Affect as stuttering

February 29, 2012

In the interview with Brian Massumi, he talks about affect as transition. A transition from one state of capacitation to another. This transition is felt, and leaves a memory or trace in the affected body. We carry with us our past, in patterns of repetition. Thus reactivating the past as we act. Massumi encourages the rethinking of these terms; memory, seriation and repetition. He later states that ”The logic of affect is entirely bound up with the logic of serial repetition and difference that applies to events.” This was interesting to me since my first encounter with affect theory made me think about repetition and repetative behaviour.

Massumi also identifies relation as a key term when discussing affect. He claims there is no starting point, and no end, that there is just a field of constantly varying relations, out of which affect emerges. It emerges through movement. Repetition, rather than start and finish, seems crucial to the logic of this movement. ”…the relational event will play out differently every time. In repeating, it takes up the past differently. In taking up the past differently, it creates new potentials for the future.” The series of repetitions thus have the potential of movement, of adjusting one’s capacitation or position in the field. The creation of potential through repetition can be derived from what Massumi refers to as tendency. I wonder if tendency is realted to some kind of directionality in this field.

That the process of movement seems to be unlocked or triggered through repetition may sound like a paradox. But it coincides with me relating an experienced ”hitch”, jam or stutter, to the notion of affect. I think of it as that it’s the slight change in the repetition, the discontinuity, that makes apparent, or even constitutes, the transition. In Massumi’s words: ”For things to continue, they have to re-continue. They have to re-jig around the interruption”. He describes affect as micropecreptual shock which acts as a ”re-cueing of our bodily powers of existence/…/a kind of recoil, not to withdraw from the world, but rather to brace for it again, and for how else it will be.” I am also interested in the idea of the field being divided by a kind of dynamic thresholds. I imagine the re-jigging, the recoiling or the repetition to be crucial when launching at these thresholds.

Potential rises in moments of suspense, in the discontinuities or interruptions, because the interruption calls for a re-continuation. The interruption extracts what Massumi refers to as the bifurcation point. The bifurcation point holds what is to come or what potentially could come; it holds the virtual.

– Cecilia Lundbäck

One Response to “Affect as stuttering”

  1. michaelglyon Says:

    Massumi talked about Reagan jerking and jolting a bit like a mime in his speeches, the affect of which created feelings of confidence above the words or actual actions he was using…. somehow. does that tie into your ideas of the hitching, stuttering mechanism?


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