Go To Work? No! Go Home? Yes!

Have you ever had a feeling that when you finish one day’s work and finally get yourself out of the office building, the moment you see the blue sky and the street views outside, your whole body got relaxed and your intensive nerves were released? That’s exactly what I felt when I walked out of the PATH station every day.

When I approach the doorway one step after another, as I see the sunlight in front of me, I feel my whole body gets lighter and lighter and my face is like:

But on the other hand, every time when I have to go to work in the morning, as I see the PATH station, I immediately feel tired even it’s just the beginning of a day.

It seems there is a invisible line between PATH station and the outside world, which assigns them with two atmospheres. It’s like heaven or hell. But how come these two spaces, which are not far away from each other in physical distance, could make people feel so different?

Before that question, I need to figure out differences between “feelings”, “emotions”, and “affects” and how do they come from.“An emotion is a subjective content, the sociolinguistic fixing of the quality if an experience which is from that point onward defined as personal. Emotion is qualified intensity..…. If some have the impression that affect has waned, it is because affect is unqualified.”(Massumi, p28) Here Massumi talks about how to classify emotions and affect: one is aware of his emotions but he is probably not be able to recognize his affects. Emotions are one taken out of his experience and make it personal. But affects don’t come from this process. People got affected without realizing. 

From Brennan’s article I know that “feelings” are the interpretation, or the language of the sensory informations. Physiologically speaking, feelings originate from the interactions between stimuli and thence to the senses. However, affects are not feelings. “Bodily changes in fear, hunger, pain, rage, and affectionate or sexual arousal become the basic categories of endogenous drives, while drives in turn are identified as the source of the affects.” (Brennan, 4) If feelings are “foods”, then affects would be the “hotpot”. The affects make them pick up what “feelings” they would like to eat from the menu unconsciously, and then put all these feelings into one hotpot and boil them into one single cuisine that they have no idea what it is. Affects are the complex mixture of feelings and emotions.

People’s “hotpots” won’t be exactly the same because everyone has his unique personal experiences. “The content one person gives to the affect of anger or depression or anxiety may be very different from the content given to the same affect by another” (Brennan, 6) Because one’s affect has also involved his personal historical experiences, individuals may response differently to the same environment. For example, in the cinema when some cry for tragic films, the people next to them might not feel sad at all. Whether the environment evokes certain thoughts of individuals decides the intensity of the affect. Let’s imagine a tourist who’s on his vacation comes to the PATH station simply for taking the train to Manhattan. Will he feel stressful, anxious or in a hurry? Of course not.

As Bennett says, “the vital materialist must admit that different materialities, composed of different sets of protobodies, will express different powers. Humans, for example, can experience themselves as forming intentions and as standing apart from their actions to reflect on the matter.” (Bennett, 31) Humans can choose to get themselves involved into the environment, or feeling this environment as an outsider. In the first situation, humans themselves are a part of the environment. Together with many other moral, immoral agencies they form a special atmosphere. In the second situation, humans become the receiver of the affects that are sent by this atmosphere. For example, a person in PATH who are in a rush going to work, also forms the environment which makes another individual feel tired and anxious.

The moment one steps into the PATH station, he is separated with the other parts of the Newport. Immediately, the unique atmosphere of PATH overwhelms him. His vision changes. He could no longer sees the blue sky or natural light. Instead he enters an underground world that is built with concretes, iron and lightbulbs. People around him have uneasy face expressions. Nobody similes or seems relaxed. Moreover, he hears the strong noise of people’s footsteps, accompanying with the broadcast keeps announcing the information of the up coming train every several minutes.

The mobility in this space really increase its intensity. Every time there is a new announcement many people start to run. Nobody is standing still in the hallway. It seems the common status in this space is to “move” from place to place. And the action of standing still becomes something strange to the environment.

No wonder those working class people would feel a sense of released as they step out of the PATH station and enter the residential area of Newport. PATH is like a transition place between “live” and “work”, “home” and “office”. It’s a lifestyle of which separates work and life by address a physical distance between them. This distance makes people’s life schedule much less flexible. As a result, only people who own a unchanged schedule, that is, go to work or go home in fixed time everyday, could be able to “afford” living in Newport. A flexible and unpredictable schedule will make this distance unbearable for the working class people. That’s another reason why Newport is so suitable and attractive for working class.

Work Cited:

Bennett, Jane. Vibrant Matter: A Political Ecology of Things. London: Duke University Press, i – 38. Print.

Brennan, Theresa. “Introduction.” The Transmission of Affect. Ithaca: Cornell UP, 2004. 1-23. Print.

Massumi, Brian. “The Autonomy of Affect.” Cultural Critique 31 (1995): 83-109. Web.

~ by shereenkong on October 4, 2016.

6 Responses to “Go To Work? No! Go Home? Yes!”

  1. Best Overall: I thought you had the best overall blog post of the week because first of all, you have a really catchy title. It drew me in. You talk a lot about your everyday life from PATH trains to foods which you go in great detail. You pay attention to affect and emotion through your everyday life which is what this project is all about.

  2. I nominate this post for most engaging! Love the outside references you chose to bring in to your blogpost. The analysis of Brennan’s text with hot pot is both interesting and super unique. I especially appreciated your points made about the “mobility of space.” My ecology project is related to the NYC subway system, so your blogpost was super helpful and relatable. Love the bonus analysis of the PATH system as well–the reader can tell that you definitely know what you’re talking about. Great post!

  3. I also think this one is the best overall! And, I also relate to the whole “the PATH train having a line between the real world” — too real. This story is truly detailed and you go forward and explain what Brennan is talking about in terms of affect while not losing the reader. Great job!

  4. Most engaging – I’m a huge fan of hot pots so I’m probably a little biased but I appreciate the hot pot analogy that you used. You were able to clearly explain the differences between “feelings” and emotions” and added a little bit of humor to it. While I’ve only taken the PATH train twice before, I can relate to the experience of NY subway experience (I used to take the L and then the NQR to work). You didn’t only write about affect but communicated it through tone of your post as well.

  5. Best engaging: I like how you start your article — by describing a sense of feeling that each of us all have after a day of work/school. The gif you use is very cute. Also, I like how you use hot pot as an example to explain how objects can incite emotions in people. Great work!
    — Rui

  6. Best engaging, I really think your descriptions of the feelings and the examples you use could really make readers feel relevant to their lives. Therefore, it has a better engagement in general. Also the quotes are being put in the right places without feeling awkward. It really helped me think of the improvements that I could do in my writings.

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