Individual Perception

Each time I visit the Strand, my perception of it changes. When I go during peak hours, I feel as if I’m in a tourist trap, more than a bookstore. At other times, though, I could spend hours perusing the books and taking in the bookstore environment. Reflecting on each visit I’ve had at the Strand, I realized how it is my perception that shapes my experience. This reminded me of the subjects in Greetings from the Salton Sea. This documentary reveals that perception is personal and might contradict the reality of a situation. In this case, the inhabitants of the land surrounding the Salton Sea had personal connections to the space that blinded them to the danger of their living conditions. That is to say these subjects don’t view the Salton Sea the way the viewers of the documentary do.

This idea ties into the notion of affect. Two individuals can visit the same space and have different perceptions of it. In other words, their affective experiences will be dependent upon the individual. I may view independent bookstores as somewhat of an escape from the bustle of every day life in New York City, while others might see them as a mere infrastructure in which books are sold. In Autonomy of Affect, Massumi writes “an emotion is a subjective content, the sociolinguistic fixing of the quality of an experience which is from that point onward defined as personal” (Massumi 28). Massumi is getting at this idea of how perception, or emotion, is subjective. The way I receive the Strand is not going to be the same as the person who walks in after me because perception is not static. It is individual, personal, and part of a greater affective experience.

Stephanie Tweel


~ by Stephanie Tweel on November 1, 2015.

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