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Mood and TropeThe Rhetoric and Poetics of Affect$
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John Brenkman

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780226673127

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2020

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226673431.001.0001

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Affect, Self-Affection, Attunement

Affect, Self-Affection, Attunement

(p.31) 1 Affect, Self-Affection, Attunement
Mood and Trope

John Brenkman

University of Chicago Press

Kant’s “transcendental aesthetic” is a touchstone of modern philosophy regarding affect, sensation, and space and time, as well as aesthetic theory. It postulates that the mind senses space and time without the presence of any external object. Space and time are the mind’s self-affection. Maurice Merleau-Ponty contests the disembodied nature of Kant’s postulate by examining the ambiguities of touching/being touched/touching oneself. Intriguingly different interpretations of Merleau-Ponty by Daniel Heller-Roazen and Judith Butler are shown to address the otherness in self-affection. It is then argued that self-arousing passions such as jealousy are turned outward in Aristotle but inward in modern settings; Harold Pinter’s Betrayal dramatizes jealousy’s involuted rage, an affecting of oneself rather than a violence inflicted on another. A juxtaposition of Poe and Freud brings to light the question of affect and self-affection in aesthetic theory itself. Does reception retrace the artwork’s creation, or are the motives and gratifications of creation radically divergent from the gratifications and affects in reception? Heidegger’s approach to mood, emotion, or state-of-mind as attunement questions the Kantian inside/outside in perception and feeling. Beyond that, it sits at the heart of such central concepts as the “ontological difference,” “present-at-hand” and “ready-to-hand,” and the temporality of Angst.

Keywords:   Maurice Merleau-Ponty, self-affection, touch, Judith Butler, Daniel Heller-Roazen, Harold Pinter, Edgar Allan Poe, Sigmund Freud, Martin Heidegger, ontological difference

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