Effectively affective

February 29, 2012


When reading the Massumi essay on the autonomy of affect, I come to think that the idea of affect is not new, nor does it have a clear-cut place in our minds and everyday lives. We are so conditioned into either hiding our reactions to affect, or to rationalize them away so that we might convince ourselves that we are somehow in control of affect.


I found the example of Reagan’s encounter with the aphasic and the agnosiacs to be utterly descriptive of the relation between the spoken word and the body-language. In the case of Reagan it is made visible that he was extremely bad at both. But, somehow, he managed to seduce an entire nation, not once, but twice! It is like the patients somehow tore Reagan to pieces, and revealed that human society is not based on rationality or logic, but on affect and the “irrationality” of emotional effect. This is not wrong, it is merely interesting to note that although most citizens are trained from child-birth to act as if they are untouchable in regards to affect, still manifest the effects of affect through the way they live, vote and die.


With this I mean that a single individual can be quite conscious and rational, but put together a large mass of people and the general IQ-level drops to that of a jellyfish, in the sense that a large crowd only reacts to affect, not to reason. It is not very surprising that Bush Jr was reelected after the twin-towers fell, or that there was a notable increase in “disaster”-movies in the aftermath of the attack.


And how can this be related to the game or institution of bridge? Well, as an experienced player I would say that what is most noteable in the way that beginners approach the game is that they treat it as a purely cerebral thing. They come in with the preconception that it is a mathematical game, that it is an academians game. In fact, the highest number needs to be able to count to is 13. That is the most vital number to remember, and it is also that which most forget.


But, once the threshold of this preconception has been overrun, it becomes clear that one must also “feel” the game. One can speak of having table-precense, card-feel, and sometimes one does things almost at an unconscious level. Things that can be severely critizised from a mathematical or logical point of view, but that is unequivocally correct considering the actual circumstances. One attempt to describe this is to talk about being in different “zones”, where zone one is the place where you do everything wrong, every decision you make is wrong, if you attempt to create something it blows up in your face, and the general feel is that some cardgod is completely messing with you. In zone number two you don’t really do that much wrong, but you don’t produce anything fantastic either. In zone number three it is like you’re walking on water, everything you do is right, every decision is correct, every chance you take turns out to be right. There is of-course no hard evidence, but my guess would be that the zone-threee-player is in tune with his/her affective sensors and allows them to carry out decisions even before the player is herself conscious that there is a decision to be made.


– Kristin Nedlich




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