Judith Halberstam

‘Notes on Failure’

The models of success and failure that we use nowadays to determine social progress, individual achievement and political effectivity all derive in some measure from capitalist formulations of success and from economic notions of gain, profit, advantage and benefit. In order to make failure productive then, we need to link failure to a critique of capitalism and to a politics of negativity. Queer studies offer us one method for imagining, not some fantasy of an elsewhere but, existing alternatives to hegemonic systems. What Gramsci terms “common-sense,” depends heavily upon the production of norms and so the critique of dominant forms of common-sense is also, in some sense, a critique of norms. Heteronormative common-sense leads to the equation of success with advancement, capital accumulation, family, ethical conduct, hope, and so on. Other subordinate, queer or counter-hegemonic modes of common-sense lead to the association of failure with non-conformity, anti-capitalist practices, non-reproductive life styles, negativity, critique.

H/T Red Balloon.

Axé.

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2 Responses to Judith Halberstam

  1. I’m really starting to see the centrality of the bourgeois notions of materialist accumulation being the definition of sanity.

    Here are my notes in terms of my thesis.

  2. profacero says:

    There’s a huge thread on this at WoC PhD:
    http://profbw.wordpress.com/2008/02/06/notes-on-failure/

    I like the abstract in a personal way because I so often feel like a “failure,” and the “failure” to which I refer is in part the price I pay for not having more of ‘the bourgeois aspiration’. It is good to remember that it is that.

    What can I do about it (and this is still personal): stop self-criticism for it, grab ahold of it, be who I really am, and so on. These are comments more germane to the PZ site than to this one.

    Now I’ll go and look at Jennifer’s notes again.

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