My theoretical, political, aesthetic affiliations: narratives of origin and Native/Indigenous survivance, rocks and other inhumans, mining and resource extraction, settler colonialism, decolonization, the queerness of home.
Essay in Tin House (March 2017)
Freud asks us to believe in something rather profound, that "inanimate things existed before living ones." Animacy owes its very existence to its counterpart. Maybe this explains how, in that first month after my concussion, I fell in love with my couch. I do not mean my couch was a fetish, a substitute love object. I mean I fell in love with the couch in all of its couchiness.
Essay in ISLE: Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and the Environment (March 2017)
This essay argues racism is an environmental crisis that demands an engagement with, an attentiveness to, histories of white supremacy and appropriation. I confront two of the most pressing crises of our moment, in which the automobile rests at the center: climate change, and police killing African Americans.
Charged Rocks, Electric Life
Published in Avidly, a channel of the Los Angeles Review of Books
I’m interested in what we do with the apocalyptic narratives facing us: how do we not give up, or give in to the affective weight of ecological crisis? And what do we miss in these scenarios where it seems all hope is lost? This is as much a question for literary critics as it is for climate scientists.
Fracking and the Art of Subtext
Published in The Philosophical Salon, a channel of the Los Angeles Review of Books.
I’m trying to pry apart the deep paradox at play here: the culture that banks our energy futures on deep rock and subterranean extraction also gives us standardized testing in public schools that trains students to be excavators of “meaning.” At the very same time that humanities programs are asked to be more streamlined and branded, when we’re prompted to justify our existence numerically and many of our students assume that the study of literature must possess value (economic, quantifiable) to be worthy of their own time and energy, energy extraction becomes more elusive and imaginary.
Fracking and the Art of Subtext
Reprinted for The Philosophical Salon: Speculations, Reflections, Interventions.
From the publisher's site: Through the interpretative lens of today’s leading thinkers, The Philosophical Salon illuminates the persistent intellectual queries and the most disquieting concerns of our actuality. On the cutting edge of philosophy, political and literary theory, and aesthetics, this book courageously tackles a wide array of topics, including climate change, the role of technology, reproductive rights, the problem of refugees, the task of the university, political extremism, embodiment, utopia, food ethics, and sexual identity. It is an enduring record of an ongoing conversation, as well as a building block for any attempt to make sense of our world’s multifaceted realities.
Contributors: Robert Albritton, Linda Martín Alcoff, Claudia Baracchi, Geoffrey Bennington, Jay M. Bernstein, Costica Bradatan, Jill Casid, David Castillo, Antonio Cerella, Anna Charlton, Claire Colebrook, Sarah Conly, Nikita Dhawan, William Egginton, Roberto Esposito, Mihail Evans, Gary Francione, Luis Garagalza, Michael Gillespie, Michael Hauskeller, Ágnes Heller, Daniel Innerarity, Jacob Kiernan, Julia Kristeva, Daniel Kunitz, Susanna Lindberg, Jeff Love, Michael Marder, Todd May, Michael Meng, John Milbank, Warren Montag, T. M. Murray, Jean-Luc Nancy, Kelly Oliver, Adrian Pabst, Martha Patterson, Richard Polt, Gabriel Rockhill, Hasana Sharp, Doris Sommer, Gayatri Spivak, Kara Thompson, Patrícia Vieira, Slavoj Žižek.
Blankets, the Original Viral Media
Published in the Atlantic online.
The blanket covers, but it cannot conceal -- even a blanket covering a body conceals one surface only to expose another, the blanket itself.
Imagination and Survivance
Written for Jim Denomie's exhibition at the Nemeth Art Center in Park Rapids, Minnesota.
Jim Denomie’s tableaux are jammed with narratives—spaces, times, and characters—and words are not meant to explain or make them into something coherent and knowable, because to do so would be to make the visual text surrender when it needs to do everything but.
Review of Queer Indigenous Studies: Critical Interventions in Theory, Politics, and Literature for GLQ
Ultimately, I was taken with the editors’ claim, borrowing a term from Joy Harjo, that this book is an imagining, an emergence story. To believe in the imagination might be one of the queerest acts we could perform as scholars and activists.
Avatars of 9/11
Co-written with Christopher Schaberg. Published in Reconstruction for the special issue "Cultural Productions of 9/11" featuring Caren Kaplan, Wendy Kozol, and Scott Shershow.
While Avatar is indisputably different and seemingly less relevant than Osama bin Laden’s death, and while airport security is one of many banal reminders of the long shadow of “the war on terror,” we are interested in how such events actually signify—or not—a transformation, the consecration of “9/11.” We reflect on how mundane entertainment becomes spectacular, how the monumental becomes normalized, and how national security and individual sacrifice are caught in an awkward bind.