I can’t wait for this book from Punctum:

Queering Speculative Realism

Michael O’Rourke

Queering Speculative Realism is the first book to explore and fully work through the as yet under-acknowledged points of connection between the disparate fields of Queer Theory, Speculative Realism and Object Oriented Ontology. The book is composed of ten brief chapters that mine what might be called the “proper objects” of queer inquiry. The opening chapter sets out to define, or rather complicate the need to define what queer theory is and does and to cultivate the associations between the weird, the unheimlich and queerness via a reading of Cixous on Freud’s Uncanny. The main argument in this chapter and the book as a whole is that queerness is undefinable and that its very provisionality is what makes it such a fertile site for speculative thinking. Chapter Two gives some background to speculative realism and the four major figures (Quentin Meillassoux, Graham Harman, Iain Hamilton Grant, and Ray Brassier) and concepts (correlationism and non-anthropocentrism particularly) associated with it. It also advances the idea that speculative thought is, like queer theory, both promissory and undefinable. Chapter Three introduces one of the most regnant sub-fields of Speculative Realism, which has been variously termed Object Oriented Philosophy (Graham Harman), Object Oriented Ontology (Levi Bryant), and Alien Phenomenology (Ian Bogost). The major claim here is that OOO (Object Oriented Ontology) is the most promising place to stage a discussion of gender, sexuality, queerness and objects because of its focus on openness, democracy, flat ontology and incipience. Chapter Four meets Christopher Vitale’s challenge to speculative realists to pay attention to queer theory (as well as gender, class and race). It seeks out resonances between the work of the four major figures (Harman, Meillassoux, Brassier, Grant) and queer thinking, and also discusses the queerness which lies at the heart of the weird philosophy of Reza Negarestani and his concept of the ( )hole complex in particular. Chapter Five advances the argument that the four major thinkers associated with OOO (Harman, Bryant, Morton, Bogost) have always already foregrounded questions of gender, sexuality and queerness, with a particular focus on Bryant’s democratization of objects and his take on Lacan’s graphs of sexuality as well as Timothy Morton’s ecological thinking that emphasizes the Levinasian-Derridean notions of arrivance and the strange stranger. Chapter Six introduces and discusses one of the most promising tentacles, Object Oriented Feminism, which has grown out of OOO and anatomizes other potential crossings between Object Oriented Philosophy and neovitalist and materialist feminisms. The work of Elizabeth Grosz on animals, art and temporality and the writings of Karen Barad on quantum theory, agential realism and posthuman performativity play an important role here.

The next three chapters of the book discuss major figures from the field of queer theory whose work has not, as yet, been considered by either speculative realists or object oriented philosophers. Chapter Seven looks at Judith Butler’s writing that has been dismissed as being too caught up in the linguistic turn to have anything to say about objects. On the contrary, Queering Speculative Realism argues that a vibrant materialism has always animated her philosophy and, further, that one can detect an increasing turn toward ecological thinking in her attempts to formulate an ethics of global connectedness and precarious co-inhabitation of the world. Chapter Eight makes a similar claim for the work of Leo Bersani and argues that his writing on sexuality and aesthetics has always been preoccupied with objects, the universe, and that he advances an ethical system in which we not only care for the world but that, ontologically, it cares for us. Chapter Nine examines the later writing and textile art of Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick and discusses how pertinent her later fascination with objects, breathing, and weather are for OOO.

The book ends with a Coda that argues, through a reading of Michael Warner’s seminal introduction to the collection Fear of a Queer Planet, that it is precisely “fear of a queer planet” that has stifled the potential dialogue between queer theory and speculative thought. The book offers some speculations about where future conversations between queer theories, speculative realisms and object oriented philosophies might take us.

Michael O’Rourke lectures in the School of Psychotherapy at Independent Colleges, Dublin, Ireland and works mostly at the intersections between Queer Theory and Continental Philosophy. He has published over forty articles and book chapters, has co-convened The(e)ories: Advanced Seminars for Queer Research since 2002, and is the series editor of the Queer Interventions book series at Ashgate Press and of the Cultural Connections: Key Thinkers and Queer Theory book series at the University of Wales Press.

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