The Power at the End of the Economy
Brian Massumi is Professor of Communication at the University of Montreal. He is the author of several books, including What Animals Teach Us about Politics and Parables for the Virtual: Movement, Affect, Sensation, both also published by Duke University Press.
Hume contended that reason has no motive force. It is powerless without the activation and orienting of affect. Sympathy and passion are creative powers inventive of life tendencies and potentials. Hume, however, confines affect to the pain/pleasure duality. Here, a logic of experiential intensity is developed as an alternative. The focus is on the role of the other as catalyst for the inventive power of affect. At work is sympathy that does not reside in the subject but rather constitutes it in the complex back-and-forth between the infra- and transindividual levels of the relational field. Event-based outbreaks of action beyond self-interest are analyzed, from the “ordinary heroes” beloved of the media to the popular uprisings of 2011. Nonpersonal sympathy and intuitively self-made decision are essential to such outbreaks of ontopower, for which the catalytic figure of the “activist” provides a more fitting model than the directive figure of the “militant.”