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I focus on genres of crisis here because the sensorium

created by chronic crisis produces the present as a constant

pressure on consciousness that forces consciousness to

apprehend its moment as emergently historic. As an

aesthetic it foregrounds the work and the world of

adapting to a situation and desiring to force certain forms

of adaptation normatively onto the scene. Crisis reveals

and creates habits and genres of inhabiting the ordinary

while reconstituting worlds that are never futures but

presents thickly inhabited, opened up, and moved around

in. (848)

Berlant’s idea of crisis in the everyday underscores, firstly, the

threat concealed in the banal and the ordinary. For her, what is

taken as the good life might pose an obstruction to its own

realization. Secondly, it foregrounds the subjects’ affective response

to this crisis through adaptation and improvisation. The historical

present therefore presses upon the individuals to remake intuitions,

form new habits, and produce “a personal, political, and aesthetic

ambit that pushes the ongoing event into something that never

quite becomes a bounded event” (849).

Berlant’s elaboration on

the crisis in the everyday seeks to excavate the alternative

imaginaries arising from the lived moments of the historical

present and redefine “the historical novel as the aesthetic

expression of an affective epistemology”



Berlant’s conceptualization of crisis in everyday life as the

core of writing history links specifically to the promise of the good

life contemporary liberal-capitalist societies seem to offer but

which is never really actualized. In such societies, what is troubling

and challenging is not the exceptional events that lead to trauma,

but the crisis in the ordinary that is often caused by our pursuit of

the good life. Even though Rosca’s novel is contextualized in a


Berlant’s article “Intuitionists: History and the Affective Event” first appeared in

American Literary History

(2008), a revised version of the article was

incorporated into her monograph

Cruel Optimism

(2011). The term “affective

epistemology” did not appear until the second version (Berlant, 2011: 64).