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Ugly Feelings

Started by droqen, November 06, 2022, 02:39:49 AM

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P. 310
[Rosi Braidotti] questions the "deconstructing, dismissing, or displacing the notion of the rational subject at the very historical moment when women are beginning to have access to the use of discourse, power, and pleasure" . . .

. . . "conspiracy theory" . . . "bad timing" . . .


From the previous page (of my notes), I realize that I have a strong desire to make connections, specifically to cohere disparate ideas into one idea for a reason I can only vaguely explain. "Conspiracy theory", "difficulty", "unfamiliarity", "bad timing", and "a too-close fit" all orbit this habit -- and here is also an example of the drive in action, here I am looking for (and finding) a way to cohere all these thoughts into one vessel.

The "too-close fit" in particular is an interesting case. It exists opposite from 'difficulty' and 'unfamiliarity', perhaps seen as worthless because it is a too-easy connection, made of parts that are already too familiar, therefore not worthwhile? The example response given by Ngai on page 309 is "Tell me something I don't already know!"

This expresses not fear or anger, but dismissiveness, something closer to an ugly feeling like disgust or irritation - perhaps paranoia's opposite, the feeling of too-closeness produces a provocation towards paranoia, towards overreach.


I've never seen this laid out in plain text... I won't try to fully recapture it here.

P. 317
Quote. . . emphasis on the politics of form can also lead to an opposing feminist position: . . . attachment of gender codes to language promotes the restriction of women to certain kinds of expression . . . How does one develop a critique of sexual differences without . . . affirm[ing] and reinforc[ing] the system of sexual difference itself? . . . the enterprise of critique threatens to become a paranoid economy with the question of complicity at its very center. [emphasis mine]


A paranoid economy. what a term.


Quote from: p317[Suppose] paranoia forefronts the question of how to adequately distinguish our own constructions from those which construct us


As I read this I thought a lot about games criticism. I am... I have thought about where games criticism comes from or could come from. I am really enjoying reading this book: a rather dense text, a perhaps paranoid text.

P. 330
Quote. . . the kind of articulating logic central to paranoid knowledge, which insists that there must always be a link . . . between situations and events

P. 331
Quote. . . while paranoid logic always offers "escaping" as one option, it offers "thinking" as the other:

Quote from: SpahrAs in theories of capital, realize this situation and see it as the beginning place for all current thinking or escaping.


End of paranoia.
This chapter struck me deeply - though much of it felt like it went over my head or under the tongue, the central thread of paranoia as positive, or necessary, or thinking spoke to me.

Finding connections. That's a pleasurable action which I can understand very well, relate to too closely. Whether it is rooted in paranoia or paranoia's root, finding and forming tenuous, even misguided connections is a deeply meaningful act to me and my life.

Games criticism. There is an irritation there that I cannot resolve yet, but I look forward to finding its connection in the future,



Ngai discusses disgust and contempt, disgust 'fixing its object as "intolerable"' (340) while 'the object of contempt is perceived in a manner that allows it to be dismissed or ignored . . . tolerated (if only barely)' (336).

Disgust is a negative affect, but not one of those 'associated with situations in which action is blocked or suspended' (back cover). We might say that true disgust is defined in part by a call to action, an unblockedness, a dissuspension.

Artwork that employs the provocation of non-acting emotion leaves a negative space... perhaps to be filled by escaping or thinking, but generally to demand its appreciator fill it with something of their own, be that paranoia, irritation, anger, or appreciation -- not the animated joy or pleasure or comfort which is delivered, given, or even forced by 'readerly' writing or other pleasant art, but the more rare self-motivated appreciation. Choosing what to appreciate may be rendered elitist in some cases and from certain perspectives but may also be understood through the lens of love (an impossible to understand hydra of feeling, with its slippery many-headed meanings and definition) in which one chooses in some sense to persevere through ugly feelings to emerge unscathed and better equipped to persist through the same in the future.


Not quoting anything yet but this regards the pages 344-345 (plus maybe a little before and after)

Ngai describes a 'political pluralism' which aligns better with 'desire' than disgust but which still wields weapons.

The ideal of multiplicity seems to have a strong parallel with the ideal of freedom, and both these ideals must include a contradictory subideal - there can be no freedom given to restrict freedom. In multiplicity and plurality, defined by inclusivity, anti-inclusive perspectives must be themselves excluded, but this exclusion is itself an anti-exclusive force.

The weapon employed with regards to art (and many other things) is that of tolerableness, a perspective which neuters any effectiveness (political, ideological, emotional) the tolerated object might otherwise have; in the pursuit of plurality, of a multitude of experiences, a defensive mechanism opposing any actual effect of those ideals has formed.


P 349
Quote. . . one could say that the desire of this poetry [Bruce Andrews' "[..]Shut Up[..]"] is to become . . . intolerable to the extent that it cannot be absorbed by the pluralist economy of an aesthetic eclecticism [or] its inclusive pull . . . [to, like "Bartleby",] activate an ugly feeling to disclose the limits of the "social disattendability" that enables friendly as well as disdainful tolerance for an object perceived as so unthreatening in its inferiority as to be barely perceptible at all.


> There is an "inclusive" "aesthetic eclecticism" which uses dismissive contempt to better digest that which is to be included, stripping all undesirable individualities of their importance without fault for destroying the actual things themselves. Ugly feelings may allow a thing to resist this social digestion, or commensuration?


Disgust. Ngai concludes by describing all the ugly feelings explored as 'nonstrategic affects characterized by weak intentionality' (353), and stating that disgust has taken us to the edge of ugly feelings, 'preparing us for more instrumental or politically efficacious emotions' (354). It is 'the furthest [this project, this book] can go'.


I've been reading this book since early-mid November of last year, it seems. It's mid-March now, so I've been reading Ugly feelings for four months. I started reading it before I began The Nature of Order Book One, and I finished Book Two before finishing Ugly Feelings.

I thoroughly enjoyed this read, and the recursively ugly feelings it gave me - it was a 'difficult' and 'unfamiliar' read, a journey through tough territory. I lost and found my way many times, perhaps losing it more often than finding it. I had a lot of individual, independent thoughts along the way; reading and writing has felt much like a conversation - I took time and space to reflect on what I had read and composed my own thoughts, then returned to the book to see where Ngai would go (or where Ngai had already gone, but subjectively speaking it lay in the future, not the past).

Often my thoughts and those presented in the book had interesting mirrors, though in other cases our thoughts were too divergent to be a productive conversation. Still, that's even how ordinary conversations go, sometimes. You talk to anyone about anything, and they may have complementary thoughts to share, or they may not.

I'd like to read more books like this, but it's rare to find a book on such a strange topic as this that I would be interested in, written by someone with thoughts I can suitably explore and chew on. The book doesn't just need to be a great conversational partner for me... I must also be a great conversational partner for the book.