A Time for the Humanities: Futurity and the Limits of Autonomy

By James J. Bono; Tim Dean et al. | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 8
An Impossible Embrace:
Queerness, Futurity,
and the Death Drive

Tim Dean

History is the concrete body of becoming; with its moments of in-
tensity, its lapses, its extended periods of feverish agitation, its faint-
ing spells; and only a metaphysician would seek its soul in the distant
ideality of the origin.1

MICHEL FOUCAULT

Is every vision of the future heteronormative? Must our thinking of futurity necessarily occur within a reproductive framework that imagines the future as a figurative child born from the union of past and present, thereby installing covertly heterosexist assumptions at the heart of any conception of temporality? Motivated by concerns about the normalizing implications embedded in received accounts of history, temporality, and futurity, research in queer theory lately has formulated such questions anew. In the wake of Nietzsche’s genealogical critique of historiography, we are inclined to adopt an attitude of profound skepticism toward any historical narrative organized around

Thanks to Robert Caserio for initiating this essay through an invitation to
present on his 2005 MLA convention panel, “The Antisocial Thesis in Queer
Theory”; thanks to Teresa de Lauretis and David Marriott for inviting me
to Santa Cruz to answer directly Edelman’s argument in their Research Unit
on Psychoanalysis and Sexuality; thanks to my coeditors, Ewa Ziarek and Jim
Bono, for urging me to transform the Santa Cruz lecture into an article, and
for their judicious assistance in the labor of transformation; thanks to Steven
Miller and Mikko Tuhkanen for discussion of these issues and the inspiration
of their own work. A redaction of my MLA paper appeared as “The Antisocial
Homosexual,” PMLA 121:3 (2006): 826–828.

-122-

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