I went to bed last night at 8:30 p.m. and woke up today at 8:30 a.m. and you know what? I feel like a bag of dicks. Gary, my coffee shop counsellor, told me that it was because I slept too long. He’s right but my eyes were rolling back in my head at 7:00 p.m. which either makes me a huge loser, or sick. Than again, I was reading Judith Butler so there we go.
That was not a shot at Butler. I love her, of course. And love her partner Wendy Brown even more. But reading her at night is dangerous. I was trying to be a good graduate student and not watch Bridesmaids so that I could enter sleep with theories of gender and sexuality in my brain. I wanted to dream in thesis. Seriously. I was told when I was 7-years young that if I wanted to remember my “spellings” for the series of weekly spelling tests we had in Elementary school I had to do the following:
1) write the words out in pencil. 2) sleep with that same pencil under my pillow. 3) the day of the test use that very pencil to write my spellings out. Why? “Because the pencil remembers,” my teacher said.
Confession: I can’t spell worth shit. To this day. A PhD who can’t spell English (Engilsh comes out often) is ironic. But, the superstition that the words will seep into my head, through my pencil, still resonates. And so I sleep with Judith Butler.
Hence, going to bed at 8:30. p.m.
Butler and I have an on and off again relationship. Mostly on, but there have been moments when I thought, really? But, the return is always sweet and she got me through many a lonely night in grad school as I was stuck reading Keats, Wordsworth, Richardson, Vassanji, J.K. Rowling (sorry kids, Harry Potter’s a fuckwit). My favorite Butlerian mind-twirl has always been The Psychic Life of Power. I still understand absolutely nothing in that book, and I’m not sure Butler gets it either, but the ways in which she tumbles across the pages, twisting and turning Freud and his masculine pals makes her delicious.
I am reading about Narcissism still (send sniper now!) and this journey has taken me through a montage of Sexology texts and Psychoanalysis. I’m trying to figure out how homophobia is antiquated in narcissism. Why narcissism was and still is considered a trait of homosexuality over and above heterosexuality. Aside from the very obvious, and therefore trite reason that two people of the same sex are loving one another, I don’t see the connection.
Mind you, to be fair, I am a tall, slender, lonely gay who is always attracted to tall, slender, lonely women. Oops. Am I trying to date myself because I’m gay? Or, am I just a narcissist because I am? Am I attracted to versions of myself? Or am I attracted to women who are not like me in the least? Who knows.
In this chapter I’m writing I have been trying to figure out if contemporary understandings of narcissism are simply about the physical traits. Does a man loving a woman exonerate him from narcissism while two women get the label because they both have vaginas (lovely ones at that)? That seems silly. I know many a hetero female friend who is dating their male likeness, and who, furthermore, buys and walks dogs in the park that look like her– Just sayin’ curly headed people should never buy poodles.
I also know many people who profess to date their opposites: tall men with tiny, elfish women. Curvy, sexy ladies with bean-pole guys on their arm. And yet, you meet the couple over drinks and realize that emotionally, mentally, intellectually, financially, they are SO similar.
Which leads me again to Freud and Butler. Two mismatched but incredibly similar thinkers. Of Freud’s views on narcissism Butler muses for a very few pages. Which is odd, because if you know anything about Judith, it’s that she can write entire books on one topic, forever losing us in her sentences and italics. Kinda like me! Funny that. But I think that the fact she wrote so little does speak to the possibility that Butler is unsure why Freud chose to attribute homosexuality to narcissism, especially since he thought homosexuality was, at various points in one’s growth, completely normal.
I’ve decided instead of quoting at length, I’m gonna make Butler and Freud interview each other. Because it might me sexy. This is my version of paraphrasing…my advisor should look away now:
Butler: So Sigmund. It seems that you are a bit all over the place when it comes to how you understand homosexuality’s connection to narcissism.
Freud: whatever do you mean Judith?
Butler: Well, you say here that the repression of the libido is a good thing, because it leads to self-regulation.
Freud: sure does.
Butler: But, you also say that we all desire one another’s likeness, that like attracts like.
Butler: But you say too that when our same-sex longings turn desirous we need to quash those feelings, repress them. Even though they are normal?
Freud: precisely. We need to suffer.
Butler: Because we need to gain, what you call, social recognition, from our parents, society?
Freud: you got it.
Butler: So, let me get this straight (!). We are all born with wonderful feelings of sexual desire for the same sex, but we, in order to fit into society, procreate, be hetero and accepted by the Church, Republicans, the State (whose members also have same-sex desire within them) we have to become hetero, forcibly sometimes.
Butler: That sucks!
Butler: But doesn’t that speak to a hetero-type of narcissism? The narcissism of narcissistic attachment. Or, to be unclear: being obsessed with our own need to be accepted by others and have them attach to us?
Butler: And wouldn’t that make hetero-sociality narcissistic? Consumerism, capitalism, patriotism, homosocial bonding, HOMOPHOBIA, all evidence of narcissistic tendencies outside of homosexuality?
Freud: Well, the ego-ideal has a social side. It’s the side that is loyal to the Nation, the Family, a Class. We need acceptance into these so that we feel socially connected.
Butler: We sound like robots. If the Class, the Nation, and the Family is so exclusive, why don’t we tell them to fuck themselves?
Freud: we can’t.
Butler: Why not?
Freud: We’re too narcissistic.
Freud: We need the love of our fellow man, even if that love is based on homophobia and judgment.
Butler: well at least gay men have sorted that one out.
Ok, so that’s what I got from that interview. Here’s my scope for the day:
Horoscope for Sagittarius for October 5, 2011
You’ll get an unforgettable rush from searching out new sights and people today — exploration will really get your juices going! And the best part is, you don’t have to step too far out of your comfort zone in order to get the experience you’re looking for. Simply by choosing a different spot for lunch, a new mall to go shopping in or a different route to work, you will uncover a hidden gem you never saw before. Integrating this new discovery into your life will be fun and wonderfully easy.
Time to go shopping!