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07.17.03, thursday morning

"The political project of "materializing democracy" is multifaceted. I need poststructuralist political theory, drag troupes and club nights with antiwar admission policies to sustain me in this continuing state of emergency. (As Matt said, "For some persons and populations, this level of state surveillance and social discipline is not new.") This sort of performative political theory is as vital as arguments concerning the nuances of social policy or collective organizing for structural reform. While these difficult political dialogues and decisions require a different sort of commitment, when these dialogues and decisions are blocked by cultural practices that manage and contain discourses about democracy, we need to examine how and why.

The staging of forbidden feelings of queer desire, critical rage, or democratic disappointment is a critical counterpoint to the naturalization of hierarchies of "right" feelings, "right" ways of being. The violence of national normativity that is, among other things, gendered and sexualized, is here laid bare like a lover’s deception, or a state’s violence against its subjects. These are crucial projects that get at how ideology operates at the intimate levels of consciousness, feeling, and body, how fantasies and nightmares about who are imagine ourselves to be are produced at the junctures of power. They force us to reimagine how democracy is lived and felt, how it is translated into personal effects and collective desires, and for what purpose. And it means we recognize that these other cultural forms so often dismissed as trivial and sentimental -- the break-up song, for instance, or celebrity crushes (I love you, Susan Sarandon!) can be politically powerful, if only we could teach everyone the right moves.” – Mimi Nguyen, in her column for Punk Planet 56, July/August 2003


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