Negative political feelings provide important openings for measuring injustice but their presence or absence isn’t really evidence of anything. I might be a bourgeois who thinks that the world owes people like me who work hard an unprecarious life that will add up to something, too, but then my sense of injury isn’t objectively a measure of injustice. It’s a measure of wounded privilege. This is why I work against the idea that emotions actually ground you somewhere in true justiceland. Emotion doesn’t produce clarity but destabilizes you, messes you up, and makes you epistemologically incoherent—you don’t know what you think, you think a lot of different kinds of things, you feel a lot of different kinds of things, and you make the sense of it all that you can. The pressure on emotion to reveal truth produces all sorts of misrecognition of what one’s own motives are, and the world’s. People feel relations of identification and revenge that they don’t admire, and attachments and aversions to things that they wouldn’t necessarily want people to know that they have.
It’s part of my queer optimism to say that people are affectively and emotionally incoherent. This suggests that we can produce new ways of imagining what it means to be attached and to build lives and worlds from what there already is—a heap of conventionally prioritized but incoherent affective concepts of the world that we carry around. We are just at the beginning of understanding emotion politically.
I wonder how much of #nodads is about white boys’ wounded privilege?