Park, Ondine, Tonya K. Davidson, and Rob Shields. “Introduction.” Ecologies of Affect: placing nostalgia, desire, and hope

Park, Ondine, Tonya K. Davidson, and Rob Shields. “Introduction.” Ecologies of Affect: placing nostalgia, desire, and hope. Waterloo, Ontario, Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 2011.

To remember:

  • ironically kitsch names like “The Branding Place” or “The Shangri-La” … speak to ambivalent desires for imagined other times (when ranching was supposedly the mainstay) and places (in this case, a mythical utopian place) (2).
  • affectus-Latin for passion, affection, disposition, state, endowed with or possessed of. (It is derived from afficere-to affect, make an impression, or move.) As Deleuze explains, affectus is “a melodic line of continuous variation,” is “in me” as a change in my vis existendi, my “force of existing,” or my potentia agendi, the lived power or potential to act (Deleuze 1978, n.p.). Deleuze translates affectus by the French l’affect (usually affect in English) rather than “feeling,” and differentiates it from affectio, or affection-‘an effect, or the action that one body produces on another” (Deleuze 1978), such as, but not limited to, an emotion or perception. Even though the Latin affectio itself means mood or feeling, Deleuze’s decision to distinguish it from affectus (from which it is derived) marks his paradigmatic shift to highlight sentiment and disposition over material substance (4).
  • Baruch Spinoza … opposed Descartes’ mind-body dualism. This led him to establish “affect” as the ideal-type of relation-a pre-conscious, proto-social moment in which the multitude of potential, but still virtual, interactions crystallize into the actuality of a specific interaction or response. Thus, affective passage is an increase or decrease of capacity, puissance, or lived power, rather than affection, per se … tracing experiences of [emotions] … back to the affective dimensions of increasing and decreasing capacity to act (4).
  • “Emotion and imagining work together; our imaginings are intensified by our loves and hates, and implicated in our fears and hopes” (Gatens and Lloyd 1999, 28).
  • The concept of affect fuses the body with the imagination into an ethical synthesis that bears directly on the micro-powers inherent in everyday interactions. How these are negotiated builds not only an individual temperament but also a persona and habitus … Affect is furthermore a flux that is always in context-immanent-and thus draws on situational ethics … Infused with power, grounded in place and located bodies, affect is viscerally political (5).
  • McCormack (2003) turn[s] to this philosophical understanding of affect as a form of allure or attention, which provides the emotional ‘glue’ that drive bodies to assemble in collectives and by which objects are understood to participate in micro-geographies possessed of a specific situational ethos-or what we might call an ecology (6).
  • ecology … is always in flux, even when grounded and as it is a system that is decidedly concrete and determined (6).
  • Ecologies sum up the multiple ways of affecting and being affected, of multi causal processes and contingent outcomes. But they are also nontonal and open systems, criss-crossed by flows (6).
  • Places … produce affective attachments [affective virtualities: nostalgia, desire, and hope]-to people, events, things, times, and other places, within and across different ecologies (6).
  • place emerges out of dynamic relationships between humans, things, and environments (6).
  • Rather than seeing place as created through a mental process of attributing meaning, Hetherington (1997) foregrounds the interaction of humans with material objects, suggesting that place and affect are therefore results of a process of interacting with the material world. The continual engagement of people with things and in environments creates places and affects that are themselves always shifting, morphing, and flickering (7).
  • [affective virtualities:} not material, [but] nevertheless real and thus must be accounted for … intangible objects (Proust): brands, groups … and the social-any intangible “thing” that is not mere fiction but is only known through its effects, “as if” it was a thing. The virtual is thus intangible but not an abstraction or fiction; the virtual is also real but distinct from the material, “ideal but not abstract, real but not actual” (7).
  •  the power of virtual as something conveyed by materialities but greater than these objects at any given moment, where there is more than meets the eye. This includes the potential of objects and bodies, their capacity to support action or to act, to affect or be affected. Even when latent, this makes it possible for us to place our hope in a better future. Recognizing the virtual enables us to designate elements that allow a place to maintain its ethos or for a picture to maintain its power even as both decay over time (8).
  • affects and temporal orientations are not linear or limited. Nostalgia, desire, and hope often overlap in a particular place with many different temporal orientations creating multiple, coinciding ecologies in one place. Memories and hope are often simultaneous … it is not only possible but more quotidian that one’s experience of place can be informed by all three of these registers at the same time (8).

To consume:

  • Gatens, M. and G. Lloyd. Collective Imaginings: Spinoza, past and present
  • Gorz, A. Ecologica
  • Hetherington, K. and R. Munro. Ideas of Difference
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