Anji’s Couldn’t-Get-A-Coffee-At-7AM Revelation #2 || Feels and Books

Good Morning Class, welcome to the second edition of the ramblings of a distracted brain, or as I like to call it “How to Get Away With Murder”. <– (LOL seewhatIdidthere?)

Today we delve into Massumi’s Autonomy of Affect, and he hasn’t had me pulling my hair out like Bennet (see: Blog Post #1), even if I did have to re-read some paragraphs a couple of times to make sure I was actually not skipping words because I’m a New Yorker now and am rusty on my taking-it-slow skills.

I immediately connected to what Massumi was talking about, not to mention that that snowman story was a great hook. In fact, as I read about the concept of ‘intensity’, a.k.a. Massumi’s explanation of good ol’ affectt, I realized that ANY story is a great hook. Stories are hooks. That’s why novels are awesome. If you’re a bookworm like me. Now, for my own benefit I’m going to clearly define here that this blog post is meant to be about my understanding of people who like to read fiction vs. people who don’t like to read fiction (also sometimes called: muggles, orcs, Dorothy Gale’s family and friends in Kansas, people-who-be-missin’-out). However, I have a lot of thoughts and I am going to go on a slight detour into a couple of other things that popped into mind while I was reading and were very strong contenders for my full attention:

My Poeisis Theoria

I immediately thought of my objective with my theory-making collage. I was putting together a group of pictures that were taken at a range of geographical locations of things that had no direct connection to each other in their own lives and yet I was trying to ‘tell a story’. After reading Massumi I realize that it wasn’t a story that I was trying to tell, but it was an intensity, an affect, that I was trying to awaken. Can I explain exactly what it is? Noop. But, if we had some cool way to communicate using our feelings where I could somehow invoke the exact same emotional affective sensation (or as I like to call ’em: feels) in you that I feel in me, would I be have a good idea about what I want to transmit? YUS. And, as it so happens, I have further learned from Massumi that words dampen intensity (to put it like super crudely) and that’s why it’s almost nearly impossible to communicate those feels using words without dampening them in some way. Because anything that is said is not absorbed in isolation, even if it is said in isolation (that’s why I can’t get through a single damn reading without 10 different things popping up in my brain related to what I’m reading). We like to get explicitly communicated information in context to what we already know, it’s the only way our mind can make sure it remembers it (helloooo rhizomes). But that’s why images and sounds are our next best option to embody an affect. And it’s not that we don’t see and hear things and try to fit them into the context of all that we know too, it’s just we do it less and we do it slightly delayed because we don’t need to power this reception of information with logic or comprehension (i.e. the brain computer has to do a little less decoding). Less is lost in translation. Which is an interesting way to put it when you really think about all the affect that is often lost when translating expressive messages from one language to another and linguistics is such an interesting field….WAIT, must-not-get-sidetracked. Anyhow, it made me retroactively glad for incorporating the readings into my collage the way I chose to. They may have no added to the affect of the collage, but I’d like to believe that they did not take away from it as they potentially could have (haha, now you gotta go look at it to know what I’m talking about!).

Really Cool Movies

So, I was watching City of God for the first time over the weekend and I obviously loved it. And I thought to myself, what makes this movie so awesome. It can’t just be the heart-wrenching story, because then you have movies like Remember Me (which I love) that have heart-wrenching storylines too and aren’t nearly as popular. And, again, I realize that a movie like City of God is telling a story with a very abstract sense of linearity. And it does it so well. A lot of movies try the flashback, non-linear route and botch it up, but CoG does it in a way that lets your brain absorb the sensation rather than struggle to piece together what’s going on. Which is even more commendable because, unless you understand colloquial, Brazilian Portuguese, you’re following the entire movie through subtitles.

 Anyhow, coming back to books. I thought about why some people just don’t like reading. It always made me very perplexed. Reading is cool.

RobbyP showing us that reading is cool (this is incidentally from ‘Remember Me’ and happened to be on the first page of the results when I image searched ‘reading is cool gif’, so I obviously had to put it in here)

But reading Massumi has helped me answer this unexplainable mystery. When I read a fiction novel I have a movie playing in my head. I don’t know how. As I read, I am no longer making sense of the book word by word or sentence by sentence, my brain goes into automatic processing and it’s like I’m watching a movie in my brain (with my eyes open). And it’s a cool movie, there’s no narrator, everything’s kind of in 3D, it’s not like uni-perspectived, I am simultaneously watching what is going on and feeling what the characters are feeling while it happens. And the better the book, the better this movie gets. In fact, movie is probably the wrong word for it, it’s more like a transportation into the book. I exist in the universe created in the story, I am RIGHT there with the action, kind of like a creepy hovering ghost who doesn’t have any effect on what happens (unless I was reading one of those Goosebumps books where you can make decisions about the story, if you don’t know what I’m talking about, HOP ON THIS). But anyhow, reading for me is an experiential activity. When I put a book down midway to live my real life, I am constantly mulling over what’s happened so far, what it means, how everyone’s feeling about it, do I think they should have done something different, what should happen next, and the most weird and irrational one: oh no I better get back to the book universe soon so I don’t miss anything important.

But the point is, if that’s not what happens when you read, then it’s essentially just a bunch of words on a page that you’re saying aloud in your mind and processing to make sense of and once you make sense of them it’s essentially like having that annoying person around you telling you about that party they went to that you weren’t even there for or invited to and don’t really have a good reason to care about, and this annoying person just keeps going on and on and it becomes harder and harder to give them your full attention because this has just become all word processing and no sensory stimulation (all work, no play). This is when you put the book down and start playing a video game or listening to music, and if you’re people-averse nerdy-nerd like me, it’s also where you tell this annoying person you have something super important to do so you can go home and start playing a video game or listen to music, or more likely, get back to your book (lulz). If you can’t live it (in real life OR in your mind), it’s not engaging, it’s not memorable, it just doesn’t quite hit home.


The lines that completely captured the essence of what reading is for me.

I leave you with this: in my opinion, the height of absorption is at the height of arousal, the height of the feels. We de-prioritize feels, use them as secondary or tertiary lenses of understanding. Why? Because we can’t explain them, we can’t justify them or characterize them. So we have been trained to regard them as less reliable sources of information. Yes that’s right, affect is also information; in my opinion, it is the purest, truest form of information (I almost solely navigate the world with vibes). So, listen to Massumi, get on mah level, and create with love (because it can be felt).

How I felt when I found the last HIMYM gif


~ by anjiprash on October 5, 2014.

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