Posts tagged affect
Posts tagged affect
One of the few memories I have connected to my grandfather is collecting fossilized shells at his ranch outside Austin, Texas. His family had owned it for generations, splitting it up for the subsuquent sons, daughters, and grandchildren. My mom, aunts, and uncle will own it someday.
The shells meant nothing to me then except as a way to pursue my dream of becoming the world’s first archaeologist astronaut. Jurassic Park and Apollo 13 were huge influences on my early years. I’m sure now that for my grandfather they were a way to make us happy in a way that he understood. A consummate science fiction fan himself, he always encouraged the naturalist impulse in his children and grandchildren.
2 years later and I realize that I’ll never really know who he was except by hearsay. I saw him a few dozen times in my life, although he was constantly in the thoughts, actions, and words of my family. Somehow I loved that man even while not knowing him. He was able to impact my life tangentially and in ways no one could expect — from him, through my mother, I also have a penchant for science fiction, the outdoors, news media, and space.
Filling the gaps between the unmovable presence of our world and irresistible force of our destiny is affect. Love in particular fills our lives with significance and optimism. It is/was by no means perfect — I still remember the uneasiness of my father in the presence of my grandfather, as my patriarch passively deferred to the other. Or also when Grandpa was harsh, reclusive, or, well, Presbyterian. It’s just unusual that this time I experience the structure of love in a way that is pure because intention is absent. There were no motives, only the time spent between someone too young to know anything but how to enjoy oneself, and another too old to care.
My neighbor came over yesterday to pick up my mom for Shakespeare in the park. We got to talking about our students — mostly high school seniors. Now that AP tests are done, their teachers are counting down days to graduation, and they have received their admission (and rejection) letters the students are ready to shake off that institutional label. They are attempting, as they do every year, to disengage from the constellation of forces that holds them in school and teaches them to be quiescent. Seeing that they are almost out of its grasp, they find ways to accelerate its dissolution: road trips, late nights, long walks, good company (or maybe just the absence of bad). They put themselves into figurative liminal spaces even while being pulled into political-economies of desires for maturity. Berlant taught me to call that optimism: that searching for something new in the wake of sensing the possibility of change. I feel it too.
All the while this is happening around me, my school activity is ramping up. I have two research projects to complete in three weeks: a visual-written presentation of how farmers markets fit into local political-economies and transform public space, and an essay exploring dually the role of narrative theories in medical anthropology and the ways nurses attempt to make sovereign subjects out of mothers practicing child supervision.
This conjuncture keeps pushing me out of myself in different ways. Knowing I’m graduating and moving to New York is one catalyst, a “something new.” But projects impel me to cleave to a subjectivity capable of writing. That process always feels like a gambit between arranging something known (regurgitation, rote, repetition) and knowable (rearranged, refracted, refrained). Writing is an engagement with the now and the past with an eye toward the future, while graduate school is its reverse. I’m dissolving into my attachments; not quite a consistent person because of all the directions in which I am moving or toward which I am orienting.