March 26, 2008

Laura Calderon de la Barca and the Anthology of Optimism

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Dear Laura Calderon de la Barca,

I am posting this because I have now twice tried to email you and have yet to hear back.

If you are out there please contact us. We are very curious.

Hope you are not offended by anything I have written below.

Optimistically yours,
Jacob


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And here is the post:

On January 16, 2008 I sent the following email to Pieter de Buyser, my collaborator on the Anthology of Optimism:


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Dear Pieter,

Today, when I was going through my blog to send someone the link about the Anthology of Optimism project:

http://radicalcut.blogspot.com/2007/02/towards-critical-optimism-preliminary.html

I scrolled down to the bottom and read the following comment by Laura Calderon de la Barca:


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Hi, Jacob!

I enojoyed very much sharing your exploration of what opens up inside of what Critical Optimism may be. I googled up the term as part of a websearch I am carrying out for a research project called "Cross-cultural 'Larrikins' in a Neo-Liberal World: Ideology and Myth in postmodern Australia, Mexico and Brazil". I first heard it the day I submitted my PhD thesis, which I wrote in the form of psychotherapeutic session for my country, Mexico, and which contains many elements that match with your reflections and ideas, although applied in different ways. My supervisor, Prof. Bob Hodge from the Univertisy of Western Sydney, suggested I join his wife, Dr. Gabriela Coronado, himself and someone else to start a group of "Critical Optimism Studies". I was delighted with the idea, and when I joined the Larrikin project as a full-time research assistant, one of my duties was to look up material for furthering this inquiry. In what you wrote there are many points of convergence with our project: the clarity about the damaging effects of Neoliberalism, the need to find other alternatives that are neither naive nor disempowering, the need to bring in reflexivity to the equation, and how identities get in the way of this, to name a few.

I am curious about the stories you might have to share on this, and if we can establish a space of sharing that may synergically propel this approach further. My e-mail is l.calderon@uws.edu.au, and I would love to hear from you.

All the best,
Laura Calderon de la Barca



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For some reason I think that this is really fantastic. It's almost like something out of a Borges story. Pieter and I think that we've invented the term "critical optimism" and then suddenly there’s a "Critical Optimism Studies" group and what's more it's in Australia. It's like we made it up but of course we couldn't have made it up because actually it already existed. And of course the name Laura Calderon de la Barca does sound just a little bit like that of a fictional character. (I realize this reading is more than a little solipsistic, I think really I'm just being fanciful) And then I very much wonder where it will lead.

And yes, then there is another point: the "Critical Optimism Studies" group is a real thing. There are so many things in the world that would give us a greater sense of belonging if only we knew where to find them.

Optimistically yours,
Jacob


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1 comment:

Laura Calderon de la Barca said...

Dear Jacob,

Another turn of the screw in this little saga. I am now based in Canada, in Vancouver to be precise. Although I am no longer engaged in academia, I am working in bringing critical optimism closer to the 'real world': my partner, Alistair Moes, of Moose Anger Management, and I cofacilitate anger management groups and do individual and couple counselling too, which is to say, we help people look at their difficulties with kind but honest eyes in order to find new ways of relating that leave one more fulfilled and satisfied... pretty inspiring job, in my humble opinion!

I wonder how the performances went. Would love to hear from you again!

Take care and all the best!

Optimistically yours,
Laura Calderon de la Barca