences, chiefly of one sign from another. I don’t know what it means for minorities in general, but the thesis seems homophobic in extremis.” (57).
“depart them from it” And so I return to Davies for some clarification. (Burnham isn’t quite accurate in laying upon “Steve/steve” his fascination with the bar / Davies makes no mention at all of heterosexuality, conventional or otherwise — he takes issue with positioning: how in the discourse Signifier is displayed over signified.) Far from questions of separation or the dividing bar, what is at stake is the status of the same, its ability to produce. The next sentence after the observation of homophobic thesis is less about the bar of separation as about the privileging of difference.
Really: to find signification only in the relationship of Signifier to signified, to look for meaning almost exclusively in the areas of such signs, to privilege difference as the actor of meaning, these ideas limit the spheres of our thinking, and much of the work of semiotics and the like that has been generated in their vicinity has been at the expense of better work that might have been done afield.
And so for day 989