Realism and Utopia: Sex, Writing, and Activism in New Narrative

Rob Halpern

Journal of Narrative Theory, Volume 41, Number 1, Spring 2011, pp. 82-124 (Article) Published by Eastern Michigan University DOI: 10.1353/jnt.2011.0092

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Realism and Utopia: Sex, Writing, and Activism in New Narrative
Rob Halpern
The literary movement known as New Narrative emerged in San Francisco during the late 1970s. The cultural moment was one of engagement and conviction, agitation and uncertainty, as tensions were beginning to flare between new projects and old affiliations in the Bay Area literary scene—Language writing, Feminist writing, Black Arts, Beat poetry, New American Poetics, and others—each asserting a distinct set of aesthetic values and social stakes. New Narrative registers many of these tensions, while offering one response to some unresolved impasses between Gay Liberation, the Avant-Garde, and a New Left that seemed at times unresponsive to the exigencies of sexual politics. Bruce Boone, Robert Glück, and Steve Abbott were the movement’s earliest theoreticians and practitioners, and they shared many affinities with other radical writers, including Kathy Acker and Dennis Cooper, who accompanied the group as coconspirators, in friendship and publishing projects alike. Abbott first defined this loose confederacy in his editorial statement for the 1981 New Narrative issue of Soup magazine: “New Narrative is language conscious but arises out of specific social and political concerns of specific communities. . . . It stresses the enabling role of content in determining form rather than stressing form as independent from its social origins and goals.”1 Abbott’s reference to the movement being “language conscious” quietly acknowledges New Narrative’s ties to Language writing, with
JNT: Journal of Narrative Theory 41.1 (Spring 2011): 82–124. Copyright © 2011 by JNT: Journal of Narrative Theory.

Realism and Utopia


whose community it intersected. Although New Narrative evolved together with late twentieth-century avant-garde poetries, it pushed against Language writing’s privileging of poetic form, stressing instead the value of storytelling—in both verse and prose—as the means by which to deepen the convergence of writing and politics, while aligning that convergence with the work of gay community building. Boone offers a partisan description of this socio-literary landscape in his short postscript to Glück’s Family Poems (1979), “Remarks on Narrative: The Example of Robert Glück’s Poetry.” Boone writes, “The poetry of the ’70s seems generally to have reached a point of stagnation, increasing a kind of refinement of technique and available forms, without yet being able to profit greatly from the energy and accessibility that mark so much of the new Movement writing of gays, women and Third World writers, among others” (29). This characterization of the moment suggests a prehistory of the notorious “poetry wars,” which would divide the Bay Area writing scene during the 1980s. In what now reads as a founding document for New Narrative, Boone goes on in his postscript to posit what would become the movement’s tenets, arguing for the importance of narrative method for a “movement writing” otherwise thought to be content-driven and mimetic. Boone begins by praising Glück’s poems for the way “they remind us of the actual, though often unmentioned function of narration as a device for registering social meaning” (32). He then looks to two mid-century American poets of the New York School, Frank O’Hara and Ron Padgett, as models because they “integrate narrative material as a technique to constitute the poem again socially,” stressing “a strongly judgmental or juridical aspect of this narrative function . . . that declines to be ‘objective’ in any sense that would satisfy us” (32). Taking the work of his New York School antecedents as a point of departure, Boone emphasizes subjectivity as both an effect of subjection and as a social force with the potential to intervene and affect, organize and change. Subjectivity thus emerges in New Narrative not as stable fact, but as a volatile social process full of transformational energies, and narrative becomes one mode of stimulating and organizing such energies. Boone’s emphasis on subjectivity speaks to the appeal for New Narrative of Louis Althusser’s “Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses,” which theorizes ideology as a productive force in the making of social





subjects, a force in excess of its repressive functions. By “productive,” I don’t mean “positive,” but rather instrumental; in other words, for Althusser, subjectivity becomes a function of ideology. In his “Long Note on New Narrative,” Glück himself remarks how Althusser’s theory of ideology, understood as “the imaginary resolution of real contradictions,” provides a critical model for thinking about narrative—like personality—as “political fiction” and as “a story in common with other stories” (30). While ideology “interpellates” subjects, hailing individuals into social being, New Narrative summons its readers to new forms of community, arousing the potential for new subjectivities, often by way of direct address whereby the second-person singular “you” is enjoined to enter into an intimacy with narrator and story alike. As Boone writes in his booklength narrative, Century of Clouds (1980), “These thoughts are large and public, how to relate them to my life? . . . Perhaps beginning to tell you stories” (15). The critical question thus becomes: what form of storytelling—and what kind of storyteller—might allow us to imagine the resolution of social contradictions differently? Althusser even appears by name in Century of Clouds: “Following Althusser—I think! But I’m no expert here—Fred [Jameson] claims ideology always has a value in itself. And that’s because it’s always two things at once, a ‘false consciousness’ and the consciousness of a group” (22). Boone invokes Althusser like an unmastered commonplace in the discourse of the Marxist Literary Group’s Summer Institute, a retreat presided over by Fredric Jameson which serves as the book’s setting. Anticipating the Janus-faced feature of ideology in his postscript to Glück’s Family Poems, Boone draws attention to the importance of narrative insofar as it shapes the actual material of subjectivity, both individual and collective, while at the same time being a “device” and a “function” of literary construction. This affirmation of artifice distinguishes New Narrative from a default understanding of storytelling as a natural form of social expression unmarked by literary concerns. “These devices,” Boone writes, “constitute a transfer of the subject from a local determination in the speaking narrator to a more profound and generalized function which may be thought of as society itself, as it tells us the story that continues to constitute it” (32). While performing a kind of discursive authority more often undermined in Boone’s writing (“Following Althusser—I think! But I’m no expert here”), this terse formula-

if not historically irreconcilable.” New Narrative comes off looking like a reaction formation promoting the devalued term and the two movements appear inherently antithetical. than such hardened binaries allow. signification. I will read Century of Clouds together with two other works that Boone wrote between 1978 and 1981 out of the heady ferment of the Marxist Literary Group: his important contribution to O’Hara scholarship entitled “Gay Language as Political Praxis: The Poetry of Frank O’Hara” (1979) and his political manifesto “Toward a Gay Theory for the 80s” (1981). self-evidence of the voice). a commonality rooted in each group’s affiliation with leftist politics. Boone draws attention to the importance of a theoretical armature in New Narrative’s understanding of itself. In my effort to situate the significance of New Narrative’s synthesis of ideology critique and sexual politics. At the same time. and method. while reading that critique through the optic of an evolving sexual politics. New Narrative registers the promises and limits of Gay Liberation. Just as one aspect of Language writing can be read as an aesthetic response to the promises and limits of the Free Speech Movement.5 Despite important differences—Language writing’s commitment to the social implications of textuality. But such arguments risk amplifying the terms of a dispute rather than affirming a more generative dynamism within the complex local ecology that the Bay Area literary community represents. New Narrative’s commitment to the politics of story. offering the subject as a vehicle of transport into the social scene of its own making. and body— New Narrative shared Language writing’s critique of ideology (transparency of the word. however. affect. recalling the importance of theory for Language writing.3 When Language writing is caricatured as being “anti-narrative.Realism and Utopia 85 tion concerning “a transfer of the subject”—a kind of metaphorization. a self-published pamphlet that proposes .4 Language writing and New Narrative have more in common. New Narrative’s friendly antagonist and fellow traveler. or transformation of energy—underscores narrative’s capacity to stage the means by which communities construct themselves.2 As is often the case with fiercely politicized arguments. the tensions that stressed the Bay Area literary scene during the “poetry wars” lend themselves retrospectively to reductive arguments that cast Language writing as an anti-narrative formalism categorically opposed to New Narrative’s enabling promotion of content and story.

an effect of World War I and the unprecedented traumas of modern life (87). The Storyteller New Narrative arouses what Walter Benjamin refers to in his essay “The Storyteller” as the “tiny. economic experience through inflation. fragile human body. the crisis in narrative representation. (87) . everyday life bureaucratized and commodified it: With the World War a process began to become apparent which has not halted since then. For Benjamin. political manifesto—each implicating the others. something whose intention only a work in another genre might then take up and pursue. bodily experience by mechanical warfare. And there was nothing remarkable about that. fragile human body. as each text exploits the possibilities of its form in order to risk something that exceeds it. Read together as a dynamic trio. stimulating social goals at once utopian and concrete. and beneath these clouds.” which he diagnoses as having been severed from the scene of its own narration. each pressing at the limits of its respective genre only to overflow its bounds. For never has experience been contradicted more thoroughly than strategic experience by tactical warfare. was the tiny. can’t be separated from a body under siege by forces at once apparent and unapparent. Just as World War I militarized the body on a mass scale. Boone’s works illuminate the situation of New Narrative’s emergence. often identified with aesthetic modernism. This set of works presents three generic faces of a singular project—literary narrative. scholarly essay.86 J N T a new gay activism faithful to the radical aims of Gay Liberation and at odds with the comforts of codified identity. but poorer in communicable experience? What ten years later was poured out in a flood of war books was anything but experience that goes from mouth to mouth. moral experience by those in power. A generation that had gone to school on a horse-drawn streetcar now stood under the open sky in a countryside in which nothing remained unchanged but the clouds. in a field of force of destructive torrents and explosions. Was it not noticeable at the end of the war that men returned from the battlefield grown silent—not richer.

as the trauma of extreme events contracts its language somewhere removed from the lived body. Responding to the crisis from yet another cultural position. the fate of storytelling is wedded to the fate of the throat. “the storyteller in his living immediacy . Just as the crisis of modernity penetrates the body. and all of the organs through which speech must pass in order to live. even the body removed from the theater of war was “shot through” not with ammunition per se. and dissociation. and ideology. autobiography and theory. advertising. the avant-garde emphasizes the materialization of signification itself. As Benjamin remarks. to which the body had fallen prey—“shot through with explanation”—by profit-driven dailies. rendering everything that was once thought to be inalienable—the horizon of possibility wherein one’s body meets the world—unnarratable. work. comes from an Apollinaire poem. but with explanation. the mouth. . fragmentation. aiming to restore its capacity to make sense of itself in social space. comprehending a whole corpus ravaged not only by war. history—relations that modernity. Thus. the teeth. with its military and industrial prerogatives. or the self—modernist technique registers the loss of human scale. high art and commodity culture. had progressively instrumentalized or mystified. and film. has already become something remote from us and something that is getting even more distant” (83).7 Whereas the bourgeois novel responds to this crisis by continuing its epochal recession of the body into a privatized interior—be it the home. Benjamin grasps the inseparability of the somatic and the social. interpretation—already reified stories—power. The ideas proposed in “The Storyteller” are particularly germane to New Narrative. while returning to it a sense of scale by situating the body within a dynamic field of relations—friendship. Century of Clouds. At the same time. commodity.6 With his figure of the human body. at once so menacing and benign. it’s hard not to sense Benjamin’s unchanging clouds as a source of those vague atmospherics. . .Realism and Utopia 87 Although Boone tells us that his title. community. it also contradicts communicable experience. the tongue. From the other end of modernism’s century-long trajectory. Under such conditions. but by new apparatuses of social mediation— communication—whereby the individual body becomes increasingly abstract. which foregrounds the body’s vulnerability. Glück and Boone will find the cues for yet another response in Benjamin’s own manner of combining lyricism and critique.

on an individual level” (64). New Narrative privileges storytelling as one means by which the effects of this violence are publically negotiated. is nevertheless lived . “Gay Language as Political Praxis. and to enact forms of subjectivity that exceed the terms of that violence (82). so to speak—but rather for its performative role in constructing the storyteller self-critically. and from random harassment to calculated murder. emphasis original). This speaks to New Narrative’s ambition as it retools narrative practice not so much for its constative value—not to represent the generic gay story. He then complicates his idea. together with the community to which the storyteller belongs. Living speech is always the speech of a group.” not simply to represent the violated. in other words. . but to intervene. collective in its structure and meaning .8 With community violence inscribed in its history. accounts for one consequential division in the structure of collective experience. . Voloshinov. N. It is only by way of a whole community. As Boone writes in Century of Clouds. including Franz Fanon and V. or “told” into being.” as the lessons of modernism can only disabuse us of the notion that there is a stable body to which narration can return that hasn’t already been discursively mediated by incorporated social schema. This dislocation of narrative. that any one body might find its singularity. For Benjamin. the crisis of modernity is one in which “the secular productive forces of history [had] quite gradually removed narrative from the realm of living speech” (87). lest it appear that this “effect” is tantamount to an affirmation of the already known: “You want what you write to actually cause these to come to exist. its story. . this severing of linguistic authority from the body’s virtuosity.88 J N T New Narrative registers how the crisis of modernity will brook no simple call for “a return to the body. “My theme probably has most to with a very strong feeling that telling stories actually has an effect on the world” (47). . Boone notes how “the violent act. . you don’t want just to describe them” (47. its affects and gestures.” whose analysis of gay poetry and social violence helps locate and inform New Narrative’s concerns at a time when community-targeted violence was relentless: from gang bashings to police brutality. all of whom he cites. Boone reminds us of this in his 1979 essay on Frank O’Hara. Narrative can then be understood as part of an effort “to work out solutions to catastrophic problems faced by groups as a whole. Following Benjamin. as well as others.

Realism and Utopia 89 Read through Georges Bataille’s “undefined throng of possible existences. This futurity requires an intervention into otherwise staid notions of activist writing. while still recognizing the mediated aspect of that speech and the regimes of representation that permeate it. its errors and openings. This suggests the temporality of a future anterior—what new form of community will have emerged here?—a tense that will only map onto the present by exposing its inconsistencies. blanks. if so. how? New Narrative addresses the question paradoxically in its effort to return living labor to living speech.” a narrative .9 For Julia Kristeva. but one that may nonetheless reflect back to us some idea of what poetry and society might be in a place still to come” (32). “In a poetry such as this we can see both the possibilities for present literary concern as well as signals for a future. its acute awareness of language as social material and its appreciation of writing as artifice. at once abject and utopian. though as yet does not. making legible the desires stimulated by this very disjunction. But can narrative do the arduous work of rejoining the body in social space and.” the subject of New Narrative is a potential subject and one excluded from presently sanctioned modes of social being (61). This form of potentiality characterizes New Narrative’s approach to community not as something replete with self-present or transparent content. who together with Bataille and Althusser was among the French theoreticians that New Narrative writers read closely. A future that is certainly on the other side of our present writing. and a placeholder for something in excess of what is given—something that could. exist as a common form of belonging. a negative. One way New Narrative achieves this intervention is by cultivating a method Glück and Boone have referred to as “text-metatext. In other words. opacities that proposes the collective as a question. but as a set of lacunae. activates the fault between body and narration. as well as a more radical theory of the subject than forms of community-building organized around static conceptions of identity might otherwise allow. The sheer literariness of New Narrative. Boone writes. this potential subject is “a subject on trial” for whom experience. and body have all been cleaved (37). narration. what will the present’s incoherence look like from the vantage point of the transformed future that our story will have ushered into being? What form of communion might we construct out of the raw material of those blanks? Anticipating this futurity at the conclusion of his postscript to Family Poems.

always opening. “How is it possible to make a truly human social life for the first time?” and. that laboratory of sociality. New Narrative wants to enact consequence in the world. The storyteller thus emerges as a composite of stories. and interventionist. the many faults and fissures of which draw attention to the constructed dimensions of our social world. sex.90 J N T operation whereby a story keeps a running commentary on itself. that is. and while it certainly suggests familiar antecedents. enlisting narrative as that vehicle of transport whereby an emergent social subject might be moved ec-statically in social space toward something unknown yet historically and materially latent in a present social situation. at once constituting and dissolving community bonds. Bob. New Narrative amplifies the stakes around risk-taking and performance beyond those for which metafiction otherwise prepares us. probing. Taking performance art. something more than “novel.” In explicitly utopian terms. sex as a force of both disruption and cohesion. as a model. in his own narration toward the new. Century of Clouds itself then becomes Boone’s effort to activate “the new” as something more than a mere extension of the present. and deepening the faults within its own construction.” Boone writes in Century of Clouds. all of these elements converge with paradigmatic vigor in the gay bathhouse. from Sterne to Barthelme.11 “Why not look at the kinds of language that articulate goals of community. New Narrative argues for friendship. “examples of imagination that narrate us toward the new” (15).10 This allows the narrative to interrogate itself while acknowledging how the practice of storytelling contributes to the work of constituting the grammatical subject who speaks. proposes to “go where no meaning is to create meaning”: . This narrative method is anything but complacent and representational. This affirmation of being narrated toward the new—toward what can’t be said or done in the present—suggests a social ontology that hangs critically on a form of narration at once partisan. Boone asks. in response. rather than metafiction. In Robert Glück’s New Narrative classic Jack the Modernist. concrete need and social representation (15). as well as the community of which that subject is a part. visionary. and writing as the means for organizing an awareness of disjunction between body and story. as well as to the way the self itself is entangled in artifice. where the narrator. and writing as constituent features of any such life: friendship as a unit of social composition crucial for politics.

54–55). whose head. I. more pressing. expressive.Realism and Utopia The purely physical deepened. The boundary between the speakable and the unspeakable is always a social boundary. It is. leaving one in suspension as the world’s significance gathers and slips (28). But the spasms that were not me overtook and became me along with a sense of dread. is gone. rather. it’s neither therapeutic.” Glück’s narrator writes while proposing to touch a concentration of impossible meaning as one might touch the neck of the Winged Victory. or rather became more incisive. “I don’t have the language to describe that intensity so I lack the thought. I felt like a tooth being pulled. relegating any previous terms as though I were a body torn into existence. For example. and to maintain it is to maintain an order of licit and illicit zones. To rub against the orders of the speakable. nor merely an exercise in style. this shame might also stimulate the vulnerability necessary for tenderness. a writerly social practice that aims to bring into language something that otherwise defies the symbolic order of signification. then. not to express myself but as a byproduct of physical absorption. (57. And just as abjection can turn into care. was more and more a part of my body so I/it cried out with each released breath. my identity. writing toward sexuality’s “unspeakable” is not gratuitous. so too can the force of rage become the material of love: “We inhale rage. “rage that not merely dominates and bullies us like the binding authority of a sacred book. I covered my eyes and laughed once with excitement and dismay. emphasis . A challenge to the orders of perceptibility is equally germane to the way that New Narrative stimulates emotion and organizes affect. is to risk transgressing the partition of the perceptible—or what Jacques Rancière refers to as “the distribution of the sensible” whereby the norms of social intelligibility and common sense are organized and policed (Politics 9–19). of course. just as shame is linked to certain forms of public visibility (exposure). I yielded to the gathering fullness with shame. While certain feelings find themselves coded within a distribution of socially “productive” emotions—codes often inimical to progressive social ends—these same feelings contain volatile affective material from which alternative feelings may emerge.” Glück writes. but is us” (89. 91 For New Narrative. tedious as air.

and Stanley Aronowitz. “until I become Brian’s father and make Brian suck me off and then I piss on him while he kneels. “Gay Language as Political Praxis.” he continues. These vicissitudes of feeling illustrate the ambivalence of affect—its potential for opposed ends—as a source of transformative social energies. Boone’s essay on Frank O’Hara. “Reification and Utopia in Mass Culture. the exigencies informing Boone’s commitment diverged consequentially from those of the institute. Instead of shattering rage what if I wrote shattering love—see what I’m driving at?” (89).” originated in the hothouse of the Summer Institute. one of the several social and critical marshes out of which New Narrative emerged was the Summer Institute of the Marxist Literary Group (MLG) in St. And yet. Together with Century of Clouds. Minnesota. commodity—in ways that eclipsed minoritarian issues. That essay would eventually appear in the premier issue of Social Text (Winter 1979) with Fredric Jameson’s now canonical essay. in 1977 and 1978. and its summer conclave functioned as an intensive workshop for literary theorists and critics writing within the Marxian tradition. and while the theoretical rigor practiced at the MLG may have nourished New Narrative.92 J N T original). a seminar paper and an important prop in one of the book’s central scenes when the narrator decides to intervene in the seminar’s smooth proceedings in order to draw . that first spurt of urine an outburst of contentment that truly can be called domestic. history. especially insofar as it theorized key concepts—ideology. all of whom figure prominently in Century of Clouds. and in the process. Bruce Boone attended the institute together with Fredric Jameson. class.12 Gay Language The importance of New Narrative’s valorization of sex and emotion appears in greater relief when framed by way of the movement’s roots in New Left politics. it opens to transfiguration: “but is us. and this ambivalence will be crucial for the multiple aims in relation to which New Narrative orients itself.” but Boone first mentions it in Century of Clouds as the narrator’s work in progress. The MLG is a working affinity group sponsored by the Modern Language Association. rage goes on to inform sexual role playing. Cloud. and overflows. As I’ve already mentioned. Terry Eagleton.

O’Hara’s poems expressed an awareness of gay language and social life. in . Boone notes how O’Hara’s critical reception within the academy ignored a very different reception of his work within the gay community itself. early studies of O’Hara diminish. including Helen Vendler. however. According to Boone. was effectively passed over by the official criticism. Richard Howard. when she writes. the “paper aim[s].” (61) The notion of “a language without syntax” comes from Vendler. And the sex poems are found to be “not very good. the coup de grace of Vendler’s reading appears in parentheses. and Charles Altieri. though they try hard and are brave in their homosexual details)” (194. Boone analyzes the repression of socially antagonistic—i. or entertainment and gossip. In the published essay’s developed argument. “gay”—language in the critical reception of O’Hara’s work at a moment during the late seventies when the poet was just beginning to attract the attention of scholars. qtd. if not erase. an absence she associates with “the wish not to impute significance” to anything. “a radical and dismissive logic” that undermines all “systems of significance” (194. the significance of a specifically gay language in the poems as they become legitimate scholarly objects. Paul Carroll. and the poetry itself was fast becoming an occasion for community discussion of internal and external problems in gay newspapers and magazines. modestly enough.e. But not gay language. As the narrator explains. “For many gays.” Boone writes. Tracking this erasure from the earliest review of O’Hara’s Collected Poems in 1971 through the work of a number of formidable critics writing on O’Hara in the early 1970s.Realism and Utopia 93 attention to the Summer Institute’s unacknowledged antagonisms and exclusions around sex and gender. But for Boone. 183). This discussion of O’Hara’s poems within the community. O’Hara’s poems became a language without syntax. who considers a certain “absence of what might be called an intellectual syntax” to be characteristic of O’Hara’s poems. at articulating gay language usages in a poet whose reputation till now had not included any official recognition of this important aspect of his writing” (67). “(the sex poems aren’t very good.

” where the “displacement of connections” is part of a language code elaborated by a particular group living under a particular set of social pressures from which its language can’t escape without scars (85–86). among other things. the strategic absences and holes that can’t be spoken. “On the horizon of this discourse. Boone argues that in poems like O’Hara’s “Mary Desti’s Ass” or “At the Old Place. and around which a subjugated community negotiates a counter-discourse that only later gets recuperated as style. In other words. critics like Vendler explain this “absence of intellectual syntax” in terms of the poet’s refusal to ascribe importance to ideology. and his critique takes aim.” Boone writes. . . asyndeton. countering this reception by reading O’Hara’s language as politically oppositional. founded on subjugation of women and effeminate men” (71). elision—may actually be the lacunae that emerge due to social constraints. a peril that implicates each of its speakers . structuring a dangerous situation as community code” (85). Reading O’Hara’s poetics through the optic of a poet like Wallace Stevens.94 J N T Boone 60). Drawing on Voloshinov’s Marxism and the Philosophy of Language. disjunction. Boone’s essay performs a socio-historical analysis of the specificity of gay language as political. “having for its particular target male supremicist privilege. Boone takes an opposing tack. at the way that features like O’Hara’s buried—not absent—syntactic structures are often attributed to “universalizing projects of art-modernism” (83). what may look like an “absence of intellectual syntax”—parataxis. while simultaneously containing what Boone will go on to refer to as the antagonistic significance of the poetry. “is the always immanent possibility of disaster. Rather than thinking generically of asyntactic compositional techniques as a literary response to mid-century modernization. Vendler’s reading benefits academics—specifically her comments concerning an absent syntax—insofar as it makes O’Hara legible within a history of literary modernism.13 For Boone. the circulation of feelings and affects within the gay community links cultural gesture and linguistic practice to socially oppositional force.” “the connections are subverted because it is the [gay] community itself that will make them . Boone wagers instead that these same poetic features are the manifestation of “a buried community history. for which the poem becomes one site of organization. By contrast. be it due to anticipated misunderstanding or feared repercussion.

Thus the paratactic function set up in the O’Hara poem as a lateral migration from city to city or person to person becomes a homology for the community’s project to move through time to some safe place in the future.” he writes. As the material being of group ideology. This project is in fact a buried narrative. it conceals a destination” (82). Moreover. to reconstruct connections after historical social violence has distorted if not suppressed them. . “that criticism refuses to hear gay language. as the body’s corporeal intractability collides uncertainly with the porous world of signs.Realism and Utopia 95 collectively. they remain implicit. then. (64) In the manner of a cultural materialist. what it expresses is social interest. “It is not unnatural. the connections of the discourse are constituted for the community as the news of a particular praxis—the continuing project of self-renewal after each experience of disaster. (83) New Narrative wants to activate and transfigure precisely such buried narratives. But the paratactic language of the community also benefits the community itself. it thus registers in its minutest details the changing historical features of the group producing it. for that language is in fact the structure of . . as a danger common to all. . the connections are repressed. Boone draws critical attention not only to the conditions of possibility that inform the linguistic material of the poems. In this sense then language is neither “arbitrary” nor meaningless. Voloshinov’s understanding of language as group praxis thus lays a foundation for understanding the stakes involved in critical attempts to repress antagonistic languages in a text. but also to the social contradictions within academic culture that inform their reception. nor is it inert or already given. Opaque and transgressive with respect to the outsider. Echoing and deepening the ideas which he proposes in the postscript to Glück’s Family Poems. Boone relates the language of an oppressed group to “the structure of [that] group’s consciousness”: Language is consciousness.

in high school if you wore green or yellow it meant you were queer.” I remember the skinny guy who gets kicked in his face in body-building ads. and the opposition of oppressed groups on all fronts takes on increasingly antagonistic forms. I remember “queers can’t whistle. . Commenting on Brainard’s long poem I Remember (1970). “the language of this poem is successful in invoking a community only at the price of removal to a past of nostalgia.” (As it was illegal. in school I used to stuff a sock in my underwear. I remember when. Toward the end of his essay.) There was a slight chance that something might go wrong and that I’d . whose gay language practices offer a contrast with those of O’Hara. by way of innovation and experiment.96 J N T the dominated group’s inadmissible consciousness—its material reality” (66). . I remember how little your dick is getting out of a wet bathing suit. . attempting to legitimate or co-op the artifacts associated with these struggles by creating more sophisticated strategies for disguising the basic social contradictions present in the very language of these productions” (71). . and because it refuses to make connections between things. And Boone goes on to argue “that as the crisis of international capitalism continues to deepen. Particularly because it is articulated paratactically (Vendler’s ‘absence of an intellectual syntax’). All very “hush-hush. Boone remarks critically on the work of both Joe Brainard and Dennis Cooper. Among others. of course. remain a community language. It is. it is related to narrative” (90). Boone turns a critical eye toward several gay writers “of our own time” who. I remember daydreams of a doctor who (on the sly) was experimenting with a drug that would turn you into a real stud. however. In this respect. Boone writes. . critical discourse will react to this situation . construct gay subjectivities around the artifacts of popular expression. I Remember is organized anaphorically around the repeated phrase “I remember”: I remember when. for example. The language of the poem does. precisely this disguise that Boone’s intervention seeks to dismantle.

(qtd. however. I remember”—and this iteration may in fact suggest the impossibility of the sort of nostalgia that Boone reads in Brainard. Memory emerges as an externalized set of temporally displaced common appearances and the very scene of community formation. For Boone. but I was willing to take that chance. At the limit then. I Remember exposes the production of memory as inseparable from the production of an oppressed social subject. the pleasure of sadness is actually frustrated by the poem’s structure. or the reader. or a skip. Each sentence of I Remember can be read as a placeholder for something that can’t be said. together with its actual social content. and dream the community itself as an artifact” (90). that can’t find proper externalization by the remembering subject. to dwell on any particular loss. . whose content becomes a long chain of substitutions. something below the threshold of articulation. and the aggregate itself remains at the level of a flotilla of fragments incapable of sustaining nostalgia’s consistency. leaving the present to be organized. psychically and socially. This needn’t compromise Boone’s demands entirely. that the subject can’t get beyond—“I remember . each of which arguably assumes the place of something that can’t be remembered: a certain violence. or New Narrative’s. something inassimilable. suppressed. in Boone 90) 97 Brainard’s reiterative form doesn’t satisfy Boone’s need for a more progressive synthesis of the fragmented and alienated at a new level of understanding. and thus unnarratable: a void. or danger. Insofar as nostalgia refers to a certain pleasure achieved through the stimulation and containment of sadness in an apparition of the past. And this . . which then recedes into an irretrievable past. or ecstasy. Indeed.Realism and Utopia end up with a really giant cock. . . the long anaphoric chain in I Remember doesn’t allow the subject. or a lack. the traditional gay language style [as represented here by Brainard] may become a production of language-objects to be consumed. The work’s performance of memory as constitutive of a socially antagonized subject position repeats a fault. Brainard’s textualization of community “relates simply a set of linguistic artifacts in which the community is invoked as the possibility of an individual erotic reverie of language itself. While Boone reproaches Brainard’s formal experiment for its representation of a melancholic gay subject lost to politics. around loss. I remember .

And yet the deeply affecting irony and pathos of Cooper’s poems stem from precisely this effect. when consumed by gay men. According to Boone. It is a language which. (90) Reified personality types stimulate community-based desires while containing their utopian energies. “The Population of Heaven and Earth. Recalling Brainard’s I Remember. . In other words. It appears in every alluring gossip column or movie magazine story about TV idols or punk rockers or other packaged artifacts.98 J N T certain something. so to speak. is lived as an experience “always elsewhere. This ideologically regressive language is still to be found in every shoddy movie theater and porn magazine in which gays are unprotestingly exploited in a commercialized ersatz community experience. disables nostalgia rather than indulging it.” in which the fanzine-style photos of post-adolescent boys. “The Population of Heaven and Earth” can’t move beyond the terms of that dream. material precipitates of the community’s dream of itself. or “twinks. “Gay” 90). this hole in the picture. But it is a utopian language that doesn’t yet disengage itself from gay dreams. with its displacement of community formation. Boone goes on to critique a piece by Cooper from 1977. in Boone. . which hew to fantasy. Cooper’s poems cite the language of movie magazines and Hollywood gossip.” . hence Boone’s critique of their “regressive” aspect. That would be greater than great! When I get lonely I lean out a window and fluff my blond hair” (qtd. for Boone. which trap the very energies that it stimulates. Fredric Jameson and New Narrative Unlike the scholarly practice at which Boone takes aim in the O’Hara essay—a practice whereby the artifacts of a marginalized group are appropriated by the critic at the expense of the struggles that inform them—the practices advanced within the Marxist Literary Group were perhaps more .” appear with personality profiles in short captions: “I lie in my room most of the time dreaming of another planet so close I see the bristle of people on it. Cooper’s poems recycle the community’s own linguistic artifacts.

Jameson is simply “Fred”—“the captain of our destinies and true Teddy Roosevelt of our souls”—and he functions as a key character whose rigor provides the narrator with a necessary foil. and everything was beginning to seem topsy-turvy. Boone’s own approach to narrative and critique. by contrast.Realism and Utopia 99 concerned with the place of such artifacts within analyses of ideology. Jameson was no stranger to New Narrative as it emerged in the San Francisco Bay Area during the late 1970s.14 In Boone’s Century of Clouds. but also because of the relevance and proximity of his thinking to New Narrative at its inception—and several of his key texts from this period warrant a sustained engagement insofar as they provide a dynamic stimulus for. and yet even the MLG minimized the specificity of gay subject positions. as well as a counter position to.” as “a famous art historian and Marxist critic who really wielded some French majesty” (36). It gradually rose to a conceptual climax I was entirely unaware of. calling it “a brilliant book [in which] the poet/translators shrewdly enlist La Fontaine in their ‘new narrative’ writing. where the narrator refers to the character loosely based on him. and Fred was lecturing. behind or beyond it. . This scene from one of the MLG seminars is telling: I was sitting beside Christine. And then it fell. He had gotten to one of those characteristically exhilarating and difficult places in his lectures where the language of high French structuralism was coming on fast and furious. I realized that an entirely new turn or aspect of some theoretical system may well have passed me by. .” Jameson also has a juicy role in Glück’s Jack the Modernist. Scarcely would a concept present itself in all apparent good faith when it would straightaway become obvious as just a figure. Fred’s voice boomed on in the background. The work of Fredric Jameson is important here—not only given his central position at the MLG’s Summer conclave. . “Martin. and his role is significant. Jameson wrote the blurb for Boone and Glück’s 1981 collaboration La Fontaine. it covered it—a worthless abstraction now to be discarded. commodity culture. and the real idea was under. becoming more and more a distant drone. (63–64) . and late capitalism generally. Here we strained to comprehend. The old idea hid the new one.

not a spontaneous one. As the passage continues. .” . or worse. evidently for my benefit. and how? The exchange with Christine helps the narrator to arrive at what he refers to as “the bottom line in power relations. is power: who has it. who reproduces it. after all. battles that fail to advance the more radical social consciousness that New Narrative aims to stimulate. The note reads. like so many false bottoms. “How would you like to marry Fred? (signed) Christine. For me of course the humor had an added and ironic edge. The issue. A sort of giggling pout. in this case the struggles of women. as well as the metatextual commentary. That “Gay Language as Political Praxis” was published together with Jameson’s “Reification and Utopia” in Social Text is significant. an even more consequential exchange transpires. one after another. dynamics otherwise excluded from that performance insofar as they operate within its margins and blind spots. It’s prearranged and automatic in a situation where X is a powerful and sometimes older male able to have a real effect on your life—make it better for you. as narrative strategies to link his personal experience of social struggle with the struggles of other groups. or “vanishing moments”—while making audible the otherwise silenced social tensions at work onsite of the dialectic’s magisterial performance in Jameson’s delivery. . How could I marry another man? (66) The issue here is not marriage per se.100 J N T The narration captures the exquisite feeling of the dialectic—the falling effect whereby provisional resolutions give way. making a funny face. What’s so funny? And I’m trying to rouse myself from the half-sleep I have fallen into. Boone is thus able to comment wryly on the dynamics that estrange discourse and audience. one that illustrates how Boone uses gossip and scandal. The narrator is just coming-to from his reverie during Fred’s performance of the dialectic: I wake from this daydream abruptly.” which then precipitates his critical decision to make an “intervention” at the institute. who benefits from it. Christine is pushing a note in my direction. rather. The idea “What would it be like to marry X?” is. in some definitive way. despite the apparent resonance with contemporary gay legal battles. and the resonances and tensions between the essays are crucial for understanding .

Jameson explains how under the regime of exchange value. Jameson’s essay is a tour de force that affirms the commodity’s critical potential to stimulate—and contain—utopian desire. Similar to the artwork. similar as activities without “any practical purpose in the ‘real world’ of business or politics. then. But how are we to understand the commodity as a useless thing?15 Although the commodity is often thought to be paradigmatic of instrumentality—if not the instrumental as such under capitalism—it paradoxically converges with the suspension of purpose. under late capitalism. like the realization of social abstraction at the commodity’s core.Realism and Utopia 101 not only New Narrative’s own intervention in avant-garde poetics. the artwork aspires to a form of uselessness. the commodity “manifests itself as something totally independent of use value” (28). . negates use value. . according to Marx. This traditional definition surely holds for . but also the Marxian analysis of commodity culture that would lend itself to an emergent Cultural Studies. the money relation. the successful works of mass and high culture alike. if only because. Within the framework of Kantian aesthetics that Jameson invokes. the unique qualities of human activity have “effectively been bracketed or suspended by the market system” and reduced to instrumental means. what Kant calls “a finality without end” (qtd. Jameson argues that both the commodity and the elevated (modernist) artwork have become.” despite the “great divide” often said to have separated the two at birth (10). We suspend our real lives and our immediate practical preoccupations just as completely when we watch The Godfather as when we read The Wings of the Dove or hear a Beethoven sonata. in Jameson 10). (10–11) Jameson goes on to offer sustained readings of two popular films of the late seventies—Jaws and The Godfather—concluding his argument with a manifesto-like call for an engaged attention to the utopian dimension of commodity culture: . subsuming it in the form of exchange value. whereas works of art manifest a goal-oriented activity which nonetheless has no practical purpose or end in the “real world” of business or politics or concrete human praxis generally.

Nor can it address the particularity of collective social living. Rousseau’s Confessions) we add another equal sign. the Diet of Worms. it doesn’t adequately account for the critical potential of narrative—and new narrative practices—to awaken a community to the work of organizing itself. as they go one step further and introduce the self itself as yet another social production penetrated by. his critique of the Frankfurt School’s manner of privileging “traditional modernist high art as the locus of some genuinely critical and subversive. no matter how faintly and feebly. Consider how Glück’s “Long Note on New Narrative” ups the ante on Jameson’s set of cultural objects (The Godfather. (34) New Narrative answers this injunction. attaching the self as yet another thing the culture ‘dreamed up’” (30).” Boone writes. and inseparable from. the utopian impulse haunting the commodity form (14). Wings of the Dove. and Coming Home— enacting in five pleasure-filled pages a distillation of Jameson’s rigorous argument for the utopian potential trapped in commodity culture. a Beethoven sonata): “To this endless chain of equal cultural manifestations (a song by REM.102 J N T To reawaken. that is. for while Jameson’s “drive toward collectivity” gestures toward narrative’s capacity to register utopian desire. And Boone’s thinking in a short essay called “Monsters” from My Walk with Bob (1979) parallels Jameson’s in “Reification and Utopia. some sense of the ineradicable drive towards collectivity that can be detected. “we con- . in the most degraded works of mass culture just as surely as in the classics of modernism. is very much in sync with Glück’s and Boone’s motivation. ‘autonomous’ aesthetic production.” “Monsters” performs a brief meditation on three popular films—Who’ll Stop the Rain. Saturday Night Fever. in the midst of a privatized and psychologizing society. while also drawing attention to the limits of its terms. obsessed with commodities and bombarded by the ideological slogans of big business. “In and through such debased products of mass culture. how specific communities and subject positions render affective life in relation to commodity culture in irreducible ways.” unshared by commodity production. Although Jameson’s limited discussion of the narrative function may not inform New Narrative’s marshalling of storytelling.

” Jameson elsewhere theorizes the place of narrative within a sustained Marxian analysis—and the narrative function of such an analysis— as the meta-genre into which even the non-narrative material haunting the mode of production finds itself allegorized. however. is its affective tenor. What most distinguishes Boone’s treatment. at the same time as thinking the abolition of its conditions” (18). In other words. conceptually grasped. and to diverse ends. a narrative whereby historical processes might be apprehended. In the early pages of The Political Unconscious. in whatever provisional or circumscribed way. “like Tiresias drinking the blood. Marxism begins to sound like a kind of narrative operation. into the act of consumption itself. is to activate the living labor—“our bondedness”—that clings to otherwise deadly forms of production so that it might determine its own future rather than be harnessed by the demands of surplus value. Capitalism is thus understood as a privileged allegory. This intervention has everything to do with Boone’s analysis of the way that “gay language” in O’Hara—born of a fascinated engagement with a “degraded” popular culture through which the gay subject founds an identity and a community—can function as a form of political praxis.17 For Jameson. narrative is the socio-aesthetic form in which the impenetrable and unnarratable material of global capital gets rendered by capitalism itself: “The synchronic and non-narrative ‘moments’ of the mode of production are in fact ‘narrativized’ by capitalism” (Singular 118). and in doing so. and temporally cognized. an effect of the very conditions that it has the potential to undo. The aim. for example. then. and yet the potential of this commons can always be marshaled differently. as well as their potential radicalization.16 While critiquing commodity culture in works like “Reification and Utopia. he insinuates the productivity of eros and longing.Realism and Utopia 103 tinue to live out our bondedness. spatially navigated. its embodied expression of the way that these pop cultural artifacts arouse particular forms of longing. Intersubjectivity is the social sap through which this bondedness is lived. one that might. there is a commons of desire at once aroused and trapped by the commodity just as there is cooperation of labor simultaneously organized and expropriated by capital in Marx’s analysis. Boone introduces into his new narrative practice that affective dimension of commodity culture which Jameson theorizes more abstractly.” present us with a “long forgotten message” and “an adequate ac- .

Jameson values narrative for its manner of bearing the traces of generic historical pressures and constraints. is nothing less than the master/slave dialectic writ large. That plot. . or the revolutionary struggle on the stage of world history. what The Communist Manifesto. narrative “reenacts. For Jameson.” which “causes the whole architectonic of postmodern global space to rise up in a ghostly profile behind itself.” “recovers.” that “the doctrine of a political unconscious finds its function and necessity” (20). Despite the usefulness of Jameson’s narrative theory of cultural production. Finally.” and “restores” otherwise occulted truths and lost meanings. of course. a recursive operation that re-presences what has been historically submerged.” “in restoring to the surface of the text the repressed and buried reality of this fundamental history. Narrative thus becomes valued as a formal operation capable of recovering history’s “long forgotten message” for the critic: “It is in detecting the traces of that uninterrupted narrative. But “this mystery can be reenacted only if the human adventure is one” (Jameson 20). cited in the same passage. as some ultimate dialectical barrier or invisible limit” (“Cognitive” 352–53). . channel the story of one human adventure. one can’t help but note that his approach constrains our understanding of narration’s usefulness. whose coordinates narrative can only rehearse. Jameson’s critical method might suggest that cultural artifacts. All the tensions in Jameson’s theory of narrative would have to resolve themselves in “a single great collective story” whose function is fundamentally interpretive and descriptive. either in revolutionary reconstitution of society at large or in the common ruin of the contending classes” (qtd. it enables what Jameson elsewhere refers to as “cognitive mapping. but in doing so he harneses it as a hermeneutic trope and an allegorical form whose manifest content bears no immediate resemblance to its historical significations.104 J N T count of the essential mystery of the cultural past” (19). now hidden.” “retells. refers to as “an uninterrupted. simultaneously high and low. a fight that each time ended. Interpretation might then complement and fulfill narrative’s potential to translate art- . in Jameson 20). now open fight. “These matters can recover their original urgency for us only if they are retold within the unity of a single great collective story . only if they are grasped as vital episodes in a single vast unfinished plot” (19–20). Accordingly. Following Georg Lukács. one unfinished plot.

the oneness of the “human adventure” under capital as it unfolds “from necessity to freedom. by contrast. rather than allegorize one continuous history of enclosures— accumulation by expropriation being one way of understanding the modern human adventure under the sign of capital—narrative has the potential to make perceptible the occlusions and voids in that history where other stories and their corresponding subject positions might then appear for the first time. New Narrative.” would thus inform the potential meaning of everything made or imagined within the system’s mode of production. emerge as symbolic action only insofar as they reconstitute. Jameson’s valorization of narrative as “symbolic action. How might such an approach to storytelling challenge the exclusions upon which that one long history depends. Can it be that all such artifacts tell the same tale—the global dispensation of capital—albeit from the most divergent vantage points? The singular totality of the geopolitical system. recalling the separation from story that befalls the individual body of the storyteller under modernity. to stimulate unsuspected lines of social force. In short. foregrounds the performative. stories. can’t account for the critical and aesthetic deployment of both narrative and non-narrative as strategies for organizing sensation and desire as a praxis.Realism and Utopia 105 works and commodities alike into the terms of capital’s long story of domination—even those objects of modernist pedigree. gestural. which appear to resist the terms of that story. emphasizing narrative’s potential to become a vehicle of transport to carry the story- . for Jameson. Thus when captured under the sign of narrative. for something in excess of that one story—“examples of imagination that narrate us toward the new”—and paradoxically capable of making its blanks and lacunae legible. diagnostic. New Narrative could then be read in dialectical tension with its apparent opposite.” its usefulness as an interpretive method notwithstanding. But what about narrative that aims to interrupt the otherwise uninterrupted. non-narrative. arousing suppressed faults. or a placeholder. or “transcode. and allegorical aspects of narrative.” another story already inscribed within one great plot (25). while aiding in the work of community constitution? Whereas Jameson foregrounds the constative. while preparing a story which as yet has no common language? In other words. I am suggesting an approach to narrative as a political response to that history of enclosures: narrative as a nonsite. and dramatic. each persisting in and through the other.

but to whose potential its present narrative remains faithful. you don’t want just to describe them” (47). This potentiality illuminates Boone’s proposition to link community. to realize the full implication of any such interruption. affects—that enables new subjectivities to emerge. and these in turn for a community of the future that exists only in dreams” (31). or whatever master code. imagination. As a socially productive force. But that activation will require yet another work. language.106 J N T teller and a potential community of listeners beyond themselves in a direction that sanctioned authority. Boone asks. “stand for political communities in my present. a political manifesto called “Toward a Gay Theory for the 80s. story. to something like a “community to come”: “The religious communities of my past. The full expression of Boone’s propositions around storytelling and politics appears in a third critical text with origins in the MLG. what narrative can actually affect as it looks outward. This refusal inspires Boone’s implicit demand for an interruption in the “unity of the single great collective story” and for a radical activation of history. beyond what’s already here. New Narrative has the potential both to map and transform our conditions of possibility for organizing the social material—feelings. This ethos refuses to countenance the future as a mere extension of the present. and yet another genre. to have been socialized to a certain relation to the commodity—whose form becomes the public repository for inexpressible private feelings—and how can we situate the construction of gay identity within larger apparatuses of socialization along sex/gender lines?” (1). The response to this question turns Boone’s critical and creative thinking to the problems of real community organizing. the social lines of force that constrain who speaks and what can be said. One community—a shared story—serves as a placeholder for another community whose story hasn’t yet arrived. insofar as such an extension can only carry present conditions with it. .” In this modest self-published. This approach to storytelling allows us to understand New Narrative as a community practice that privileges writing’s consequences— futurity—that is.” Boone writes. “What does it mean for gay people in particular. while making legible the conditions of their emergency. six-page tract. whereby narrative acts exceed the symbolic: “You want what you write to actually cause these things to come to exist. and newness in Century of Clouds. can neither anticipate nor codify.

“Toward a Gay Theory” critiques the production of a specifically gay male subjectivity under conditions of late capitalism when gay identity was beginning to normalize itself. To affirm sexuality as a choice transposes one’s erotic practices from a private elaboration of desire to a public economy of bodies and pleasures. “My sexuality.” Boone writes. Boone’s manifesto builds on New Narrative’s point of departure.Realism and Utopia 107 New Narrative as Gay Theory for the 80s “Toward a Gay Theory” mobilizes New Narrative longing. first by grasping how everything in consumer society assumes an aesthetic dimension. which Boone references—but rather for the concrete intervention into the construction of gay collectivity itself. Boone’s political pamphlet theorizes the relations between queer subjectivity and commodity culture. one that can’t be disentangled from other economies where commodities. health clinics. including the . and bombs hold sway. underwritten by the Anita Bryant campaign as well as by the Briggs initiative in California. slowly adapting to the social conditions that conditioned it even as it appeared to resist them. While seemingly unrelated to narrative concerns. one development of many in that era of protests against the war in Viet Nam and a whole oppositional youth culture of the late 60s” (Century 57). Responding to the evolution of a post-Gay Lib era when public discourses of homophobia were proliferating. money. Just as Century of Clouds aligns the narrator’s sense of struggle with multiple social movements.” which addresses the contradictions and limitations that attend the sort of reformism that was then becoming the new political “common sense”—hegemony—as the gay movement sought a hospitable place within an emergent neoliberal discourse and a civil-rights based model of equal access and self-protections. Boone’s manifesto aims beyond the consolidation of a given gay identity. and it does so while proposing a set of practical steps for organizing the gay “ghetto”: using labor unions. Although unabashedly liberatory. and community centers to counter violence and intimidation. “seems to me one more choice of an opposition that was general. This orientation. the manifesto doesn’t argue for the emancipation of one’s sexuality per se—an argument that would be difficult to make after Foucault’s History of Sexuality. perhaps unthinkable within an essentialist framework of identity politics. is important to keep in mind when turning to “Toward a Gay Theory.

emphasis original). This implies that one can grasp the idea of the whole only as a question. Moreover. in speaking for gay particularity. but in the sum total of conditions that underlie all social exclusions. masculinist privilege. We should realize this is the time when we must press forward to make social demands that are radical enough to help bring about the basic restructuring of society as a whole” (4. affects. it proposes a radical politics of community that challenges the assertion of gay identity as ontologically stable. perhaps even a form of non-narrative.108 J N T community itself. enmeshed in a commodity logic whereby not only things. or presumed. appear divorced from their own material conditions of possibility. And yet “Toward a Gay Theory” pushes beyond a critique of the commodity form as false consciousness and affirms the role of the commodity in the production of gay subjectivity.” and “it is not in our interest to indulge in the wish fulfillment that legal and moral ‘tolerance’ is any adequate goal for our movement. As Guy Hocquenghem argues. and pleasures. desires. rather. “We are defined as those who are not part of the larger community. Thus the particular aspires to a form of universality that lacks positive content insofar as its location is the site of omission. Boone does not speak for the gay subject alone in his effort to critique the role of capital in the production of new subjectivities. Boone’s manifesto radicalizes a gay subject position by locating its particularity beyond any one identity-based claim for inclusion so that the particular finds its historical specificity not only in the conditions responsible for its exclusion. the “whole” may well be unnarratable. and the extraction of surplus value from laboring bodies in general.” Boone writes in “Toward a Gay Theory. And yet. while arousing unsanctioned subjectivities in a manner consonant with the New Narrative promotion of the performative dimension of storytelling.18 The demand for structural change is critical to Boone’s vision. Negativity is required in order to think this omission: non-identity. but feelings. Boone argues for the negation of all capitalism’s prerequisites: gender conformity. Faithful to the imperative of coalition building. Or. if only because the subject position from which it would be narrated—the scene of exclusion—is . insofar as one must locate the exclusions that allow that whole to constitute itself coherently. Following the radicalism of the Gay Liberation Front. “homosexual desire is mechanically recited rather than invented.” and that invention requires new stories (Screwball 23). the nuclear family.

What would it sound like. a form of language praxis inherently antagonistic to that order. Rancière’s Dissensus accords not only with Boone’s “Toward a Gay Theory.” or “the presence of two worlds in one”: “Dissensus is not a confrontation between interests or opinions. More importantly. It would also stimulate the possibility of a political community resistant to the policing function which sanctions identities and upon which claims to universality depend insofar as there is always a constitu- . to tell a story in a “supplementary speech. and it can’t be heard because it constitutes a fundamental void and omission in “the distribution of the sensible” upon which the legitimate order of speech contradictorily depends for its own consistency. A supplementary language of dissensus would challenge society’s pluralistic claim to universality. a position upon whose exclusion that arrangement contradictorily depends for its seeming coherence. the unspeakable? This form of speech remains inaudible insofar as it fails to conform to speech-acts sanctioned by the dominant social arrangement. “consists in disturbing this arrangement by supplementing it with a part of those without part” (36).” but with New Narrative values generally. at least as far as language practices are concerned. This aporia returns us unsuspectingly to what Boone refers to in Century of Clouds as “the new. “those with no part in the larger community” introduce what Rancière refers to as a “supplementary speech” outside the order of recognized legitimacy.” Rancière writes in Dissensus. its community to come. The manifesto’s dual emphasis on “those who are not part of” and “society as a whole” anticipates the political thought of Jacques Rancière. while limning the site of the inadmissible. like a hole in the whole. “The essence of politics.” a speech that arouses unrecognized subjectivities.Realism and Utopia 109 a nonsite. in other words. It is the demonstration (manifestation) of a gap in the sensible itself” (37–38). This disturbance is what he means when he refers to the “essence of politics” as “dissensus.” something for which we can’t account in current terms or arrangements but toward which we might paradoxically be narrated (15). The “part with no part”—“no properly defined place”—becomes an atopic placeholder. if not a utopian promise awaiting its future realization. stimulating new feeling-tones and affects. This speech is conceivably an unnarratable supplement. for whom politics begins with a claim made from a subject position excluded by the hegemonic—policed—arrangement of legitimized speech situations.

that is. Without any illusions about arriving at a “point of collapse. insofar as we all have something at stake in what can’t be shared. that exceeds and implicates the narrator’s own subject position: . up against its own aporias. in order for it to activate its social potential for transforming its own conditions. however.” Century of Clouds models this narrativization. By way of this negative dialectic. and it is equally impossible to neglect the profound dimension of this factor. what Ernst Bloch refers to in The Utopian Function of Art and Literature as the “subjective factor. too. The material and historical weight of “the part with no part” has to achieve a certain kind of self-consciousness. . and common. its mobilizations of those contradictions . while believing that the world will eventually right itself (109). .” Bloch argues. in what our claims to particularity negate or derealize. its countermove against the bad existence. in what current conditions fail to acknowledge. on the one hand. for it to make an “anticipatory countermove” against the automatism of society’s “bad existence”—like Hegel’s “bad infinity”—a society which otherwise will go on reproducing its contradictions through normalized identities and naturalized values. at once local and global. insofar as the nonsite of the part with no part allegorizes a point on the horizon of another future which would not simply reproduce present conditions and in which we all might find ourselves transfigured. a way of accounting for exploitation and domination. its limits and contradictions. we can say that “the part with no part” converges with a universal lacking in positive representation just as the unspeakable marks the site of the common. as well as the ‘we’ that it attempts to mobilize.” For Bloch. that brings the narrating subject. this factor is necessary for any utopian potential to become insurgent. “without a subjective factor. which “Toward a Gay Theory” will go on to radicalize by proposing a set of concrete steps for community organizing. Overcoming the seemingly natural status quo hardened in those norms “is impossible to manage.110 J N T tive limit as to what can be accommodated by the whole. This subjectivization entails a certain narrativization of objective injustice. Following Rancière. Century of Clouds introduces a series of injustices. At its point of departure. Rancière suggests how the excluded part (the part with no part) corresponds paradoxically with a common world: common. in order to bring it to the point of collapse” (109).

in between spaces as my life moves outward” (7). Lives of women and gays oppressed in patriarchy. The sound of nearly silent bullets—and 9 black men are dead in Oakland from police assassination. Problems.Realism and Utopia There’s an explosion when I think these thoughts. in between spaces as my life moves outward. how to relate them to my life? How to link with experience and touches—only rarely—on my past? To tell about desiring too? Perhaps beginning to tell you stories. How to relate the most consequential of social phenomena. Racism. Century of Clouds situates its narrative work at the limit of what can be narrated. (4) 111 Although the work is unable to articulate itself fully in relation to these “large and public” thoughts. which has a constitutive role in what we can. some of which may seem remote and beyond the horizon of the visible? In raising these questions. not only to one another but to the narrating subject him or herself? How does one experience oneself in relation to these multiple violences. it nevertheless thematizes that inability upfront. A workers’ movement now bloody and sundered with wounds. Boone writes. forces which nevertheless situate the individual within a network stories that can’t be coherently unified and told. In response to the unanswerable questions. Letelier is being blown up in his car by the agents of Chilean reaction. While the narrator senses a whole set of relations that he can’t narrate directly. Daily violence done to workers. he will nevertheless . Some important friendships. This is how storytellers draw attention to what we can’t relate. Some important friendships. Questions. and it is precisely this non-narratable material—the real machinations of local and global hegemonies. “These thoughts are large and public. and the place of the narrating subject within them—that haunts the work in its entirety. poverty. Storytelling thus emerges as a strategy for answering an otherwise unanswerable need to locate oneself by way of social forces in excess of what can be experienced by any single individual. an inability to which the work of storytelling will attempt to respond. how to relate them to my life?” may be the most important question that Century of Clouds poses as it underscores the need to narrate the links between history writ large and one’s own story. “Perhaps beginning to tell you stories. These thoughts are large and public.

while making legible the exclusions upon which the seeming coherence of everything else depends.19 At the same time. neither as a way to deflect attention. and indirectly haunt. . . stories capable of registering the unnarratable material haunting its own substance—offers itself as a strategy of intervention as if in response to a second fundamental question addressed by Century of Clouds: “How is it possible to make a truly human social life for the first time?” (15). even in the tearoom. This future is a negatively common future. This strategy nourishes an insurgent subjectivity capable of linking multiple struggles in the interest of a common future. the narrator’s subjectivity.” the narrator writes. as he prepares to extemporize a critique of the MLG’s patriarchal assumptions and practices during the formal presentation of his work on O’Hara (63). and actually intervene in. as Hocquenghem argues— but rather around feelings and affects capable of activating a politics un- . the otherwise unnarratable relations that make that subjectivity what it is. As Rancière would read it. storytelling arguably becomes a vehicle for producing the subjectivity necessary to perceive. intervention as direct action into the material organization of community space and the dynamics that sustain it. but rather a future at the limit of what can be imagined and common only because the unimaginable can’t be shared. the insurgent effort to intervene is aesthetic in the same way that politics is aesthetic. Indeed. “Toward a Gay Theory” intervenes in this “distribution” from inside the gay community itself. nor to console. “I thought more and more of an intervention. Century of Clouds pivots on its own interventions. The narrative argues for intervention as the practical means for affecting change in community politics. both at the level of its subject matter and in its formal strategies. their radical energies contained and neutralized in social space.112 J N T tell stories about desire and friendship. because it participates in the production of the visible and sayable—“the distribution of the perceptible”— creating conditions of possibility for appearance. the narrative—a composite of stories about desire and friendship. however: not a realization of present conditions predicated on the illusions of universality or the uneven distribution of freedoms. but rather to register some aspect of those larger relations as they press themselves upon. I decided I would intervene. . addressing new forms of queer collectivity that would organize themselves not around sexual acts—since fluid acts turn so easily into hardened identities.

. As the embodied registration of sensation that often falls below the threshold of articulation—a wellspring of volatile social material whose meanings are irreducible to pre-coded qualities—affect invests the excluded body with its militant potential to exceed the organizational structures that frame it.” Instead. through homosexuality. and in each case. . . “What relations.” The manifesto begins with these aims in mind: What are the needs of gay men as we enter the 80s? . By extension. This has meant a narrowing of our concerns to relations in civil society as individuals. the sort of gay particularity advanced by “Toward a Gay Theory” aims beyond the limits of its own constituted subjectivity— beyond an affirmation of the “structure of feeling” that conditions its possibility20—insofar as these limits and the feelings attached to them are born of what Boone refers to as the “needs of capitalism itself. multiplied and modulated?” The problem is not to discover in oneself the truth of sex but rather to use sexuality henceforth to arrive at a multiplicity of relationships. And no doubt that’s the real reason why homosexuality is not a form of desire but something desirable. . As a result. The development towards which the problem of homosexuality tends is the one of friendship. gay demands have been reformist . As Foucault comments in a 1981 interview. “We have to work at becoming homosexuals and not be obstinate in recognizing that we are”: [One] thing to distrust is the tendency to relate the question of homosexuality to the problem of “Who am I?” and “What is the secret of my desire?” Perhaps it would be better to ask oneself.Realism and Utopia 113 fettered by identity’s essentializing logic. invented. . can be established. The focus of the gay movement up to the present has been nearly exclusively on gay rights. (203–204) Foucault helps to underscore the importance of friendship for New Narrative as both a political and a literary strategy. Boone wants to activate non-instrumental forms of relation by bringing “gay” demands to bear in transformative ways on “society as a whole. affect is critical.

the principal focus of our energies at present should be the ghetto itself. The ghetto is our community. and politics might intervene in the “spontaneous” expression of desires and needs in order to make the dominant social syntax perceptible as it connects these desires and needs to larger structures. spontaneity hews to immediately perceived forms of awareness. Similarly. as it informs all the others. gay language (including literature. What Boone refers to as the “ghetto” is an effect of the very spontaneity that he critiques. identity). reified stories.” As we see it. Boone subtitles one section of the manifesto. I. and the commodity form itself. (With an even more direct nod toward Lenin.114 J N T in nature. and therefore blocks access to an understanding of how larger structures mediate one’s perceptions. The critique of “spontaneity” derives from What Is To Be Done? in which V.”) So long as one remains faithful to “spontaneous” feelings. but it is also the only structure through which its own transformation might be activated. one loses sight of the web of interrelations that condition their appearance. Boone’s critique pushes against the grain of a spontaneous subjectivity whose mediating links remain either misunderstood or taken for granted. the question that New Narrative poses concerns how language. In other words. the actually existing real collectivity of gay men. “What is to be done? Some tasks that lie ahead. (1) A community’s needs may appear to emerge “spontaneously. .21 It is precisely these connections between seemingly disparate phenomena that Boone aims to articulate between community institutions (bars and baths). criticism. Lenin argues explicitly against the “subservience to spontaneity. just as it interferes with radical efforts to mobilize the working class (378). The consciousness of our movement as a movement is still a consciousness of “spontaneity.” For Lenin.” but they do so in a situation of unfreedom wherein “spontaneity” is the community’s path of least resistance toward its own organization. The gay movement continues to be shaped by single-issue causes and still has little long term sense of direction. and as such it is the only structure in and through which demands can be made and a consciousness developed which begins to transcend spontaneity. in other words.

commodified shape we are calling ‘the ghetto. and subjectivity that it harbors. the commodity form contains. Rather than the commodity form per se.’ Positive and utopian aspects of community only exist for today as commodified” (3). the occlusions of history. and where stimulation and containment become literalized.22 Porn arouses a utopian edge as narrative. it is germane to any discussion of New Narrative generally. however. as well as its manner of tethering individual and collective desires to the needs of “capitalism itself. It may sound like a ruthless formulation. “For gay men. and community converge at their marketable extreme before exhausting themselves. sense. an objective or utopian content that remains in contradiction to those needs” (1). is a model of community suspended between two utopias: that of a practical politics on the one hand and that of a limitless abandonment to its own impossibility on the other. The commodification endemic to the ghetto finds a threshold in pornography. What emerges in Boone’s work. but as is the case in all his works from the MLG period. As Boone notes. or encloses. At the same time. commodity. Within the framework of these goals. which offers a useful limit case where utopian energies are most exaggerated. the first of which would be “to historicize our community and see it as a formation of the needs of capitalism itself. hemorrhaging in an excess at once produced and recuperated by a market. “community” becomes a potential to be activated rather than a form of social organization to be prescribed or an experience to be expressed. then. the radical potential of the desires that it stimulates. with. While Boone doesn’t address pornography explicitly here. Boone aims to unsettle the spontaneous needs of the collectivity by stimulating the “objective or utopian content that remains in contradiction with those needs” so as to transform those needs beyond the limits of reform. Boone takes aim at its social logic. this community takes on the contradictory. where the potential for non-reified forms of social life has been trapped within reification itself.” whose unchecked expansion makes the production of new subjectivities essential for the growth of new markets and new consumers. much in the way a factory encloses the radical potential of human cooperation that en- .Realism and Utopia 115 how might new relations between affect and structure actually feel? And how might we represent them? Boone goes on to articulate several goals that would surpass the spontaneous narrative of group formation.

the distortions most characteristic in our community also hold.” (4). but in these forms we will read its oppositional content” (65. . aspects of ghetto life. why not unions in bars?—“The bars. “are in actuality inseparable from deformations in community life” (3). the deepest promise for new utopian social forms” echoes Boone’s analysis of gay language in his O’Hara essay: “The language of an oppressed group in such circumstances tends to become a coded language—whose opposition is expressed in a ‘deformed’ or distorted fashion. “it tends to be more and more production as a code of representation rather than a particular commodity product that is consumed” (1). emphasis original). while nonetheless invoking them. “Toward a Gay Theory” poses the practical question: why not unions instead of bars? Or better still. Moving beyond the specific problems of language and narrative. Gay men. the bathhouses etc. they inevitably contain the potential for alternative relations.” Boone writes. capitalism is forced to create something like a set of specialists or experts in sign production. Boone goes on to emphasize: late capitalism in its consumer society phase is marked by an emphasis on the sign function of commodities and on the power of the sign commodities to create an autonomous meaning system by more and more referring only to other signs or each other. . “these positive. The manifesto’s dialectical appreciation of how “the deformations of the gay ghetto . .” he writes. would be something like the specialized group in . As presently lived. aspects of these institutions. however. from another point of view. . . in the manner of a good dialectician. In order to accomplish this shift. . But the problem extends beyond these familiar forms of organization. . and gay community. The consciousness of the oppressed group will be expressed only in distorted forms.116 J N T ables the production of surplus value. ought to be unionized in stages with great stress laid on the questions that have to do with the specifically gay. and Boone is sensitive to the profound shifts in socio-economic production characteristic of late capitalism: “In advanced capitalist societies. . There always exist within the commodity the latent quanta of living labor waiting to be unleashed for modes of commodious social being that don’t accord with capital’s own logic. utopian. in this way of thinking. Even when spontaneous expressive forms are unwittingly complicit with dominant needs for policing social orders.

23 If. like the old satanic figure of the Ouroboros. to produce signs.Realism and Utopia late capitalism that functions as general producers of signs. but it’s an exaggeration that harbors a kernel of truth and resonates as critique. New Narrative thus becomes a critical modality through which Boone’s gay theory for the 80s may be lived as part of a multi-faceted effort to confront the influence of social power on the encounter of voices. while vigilantly—if not . as Jameson argues in “Reification and Utopia. and if reification. a critique germane to New Narrative and its effort to intervene in the otherwise spontaneous production of signs.’” free-floating affects which permeate a narrative while escaping easy identification. marshaling narrative’s productivity in a critical dialectic of construction and expression. It does this without disavowing how writing is itself always implicated in power and ideology. critique. to use capitalism’s own metaphor. According to Jameson. only register the latter’s effects (13). at best. or disgust. skepticism. Boone’s approach to the interdependence of narrative. however.” then any aesthetic resistance to reification’s omnivorous force can. or the same resistant forms may draw attention to those tones and affects with irony. or the occlusion of real social relations.” a perverse kind of autonomy in which. Boone may indulge an exaggeration. the aesthetic forms most resistant to the commodity may stubbornly refuse to reproduce what he calls “quasi-material ‘feeling tone[s]. the immaterial material of subjectivity itself. (1) 117 In his consignment of the gay subject to what sounds like a total suspension of agency and a passive position in its own self-making. We are produced. details which get pressed into the service of transforming “the transparent flow of language as much as possible into material images and objects we can consume.” consumer society has indeed reduced everything to the “means for its own consumption. including narrative. as it anticipates new modes of agency in the production and circulation of affects otherwise passively consumed and sutured to a dominant “structure of feeling”—implying a whole system of social organization—upon which the seeming spontaneity of our emotional lives depends. and manifesto offers a critical alternative. head eats tail in an endless cycle of autophagy. has effectively penetrated every detail of a social composition.

insofar as Abbott conscientiously makes these tensions legible as an editor.” Rather than the scene of ongoing antagonism. Poetics Journal published its fifth issue in 1985 under the sign of “Non/Narrative. Notes 1. through identity politics and the AIDS crisis. New Narrative aimed to catalyze another future. Soup 2 was the New Narrative issue. especially if one reads the second issue of Soup magazine as the movement’s inaugural moment. among other writers. see Kaplan Harris’ recent essay “New Narrative and the Making of Language Poetry. which was in its heroic period in the seventies” (25–26). helps to reconcile many of these amplified tensions by demonstrating the deep 2. and Acker. New Narrative writers and Language poets alike make the case for moving beyond commonsense assumptions about narrative structures as closed forms. running four issues between 1980 and 1985. At its inception. I also have to talk about Language Poetry. just as Language writing exceeds its anti-narrative characterization. I address Abbott’s editorial work in “Restoring ‘China. one where all the utopian energies contained by the gay community and by commodity culture alike would find a very different form of social expression in a revolutionized world. 4. and it included work by Boone. 3. among other things. without abandoning narrative tout court. 5. Language writing.118 J N T militantly—insisting that writing do more than simply scrutinize these imponderables. For an important corrective to their presumed opposition. For a sustained engagement with Soup. . around which post-Gay Liberation activism would reorganize itself. low-tech magazine. in part. edited by Abbott. New Narrative proposed a critical response to Language writing.’” Glück refers specifically to Language writing in “Long Note on New Narrative”: “To talk about New Narrative. and Fredric Jameson. Yet New Narrative exceeds its own polemical intervention. On the evening of a darkening era that would soon be experienced.” which. see Rob Halpern’s “Restoring ‘China. Glück. Soup was a San Francisco-based. the issue registers convergence and collaboration as propositions and questions resonate across softened divides.’” The aftermath of the so-called poetry wars witnesses various forms of rapprochement.

it ruins itself in an undefined throng of possible existences. For a reading of Language writing’s relationship to 1960s cultural politics. In his afterword to the Nightboat Books edition. As Benjamin Noys notes. In Black Skin. and stories” that are not one’s own.’ inner experience becomes the experience of community” (51). . “Your text could not begin until others were able to start loving and hating you on account of it” (Century 50). 12. such as these narratives of someone’s past.Realism and Utopia 119 camaraderie and shared values among writers associated with both groups. In yet another register.” 13. Boone’s argument tacitly challenges as well . As Boone writes.” goes unnamed. It’s an image for the transient. Fanon draws attention to a critical strain between his “body schema”—“a slow construction of my self as a body in a spatial and temporal world”—and a “historical racial schema” existing in a spatio-temporal torque somewhere “beneath” or inside the body. is thrown outside itself.’ In the ruins of the subject in ‘an undefined throng of possible existences. the body’s distortion—its separation from itself in the gulf between phenomenological and historical “schemas”—is an effect of the alienation of “anecdotes and stories” within an oppressed community and whose result is a shockingly coherent. New Narrative also aims to stimulate real effects in community life by way of gossip and scandal. emphasis added). although dissociated. . White Masks. Boone writes. see Barrett Watten’s “The Turn to Language and the 1960s. For an analysis of affective ambivalence. 9. of ethnicity. for what passes” (87). The phrase is Benjamin’s: “No event any longer comes to us without already being shot through with explanation” (89. comprised of “a thousand details. “Un Fantôme de Nuées. “The effect of communication for Bataille is that the individual ‘as subject. to keep a running commentary on themselves—the metatext that is spoken from the present—while onstage appear conventional anecdotes. image (91). for instance. 8. The poem. 10. In other words. 11. “The name ‘Century of Clouds’ comes from an Apollinaire poem. beyond itself.” 6. . Boone introduces this idea when discussing the political dimension of the narrative function in Glück’s poems: “They find it satisfying. determining the limits of real mobility. anecdotes. but are rather absorbed through the dominant structuring of the world. and family life” (30). see Paolo Virno’s “The Ambivalence of Disenchantment. While explicitly challenging Vendler. 7. and the Free Speech Movement in particular.

the Queer Futures issue of Radical History Review. . . See Jameson’s A Singular Modernity: “I would want to press for an even stronger formal conclusion. . Boone refers directly to Hocquenghem. 20. Puar’s Terrorist Assemblages: Homonationalism in Queer Times. Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore. It has discovered forms of oppression even among the forms of struggle. and That’s Revolting: Queer Strategies for Resisting Assimilation. ed. . . no chance of a peaceful coexistence between the gay movement and the more traditional forms of politics” (136. 15. and not simply condemn them as ‘commodified’” (3).120 J N T Susan Sontag’s argument in “Notes on Camp” that gay language is apolitical and that “if homosexuals hadn’t more or less invented Camp. . See Jasbir K. 18.” 16. 14. There is no innocent association between the two worlds. . “Martin” also appears in Glück’s story “Violence” in Elements of a Coffee Service (90). for example—based on the ease with which Neoliberalism accommodates nontraditional forms of social organization in the interest of all groups’ unhindered access to capital. Nealon’s “Camp Messianism. Hocquenghem argues for “the special characteristic of the homosexual intervention to make what is private—sexuality’s little secret—intervene in public. . paraphrasing this work in “Toward a Gay Theory”: “If [the ghetto] is a place for the satisfaction of sexual and social needs. it’s time to ask about the positive nature of these satisfactions. 17. Glück has confirmed by email that “Martin” is based on Jameson. I address the problem of use value and exchange value in relation to poetic form at length in my essay “Baudelaire’s ‘Dark Zone’: The Poème en prose as Social Hieroglyph. someone else would” (291). 131). See Christopher S.” which addresses this potential in a remarkable way with respect to late twentieth-century poetry. in social organization”: “By no means the least of the functions of the gay movement is to confront the confrontation movement itself with the abolition of the difference between public and private. Boone anticipates current critiques of the consonance between Neoliberalism and contemporary struggles for gay rights—marriage equality. 19. . In Homosexual Desire. Raymond Williams’ conceptualization of “structures of feeling” shows how the reproduction of capitalism takes place even at the level of feeling itself—including the per- . namely that the very refusal and repudiation of narrative calls up a kind of narrative return of the repressed and tends in spite of itself to justify its antinarrative position by way of yet another narrative the argument has every interest in decently concealing” (5–6).

see Earl Jackson. Black Star.” Self-published pamphlet. Among other works. Bruce. “Toward a Gay Theory for the 80s. . Walter. Hannah Arendt.” Social Text 1 (1979): 59–92. 1981. Trans. Steve. Bruce. The Utopian Function of Art and Literature. Jack Zipes and Frank Mecklenberg. more recently. 22. Benjamin. ——— . 1980. 1981. San Francisco: Black Star. 21. 1979. In elaborating the link between an emergent gay subjectivity and a particular kind of producer/consumer. Inner Experience. 1988. Special issue of Soup 2 (1981): 1. Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri’s Commonwealth. “Scandalous Narratives” (180–84) and Glück’s own discussion of pornography in “Caricature. Albany: SUNY. Trans.” Afterward of Family Poems by Robert Glück. For an excellent reading of New Narrative and pornography. Jr. see Virno’s Grammar of the Multitude and. 1968. New York: Schocken. Bloch. Century of Clouds. Ernst. 2010. Harry Zohn. ——— . bodies. “Gay Language as Political Praxis: The Poetry of Frank O’Hara. “Remarks on Narrative: The Example of Robert Glück’s Poetry. Ed. San Francisco. 1979. San Francisco: Hoddypoll. and Robert Glück. Leslie Anne Boldt. Trans. New York: Nightboat. Century of Clouds. and feelings. Boone. My Walk with Bob. Introduction. San Francisco: Black Star. 29–32. as well as the commodification language. New Narrative.” Illuminations. ——— ..” 23. Bataille. 83–107. Georges. ——— . see Georg Lukács’ Defense (79–80). ——— . Works Cited Abbott.Realism and Utopia 121 ception of need—thus rendering affect a critical site for political intervention (128–35). 1988. For a useful reading of Lenin on spontaneity. Boone. Afterward. “‘The Storyteller’: Reflections on the Work of Nikolai Leskov. Cambridge: MIT. Boone anticipates a whole theory of affective labor—“sign production”—and contemporary struggles over the production of subjectivity itself. La Fontaine.

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