Thursday, August 2, 2007
Just a note to suggest the inclusion of C.S. Peirce, who still lacks a good literary interpreter as far as I know, in the annals of queer philosophy broadly construed. Like the romantic hypochondriacs Coleridge, De Quincey, and Nietzsche (“’Be natural!’ –but what if one is unnatural?” Nietzsche writes in The Will to Power §66), Peirce believed that what was original about his thinking was also something different in his brain or body. According to his biographer, Peirce opined to William James that his left-handedness had resulted in a sort of left-mindedness that made him “by nature most inaccurate”: “I have always labored under the misfortune of being thought ‘original’ . . . . my mental left-handedness makes me express myself in a way that to a normal mind seems almost inconceivably awkward” (quoted in Joseph Brent, Charles Sanders Peirce: A Life [Indiana UP, 1993], 328). Although Peirce apparently believed that his imagination was intuitive and graphic rather than verbal, his visual representations of semiotic principles, not to mention more fanciful productions such as his picture of “the labyrinth of signs” (above), aren’t exactly reassuringly straightforward. Coleridge and De Quincey rarely but occasionally consider queer sexuality directly, as well as a diffuse sense of queerness throughout experience; like them, Peirce belongs among those writers who indicate the resonance and possible continuity of the two dilemmas and who seem to feel, as Michael Warner phrases it, “nothing of the normalcy that might be attributed to them” (The Trouble with Normal [Harvard UP, 1999], 37).
Image 2: Peirce's transcription of the opening of Poe's "The Raven"