Theater of Failure – Queer-Epistemological Perspectives

Cultural, social, and economic uncertainties have, according to a frequently chosen phraseologism, globally condensed into a ‘multiple crisis.’ A frequent remedy for the uncanny affects and effects of crises, not to mention for its epiphenomena like precarity, catastrophe, as well as economic, moral, and ethic decline, seems to be a servile focus on self-optimization, control, discipline, the maintenance of a ‘normal’ status quo or the feverish search for alternatives and new beginnings. 

Failure, as the lack of success, deficiency, cessation of power, malfunctioning, neglect and omission of requirement can be understood as a movement or other action made in opposition to these ‘remedying’ reflexes and moreover an actively embracing of crises. The concept of failure can henceforth be used to draw attention to the blindly and repeatedly re-describing, analyzing, and simultaneously conjuring crises and their ‘negative’ effects on the status quo or individual development whilst remaining in the very same state of crisis and its conditioning. Failure is in this sense a de-ontologizing way of (non-)tackling moments of crises and spatio-temporal cul de sac. Seizing failure opens the way for an epistemology that is not interested neither in knowledge nor truth production, but in moments of un-production and un-productiveness of knowledge or truth, in utopias (un-pl/spaces and un-times) and non-movements, limitlessness and de-linearity…Even more, looking at moments of failure can be considered a method to grasp the very core of on the one hand (dominant) mechanisms of disruption; on the other hand, it raises an opportunity to learn from moments of un-struggling (in contrast to surrendering) in order to create other fictions of both, loss and victory.

Hence, the focus on failure seeks to approach through an interdisciplinary lens what – according to Marco Pustinanz – lies at the center of Whatever

“an attempt to rethink difference through a different desire that fully belongs to it: namely, the desire for a whatever difference, for a difference that is not specifically different, but is on the contrary so generic that it can be translated, and does translate, into other differences […] the bare ground of that Ur-difference, a throw-back to constitutive differentiation in the access to meaning.” (Pustinanz 2018, 2)

Link to lecture series program: https://www.uni-rostock.de/universitaet/vielfalt-und-gleichstellung/gender-und-queer-studien/ag-gender-und-queer-studien/interdisziplinaere-ringvorlesung/sommersemester-2019/