[the queer movement] made itself alert to the invidiousness of any institution, like marriage, that is designed to reward those inside it and to punish those outside it: adulterers, prostitutes, divorcees, the promiscuous, single people, unwed parents, those below the age of consent—in short, all those who become, for the purposes of marriage law, queer. (89)
michael warner, the trouble with normal, 1999
from adam phillips, monogamy
Infidelity is as much about the drama of truth-telling as it is about the drama of sexuality. It is only because of sexuality that we think about truth at all; that we find honesty and kindness at odds with each other. The successful lie creates an unnerving freedom. It shows us that it is possible for no one to know what we are doing. The poor lie—the wish to be found—reveals our fear about what we can do with words. Lying, in other words, is not so much a way of keeping our options open, but of finding out what they are. Fear of infidelity is fear of language.
from Jacqueline Rose, “What more could we want of ourselves!,” a review of The Letters of Rosa Luxemburg in London Review of Books
For psychoanalysis, it is axiomatic that our conscious utterances betray us: something always escapes. There is a point, Freud wrote in The Interpretation of Dreams, where all dreams plunge irretrievably into the unknown. The only chance of even getting close is to let the mind drift where it will. ‘The dream-thoughts to which we are led by interpretation,’ he wrote, ‘cannot, from the nature of things, have any definite endings; they are bound to branch out in every direction into the intricate network of our world of thought.’ Like revolution or the mass strike, we might say. This is Luxemburg: ‘It flows now like a broad billow over the whole kingdom, and now divides into a gigantic network of narrow streams; now it bubbles forth from under the ground like a fresh spring and now is completely lost under the earth.’
Which is why Freud’s only instruction to patients – the sacrosanct but some would say increasingly neglected founding principle of analysis – was to free-associate, to say whatever, however strange and unpredictable, came into their heads. For Freud the ungraspable nature of the human mind summoned up the necessity of freedom. ‘The method of free association,’ Christopher Bollas writes, ‘subverts the psychoanalyst’s natural authoritarian tendencies.’ It is a new method of thinking, he continues, which unleashes the ‘disseminating possibilities that open to infinity’. Infinity as infinity (the universe with no centre). As with revolution, you have to risk lifting the lid. The world must be allowed to fall apart in order – perhaps – for it to recover itself. First horrified, appalled, almost broken by the vote for the war, Luxemburg then realised that in order to move further, ‘all of this will still have to disintegrate and come apart more.’ She was, of course, writing at the same time as Freud. Out of the unconscious, Luxemburg lifts something I would call an ethics of personal and political life.
‘A severe criminal stands before you, one condemned by the state,’ she announced in February 1914 to the protesters who had gathered outside the court in Frankfurt after her trial for inciting public disobedience against the imminent war: ‘a woman whom the prosecution has described as rootless’. She took pride in being, in the words of the prosecutor, ‘a creature without a home’. She couldn’t hide – and never wanted to. But the obliqueness of her position, her status as an outsider, also gave her a freedom to think the un-thought, to force the unthinkable into the language of politics. I have long believed this to be one of feminism’s supreme tasks, what it has to contribute to political understanding. I now realise that, without knowing it, I got the idea from Luxemburg.
In my third meeting with “my” women, the tone of the meeting shifted to the confessional. My observation, in these situations, is that when white feminists come face to face with their prejudices, they feel bad about them. They talk about their realizations as if their lives have already changed by the mere fact of their recognition. They tell stories to show each other how “bad” they have been, and are consoled by their peers, who describe similar mistakes. The meeting usually gets quite emotional, and it takes a lot of moderation to make sure that it doesn’t dissolve into a mass pity-fest about how bad making other people feel bad makes white women feel.
White Feminist Privilege in Organizations"