Massumi, Brian. “The Inmost End” The Power at the End of the Economy

Massumi, Brian. The Power at the End of the Economy. Durham And London, Duke University Press, 2015.

To remember:

  • the ‘rationality of the economy’ is a precarious art of snatching emergent order out of affect. The creeping suspicion is that the economy is best understood as a division of the affective arts (2).
  • The implications of this groundless grounding in affective artistry are worth a look, not least for what it might say about ‘rational’ self-interest as the guarantor of self-optimizing order, but also for the rethinking it might necessitate of the very concept of the rational in its relation to affect (2).
  • What is most intensely individual is at the same time most widely-rangingly social. The smallest scale and the largest scale resonate as one, in a quasi-chaos of mutual sensitivity. To relate self-interestedly to oneself is in the very same act to relate, involuntarily, to everyone else (4).
  • [Rational] Choices in the present become highly charged affectively with fear for the uncertain future. The present is shaken, tremulous with futurity (4).
  • Self-interestedness remains ‘unconditional.’ It is measured in satisfaction … Paradoxically, the measure of how ‘rationally’ a subject of interest behaves can only be measured affectively, in the currency of satisfaction. Rationality and affectivity are joined at the self-interested hip (5).
  • The rational risk calculations of the subject of interest become more and more affectively overdetermined by the tension [between hope and fear, satisfaction and deferral] … The embrace of rational self-interest and affective agitation becomes all the closer. They fall more intensely into each other’s orbit, to the point that the contract into each other, entering into a zone of indistinction, at the heart of every act (6).
  • You foster distrust [as starting condition], but not as the opposite of trust: as its ‘functional equivalent’ … you ‘interlock them so that they intensify each other’ (Luhmann 1979, 92). You bring trust and distrust together into a zone of indistinction where they are in such immediate proximity to each other that one can easily tip into the other at the slightest agitation. They resonate together, intensely (7).
  • The individual subject of interest forming the fundamental unit of capitalist society in internally differentiated, containing its own population of ‘minority practices’ of contrasting affective tone and tenor, in a zone of indistinction between rational calculation and affectivity. In other words, there is an infra-individual complexity, because what resonates on that level are not separable elements in interaction. They are intensive elements, in intra-action (Barad 2007, 33) (8).
  • Moods … are like the weather, temporary conditions which in a certain way collect occurrences, but they are not themselves extra occurrences (Ryce 1949, 83) (8).
  • tendencies: potential expressions and orientations held together in tensions (8).
  • Beneath the microeconomic level of the individual there is an infra-economic level. At that level, an affective commotion infra-churns. Its variations are so immediately linked that we cannot parse them out into separate occurrences. The individual, speaking infra-ly, is not one (8).
  • The affective infra-climate of the dividual poised for what may come is the rabbit hole of the economy. The unknown nondecisions and not-quite-occurrences recurring endlessly in a turbulence of tendency are complex in the same way as the economy as a whole. Both are like the weather, quasi-chaotic self-organizing systems (9).
  • Rationality and affect become ‘functional equivalents’ … interlocked and mutually intensifying, in a zone of indistinction, at the forward threshold of economic existence (9).
  • The infra-level resonates transindividually (14).
  • Each dizzy individual’s rabbit hole of affect is at the immanent limit of the economy. The multitude of these regressive endpoints ‘communicate,’ entangled at a distance. Their transindividual entanglement composes what Deleuze and Guattari would call the ‘plane of immanence’ of the economy … the irreducibly affective limit of a complexly relational field … its absolute co-motional limit of tendential stirrings in uncertain readiness potential (14).
  • Every little choice exerts, to some degree, a power of local-global becoming: an ontopower … An ontopower, a power of becoming, is a creative power (15).

To consume:

  • Michel Foucault, The Birth of Biopolitics, 2008
  • Jocelyn Pixley, Emotions in Finance, 2004
  • Niklas Luhmann, Trust and Power, 1979
  • Karen Barad, Meeting the Universe Halfway: Quantum Physics and the Entaglement of Matter and Meaning, 2007
  • Gilbert Ryce, The Concept of Mind, 1949


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s