The Promised Quotes from Illouz

I haven’t finished reading Illouz’s book yet because I never just read scholarly books. I annotate them in a very detailed way because it’s very useful for my work. Plus, I have the shittiest memory and need to revise constantly to remember what I read. So here are some interesting quotes.

On the suffering Olympics:

“Modern identity has. . . become increasingly publicly performed in a variety of social sites through a narrative which combines the aspiration to self-realization with the claim to emotional suffering” (4).

On gender roles:

“Because capitalism demands and creates networks of interdependence, and has affect within the very heart of its transactions, it has also brought about a destructuring of the very gender identities it helped establish in the first place. . . The ethos of communication blurs gender divisions by inviting men and women to control their negative emotions, be friendly, view themselves through others’ eyes, and empathize with others” (23).

And my favorite:

“Such emotional ontology has made intimate relationships commensurate, that is, susceptible to depersonalization, or likely to be emptied of their particularity and to be evaluated according to abstract criteria. This in turn suggests that relationships have been transformed into cognitive objects that can be compared with each other and are susceptible to cost-benefit analysis. . . The process of commensuration makes intimate relationships more likely to be fungibles, that is, objects which can be traded and exchanged” (36).

This is very much in the vein of Bauman. The argument is identical to his, but the explanation of the causes is more interesting, I believe. Plus, she has a rare sophisticated understanding of Freud that I have not encountered in any other theorist. She actually read the guy, which is rare.

The point everybody needs to take away from the book is that we have developed “a cognitive style which empties relationships of their particularity and transforms them into objects which. . . become more likely to know the fate of commodities traded” (38).

Eva Illouz’s Emotional Capitalism

I’m reading Eva Illouz’s Cold Intimacies: The Making of Emotional Capitalism, and it’s surprisingly good. It’s an analysis of how our emotional lives are conditioned by the system of economic relations we live in. Illouz works in the same vein as Zygmunt Bauman in his Liquid Love, but her analysis is much stronger because she talks, in a very honest and strong way, about the ways in which feminism shores up neoliberalism.

It’s very fashionable to write research about emotions these days. The so-called “emotional turn” in scholarship produced a crapload of gushy, silly books and articles about emotions. Illouz’s book is extremely refreshing in contrast because she is strangely uninterested in any of the dogmatic pieties that academics usually emit when trying to say something about gender, feminism, psychology, and capitalism.

I wondered why Illouz was so sane and wrote with such freedom until I looked at the book’s back flap and discovered that she is an Israeli scholar. As a result, I now support the boycott of Israeli scholars to protect them from being drowned by the tsunami wave of idiocy that exists in the American academia.

I’ll post a few quotes from Illouz later today so that everybody can see what I mean.