Shannon Draucker responds to Kate Thomas
Kate Thomas’s response draws my attention back to Joseph’s emphasis on the everyday, the ordinary, and the domestic – the “queer quotidian.” As Thomas writes, Joseph’s “method and her archive encourage scholars to sit with what is ‘mere,’ or ‘trivial,’ or worn and reworn.” And yet, as both Joseph and Thomas point out, these “mere” or “trivial” things can be richly alive, igniting desires and pleasures both aesthetic and sensual. Moreover, they can offer unexpected forms of affiliation and expression, even “political resistance.”
This reorientation towards everyday objects seems to me a helpful reminder in our current moment, when our relationships to “things” are particularly vexed. Since March, objects have largely been things to hoard (toilet paper), politicize (masks), or fear (cardboard boxes that might harbor viral particles). While we cling to our pets and nurture our sourdough starters – a substance that provocatively straddles the living (yeast, bacteria) and the inanimate (flour) – we are wary of other objects that might be too alive; we sanitize the mail and groceries and wash our hands when we have touched potentially contaminated subway railings and elevator buttons. In this context, I wonder if Joseph’s discussion of “exquisite materials” is so invigorating (even “dangerously pleasurable,” as Julia Fuller writes) because it reminds us that our relations to objects can be more delicious, pleasurable, and resistant. As we fret over the traces of viral droplets lingering on a mask, we can also remember the perspiration from a “long-ago dance in a Tuscan garden” oxidizing the beautiful dress in Joseph’s book.
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