Filed under: affect, Affect Theory, ambivalence, Belonging, Craziness, Detachment theory, Encounters, Mood, optimism, Theory of this Blog, writing
It is pouring with rain here right now. Outside of the window of my library study thunder and lightning soften and expand the knot of the visible world, which recedes to a background behind the rain’s thick glass. After awhile the university fades out, the possibility of which fading is one of the privileges of working at a university.
I am trying to write something other than this entry today, but something interferes with my surround of the material. The paper, called “Matter of Flatness,” is an early go at one of the scenes Detachment Theory will address, as it details how to think about non-sovereign personhood in some of its varieties of being unraveled.
The essay in question focuses on the emergence of a flat acting aesthetic among cinematically mediated queers. It involves articulating flat affect as an effect of some combination of:
bad acting (low production values); casualized emotion; underperformed response; aspirational social belonging through performances of avant-garde detachment (Warhol), Punk-style refusal (Lipstick Traces), Goth nihilism, and bohemian coolness (Gen-X); nineties-style views of dissociation/PTSD; event-related affect management; and the attenuation that comes from living as a subject organized by longing and crisis amidst other scenes of longing and crisis that avail no traction or potential for rest in their normative terms of implicit belonging.
By the end of that list you almost forget the topic: flatness. The point is that this animated mutedness forces a different approach to apprehending a person and an artwork. Knowing what it isn’t doesn’t tell you what it is, though. Gathering up all the forces necessary for explaining the scene right in front of you takes a lot of work, and the scene almost can’t bear the weight of what animates it. Of course, psychoanalytically speaking, that’s what makes it a scene.