Massumi’s Micros

April 9, 2012

I will begin with Massumi’s statement:” I think there is no such thing as starting from scratch.” So even as I write this now, it is simply a re-beginning, a remembering forward. My thoughts expressed in writing are an act resulting from the very crowded, overpopulated constellation of my mind. My body is pre-populated “by instincts, by inclinations, by teeming feelings and masses of memories, conscious and nonconscious, with all manner of shadings in between.” This bodily commotion forms an emotion salad of agitations that fuel me and move me onwards. Though as moments pass and accumulate, the salad takes on a soupy consistency, as individual ingredients break down and begin to melt into one another. I suppose no recipes really start from scratch, they have all begun before, elsewhere, and will evolve endlessly in warping blending collections.

Massumi describes the key term as ‘relation’ because “it’s all about event,” (or at least a dimension of every event) within a region of repetitions. Our pasts are extracted and produce points of future potentiations. Microshocks precede these events, punctuated by feelings of microperceptions, which occur while you are busy doing something else. At the instant of the affective hit, affect takes over your life. It “fills the world, for an immeasurable instant of shock.” In this intensity, “in a kind of existential agitation, a poising or posturing for the coming event, a kind of recoil, not to withdraw from the world, but rather to brace for it again…” we are overwhelmed and temporarily simultaneously engendered both absent and existent.

There is no tangible beginning or end to Affect. There is no rest or escape from Affect, “escape of affect cannot but be perceived, alongside the perceptions that are its capture” for its very existence resides in the happening of in-between. “The microshocks don’t stop, “they come in droves, all in intervals smaller than the smallest perceivable. It is only because an affective tonality envelops groupings of them, continues through or around them, that we feel the moment as having extension, rather than feeling it implode into an infinitely proliferating fractal cut.” Within every affected moment we are being split and reformed, severed and united. I feel as if my mind is blurred into seperate units, in time and space, like a motion blur in an over-exposed photograph capturing me dancing to my favorite song.

The experience of being at a live music concert comes to mind. Multiple bodies form a larger body. The body(ies) are saturated in affect, in different ways on a spectrum of time, but to the same tune. “Affective attunement” is a term used to describe the variability that can eventuate from what might be considered the “same” affect. Though there is no ‘sameness’ in affect, there is “affective difference in the same event.”  We can find difference in unison.  Each body will carry a different set of tendencies and capacities, but at a collective event, bodies containing unknown actions may also be primed to act in unison as the cue originates from the same commotion. Affected in this blurry dance, I move between intangible moments, moments which make time, which compose the present, “it’s a creative factor in the emergence of time as we effectively experience it; it’s constitutive of lived time.”

/anna ingebrigtsen


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