“Tango y Milonga,” a portfolio by José Muñoz with texts (not included) by Carlos Sampayo, printed in El Víbora. Selections from the series in a slightly different style have been featured on this blog before.
Queerness is not yet here. Queerness is an ideality. Put another way, we are not yet queer. We may never touch queerness, but we can feel it as the warm illumination of a horizon imbued with potentiality. We have never been queer, yet queerness exits for us as an ideality that can be distilled from the past and used to imagine a future. The future is queerness’s domain. Queerness is a structuring and educated mode of desiring that allows us to see and feel beyond the quagmire of the present. The here and now is a prison house. We must strive, in the face of the here and now’s totalizing rendering of reality, to think and feel a the and there. Some will say that all we have are the pleasures of this moment, but we must never settle for the minimal transport; we must dream and enact new and better pleasures, other ways of being in the world, and ultimately new world. Queerness is a longing that propels us onward, beyond romances of the negative and toiling in the present. Queerness is that thing that lets us feel that this world is not enough, that indeed something is missing. Often we can glimpse the worlds proposed and promised by queerness in the realm of the aesthetic. The aesthetic, especially the queer aesthetic, frequently contains blueprints and schemata of a forward-dawning futurity. Both the ornamental and the quotidian can contain a map of the utopia that is queerness. Turning to the aesthetic in the case of queerness is nothing like an escape from the social realm, insofar as queer aesthetics map future social relations. Queerness is also a performative because it is not simply a being but a doing for and toward the future. Queerness is essentially about the rejection of a here and now and an insistence on potentiality or concrete possibility for another world.
José Muñoz, Cruising Utopia: The Then and There of Queer Futurity
It is important not to be content to let failed revolutions be merely finite moments. Instead we should consider them to be the blueprints to a better world that queer utopian aesthetics supply. [They] are passports allowing us entry to a utopian path, a route that should lead us to heaven or, better yet, to something just like it.
-José Esteban Muñoz, Cruising Utopia.
how do you write on the death of someone you never knew but whose words have been so important to your own becoming? what would it be to mourn for someone who spent so much of his life focused on the radical potential and jouissance of queer life—someone whose scholarship resists the work of mourning?
We may never touch queerness, but we can feel it as the warm illumination of a horizon imbued with potentiality….The future is queerness’ domain. Queerness is a structuring and educated mode of desiring that allows us to see the future beyond the quagmire of the present….We must dream and enact new and better pleasures, other ways of being in the world, and ultimately new worlds….Queerness is essentially about the rejection of a here and now and an insistence on potentiality or concrete possibility for another world.
Jose Esteban Munoz: “The social construct of masculinity is experienced by far too many men as a regime of power that labors to invalidate, exclude, and extinguish faggotry, effeminacy, and queerly coated butchness … [thus, any criticism of masculinity must] factor in and interrogate heteronormativity and masculinist contours of such a discourse … [less it] reproduces the phobic ideology of masculinity”
Characters: Philip Hamilton, Aaron Burr, Female Reader, George Eacker, Aaron Burr, Alexander Hamilton, George Washington, Eliza Schuyler Hamilton, Theodosia Burr, etc.
Word Count: 863
Time Period: 1940s
Trigger Warnings: Discrimination, Adult Language, Talks of Death, Talks of Murder, etc.
A/N: New part. Sorry that it took me so long to publish this. I was busy trying to develop a relationship between each characters that fits the AU better than what is already established in the musical. Also, this part is written in 3rd and 1st person.
Cool it - Chill/Relax/Calm down
Ease up - Loosen up
Beef - A complaint
Rub out - Murder
Sauced - Drunk
Wacky - Out of sorts/wild
Creep - Unfavorable person
George Eacker was waiting in the wings for a signal from Aaron Burr. He took a sneak peek of the audience through the curtains on the left-hand side of the stage. “Look at all these people.” He said. “They’re all here for me. They’re all here to hear me speak.”
On Radical Self-Care, Theatre, and The Failed Project of Being Good To One Another
I wrote this ‘manifesto’ for an academic conference called ATHE (Association for Theatre in Higher Education). Pardon the academic jargon. Feedback welcome.
The fact is this: queer people of color are under siege in the contemporary neoliberal moment of post-raciality, homonormativity, and the continuing upward distribution of wealth. My research is a direct response to this. I theorize radical self-care. For me, radical self-care is a theatrical and activist performance praxis of affective and political sustainment for queer people of color that foregrounds, in its rehearsal and production processes, a collective, liberatory, analysis of race, gender, sexuality, class, disability, body size, nationality, and so forth. Within radical self-care, artivist performance suspends the structures of feelings associated with living through systemic inequality so that queer people of color might be healed and energized into direct collective action in the movement against such systems. Direct collective action is so crucial in this context because power is never voluntarily given away and a practice of self-care is nothing if it does not actively strive to dismantle the systems that necessitate it. My project confronts ableist and colonial neoliberal logics by privileging an ethic of interdependence and thus debunking the assumption that self-care necessarily implies an individual taking care of themselves by themselves. In short, radical self-care is a praxis of community care and collective action, we need each other and we need sustainable movements aimed at dismantling systemic oppression.
Having thus briefly described my project and its ethics, I wish now to address one of the central ethical questions of my project and its implications for our work in the theatre: what does it mean to be good to one another? As a baseline, I believe that being good to one another means recognizing each other’s needs, accounting for them, and collectively ensuring that all of our needs are met. As such, truly being good to one another should be erotic as Audre Lorde describes the erotic. Goodness requires intimate communal knowledge and action. It requires the fullest possible understanding of the other and a refusal to turn away from them and their needs.
Now, as theatre and performance makers, scholars, and spectators I am sure we have all heard some version of the following statement: ‘you can’t expect every performance to account for everyone or everything. There is no politically perfect performance!” Of course, I couldn’t disagree with this statement more. We MUST expect every performance to account for everyone and everything. Let’s not get it twisted. The dismissal of political perfection in performance emerges from a white supremacist cisheteropatriarchal logic that would privilege neoliberal economies of theatrical production over the material and affective violences that such a statement inevitably does to marginalized communities, queer communities of color among them. This logic is lazy, and it is harmful. It says- 'there is no way that no one walks away from my show without being offended, so why worry about it?’
Why worry about it: nobel peace prize winner Desmond Tutu says “if you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.” If we put this quotation in conversation with the notion of politically perfect performance, it suggests that those of us who are not, to the best of our ability, actively and always using our performance practices to disrupt all forms systemic inequality and oppression have chosen the side of the oppressor and are especially complicit in systemic violence. No one in this room is innocent. We are not doing good enough. We must do better.
But, how? What does this mean for our practice? This means that it is no longer appropriate to uncritically stage or restage stories with white straight male protagonists engaging in heteronormative narratives. We must, rather, center trans women, queer women, fat women, indigenous women, disabled women, black women and other women of color, yes, ALL WOMEN- on our stages and in our narratives. Furthermore, it is no longer enough to stage allegories and metaphors for racial and sexual justice without casting people of color and LGBTSTQIAGNC individuals. Make the metaphors explicit. It is also no longer enough to engage with theatrical production without being mindful, intentionally and simultaneously, of topics so broad as settler colonialism, prison abolition, reproductive justice, disability justice, accessibility and so forth. It is no longer okay, nor was it ever, to engage in rehearsal processes without an explicit and careful engagement with the identities of those in the rehearsal room and the identities at stake in the material being produced. To all of the many compelling critiques of identity politics, I respond thus: I am unwilling to let go of identity politics because identity politics are unwilling to let go of me.
Now, of course, I understand the impossibility of the artivist dream that I’m describing. No matter how intentional and precise we are with the bodies, symbols and signs that we put on stage, we can’t control the way those signs will signifiy to an audience with diverse subject positions and relationships to power. We can’t. Singular performances yield multiple meanings, some inspiring and empowering, others dangerous and hurtful. This is the magnificent risk of our craft.
What’s more, no matter how many books we read, how many ally trainings we participate in, or how sharp an analysis of power we think we have, we can never totally know one another. We will never have a complete knowledge of how not to hurt another human being. We can have a million conversations but I will never know what it feels like to live inside your body and the meanings that are attached to it. You can never truly know what it feels like to live inside my body and the meanings that are attached to it. And if we can never truly know one another, how can we ever truly be good to one another?
The project of being good to one another is, ultimately, a failed project. But we must be good to one another; we must try and fail and try again and fail again and try forever more. A performance of political perfection is always already a performance of failure. The so-called politically perfect performance has all the color and distance of José Muñoz’s queer utopian horizon. We are not yet queer, we are not yet liberated, and therefore, every single performance we enact, whether on stage or in the everyday, must strive for political perfection, must move ALL of us closer to liberation. And we will fail- we know that we will fuck up and someone will get hurt- but we must still do everything we can to battle collective ignorance and redistribute capital. A practice of radical self-care for queer people of color requires this collective commitment to failing better in order to flourish. Queer people of color deserve to flourish.
The here and now is simply not enough. Queerness should and could be about a desire for another way of being in both the world and time, a desire that resists mandates to accept that which is not enough.
José Esteban Muñoz: Cruising Utopia: The Then and There of Queer Futurity
Tessa Black: Who would you say are some artists that have influenced your work the most?
Dilraj Mann: I really love Katsuhiro Otomo and Taiyo Matsumoto. Their story telling and panel transitions are revelatory. Cleon Peterson, Keiichi Tanaami, Jaime Hernandez, Chris Ware, Lucian Freud, Jose Munoz, Zaha Hadid, Ralph Bakshi. David Mazzuchelli’s work in Batman Year One is something I read annually to show me economy in art and panel layout. I tend to find that I fall in love with someone’s work early on and then fall in love with something else. So new inspiration is Marie Jacotey, Aisha Franz and Hattie Stewart, Jillian Tamaki. I find music incredibly inspiring and something that influences my work, currently stuff like Jlin, Philip Glass, Dirty Beaches, Clark and Jai Paul and I’m hoping to do a comic based on his lyrics soon. How about you?
TB: I’m pretty all over the place with artists, mainly as a function of how little time I give myself outside of work. I draw from a lot of artists such as Otto Von Todd, Gulliaume Singelin, Anna Cattish, and Asiey Barbie. I go through a lot of different artists but those are generally the folks I come back to I admire artists with a lot of versatility or at least a body of work that stretches far back. It’s interesting to see what they learned or tried with different approaches, and helps me get a better sense of what I like about their style.
I don’t think I can draw without music, and I usually look to artists such as Tettix, Goose or Lorn for focus. Something about their tone really tunes out my surroundings and helps get work done, though I look to Swans, Tycho, or Joanna Newsome for pure inspiration.
Queerness is not yet here. Queerness is an ideality. Put another way, we are not yet queer. We may never touch queerness, but we can feel it as the warm illumination of a horizon imbued with potentiality. We have never been queer, yet queerness exists for us as an ideality that can be distilled from the past and used to imagine a future. The future is queerness’s domain. Queerness is a structuring and educated mode of desiring that allows us to see and feel beyond the quagmire of the present. […] Queerness is that thing that lets us feel that this world is not enough, that indeed something is missing. Often we can glimpse the worlds proposed and promised by queerness in the realm of the aesthetic. The aesthetic, especially the queer aesthetic, frequently contains blueprints and schemata of a forward-dawning futurity. Both the ornamental and the quotidian can contain a map of the utopia that is queerness. Turning to the aesthetic in the case of queerness is nothing like an escape from the social realm, insofar as queer aesthetics map future social relations. Queerness is also a performative because it is not simply a being but a doing for and toward the future. Queerness is essentially about the rejection of a here and now and an insistence on potentiality or concrete possibility for another world.
José Esteban Muñoz,
Cruising Utopia: The Then and There of Queer Futurity