Tuesday, February 28, 2006


Its fun being an up and coming academic or scholar and not having any established parameters for my work. So when I give presentations, no one knows anything I've done usually, so they ask for a bio or a description to present me. Its always fun putting them together, because while some things always go into them, other things I can shift around and play with.

For example, this line goes in nearly all bios,

"Michael Lujan Bevacqua is a graduate student in Ethnic Studies at The University of California, San Diego and the editor of the Chamorro Zine Minagahet (http://www.geocities.com/minagahet)"

The next line I always try to sneak in, but almost always gets taken out by the people who read it or publish it,

"He is the grandson of Elizabeth Flores Lujan (familian Kabesa) and the Chamorro Master Blacksmith Joaquin Flores Lujan (familian Bittot)"

I guess its a somewhat unconventional thing to have in someone's bio, but this is how I am known throughout Guam, as the grandson of Bitbit or Tun Jack, so why should I try to reformat this part of myself for here? If anything, I should try bring that here with me and not leave it on Guam.

This last section is always my favorite because here's where I get to play around. This is the "work" or "project" section where I come up with a few phrases, concepts or buzz words to describe within what disciplinary, theoretical or creative frameworks I am producing within in academia. Sometimes I just make things up and then later actually produce work which articulates it. I've been emailed a few times about what exactly certain things mean, and its always an interesting conversation, because usually I figure out what I meant by it in typing up my response.

For example, here's my "work" list from my info on the UCSD Ethnic Studies website:

Everything Chamorro, anything Guam, all things Zizek. Guerilla psychoanalysis, patriotic perversions, colonizing joissance, militarizing desires, death, ideology study, decolonization in the Pacific, indigenous expectations, impossible cultures and identities.

There are a few others that I through around here and there. What I'm going to try and do below is define a few of these things as best I can, for both your information and my articulation.
Patriotic Perversions, was something that came to me through Zizek's definition of perversion from The Ticklish Subject, in which it is a sort of short-circuit between the I and the Other, in which the unconscious is lost in the process. It is therefore clearly differentiated from the hysteric who continually creates a distance between himself and the Other (and its joissance) by his incessently questions, and the psychotic who proposes himself as the object of the Other's joissance. The pervert has therefore in a way bypassed this gap between the I and the Other through a convincing direct recognition of what makes the Other Other.

This led me to basically give up patriotic perversions and instead take up patriotic blowback, which I started developing in December of last year on this blog.

Negative universality and the indigenous critique. I'm still working on this one, although an interview between Zizek and Glyn Daly is proving promising in theorizing what exactly I mean by this.

Colonizing joissance: I am still not sure what I meant by this or what I will mean by it. My understanding of joissance changes constantly, especially since I started reading Lacanian theorists other than Slavoj Zizek. Darian Leader's work for example has really helped give me a more thorough understanding of Lacanian theory. The paper that I posted earlier today would not have been possible or would have been much narrower in reading if I hadn't read pieces of Why Do Women Write More Letters Than They Post? Needless to say, I get very different conceptions of what joissance is from these two. This isn't to say that the readings aren't mutually exclusive, they aren't, but they emphasize different aspects in my opinion. So basically I'm not clear at all and that's why this paragraph is so evasive.

Militarization of Desire: I throw this around alot, but I have no intention of developing a grandiose theory around this. My understanding of militarization has changed alot since moving to San Diego, and ending up in a political/social space which is much less militarized then Guam. There are plenty of critiques of the military here, but they are often superficial and sometimes pointless, because of the way they can unravel themselves by simulteanously recognizing a split or problem in the military and making it transparent and outside of critique. We find this interpassivity for example with politicians. Where the recognition of the split, takes on such a pathological quality that it becomes a strange natural transparency, a new form of mis-recognition. The fact that politicans are always corrupt becomes the critique that puts them beyond critique, beyond intervention.

I don't want to say that Guam is the most militarized space in human history, but like with most colonies, things which the colonial Centre must desperately disavow become the natural order of being in the colonies. This lead me to start thinking about the militarization of desire in order to get a more nuanced critique of the military in Guam for sure, but elsewhere as well. When discussing this, I often use the phrase, "how the military gets under your skin and into your desire." I have done a number of papers which I feel discuss this issue, but as I said, I'm not interested in providing some unified field theory for it.

Indigenous Expectations: My attempt to describe what I mean by this was a paper that I've discussed several times on this blog and also wrote parts of here, The Whale Rider vs. The Terminator: Resisting Expectations in the Pacific. For me the film Whale Rider provided a profound but unfortunate example of indigenous expectations, or a point whereby we can see how the expectant gazes of non-indigenous people become the expectations through which they see themselves.

Guerrila Psychoanalysis: Initially I came to use this term after another grad student at UCSD I was a reader for, used the term "guerrila reading." We were meeting with him about the papers we were grading for his class on Ethnicity and Film, and someone read an example of a student's paper to see what sort of grade it should get. The student basically said that the only way the student could come to that conclusion was by doing a real "guerilla reading" of the film. Since then I've used the term guerilla psychoanalysis to refer to my intentionally bad or incorrect use of psychoanalytical theories.

How this has most recently manifested is through my attempt to occupy the impossible distance between the terms "indigenous" and "Lacanian." As we all should know the indigenous person is never meant to occupy the position of the subject as created by modernity and there are a billion different reasons for this. What I enjoy however is nonetheless forcing these terms to go together to see what happens.

Part of my thinking on this stems from Zizek's book on Lenin, Revolution at the Gates. Although he has in-depth theoretical arguments that can prop up his fidelity to Lenin, ultimately it all boils down to Lenin being a signifier of impolite disruption. Lenin and what he represents today is a signifier of so many things that the current liberal democratic deadlock is built upon disavowing.

Impossible Identities and Impossible Cultures: Basically what my current master's thesis is on. Stay tuned for more.

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