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Surfing the Anthropocene

The Big Tension and Digital Affect

Eric S. Jenkins

Surfing the Anthropocene shows how the "big tension" between the speed and scale of digital media characterizes affective life on the public screen today. An innovative look launched in the wake of the 2016 US presidential election, Eric S. Jenkins illustrates how the big tension is reflected in how we feel and talk about digital media. Exploring a variety of modes from following news on Twitter to discussion on Facebook, activism to witnessing police shooting videos, the book demonstrates how responses to the big tension make political activity more like videogames, with an "immeditative" temporality and "attentional" spatiality contrasted with meditative and tending modes such as gardening. As a near-monoculture of immeditative, attentional modes emerge, consumerism and affect privilege become reinforced in ways that make addressing the problems of the Anthropocene especially draining and difficult.

Original concepts throughout the book, including the big tension but also the affected subject, translucency, and homo modus, are sure to influence thinking about digital media. If you wonder why life today feels particularly urgent, heated, and intense, Surfing the Anthropocene offers a compelling answer—the big tension—as well as a way to reimagine digital experience with an eye towards surviving, rather than just surfing, the Anthropocene.

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Acknowledgments

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As with any project of this scope, I owe a debt of gratitude to so many people who have influenced my thinking, supported my efforts, or otherwise aided in the project’s completion. First, I’d like to thank those people who read parts of the manuscript and provided me with feedback: Tony Liao, Ashley Hinck, Mack Hagood, Scott Church, and Jairus Grove. Your assistance has made this a better book, and your feedback gave me the confidence that despite the audacity of the project and the approach that I did not completely jump the shark. I am forever grateful. Over the past couple of years, many others have engaged my thinking at conferences and presentations and also provided invaluable feedback. These people include Corey Anton, Lance Strate, Mike Plugh, Damien Pfister, Peter Zhang, Robert MacDougall, Stephen Haas, Omotayo Banjo, and Betsy Bruner. I also rely on some close academic friends who always listen to my ideas and make me a stronger intellectual: Pete Bsumek, David Cisneros, Dustin Greenwalt, Davi Johnson, and Kevin Marinelli. My PhD and Masters advisors, Kevin DeLuca and Ronald Greene, greatly influenced my thinking and continue to provide advice and encouragement. Many other non-academic friends provided support throughout the project, especially those days during sabbatical in which I was hunched over a computer and isolated from human contact. Thanks to the Northside crew, Jeni Jenkins, James Moore, Chip Miller, Shawn Wahl, my ←xi | xii→sister Allison Conaway, my mother Carolyn Layne, my father John Jenkins, and especially my...

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