No Future: Queer Theory and the Death Drive

No Future: Queer Theory and the Death Drive

Lee Edelman’s No Future was a dense, theory-heavy read, so I will have to revisit it again for sure. The basic argument calls into question the futurity assumed by heterosexuality through reproduction and the way that our political imagination depends upon the child to support/justify our actions. As such, homosexuality is ostracized in the system because there is “no future” via hetero-reproduction (4). Edelman coins the term “sinthomosexuality”–to choose not to choose the child (33).

For my purposes, I am most interested in the potential for conversation between No Future and James R. Kincaid’s Child Loving. Kincaid argues that our preoccupation with children and childhood innocence draws attention to that innocence and its boundaries in a way that objectifies and threatens both the child’s agency and his/her innocence itself. In a way, our gaze on the child creates a perverse power structure that makes us pedophiles of sorts. Edelman argues instead that our use of the child as a figure of political and sexual futurity–using the child to redeem our libidinous desires–uses the child in a way that has little to do with the child itself, but also sets heteronormative boundaries in our political discourses: “the child has come to embody for us the telos of the social order and come to be seen as the one for whom that order is held in perpetual trust” (11). Though the arguments have different ends, both explore the personal and political implications of constructing the child to meet the ideological needs of adults.

The most interesting part to me was the analysis of Alfred Hitchcock’s Birds in context of his other films. Edelman argues that the birds are visually connected to children repeatedly in the film in a way that opens space for a queer reading of the bird attacks as aggressive heterosexuality, going against the grain of the fantasy of the future figured in the child and making it monstrous. It’s an interesting reading, one that I’m not totally convinced of, but cool nonetheless.

Also, because of this book I am adding Children of Men to my to-read list.

Edelman, Lee. No Future: Queer Theory and the Death Drive. Durham: Duke UP, 2004. Print.

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