Hope, Optimism, Shame, and other positive and negative affects

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In No Future: Queer Theory and the Death Drive, Lee Edelman has some harsh words for Annie , both her optimistic vision of the future and her figuring as the (only) Future. Snediker discusses Edelman and Annie in his essay on queer optimism, writing:

If Edelman opines that all forms of optimism eventually lead to Little Orphan Annie singing "Tomorrow," and therefore that all forms of optimism must be met with queer death-driven irony's "always explosive force" (31), I oppositely insist that optimism's limited cultural and theoretical intelligibility might not call for optimism to be rethought along non-futural lines (26).

How does optimism function in this song? Can we imagine an idea of optimism that does not rely on a futural promise in the ways that Annie does? Must a belief in (the possibility of) better futures always look like this?

Here's another vision of optimism, from the Micheal Jackson/Roberta Flack song in Free to be...You and Me. [For more on this song and its connections to hope and troublemaking, check out my blog entry, Michael Jackson, the 1970s version (pre-MTV, pre-surgery, pre-loss of hope, pre-spectacle)]


What vision of hope and/or optimism is present in this video? What similarities/differences do you see between this vision and Annie's vision? How does the future work? Do you see any troublemaking and/or queer possibilities here? How do we read this song in relation to/against Snediker's vision of queer optimism and its non-futural production of positive affects?

After discussing how Butler and Bersani seem to rely uncritically on melancholy and self-shattering as unquestioned foundations (and figurations) of the subject, Snediker discusses queer optimism in relation to Sedgwick and shame. He contrasts hope-as-horizon with shame as occurring in "a lavish present tense" (18) and wonders, "What if the field of queer optimism could be situated as firmly in the present tense as shame" (18)?  Then, he briefly mentions the link between shame and embarrassment, the "I could just die" moment, which he suggests is exemplified by Sandra Dee. Having just watched the last part of Gidget on AMC, I couldn't resist adding a clip of her uttering a slightly different version of this phrase (fast forward to 9 minutes in):


Just for fun, check out how Gidget's mom responds to Gidget's declaration that she "could just perish" (beginning of clip) and Gidget's turn toward hyper-optimism (?)/joy/elation at the end of the clip (7:30 in).


Why does Snediker spend so much time discussing shame? What is he trying to do with his discussion of the coherence/continuity-as-queer optimism that shame disrupts (24)?

To round out my examples here, I want to throw in a clip from a documentary I watched this past week, Examined Life. This clip is from Avital Ronnel and is about the "ethics of anxiety."


How can we add Ronell's vision of an ethical of anxiety into our conversation? Where would we fit it in our different visions/versions of hope, optimism, utopias? How might it fit/not fit with Mouffe/Laclau and their discussion of a hope predicated on the unrealizability of democracy, passion and a plurality of antagonisms?

One final set of questions: What is queer optimism and how does it work? What sort of concrete practices/affects/moods/emotions are involved here? How can we put Sneidker's ideas into conversation with Munoz and disidentification and risking utopianism? What about Halberstam and their claim for an expansion of the "gay male archive" of feelings? Halberstam writes:

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