Building on Ewa Ziarek’s account of “potentiality” and “incandescence” as feminist counter-modernisms, this essay argues that these aesthetic and political strategies have been co-opted by neoliberalism and domesticated into resilience discourse. This argument is made, in part, through a reading of singer Katy Perry’s 2012 song “Firework.” If resilience discourse is designed to automatically co-opt any and all transgression, deconstruction, critique, and opposition, how does one resist resilience? The second part of this article responds to that question, reworking Ziarek’s concept of melancholy and arguing that this updated concept is, if not an alternative to neoliberal resilience, then perhaps a feminist method of handling it. This melancholy isn’t the failure to get over a lack, but the failure to keep pace with accelerationism, the failure to overcome harder, better, faster, stronger. Melancholy is, in other words, radiance that’s either too fast or too slow: a bad vibe.
Robin James; Incandescence, Melancholy, and Feminist Bad Vibes: A Response to Ziarek’s Feminist Aesthetics and the Politics of Modernism. differences 1 September 2014; 25 (2): 116–129. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/10407391-2773454
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