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Lauren Berlant on Intimacy as World-Making

Demeyer, H; (2021) Lauren Berlant on Intimacy as World-Making. Extra Extra Magazine (16) pp. 90-100. Green open access

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Abstract

Intimacy builds worlds, says Lauren Berlant. Their work tracks how people have come to identify life with intimacy, and how the latter came to be privatised in stories of the romantic heteronormative couple as an object of desire for unconflicted personhood: the fantasy that love and life will be transparent, reciprocal and stable. In the book Cruel Optimism (2011), Berlant discusses how remaining attached to such a fantasy becomes an obstacle to flourishing in times when crisis becomes ordinary. Their method is both critical of normativity without fully rejecting it and understanding of people’s aspirations to it without fully indulging them. But as a theorist, Berlant is also invested in repurposing intimacy and making it involve all relations that are treated as a matter of course. One of the great invitations of their work, then, is to ask its readers what else they need to flourish besides dominant fantasies of the good life. What other spaces of enjoyment and relationality can we imagine, and how can we build on those attachments and patterns in order to create a world of curiosity and play that is more meaningful than the one we are living in now? This question also has political resonance: which lives count as a (good) life? In our conversation, the private and the public intersect because, as Berlant’s work convincingly demonstrates, in lived experience there is no way of telling them apart.

Type: Article
Title: Lauren Berlant on Intimacy as World-Making
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Publisher version: https://extraextramagazine.com/magazine/no-16/
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the version of record. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher's terms and conditions.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities > SELCS
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10130749
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