DESPAIR

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I/we understand the impetus behind activist directives to remain hopeful, to not give in to despair, to believe that our activism will help to bring a better world into being. Scholars and activists alike tend to put movement and hope in one basket and demobilization and despair in another. We often presume that despair and its companion feelings (desperation, despondency, DEPRESSION...) are individual and isolating, necessarily forcing a retreat from politics and its collectivities. Feeltank is interested in challenging these conclusions—empirically, conceptually, and politically. Rather than necessarily demobilizing, history shows that despair and desperation can lead people to refuse forms of politics that are no longer working and to embrace other forms that were previously abandoned or that have never been tried. It can allow a rejection of the “tried and true�? in favor of a more open-ended, unscripted politic. It can lead people to creative invention, to movements, and to the streets. On the other hand, despair can also discourage and deplete and depoliticize; that’s some of the work that despair does. It can lead to the embrace of a form of religious fundamentalism that has no place for non-believers. It can lead to fascism. The stakes are high. Despair demands our attention. We cannot deal with despair by forbidding it, by disavowing it, by replacing it with hope. We want to collectivize despair through an acknowledgment of its political sources, effects, and potential. We want to collectivize the despairing, deisolate ourselves, and direct our despairing feelings into the political realm. See [Politically Depressed, First Annual International Day of the]. See IMPASSE. See OPTIMISM.

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