Okay, I think I’ve begun to concretize my way into Doucet’s text through Berlant: both are interested in the present’s ongoing condition. Huge revelation. You’re welcome. Notes under the cut.
Lately, I’ve been stuck in my dissertation/career writing. I’m working on finishing an article, but progress has been slow going, and I feel like I’ve been slogging away at it forever. I’ve also been stuck in my preparation for my second chapter, which is on Julie Doucet’s My Most Secret Desire. It’s an important chapter, partially because I need it to be able to frame my work as about “North American,” rather than “American” texts. Yesterday, I think I finally hit on some of my trouble: in my outline, I basically say “I’m going to read this text as a representation of abjection and trauma.” Spoiler: after two years of thinking and reading, I don’t really think I want to read the text through the lens of trauma.
This is where Berlant’s work is helpful to me, as Berlant’s Cruel Optimism is about thinking through something beyond trauma. Rather than focusing in on texts that respond to interruptions (traumas), Berlant focuses on the persistence, in text and in life, of attachments known to “actively impede the aim that brough you to it initially,” or that prevent you from flourishing. Though she avoids casting blame in any direction, she does suggest that neoliberalism is one factor that aids in the production of relations that make cruel optimism more proable for some subjects, which is something that I’m really interested in (this is an interest that I discovered while writing my first chapter).
The usefulness of pairing these texts is twofold: she provides me with a framework to begin writing through, and my project thinks through cruel optimism in a Canadian context (Berlant focuses only on America and Europe). In any case, my half-baked notes after the cut.