LAUREN BERLANT CRUEL OPTIMISM PDF

Works[ edit ] Berlant is the author of a national sentimentality trilogy beginning with The Anatomy of National Fantasy: Hawthorne, Utopia, and Everyday Life , which looks at the relation between modes of belonging mediated by the state and the law, modes of belonging mediated by the aesthetic, and especially by genre, and modes that grow from within the everyday life of social relations. The book works across the U. Maintaining attachments that sustain the good life fantasy, no matter how injurious or cruel these attachments may be, allows people to make it through day-to-day life when the day-to-day has become unlivable. Like it might be that being in a couple is not a relation of cruel optimism for you, because being in a couple actually makes you feel like you have a grounding in the world, whereas for other people, being in a couple might be, on the one hand, a relief from loneliness, and on the other hand, the overpresence of one person who has to bear the burden of satisfying all your needs. Berlant works with many journals, including as editor of Critical Inquiry and Public Culture , and helped to found and has chaired the Center for Gender Studies at the University of Chicago. Political Emotions, ed.

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Part I—What is Cruel Optimism? This provides her with the foundation for explaining the nature of cruel optimism. Why is cruel optimism important? According to Berlant, it is important for analysising why people today continue to ignore the deeply injurious and destructive nature of their attachments in favour of optimism.

Affect is embedded in terms of understanding or diagnosing the present because it is felt before it is known, particularly in the way that she is looking at the present as structured by the impasse, rather than movements towards any futures.

Elsewhere, she describes the present as a middle without boundaries, edges, a shape. It is experienced in transitions and transactions. It is the name for the space where the urgencies of livelihood are worked out all over again, without assurances of futurity, but nevertheless proceeding via durable norms of adaptation.

People are destroyed in it, or discouraged but maintaining, or happily managing things, or playful and enthralled. Theoretically, she draws on Marxist critical theory, queer theory, and critical theory in the Frankfurt School tradition that, to explain personal and collective desire, uses resources from psychoanalysis, philosophy, and mass society theory and phenomenologies of embodied existence via feminism, trauma studies, etc.

From Marxist thought she draws on its account of fantasy; how our senses and intuitions are transformed in relation to property and to labour. Queer theory is also useful for seeing things like gender, sexuality or race as a process rather than a foreclosing identity. Thus, it is a time for using the space created by impasse to learn something about how to imagine better economies of intimacy, labour and public life.

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On Cruel Optimism

Part I—What is Cruel Optimism? This provides her with the foundation for explaining the nature of cruel optimism. Why is cruel optimism important? According to Berlant, it is important for analysising why people today continue to ignore the deeply injurious and destructive nature of their attachments in favour of optimism. Affect is embedded in terms of understanding or diagnosing the present because it is felt before it is known, particularly in the way that she is looking at the present as structured by the impasse, rather than movements towards any futures. Elsewhere, she describes the present as a middle without boundaries, edges, a shape. It is experienced in transitions and transactions.

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Cruel Optimism

I was faced with an additional challenge: I developed a cruel optimistic relation with the book itself and with my process of reading theory in general, which the book generously gave me the tools to defuse. I realized, as I write these synopses and accumulate more and more "knowledge," that my need to fill up my catalogue overshot the actual content value of my synopses. Further, my attachment to my catalogue made me anxious about confronting the fact that my synopses might all be useless. So as I read, I desperately tried to summarize the chapters in a way that was better, more comprehensive, more effective, with my mind set on the "Berlant" entry of my catalogue. This turned into a vicious cycle, since, as I wrote, my anxiety grew as well and made the content of my synopses worse and worse. So I scrapped it all, and tried to develop a new reading process. This new reading process attends to the content in front of me.

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