So. I’m taking this class with this professor at this school and, as us’, some shit is happening. Fucked up shit, even.
Some points about it:
1. Prof acting like Judith Butler is a radical proscriptive text encouraging people to perform gender transgressively. Ex: Refers to “transgender activities.” Q: Such as…. cross-dressing? bowling?
2. Prof suggests wants to MAKE woman the site of infinitely contestable meaning. Which is true but only insofar as Butler is invested in parody and performance and only because women are ALREADY the site of infinitely contestable meaning.
3. Prof keeps asking, “do you guys think this is too radical?” and also “do you think we should get rid of gender categories completely?” Q: how does that go in the koans where someone asks a question and someone else slices them in half and everyone is happier/silent? A: [whomp]
4. Prof repeatedly suggests we write papers called “Judith Butler is a Buddhist.” A: Fuck no.
“Judith Butler is WAY NOT a Buddhist” (an outline)
I. Introduction: what does it mean to be a Buddhist? What does it mean to be a Judith Butler?
A. Buddhist: Buddhist theology, Buddhist philosophy, Buddhist ritual/practice, Buddhist identification, Faith.
B. Let’s only read Gender Trouble here. [censoring nasty comment, CENSORING NASTY COMMENT!!1!]
C. Thesis: Judith Butler is not a Buddhist because she does not believe in Buddhism and does not practice literary theory toward the same ends that a Buddhist might practice Buddhism.
II. Maybe someone has to have some beliefs-in in order to be a Buddhist
A. Errant examples: is a Christian just some guy who loves his neighbor as thyself. OR he he also a guy who does it on purpose because of some Christ-guy? A: duh.
B. Nice atheism, Judy.
III. But I see where your dumb mistakes are coming from.
A. A brief history of the origins of structural linguistics. Actually– I actually KNOW this is all in A Very Short Introduction To Literary Theory so maybe I’ll just footnote that out:
1. Butler < — Lacan/Derrida <–Deconstructivists <– Saussure <— UNNAMED SANSKRIT TEXTS*
2. Hmmm. If only we had Harriet the Spy… Scooby Doo… Maxwell Smart on the case. Darnit.
B. The crux of the paper that you ALL know I will eventually cave and write for her: for Butler a complete erasure of the categorical framework, the mythic “return” to a pre-gender discursive which is actually essentially post-gender, would mean chaos. Words would fail to signify. The world wouldn’t look like it does anymore. Language would no longer be intelligible. It is an alluring mistake to believe that this is the same as the Buddhist hope: an escape from the signed world. Nirvana, after all, would “look” much like the extended un-Butlerian, Bulter-based fantasy world. I think the problem is in the word “hope.” Theory is not a practice of deconstructing until one successfully undoes language. Jouissance? Nirvana? I think not.
*yes. I did just do this. Yes, I did leave out Freud. Sorry about that. Kind of.