The New Affect

November 1, 2012

So as not to give a false impression — which could well be our intention — the jumble of fragments that follows does not in any way constitute a theory. These are materials accumulated by chance encounter, by frequenting and observing… pearls extracted from magazines, expressions gleaned out of order under sometimes dubious circumstances… The choice to expose these elements in all their incompleteness, in their contingent original state, in their ordinary excess, knowing that if polished, hollowed out, and given a good trim they might constitute an altogether presentable doctrine, we have chosen — just this once — trash theory. The cardinal ruse of theoreticians resides, generally, in the presentation of the result of their deliberations such that the process of deliberation is no longer apparent. We figure that, faced with Bloomesque fragmentation of attention, this ruse no longer works. We have chosen a different one.

— Tiqqun, from Preliminary Materials For a Theory of the Young-Girl

Affect is primary, non-conscious, asubjective or presubjective, asignifying, unqualified, and intensive, while emotion is derivative, conscious, qualified, and meaningful, a “content” that can be attributed to an already-constituted subject. Emotion is affect captured by a subject, or tamed and reduced to the extent that it becomes commensurate with that subject. Subjects are overwhelmed and traversed by affect, but they have or possess their own emotions. [...]

Our existence is always bound up with affective and aesthetic flows that elude cognitive definition or capture.

— Stephen Schaviro, from Post-Cinematic Affect

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