Affect and its Transmission outside Mosques

Under the rule of a president, who doesn’t believe in freedom of religion, who doesn’t respect anyone but American, and who has openly laid out his agenda to surveil and profile Muslims, going to a mosque can be a reason for the next raid at the person’s place. It is not a conjecture. It has been exposed and well-outlined in the series of investigations published by Associated Press in 2012 when New York police profiled Muslims inside and outside mosques.

A large number of protests changed a few things. It is being said that New York police have stopped surveilling Muslims in its now known tactics, but the federal department continues to watch Muslims.

Masjid Al-Iman is located ten minutes from Astoria Boulevard station. It is three minutes from Astoria office of New York police station.


Another mosque, Masjid Malcolm Shabazz is the tinier structure stuffed between tall buildings in Harlem. It is at the same place where the original tomb lived before it was bombed it was bombed in 1965.

dsc00123Outside both mosques, the signs of welcome and pictures of smiling children, women and men eating and together brought a bodily change: smile. And that transmission of affect from the images to my body brought me confidence to go inside and request permission to take pictures from outside.


When I was outside Masjid Al-Iman, a girl, not older than six, ran in and out of a tall door made of interlaced Islamic geometric patterns. She laughed and ran faster as elder her brother chased her. It was an innocent dash and catch that continued for a few rounds before the brother grabbed and pulled her hijab off.

What happened in the next half second or so is obscure.

After that missed second, I felt nervousness and brown of her hair for the first time in an hour. She then rushed behind the giant door and returned with calm and clipped hijab.

I am not, in any way, attempting to objectify a human being by addressing her as the cause of affect, I am referring to the image that was created in that half second that had no person in it. It was the scarf that has been part of some debates (mostly by men and the privileged) in the recent past. Being in that moment in that place and missing that half a second was outside consciousness.

Brian Massumi, in his seminal work The Autonomy of Affect writes, “the half second is missed not because it is empty, but because it is overfull, in excess of the actually-performed action and its ascribed meaning” (Massumi 29).

Hours later, it feels like a “temporal sink, a hole in time” (Massumi 26) when I calculate it as half second and write about it. The narrative of that half second is filled with emotions and carefully-used words. Teresa Brennan in her book, The Transmission of Affect, calls it the transmission of affect. A brief moment in time when one person feels others’ affects and the “the environment literally gets into the individual” and causes that “temporal sink, a hole in time”. Hence, in that moment of affect, there is no difference between individual and environment.

So, what is the reason nervousness came to me half second late?

As Brennan’s writes, “… the registration of the can be experienced in a variety of ways” (Brennan 6).  After that brief moment, the emotions are generated as a reaction to the atmosphere.

A while later, she came and stood behind me to look at pictures I was looking at the camera. Before we could look at the third picture of the mosque, she asked, “Do you like Trump?” I said, “I don’t like him,” without a thought. I write this to describe the difference between the affect and feeling/emotion. In the first part of his book, Massumi talks about a short film created from the story of a man who created a snowman. He explains that the story with voiceovers was more remembered by the children than the original story with just images, which had more intensity. The “matter-of-factness dampens intensity” (Massumi 5). “The emotional version added a few phrases that punctuated the narrative line with qualifications of the emotional content, as opposed to the objective narrative content,” Massumi further explains.  

What she said resonated with what I felt about Trump and it rushed the emotions before the affect could happen. Her sensations found the right match of words and it transmitted a familiar feeling of dislike for a person. There was no unknown. Therefore, no affect. According to Brennan, affects are energies that we get from the surrounding and feelings are our personal thoughts (Brennan 7). Feelings come from human beings and objects but affect come from objects. Our conversation had feelings that both of us shared. And it felt good.  


~ by jignadmtp on February 20, 2017.

6 Responses to “Affect and its Transmission outside Mosques”

  1. 3. Best in Show
    Based off of this post I really believe that you not only understood affect but used it in your post as well. Using pictures of your actual site evoked a feeling from me that would probably not have happened otherwise. Also you really did go in depth with the reading and connected it to your ecology seamlessly.

  2. I feel the post is very engaging with the language and description of the story. It makes me feel that I am truly experience the scene on the street and it also connected very well with the reading material.

  3. Thinking-Smartness Learning — the language and description of your ecology was very engaging and I feel like it makes me think and want to learn more about this situation. Good job on creating affect through photos and description, I feel like they definitely helped me understand the affect of the place more.

  4. Best overall. The concept is intriguing in and of itself but the storyline that was present in the post made it have something extra. There was a lot of feeling in the post that was well articulated and tied in nicely with the readings to explain and transmit affect effectively.

  5. Thinking-smartness award. The story you used made me want to learn more & also paired well with the readings.

  6. I think this is the best for smartness. Your writing style was really an easy to read and you integrated the experience of your ecology and the readings very well together. I feel like I would have understood the reading even if I had not read the reading.

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