I find it paradoxically funny that I desire a categorically FIXED definition of troubling from Judith Butler’s texts when all her writings point to the notion that the categorical is inherently complex and unstable. Because identity is unstable and complex what is destabilizing, troubling, to one may not be to another or involve variance in degree. So what troubles is not a fixed. Butler does however provide a contextually clear understanding of the concept and its fluidity. In unpacking doing gender to develop a framework for understand the doing of artist I need a working definition of troubling. So my first attempt at defining troubling in light of my readings and misreadings of Butler, I have arrived at the following:
[buht-ler-ee–uh n • truhb–uh l-ing]
Troubling is the experiential destabilization of X* as a result of an apparent incomplete, incompatible or nonfunctional relational alignment of X with a perceived “reality” construct.
*With X functioning as person, place, thing or practice (action)
Relative to doing artist, troubling gets even more convoluted My gut inclines me toward:
identity as artist arises out of a constitution that is largely formulated in troubling [developmental adversity; psychological/personality dysfunction and/or tendencies that are less deferent – anti-social – impulsive – dominant/hostile; neurological hyper sensitivity; situational chaffing]
- PROCESS AND PRODUCT
the artist vocationally engages with troubling to undo and redo conventions they perceive as troubling. this engagement is executed through nonconventional employment of materiality, form, process, subject matter or theme of artwork (doing).
- PRESTIGE AND POSITION
the artist’s social status is positioned as a cultural prophet of sorts, who stands at the margins and expected to intuitively and inspirationally manipulate, confront or counter convention. they are socially positioned as trouble maker
- PERPETUAL PERTURBING all the multimodal perception, engagement and positioning with troubling further destabilizes the artist’s identity, practice and social position, convention and acceptability in which they must act to substantiate the self as recognizable relative to cultural practices.
It screams to me of the complexities that might be incurred when the transgendered individual who not only navigates the undoing of categorical binaries of gender to locate themselves and arrive at the ever elusive transgender congruence for a stable sense of their personhood but also then is compelled to vocationally pursue the uncovering and altering of additional fictions located in cultural conventions (troubling the troublings). And this vocational pursuit is typically in addition to negotiating gender troubling.
Being artist arises in a troubling which then folds outward multidimensionally in ways trouble troublings.
Being artist involves a capacity to locate oneself within the flows of troubling which then seems to generate the capacity and compulsion to engage with other forms of troubling.
I AM SO CONFUSED—troubled!
I wonder if I make Judith Butler laugh or gnash her teeth.
Ha, note how I have encoded this wonder as a binary in which Butler might find herself troubled because she neither fully fits with fits of laughter or garish gnarling and gnashing of teeth in reaction to how I flippantly bastardize her important ideas.0