“Affect’s Future: Rediscovering the Virtual in the Actual” an interview with Lawrence Grossberg
Melissa Gregg describes Grossberg as being the “principle figure” in cultural studies to have emphasized affect and politics.
The following is from an interview with Lawrence Grossberg and the editors of this volume.
· Question – How does your story intersect with affect?
o With Raymond Williams “Structure of feeling” – Defining cultural studies in terms of how it feels to be alive.
o Grossberg believed it was more than just Althusserian ideology when dealing with what it feels like.
o He was influenced by Freud (through Deluze and Nietzsche) in understanding popular culture.
o Also, he left Birmingham before Althusser became influential.
o Heidegger was also important in talking about everyday life and the notion of experience.
o “The Nietzschean space, like the Deleuzian space, of affect, is an ontological space and the psychoanalytic space is an empirical space” (311).
o He read Deleuze and Guattari together – an anti-Kantian Philosophy
o He uses these theories in a toolbox rather than subscribing to any one theory
o He looked a three modes of machinic assemblages
§ Stratifying apparatuses
§ The material and the discurstive
§ Operating and organizing both content and expression, territorializing formations, and coding formations.
o Three ways to constituting a context
§ Conjunctural – context of overdetermination – the relations between all of the elements in a whole way of life
§ Structure of feeling
§ Ontological construction of a context
o He is interested in mapping out the contexts of cultural studies and affect
· Has affect overinvested in theory?
o The issue is that affect can be a magical term that anything can fit under.
o Affect can let you off the hook
· Are the planes (virtual/actual or consistency/organization) separable or do they persist alongside one another?
o The planes are the same thing. “So, I think that sometimes affect lets the actualization of those conditions” (315).
o Some of the affect theories revert to older models (media effects models)
· Are there inadequacies in the structure of feeling that you still see today?
o Raymond Williams was not a theorist and did not theorize his ideas enough.
o “So, I think that the notion of a gap between what can be remembered meaningful or knowable and what is nevertheless livable is a more interesting place to start” (318).
· Why are you so interested in studying young people?
o Young people are a major focus in the United States and they could become a political category.
o Williams is misread, he is not in the culture and society tradition. “Discourse and reality are on the same plane, so there is no separation of culture and society and I think Williams says that” (323).
o He is interested in convergence rather than separating out realities into different categories.
· How has otherness changed through affect?
o You don’t get rid of black people by getting rid of race.
o You get rid of racism and you reconstruct the ecology of belonging.
o Here he emphasizes the importance of thinking contextually through popular culture.
o He argues for a recontexualiztion of thinking about the popular as a site of struggle. How would Stuart Hall’s arguments work today in a modern context?
· Are you hopeful?
o He always sees hope because the world did not have to be this way.
o “Ethics transcends the intellectual enterprise” (332).
o Passion is incredibly important in cultural studies.