Monday, July 9, 2007

there, now . . .

around 5:30 a.m. i was thinking that, as Anne was saying last night, there may be something troubling/problematic about affect (the term i'm assigning to her reading of certain kinds of experiences we inhabit as we participate w/ certain kinds of digital art, pieces that invite an audience to experience it through the body and to highlight that visceral experience as part of the work -- "Osmose" is one example). Anne wondered about the extent to which we support/validate/promote *certain* affects with certain gaming practices, namely, violent ones.

in talking to Dennis about Massumi's problematically "free-flowing" affect that is beyond or somehow distinct from language/discursive practice, i began to see that emotion ("managed intenisty") may represent the discursive method by which we engage ethically (and promote ethical reflection upon participation in/with) with certain kinds of expression events (production, spectation, and participation). when Lynn Worsham writes about emotion as "managed" or constructed, i read a critique that wants to move us beyond affect to, simply emotion (these terms are rough; it's early, and, well, the conceptual slippage is high). but w/ Anne's reading and Dennis' discussion, i'm seeing something far less sinister in emtion as Massumi's intensity "owned and recognized" . . . something far more promising in emotion as managed intensity, despite my desire for unmediated affective experience, a desire i continue to, um, desire . . . a desire i want to insist upon as necessary. i'm thinking that this managed intesity (emotion) may be most promisingly willing to invite reflection/contemplation within social networks (which are in many ways, dynamic, self-organizing systems and therefore capable of "managing" emotion, given particular forms of ethical socialization/structuration). in short, it seems to me that it's this complex networked conflict between affect and emotion that seems to make ethical human conduct/social "contracts" or codes possible, thereby enabling aesthetic experience even as we discourage or self-organize for ethically responsible (i.e., nonviolent) participation in expression-events (violent gaming, provocative imagery, etc.).

none of this is new to anyone, i'm sure, but i'm feeling a greater appreciation for these distinctions as they relate to our abilities to experience aesthetic pleasure even as we ourselves distinguish certain kinds of aesthetic pleasure as more or less desirable (and as we "train" ourselves and possibly others -- conscientiously or rather more unwittingly, via circulation -- to make these distinctions repetitively).

this now seems to me to be far more the point in art/textual criticism; an ethical project rather than "merely" power moves to control the event/object/aesthetic experience (or gain fame).

ca va?

image ("city sqare," by Alberto Giacometti. 1948)

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