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AFTERWORD
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F L I R T I N G W I T H A N E N D I N G
‘‘Every conclusive decision brings flirtation to an end.’’—Georg Simmel1
In opening this book I wrote about flirting with the dangers of not being
taken seriously in adopting gossip as my subject. These dangers, of course,
are those of not being listened to, of being belittled for speaking without au-
thority, and—reminding us of the differing communities and orders of dis-
course which are taken to be appropriate therein—of appearing to speak in
the wrong manner to the wrong people. As I now come to write a few ‘‘after-
words,’’ I hope that this book will serve at least as example of how such a
flirtation, rather than being a marginal concern for the queer historian’s pro-
fessional vanity, might instead be embraced as a significant aspect in itself of
doing queer work. Flirting with historical protocol, rather than courting the
respect of the academic establishment by doing history ‘‘properly,’’ might
usefully delineate how queer work can of necessity disengage us, or realign
us in an odd relation to, the communities of ‘‘serious’’ academic discussion.
What Between You and Me hopefully illustrates is that in betraying history,
so to speak, in not being ‘‘true’’ to it—by speaking and writing improperly
in its name—one might come to glimpse the possibilities of thinking history
otherwise, of thinking it queerly.
Indeed it may be that flirting could be considered as a kind of queer
methodology in its own right.2 Adam Phillips in his book On Flirtation has
suggested that even though flirtation is often taken as the ‘‘maligned double
of things done properly’’—as the unserious and inappropriate act of desire
which eschews lasting commitment and love—it might, when viewed from
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