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Opacity and the Closet

Opacity and the Closet: Queer Tactics in Foucault, Barthes, and Warhol

Copyright Date: 2012
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 248
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  • Book Info
    Opacity and the Closet
    Book Description:

    Opacity and the Closet interrogates the viability of the metaphor of “the closet” when applied to three important queer figures in postwar American and French culture: philosopher Michel Foucault, literary critic Roland Barthes, and pop artist Andy Warhol. Nicholas de Villiers proposes a new approach to these cultural icons that accounts for the queerness of their works and public personas.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-8029-0
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. PREFACE Bartleby’s Queer Formula
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. INTRODUCTION Opacities: Queer Strategies
    (pp. 1-36)

    In an interview titled “The End of the Monarchy of Sex,” Michel Foucault diagnoses a movement “taking shape today which seems to be reversing the trend of . . . ‘always more truth in sex,’ a trend which has doomed us for centuries. . . . I have the impression of an ‘anti-sex’ grumbling . . . as if a thorough effort were being made to shake this great ‘sexography’ which makes us decipher sex as the universal secret.”¹ While Foucault was perhaps optimistic in his estimation (circa 1977), this book will assess such efforts to shake the dominant hermeneutic...

  5. ONE Confessions of a Masked Philosopher: Anonymity and Identification in Foucault and Guibert
    (pp. 37-62)

    In one of the many dialogues with a fictional interlocutor in the works of Michel Foucault, in this caseThe Archaeology of Knowledge, Foucault addresses critical suspicions regarding his “moveable thought”:

    “Are you already preparing the way out that will enable you in your next book to spring up somewhere else and declare as you’re now doing: no, no, I’m not where you are lying in wait for me, but over here, laughing at you?”

    “What, do you imagine that I would take so much trouble and so much pleasure in writing, do you think that I would keep so...

  6. TWO Matte Figures: Roland Barthes’s Ethics of Meaning
    (pp. 63-88)

    In his preface to Renaud Camus’s 1979 novel of gay cruising,Tricks, Roland Barthes asserts the literary nature of the work in its “certain way of saying ‘I.’” He then exemplifies the performative consequences of saying “I” one way rather than another when he addresses the “feats of discourse” that homosexuality continues to provoke: “Speaking of homosexuality permits those who ‘aren’t’ to show how open, liberal, and modern they are, and those who ‘are’ to bear witness, to assure responsibility, to militate.”¹ Barthes consistently rejected this responsibility to militate in the name of what he calls the politico-sexual,² and characterizes...

  7. THREE “What Do You Have to Say for Yourself?” Warhol’s Opacity
    (pp. 89-116)

    The question “Who is Andy Warhol?” is often put in terms of an enigma: “What does Andy Warhol want?”¹ Warhol is often portrayed as mute, nonverbal, instinctual, passive, autistic, apolitical (if not right wing), noncommittal, lacking intention, monosyllabic, and opaque.² Often this characterization seems to authorize others to speak for him, to find commentary or meaning where there seemed to be simply “no comment,” to argue that the Warhol persona has managed to effectively obscure his work and his intentions. Indeed, when one reads interviews with Warhol like “Andy Warhol: My True Story” with Gretchen Berg, one gets plenty of...

  8. FOUR Unseen Warhol/Seeing Barthes
    (pp. 117-132)

    In the previous chapter, I wanted to move away from the customary emphasis on Warhol’s visual art and toward an extended examination of his discursive strategies of opacity. In the next two chapters I will be moving back from the verbal to the visual aspects of Warhol’s persona, but via the detour of writing. I begin with Barthes’s writing on photography, specifically a portrait of Warhol. This chapter thus extends the themes of portraiture and autoportraiture found in the earlier chapters on Foucault and Barthes. In the next chapter, I will discuss a posthumous portrait of Warhol and his Time...

  9. FIVE Andy Warhol Up-Tight: Warhol’s Effects
    (pp. 133-150)

    The potential of the “archive” as a technology of memory has gained increasing attention within queer studies, in part because questions of “cultural memory” get invested with particular urgency in the age of AIDS. The archive seems to offer some resistance to the “obliterative homophobia” of much official history. InAn Archive of Feelings: Trauma, Sexuality, and Lesbian Public Cultures, Ann Cvetkovich explains that “in insisting on the value of apparently marginal or ephemeral materials, the collectors of gay and lesbian archives propose that affects—associated with nostalgia, personal memory, fantasy, and trauma—make a document significant.”¹ She goes on...

  10. CONCLUSION The Interview as Multi-Mediated Object
    (pp. 151-164)

    The filmFrost/Nixon(2008) presents a perfect example of the interview situation as a proxy for a courtroom trial.¹ Many saw the interview as a substitute for the criminal trial that President Nixon had avoided in being pardoned by President Ford. David Frost begins the interview with the provocative question on everyone’s mind “Why didn’t you burn the tapes?” but realizes that he is no match for Nixon’s ability to “stonewall,”² change the subject, and turn the interview into a nostalgic presidential monologue. Finally, the tables are turned when Frost is able to catch Nixon off guard with a piece...

  11. Acknowledgments
    (pp. 165-166)
  12. Notes
    (pp. 167-218)
  13. Index
    (pp. 219-230)
  14. Back Matter
    (pp. 231-231)