The author introduces the concept of transdualism to critique dualism without relying on a dualistic model of critique, the modus operandi necessary for a critique against sexual dualism and hetero/cisnormativity. Transdualism offers an opportunity to dwell within that operation by staying below (not beyond) the “dualism,” that is, below the logic of either/or. The essay will explore the notion of “transdualism” through the hexagram Tai of the Yi Jing, which is often used in medical contexts to illustrate the body-of-orifices of Huangdi Neijing or the Inner Canon of the Yellow Emperor. The author reads this body-of-orifices, which is primarily represented by its nine major bodily tunnels, with yinyang philosophy as gender/sex indeterminant and shows that the Inner Canon's yinyang body-of-orifices points to something more transgressive, which could unsettle from within the naturalism of gender and sexual dualism and the nature/culture as well as other dualistic divides that have informed contemporary critical rethinking of embodiment. By unpacking the hexagram Tai alongside Inner Canon's body-of-orifices. as well as contemporary feminist, queer, and transgender theorizations of the body and sexuality, this essay aims at rethinking the materio-discursive complexity of the body-of-orifices, which has been either dualistically separated into antagonisms between man and woman, sex and gender, body and discourse, yin and yang; or one-sidedly reduced to a function of “social construction,” knowable only through language—or problematically lumped together in a gender-is-fluid postmodern “both-and,” which supposedly overcomes the metaphysico-theological “either/or.”
The Ontology of the Couple: or,
What Queer Theory Knows about Numbers
co-authored with S. Pearl Brilmyer and Filippo Trentin
Can one be queer and coupled? Or is the duality that defines the couple form fundamentally at odds with queer existence? In 1998 Lauren Berlant and Michael Warner wrote that “making a queer world has required the development of kinds of intimacy that bear no necessary relation to domestic space, to kinship, to the couple form, to property and to the nation.” Since then, however, we have witnessed the couple form become the major vehicle through which gays and lesbians have achieved access to cultural and legal institutions as well as broader social acceptance. While before the late twentieth century, same-sex relations circulated largely outside what Michel Foucault called the “monogamic and conjugal cell,” today many such peripheral sexualities have been absorbed under the couple’s ever-expanding jurisdiction. Does the present moment require a more honest reckoning with the increasingly central role of the couple in queer life? Or do we need, now more than ever, to revitalize our commitment to the production of a sexual politics that would resist the ideology of the couple? It is the premise of this special issue that before one can be for or against it, split it up or repair it, one must first understand what the couple is. The special issue thus takes an ontological approach to the question of the couple, asking what it means to be in two – that is, to have one’s experience bound up for some duration with another.
Below Either/or: Rereading Femininity and Monstrosity inside Enuma Elish
Often seen as a typical Chaoskampf, the cosmic struggle between Marduk and Tiamat in the Babylonian epic of creation, Enuma Elish, looked at closely belies this reading that has been dominating scholarship since the nineteenth century. Through a close-reading of the epic’s narrative against its modern/colonial reception, the article argues that Enuma Elish provides a rich and complex narrative in which motherhood and monstrosity do not oppose each other (as some early feminist critiques would like), nor do they run together with each other (as misogynist readings would like). The textual, historical and philological analyses, as well as reception-critiques, ultimately serve to theorize from within the ancient cosmology an immanent and decolonial logic that is beyond ‘either/or’.
'adam is not man: Queer Body before Genesis 2:22 (and After)
eds. by Lisa Stenmark and Whitney Bauman, Lexington Press (2018) pp. 183-197
The famous “contradiction” of two creation accounts of the “Creation of Man” in the biblical Genesis has exerted a lasting puzzle for modern scholars of religion, literature, and sexuality. The creation story has been commented by generations of theologians, biblical and literary scholars perhaps ever since these pages were written and gathered. This paper will retake the task of analyzing the creation(s) of “man” through an agglomeration of three perspectives: literary close-reading, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), and “quantum queer theory”. Part 1 takes Erich Auerbach’s analysis of the “truth-claiming” style of the biblical narrative as a starting point to re-read, following the linear flow of the two accounts of “creation of man” in Genesis 1 and 2 while comparing different renderings in modern languages which either retain or suppress the Hebrew pun on ‘adam and Adam. Part 2 will continue to ponder the sexually entangled body of ‘adam with the help of the model of “sexless gendered body” theory that I develop, through a combination of TCM’s body-of-orifice and Karen Barad’s queer reading of quantum superposition. Part 3 will conclude the article by combining these ancient and contemporary texts and theories, through a queer strategy of anachronism to suggest that the biblical text, far from proposing a sexist theology of male dominance actually retains an ambiguous space of constant queering. That “’adam is not man and lesbians are woman” before Genesis 2:22 therefore leaks into the “aftermath” of the primordial creation, turning the linear biblical Alpha-Omega against its heteronormative certainty, and providing invaluable theory for contemporary queer rethinking of the body and beyond.
The film is constructed through a series of juxtapositions of different and supposedly incongruous realms: the local, the global, the foreign, the Chinese, the Western, the colonial, the ethnic, the deliberate and the naïve. This chapter theorizes camp's simultaneous downward and upward movements as the film's critical strategy with which the very categorical certainty of what constitutes the "high" and what the "low" is, if not called into question, rendered frivolous and clumsy. The voice-over by our protagonist Wang Cailing on the "Spring-Comes" and its sensitive wind at the outset of film is sentimental and artsy. The claustrophobic social surveillance of any possible trespasser of normativity starts to make the film viewers' laugher uncomfortable. The encounter between Wang the singer and Hu Jinquan the dancer is the climax and also end of film's campiness. The habitual equation of "West" with the "global", despite its historical actuality, is rejected in film by the so called postcolonial ethnic community at "local" level.
The (De)Coloniality of Conceptual Inequivalence: Reinterpreting Ometeotl within Nahua Tlacuiloliztli
Xiang coins the term “conceptual inequivalence” to analyze the coloniality of translation between indigenous and European languages and cosmologies through a close survey of the colonial/modern reception and translation of the Nahua duality deity and principle Ometeotl. He argues that the negation of conceptual inequivalence accompanies the colonial imposition of Western cosmology to the indigenous one. Seeing this imposition as coloniality/modernity’s intellectual limitation in comprehending the complex Nahua cosmology, he considers conceptual inequivalence to be the space for decolonial resistance. “The (De)coloniality of Conceptual Inequivalence” tackles these issues through a learning to learn from Nahua cosmo-philosophy conceived in its pictorial writing system tlacuiloliztli, for which he includes statues like Coatlicue Mayor and the calendar stone.