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Masamune’s Blade

A Proposition for Dialectic Affect Research

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Peter Zuurbier and Frédérik Lesage

Affect is so powerful and represents such ripe territory for study that, in its infancy, conventions of research need to be established that attend to its particular motion and shape. Masamune’s Blade: A Proposition for Dialectic Affect Research outlines an original research method for the study of affect known as affect probes, and proposes the establishment of a new knowledge project based in affect. The book begins with a call to discursively reshape research using affect, after which the authors develop a unique conceptualization of affect, one that brings it into the realm of Frankfurt School Critical Theory. The theoretical foundation sets up the affect probe method, which involves giving participants a package of small activities that require fun, easy, and creative participation. The activities are intended both to inspire affects and to mark their presence. Strategies for analysis are outlined and a series of critical interventions are woven throughout the text to situate the ideas.
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Chapter 3. Real Time

Extract

← 94 | 95 →

·3·

REAL TIME

“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you’ll miss it.”

—Ferris Bueller in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

Now that you’ve learned about the design and implementation of affect probe research, we want to take some space to explore its implications. This begins within the process of becoming, at the point of affect’s constitution. As we’ve discussed, we see affects as fundamentally either compounding false consciousness or offering a means to transcend it. The question that emerges then is this: How is affect mystified? Since affect is autonomous, it should be able to escape mystification, and it can, but it doesn’t always. Affects can be mystified when the sources and circumstances that spark affects are themselves mystified. The affective register is made up of all sorts of previous experiences and affects that are tangled in innumerable ways, but becomings are only one act, so one action is pursued in the end. People can become any number of things at once. The becoming can itself be multidirectional, but there is only one becoming ongoing in one instance. Brian Massumi wrote that affect is “incipient action and expression…. The beginning of a selection: the incipience of mutually exclusive pathways of action and expression, all but one of which will be inhibited, prevented from actualizing themselves completely.”1 ← 95 | 96 → Whatever is selected from the affective register is distilled into one...

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