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Eugene Thacker's Scholarly Advice for Dark Times


In the New Yorker, Betsy Morais has a short piece on Eugene Thacker, whose new book, Infinite Resignation: On Pessimism, comes out this month. Thacker teaches a course on pessimism at the New School in New York, where he is a professor, and Morais notes that the course has become more and more popular as our global situations has become more and more grim in recent years. Here’s an excerpt:

“An aspect of pessimism is the routine,” Thacker said. As are, he added, both “a sense of holding out hope” and “a sense of futility.” He began working on his new book eight years ago, during the “hope and change” era, and completed it during what seems to many like the end-time. To him, it doesn’t matter which Administration is in charge. “There’s always something to complain about,” he said. “There has always been a one per cent, there’s always been discrimination of people because of their race.” He’s not on social media. “I assume it’s just run by bots,” he said. Including Trump? Thacker nodded. “He’s a bot.”

If pessimism is about futility, what’s the point of writing about it? Thacker’s not sure, but he thinks that there’s something interesting about “undertaking the practice anyway.” He added, “Maybe it means next time around, the only students who get A’s are the ones who don’t turn in a paper.” The alums laughed. Humor can be helpful to pessimists. “I went through a phase of watching a lot of standup comedy,” Thacker said. “I love George Carlin. He takes no political side. Everyone deserves our spite.”

Image of Eugene Thacker via