I know I promised Phillip I’d stop reading his dissertation if he provided me with a copy of his book, but I was short on motivation and inspiration, and just a few pages turned on whatever was stuck and I started to write. Then I hit stuck again, stumbling over affect, a concept I’m still learning and wrestling with. A quick Google later, and I think I know enough for this paper… and I found the most beautiful essay helping to explain the very concept. Isn’t this just lovely?
What is valuable about this account of affect is the way it makes trouble for all those epistemologies that begin with a knowing subject ready to act on the world or be acted upon. For the body in affect is not subjectivity to the world’s objectivity, it is a body in transition, a body in relation. To respond, to have a response is to be in a relation. This is why Massumi argues so emphatically and beautifully that affect is relationality. Drawing on the work of William James he argues that relationality is already in the world, to be in the world to participate in it is to be in an ever unfolding relation. Thinking about affect in this way means an abandonment of the subject/object dualism. What is needed instead, according to Massumi, is a notion of continuity and discontinuity that is not framed in terms of opposition but as a processual rhythm.
It’s writing like this that remind me of the passions academia/knowledge ignites.