Hot Best Seller

The Queer Art of Failure

Availability: Ready to download

The Queer Art of Failure is about finding alternatives—to conventional understandings of success in a heteronormative, capitalist society; to academic disciplines that confirm what is already known according to approved methods of knowing; and to cultural criticism that claims to break new ground but cleaves to conventional archives. Judith Halberstam proposes “low theory” The Queer Art of Failure is about finding alternatives—to conventional understandings of success in a heteronormative, capitalist society; to academic disciplines that confirm what is already known according to approved methods of knowing; and to cultural criticism that claims to break new ground but cleaves to conventional archives. Judith Halberstam proposes “low theory” as a mode of thinking and writing that operates at many different levels at once. Low theory is derived from eccentric archives. It runs the risk of not being taken seriously. It entails a willingness to fail and to lose one’s way, to pursue difficult questions about complicity, and to find counterintuitive forms of resistance. Tacking back and forth between high theory and low theory, high culture and low culture, Halberstam looks for the unexpected and subversive in popular culture, avant-garde performance, and queer art. She pays particular attention to animated children’s films, revealing narratives filled with unexpected encounters between the childish, the transformative, and the queer. Failure sometimes offers more creative, cooperative, and surprising ways of being in the world, even as it forces us to face the dark side of life, love, and libido.


Compare

The Queer Art of Failure is about finding alternatives—to conventional understandings of success in a heteronormative, capitalist society; to academic disciplines that confirm what is already known according to approved methods of knowing; and to cultural criticism that claims to break new ground but cleaves to conventional archives. Judith Halberstam proposes “low theory” The Queer Art of Failure is about finding alternatives—to conventional understandings of success in a heteronormative, capitalist society; to academic disciplines that confirm what is already known according to approved methods of knowing; and to cultural criticism that claims to break new ground but cleaves to conventional archives. Judith Halberstam proposes “low theory” as a mode of thinking and writing that operates at many different levels at once. Low theory is derived from eccentric archives. It runs the risk of not being taken seriously. It entails a willingness to fail and to lose one’s way, to pursue difficult questions about complicity, and to find counterintuitive forms of resistance. Tacking back and forth between high theory and low theory, high culture and low culture, Halberstam looks for the unexpected and subversive in popular culture, avant-garde performance, and queer art. She pays particular attention to animated children’s films, revealing narratives filled with unexpected encounters between the childish, the transformative, and the queer. Failure sometimes offers more creative, cooperative, and surprising ways of being in the world, even as it forces us to face the dark side of life, love, and libido.

30 review for The Queer Art of Failure

  1. 5 out of 5

    saïd

    You know what's the real queer art of failure? This goddamn book. I lost count of every time I made a note in the margins about something incredibly stupid, like agreeing with Freudian psychology ("It may be illustrative to turn to Freud") and the Oedipus complex ("there is plenty of evidence in queer culture that we simply allow the rhythms of Oedipal modes of development to regulate the disorderliness of queer culture"), claiming that queer identity politics are overly reliant on self-imposed You know what's the real queer art of failure? This goddamn book. I lost count of every time I made a note in the margins about something incredibly stupid, like agreeing with Freudian psychology ("It may be illustrative to turn to Freud") and the Oedipus complex ("there is plenty of evidence in queer culture that we simply allow the rhythms of Oedipal modes of development to regulate the disorderliness of queer culture"), claiming that queer identity politics are overly reliant on self-imposed victimhood ("What happens when we find multiple examples of gays or lesbians who collaborate with rather than oppose politically conservative and objectionable regimes? As I have suggested, one tactic has been to ignore the signs of collaboration in favor of a narrative of victimisation," which is such a first-world argument, honestly), falling into the tired old trap of claiming that the Nazis were the actual sexual deviants ("the vexed question of the relationship between homosexuality and fascism [...] we cannot completely dismiss all of the accounts of Nazism that link it to gay male masculinism of the early twentieth century," because it's not like homosocialism is a novel variable to introduce into the study of fascism, apparently), ignoring entirely the experiences of queer women (the majority of self-identified queer people are bisexual women but I suppose that doesn't fit the trend, huh?), ignoring entirely the existence of bisexuality (there are two instances of the word bisexual and one of them is in the titles of works cited), arguing that Harvey Milk was wrong in saying that homosexuals were sent to Nazi gas chambers ("[Milk] once said, “We are not going to sit back in silence as 300,000 of our gay brothers and sisters did in Nazi Germany. We are not going to allow our rights to be taken away and then march with bowed heads into the gas chambers.” But gays were not selected for the gas chambers by the Nazis; they were imprisoned and abused in camps, but not gassed") because taking a clearly non-literal comparison as literal and arguing that being sent to concentration camps instead of gas chambers is better, I guess? (also this isn't even true!), ignoring entirely the history of the pink triangle's association with AIDS activism AS WHAT SHOULD BE VERY OBVIOUS PROVOCATION ("It also allows for AIDS activists in the 1990s, many of whom were white and middle class, to don a pink triangle and imagine their struggle in relation to the men targeted by the Nazi regime," because "white and middle class" homosexuals weren't also dying, I guess, who the fuck was Rock Hudson, Anthony Perkins, Freddie Mercury, Roy Halston Frowick, Rudolf Nureyev, Liberace, Keith fucking Haring), and claiming that the queer use of the pink triangle in AIDS-related activism was signaling that homosexuality was analogous to victimhood and desire to be even more victimised, fucking what?! Fuck this book, holy shit.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Anna

    Browsing in a library is one of the great joys of life, as it allows serendipitous book discoveries like this: a rehabilitation of failure through academic analysis of pop culture artefacts. Once I started reading ‘The Queer Art of Failure’, I realised it was calculated to appeal to: 1. Those who feel like failures most of the time, in part because because they find most popular markers of success tedious and unappealing, and in part due to general negativity; 2. Those who feel like failures in ac Browsing in a library is one of the great joys of life, as it allows serendipitous book discoveries like this: a rehabilitation of failure through academic analysis of pop culture artefacts. Once I started reading ‘The Queer Art of Failure’, I realised it was calculated to appeal to: 1. Those who feel like failures most of the time, in part because because they find most popular markers of success tedious and unappealing, and in part due to general negativity; 2. Those who feel like failures in academia because the corporate imperatives to perpetually publish, to sell education to students, and to market yourself are repellent and exhaustingly difficult; 3. Those who, despite deep ambivalence about academia, genuinely enjoy reading theory and do so as a leisure activity; 4. Those who alternate reading depressing non-fiction with watching trashy American films; 5. Those who are tired of heteronormativity. I am all five of these people, so this book delighted me. Halberstam wanders across high and low culture, through various areas of theory, tacitly endorsing scholarship that isn’t particularly useful or constructive. Although I didn’t agree with, or even understand, every idea in the book, I greatly appreciated its defence of laziness, fallibility, and the analysis of animated kids films. I took particular pleasure in the brazen re-purposing of academic theory as a rationale for being a lazy and reluctant academic. From the introduction: For Moten and Hanley, the critical academic is not the answer to encroaching professionalisation but an extension of it, using the very same tools and legitimating strategies to become ‘an ally of professional education’. Moten and Hanley prefer to pitch their tent with the ‘subversive intellectuals’, a maroon community of outcast thinkers who refuse, resist, and renege on the demands of ‘rigour’, ‘excellence’, and ‘productivity’. They tell us to ‘steal from the university’, ‘to steal the enlightenment for others’ [...] This book joins forces with their ‘subversive intellectual’ and agrees to steal from the university, to, as they say, ‘abuse its hospitality’ and to be ‘in it but not of it’. Moten and Harney’s these exhort the subversive intellectual to, among other things, worry about the university, refuse professionalisation, forge a collectivity, and retreat to the external world beyond the ivied walls of the campus. I would add to their these the following. First, Resist mastery. This has an intuitive appeal for me. Subsequent chapters examine an intriguing range of topics relating to queerness and failure. One considers animation, another masochism, another forgetfulness, yet another the homoerotic element of fascism. Halberstam draws upon a diverse range of theorists to interpret art installations, films, and photographs. In keeping with the subject matter, the book avoids sweeping unequivocal statements. Instead, arguments are nuanced without becoming too obtuse, for example: In order to capture the complexity of these shifting relations we cannot afford to settle on linear connections between radical desires and radical politics; instead we have to be prepared to be unsettled by the politically problematic connections history throws our way. At times I wasn’t sure whether I was enjoying the book sincerely or parodically, but it didn’t matter. Either way, this is a sublime sentence: Chicken Run is different from Toy Story in that the Oedipal falls away as a point of reference in favour of a Gramscian structure of counterhegemony engineered by organic (chicken) intellectuals. Another highlight is Halberstam’s vehement disagreement with Slavoj Žižek’s interpretation of Kung Fu Panda. My favourite part, however, was the analysis of the awful film Dude, Where’s My Car? which I have of course seen. Halberstam cheerfully acknowledges the possibility of creating non-existent depths in a stupid American comedy, then proceeds to discuss said comedy for more than ten pages. While the whole thing merits quotation, I’ll confine myself to this: My quick summary of Dude does not immediately suggest that the film offers much in the way of redemptive narratives for a lost generation. And yet if we must live with the logic of white male stupidity, and it seems we must, then understanding its form, its seductions, and its power are mandatory. Dude offers a surprisingly complete allegorical map of what Raymond Williams calls ‘a lived hegemony’. This reminded me of the time I was trapped in a boring seminar while caffeinated and wrote five pages on the ways in which the Fast and Furious franchise is an ongoing allegory for the War on Terror. Despite its depressingly corporate nature, academia is perhaps the only reasonable milieu to channel the perpetual over-analysis my brain would conduct anyway. I wouldn’t necessarily have given this book five stars had I read it at another time in my life. By sheer luck, I found it when especially receptive to a subversive and entertaining angle on academia and failure. If that’s your niche too, I definitely recommend ‘The Queer Art of Failure’.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Michael Dipietro

    I read most of this book and then got a little bored. I feel after reading this, and Halberstam's "Skin Shows," that their approach to theory is a bit vague and imprecise. Skin Shows suffered from a lot of poetic slippage that muddied its arguments; this book didn't fulfill the promise of its central thesis, of failure as a possible queer tactic against heteronormative/capitalist hegemony. Instead, it offered a bunch of essays about other queer stuff. Which were sortof interesting, but again, di I read most of this book and then got a little bored. I feel after reading this, and Halberstam's "Skin Shows," that their approach to theory is a bit vague and imprecise. Skin Shows suffered from a lot of poetic slippage that muddied its arguments; this book didn't fulfill the promise of its central thesis, of failure as a possible queer tactic against heteronormative/capitalist hegemony. Instead, it offered a bunch of essays about other queer stuff. Which were sortof interesting, but again, didn't drive home the main point. Essentially, I think this book is not "about" what it is trying to be about. Secondly - I'm writing this a while after finishing it - I recall it being pretty vague about what really constitutes "failure" proper. I've found that this vagueness has lent itself to lazy application of failure as a tactic in recent artwork I've seen. I'm about to take a workshop that will re-engage this book, so maybe that will change my thoughts on it.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Heather

    This is the most fun you’ll have reading an a academic text. at dinner tonight I was explaining the theory about Dora from Finding Nemo occupying a queer space of freedom and reinventing herself moment by moment in a way that defies hegemony. Everyone was laughing and saying, so true!

  5. 4 out of 5

    Brenden O'Donnell

    Halberstam is unique to queer theory in that she is able to channel both effective queer negativity and present practical, recognizable motivating forces for it without sounding like Lee Edelman Lite. While I love Lee Edelman in that I believe his argument is sexy and his logic is almost flawless, I think Halberstam presents something I can truly believe in. "The Queer Art of Failure" thoughtfully and responsibly explores the question: "How do we engage in and teach antidisciplinary knowledge?" Halberstam is unique to queer theory in that she is able to channel both effective queer negativity and present practical, recognizable motivating forces for it without sounding like Lee Edelman Lite. While I love Lee Edelman in that I believe his argument is sexy and his logic is almost flawless, I think Halberstam presents something I can truly believe in. "The Queer Art of Failure" thoughtfully and responsibly explores the question: "How do we engage in and teach antidisciplinary knowledge?" (11). This knowledge, she proves early on, is the answer to power that inhibits queer meaning with an alibi of knowledge or learning, but in effect only manages to arbitrarily reproduce itself. The goal of the book is very accessible: prevent the inhibition of queer meaning by cultivating productive dissent. The essays achieve this goal by enacting a three-part thesis: resist all knowledge attained through mastery; privilege low culture, theory, and even stupidity or naivety; and finally, refuse to remember the means by which queer meaning has been attained in order to prevent new disciplinary structures from arising (10-15). In accordance with her goal to privilege "knowledge from below," the content is surprisingly accessible, while providing an exciting new stance on the important question of queer negativity. I think she intimates her book's contribution to this question since she is conscious of and challenges the looming shadow of utopianism running throughout. I can't recommend it more!

  6. 4 out of 5

    julieta

    I loved some of the insight in this book, the chapter on forgetfulness is probably my favourite. I think after reading this, I will watch animated films in a different way.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Ruby

    To live is to fail, to bungle, to disappoint, and ultimately to die; rather than searching for ways around death and disappointment, the queer art of failure involves the acceptance of the finite, the embrace of the absurd, the silly, and the hopelessly goofy. Rather than resisting endings and limits, let us instead revel in and cleave to all of our own inevitable fantastic failures. It's easy to say of course, but the very title of this book invites us to think about the ways in which this b To live is to fail, to bungle, to disappoint, and ultimately to die; rather than searching for ways around death and disappointment, the queer art of failure involves the acceptance of the finite, the embrace of the absurd, the silly, and the hopelessly goofy. Rather than resisting endings and limits, let us instead revel in and cleave to all of our own inevitable fantastic failures. It's easy to say of course, but the very title of this book invites us to think about the ways in which this book fails. Because it does, at times - the readings are not always convincing, or too short, or too meandering; the logic is not always conclusive. (Then again, does it have to be? The idea itself, sometimes, is much more interesting than the neat way by which we may arrive at it.) And yet there is a lot of beauty in between, a lot of productive ideas, a lot of things to work with, too. A book to return to, not just from an academic perspective.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Martin

    I'm reading this for my M.A. thesis and I have to say: I hardly found an academic book this entertaining! Gotta love Halberstam! I'm reading this for my M.A. thesis and I have to say: I hardly found an academic book this entertaining! Gotta love Halberstam!

  9. 4 out of 5

    tatterpunk

    On page 174, near the end of this book, Halberstam laments Slavoj Zizek's shortcomings as a critic, his treatment of one piece of media in particular, and notes how he consistently "pillories postmodernism, queers, and feminism... insisting we are all dupes of culture." Yes, I wrote in the margins, so disappointing when an otherwise interesting theorist has massive blind spots in their ideology. On a not-unconnected note, I also drew this face -- :/ -- in the margins of The Queer Art of Failure a On page 174, near the end of this book, Halberstam laments Slavoj Zizek's shortcomings as a critic, his treatment of one piece of media in particular, and notes how he consistently "pillories postmodernism, queers, and feminism... insisting we are all dupes of culture." Yes, I wrote in the margins, so disappointing when an otherwise interesting theorist has massive blind spots in their ideology. On a not-unconnected note, I also drew this face -- :/ -- in the margins of The Queer Art of Failure a lot. I should like this book. I should be eager to attack anything and everything else Halberstam has to offer. I like -- I like very much -- the ideas he proposes he will argue (Halberstam is AFAB and "loosey-goosey" with gender but as far as I can tell he/him are the more preferred pronouns) and the theories he promises to engage with. In practice, however... Failure feels a lot less like a follow-through on those intriguing ideas, more Halberstam arranging theory in self-referential tangles and expounding on how he sees these theories in his favorite works of art, both high and low. If all you have is a hammer, as the saying goes, everything begins to look like a nail. Halberstam upholds Freud (try making an drinking game to every relationship framed in "Oedipal" terms) and Foucault, which is fine, diversity in theory is fine, and after all someone has to like the black jellybeans, etc. The problem emerges when, if aspects of the text Halberstam is analyzing don't fulfill the expectations of Freudian or Foucauldian theory, Halberstam then takes extreme leaps in logic in order to explain their existence, and in doing so assumes extremes of either education (that the general Adam Sandler-viewing public would be familiar with the details of Hawaii's history of colonization) or ignorance (that people would be shocked, shocked, to find Actual Gay People could be complicit in fascism or military propaganda). The amount of times I noted "any Classical scholar would know this" or "why are we forgetting intersectional feminism" or realizing I was expected to be bowled over by linking sex with the desire of self-eradication (my kingdom for a Jungian) was... exhausting. And a little bit infuriating. It's one thing for a self-identified member of a minority group to "reclaim" otherwise exploitative texts and performances -- I'm actually a huge fan of that, on a personal level. And yet! When you are not a member of that group, somehow framing a work that is textually racist, textually transmisogynistic, as radical and revolutionary once your preferred theories are applied is... the taste level is lacking*. Ignoring real-world impact in favor of showing how one's pet theories "transform" these works is a sign of astounding privilege. At worst, there are sections where Halberstam's favorite theories and the agendas of white nationalists lead to the same outcome (forgetting colonialist pasts, cultural or even literal eradication of a community -- I in no way assume Halberstam actually endorses these things, but it's a hard parallel to ignore). At best, it feels like chmess. This isn't helped by Halberstam tweaking the details of certain texts -- Nemo actually doesn't come into his own until he's inspired by rejoining his father -- or stating things without citing the reasoning behind it, such as his belief that the "matriarchal" relationships in womens' studies academia are "dangerous." Sounds fascinating! But: why? No, we're never told why, we just get Halberstam's avowal that connections between mothers and daughters lead to the perpetuation of colonialist thought, patriarchal oppression, and limited identity. Again, I'm game, this sounds interesting, but can I see the math? Unfortunately when Halberstam shows his math, it's... Okay. The idea that current queer identity politics relies too much on victimhood -- I'll buy that, I'm on board. But the chapter about possible homosexuals in the Third Reich is very loopy in its logic. Saying fascism enfolds homosexuality because certain soldiers or generals were "accepted" is like saying Eisenhower loved lesbians just because Johnnie Phelps persuaded him he'd lose most of the WAC if he went on a witch hunt. If Halberstam addressed any supporting theory beyond the cult of the uber-masculine, I'd be a willing audience, but he readily admits any feminine performance was scorned and Jewishness was seen as innately feminine. (The actual experiences of queer women are not addressed at all. Bisexuality, in this and all chapters, never comes up.) Halberstam then tries to use this argument to prove the hypocrisy of more modern gay rights movements in using the pink triangle. (And there's a certain subtext I might be projecting, but Halberstam may believe many of the "middle-class" gay men who claim it are too bougie to have been the victims of fascism at any time.) He outright contradicts Milk's claims that homosexuals were gassed; they were only beaten and abused and left to die in camps. Okay? I'm younger than Halberstam, but in my own experience the pink triangle was much more associated with AIDS protests -- the rainbow flag being the true rallying symbol for the community at large. The implication was that the neglect of the American government in addressing the crisis made them complicit in the resulting deaths, not that they were being directly murdered as those murdered in the Nazi gas chambers. The pink triangle was deliberately provocative, a performance, intended to recontextualize both the crisis and the responsibility of the U.S. government towards its citizens. It did not mean "anyone who is gay can't be anything but a victim." There is a consistent thread of Halberstam conflating performance of a thing with endorsement of that thing in fact, which is really my issue with Freudian theory. Ignorance of semiotic interplay, or worse, deliberate misconstruction of intent in order to prop up esoteric theories has limited charm. (Although Halberstam's authorial voice has quite a lot of charm. This book is very readable and engaging. I'm just not won over with charm alone.) It leads to sections where Dude, Where's My Car is apparently liberated queer ideology and the messages of very particular children's movies speak to the queerness of their intended audience, not the people (or the politics of the people) who made them. Very readable. Fascinating ideas. Dicey arguments to support them. Much like a house of cards under glass -- captivating in ambition, utterly unable to tolerate exposure to any but the most accommodating of elements. Lift the barrier, bring it fully into the "real" world... and poof, it falls flat. *Halberstam also uses "tr*nny" to describe characters in a movie, just a general warning.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Jean Roberta

    For those who are skeptical of a "gay rights movement" which aspires only to enable "queers" to assimilate into the cultural mainstream, this book will seem as refreshing as water in a desert. As Judith Halberstam explains in her introduction: "Radical utopians continue to search for different ways of being in the world and being in relation to one another than those already prescribed for the liberal and consumer subject." She goes on to critique a widely-accepted conception of "success:" "I arg For those who are skeptical of a "gay rights movement" which aspires only to enable "queers" to assimilate into the cultural mainstream, this book will seem as refreshing as water in a desert. As Judith Halberstam explains in her introduction: "Radical utopians continue to search for different ways of being in the world and being in relation to one another than those already prescribed for the liberal and consumer subject." She goes on to critique a widely-accepted conception of "success:" "I argue that success in a heteronormative, capitalist society equates too easily to specific forms of reproductive maturity combined with wealth accumulation. But these measures of success have come under serious pressure recently, with the collapse of financial markets on the one hand and the epic rise in divorce rates on the other." Halberstam thus implies that the assimilationists among us are trying to escape from homophobic oppression by jumping onto a sinking ship. She states her purpose: "The Queer Art of Failure dismantles the logics of success and failure with which we currently live. Under certain circumstances failing, losing, forgetting, unmaking, undoing, unbecoming, not knowing may in fact offer more creative, more cooperative, more surprising ways of being in the world. Failing is something queers do and have always done exceptionally well; for queers failure can be a style, to cite Quentin Crisp, or a way of life, to cite Foucault, and it can stand in contrast to the grim scenarios of success that depend upon 'trying and trying again.'" The author, who has written and taught widely on gender formation in a cultural context, aims to analyze "queer" subtexts in a variety of media, from animated movies to performance art to art photography. She shows "queerness" (sexual and emotional proclivities that don't lead to reproductive heterosexual monogamy) as linked to "failure" by the standards of heteronormative, capitalist society. She also shows this "failure" as something which might logically be chosen as preferable to conformist adult life. Along the way, the author critiques the standardized "knowledge" which leads to conformity. If "knowledge" (as disseminated in universities) serves the cultural status quo, the forgetting or losing of knowledge might actually lead to new ways of thinking. To support this point, the amnesia (repeated forgetting and relearning) of central characters in the comedies Dude, Where's My Car? Finding Nemo and Fifty First Dates is discussed as a plot device that leads to new developments. In her discussion of computer generated imagery in movies aimed at children, the author coins the term "pixarvolt" to define "an animated world rich in political allegory, stuffed to the gills with queerness and rife with analogies between humans and animals." The author's suggestion that her interdisciplanary approach to "queer failure" should or will be embraced outside the Ivory Tower seems to this reviewer to be the weakest plank in her argument. Like other academics who point out the limitations of the academy, she seems to be trying to move the earth while standing on it. Halberstam's case for "queer failure" looks counterintuitive, but it is an exhilarating challenge to conventional assumptions, including those made by some "Queer Studies" scholars. In a section on "queerness" and fascism, she critiques the modern assumption of an unbroken history of prominent "queers" as advocates of a liberal agenda of individual (especially sexual) freedom for all. She disentangles homophobia from macho contempt for femininity (associated in Nazi ideology with heterosexual women, Jewish men and homosexual men) in order to show how some "queer," masculine men and women could admire and support totalitarian regimes. Before the Stonewall Riots, "queers" lurked in the cultural shadows, and Halberstam finds that environment to be fruitful and even revolutionary. This book is guaranteed to be controversial. It would make a good basis for discussion after watching one of the movies or performances analyzed in its pages. ------------------

  11. 4 out of 5

    Dylan

    Halberstam is an incredibly seductive & anarchic writer, giving us ways to think through both "low" and "high" theory, cleaving across all sorts of binaries. highly recc—very influenced by how Halberstam writes on modes of queer radical passivity and unbeing/unbelonging. Halberstam ends their monograph/manifesto(?) thus: "To live is to fail, to bungle, to disappoint, and ultimately to die; rather than searching for ways around death and disappointment, the queer art of failure involves the accep Halberstam is an incredibly seductive & anarchic writer, giving us ways to think through both "low" and "high" theory, cleaving across all sorts of binaries. highly recc—very influenced by how Halberstam writes on modes of queer radical passivity and unbeing/unbelonging. Halberstam ends their monograph/manifesto(?) thus: "To live is to fail, to bungle, to disappoint, and ultimately to die; rather than searching for ways around death and disappointment, the queer art of failure involves the acceptance of the finite, the embrace of the absurd, the silly, the hopelessly goofy."

  12. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    biggest takeaway is chicken run > coraline

  13. 5 out of 5

    Robin

    another read for thesis, was interesting

  14. 4 out of 5

    Jeanne Thornton

    Having read this book, can you define the titular "queer art of failure"? Me either, and I can't get over the feeling that this book represents five or six essays hastily jammed together under this specious thesis, that somehow they represent a totality other than "some interests Halberstam had at certain points in time." Really really good at providing interesting names of authors and artists on whose work I can follow up, but really really not good, I think, at going from individual, maybe com Having read this book, can you define the titular "queer art of failure"? Me either, and I can't get over the feeling that this book represents five or six essays hastily jammed together under this specious thesis, that somehow they represent a totality other than "some interests Halberstam had at certain points in time." Really really good at providing interesting names of authors and artists on whose work I can follow up, but really really not good, I think, at going from individual, maybe compellingly charged works (vis: "Dude, Where's My Car") to an overall idea that's being traced out of these works. What is the actual line being drawn between skinhead erotica, Cut Piece, Dory from Finding Nemo, and the bros from Dude, Where's My Car? Does "queer art of failure" actually mean something more than "unexpected tricks"? What is queer about it, necessarily? If the art of failure is a successful survival practice, in what way is it a failure? If the thesis is just "sometimes marginalized groups adopt strategies that are not those of normative groups," in what way is this a new thesis? Why does the author think so highly of "Chicken Run"? I am sympathetic to almost everything in this book, but I feel like the bolts on this needed to be tightened another few cranks maybe?

  15. 5 out of 5

    Tatiana

    This is the first book on queer theory I've read and really liked it! It really made me rethink all the animation films I've seen and the messages they contain. I listened to this on audio, and so I couldn't take notes, but this was REALLY informative and highly recommend it! It's short and accessible. This is the first book on queer theory I've read and really liked it! It really made me rethink all the animation films I've seen and the messages they contain. I listened to this on audio, and so I couldn't take notes, but this was REALLY informative and highly recommend it! It's short and accessible.

  16. 5 out of 5

    lindy

    Completely and totally brain-expandingly awesome.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Bek MoonyReadsByStarlight

    In this piece, Jack Halberstam looks at queerness and failure in media, and what failure can tell us about queerness and vice versa. I really loved the deep look into animation and other film deemed "low brow". There are so many great themes that we can get from them when we look at them as serious works. Alongside queerness, they also look at political themes that can be seen within these films. Near the end, he also discusses narrative as it relates to history -- specifically LGBT+ history and In this piece, Jack Halberstam looks at queerness and failure in media, and what failure can tell us about queerness and vice versa. I really loved the deep look into animation and other film deemed "low brow". There are so many great themes that we can get from them when we look at them as serious works. Alongside queerness, they also look at political themes that can be seen within these films. Near the end, he also discusses narrative as it relates to history -- specifically LGBT+ history and the impact of the holocaust. He discusses the issues with some of the narrative of all queer people as victims during this when some gay white masculine men were not subjugated in the same way. While I do think that there are important points to draw out of that, but I have critiques about how it was done and what issues didn't get prioritized in the conversation. While I do understand why this was brought up, I think it could have been integrated better; it felt more shoehorned in than the other chapters. But overall, this was a very interesting book. I really loved the media critique and the variety of conversation about queerness and failure was fascinating

  18. 4 out of 5

    Ashton

    3.5/4? i like a lot of the ideas, but the way some of them are illustrated isn’t particularly effective for me as someone who hasn’t seen a lot of childrens animation. the little references to zines and BLaB were fun for me

  19. 4 out of 5

    Carrie

    Not gonna go watch Chicken Run now, or Dude Where's My Car. But I do love failure. Not gonna go watch Chicken Run now, or Dude Where's My Car. But I do love failure.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Mandy

    Although I really like the idea of investigating the positive effects of failure, especially when Dory from Finding Nemo plays such a central role, Halberstam unfortunately relies on too many straw-wo/men to make this book successful. Moreover, she pushes for an unreasonable (but admittedly theoretically desirable) approach to academia. It's all well and good to argue for "antidisciplinarity" from a cushy tenured position, but no (english) grad student has a chance of getting a job in such a f Although I really like the idea of investigating the positive effects of failure, especially when Dory from Finding Nemo plays such a central role, Halberstam unfortunately relies on too many straw-wo/men to make this book successful. Moreover, she pushes for an unreasonable (but admittedly theoretically desirable) approach to academia. It's all well and good to argue for "antidisciplinarity" from a cushy tenured position, but no (english) grad student has a chance of getting a job in such a field (at least not until academic institutions fundamentally reorganize themselves).

  21. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie Kelley

    "To live is to fail, to bungle, to disappoint, and ultimately to die; rather than searching for ways around death and disappointment, the queer art of failure involves the acceptance of the finite, the embrace of the absurd, the silly, and the hopelessly goofy. Rather than resisting endings and limits, let us instead revel in and cleave to all of our own inevitable fantastic failures." "To live is to fail, to bungle, to disappoint, and ultimately to die; rather than searching for ways around death and disappointment, the queer art of failure involves the acceptance of the finite, the embrace of the absurd, the silly, and the hopelessly goofy. Rather than resisting endings and limits, let us instead revel in and cleave to all of our own inevitable fantastic failures."

  22. 4 out of 5

    Darragh

    DNF @ 45%. Not for me (or, I'd wager, many people) and certainly not as described. DNF @ 45%. Not for me (or, I'd wager, many people) and certainly not as described.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Sophie Harrington

    Began and finished on a joyful note regarding the abundance available in failing, forgetting, deconstructing and demise. A convincing proposal that to ‘fail’/‘forget’ creates opportunity for alternative ways of thinking and understanding, which may ultimately culminate in revolution and varying alternative realities. ‘Failure’ thus stands as a positive alternative to hegemonic ‘success’, which both generates and replicates the queer ‘failure’ those who pursue it try to avoid. However I wasn’t pa Began and finished on a joyful note regarding the abundance available in failing, forgetting, deconstructing and demise. A convincing proposal that to ‘fail’/‘forget’ creates opportunity for alternative ways of thinking and understanding, which may ultimately culminate in revolution and varying alternative realities. ‘Failure’ thus stands as a positive alternative to hegemonic ‘success’, which both generates and replicates the queer ‘failure’ those who pursue it try to avoid. However I wasn’t particularly keen on Chapter Four, ‘Shadow Feminisms’, which I found to be rather depressing. Though theoretically ‘sound’ (in the same way post-modernism is, for example), I found that the conclusion offered was unhelpful and impractical, and suggested a commitment to hopelessness and demise that, on an individual level, can’t be healthy. But maybe my dislike is based on my personal inability to accept such a sad and hopeless vision for individual life (which itself would be considered a ‘success’ in hegemonic terms, and thus a ‘failure’ to Halberstam)??? I also felt that, on occasion, the narrative was difficult to follow. However, I find it hard to critique a book due a sometimes failing linear structure/coherence, when the theory itself implores such ‘failure’.

  24. 4 out of 5

    K

    Spectacular!! It just kept getting better. Although, I still can't stomach psychoanalytic modes of theory. Some people might find what Halberstam is doing here a bit tough to take (the citations of Avital Ronell, the pairing of children's animation with high art, the tearing down or queer narratives of innocence and victimization), but I found it a joy. Spectacular!! It just kept getting better. Although, I still can't stomach psychoanalytic modes of theory. Some people might find what Halberstam is doing here a bit tough to take (the citations of Avital Ronell, the pairing of children's animation with high art, the tearing down or queer narratives of innocence and victimization), but I found it a joy.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Edwin Pietersma

    The first time I read it was after a conference on philosophy, which inspired me to buy this book. After the first read, I was hooked and it impacted my own growth as a human being, making me aware of finding alternatives to destructive parts of our society. Now, in 2021 after a crazy year, I reread it. I still very much enjoyed it, especially the amazing examples of SpongeBob and Dory in Finding Nemo, animation in general, literature, and contemporary art. For such as short book on such a diffi The first time I read it was after a conference on philosophy, which inspired me to buy this book. After the first read, I was hooked and it impacted my own growth as a human being, making me aware of finding alternatives to destructive parts of our society. Now, in 2021 after a crazy year, I reread it. I still very much enjoyed it, especially the amazing examples of SpongeBob and Dory in Finding Nemo, animation in general, literature, and contemporary art. For such as short book on such a difficult and wide range of subject dealt with, it is insanely rich and powerful, trying to create weapons out of things many people are looked down at. I loved its ending as well, as something that I see more and more: the acceptance of the finite and that "happiness is not always the best way to be happy." However, having grown intellectually and having performed much of my own research, I feel that there are some issues with this work: it is too focused on American culture (taking this as the only default and transplanting these ideas to queer identity in general), too reliant on Foucaultian theory, too limited in sources, and at the times fails to deliver the appropriate/sufficient evidence to support the made claims. Indeed, it feels limited to the postmodern school in academia that is relatively strong in contemporary times, but one has to ask if this work would survive the critiques of this school of thought.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Jamie Hall

    I'll preface this by saying that this is the first book of queer theory that I have read, so I don't have much to compare it to. I enjoyed The Queer Art of Failure for the following reasons: -its attempt to reconcile high theory and low theory -it introduced me to amazing concepts such as queer negativity -it demanded (in the end) that homosexuality not be viewed as an identity that is immune to being problematic I found The Queer Art of Failure to be difficult to read at times because: -it jumps arou I'll preface this by saying that this is the first book of queer theory that I have read, so I don't have much to compare it to. I enjoyed The Queer Art of Failure for the following reasons: -its attempt to reconcile high theory and low theory -it introduced me to amazing concepts such as queer negativity -it demanded (in the end) that homosexuality not be viewed as an identity that is immune to being problematic I found The Queer Art of Failure to be difficult to read at times because: -it jumps around so much -it oftentimes runs on and on and -despite its attempt to reconcile high theory and low theory, it really isn't all that accessible (at times) Overall I thought it was great and found it to be full of thought-provoking sections.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Marcus Kaye

    I struggled with this one. I wanted to like it and while I liked a portion of it, I failed to see the connection between queer and failure. It does a great job on highlighting the importance of failure, but how that art is specifically queer? Not exactly. Using animation because animation is queer is a stretch because the argument that animation is queer didn’t fully gel. I also take issue (in the days of MAGA) with the connection between queer failure and Nazism. Yes, there were queer nazis and I struggled with this one. I wanted to like it and while I liked a portion of it, I failed to see the connection between queer and failure. It does a great job on highlighting the importance of failure, but how that art is specifically queer? Not exactly. Using animation because animation is queer is a stretch because the argument that animation is queer didn’t fully gel. I also take issue (in the days of MAGA) with the connection between queer failure and Nazism. Yes, there were queer nazis and yes there are queer MAGA dicks, but that doesn’t make either of the two “organizations” queer by design. Sigh.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Amy D.P.

    Failing never felt so good! Being a failure never made me feel like such a winner. Halberstam does an excellent job of looking at how queers are failures in society to begin with and that there is not necessarily nowhere to go up, but everywhere to go different. Unlike a lot of her other books Halberstam does a good job of staying relevant in her writing to her overarching theory. She uses modern art, in particular to this book animation to illuminate her theory. This is by far her best book to Failing never felt so good! Being a failure never made me feel like such a winner. Halberstam does an excellent job of looking at how queers are failures in society to begin with and that there is not necessarily nowhere to go up, but everywhere to go different. Unlike a lot of her other books Halberstam does a good job of staying relevant in her writing to her overarching theory. She uses modern art, in particular to this book animation to illuminate her theory. This is by far her best book to date.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Mary Margaret

    Apparently I read this in college - I have no recollection of it.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Connor Murphy

    I came to this book expecting a lot of things. As a student in queer theory, I am used to the polemical approach adopted by Halberstam's contemporaries - this is the mode that characterises and separates this field from many others. In this way, I was, as Halberstam would have it, disappointed. Much less a polemic for failure than an intriguing exploration of it, I felt that this book was not quite finished. The chapters are not cohesively tied together; the use of theory sometimes felt like a h I came to this book expecting a lot of things. As a student in queer theory, I am used to the polemical approach adopted by Halberstam's contemporaries - this is the mode that characterises and separates this field from many others. In this way, I was, as Halberstam would have it, disappointed. Much less a polemic for failure than an intriguing exploration of it, I felt that this book was not quite finished. The chapters are not cohesively tied together; the use of theory sometimes felt like a half-decision, and was often clumsy; and the idea of 'failure' was constantly negotiated, as opposed to an offer of a resolute way of being in the world. This is a thoroughly academic exercise in mapping failure onto queer theory's subversive sensibilities, and succeeds to varying degrees. However, its dubious conviction is forgiven, as her analysis of Finding Nemo had me absolutely hooked. I knew this film said something as a kid, and Halberstam articulates this kind of childlike reasoning wonderfully. Her analysis of Chicken Run is equally as sparky and fresh. The opening chapters feel truly original, childishly indignant and hopeful. The latter chapters do slip - the insight into 'gay nazism' gets a little strange - but, by the end, I was holding this book, and thanking it for telling us queers that it is okay to fail. In a world where queers often have to hide in order to succeed, Halberstam's sentiment was not lost on me. Perhaps I'll no longer say 'sorry, I'm so sorry' to my supervisors, when I'm struggling to articulate how angry this world makes me, and let the words fail for a minute instead.

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...