A recently published essay concludes, “What constitutes silence amidst these multitudes of stories”
It has no end punctuation; even question marks have the power to foreclose. If my first publication, “Living Mythically,” articulates a kind of queer awakening, what we might term 19-21, then the more recent “Miri ya Mikongoe,” is very much a product of my twenties, an elegy that begs for answers. In both, published in the past few months, I privilege the elegy as a mode of being in the world. Not mourning or melancholia, but the elegy. This distinction is important.
Over the years, I have tried to argue that “queer” might be a floating historical signifier, as applicable to the Gikuyu of 1885 as the Radical Faeries of 1988. I am startled, though, that each time I begin to write on anything queer, it emerges within the mode known as elegiac, perhaps a symptom that queer emerges from AIDS.
To remark this is to name a certain discomfort I experience with utopian adoptions of the term queer. For years, I have tried to name this nagging sense of wrongness, this joy that seemed out of place. It is not that there is no joy: I ask instead what it means to smile at funerals or to fuck in cemeteries.
“Living Mythically” and “Miri ya Mikongoe” are the first two in a planned series of three essays.
I have been struggling to begin the third, unsure of what it might mean to write, lacking the sense of urgency that propelled the first two, both written in about 3 months, but edited over the course of years.
Perhaps the question is what it might mean to write from a space I call quotidian. Or, to use a more apt word, boring. What might it mean to yoke the term boring and queer, not in a clever, parodic or ironic or satiric mode.
At the moment, all I can do is cite:
. . . I walk in order to divest myself of things, to cleanse myself, to rid myself of a question that haunts me and of which I never speak–desire. I am tired of carrying its insinuations in my body, without being able either to reject them or to make them mine. I shall remain profoundly unconsoled, with a face that is not mine and a desire that I cannot name. (Tahar Ben Jelloun, The Sand Child, 65).