Cruel Optimism 2, Intuitionists

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.



Optimism is cruel when: it takes the shape of a “binding to fantasies that block the satisfactions they offer, and a binding to the promise of optimism as such that the fantasies have come to represent.” (When the optimism towards the fantasy begins to take the place of the fantasy itself- being hooked on the promise.)

Intuition: “the process of dynamic sensual data-gathering through which affect takes shape in forms whose job it is to make reliable sense of life” (52). Important: ongoing, related but different to Althusser’s interpellation. They processes through which subjects learn intuition “can be said to capture the drama of their historical present” (52). “The contact zone between the affects and their historical contexts of activity” (79).

Habit: daily practices that enable subjects to understand their present, focus on a future, etc. “…everyone lives the present intensely, from within a sense that their time, this time, is crisis time” (57).

Happening: rather than event. Described as such because the text is working at that which is in the impasse created by crisis (80).

Trauma (as taken up by Cultural Theorists prior to Berlant): self-evident in autopoesis & in the way that it takes claim to a subject, but cannot be equally claimed/owned in return. Fucks with the subject’s temoporality, in part because of an excess of signification.

Trauma (as Berlant takes it up): one of many ways of “managing being overwhelmed” (81).

Questions/Conections: 1.) At the risk of being too simplistic, might we argue that unpaid internships, in which privileged youth work for the promise of jobs in lieu of dollars, is an ideal example of a kind of nationally sanctioned cruel optimism? 2.) “The impasse of the present that is controlled structurally by transnational capital with all its force of direct and indirect violence” (is unstoppable/inescapable) 85. Is Doucet’s text too early to express this same impasse, or restricted in its representation because it is a dream journal? 3.) Curating as a way of “collecting phenomena for the purpose of their gaining value” (87). Maybe an entry point- Doucet’s text as a collection of dreams that, in their circulation and relation to one another retain or gain value. (Maybe?) 4.) “trauma is the revelation that, in the singular present that is the zone of an ongoing life, one has only been loaned a name and biography and personality and meaningfulness, and that that loan could be recalled not just by death but by the cruel forces of life, which include randomness, but which are much more predictable, systematic, and world-saturating than that too” (91). Lens?

Further Reading: Henri Bergson’s Matter and Memory (“intuition is the work of history translated through personal memory.”)

“What does it say about about her nervous system that it senses the aura of panic around a softness whose status as consequence, an effect of an operation, is simultaneously an intensely perceived as the images themselves” (83)?

Cruel Optimism 2, Intuitionists

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