‘affect’ describes both (i) the power of bodies to combine and (ii) the felt effects of power in the body. the content and expression of affecting and being affected. bodies combine in a very concrete sense, like nourishment or poison, to produce passional sensations of joy or sadness.
affect is caught like one catches a cold: through contagion. it can’t be quantified any more than freud was able to quantify libido. and when it’s qualified, felt as ‘emotion’ for instance, its measurement still comes out dull like a nurse taking your temperature.
the purest way to experience affect has been distilled in art and its mobile army of sensations. the ninth symphony was never beethoven’s. “relations are always external to their terms.” it is a block of sensation that could bathe clockwork orange’s alex in waves of ultra-violence just as equally as celebrate a triumphalism fall of the berlin wall. art is a tricky thing though, sensations only stick when they have their own percepts and affects to share.
living in an era when power produces more than it represses, we too must explore what bodies are capable of rather that simply commanding them as-is. the ethics of our age requires us to develop adequate knowledge about the causes of our affection. yet our natural condition gives us bodies far more capable than the necessarily confused and distorted information we’ve given of those bodies.
a whole set of philosophers tried to gain passage to knowledge through consciousness. but “consciousness is only a dream with one’s eyes open.” so the hipster might stroll past boutiques to see what catches his eye. or the militant might lock himself in the party headquarters to avoid the corruptions of bourgeois culture.
but the nomad opens herself up to the world of desire, sniffing out pre-sentiments of what affects might emerge from new encounters until something smells good and she jumps for it. the key is that affections are the cause of consciousness, and not the other way around, but even though consciousness is a fiction, it is our only path in the process of becoming.
Intensive Capacity (latitude)
- What does this do to me?
- How does this change my own capacities?
- How much more until I transform into something else?
Extensive Relation (longitude)
- What am I a part of?
- What are we capable of?
- How much more until I lose myself in the mix?
- How long does this mixture last?
- Will it leave an aftertaste?
- Does this make something irreversibly different?