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Week 3: Textuality & Pragmatism's picture

I have a couple of separate threads of thought for this post -- not terribly related but both things I've been mulling over:

1) In this class and in an Anthropology of (Diseased) Bodies course I'm taking, we spend a lot of time with the assumption that bodies mediate our experience of the world, our every interaction affected (and effected) by presumptions made about what our physical selves (queered/gendered, (de)sexualized, (dis)abled, etc) look like and what that look says about our internal selves. However, I want to ask this question: If Eli Clare wrote a book not about queerness and disability, but about some other topic and never mentioned those parts of his identity, would we (as readers) know? Such identities certainly mediate all we think and write, but the form of a book, looking at text produced by a person instead of the bodily person, seems to collapse the starting assumption that it's impossible to interact with the world in any "disembodied" way. Maybe this is an obvious point, and I certainly don't mean to minimize the importance/reality of all those embodied interactions, all that lived experience. But generally, in some way or another, producing and consuming texts is something we can all do, regardless of ability (barring extremes) -- even if it takes a recorded version, a braille version, a special keyboard, someone transcribing, etc. This past summer I read The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, the story of a man who had "locked-in syndrome" and was completely paralyzed and unable to speak, but managed to dictate his memoirs via a system of blinking one eye! I am reminded of the point in Anne's section of the online disability forum that raised questions about the accessibility of graphic novels (to which a student responded with a radio version of Persepolis). Can texts such as Clare's be both liberatory in the sense that they further (in their content) ongoing discussions/theorizing about disability, AND liberatory in that in their form itself they offer one escape from the assumptions inherent to embodiment?

2) In terms of the readings for this week, I think one starting point has to do with clarifying the relationship between the "culture as disability/ability" theory they collectively forward and what a society premised upon such a theory might actually look like. While I find it mind-bending and inspiring to read radical/theoretical texts (and I would put these in that category), I also think it's ok to be annoyed when such theoretical texts never explicitly admit the degree to which their ideas require some kind of HUGE fundamental shift in society. I guess no author is obligated to link their theory to practice, their ideas to actions...but I'm a pragmatic person, and if I'm reading something that assumes we'll be able to overturn capitalism in the near future, I'd like it to at least acknowledge that.  I felt like the readings progressively move toward acknowledging the kind of deeper radicalism (especially new political and economic systems) such ideas require. I am curious to see how we put these texts into dialogue with Wilchins and Clare, whose emphasis on linking theory and practice we have collectively admired. How might we push these ideas to better match their emphasis?