Filed under: affect, Affect Theory, Detachment theory, Encounters, Love, Mood, non-sovereignty, optimism, Ordinariness, pedagogy, psychoanalysis, Theory of this Blog, writing | Tags: adults, affect, children, Lydia_Davis, memory, psychoanalysis, things, writing
1. The Test
There’s a can of blueberries at the back of the shelf amid dust and flour mites or whatever it is that gets into the rice, like an old writing file where you made a deposit in the darkness of a late style. As though berries too syrupy even for ice cream and the cheesecakes your mother never got to make were just waiting around for you to be found, like that child in the game. (more…)
Filed under: affect, Affect Theory, Mood, psychoanalysis, sexuality, supervalent_thought, writing | Tags: affect, emotion, Glee, mood, Sedgwick, theory, Tomkins, writing
These are our questions for the MLA roundtable. Section one takes up genealogies of affect theory; section two takes up the problem of affect in the historical present; section three takes up a variety of concerns about queer theory, sexuality, racialization, specific cases and archives, and modes of orientation that are in proximity to whatever we might call affect but in different idioms. You can download them here. mla roundtable 2011
745. Affecting Affect Theory is scheduled to take place at 1:45+3:00 p.m. on 08-JAN-12 in 615, WSCC; Washington State Convention Center, 800 Convention Place (Pike St. and 8th Ave.)
Affect Theory Roundtable Questions, MLA 2012
Authors: Lauren Berlant, Ann Cvetkovich, Jonathan Flatley, Neville Hoad, Heather Love, José E. Muñoz, Tavia Nyong’o
I. Genealogies of Affect Theory
1. How do we think about the different trajectories of affect theory now, especially as the Deleuzian/Massumian project/idiom has become so important to its critical circulation? How do we think the proximity of public feelings, minor affects, psychoanalysis, Sedgwickian syncretism (Buddhism, Tomkins, Klein), and affective labor’s version of affect-as-immateriality in relation to the Spinozan tradition? How to keep the event of affect open to maintaining the multiplicity of traditions, trajectories, tendencies, and critical tactics? Is spanning all traditions important to ways we think about addressing future problems?
2. Affect vs/alongside mood, feeling, emotion etc. What are the stakes of synthesizing these different ways of talking to our about states of the sensorium?
3. Cavell (a great affect theorist who is not often included in the genealogies of affect theory) says that professional philosophy has been emancipated from an obligation to be therapeutic, but that it should be haunted by that very emancipation. What about the critical work we do: what about questions of theory and utility, of reparativity, of failure?
4. In response to thoughts about genealogies and the increasing institutionalization of Deleuzian affect studies, I would like to take the chance to think in some detail about genealogies for public feelings/feel tank type affect studies. The Cavell thing got me thinking about other possibly overlooked figures. (more…)
Filed under: affect, Belonging, emotion, Love, Ordinariness, Politics, writing | Tags: affect, emotion, Obama, Politics, yes_we_can
(Column 1 in a series; the Long version; experiment in political journalism; see “Credibility and Incredibility” below)
Sometime in fading recent memory, it seems that we were debating about “hope.” Has hope’s moment passed? How did the Yes We Can moment come to feel so long ago, a shadow second before all the bowling and cake and bitterness? Can you even remember the beginning of this sentence? If you’re thinking, as you read this, “Oh, “Yes We Can” was so February!” that’s because political time moves with the rising and falling intensities of scandal and speculation.
But it’s also because other people’s optimism is so often felt as a threat. Optimism? I’m serious. Get me out of here! We are taught to respect our own pain, and to respond compassionately to that of others. We have a word for taking pleasure in other people’s pain: schadenfreude. But there’s no word for the anxiety that arises from other people’s optimism.
Why is that? Did Hillary Clinton’s deflationary anti-aesthetics–as in Mario Cuomo’s “You campaign in poetry; you govern in prose”–burst the hope bubble? (Apparently not.) Was her disrespect for the mereness of “just words” actually effective in its dismissal of desire for the political? Did the skies open up not with hope, but with shame? Was it an accident that the appearance of organized collective inspiration suddenly got widely equated with the threat of fascism and the shallowness of rock star celebrity?
Filed under: Encounters, Ordinariness, Theory of this Blog | Tags: affect, Encounters, hypervigilance, stranger_intimacy, teaching
I was in a Walgreens last night, on the way to picking up dinner for the cancer family I’m staying with, the family of my partner, and the whole experience of it is so noisy aurally and emotionally that my hypervigilance feels both sharp and dull. The father needed a stress ball to squeeze, to raise his blood pressure, which is scarily low. Orthostatic hypotension, qu’est-ce que c’est? You stand up, your blood rushes to your feet, the rest of you crumbles or tumbles. The man in front of us in line was arguing with the cashier about whether he was allowed to use a credit card to buy a phone card. The cashier was a very tall, deep-voiced African-American man–eloquent, ironic, combative, and really patient. He wore a black vest and shirt with a small American flag decal. The argument flustered both men, and the consumer left without his card or his receipt. The aggrieved cashier saw this and panicked, and ran out of the store after the man. We heard him get outside and whistle quite loudly, the kind of whistle that you know requires your fingers. When he returned, I gave props to his volume, and asked him how he learned to do that, as I’d spent my childhood trying to and faking it, and my adulthood not trying it. He told us a story about elementary school. He said, he had a math teacher who insulted and shamed him. One day she was using him as an example, and he just put his fingers in his mouth and blew.
Filed under: supervalent_thought, Theory of this Blog, writing | Tags: affect, psychoanalysis, supervalent_thought, theory, writing
Think about a phrase that resonates. A supervalent thought is a thought whose meaning resides not only in its explicit phrasing, but in the atmosphere of intensity it releases that points beyond the phrase, to a domain of the unsaid. A supervalent thought produces an atmosphere in the world, makes an opening in the potential for apprehension, consciousness, and experience.
It’s a concept from Freud’s Dora. Freud uses it to describe an expressed thought (I don’t love you) that covers up a concealed thought that is its opposite (I love you). But I think the spirit of the concept is that in the penumbra a concept generates all kinds of contradictions can be magnetized to induce an impact beyond what’s explicit or what’s normative.