introduction AffeCt in the Present
A relation of cruel optimism exists when something you desire is actually an
obstacle to your flourishing. It might involve food, or a kind of love; it might
be a fantasy of the good life, or a political project. It might rest on something
simpler, too, like a new habit that promises to induce in you an improved
way of being. These kinds of optimistic relation are not inherently cruel. They
become cruel only when the object that draws your attachment actively im-
pedes the aim that brought you to it initially.
All attachment is optimistic, if we describe optimism as the force that
moves you out of yourself and into the world in order to bring closer the sat-
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