Monday, November 5, 2012

Networked Emotion

Identification and in particular nation identification are prominent throughout Ahmeds understanding of emotion. Taking as a focused example the role that shame plays in reforming an ideal image of the nation, and as such a proud identification with the nation, I would like to explore the ways in which Ahmed's understanding of emotion is predicated on a kind of gridded, national spatiality. As she notes with regard to articulations of Australian national shame, the Sorry Books served as a way of transforming individual messages (the "I") into the collective story of shame that is the Sorry Books (the embodiment of the "we"). What is interesting to me is the way in which, as she notes, these Sorry Books began to manifest themselves through internet sites, allowing for the exchange of shame to be conducted continuously in real time. Her description of the online Sorry Books reminded me of most internet forums, and in particular the comment feeds attached to online articles, videos, or other media content. The fundamental difference of course seems to be that the Sorry Books were operations of national identification and reformation whereas most comment feeds are filled with passionate emotional exchanges of relatively low stakes that may or may not even address the media the comment feed is for. 
I wonder to what extent then this displacement of the subjects and objects of emotion in favor of simply the exchange of emotion demonstrates the inability to map one's self as described by Jameson. Particularly when looking at online comment feeds it always seems as though the individuals posting are doing so in an effort of frantic identification. Below are comments chosen at random from a Justin Bieber video on YouTube:
The declarations of pride made by these individuals works to create an association between themselves, Justin Bieber, and also eachother as they all become wrapped up in the activity of "respecting" Bieber. Returning to Jameson, it seems interesting that these same individuals who seek an identification associated with Bieber presumably also participate in identifying emotional exchanges in any other number of internet locales. In a sense it seems as though the individual subject as interpolated through the internet is solely caught up in emotional exchanges for the process of identification and construction of their own subjectivity.

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