A response to Lee Edelman's essay “I'm Not There: The Absence of Theory,” this article explores the conceptual life of difference in queer theory and extends Edelman's formulations in the direction of post–de Manian aesthetics and theories of (un)becoming and identity shattering. Explicit in Edelman's essay is the point that difference is meaningful insofar as it testifies to a turning or torquing ethics of reading that demands that we contemplate but not acquire the disfigurations it compels. In its critical illegibility, difference is neither a model nor an apparatus that can be gesturally employed to get things right. To do so would imply that difference, like an ideal, can methodologically serve and justify the ostensibly positive yields of interpretation. Instead, difference is a kind of syncope or suspension of (dis)belief, a stalling of consequence that turns our belief elsewhere to places “not there”—to the exclusions or excessive remainders that haunt thought. This interpretation of difference is brought to bear on the work of Leo Bersani and Ulysse Dutoit, where sameness is posited as an extension into (rather than a retreat from) otherness. The essay concludes with a brief reading of William Wordsworth, a nod to Edelman's engagement with the writings of Paul de Man.

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