now onto Ugly Feelings and the story of Wall St.

August 28, 2013 § Leave a comment

Please join us this Thursday (29 August) to discuss Sianne Ngai’s Ugly Feelings. We will be reading the introduction with a supplementary text by Herman Melville, “Bartleby, the Scrivener: A Story of Wall-Street”. The Melville text is not required, but would be necessary for a cohesive and fulfilling group engagement with the Ngai. We will further our discussion of functional affects, as Ngai describes Virno describing negative affects as becoming “the very lubricants of the economic system which they originally came into being to oppose.”

Please note that we will be taking a break for one week and there will be no session next week. We will meet again on 12 September for week 5.

Texts are available on the schedule.

Meetings: place/time (see email for further contact information)

YVR: 7:30PM

YYC: 8:30PM

so much love, total solidarity,

D&A

Notes from week 3, Ahmed and Reber

August 28, 2013 § Leave a comment

Reber uses a foucauldian analysis of the function of affect, making it difficult for many of us to recognise an argument in her paper: the argument is in the methodology. She describes the current affective episteme (though aware of episteme being caught up in rationality), as currently hegemonic, “in which there is neither formal empire nor formal colony, but rather [an] all-encompassing systemic immanence”. This immanence (drawing on Spinoza) is compared with that of the Quaker system: God resides inside everyone, aka, the inner light, requiring no exogenous religious activity. The body, the soma, affects, replace the role of rationality, reason, the head. Free-market capitalism (or “liberal democracy”) is guided by an invisible hand, pursuing a homeostatic logic for capitalism. This does not imply that capital is not still exploitative of humans and the natural environment, but rather it stabilises within capital.

Ahmed begins with unpacking ‘happiness’, drawing on Aristotle’s ethics: the pursuit of happiness is the ethical mode of existence. Here, she illustrates that the ‘good life’ is not unfettered pleasure, rather pleasure that is derived from fulfilling social norms. She describes the kill joy feminist (vs. the ‘happy housewife’), and the bitterness of the oppressed, who in their not appearing cheerful are exposed as “mean, bitter, angry, dangerous” (i.e. lumpen). And in Queer literature, in which the parents are often unhappy about their child’s life decision because they are afraid it will bring them unhappiness, as they will not be able to live ‘fulfilling’ lives producing their very own nuclear family.

The ethical person, who lives the ‘good life’ in pursuit of happiness, exists as a functional member of the state (or dominant ideology). The happy person is a good heteronormative, nationalist consumer.

missing connections

August 20, 2013 § Leave a comment

missing connections

While shopping for snacks, the Vancouver host was consumed by the commodity, and unable to make it to her own party at 7:30PM SHARP. Our apologies (mostly mine). Please don’t feel discouraged!

killjoy circuits

August 20, 2013 § Leave a comment

Meet with us this Thursday, August 22 2013 for session 3 of The Affective State. We will be reading Sara Ahmed’s “Multiculturalism and the Promise of Happiness” and Dierdra Reber’s “Headless Capitalism: Affect as Free-Market Episteme.” The readings are about 45 pages in total. We shift, slightly, from the philosophical in order to retain a political engagement with affect. We’ve contended with the elusive and unsettling [anomalia] aspects of affect, and continue to come to the question “what is it?” – the only thing that indeed establishes a grounds. Reber’s grapples with the tensions of affect in late capitalism and points to its emergence as a free-market episteme, a “new avatar” that has not been thoroughly apprehended by criticism. Negativity should be properly expressed, fuck you very much. Ahmed writes, “Do we consent to happiness? And what are we consenting to, if or when we consent to happiness?” – she looks at the breakdown of happiness and determines how it functions and works. She intends “to kill joy” and, much in the same way the negative or dread has been realized as a transformative turn, recognizes that to kill joy “is to open a life, to make room for possibility, for chance.”
Texts are available on the schedule.
Meeting times (see email for contact information)
YVR: 7:30p
YYC: 8:30p
Much love and solidarity,
D&A

Notes on Becoming-Intense, Becoming-Animal, Becoming-Imperceptible

August 20, 2013 § Leave a comment

Why are we reading this text in relationship to affect, how does it relate to the overall project? As a compositional deviation from organization, we’re interested in the way in which “becoming” is affective and how affect is unmoored from any roots, meaning, or content. How does this plane, that Dolce & Gabbana speak of, present potential for movement for the commons but also for the State apparatus? Becoming-animal is a movement from major (the constant) to minor (the variable), deterritorializes in a way where the social subject does not occupy a realm of stability, identity, but folded into movement.

“The German preromantic Karl Philipp Moritz feels responsible not for the calves that dies but before the calves that die and give him the incredible feeling of an unknown Nature-affect? For the affect is not a personal feeling, nor is it characteristic; it is the effectuation of a power of the pack that throws the self into upheaval and makes it reel. Who has not known these animal sequences, which uproot one from humanity, if only for an instant, making one scrape at one’s bread like a rodent or giving one the yellow eyes of a feline?” (240)

Rhizomatic. There is a freedom in addressing how things relate compositionally, yet the “degree of power” in which it folds into can diminish the ability to act. But the social significance of power through affect is untenable – the text can be used, instrumentalized, beautified in which ever way we so choose. Once objectified it all dissolves.

Next session: Deleuze and Guattari’s “Becoming Intense, Becoming Animal”

August 12, 2013 § Leave a comment

Join us this coming Thursday, August 15 for reading and discussion of Deleuze and Guattari’s “Becoming Intense, Becoming Animal” (from A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia). Their concept of “affect,” is not understood as emotion, but as a prepersonal process of “becoming,” change or variation caused by an encounter between bodies. Read up to p. 272, before Memories of a Molecule. See schedule for .pdf.
 
Meeting times. See email for location.
YVR: 7:30p
YYC: 8:30p
 
Please note we’ve had to change the normal meeting time in Vancouver in order to accommodate the time difference. Please come on time so we can synchronize our watches. Again, if you are interested in hosting a session please let us know a week ahead of time.
 
Love and solidarity,
 
D&A

Notes on Massumi and Kiekegaard

August 12, 2013 § Leave a comment

What is the difference between emotion and affect? Affect is a transformative process, while emotion involves personalized, subjective content. Affect crosses wires and connects things which are normally indexed, collated separately. Emotion is recognized as a break in “narrative continuity for the moment to register a state.” Duration, as a property of time, consists of peaks or dips in intensity – “the level of intensity is organized according to a logic that does not admit of the excluded middle. This is to say that it is not semantically or semiotically ordered. It does not fix distinctions. Instead, it vaguely but insistently connects what is normally indexed as separate.” And of the virtual? It is perceived as the autonomy of relations, unseen but recognized as the landscape for affect – “The virtual, the pressing crowd of incipiencies and tendencies, is a realm of potential.”

Now, why this text next to Kierkegaard? We’re not so clever. But on closer inspection there is a question of negative openings in logic to “bring movement into everything.” Could not the excluded middle in Massumi’s text harken to Kiekegaard’s conception of dread, where freedom is not a consequence of dread but underlines what dread (as affect) can activate?

With the “war on affect” we considered moments of capture by personalities. From Reagan being “such a nice guy” to collaborations like Jay-Z and Marina Abramovic – we’re suspicious but drawn to train wrecks. Is it not all triggered by prepackaged and embodied affects? Affect and instinct are reduced to categories, which we’ll be reading through Sianne Ngai–are these a current concern in late-capitalism?

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