Happy and unhappy objects

January 3, 2019

aktivitet på torg

kvinna på torg

“the greatest happiness consists in the having those things which produce the greatest pleasure” (247). Happy objects could be described simply as those objects that affect us in the best way.

Those things we do not like we move away from. Awayness might help establish the edges of our horizon; in rejecting the proximity of certain objects, we define the places that we know we do not wish to go, the things we do not wish to have, touch, taste, hear, feel, see, those things we do not want to keep within reach.

-Sara Ahmed, ‘Happy Objects’, in The Promise of Happiness, 2010

In her text Happy Objects Sara Ahmed writes about whether different objects have affects us differently, something that is very evident in the public space where affects circulates, both the good and the bad ones.

 To interact with both objects and other people in the public space affect us a lot. We meet for practical reasons as well as for amusement, recreation or with a political agenda. It may be in a trade situation, during transportation, performance of sport, games, in protests or in conversations while having something to eat or drink. In these places many people share the same objects. The experience we have and how we are affected depends not only on the objects on the square, but also on our common view of who’s supposed to act how among these objects. An object that in a safe environment has a positive affect on a person may have the opposite affect on the same person in the public environment, depending on who is there or when it happens. The social norm once again plays an important role, both on our self-image and understanding of a group of people in relation these objects. The public space sets us in perspective to the society, it often make us self-conscious, constantly in situations that affects us in bad or good ways.

The collective feeling and feeling of sympathy and being a part of a community can grow and circulate with good affect in the public space, and in that case it plays a important role in keeping a society together. Just having a coffee on a bench watching people passing by and be watched in return can have good affects on some people, to be recognized. For some others good affects comes by skating with friends, while reading a book sitting in the grass or maybe by feeding the birds, when you’re in a safe environment.

 Unfortunately everyone isn’t comfortable to participate in these activities. The square includes a lot of people but at the same time a lot of people don’t feel comfortable there, they get negative affects instead. It may be from the treatment of other people, prejudgment and expectations from other people, or social norms that changes your happy objects to unhappy objects when your not in a comfortably space.


Task 5- Isa Draiby


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