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Contagion and the Creativity of Affect

Contagion and the Creativity of Affect

(p.39) Two Contagion and the Creativity of Affect
Mixed Emotions
Andrew A. G. Ross
University of Chicago Press

This chapter shows that emotions, often considered repetitive impulses, are in fact engines of creativity in the social world. To make this case, the chapter supplements scientific research in psychology, social psychology, and neuroscience with insights from the social theories of William James, Henri Bergson, Gilles Deleuze, and Hans Joas. Social displays and simulations of affect entail unexpected migrations of emotion across time and space. As contagious circulations of affect accumulate, social actors are exposed to new combinations of emotion and emotional memory. Where emotions become de-coupled from their original circumstances of elicitation and migrate to new objects and actors, they give rise to moments of rupture and renewal. The chapter shows that the creative tendency of emotions gives them a special capacity to affect political behavior through relations of co- and multi-causality. It also outlines the method used in later chapters to study the role of complex affective processes in both global conflicts and political and legal responses to them.

Keywords:   Emotional contagion, Affect, Creativity, Ambiguity, Flexibility, Excitation transfer, Implicit memory, Agency, Actor-Network-Theory

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