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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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3 The Time and Space of Gaming, Gardening, and Global Warming

Emotion and Affect in Rhetoric about Videogames



It’s bone-chillingly cold, and the President just tweeted that this proves global warming is a myth. I just finished three days of videogame binging, and while it may seem like these things have nothing to do with each other, I often find myself in a state of blurry-eyed, foggy-minded gamer haze when I subconsciously want to avoid bad conditions like the weather or bad news like climate disruption, myself aware, unlike Trump apparently, of the difference between climate and weather. Will he rescind the tweet once he realizes that it’s a record-hot summer in Australia right now, too?

I would settle for spring here, my skinny Texan bones never having adapted to real winters. Then I can begin gardening, another of my favorite ways of forgetting my cares and concerns. Gaming and gardening, a strange connection perhaps, yet both provide a measure of release from the day-to-day grind, a special place where, for the moment, duties and doubts may be left behind or set aside. Johan Huizinga called the special places of gaming worlds “magic circles,” and not a few writers have referred to magical gardens, often portraying them as gateways to other worlds like Alice slipping through the rabbit hole. Crouching alone, digging up yet another wild violet or dandelion in my backyard beds in a perpetual, losing battle against weeds, my garden often feels magical, as rejuvenating as any potion, as affixing as any illusion, as transformative as any spell. Meditative.


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