Notes and queeries vol XXY

The concept of "queer" is gaining public attention in the past few years. It may have been around since the 1980s.

I first heard about it in an informal academic seminar in the mid-90s. Somebody had been to a U.S. (where else?) conference and reported some ravings about it. I think I heard the name Judith Butler mentioned. The concept seemed rather vague. Something about transgressing norms and boundaries, remixing cultural categories yada yada. I also got the feeling that those using it thought it had some liberation value. As a program. Almost a new norm...

To me it also appeared those liking this concept/way of thinking, felt it was about themselves. Quite common in social science, to start from one's own experiences, including frustrations and even suffering. Not in itself bad, but if it steers too much whatever models, theories etc one follows or even creates, it becomes not the best science.

Being a life-long trouble maker (not by intention, I just can't help myself) i did make up some jokes after the seminar about this queer thing. I only remember one. It went something like this:

Ten social scientists situated in a seminar room discussing culture.
Nine of them proudly declare they are queer, having liberated their thinking (and maybe even personhood) from restraining categories and everyday norms.
The tenth says: "I am not queer".
The other nine exclaim: "Deviant!"

I soon forgot about the queer ideation, and I also left academia quite soon thereafter, iirc. Not due to the seminar, but I am glad I got away from that world. It was many years later I read about queer again. However, in the public debate in Sweden it became "norm critical", a stupid concept that I was fed up with probably 15-20 years ago. Can still hear it occasionally, and the user is either a manipulative propagandist, or an idiot. Pretentious and self-centered. It was just recently I realised norm-critical is queer. I mostly try to ignore such mindbogs, although it can be mildly entertaining.

It is somehow heroic to be critical of "norms" and transgress them. It's not nihilism, as they want their own norms implemented. But it is certainly moral relativism serving their wishes for how life should be. They seem to have inherited the problems built into relativism.

The main problem with queer and norm critical is mainly not that it is bad science or illogical ideology, but that the proponents are often quite aggressive. At least in Sweden, the norm critics/transgressors accuse "society" or "culture" for oppressing and that queering is enlightenment and liberation. A sort of cultural critique. Ironically they often expect the tax payer (which they often call "society") to finance their "critique". Government helps liberation sort of guys and gals.

There is a lot of critique these days about qveer and it's nasty products. I do not read a lot about it, I mostly wrote this as a memory of my first meeting with it, and I think instinctively felt the nonsense even back then. The best analysis I heard of it so far is from James Lindsay's podcast New Discourses Episode 113 - The Queer Gnostic Cult. It is almost four hours, and it is very well done! Gnosticism is something that seems to refuse to die. I've seen it pointed out in several contexts, but this is the most thorough analysis I've heard or read so far. Lindsay is an agnostic, which makes his analysis extra interesting, as most critiques I've heard have been from Christians. Not surprising in itself, they've been fighting it for almost twenty centuries.

This post's been on my mind for a long time, and have not had energy nor time nor mood to blog anything for quite some time. But Lindsay's podcast kind of pushed me to do it. Anything idiotic here is mine alone ofc 🙂 I do not think I have much more energy to discuss it further. But, keeping an eye on gnosticism can be quite revealing.