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This article is taken from PN Review 260, Volume 47 Number 6, July - August 2021.

Glitch City Padraig Regan
On the 12 June 2016, I was sitting in Woodworkers, watching – through the huge windows at the front of the pub – rain come down so hard it seemed to pixelate the façade of Benedicts Hotel on the other side of Bradbury Place. It was only after a few minutes of watching that I realised the windows were open and what I had mistaken for glass was, in fact, just air. I thought about windows: about the fact that when they are fulfilling their function most successfully is also when we are most oblivious of their presence, which means, in a sense, that one of the functions of a window is to impersonate its own absence. And I thought about glass: about how it is neither, in physical terms, a solid nor a liquid, lacking the crystalline structure of a solid, but whose molecules cannot move like those of a liquid. The term for this is ‘amorphous solid’, though ‘glassy solid’ is an acceptable, if slightly old-fashioned, alternative.

I was trying to work out if there was potential in thinking about glass as a queer material, insofar as its physicality forces us to confront the fact that the categories we receive as common knowledge – matter as solid, liquid or gas; gender as male or female; sexuality as gay or straight – are heuristic at best and cannot account for the true complex variety of being, and introduces into those systems of categorisation a disruptive new term defined only in relation to itself, bending that system around its own material needs. Which ...

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