Affects of Repetition

February 21, 2012

The concept of affect seems to be an endless complexity. A complexity that cannot be described as consisting of distinguishable aspects or contents, but inherently acts as a single (inseparable?) force of forces. Seigworth and Gregg describe it as ”forces of encounter” or ”ever-modulating force-relations” and as something that ”emerges out of muddy, unmediated relatedness and not in some dialectical reconciliation of cleanly oppositional elements or primary units”. Yet, in attempting to grasp something that seems this blurry and complex I find myself trying to frame what I imagine as possible differences, components or examples. This is perhaps the paradox of trying to analyze and understand something that is mainly seen or described as having no logic (as in the paradox of finding a logic to sensation). How, then, to describe or relate to a seemingly ungraspable complexity?

I often find myself in a state of repetition: asking the same question, thinking the same thought, moving from one point to another (that is not moving in the same direction, but actually moving from a to b over and over, though rarely from b to a). It is argued, by Seigworth and Gregg, that in approaching affect it could be useful to consider movement and process rather than sets of positions. I imagine the state of repetition as a kind of process, though one with a hitch. In trying to understand myself as affected and affecting body, I wonder if the use of repetition could be helpful. Seigworth and Gregg ask ”How does a body/…/come to shift its affections into action?” If affect leads to action, then how am I affected upon in these states of repetition? How does the complexity of affecting forces correspond to me (or anyone) acting similarly over and over? And how do I respond to a constant (if there is no such thing: a hardly changing) flow of affect? That is, when the same or similar affect acts upon me during some time. Perhaps the affecting and the affected cannot be separated in the way that these questions imply. Nonetheless, I am interested in the concept of repetition in relation to the concept of affect, and hope that it can offer some clues. Or at least some new questions to repeat.

– Cecilia Lundbäck


One Response to “Affects of Repetition”

  1. Repetition as a theme relating to affect is a strong idea. Gilles Deleuze in fact writes a book called Difference and Repetition, where he argues that with every repetition there is necessarily some difference, that is, there is no such thing as pure repetition or pure identity over time. This of course assumes a particular reading of time or duration, that is, an event that is repeated at one time then again at another must include factors of difference, for instance, at the first event the sun is out, at the second, it rains, or different people are present, etc etc.
    With respect to affect, if we suffer an encounter that is repeated, many of the minor details of the repetition must have altered, not least that we have learnt something in the meantime?

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