chapter  11
19 Pages

Affect: What is it Good for?

WithWilliam Mazzarella

Dictionaries and casual conversation both tend to equate ‘affect’ with ‘emotion.’ But affect also often shades over into ‘feeling,’ and as such seems to point to a zone where emotion intersects with processes taking place at a more corporeal level. Even in its relatively untheorized invocations, affect carries tactile, sensuous, and perhaps also involuntary connotations. This essay is a critical exploration of the implications of such a category for social analysis. I write in the belief that only those ideas that compel our desire as well as our resistance receive and deserve the most sustained critique.