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Masamune’s Blade

A Proposition for Dialectic Affect Research


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 4. Sunset at Secret Beach


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“I arrived in La Jolla, California in the fall of 1965 as a graduate student in philosophy. One of my reasons for coming was what I had heard of Herbert Marcuse. He was not yet famous but he was well known and what was known about him intrigued me. I was interested in phenomenology, but a philosopher wild enough to synthesize Marx and Freud was wild enough for a young graduate student looking for an alternative to the positivism then dominating American philosophy….

One afternoon as we left Marcuse’s office a magnificent sunset appeared before us. Standing on the balcony of the Humanities Building dazzled by the spectacle of nature, Marcuse turned to me and said, in his deep, heavily accented voice, ‘Make me a phenomenological reduction of this!’ I was unable to reply. I remember feeling the demand to be unfair, sarcastic.”

—Andrew Feenberg, in “Heidegger, Marcuse and the Philosophy of Technology”

So there’s the completed probe, staring back at you, awaiting investigation. Uh oh…. What do you do with it? It may feel a bit daunting, looking at a collection of tiny bits of individual creativity and wondering how you’re going to draw meaningful research from it. While your project should be fun and exciting in the development and execution phases, it may impress a bit of concern as the analysis portion of the process begins to appear...

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