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Editor's Column: Pessimistic Times

Editor's Column: Pessimistic Times Editor s Column Pessimistic Times Suspicion of the status quo, discontent with the now discredited rhetoric of progress, and a lingering dissatisfaction with bland hope or optimism—with a belief in the post-ide ological, post- po litical, post- cr itical, post- racia l, and so on—have settled in. It seems that pessimism characterizes more and more today’s political horizon. In these pessimistic times—with the proliferation of ecological catastrophes, endless wars, and immigration crises across the globe—what is a literary critic to do? Is pes simism the unfortunate, if not tragic, result of failing to produce a much needed transformation in the political landscape? Is pessimism humanity’s new normal in the age of neoliberalism? Such questions invariably frame pessimism as a matter of loss (loss of will, imagination, and resistance), positing the pessimist in a state of pas sivity, reacting to intractable external forces rather than actively shaping the world. But pessimism can also embody a more active disposition. It can, for example, take the form of a hermeneutics. A pessimistic interpretive mode entails an uncon- ditional refusal to accept that “things will get better,” to prolong such cruel prag- matism, and it judges with suspicion everything around us as complicit http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png The Comparatist University of North Carolina Press

Editor's Column: Pessimistic Times

The Comparatist , Volume 43 – Nov 15, 2019

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Publisher
University of North Carolina Press
Copyright
Copyright © Society for Comparative Literature and the Arts
ISSN
1559-0887

Abstract

Editor s Column Pessimistic Times Suspicion of the status quo, discontent with the now discredited rhetoric of progress, and a lingering dissatisfaction with bland hope or optimism—with a belief in the post-ide ological, post- po litical, post- cr itical, post- racia l, and so on—have settled in. It seems that pessimism characterizes more and more today’s political horizon. In these pessimistic times—with the proliferation of ecological catastrophes, endless wars, and immigration crises across the globe—what is a literary critic to do? Is pes simism the unfortunate, if not tragic, result of failing to produce a much needed transformation in the political landscape? Is pessimism humanity’s new normal in the age of neoliberalism? Such questions invariably frame pessimism as a matter of loss (loss of will, imagination, and resistance), positing the pessimist in a state of pas sivity, reacting to intractable external forces rather than actively shaping the world. But pessimism can also embody a more active disposition. It can, for example, take the form of a hermeneutics. A pessimistic interpretive mode entails an uncon- ditional refusal to accept that “things will get better,” to prolong such cruel prag- matism, and it judges with suspicion everything around us as complicit

Journal

The ComparatistUniversity of North Carolina Press

Published: Nov 15, 2019

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