21
Nov
08

Massumi’s Parables of the Virtual

Brian Massumi
Parable for the Virtual: Movement, Affect, Sensation
Area: Digital Media
Intro: Concrete is as Concrete Doesn’t

•    Body: it moves, it feels
•    Body – (movement/sensation) – change
•    Body as sight of resistance—signifying gestures can also unmake sense by scrambling significations already in place
•    There is “displacement,” but no transformation.  The body simply leaps from one definition to the next
•    Abstract: never present in position, only ever in passing
•    Incorporeal dimension of the body
•    Positionality is an emergent quality of movement
o    “passing into” and “emerging” aren’t binarisms—they’re dynamic unites
•    Difference between social determinism and sociality
•    Habit is an acquired automatic self-regulation—it resides in the flesh
o    Cultural? Natural?
•    The feeling of having a feeling is the “perception of perception” (Liebniz)
o    Occurs without characters and therefore memory does also
o    Wait…memory, sensations, and perceptions occurring without ‘characters’? Without determinate form or content?—what is memory without content?
•    Just “pastness”? –but this would make the past contemporary to the present of sensation and perception
•    Spinoza: body as relations of movement and rest: the capacity to enter into relations of movement and rest—power to affect or be affected
•    Massumi takes seriously the idea that writing in the humanities can be affirmative or inventive (experimentation)
•    When you uproot a concept from its network of systematic connections with other concepts, you still have its connectibility
o    Connectiblity without the system
4: “Even though many of the approaches in question characterize themselves as materialisms, matter can only enter in indirectly: as mediated.  Matter, movement, body, sensation.  Multiple mediated miss.”
4: “When a body is in motion, in does not coincide with itself.  It coincides with its own transition: its own variation.  The range of variations it can be implicated in is not present in any given movement, much less in any position it passes through.  In motion, a body is in an immediate, unfolding relation to its own nonpresent potential to vary.  That relation, to borrow a phrase from Gilles Deleuze, is real but abstract.”
10: “The retrospective ordering enables precise operations to be inserted along the way, in anticipation of a repetition of the movement—the possibility that it will come again.  If the movement does reoccur, it can be captured.  It comes to a different end.  At that terminus, its momentum may be diverted into a new movement. The back-formation of a path is not only a ‘retrospection.’  It is a retroduction: a production, by feedback, of new movements.  A dynamic unity has been retrospectively captured and qualitatively converted.”
12: “Perhaps ‘productivism’ would be better than constructivism because it connotes emergence.  ‘Inventionism’ wouldn’t be going too far, for even if you take nature in the narrowest sense, it has to be admitted that its inventive in its own right.  There is a word for this: evolution.  There is no reason not to use the same word for the prolongation of ‘natural’ processes of change in the emergent domain of ‘culture.’ Is a constructivist evolutionism conceivable? An evolutionary constructivism?
21: “Aside from that, poaching a scientific concept in no way prevents it from continuing to function it its home environment.  It’s not a zero-sum game.  It’s additive.  The concept still belongs to the culture of science but has also been naturalized into the humanities.”
Chapter 1: Autonomy of Affect (pagination from Cultural Critique)
•    The affective is marked by the gap between content and effect
•    Depth reactions are associated with expectation, which depends on positioning oneself in a line of narrative continuity
o    How does this differ from Gadamer??
o    They are conscious-autonomic mix, a measure of their participation in one another.  Intensity is beside that loop, a non-conscious, never-to-conscious autonomic remainder
•    Intensity will be equated with affect
•    Emotion and affect—if affect is intensity
o    Follows different logics and pertain to different orders
•    Will and consciousness are subtractive. They are limitative, derived functions which reduce a complexity too rich to be functionally expressed (free will experiment)
•    The body is as immediately virtual as it is actual
•    Deleuze: question of emergence—two sided—actual and virtual
•    The entire field (the universe) is limited and infinite
•    The autonomy of affect is its participation in the virtual
o    Its autonomy is its openness
86: When on the other hand it doubles a sequence of movements in order to add something to it in the way of meaningful progression-in this case a sense of futurity, expectation, an intimation of what comes next in a conventional progression-then it runs counter to and dampens the intensity. Intensity would seem to be associated with nonlinear processes: resonation and feedback which momentarily suspend the linear progress of the narrative present from past to future.
91: Intensity is asocial, but not presocial-it includes social elements, but mixes them with elements belonging to other levels of functioning, and combines them according to different logic.
100: It is meaningless to interrogate the relation of the human to the nonhuman if the nonhuman is only a construct of human culture, or inertness. The concepts of nature and culture need serious reworking, in a way that expresses the irreducible alterity of the non- human in and through its active connection to the human, and vice versa.

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