More than a Feeling: Affect as Radical Situatedness
Jan Slaby – 2017
I outline a Heidegger-inspired perspective on affectivity. It revolves around two claims. The first is that we should understand what Heidegger calls ‘Befindlichkeit’ (findingness) as radical situatedness. Affectivity is a matter of ‘finding oneself’ constellated – thrown – into the world in ways that necessarily outrun what an individual or collective might grasp and process. The second claim is that the temporal dimension, as a relatedness to the past, takes precedence in affect’s situatedness. Key to affect is the way in which the past – beenness – continues to hold sway over present comportment, both collectively and individually. In order to articulate this perspective, it is important to overcome the idea that affect must be understood mainly in terms of feeling or of experiential states of other kinds. Better suited to grasp central points about findingness is the concept of ‘disclosive posture’, as proposed by Katherine Withy. I suggest that this notion should be put at the fore of a phenomenological approach to situated affectivity capable of informing work on affect in the humanities and beyond.