Cruel Optimism (3?): Slow Death, temporality, dreams, and Julie Doucet’s My Most Secret Desire.

This is going to be rambly in the way that only notes towards possible (!) dissertation chapter content can be. Basically: the outline I wrote two years ago for this chapter is now a very nice list of stuff I am no longer interested in writing about. Plus it doesn’t fit with the scope that my first chapter has helped me define. Starting over: no big deal, right? Anyway, here’s a bunch of notes.

I love Lauren Berlant’s third chapter in Cruel Optimism for a bunch of reasons, but namely: it takes on an important, timely phenomenon (the so-called obesity crisis), and it frames certain modes of inhabiting a neoliberal system in terms of “slow death”– at once a configuration of policies and social structures, and a temporality.

Comics (as both genre and form) have been recently legitimized as objects of study, at least in a select few universities in Canada (is this true in other places? I’d love to hear more if you’re in the know!), and is thus going through its formalist heyday. My work isn’t strictly formalist (clearly), but steps into formalist territory. I think my body of texts all work together to make important claims about access and citizenship, and I want to know how the comics medium enables those arguments and how it fails them.  Comics have a really specific, but malleable  relationship to pace, time, and temporality. Oh hey, aha! I think I can make a case for comics as an especially adept medium for exploring concepts like slow death. Doucet’s style, which is especially cramped and thus slow through most of “My Most Secret Desire” lends itself to this reading in ways that I’m interested in, but have not fully fleshed out.

 

 

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Cruel Optimism (3?): Slow Death, temporality, dreams, and Julie Doucet’s My Most Secret Desire.