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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