Week 4: Conditioning of Affects

August 9, 2011

Throughout the essay, Thrift compared and argued with several objective perspectives of the notion of “Affect” and its understanding such as monist approach of Spinoza. This has led me to question in the idea of Affect that is individualistically moulded through different forces and experience; it is partly their individual affect that also influences their perspectives on the notion of affect itself. Having said this, the human understanding of “Affect” is just as varied as the readers and thinkers who came across it, there is no absolute.

Sedgwick quotes, “Affects can be, and are attached to things, people, ideas, sensations, relations, activities, ambitions, institutions and any other number of other things including other affects”. Recalling the reading by Georges Teyssot and cross referencing this quote allows me to understand the idea of Exteroception, proprioception and interoception applied in Mutant Body of Architecture. The notion of attachment of Affect in relation to things, can be seen in the involuntary salivation of the saliva glands at the verbal mention or mental envisage of perhaps a sour fruit or sweet snacks (this is entirely subjective). This reflex is a form attachment of Affect on the human organs or termed as an interoception. This is particularly interested for me in the comparison of the effects of affects in different perspective. Thrift argues on the temporality and permanency of affects and its possible influence physically and mentally. Affects is a cycle or loop between the body and its surrounding with the subject as the core. With this, I am reluctant on the monist approach of Spinoza. The subject is an entity of becoming (entity by that I mean emotionally, mentally, physically, etc.) and this means each individual level of affect and level of influence of affect differs. Two subjects may be experiencing a similar situation but experiences a different level of affect and a different level of influence that the affect causes.

I linked this understanding to the example Thrift gave on the conditioning of soldiers in military training. Having underwent military training myself, I can relate to the reading of conditioning the mind for the unforeseen. Stated heavily on the affect relies heavily on an individual experience and exposure, the safe environment we enjoy have dulled our affect in various fields such as that of fear of death and adrenaline of battle. It is through these training that exposes and re-heighten the affects influencing this area. Affects is adaptive and mouldable but not controllable.

-Barry Lim

-Nigel Thrift, ‘Intensities of Feeling: Towards a Spatial Politics of Affect, in Geografiska Annaler: Series B, Human Geography, Volume 86, Issue 1,  March 2004, pp. 57–78.

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