Perhaps no one actually wants acknowledgement in relation to a project
on failure! Nonetheless, in the spirit of the alternative forms of knowl-
edge production that this book advocates, I must recognize here all the
wonderful people who have guided me to failure, stupidity, and nega-
tivity, not to mention loss, lack, and SpongeBob SquarePants. Though she
may not remember it, Lauren Berlant first introduced me to the wacky art
of plot summary when she narrated at length and in hilarious detail the
South Park episode “Mr. Hankey, the Christmas Poo.” The episode stayed
with me for many reasons, not least for its themes of exclusion and lone-
liness in the story line about a Jewish kid at Christmas. But it was in the
retelling, at an MLA convention no less, that the Christmas Poo seemed
to open up new narrative zones of possibility. There is much plot sum-
mary in this book, hopefully of the Berlant entertaining variety. I have
performed some of it for audiences at many universities, and I thank all
the people who have invited me to speak in the past five years, as this
book took shape. I also thank my wonderful colleagues at USC, includ-
ing Ruthie Gilmore, Sarah Gualtieri, Ange- Marie Hancock, Kara Keeling,
Robin Kelley, Josh Kun, Akira Lippit, David Lloyd, Maria Elena Martinez,
Teresa McKenna, Tania Modleski, Laura Pulido, Shana Redmond, John
Carlos Rowe, George Sanchez, Karen Tongson, and Sherry Velasco.
I thank the many artists whose work has in part inspired this book:
Judie Bamber, Nao Bustamante, Cabello/Carceller, LTTR, Monica Ma-
joli, J. A. Nicholls, Collier Schorr, and others. And I thank the students
with whom I work, especially Deborah Alkamano, Zach Blas, Matthew
Carrillo- Vincent, Jih- Fei Cheng, April Davidauski, Jennifer DeClue, Laura
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