Producing Desire

Selfie at Oscars 2014

Above is the most reTweeted image in history, taken at the 2014 Oscars and indirectly conceptualised by Samsung (without the caption).  This is marketing masquerading as “incidental” selfie.  Have we just witnessed  the Samsung Galaxy affect? The passage below is a brilliant piece from Australian cultural theorist Claire Colebrook titled The Death of the PostHuman: Essays on Extinction, Volume One, that offers come commentary on this…

We are suffering, today—here and now—from hyper-hypo-affective disorder. We appear to be consuming nothing other than affects; even the supposed material needs of life—food, sex, sociality—are now marketed affectively. Branding relies on irrational attachments or ‘lovemarks,’ while politics trades in terror and resentment. Affects themselves are marketed: one can purchase games of horror or disgust, and even the purchase of a cup of coffee is perhaps undertaken less for the sake of the caffeine stimulant and more for the Starbucks affect. This is what led Michael Hardt to theorize a new era of affective labor. But this over-consumption and boom of marketable affects is accompanied by affect fatigue, as though there were an inverse relation between the wider and wider extension of affective influx and the ever-diminishing intensity of affect. It is not surprising then that cultural diagnoses of the present observe two seemingly incompatible catastrophic tendencies: a loss of cognitive or analytic apparatuses in the face of a culture of affective immediacy, and yet a certain deadening of the human organism (ranging from Walter Benjamin’s observation of an absence of experience in an information age to Fredric Jameson’s claim for a ‘waning of affect’ in a world of over-stimulation, in which there is no longer a distinction between experiencing subject and external object, no other person, for whom one might feel empathy).

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