chapter  15
Disaffected: Anna Gibbs
Pages 8

ACROSS THE DISCIPLINES, FROM MUSIC THERAPY in medicine to Martha Nussbaum’s (2001) study of the emotions as a form of ethical intelligence, interest in ‘the emotions’ is at a new high. In Cultural Studies, ‘affect’ seems to be emerging as a key term in the wake of expressed feminist desires to think ‘through the body’. But what is meant by the ‘emotions’ in other disciplines and by ‘affect’ in Cultural Studies is somewhat variable, and there exist different usages (consonant with different theoretical positions and having quite different theoretical and political implications) for the term ‘affect’ itself. It has been thought on the one hand – and most famously – as that which is lost or missing: Jameson’s phrase the ‘waning of affect’ refers to the loss of cultural authority (including the authority of authorship) rather than simply to emotion or feeling, or to affect as it has been thought by various biologies (Jameson, 1991, p. 10). The site of either mourning or occasionally its obverse, celebration, this loss represents instead a kind of disaffection which manifests either in alienation and indifference, or anomie and nostalgia. On the other hand, and arguably more radically, affect in Cultural Studies has been taken up (especially by Brian Massumi) in the Deleuzian/Spinozist sense of capacity or force (Massumi, 1993), in keeping with the need to which Foucault long ago pointed, to think beyond the horizon of anthropomorphism: for Deleuze, affects are precisely what offer opportunities for becomings through which bodies may be remade.