Cruising Utopia: The Then and There of Queer Futurity

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Overview

The LGBT agenda for too long has been dominated by pragmatic issues like same-sex marriage and gays in the military. It has been stifled by this myopic focus on the present, which is short-sighted and assimilationist.

Cruising Utopia seeks to break the present stagnancy by cruising ahead. Drawing on the work of Ernst Bloch, José Esteban Muñoz recalls the queer past for guidance in presaging its future. He considers the work of seminal artists and writers such as Andy Warhol, LeRoi Jones, Frank O’Hara, Ray Johnson, Fred Herko, Samuel Delany, and Elizabeth Bishop, alongside contemporary performance and visual artists like Dynasty Handbag, My Barbarian, Luke Dowd, Tony Just, and Kevin McCarty in order to decipher the anticipatory illumination of art and its uncanny ability to open windows to the future.

In a startling repudiation of what the LGBT movement has held dear, Muñoz contends that queerness is instead a futurity bound phenomenon, a "not yet here" that critically engages pragmatic presentism. Part manifesto, part love-letter to the past and the future, Cruising Utopia argues that the here and now are not enough and issues an urgent call for the revivification of the queer political imagination.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"In the course of an introduction, a conclusion, and the ten lush chapters in between, Cruising Utopia elaborates an archive of queer aesthetic practices from the present and the recent past."-Kevin Floyd,Meditations: The Journal of the Marxist Literary Group

“In this interesting study of queerness and identity politics, Munoz (performance studies, New York Univ.) invites readers to look beyond the immediate present and toward a queer future.”-Choice

Publishers Weekly
Gay liberation's activist past and pragmatic present are merely prologue to a queer cultural future, Muñoz (Disidentifications) suggests in this critical condemnation of the political status quo. Casting his vision of a radical gay aesthetic through the prisms of literature, photography and performance, the author dismisses commonplace concerns like same-sex marriage as desires for “mere inclusion” in a “corrupt” mainstream. More defiantly, he exalts the persistence of commercial sex spaces in the face of “antisex and homphobic policings,” and celebrates the overlay of punk and queer in performance spaces. Muñoz draws on a dynamic roster of seminal artists to illustrate his vision of a utopian queer future, from the well-known (LeRoi Jones, James Schuyler and John Giorno) to edgy artists, including homo-core punk queen Vaginal Davis, club photographer Kevin McCarty and drag chanteuse Kiki (Justin Bond). Queer theorists will find the book's provocative thesis stimulating; lay readers unfamiliar with Ernst Bloch and the Frankfurt School of philosophy on which the author builds his argument may find it a slog. (Nov.)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780814757277
  • Publisher: New York University Press
  • Publication date: 11/30/2009
  • Series: Sexual Cultures Series
  • Pages: 234
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

José Esteban Muñoz was Professor and past Chair of Performance Studies at New York University. He is the author of Disidentifications: Queers of Color and the Performance of Politics and co-editor of Pop Out: Culture and Dance in Latin/o America and Everynight Life: Queer Warhol.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Introduction: Feeling Utopia
1 Queerness as Horizon: Utopian Hermeneutics in the Face of Gay Pragmatism
2 Ghosts of Public Sex: Utopian Longings, Queer Memories
3 The Future Is in the Present: Sexual Avant-Gardes and the Performance of Utopia
4 Gesture, Ephemera, and Queer Feeling: Approaching Kevin Aviance
5 Cruising the Toilet: LeRoi Jones/Amiri Baraka, Radical Black Traditions, and Queer Futurity
6 Stages: Queers, Punks, and the Utopian Performative
7 Utopia’s Seating Chart: Ray Johnson, Jill Johnston, and Queer Intermedia as System
8 Just Like Heaven: Queer Utopian Art and the Aesthetic Dimension
9 A Jeté Out the Window: Fred Herko’s Incandescent Illumination
10 After Jack: Queer Failure, Queer Virtuosity
Conclusion: “Take Ecstasy with Me”
Notes
Bibliography
Index
About the Author

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