On Affect

February 15, 2012

After reading several texts on the subject of Affect, I admit the concept remains to me elusive and somewhat intangible. I will use this first post as a means to unpack and clarify the various definitions I have found on Affect and to build a body of understanding surrounding it.

Seigworth and Greg illustrate Affect with juicy adjectives and saturate its space with fantastical impressions of the imagination. Among the excruciating run-on sentences, I find some light in what Affect  is not, such as over-romanticized pedantry, for example: “viewed as naïvely or romantically wandering too far out into the groundlessness of a world’s or a body’s myriad inter-implications, letting themselves get lost in an overabundance of swarming, sliding differences: chasing tiny firefly intensities that flicker faintly in the night…”  (Seigworth and Greg 2010, 4) While I find these words poetic, I encounter a similar language used to describe Affect in their own text, sentances imbued with vibrant visual representations and characterized by contradictions. This makes cumbersome work for chiseling out a clear interpretation.

So… what is Affect?
[ I collect below, highlights of my affected reading-journeys as an assemblage of initial knowledge for review]:

It can be born, and in opposition can drop dead. It has variegated histories and entangled orientations. It can extend, suspend, accrete and accumulate. It can be both in-between and beside. It is intimate and impersonal. There is an urgency about it, and amplification that occurs. Its cluster of promises/threats embody a yet-ness, not-yet, and never-to-be-resolved. Force relations and forces of encounter inhabit it. It gives way to thresholds and tensions, blends and blurs in teh landscape. It gathers and unbinds while stretching and unfolding. It is a body and also a peeling or wearing away. Its gradient of bodily capacity acts as potential /participation in passage. If process was preferred to position it would feel less like a free fall.
It is muddy and sticky.
It may be an inventory of shimmers, nuances, states and changes.  It travels as twinkling/fading, vibrant/dull continuities. As Bloom-Space it opens as a vibrant incoherence that circulates about zones of cliche and convention. It is an experience of intensity, non/un/prior to/outside-consciousness, pain, communication, transmission, unformed/unstructured/abstraction, as virtual, shareable, collective contingent conversion points.

So basically if Affect was a human being, it would be an impossibly slippery, socially-inept, multi-tasking robot.

So is that a promise or a threat? Isn’t its claiming to be Biological problematic? Can this be the stuff of Magic? How exactly is it a Powerful Social Force? And is it really Neutral? Am I listening to Punk Rock or am I Daydreaming?
… And yet – it doesn’t so much reflect or think – Affect acts… as moments, and the continual smashing of them.

/anna ingebrigtsen


One Response to “On Affect”

  1. Although it is risky to ‘personify’ or anthropomorphize affect, I think you have been quite successful here. As I suggested during the seminar, it may also be fun to develop the character of your four-legged woman, and her encounter with different institutional spaces in the city of Stockholm…to create a comic book approach for your coloring-in book, via a series of comic episodes.

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