Apocalypse NOW! Radical Negativity and the Performativity of Ending in Queer Theory
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This essay analyses apocalyptic rhetoric in recent queer theoretical writings on negativity and temporality, in particular the invocation of an end, and its use for political radicality. The suspension of progressive time in favour of alternative temporalities, such as reversion, circularity or endless presence, has for long been a strategy of subcultural performance, coming out narratives, AIDS activism, and other queer politics. Such strategies stage a rupture within the linearity of time and the symbolic order of discourse. The author illustrates the potentials and pitfalls of this rhetoric gesture by elaborating its inherent dialectics between the disruption and the emergence of temporality. The dialectics consist precisely in that by radically negating historicity, apocalyptical rhetorics make history. Invoking the end of future thus empowers the one who is speaking, as it installs an immediate urgency for action and interpellates queer subjects. Yet, the assumed radicality often hides the privileged condition of its formation. By universalising the particularity of this perspective, it runs the risk of turning radical negativity into radical affirmation. In conclusion, the author claims that it is the loss of futurity rather than, as some antisocial approaches argue, the active destruction or negation of futurity that ought to be regarded as queer momentum. For when the experience of a queer loss results in a work of mourning, it aims at reappropriating the future and articulating it in unforeseen and queer ways.
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