Published in  
October 7, 2020

We do not feel emotions

We do not feel emotions as much as we are bent into shapes by open-ended territories of feeling.

Affective states are not individual events, quarantined within human bodies, lining up with predetermined neural networks that track unto recognizable physiological manifestations. Instead the “things” we call “emotions” are principalities and powers at large that enlist bodies of all kind in their mattering. Affective assemblages. Large territorial beasts with human bodies as organelles.

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To feel is to glow; it is to be activated at the crossroads where politics, expectations, stories, bodies, furniture, media, food, spirits, computational frameworks of neoliberalism, history and microbial worlds intrasect. Decentering humans from the story of feeling relieves us from the burden of emotional authenticity, and might open up post-qualitative research adventures to the edges of sentimentality. More importantly, it can tell us a lot about the territories we are entangled with, and how habitual modes of feeling can often get in the way of our flourishing. In other words, in our search for the unusual, for the unspoken, for sanctuary, we must keep in mind: the new may not feel right.