For the last couple of months or so, I have been reading a book by Rebecca Solnit "a Field guide to getting lost" (2005) published by Viking Penguin/Canongate books Ltd. Which was recommended to me by Christian Lloyd. I have found that this is not just a Field guide, but more like a true companion! The way that Solnit writes resonates with the way that I often think. I have already quoted within this blog the concept of Shul, the Tibetan expression which generally means the impression that is left behind, which seems to have multiple meanings through that inference.
However I found it particularly resonant when I learned that Solnit also lived in Lima, the capital of Peru, South America when she was two years old, which must mean that she was there at the same time me and my family were living in that country too... The memories that I have of that place, are now so faded that I find it extremely difficult to picture or imagine the six years of my life which on the face of it must have held very many different events. Nevertheless, I recently found an old Bolivian ladies hat which belonged to my late brother, whilst I was clearing a wardrobe in his house. The object itself instantly brought a whole change in my feelings, so much so that I actually sat down and stared at the object for quite some minutes. It is after all just a hat. But the uniqueness of its shape, the felt outer covering, the brightly coloured woven patterns that had been lovingly positioned onto it, perhaps some 50 years ago, still brought vitality and re-imagining of a very comfortable and safe sense of warmth to me. Whilst I cannot remember much if any of the events leading to us acquiring this hat as a family, the sight of it alone, produced a very intimate affect.
Looking at the Media and Communications (M/C) Journal publication and the paper entitled "feeling, emotion, affect" by Eric shoes (December 2005) in M/C Journal, 8.6 (2005), he writes an interesting article which explains that although feeling and effect are often interchanged, but goes on to say how important it is not to confuse affect with feeling and emotions. He quotes brine assume these definition, which is based on Giles the loose and Felix got our is book 1000 plateaus, and states that affect is not a personal feeling. He says feelings are personal and biographical, whereas emotions are social, and affects our pre-personal. Whilst at first sight this may seem to be rather picky, the study of affect will soon explode any myth that this subject is a simple one.
I'm pleased to see that my own interpretation of emotion has been described as "the projection or display of the feeling". I have already written that my interpretation of emotion is quite easy to grasp because I have used the simple device of splitting the word E-motion to mean, Expressive Motion. These expressive motions, usually displayed facially, but can also include bodily, such as shaking, are a form of communication.
However affect, is "non-conscious experience of intensity; it is a moment of uninformed and unstructured potential". What that means to me is that an affect is triggered through external encounters which arguably, we have no control of. Our emotions are therefore set up by the affect, and depending on our own temperament we are able to consciously vary the degree and intensity of our expressive motions, our emotions.
And finally a feeling is our own internal sensation which is usually measured against our own life experiences or biography. Therefore our feelings are unique because individually our own life events, and the exposure to various situations, whether they be trauma grief, rage, anger etc provoking, will collectively add up within our own schema or blueprint of cognition, and so our response, measured or otherwise, will manifest itself as a feeling.
So I was particularly interested today, to hear about the sister of one of our senior tutors, and a short discussion I had in a corridor, where I learned that this person had a total phobia for garden gnomes. The very thought of the image of a garden gnome brings about a deep-seated feeling within this affected individual. As phobias are invariably generated as a result of childhood trauma related experiences, the scheme for this person in adulthood has been set in such a way that the neural pathways automatically and subconsciously trigger emotional responses to communicate distress. I found this fascinating and whilst I have true compassion and sympathy for the individual, or indeed anyone with phobias, it is clear to me that affect and phobia must be explored through my art in a much deeper psychological as well as physical and philosophical sense.
This short conversation perhaps lasting less than 15 seconds, provided a massive buzz of both recognition and satisfaction within me, and encouraged me significantly to continue on my quest for the gnomic image of "things left behind".