Sedgwick’s Snow

In the wake of my own breast cancer diagnosis, I’m returning to Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, whom I love, and now, attuned to the weather, I find reflections on the role of snow in a protest:

“It was the snow, profuse, gratuitous, equalizing, theatrically  transformative, that seemed most to guarantee the totality and symbolic evenness of this pure signifying space. It was also, however, the contingency of the snow that, in the slow unfolding of the afternoon, projected heart stoppingly onto the largest screen the ambiguities of the protestors’ refusals. Would the traffic stop for these anomalous figures in the road? Could it? Did they always know wehther it could? Were nerves freying? As protesters got read their rights, handcuffed and bundled off into the icing school bus, questions of standing devolved into dangerous questions of footing: it doesn’t take much state force, in the twist of a policeman’s wrist, in the simple not-thereness or symmetrical refusal of the policeman’s arm, to send a handcuffed person slipping to the ground. And it seemed puzzlingly as if the concrete and very contingent dangers of the scene, interfering on the pure symbolic register of civil disobedience, at the same time somehow were of its essence and indeed actually constituted its symbolic and performative power.” from Touching Feeling: Affect Performativity, Pedagogy (Durham: Duke UP, 2003): 29



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