Monday, February 6, 2012

The Queerness of Quentin Compson III (pt 2)

Contemporary resilience researchers make the distinction that "resilience [as measured] is different from recovery" (George Bonanno) 

"The term recovery connotes a trajectory in which normal functioning temporarily gives way to threshold or subthreshold psychopathology (e.g. symptoms of depression or post-traumatic stress syndrome [PTSD]), usually for a period of at least several months, and then gradually returns to pre-event levels. Full recovery may be relatively rapid or may take as long as one or two years. By contrast, resilience reflects the ability to maintain a stable equilibrium." (Loss, Trauma and Human Resilience)

"Ah let him alone, Shreve said, if he's got better sense than to chase after the little dirty sluts, whose business. In the South you are ashamed of being a virgin. Boys. Men. They lie about it. Because it means less to women, Father said. He said it was men invented virginity not women. Father said..."

"and the strange thing is that man who is conceived by accident and whose every breath is a fresh cast with dice already loaded against him..."

Here is not yet Quentin weighted and unstable on the precipice of Anderson bridge. Cambridge, Massachussets. A Harvard student cutting class. 

"In the developmental literature, resilience is typically discussed in terms of protective factors that foster the development of positive outcomes and healthy personality characteristics among children exposed to unfavorable or aversive life circumstances...Resilience to loss and trauma, as conceived in this article, pertains to the ability of adults in otherwise normal circumstances who are exposed to an isolated and potentially highly disruptive event, such as the death of a close relation or a violent or life-threatening situation, to maintain relatively stable, healthy levels of psychological and physical functioning." (Bonanno)

What more lucid metaphor for queerness than Quentin weighted on the precipice of the bridge--he is a boy, not quite a man, in transit (from Yoknapatawpha, Miss to Cambridge, Mass) and perpetually so. Of course, general consensus on the behavior of Quentin Compson III follows the psychoanalytic diagnosis of the unresolved oedipal complex. (If you have not yet read The Sound and The Fury, it is crucial that you put it on your list) While much scholarship has been dedicated to this theory based on psychoanalysis and classical literature, relatively little has been written in the way of queer theory or resilience studies. 

Quentin's station as the most intelligent (and ineffectual) scion of the decaying Compson legacy arguably allows him the relative success of attending an Ivy League school--the Ivy League school (Harvard). One has to imagine (without having read Absolom, Absolom!) the childhood Quentin was born into. Obviously (and here is the genius of Faulkner) all that glitters ain't gold--people can hide in plain sight. The placement of expectation (and much was expected of Quentin) can determine one's path. As a form of scaffolding, the influence of a cohort or familial structure is among the most important factors contributing to the development of a mind, body, soul--an actualized individual. It is clear that somewhere Quentin was impeded, or perhaps never received a crucial "something"

"If I'd just had a mother so I could say Mother Mother."

Quentin is, without a doubt, a gentleman (characterized by loss and incapacitated by shame). Certainly a matter of queerness is a matter of sexuality and Quentin's sexuality, if we can call it a developed sexuality, is highly fraught. Living in parentheses where commas will do. A bastard with no rightful claim to bastardhood and therefore an attachment to denial. A denial of failure. A denial of (amoral) desire. A denial of self. A seeming resilience to the developmental trauma of deprivation and then self-deprivation. Unable to cry, to shout in pain.