By Praecoxious Queer
Author is a schizoaffective, queer, genderqueer, Latin@ witch living in Tacoma, Washington pursuing undergraduate degrees in Gender and Queer Studies and Political Theory. Aspirations include graduate school and an eventual visit to family in Argentina.
Abstract: This piece is an expository, associative description of a tendency within neuroqueer thought to undermine the expectations and norms governing behavior for particular neurotypes. Aiming to avoid harsh definitional maneuvers, I hope to offer a wager to neuroqueer whereby it may embrace/enjoy what I theorize as schizoqueerness to make salient the political and communitarian value of fragmentation, both as a method for escaping systems of constraint and control but also as a method for bringing communities of resistance together in a strengthened commitment to intersectionality. Positing fragmentation as foundational to some modes of consciousness or perception rather than as a contingent affliction befalling some and not others and avoiding the temptation to position whole-ness or holity as beneficial or “natural”, I hope that this piece may deepen the redemptive possibilities of neuroqueer by offering schizoqueerness as a tool within conceptual repertoires of a neuroqueer vocabulary.
“Queer thinkers have brought into sharper focus than ever before the problematic nature of what we nevertheless continue to take for granted: the very notion and value of community itself. And it is in doing that that queers should command the attention of straights—that is, not because we have anything to tell them about the value of relationships or community … but rather because of our exemplary confusion”
--Leo Bersani, Is the Rectum a Grave? And Other Essays
I remember when I realized I was not straight. I also remember when, though I wouldn’t think of it this way at the time, and still don’t all the time, I realized that I “hear voices.” I know when I decided I was queer: but I never decided I was schizoaffective. I was told that I am. I now decide that I am schizoqueer, deploying a tendency within neuroqueerness to queer the neurotype offered by medical science to explain the phenomenology of schizophrenia through an intentional refusal of the normalizing forces at work in a social sphere embrocated by psychiatrization.
I decide I am schizoqueer when I reflect upon the reality of my psychosis. And when I say the reality of my psychosis, I do not mean the reality of my experience as a psychosis in the terms of medicine; rather, I queerly inflect reality to the effect that I mean: my psychosis was and is real but remains a psychosis nonetheless. Schizoqueerness will therefore be concerned with queering not only the expectations of a given neurotype, but also must be concerned with queering the construction of reality as reality.
Through this essay, I have chosen to resist the imperative to provide a strict definition of neuroqueerness. What I offer instead is nothing but an exposition of certain tendencies already at work within neuroqueerness; I hope to persuade any who read this of another, partial, but nonetheless insistent imperative toward fragmentation operative in the communitarian efforts of neuroqueerness, a tendency that I hope to amplify and make visible through such poetic exposition.
I will not pretend to hold the answer to the riddle of schizophrenia or psychosis. I will not pretend that I know anything about the generalities or formal structures at work within what it is that we call “schizophrenia,” and I will not pretend that what I hope to articulate here is anything but phenomenological description of what this experience may be. However, I refuse to cast off the experiences of psychosis; I refuse to relent to the pacifying sway of doctors who will tell me that this psychosis-reality is in, fact, a fiction; there is value in which I experience insofar as it informs my action.
i. The world is ruled by straight people, for straight people|straight people bash me at every corner|the corner becomes a coroner, when? Well: I hear them talking about me, to me, reminding me of…my queerness, their straightness….
“Sir, have you ever had any delusions of persecution?”
“I’m not a sir, please do not call me that” per-se-cu-tion lo-cu-tion per-SIR-cution Sir sir sir sir sir sir sir sir sir sir sirrrrrrrrrrrrprise demise, reprise!
“Sir, have you ever experienced auditory hallucinations?”
ii. Is this the condition of Being
queer? In the absence of the words to state
iii. that I know what it is I am talking about,
I can only
recourse to re-course the whole syntax
of this thing that is the state, or “this reality.”
The Greek word “schitzein,” from which we get the prefix “schizo,” refers to an act of splitting articulated in the verbal mode, which is to say it describes a doing. Like “queer,” it is an action, not a mode of being; it is, in a sense, a process of splitting. “Schizo” becomes in other utterances a noun-as-slur describing one who is split, but also one who is split off (from us), one whose personality is split (in two, or more), or one (really several) who is/are ‘psycho’. Like “queer” and “crip,” then, terms of violence reclaimed as words and strategies of resistance, “schizo” names a sometimes futural, often anti-social, affectively ambiguous method that can also be a way to split a thing, whether that means to split it off from resources of domination, split it off from the privileges it may enjoy, split against an erasure, naming a further division within any project aspiring to universality: a way of doing that is both an un-doing (of something whole/”complete”) and the rearrangement of the parts of a thing to the effect that the thing itself, formerly whole, is no longer the same, has become different and queer, a thing has been made schizo.
What I hope to articulate is the possibility of a schizoqueerness, to offer “neuroqueerness” a wager whereby it might not only be broadened definitionally or conceptually, but also to deepen it by bringing a schizomatic tendency of internal fragmentation, to consider the force of fragmentation as generative of affective tendencies that may be deployed toward social and political ends.
Here fragmentation must not be conceived of as a factionalist turning-away from one another: to reproduce such a narrative would legitimate the entire discourse that has tended toward the forcible hospitalization and incarceration of schizophrenics/schizoaffectives and others with Schizophrenia Spectrum Disorders.
Rather, the wager of schizoqueerness is an opportunity to delve into the depths of community-making, to consider “why do we desire to come together when coming together is itself so terrifying?”
To schizoqueer something is: to analyze and sometimes reverse, or, alternately, re-verse, the processes whereby identitarian similarities and the pragmatic demands of political engagement may disappear the productions of suffering, isolation, alienation, and loneliness intrinsic to the naming of a community/consciousness united and named as such, where integrity or wholeness are posited on the side of typicality, banality, and therefore on the side of terror? That will have to do for now. But we can’t let this attempt at articulation come to limit schizoqueer critique.
By all this I mean to ask: what are the reparative possibilities of splitting itself, what might splitting signify when schizo is itself split off from its use as a weapon of domination, and re-versed in a tone dis-affect(able) to the melodies of an architecture of inaccessibility, when this architecture is broadened to include reality, the construction of reality, itself?
Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari take one thousand plateaus to make the same argument stated at the beginning of Anti-Oedipus, that: “The code of delirium or of desire proves to have an extraordinary fluidity … It might be said that the schizophrenic passes from one code to the other, that [they] deliberately scramble all the codes, by quickly shifting from one to another, according to the questions asked [them], never giving the same explanation” (Deleuze and Guattari, Anti-Oedipus, 15).
But what is this insistence on explanatory drift, whereby the schizo is presumed to offer ever-new explanations for constantly variant codes of being? What is salient about schizo in schizoqueer is the expansion of psychotic fragmentation into the conceptual domain of a political weapon or tool. For Deleuze, Guattari, and a whole host of thinkers influenced by their work, this element of delirium is coded into schizophrenia and therefore the schizophrenic themselves drifts from the explanations they themselves have offered before, in the past.
But do we deliberately scramble these codes?
iv. Do I choose to engage this psychosis?
How can it be that my very existence scrambles every code, when all I can do is lock the door to my bedroom—check the windows, look for the crowd gathered beneath my house screaming Faggot! Sissy! Queer!—how is it that Deleuze and Guattari can posit this delirious nature of schizophrenic thought when my schizophrenic psychosis anchors itself around the very same, similar and recurrent experiences of antiqueerness; experiences which, too much for my childhood, adolescent consciousness to resolve by any way aside from what must have been only a total and absolute repression at the level of experience, and locked them away into a domain of my psyche so totally foreign to myself that it haunts in the form of, at times, persecutory, “delusional” feelings of subordination, annihilation?
v. What wager had I gambled when I became persuaded by the delirium conjured from within my own being? Was it that
I knew this would happen? I was told this would happen? Do I not invite this fragmentation by failing—but what/who is it “I”/we fail?
(If hallucinations are my mind’s compensation, is it compensating for my queerness? Is my queerness not then an impairment that becomes disability, insofar as it necessitates this compensation?)
Against this assumption, I cannot and will not posit delirium as foundational to my experience of psychosis, fragmentation, or schizophrenia. On the contrary, I must posit my queerness as an aspect of my disability. My disability is therefore queer; my disability is neurological, or at least all my psychiatrists think so; therefore, is my queerness, as disability, wired into the cortexes of my brain, and, if so, what must I now think, reconsidering all the theories of performativity I had learned in Gender Studies courses, reading feminist theories?
Delirium may occur in some, it may manifest at times, but the explanatory drifting instantiated by Deleuze and Guattari offers little by way of reparative possibilities for schizos who, queerly, nonetheless desire a community, a queer community, a community which may itself queer the very typicalities which underlie the construction of reality as inaccessible. In other words: by deploying neuroqueerness within the frame of schizoqueerness, simultaneously offering schizoqueerness the queering of neurotypicalities implied within neuroqueerness, l hope that this deepening of the neuroqueer community can be the starting point for a new, queer orientation within schizophrenic thought. Situating schizoqueerness as my neuroqueerness is how I re-verse the narratives of performativity that were themselves thrown into delirium in my experience of psychosis. My queerness, then, becomes disabled in the course of engaging with a reality architecturally structured by co-constitutive forces of straightness (which make our understanding of reality narrow, confining) and neurotypicality (which summon a naturality to one mode of experience while pathologizing others as deviant).
If “neuroqueer” can be understood to act as a form of doing, where the actions of people “who are intentionally ‘queering’ their neurotype through a refusal to conform/assimilate […] an assertion of identity, or as a way of asserting an accommodation need without invoking the usual procedural legal channels,” what might such a queering have to offer to bodies not only positioned beyond the “shared” reality architecturally created as inaccessible, but also to modes of consciousness which split from intersubjective reality-creation? I defend that schizoqueerness is a tendency already at work within neuroqueer communities: it is a radicalization of the deployment of disability as a queer act of political resistance, where particular|individual aesthetics, modes of perception, ontologies, modes of consciousness, whole ways of being are summoned by individuals but also the differences of each from the other, uniting these modes/thoughts/beings through the queer “nosology” of neuroqueerness.
In other words: when schizoqueerness comes to be understood as already in conversation with neuroqueerness, what reparative possibilities might the two have to offer one another? What projects become possible when the schizomatic tendency toward re-organization engages with this political inclination located within neuroqueerness, to queer this neurotype by deploying neuro-schizo-queerness as an aegis of resistance?
Imagine: a Rubix Cube rotating upon itself, rotating and re-arranging even the distribution of colors on the surface, the colors themselves sinking into undifferentiation, passing into a depth from which the morass of identity can later come to embellish the surface? This is how I envision a schizomatic tendency operating within a community of neuroqueerness: offering to neuroqueer this velocity, a principle of re-making, making through splitting, splitting which itself strengthens community by providing an impetus for re-making, re-modeling, re-constructing by fragmenting. This means that splitting|fragmenting might be properly understood as a splitmending, the mending of terror through a compensatory splitting that is no longer pathological.
vi. Fragmentation occurs: unable to cope with the tendencies of reality to demand blood,
consciousness wavers: insomnia roils; mania commands—itself
vii. Before hopeless, before powerless, in face of the reality-bashing-in|on-me that is what
THEY call “sanity”
viii. This is the most beautiful compensation, I could have thought.
Within my “split” consciousness, and even in the harshest throes of a manic psychosis, I never experience myself as several entirely different entities. In the same way, the fragmentation that schizoqueerness offers to neuroqueer should not be taken as a threat to the “singularity” of communities of neuroqueerness, since what this fragmentation has to offer is a coming-together by coming-apart, a coming-apart that reveals our modes of doing neuroqueerness as motivated by this velocity-toward-differentiation: it is, as all psychosis is, a wager where we risk the coherence our selves and our communities in order to deepen the conceptual definitions we offer in the name of lateral inclusion.
I will gamble here on a post-structuralist turn-of-phrase, but, in my florid episodes, any signifier which might name this entity called “myself” that would attempt to unify the fragmentations of consciousness would always only fail to name the experiences of non-existence constitutionally present in many expositions of schizophrenic life.
Language tumbles forward on itself when vocabulary attempts to define any experience of psychosis, recourse to metaphor is insufficient, and simile is rarely satisfying to reflect upon outside the mania of a florid episode. In the same way, any explanation of feelings of loneliness, isolation, alienation, and fragmentation felt by members of any community—whether communities of neuroqueerness or neurotypicality—fail to find themselves represented in the names or values that would come to constitute the community as such. The splitmending tendency of fragmentation, then, should be deployed as a way to bring ourselves closer to one another even as we recognize the conceptual difficulties we have in communication, the differences in realities that we live in, the reality that we are different from one another as well as different from the expectations of hegemonic neurotypicality.
ix. How can we re-turn the phrase, re-verse the tendencies of exclusion, when this tendency is inscribed within reality?
x. Fragmentation has its costs; splitting does not happen without pain, but a splitting is always a chance to do something new with something that was not there before. If neuroqueerness will accept the wager of schizomatizing itself, or embracing|enjoying the schizoqueer flows still hiding, even within communities of neuroqueerness, what new worlds can we, together, create?