Lauren Berlant teaches English at the University of Chicago. Her most recent books are Cruel Optimism (Duke, 2011), Desire/Love (Punctum, 2012), and Sex, Or the Unbearable (Duke, 2013), coauthored with Lee Edelman.
It’s the first day of summer and everyone’s scurrying to a thing they’re unsure of, eyes locked away from the guy who’s approaching the driver’s side window. Jack the five-year-old rides by on his orange bike with its propellers spinning a story about monsters, and nurses speed-walk debating how and how quickly to kill pain. A girl plays with a doll whose clicking eyeballs tilt back, bending over it like a funny Gumby. The mood is like trolling a building looking for a room where you’re expected for an interview and feeling all your potential value slowly drain away, then a door opens unexpectedly.