This episode features James, John, and newly-christened Always Already Correspondent M. Shadee Malaklou in a discussion drawn from a cross-reading of Calvin L. Warren’s “Black Nihilism and the Politics of Hope” (2015) with Frank Wilderson III’s “Gramsci’s Black Marx: Whither the Slave in Civil Society?” (2003). The spirited conversation covers the relation of (anti)Blackness to the constitution of the p/Political, its structuring logics of linear progressive time and rational civic engagement, and how the Political ultimately fails to achieve emancipation. We interrogate whether Western metaphysics is constitutively anti-black (spoiler alert: yes), and position Black Nihilism alongside Afropessimism, Black Optimism, and Afro-Futurism (all with their due™) to think through their various genealogies of production, the deeply affective labor asked of Black scholars who work on Black suffering. The episode concludes with an ode to the ever-needed wisdom of Black feminism. Is all hope lost? Take a listen and find out.
Thanks to the anonymous listener who requested this episode. Support us on Patreon to help us upgrade our recording equipment. Requests for texts for us to discuss? Dreams for us to interpret? Advice questions for us to answer? Email us at alwaysalreadypodcast AT gmail DOT com. Subscribe on iTunes. Follow us on Twitter. Like our Facebook page. RSS feed here. Thanks to Leah Dion for the intro music, to B for the outro music, and to Bad Infinity for the music between segments. Get the mp3 of the episode here.
Special guest co-host Lindsey Whitmore (Rutgers) joins Rachel and John to talk about Lauren Berlant’s 2011 book Cruel Optimism. Join us as we traverse this notably title-colon-less text in queer theory and cultural studies (among other fields). We start by asking what is cruel about cruel optimism and how it is related to attachment and temporality. From there, we ask after the way affect works in the text, what we might say Berlant’s method is, how her book relates to the work of Sara Ahmed and José Esteban Muñoz, her rethinking of agency and sovereignty, and more. There are some critical questions to discuss as well: What does her analysis of fatness and obesity miss? What other relations to futurity are possible? Is optimism always (already) cruel? The discussion closes by Lindsey telling us about how Berlant’s concept of “slow death” works in her own project on debility and care and by thinking through optimism’s relationship to survival.
In One or Several Wolves?, we analyze a dream about Tina Turner and Hogwarts; In My Tumblr Friend From Canada, we advise on summer body hair.
Thanks to Hanna for suggesting this text. Requests for texts for us to discuss? Dreams for us to interpret? Advice questions for us to answer? Email us at alwaysalreadypodcast AT gmail DOT com. Follow us on twitter. Subscribe on iTunes. Like our Facebook page. Get the mp3 of the episode here. RSS feed here. This episode’s music by Jordan Cass and by B.