Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Affective mapping

I am interested in considering Ahmed's discussion in light of habit. She formulates emotion as something active, relational, and embodied -- an 'impression' on the body is about contact, its 'expanding' and 'contracting', etc, are motions. She writes that "Emotions shape the very surfaces of bodies, which take shape through the repetition of actions over time, as well as through orientations towards and away from others." (4) So the habitual interaction with objects might be a way of reifying an emotional orientation.

I don't think she explicitly uses the term ritual, but the sense of mass ritual in the Anderson maps to the cultivation of love for an abstract nation that's touched on by Ahmed. Another example of love would be a romantic relationship that begins in exciting confusion and later becomes a sort of love-practice, or with fear that might transmute from a initial paralytic reaction to strategic gestures of defense. Habit then distills complicated feelings to something recognizable in the body. Shame, disgust, or even nostalgia take these ritualized forms that diffuse a kind of overwhelming and undetermined affect (maybe of the sort that accompanies Berlant's personal sovereignty?).

In that sense, I wonder if we can relate Ahmed to Jameson and Terranova by proposing "affective mapping" as an alternative formulation to cognitive mapping. A cognitive->rational sense of the dynamics of network culture might be difficult to realize, and Terranova stresses that the emotion of the body is not going to be regulated by the rational. But strategies for affective mapping might be what channel the intensity of the mass into practiced passions of identifiable political purpose.

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