Queer Shame, Soul, and Pleasure
What distinguishes ‘lesbian and gay’ on the one hand, and ‘queer’ on the other, is that the former is preoccupied with the discourse of rights, equality, and arguably, assimilation into normality and power structures, and the latter with upsetting –some would say ‘shattering’ (Halperin, 1995)– certainties about gender and sexual identity itself. Many queer people are able to present a persona of societally palatable homosexuality, by virtue of our (seemingly) being white, cisgender, gender conforming, monosexual, middle class. This often means that other, more Dionysian aspects of ourselves such as non-monogamy, kink/BSDM, bisexuality, gender fluidity are either consigned to the closet or become wholly unconscious. Initial or initiatory experiences of non-conforming gender or sexuality carry significant emotional and numinous intensity, but the longing for a (re)connection with those numinous experiences is sometimes pathologized, especially in ‘developmental’ Jungian contexts. For some queer people, unless we honor a kind of energy that may be labelled as ‘the inner slut’, we end up like the wandering dead in Jung’s The Red Book, who have forgotten to live their animal.
This talk will offer a queer reading of the word ‘animal,’ which differs from Jung’s own interpretation, for example in ‘layer 2’ material in The Red Book and elsewhere. Many queer men I work with have complicated relationships with these aspects of themselves. This is the land of the traumatizing, societally inflicted, and internally maintained affect of shame, and yet this is also the psychic land of queer pleasure and queer soul. This talk is not just about bringing more aspects of queerness to light; it is also about engaging with the paradox that once something is brought to light, it often loses its flavor and intensity; it becomes what poet Rachel Wiley calls “dry cake wishes and tap water dreams”.
George Taxidis is a Jungian analyst (BJAA) in private practice in east London, UK. He was the co-founder of the Queer Social Dreaming Matrix, which playfully engages with dreams within the queer community, and the international queer Jungian initiative. He lectures at Goldsmiths, University of London, where he is involved in therapist training and psychosocial studies. He is currently writing a book on queering Jungian psychology to be published by Routledge.