Feminism, affects and the political economy of knowledge (1) Fragments of Auto/Biography (2) Brief Biased History of Affects (3) Cruel Optimism, or How I learned to stop worrying and embrace ‘Depressive Realism’ (Berlant).
economy of knowledge
(1) Fragments of Auto/Biography
(2) Brief Biased History of Affects
(3) Cruel Optimism, or How I learned to stop worrying and embrace ‘Depressive Realism’
The collectivisation of analysis and self/society understanding
How was it possible to think against the intellectual hegemony of the times?Part 1 : Forming (Feel Good) Feminism?
‘structures of feeling’ as ‘social experiences in solution, as distinct from other social semantic formations which have been precipitated and are more evidently and immediately available’ In this sense, the structure of feeling is in a condition of unarticulated pre-emergence: it is neither visible, nor fully developed, but its presence can be felt nonetheless’. (Raymond Williams 133-34).
‘[structures of feeling] are about the selective traditions operating on class & culture, …the selective traditions on language & literature’ and ‘the practical social consciousness and knowledge people develop from inside their own histories’ (Jane Miller, 1990, 38)
See inter-alia; work of Morley,(1995); Strathern,(2000); Evans (2004); Gillies & Lucey, (2007); Gill, (2009) indicatively Beverley Skeggs notes:
‘[the effect of the REF]… I think this is when feminism in the academy became feminism of the academy. The politics of knowledge replaced other forms of politics and the activism that had defined a particular sort of feminism became detached from the practice of feminism in academia’ BUT: these ‘driven maniacs’ (i.e.. ourselves) have become the ‘perfect workers for capital’ (Skeggs, 2008).
Posed now as occurring post-post-structuralism and breaking with Foucauldian discursive determinism but this misrecognizes 3 relevant contributions:
[Sociology] should concern itself with what has been too easily left to psychology, namely with well-being, happiness, selfhood and with the languages used to define and talk about these socially situated forms of eudemonia'
(Illouz 1997, p. 61).
Sociology is conspicuously inadequate …physicality, humanity, imagination, the other, fear, the limits of control: all are missing in their own terms, in their own dynamic (2000:19).
(From a review by Thomas Scheff) indicatively identifying:
Simmel’s (1904) work on fashion – a treatise on shame,
Lynd’s (1961) work on shame – argued it strengthened social bonds,
Sennett and Cobb (1977) an implicit account of masculine humiliation.
Lauren Berlant speaks of a ‘sensual turn’ (2008) – cultural studies – literature & structures of feeling – (influenced by Raymond Williams) e.g. devised a 3 part history of national sentimentality.
Margie Wetherell (ethnomethodological approach) sees the domain as
‘encompassing: embodied domains of experience; what repels and what attracts people and how emotions come to move people and societies’ (2012).[affective practices]
Judith Butler; The Psychic Life of Power (1997).
Butler does not see ‘identity’ at all, but produces the subject as a fictive accomplishment of ‘identifications’ made in and against the law of the ‘heterosexual matrix’ (Butler, 1990, p. 35).
‘All identifications are saturated by wish fulfilments. This reveals the place of an active imagination or interpretation in the facilitation or prohibition of our own desires but crucially ‘these fantasies are themselves disciplinary productions of grounding cultural sanctions and taboos’.
Higher education is now modelled on the types of financial speculation that has helped get us in to this mess’. Students are encouraged to get expensive loans based on an imagined income and to hypothecate their future from the perspective of a non-guaranteed and most likely precarious job with only speculative earning power’
‘To phrase ‘the object of desire’ as a cluster of promises is to allow us to encounter what is incoherent or enigmatic in our attachments, not as confirmation of our irrationality but as explanation for our sense of our endurance in the object, all attachments are optimistic‘
‘There is no collective life without norms, the question isn’t how to become post-normative as such but how to respond to the urgency to engender other kinds of anchors or magnets for new social relations and modes of life’
Depressive Realism – An Interview with Lauren Berlant (2010)
The Feel Tank & 2 Day conference for The Politically Depressed
Negative affective states such as depression not a disconnection from politics, but as another form of attachment to it.
‘…Most people self-idealize, imagining themselves to be more beautiful and more efficacious than they are: and […] this kind of self-optimism is genuinely adaptive. Depressive realists, in contrast, are more accurate: their sense of realism isn’t dark or tragic, but less defended against taking in the awkwardness and difficulty of living on in the world. So when I said I write as a depressive realist, I meant that I see awkwardness, incoherence, and the difficulty of staying in sync with the world at the heart of what also binds people to the social.