25 May 2015

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"Affirmation here is not some sort of naïve, silly and candid-like “oh, I want the world to be a better place.” No, it’s a very gutsy engagement with the present. It takes a lot of courage to take on the present. It is very depressing stuff. If you want to do critical theory this way, you’re going to be a pretty gloomy person, a very depressed partner, and somebody that will never be invited to witty dinner parties, you will be just too depressed. So I always say, clock in and clock out; engage with the present just enough, and then have a good gin and tonic and get on with it, it’s Friday afternoon after all, so what the hell. But dosing the amount of horror that you take in, what Bourdieu called la misère du monde, the misery, the wretchedness, that negative consciousness that is so much a part of critical theory, to actually fight for justice you have to take on the burden of the injustice. To want to improve the situation you need to take stock of what it is; it takes a lot of courage. No wonder many people just go out the door and do whatever they do in the science departments… I’m just doing this, I’m not looking at the global picture… In the humanities, in critical theory, in feminism, we look at the global picture. I have lost so many of my friends either to burn out, to early death, or to forms of completely opportunistic conformism, that I have started thinking seriously about the politics of affirmation as a praxis, as a practice; you engage with the horrors of the world, you take it in, we dose it very carefully in space and time, and then we process it. This is what I think the micro political comes down to. You dose it, you focus, you frame it, and you act on it. And you can only do it in very localized manners and in very sustainable doses. Because we critical theorists are just as human as others, slightly more mortal than most, however. And that vulnerability that comes with this courage, this recklessness, or taking on the misery of the world, is something that we need to add to the general picture, or the methodology or pedagogics of critical theory. We really don’t want any more dead heroes. And we don’t want anymore of our students fighting losing battles in the margins, facing poverty and precarity, we want you to succeed. And this means dosages."
—Rosi Braidotti, "Nomadic Feminist Theory in a Global Era" (lecture 2012)

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