port-man-toes: the aroace - queercrip - transmad - neuroqueer erotics of digital collaboration

S. Cavar + ulysses/constance bougie

coda: regarding texting [11/13/21]

sexting (snail texting)

I want to quickly note our texts (meta-texts? No, wait, that's already a thing...) about texting expectations in relationships of all stripes. You (should I start saying "U," as in Ulysses and as in "you"? oh i love this as a concept; idk if it'd feel good gender-wise but totes try it if you'd like) sent me a voice memo in appreciation of this unspoken agreement between us: that neither of us require niceties or apologies for texting delays, that messages can be spontaneous and unrelated to each other and can be responded to at the leisure of the recipient. Basically, I can let your texts simmer for several days, a week, longer, and that's all right with you, and vice versa.

Actually, I did think for a long time that my attitude toward texting could be described as a vice. It seemed selfish, even gluttonous, to hoard messages that way, to let notifications pile up. Gluttonous, though I didn't actually consume them: I was terrified even to open them. I think that that terror might be similar to that which some people feel about writing papers. There's no logic to it, just hollow dread. I've gotten better about holding my nose and confronting it, as it were, but I'm not someone suitable for a relationship with people who need instant replies. I know this from experience.

Since college, I've come to think more like you, about my way of texting/asynchronous communication as functioning in crip time. Or, not functioning, as the case may be.

text ID

Text message thread about crip time and texting

Cavar: YESSSS crip time and texting!!![28] This is such a huge access thing for me with friendships, etc, like I have had to end friendships/have friendships ended with me because I just Can't reply the way people expect me to. To be emo about it like it is actually heartbreaking and hurtful

Cavar: Working outside of time!

Cavar: Skipping niceties + queercrip/neuroqueer communication

Now-defunct tumblr blog Aprilwitching wrote: "Manners aren't what separate us from the bad guys" (quoted in flyingpurplepizzaeater, 2017).[29]

Cavar: One other thing I appreciate is that you don't get mad at me for being on social media/talking to ppl on there but not texting you back

This is definitely an example of the functioning type. I love the way my texting works, the way words and experiences time travel. It reminds me of being a kid and talking to people via email. I went on this sketchy pen pal website and made all kinds of friends around the world. Some of them were probably 40-year-old men, but one, to whom I wrote essay-length emails every month or so, actually visited me in person. This is the kind of friendship—slow friendship, like slow fashion or slow food?—that I need. With everything going digital during the pandemic, it felt like that slow / we talk about "taking it slow" being a good thing but yesss not enough about literally slowing down messages etc. as being part of that potentially, text-based friendship (as opposed to the chaotic immediacy of the irl) became acceptable. I've been able to see my friends irl in the last few months, and it's been nice—just the other day I went to an intimidatingly bougie / this is just funny to me bc it's my last name tbh / wine tasting with a few colleagues. It was fun, but I'm still recovering. My roommate tried to speak to me today and I felt like I was on another planet.

All that is to say that, with the exception of emergencies, I never respond in time—that is, in accordance with the demands of what Joshua St. Pierre (2015) called "straight-masculine time" / or neurotypical time, as in Pyne (2021). My conversations last months, even years, necessitating a "shared present" (St. Pierre, 2015, p. 59) necessarily fractal and fractured: if straight-masculine time is a highway, I'm in the breakdown lane. Thus, when I'm on the receiving end of this, I don't act as though the other person is taking too long. I simply respond normally whether it's been an hour or a month since that particular partner (in-texting?) last messaged me—after all, I have myriad other intimacies from which to draw community and support. No one is left behind, because we're all, as Ellen Samuels (2017) said, "out-of-time." Being perpetually out-of-time means we also always have time to spare. I think that's also partially why I hesitate to describe any of our projects as abandoned—it feels more as if it's just been a while since I've watered them. dead plants are highkey nd culture / (neurodivergent, that is) / I count these among whole worlds of crip exchange that violate ableist communicative choreographies.

Now I'm thinking: the aspec erotics of staggered communication. Crip communication, staggering(ly beautiful). The word staggering makes me think it's taken at least two weeks to jump from g to g. We violate abled, neurotypical, sane clock time,[30] pursue forms of friendship in intervals at risk of illegibility. There aren't easy words for these intimacies because we are told intimacies must not be staggered, that to be staggered is the opposite of intimate. Yet I see your name on my phone and know that you'll wait a week for my response and not get angry, and that trust alone is immensely, immensely close.



It feels like there's so much more to say in this document—I was surprised when you mentioned closing it off; it feels to me like it's hardly started. Shouldn't this doc, like a D&D campaign, be longer than a novel and take a year and a half to write? Shouldn't there be some visible character arc here? In a creative writing class I took in high school (the only one, I suppose), I was taught that short stories either had plots and climaxes / it's high time we decenter the climax! / and the like or were slice-of-life; this document feels like the latter. Is that even the right (or a helpful) way to divide stories into? On a larger scale, maybe all texts are just slivers of something they can never fully get at. Ulysses-the-fancy-James-Joyce-book is 900-some pages, but I remember feeling after I'd read it that it was technically long but felt more like an introduction to something else, a 25-page journal article barely tapping into some idea's potential. Is there any kind of text, then, that'd leave me satisfied? It doesn't help, I suppose, that I've been watching the web series Critical Role for the past few months, whose hundreds of four-hour episodes have come to feel like enough and also not enough in length and scope. The show literally is a world unto itself—you can buy literal guidebooks to Exandria and all its continents, peoples, deities, histories—but I still yearn for more. Luckily, I've got 80-some episodes left to watch, and they're still releasing new content nearly every week. In "Homo Origo: The Queertext Manifesto," Jacqueline Rhodes (2004) wrote, "There is nothing natural in text; there are, however, material considerations in text" (p. 388). We have to end things somewhere, if only so we can start all over again elsewhere. If a queertext can't or shouldn't succeed, or needs to end, that's perfectly fine: Cavar and I aren't the only people doing this. "Queertext," Rhodes wrote, "is never singular, never democratic, never collective, never solo. We never speak for all queers, even now" (p. 390). So we conclude here, taking a step back so that you might take one forward.

When we (people in general, that is) use lines like "one step forward and two steps back," we're often referring to linear progression towards a goal, if not a specific one, but it's occurring to me now that, when it comes to visualizing progress, steps back need not be negative or lacking. Would it be cheesy to note here that those steps could be read, more neutrally, as a dance? The goal being in the thing itself rather than efficiency or effectiveness, et cetera et cetera. I dance with you, Cavar, not because I hope to sleep with you afterwards—I'm not much of a sex person, or a partnered sex person, anyway—but because I dig the not-quite-horny eroticism of dance itself, the anticipation of touch just inches between us that will only ever be that. Not horny or sexual in theory but one step farther, further: horny in theory in theory. (We could call ourselves partners-in-theory.)

I'm thinking of the eroticism of encounters with difference. With different difference. Petra Kuppers et al. (2008) wrote about the unique eroticism of encountering not only the embodied difference attributed to disability, but also to the eroticism of seeing that difference depicted and performed in new ways.

Consider this, U(lysses), a postscript:

Words jump out.
Words unmake sentences.
Line breaks isolate words.
The page lets a word flower.
(Sadie Wilcox, in Kuppers et al., 2008, p. 77)

Let me jump out the page and walk with you.

I'm going to text you in a minute, probably, anyway, so it's only goodbye for a moment, if this is any goodbye at all. I'm not sure that things are so straightforward.


[28] Cavar: The obvious citation here would be Merri Lisa Johnson and Robert McRuer's (2014) "Cripistemologies: Introduction." But by this page, I'm pretty sick of the canon. I'll leave the full citation at the end if you feel compelled to read it, but you can also just trust us. Texting is crip and rocks.

[29] Niceties are overrated. These normative—white, abled, sane, middle class—"discursive expectations ... [work to] [habituate] hierarchical social dynamics" (Cedillo, 2018) that prioritize civility and distance over emotional density. Niceties can also function as euphemisms for oppressive practices; disabled poet, scholar, and activist Mel Baggs (2018) referred to these as "Snake Words." Snake Words, which, as I (Cavar) note elsewhere, "conceal and consolidate structural ableism" (Cavar, forthcoming), emblematize the violence embedded in white, middle-class, abled/sane notions of niceness, both in protecting the powerful and in subjugating the Other(ed) (refer to Stitch, 2020).

[30] Following Alison Kafer and Margaret Price, Samuels (2017) described crip time as existing outside normative timeframes, and seeking not to compel temporal compliance in disabled bodyminds, but "[bend] the clock" to meet our needs.