- Toward a
Moral Theory of Sex, Its LipkinkinessOn Oral, Labial, Dental Caesura, Fermata, Aria
I noticed that if I am sad or in danger or preoccupied by some serious undertaking, I sleep deeply and eat voraciously. But if I am full of joy, I do not eat or sleep.—René Descartes (1985, 3)
Literature is the space where language becomes an image of itself, where language speaks as an image of words.—Lynne Huffer (1998, 185)
What would happen—to Blanchot, to literature, to theory—if the feminine opened up, if the feminine became feminist, if Eurydice and the mother began speaking to each other?—Lynne Huffer (1998, 195)
Gasp, cough, throw up, bite, lick, suck, spit, sip, slurp, nibble, mumble, babble, swear, scream … sexily or not: as I, or you, breathe, eat, and speak, sometimes with our mouth full, for life in any case, the oral-labial-dental zone of this body that can be and do many, remains a central port and motor of vitality as well as authority linked right, also, to everything that is Not-I, as Samuel Beckett's 1973 play shows splutteringly. That queer elision, the originary someleswhereness (Lee 2017), of the "I"s going on and on anyway, somehow, performed by the Beckettian point-person that rabbits on is a stark illustration of the good old modern Cartesian subject, its ego on the move now there literally blown [End Page 172] up and apart all at once. In such moments of progressive self-estrangement so atomized and animated and advertized, all, or at least some, of our "I"s and eyes, the not-Is in me absorb their traces, facing and becoming the portable echoes of this auto-radicalized inter-subject.
Good, go on, go ahead, and breathe, eat 'n' speak and all that, you've been oraltered anyway.
LipLinking for Oralterity
About this self-critical positioning and posting—post-Enlightenment, postmodern, poststructuralist, postcolonial, posthistorical questioning—of the self-knowing self-authorizing self, philosophy—especially post-Kantian, queer or not—has been ambivalent, deeply and structurally, or rigorously digestive, productively schizophrenic, for instance. Philosophy, at least some, has been eating, if not particularly well, surviving on its own archived oralterity, oral alterity. The thing is—or was?—that at such moment of its set-theoretical self-renunciation or abnegation, philosophy, believe it or not, like it or not, ends up repeating its differential(ly deferred) identity, its last man(li)ness or thing-(in-itself)ness, its embedded logocentrism, phonocentrism, phallogocentrism, and so on, as observed by Jacques Derrida, the epochal deconstructor, whose hypervigilance to the impossible and necessary oneness of one per se rhymes with some other prominent critical philosophies of "difference" of the last few decades explored by many other (and arguably less convoluted) thinkers such as Gilles Deleuze, Michel Foucault, and Luce Irigaray, just to drop some names in passing, the last two of which, rarely paired, figure centrally in Lynne Huffer's queer feminist ethical envisioning of life-affirming, sex-positive, affect-receptive, activist-friendly polipoetics of loving "disagreement," a key concept from Jacques Rancière's politics of aesthetics she also mobilizes like the good strategist she is.
More specifically, Huffer's incisive, energetic intervention centers around this familiar yet refreshed contention that traditional "Western" masculine-gendered "rationalist" and rule-bound "moral philosophy," even when self-critical of its categorical axiomaticity or teleology, precisely at the moment of its avantgardized antibourgeois counterinvestment in antifoundationalist genealogy and alter-native projects, Franco-Anglo-American in its orientation, ends up gate-keeping its(others)elf or else gets buried in its infinitotalized negativity. Recruiting, thus nimbly, to her camp a curious mix of characters and thinkers, dead or alive, she is looking and calling for a way out of this discursive, politicized dead-end, also between the identitarian old school and the disidentitarian new school, a safe yet porous zone of open contestation that is neither straight-up straight nor queer-normative. Could this Hufferian position of tertiary buffering be something like a queer Samaritan?
Coming from (no)where? Let's say, if one, queer-Derridian "end of man" is locatable in the Bersanian antiredemptive, antireproductive...