No Future: Queer Theory and the Death Drive

In this searing polemic, Lee Edelman outlines a radically uncompromising new ethics of queer theory His main target is the all pervasive figure of the child, which he reads as the linchpin of our universal politics of reproductive futurism Edelman argues that the child, understood as innocence in need of protection, represents the possibility of the future against whicIn this searing polemic, Lee Edelman outlines a radically uncompromising new ethics of queer theory His main target is the all pervasive figure of the child, which he reads as the linchpin of our universal politics of reproductive futurism Edelman argues that the child, understood as innocence in need of protection, represents the possibility of the future against which the queer is positioned as the embodiment of a relentlessly narcissistic, antisocial, and future negating drive He boldly insists that the efficacy of queerness lies in its very willingness to embrace this refusal of the social and political order In No Future, Edelman urges queers to abandon the stance of accommodation and accede to their status as figures for the force of a negativity that he links with irony, jouissance, and, ultimately, the death drive itself.Closely engaging with literary texts, Edelman makes a compelling case for imagining Scrooge without Tiny Tim and Silas Marner without little Eppie Looking to Alfred Hitchcock s films, he embraces two of the director s most notorious creations the sadistic Leonard of North by Northwest, who steps on the hand that holds the couple precariously above the abyss, and the terrifying title figures of The Birds, with their predilection for children Edelman enlarges the reach of contemporary psychoanalytic theory as he brings it to bear not only on works of literature and film but also on such current political flashpoints as gay marriage and gay parenting Throwing down the theoretical gauntlet, No Future reimagines queerness with a passion certain to spark an equally impassioned debate among its readers.
No Future Queer Theory and the Death Drive In this searing polemic Lee Edelman outlines a radically uncompromising new ethics of queer theory His main target is the all pervasive figure of the child which he reads as the linchpin of our univ

  • Title: No Future: Queer Theory and the Death Drive
  • Author: Lee Edelman Michele Ainabarale
  • ISBN: 9780822333692
  • Page: 483
  • Format: Paperback
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    1 thought on “No Future: Queer Theory and the Death Drive”

    1. This was one of the worst books of queer theory I have ever read. It manages to talk about queer theory without talking about ANY real queers! It analyzes Hitchcock films and talks (densely) about how gay people pose a symbolic threat to society because they don't breed. Except that gay people do breed. Bisexual people have kids all the time with different gendered partners. Trans men get pregnant and trans women donate sperm. One in three lesbian couples have kids, and one in six gay couples do [...]

    2. Sounds way too much like a bouggie gay white man who simply hates children. And the figure of the child edelman contends with is always always white: his 'theory' cannot account for the signs emitted by the child of difference - he has nothing to say, for instance, about what the black child may signify, let alone a queer/non-normative/differently abled/'foreign' child not all children signify the future in the same way

    3. It is interesting to read the comments on this book. It seems that on the one hand there are people who have no idea what he is talking about and are critiquing the book on an entirely different plane than it operates. On the other hand there is a way to read the book un-critically that leads to pretty banal conclusions (being a gym-bunny or circuit queen or something). The book is enjoyable in a lot of senses, but kind of in spite of itself. For anyone interested in reading this, I'd recommend [...]

    4. "Fuck the social order and the Child in whose name we're collectively terrorized; fuck Annie; fuck the waif from Les Mis; fuck the poor, innocent kid on the Net; fuck Laws both with capital ls and with small; fuck the whole network of Symbolic relations and the future that serves as its prop."

    5. This pretensious constipation of lit theory was assigned to compliment our reading of Macbeth. For our weekly written reflection I once again stuck with one of my outlandish in-class conjectures -- the “Macbeth is impotent” hypothesis -- but only because I felt encouraged by Dr. Lee “Run-on-Sentences-Don’t-Apply-to-Me” Edelman and his preoccupations with reproductive imperatives and death drives:If Edelman’s theory is to be believed, our political model is essentially conservative in [...]

    6. This was kind of less out-there than I was expecting. A lot of reviewers seem to think that Edelman hates children or something, which I don't think is the case; I interpreted his thesis as saying that the figure of the Child for whom the future must be preserved has its problems. I also think he spends a bit too much time on Hitchcock, and I would have liked to see him address the fairly recent mainstreaming of the queer family, particularly within the context of the debate over gay marriage an [...]

    7. "Fuck the social order and the Child in whose name we're collectively terrorized; fuck Annie; fuck the waif from Les Mis; fuck the poor, innocent kid on the Net; fuck Laws both with capital ls and with small; fuck the whole network of Symbolic relations and the future that serves as its prop."Lee Edelman's text has been described (on the back of the book, no less) as a "searing polemic," and it certainly is that. But, it is not as if Edelman offers here some sort of positivist argument for how o [...]

    8. This is a really interesting book on queer theory, which establishes an adversarial relationship between the sinthomosexual (distinct for the homosexual as sexual category) and the mythos of reproductive futurism. Edelman posits The Child (distinct from a child or children) as the central figure of political authority for both the Left and the Right, each of which are concerned with the creation of a never-realizable future good. Edelman posits the sinthomosexual--a figure not defined by sexual [...]

    9. Okay. SO. I'm FINALLY free from this book.I actually finished this late last night but decided to sleep and have breakfast and do some other perfunctory things before I actually wrote a review. I'll be honest, I was a bit conflicted, and thought about giving this 3/5, since this is a deeply academic book that one probably shouldn't rate based purely on how much you enjoyed it (I didn't) or even PURELY on how much you agree with it (I don't).Generally, I think that Edelman presents an argument th [...]

    10. I had to read this book for a graduate course on queer theory and deliver a lecture on the contents. I read the book. We'll see how the lecture goes.Edelman here offers a queer anti-ethic, a searing polemic against the construct of the Child which represents reproductive futurisms endless parody of the past. He makes his argument using in depth queer analyses of Dickens and Hitchcock. All of this sounds right up my alley for the most part.But he also uses a lot of Lacan. And a lot of dense langu [...]

    11. In No Future (2004), Lee Edelman argues that the dominant political discourse is one of "reproductive futurism," which takes the child and heteronormativity as its commonplaces. Queerness figures outside this political regime, "the place of . . . abjection expressed in the stigma" (3). The social is defined and limited by "the image of the Child" (not real, living children) by structuring our political discourse (11). Threats to the reproductive order are seen as threats to the social order (11) [...]

    12. yet another 'poststucturalist' attack on historicity, this time in the name of an anarcho-queer non-futurism. this one, however, has more to offer than most: an excellent 'deconstruction' of cult-of-the-child ideology and heteronormativity (here called 'reproductive futurism'); searing indictment of institutionalized homophobia in american politics and culture; persuasive coinage of 'sinthomosexuality' to describe cultural figuration of the queer as death drive; lucid application of lacanian the [...]

    13. Thought provoking. I applaud him for his forthright critique, and agree with his argument about the futurity invested in the figure of the Child insofar as it engenders a normative field which we are expected to subscribe to. And yet, I find that his rejection of meaning or signification needs to be more refined. I think that what is fundamentally lacking in this book is a vision of ethics to accompany his line of thinking. I'd like to think that there is an ethical dimension to being intelligib [...]

    14. 1. this man's punnery is unparalleled2. my anxiety disorder has begun speaking to me in the voice of lee edelman3. the entire last chapter is about hitchcock's the birds im SCREAMING

    15. Compared to what I'm used to reading (lookin' at you, Judith Butler), Edelman's writing is great: lively, full of jargon and full of puns, embracing pathos and the various uses of "fuck," and contextualizing psychoanalytic theory with both examples and analysis of everyday rhetoric (news op eds and a pope's speech, for instance) as well as analysis of literature and film. As far as the content: as a theory, it's true to itself, meaning it refuses to offer hope, any kind of groundwork or source o [...]

    16. Lee Edelman’s prose can be difficult to read. In part this is because much of his argument draws from Lacan, and I find that when scholars let Lacanian terminology give shape to their sentence structure, the end result is a price of writing that can be somewhat esoteric and requires time to carefully parse out. This said, No Future does have its redeeming qualities, specifically framed around the central metaphor of The Child and the sinthohomosexual. The first is the byproduct of heterosexual [...]

    17. “For the cult of the Child permits no shrines to the queerness of boys and girls, since queerness…is understood as bringing children and childhood to the end” The first chapter of this is really great and worth a read - the rest of it feels like a slog unless you have an in depth understanding of Lacan (which I really definitely do not). Would have liked less of a Hitchcock focus as well - kind of felt like a struggle to find examples and I think expanding on ideas of Voldemort would actua [...]

    18. Great analysis of the specter of child corruption in straight politics, but a very Freudian idea of the Death Drive that recapitulates queerness as an unknown monster lurking beyond the boundaries of civilization. Reminiscent of Leo Bersani's "Is the Anus a Grave?" which is just too much Freudian nonsense for me to really take seriously. Could have been better with an analysis of racial and transgender bodies.

    19. Interesting argument. Not sure if I am completely convinced, but it gave me a lot to think about. Edelman clearly is quite pleased with himself as a writer and I'm still deciding if I enjoyed how clever he was/tried to be or if it was more of a turn off.

    20. A challenging, interesting read. This would be a difficult text to read without a solid understanding of Lacanian psychoanalytic theory.

    21. I sometimes had trouble getting through the somewhat masturbatory cleverness of his writing, and the metaphors felt a little muddied from time to time, but all in all I highly enjoyed it.

    22. Brief summary of the book: "Fuck the social order and the Child in whose name we're collectively terrorized; fuck Annie; fuck the waif from Les Mis; fuck the poor, innocent kid on the Net; fuck Laws both with capital ls and with small; fuck the whole network of Symbolic relations and the future that serves as its prop."Less brief summary (caveat: I am not super well versed in queer theory) Going by the reviews already here, it might be useful to point out what the book isn't about. The book isn' [...]

    23. This book is as difficult to summarize as it is dense, but at its heart it is an argument against the too easily accepted faith society has in reproduction, the idea of the Child, and (what others might call) the heterosexual matrix. Like most psychoanalytic theorists, Edelman is verbose and at times hard to grasp. That being said, it is true that I don't have the level of familiarity with psychoanalytic theory Edelman's intended audience is supposed to have, so the fault might not so much be in [...]

    24. i'm not sure what dude's deal is. reading this makes you wonder what kind of a person he actually is. someone who sits around thinking about hitchcock movies and dickens novels i mean. somewhat much as he posits queer fucking as a prophylaxis to future, it is distinctly a western continental futurity he appears concerned with. i guess people have thought about the lively exchange between this and munoz's book, but there is still a lot left open around this notion of what a queer intervention on [...]

    25. Even as a child, I was never terribly fond of other children. I could come to tolerate, or even to like a select few upon getting to know them, but beyond their existence as individuals, children always, to me, symbolized the precise opposite of their usual role as figures of sublime innocence. Even now, well into adulthood, the idea of reproduction repulses me as much as ever. I have found no more sympathy for this within the queer community than I have within the straight community. Queers tod [...]

    26. Edelman's analysis and writing in NO FUTURE are both top rate. Balancing the theoretical, literary/cinematic and political, about evenly, Edelman manages to demonstrate how each relates to the others. The theoretical portions can get dense, and may assume prior knowledge of the theorists he discusses; however, the applied portions are clear and convincing. He might have given more explanation as to why the particular literary and cinematic works he chose should be considered definitive of how qu [...]

    27. Buarffff. I think I decided to read this because some excerpt from it was the first reading for a Queer Theory Reading Group I was considering joining (but uh, didn't). Also the cover is AWESOME. However, it's basically just 4 jerkish (pseudo?)-academic articles full of made up words. Some of the points he's making about the facism of futurity I kind of get -- sure, progress for progress's sake can be pretty ridiculous -- but he trafficked so in angry extremes (and in unnecessarily hoity-toity l [...]

    28. For someone not particularly versed in queer theory or Lacan, I had a bit of trouble navigating some of the finer points of this book, but I do enjoy aggressive polemicals and that's what this is. And I can understand why some would not like this book -- the writing does spin in theoretical circles at times (at least for me) and Edelman sometimes likes language too much (esp. puns and post-structuralist lingo). But if you can get past that, he has some fine readings of literature and film that a [...]

    29. Started out agreeing with Edelman's broadest point re the outsize influence of imaginary children in what he terms the 'reproductive futurity' of American political discourse. Then became more and more frustrated as Edelman's allusions to the Third Reich and appeals to psychoanalytical authority piled up. Rhetorically despicable, a little old-fashioned and entirely too pleased with its own high-brow tawdriness. Also, many points lost for working in a theoretical idiom so indebted to structural a [...]

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