The Gulf Coast Blog

Craft • Culture • News

Craft • Culture • News

Losing the Plot: On Lauren Berlant's Desire/Love

Christina McCausland

In their entry on love, Berlant writes that we tend to (mistakenly) use the objects our desire attaches to in order to assume an identity— “you know who you ‘are’ only by interpreting where your desire has already taken you.” A lot of the queer-awakening clickbait that I read that summer was doing just that, i.e. I first knew I was queer when x, or I should have known I was queer when y.

Feeling Political

Anthony Sutton

For Berlant, part of the problem of politics is that marginalized people have to accommodate the feelings of their majority counterparts in order to successfully exist in public, or else those majority counterparts may, frankly, freak the fuck out. Controversial stand-up comedian Dave Chappelle gives us evidence that the January 6th, 2021 U.S. Capitol riots represent a moment in which the anxieties of “formerly iconic citizens” ran wilder than has ever been witnessed: “[white people] felt what black people felt for 400 years and felt it for 30-minutes, stormed the Capitol, and rubbed their shit on the walls.”

Berlant’s Phraseology: An Impression

Gabriel Ojeda-Sagué

Lauren Berlant was ripe for imitation. Some young scholars imitated them in their writing in the hopes of being taken more seriously, disgruntled students imitated them as a way of venting their frustrations with their teaching, loving students and friends imitated them for the pleasure of sharing with each other this loved person’s unique echoes.

Beyond Lauren Berlant

Rosa Boshier & Erik Brown

Gulf Coast’s newest online feature “Beyond Lauren Berlant” pulls together a series of works, to be published monthly between February and June of 2022, inspired by the late scholar and cultural theorist Lauren Berlant, who died on June 28, 2021.

Origin Story: Dolos

Robert James Russell

It’s true: humans have a desire not just to tame nature, but to be its master, to live where and how we want and to not apologize for it. The second half of this equation, then, is villainizing nature when it doesn’t conform. Even just using the word “kill”—“tornado kills”; “hurricane kills”; “forest fire kills”—we are imbuing sentience to a force that, like matter in the universe, merely just exists. There is no malice in a storm. A storm storms, it flares up and resets and we pick up the pieces.

"Sentences Are Painful to Make": An Interview with Kyle Minor

Colby Ornell

Sentences are painful to make, and we now live in a culture in which the words are made into minefields after they’re spoken or typed. I feel a lot more freedom with images, which convey their complications without words.

Origin Story: Pigeon

Robert James Russell

What is it to call an animal or a plant a pest, anyway? To say it does not belong wherever it might find itself? We worry so much about words like endemic and exotic, forgetting that these beings will outlive us all, will find a way to migrate even if we weren’t here. We scour the globe, leave home, find adventures in new places. We spread ourselves along wall-sized, push-pin festooned maps in our bedrooms and wish to be anywhere but here. But an animal? Invasive. A plant? A weed.

Origin Story: Wood

Robert James Russell

When I was young, I carved my name into a two-pronged tree in our backyard that looked like a giant slingshot. It was my tree. I used to rest in its crook and look out over the lawn. I didn’t understand that, more than likely, trees can feel pain. That, in their own way, research has shown they have emotional responses to the world. I claimed it as my own to anyone who came over to play. Trees are plodding beings who grow over human generations. They stand tall while our families diminish. All the while, I’m sure of it, that tree moved and talked to me and had insight and felt pain. I just refused to learn its language, is all.

Origin Story: Purple

Robert James Russell

My first curiosity with the color purple was in church. The formidably wiry Lutheran pastor, Pastor O___, with his black bowlcut and his square jaw and set-upon shoulders, bemoaned John 19:5: “So Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. Pilate said to them, ‘Behold the man!’”

"More than One Shadow": An Interview with Eduardo C. Corral

Justin Jannise

"I am pouring my language into new containers again and again, and I make sure each container has a different line length. As I pour my language into these new containers, I’m forcing myself to rethink the syntax and diction of each line."