Brian Massumi. PARABLES FOR THE VIRTUAL. Movement,. Affect,. Sensation. Duke University Press Durham & London Brian Massumi_Introduction of Parables for the Virtual - Download as PDF File . pdf), Text File .txt) or read online. Brian Massumi is Professor of Communication at the Université de of the Despot (), Parables for the Virtual: Movement, Affect, Sensation.
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In Parablesfor 1/ Virtual Brian Massumi views the body and media such as thc post war French philosophy ofDeleuze, Guattari, and Foucault, Massumi. Request PDF on ResearchGate | On Aug 1, , Angela Ndalianis and others Parables for the Virtual: Movement, Affect, Sensation by Brian Massumi. Biography: Brian Massumi specializes in philosophy, media theory, and visual culture. He is the author of Parables for the Virtual: Movement, Affect, Sensation ( Duke University Press, ), A User's Guide to Capitalism and Download PDF.
In so far as these diverse and competing modern, post-Kantian psychologies assumed they were 'about' the one class of objects--the species Homo sapiens, they were mostly humanistic, or at least anthropocentric. Parables of the Virtual is the latest chapter in the Deleuzean challenge to constructivist cultural studies and theory.
Well, your luck is about to change. The perspective Massumi unfolds will have a major effect on cultural theory for years to come. Seldom do we see a political thinker develop his or her ideas with such scrupulous attention to everyday human existence, creating a marvelously fluid architecture of thought around the fundamental question of what the fact of human embodiment does to the activity of thinking.
Massumi's prose has a dazzling and sometimes cutting clarity, and yet he bites into very big issues.
People will be reading and talking about Parables for the Virtual for a long time to come. After reading Brian Massumi you will never listen to Sinatra or watch a soccer game the same way again. The singularity of the event is not the same as its particularity. To think of events as particulars would reduce the real abstraction of the world to a propositional logic of possibility once more.
Singularity is heterogeneity. According to Massumi, one does a disservice to the real world to reduce its singularity. There is no doer, or being, behind the doing of lightning, to paraphrase Nietzsche.
Expression has far-reaching implications for philosophy, cultural studies, political theory, science, and aesthetics, according to Massumi. In other words, these disciplines would be concerned with change in the world. To fully appreciate the implications of expression for these fields means passing through affect and perception.
His essay has acted as a place where others can get definitional footholds and construct abstract edifices to express the effects of the extra-linguistic. Massumi, for his part, offers a number of critical guides: keywords for affect b, pp. Influenced by Baruch Spinoza, Massumi defines affect as bodily intensity, or an ability of a body to affect and be affected pp. Affect refers to an affectation that registers on a body, meaning intensity is felt, as well as a transition between bodily states c, p.
Subscriber: OUP-Reference Gratis Access; date: 23 December Brian Massumi and Communication An emotion is a subjective content, the sociolinguistic fixing of the quality of experience which is from that point onward defined as personal. Emotion is qualified intensity, the conventional, consensual point of insertion of intensity into semantically and semiotically formed progressions, into narrativizable action- reaction circuits, into function and meaning. It is intensity owned and recognized.
It is crucial to theorize the difference between affect and emotion. If some have the impression that affect has waned, it is because affect is unqualified. As such, it is not ownable or recognizable and is thus resistant to critique.
Emotion is not passivity; it has its own motion p. However, emotion is the most intensified degree to which affect is qualified and situated toward its closure, narration, and semiotic meaning, even if affect spills over. To say that affect is autonomous is not to say that affect is a free-floating signified waiting to be uncovered, though many authors have criticized Massumi along these lines see Brinkema, ; Leys, In short, consciousness is an effect of this fielding of production.
Affect has numerous implications for communication and cultural studies, but I outline three here. It no longer defines the global mode of functioning of power. Massumi offers two conditions of emergence: induction qualification, containment, actualization and transduction the movement of an impulse from one actualization across them all pp.
Bush see a, pp. The advisory attempts to contain bodies and affects within interpenetrating sites and transmits a force of excitability en masse. Affects are transindividual and transversal, the glue that upholds ideologies and binds experiences. In this sense, Massumi explains, he is interested in how affect is power, or how affect stands in for political decision.
Second, tracking affect means registering the influence of the extra-linguistic in and through language. Debbie Hawhee claims that the distinction between affect and emotion can stall our scholarship, where we are left toggling between the two registers.
The closeness of affect and feeling has led some thinkers to deliberately blur their distinctions see Cvetkovich, The doubling of feeling is a mark of the ongoingness of life, or what it feels like to be alive. Massumi writes that affect has effects: Like all event factors, it can be repeated, reactivated, it can rearise, but always anew.
The logic of affect is entirely bound up with the logic of serial repetition and difference that applies to events. Reason has two key passions: generality and causality. Rationality and affectivity are co-operative, meaning they coincide within the same operations, practices, and relations. Massumi also provides the example of a humble flower. Sensation intervenes in the registering of potential in practice.
Sensations and perceptions are multiple. If perception is a taking account, it is a sensate experience. Perception is embodied and always, at least partially, non-conscious. Thinking-feeling is the thinking in feeling, and the feeling in thinking. The installation highlights the mutual relation of thinking and feeling.
Changing focus, hearing a rustle of leaves, sensing a rat scurrying across the floor, lighting up a part of the brain through a perceptual experiment—these are all microperceptual shifts. Perception is of the skin; it takes place at the surface of a body.
Microperceptions are new bodily beginnings. These rethinkings of perception allow two overall pragmatic reframings. Ontopower a , in particular, follows and articulates a mode of power embodying the logic of preemption, Ontopower is a power to bring into being, onto the world p.
Ontopower in the context of preemption operationalizes time, perception, action, and decision to install immediate effects p. By considering non-conscious perception, we can explore the ways that domains of intelligence and information are actually domains of affect. We can also further plumb how affective and perceptual modulations alter subsequent action—reaction circuits and relations.
These include, perhaps most pressingly, action—reaction circuits and relations that capture the microperceptual, the immediate effects of the skin that run below our critical registers, toward dubious or progressive social ends.
If perception is mentality at the level of the body, animal and non-animal activity exhibits mentality and, Massumi notes, reflection. It is not clear whether they are biting or nipping. Is the encounter one of play or combat? The lesson of the wolf cubs is animality in active, creative expression exhibited through gestures of play p. Nature comprises a vast cross-fertilization of capacitations, and the agents of capacitations are not the lone subject. What are the feeling-likenesses across his works?
For one, reading him might feel like being struck by flashes of inspiration. One seeks recovery and then gets drawn back in, exposed again to shocks to thought, which are as simple as glimpses of new thoughts and feelings in the periphery. A reader might experience several motivational upheavals and intellectual reactivations, all from realizations that the world is already in motion and one is already enmeshed in practices of co-participation.
This does not mean that imperatives to move and participate are welcome; as Massumi writes, the soft power of biopower enforces all sorts of interactivity , p. But maneuvering in fields of relations means opening up, with our critical levers, the models of relation that bracket flux. Second, and relatedly, a reader might find oneself feeling more open about what communication could be. Will communication as a field remain wedded to designation, manifestation, and signification as important models of content-transfer?
Can we envision a communication of the event? Critical communication studies will no doubt continue to do so through the re-evaluation of language, affect, and perception.
How might a philosophy, cultural studies, political theory, science, aesthetics, and communication of expression perform this tender work? There are usually one or two texts that an essay is keyed into. He challenges us to engage in thought experiments rather than just deliberative critique and exegesis. These formal practices, while important, become humbled by how authors can nurse connections, tending to the sprouting of theories of change and change itself across texts.
These tendencies toward non-mastery, or flights away from mastery, allow for new thoughts, perceptions, and feelings. If they forced particular allegiances, or prescribed particular actions, they would be tools or weapons, not gifts. Subscriber: OUP-Reference Gratis Access; date: 23 December Brian Massumi and Communication works usher in new concepts and questions for scholarship about practice, power, the ineffable, and disciplinarity—especially of their relation and becoming.
The conceptual clusters and questions identified here are in no way comprehensive. Our writing remains speculative.
Further Reading Boucher, M. Inter: Art Actuel, , 16— Hemmer-Lozano, R. They are tinged with event. The problem has been that the concern for naturalization was one-sided, only attending to half the becoming. Of tremendous help in looking at both sides is the concept of habit. Habit is an acquired automatic self-regulation. It resides in the flesh. Some say in matter. As acquired, it can be said to be cultural. As automatic and material, it can pass for natural. Sorting out the identity or difference between law and habit chapter 9 , and distributing the result along the nature-culture continuum, becomes a promising direction for inquiry.
Of course, a preoccupation with precisely this question accompanied the birth of empiricism Hume. Incorporeal materialism has a date with empiricism chapter 9. Gender, race, orientation, are what Ian Hacking calls interactive kinds: logical categories that feed back into and transform the reality they describe and are themselves modified by it in return.
You miss the continuum of interlinkage, feedforward and feedback, by which movements capture and convert each other to many ends, old, new, and innumerable. The world is in a condition of constant qualitative growth. Some kind of constructivism is required to account for the processual continuity across categorical divides, and for the reality of that qualitative growth, or ontogenesis: the fact that with every move, with every change, there is something new to the world, an added reality.
The world is self-augmenting. Reality snowballs, as William James was fond of saying. Perhaps productivism would be better than constructivism because it connotes emergence. Inventionism wouldnt be going too far, for even if you take nature in the narrowest sense, it has to be admitted that it is inventive in its own right. There is a word for that: 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 chapters 4, 9? To think productivism, you have to allow that even your own logical efforts feedback and add to reality, in some small, probably microscopic way. But still. Once you have allowed that, you have accepted that activities dedicated to thought and writing are inventive.
Critical thinking disavows its own inventiveness as much as possible. Because it sees itself as uncovering something it claims was hidden or as debunking something it desires to subtract from the world, it clings to basically descriptive and justificatory modus operandi. However strenuously it might debunk concepts like representation, it carries on as if it mirrored something outside itself with which it had no complicity, no unmediated processual involvement, and thus could justifiably oppose.
Prolonging the thought-path of movement, as suggested here, requires that techniques of negative critique be used sparingly.
The balance has to shift to affirmative methods: techniques which embrace their own inventiveness and are not afraid to own up to the fact that they add if so meagerly to reality. There is a certain hybris to the notion that a mere academic writer is actually inventing. But the hybris is more than tempered by the self-evident modesty of the returns. So why not hang up the academic hat of critical self-seriousness, set aside the intemperate arrogance of debunking and enjoy?
If you dont enjoy concepts and writing, and feel that when you write you are adding something to the world, if only the enjoyment itself, and that by adding that ounce of positive experience to the world you are affirming it, celebrating its potential, tending its growth, in however small a way, however really abstractly well, just hang it up.
It is not that critique is wrong. As usual, it is not a question of right and wrong nothing important ever is. It is a question of dosage. It is simply that when you are busy critiquing you are less busy augmenting.
You are that much less fostering. There are times when debunking is necessary. But if applied in a blanket manner, adopted as a general operating principle, it is counterproductive. Foster or debunk. Its a strategic question. Like all strategic questions, it is basically a question of timing and proportion.
Nothing to do with morals or moralizing. Just pragmatic. Vague concepts, and concepts of vagueness, have a crucial, and often enjoyable, role to play. Strangely, if this procedure is followed with a good dose of conviction and just enough technique, presto! Thought and language bend to it, like light in the vicinity of a superdense heavenly body. This may be an example of miraculation. As if lucidity itself could be invented.
These are just some of the directions that the simple aim of integrating movement into the account sets going: a lot of leverage for a small amount of applied conceptual pressure.
A lot of new problems. This is without even mentioning the associated problem of sensation. Briefly: sensation also presents a directly disjunctive self-coinciding hows that for vague? Its simply this: sensation is never simple. It is always doubled by the feeling of having a feeling. It is selfreferential. This is not necessarily the same as self-reflexive.
The doubling of sensation does not assume a subjective splitting, and does not of itself constitute a distancing.
It is an immediate self-complication.
It is best to think of it as a resonation, or interference pattern chapters 1, 9. An echo, for example, cannot occur without a distance between surfaces for the sounds to bounce off of. But the resonation is not on the walls. It is in the emptiness between them. It fills the emptiness with its complex patterning. That patterning is not at a distance from itself.
It is immediately its own event. Although it is non-simple or complex, it is not composed of parts. It is composed of the event that it is: which is unitary. It is a complex dynamic unity. The inteference pattern arises where the sound wave intersects with itself.
The bouncing back and forth multiplies the sounds movement without cutting it. The movement remains continuous. It remains in continuity with itself across its multiplication. This complex self-continuity is a putting into relation of the movement to itself: self-relation. The self-relation is immediate in and of itself, only its own event even though it requires distance to occur. The best word, once again, for a complicating immediacy of self-relation is intensity chapters 1, 2, 3, 4.
Resonation can be seen as converting distance, or extension, into intensity. It is a qualitative transformation of distance into an immediacy of self-relation. With the body, the walls are the sensory surfaces. The intensity is experience. The emptiness or in-betweenness filled by experience is the incorporeal dimension of the body referred to earlier.
The conversion of surface distance into intensity is also the conversion of the materiality of the body into an event chapters 2, 3, 6, 8. It is a relay between its corporeal and incorporeal dimensions. This is not yet a subject. But it may well be the conditions of emergence of a subject: an incipient subjectivity.
Call it a self-. The hyphen is retained as a reminder that self is not a substantive but rather a relation. Sorting out self-reflexivity, self-referentiality, and self-relation, and in the process distributing subjectivity and its incipiency along the nature-culture continuum, becomes another major theoretical stake.
The feeling of having a feeling is what Leibniz called the perception of perception. That raises another thorny issue: the identity or difference between the terms sensation and perception chapters 2, 4, 5. Leibniz notes that the perception of perception occurs without characters and therefore that memory does also.
Then pause. Memory, sensation, perception occurring without characters? In other words without properties? Without determinate form or content? What is a memory without content? One answer might be that it is just pastness, a pure pastness that would be the condition of emergence for determinate memory. But that would make the past contemporary to the present of sensation and perception.
Leibniz goes on to say that although the perception of perception is without characters, it does carry a distinguishing sense of bodily direction. Distinguishing bodily direction without a determinate form? That could only be tendency, pure tendency chapter 4. So there is a futurity that is contemporary with the pasts contemporaneousness with the present. All of this is to say that feedback and feedforward, or recursivity, in addition to converting distance into intensity, folds the dimensions of time into each other.
The field of emergence of experience has to be thought of as a space-time continuum, as an ontogenetic dimension prior to the separating-out of space and time adopting the same approach as with nature-culture; chapters 2, 8.
Leibnizs allusion to tendency brings up one more issue, and also points to a way of making the link between movement and sensation developed in the work of Spinoza. Spinoza defined the body in terms of relations of movement and rest. He was referring to a body capacity to enter into relations of movement and rest. This capacity he spoke of as a power or potential to affect or be affected.
The issue, after sensation, perception and memory, is affect. Relation between movement and rest is another way of saying transition. For Spinoza, the body was one with its transitions. Each transition is accompanied by a variation in capacity: a change in which powers to affect and be affected are addressable by a next event, and how readily addressable they are or to what degree they are present as futurities.
That degree is a bodily intensity, and its present futurity a tendency. The Spinozist problematic of affect offers a way of weaving together concepts of movement, tendency and intensity in a way that takes us right back to the beginning: in what sense the body coincides with its own transitions, and its transitioning with its potential. The link to sensation comes in with the added remark that the variation in intensity is felt.
This brings us back to where we just were, at self-relation: the feeling of transition by nature stretches between phases of a continuing movement. The sensed aspect of intensity doubles the affect understood as pure capacity: we are back at self-multiplication. And we are back at emergence, because the sensation is the first glimmer of a determinate experience, in the act of registering itself as itself across its own event.
A first glimmer of definable self-experience: back at incipient subjectivity. We have looped, taking an affective short-cut across many of the salient problems raised by the question of the bodys passing powers of concreteness. Where we might loop into shortly is empiricism, at the other end of its history. William James made transition and the feeling of self-relation a central preoccupation of his latter-day radical empiricism. The relations that connect experiences, he wrote, must themselves be experienced relations, and any kind of relation must be accounted as real as anything else in the system.
A complication for radical empiricism is that the feeling of the relation may very well not be large enough to register consciously. It may be what Leibniz termed a small perception, or micro-perception chapter 8.
The vast majority of the worlds sensations are certainly nonconscious. Nonconscious is a very different concept from the Freudian unconscious although it is doubtless not unrelated to it. The differences are that repression does not apply to nonconscious perception; and that nonconscious perception may, with a certain amount of ingenuity, be argued to apply to nonorganic matter chapters 1, 8, 9.
Whereas the feeling of the relation may be too small to enter perception it is infra-empirical , the relation it registers, for its part, is too large to fit into a perception since it envelops a multiplicity of potential variations it is super-empirical.
A radical empiricism, if it is to be a thorough thinking of relation, must find ways of directly, affectively joining the infra-empirical to the super-empirical chapters 2, 6. Actualization does this. Affect, sensation, perception, movement, intensity, tendency, habit, law, chaos, recursion, relation, immanance, the feedback of higher forms. Emergence, becoming, history, space, time, space-time, space and time as emergences. Nature-culture, matter, feeling, matter feeling.
Event, capture, possible, potential, power. Not all the concepts in this crowd figure in each essay, of course. And when they do come up, it is often to different emphasis, in different constellations. Other concepts slip in like uninvited guests image, effect, force, new, openness, singularity, situation, belonging. The concepts appear and reappear like a revolving cast of characters, joining forces or interfering with each other in a tumble of abstract intrigues at times I admit barely controlled.
Or is it: with miraculous lucidity? I might as well also admit that my prose has been compared to a black hole. Chapter one, The Autonomy of Affect, sets the stage. It is in the concluding essay, Too-Blue: Color-Patch for an Expanded Empiricism, that incorporeal materialism meets up with radical empiricism.
Bergson, Spinoza and Simondon make way for James, who tumbles onto A.
Whitehead and Isabelle Stengers. The intervening chapters bring together the usual conceptual suspects in varying combinations. At times, under the pressure of the uncouth company they find themselves keeping, they undergo a bit of a personality change or might even assume a pseudonym. The reason for the constant reconstellation of concepts, and the differences in their casting when they make repeat appearances, is that I have tried to take seriously the idea that writing in the humanities can be affirmative or inventive.
Invention requires experimentation. The wager is that there are methods of writing, from an institutional base in the humanities disciplines, that can be considered experimental practices.
What they would invent or reinvent would be concepts and connections between concepts. The first rule of thumb if you want to invent or reinvent concepts is: dont apply them. If you apply a concept or system of connection between concepts, it is the material you apply it to that undergoes change, much more markedly than do the concepts. The change is imposed upon the material by the concepts systematicity, and constitutes a becoming homologous of the material to the system.
This is all very grim. It has less to do with more to the world than more of the same. It has less to do with invention than mastery and control. One device for avoiding application is to adopt an exemplary method. Logically, the example is an odd beast. It holds for all cases of the same type, Giorgio Agamben writes, and, at the same time, is included in these.
It is one singularity among others, which, however, stands for each of them and serves for all. It is singular. It is defined by a disjunctive self-inclusion: a belonging to itself that is simultaneously an extendability to everything else with which it might be connected one for all, and all in itself.
In short, exemplification is the logical category corresponding to self-relation. As a writing practice, exemplification activates detail. The success of the example hinges on the details. Every little one matters. At each new detail, the example runs the risk of falling apart, its unity of self-relation becoming a jumble.
Every detail is essential to the case. This means that the details making up the example partake of its singularity. Each detail is like another example embedded in it. A micro-example. An incipient example.
A moments inattention, and that germ of a one-for-all and all-in-itself might start to grow. It might take over. It might shift the course of the writing. Every example harbors terrible powers of deviation and digression. The essays in this volume work through examples. The writing tries not only to accept the risk of sprouting deviant, but to invite it. Take joy in your digressions.
Because that is where the unexpected arises. That is the experimental aspect. If you know where you will end up when you begin, nothing has happened in the meantime. You have to be willing to surprise yourself writing things you didnt think you thought. Letting examples burgeon requires using inattention as a writing tool.
You have to let yourself get so caught up in the flow of your writing that it ceases at moments to be recognizable to you as your own. This means you have to be prepared for failure. For with inattention comes risk: of silliness, or even outbreaks of stupidity. But perhaps in order to write experimentally, you have to be willing to affirm even your own stupidity.
Embracing ones own stupidity is not the prevailing academic posture at least not in the way I mean it here. The result is not so much the negation of system as a setting of systems into motion.
The desired result is a systematic openness: an open system. For the writing to continue to belong in the humanities, it must take into account and put into use already established concepts drawn for one or another humanities discipline, or better, from many all at once philosophy, psychology, semiotics, communications, literary theory, political economy, anthropology, cultural studies