Response to the question
of queer pedagogy

Babak Salimizadeh

In the first days of education, when I was walking back home from school, I saw a man who was holding his stiffened phallus in his hand and passing in front of me. This can have symbolic and social meaning for a child who has started school.

I have not ever been thinking of pedagogy. It is a term which would be about education or how would a process of learning be. Then we have the concept "un-learning" which perhaps means how we can defamiliarize or strangened our familiar knowledge or our relation to existing order of things and to ourselves. On the other hand, pedagogy seems to be a relation. Even if you learn alone. When we think of these aspects in queer terms, perhaps we are trying to queer our knowledge of the existing order of things (through defining and practicing of the norms and denormalization of those norms, of the sensory machines by which we conceive and experience, and organizing other forms of collectivity and knowledge production) and to queer the relation through which pedagogy is realized. For instance, I have been experiencing a process of learning in solitude since I was a child. Because I was not comfortable there outside or was not able to find what interests me in existing educational system. Though like any child I passed years of pedagogy but most of the things that I learnt or loved to learn were in my solitude. My "relation" was to my books or to authors if I liked them and have become my imaginary friends or even lovers! It was still a relation but a strange one. Even if I have a profound social and political experience, its functions were mostly inside.

Moreover, the condition of exile would be relevant to this topic as well. The strangeness and poverty in the new society would be a learning/un-learning process about many things. About your knowledge also. It can destroy all your knowledge capability and reduce you to the condition of less than subject who is permanently looking for a cheap job! This is at best when you can reconcile yourself with the existing norms of the society. If not, you would not even be able to educate, learn, work, or do any meaningful activity. There are many things to say on these issues, since you are not a privileged normal educated European subject, your everything would be destroyed. Then you must learn to dive.

Do you remember that scene of the film Salò, by Pasolini, which is about fascism, desire, politics and many other things, the scene where one of the characters while watching a torturing scene outside the window, asks the young boy by his side:

  • What does a Bolshevik do when he dives into the Red Sea?
  • I do not know.
  • You don't know what a Bolshevik does?
  • No, tell me.
  • He goes splash!

Babak Salimizadeh is a writer, poet and translator, who works on queer theory, literature, aesthetics and politics.

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