Queer Times

May 22, 2020 by

by Carl R Trueman, First Things:

Darel Paul’s “Under the Rainbow Banner” in the June/July issue of First Things might be one of the most important and incisive essays the magazine has published. As Rod Dreher notes, it is a terrific piece of cultural analysis. It goes to the heart of our current moment, when individualism, freedom, and recognition are moral imperatives. And yet, as Paul hints, these things are not necessarily compatible, even in our world of kaleidoscopic identities and confected communities. Rather, they are bringing us to the point of lowest common denominator chaos.

The essay reminded me of the many years I spent trying to understand the various approaches to culture that fall under the umbrella term of Critical Theory. Queer Theory is one of the most significant of these approaches. Wading through the pretentiously written and interminably opaque prose always left me wondering: What exactly is the endgame here? What do these people want in terms of positive philosophical and political construction? I eventually concluded that the answer was really quite simple: The purpose of critical theory is not to establish anything at all. Rather, it is to destabilize as potentially oppressive any claim to transcendent truth or value. Its target is the destruction of all metanarratives, and thus the bombastically rebarbative prose is itself part of the “argument.” Leaving readers hopelessly confused about even the simplest things is an important part of the game, pellucid simplicity being one way the oppressors made their oppression seem natural.

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