Date of Publishing:
March 8, 2016

1961 © Pierro Manzoni
© Pierro Manzoni

Affects and Percepts

Affects and Percepts as defined in Deleuze/Guattari: What is Philosophy?

“The young girl maintains the pose that she has had for five thousand years, a gesture that no longer depends on whoever made it. The air still has the turbulence, the gust of wind, and the light that it had that day last year, and it no longer depends on whoever was breathing it that morning. If art preserves, it does not do so like industry, by adding a substance to make the thing last. The thing became independent of its 'model' from the start, but it is also independent of other possible personae who are themselves artists-things, personae of painting breathing this air of painting. And it is no less independent of the viewer or hearer, who only experience it after, if they have the strength for it. What about the creator? It is independent of the creator through the self-positing of the created, which is preserved in itself. What is preserved – the thing or the work of art – is a bloc of sensations, that is to say, a compound of percepts and affects. Percepts are no longer perceptions; they are independent of a state of those who experience them. Affects are no longer feelings or affections; they go beyond the strength of those who undergo them. Sensations, percepts, and affects are beings whose validity lies in themselves and exceeds any lived. They could be said to exist in the absence of man because man, as he is caught in stone, on the canvas, or by words, is himself a compound of percepts and affects. The work of art is a being of sensation and nothing else: it exists in itself.” (p. 163-164)
“The artist creates blocs of percepts and affects, but the only law of creation is that the compound must stand up on its own. The artist’s greatest difficulty is to make it stand up on its own. Sometimes this requires what is, from the viewpoint of an implicit model, from the viewpoint of lived perceptions and affections, great geometrical improbability, physical imperfection, and organic abnormality. But theses sublime errors accede to the necessity of art if they are internal means of standing up (or sitting or lying). There is a pictorial possibility that has nothing to do with physical possibility and that endows the most acrobatic postures with the sense of balance. On the other hand, many works that claim to be art do not stand up for an instant. Standing up alone does not mean having a top and a bottom or being upright (for even houses are drunk and askew); it is only the act by which the compound of created sensations is preserved in itself – a monument, but one that may be contained in a few marks or a few lines, like a poem by Emily Dickinson.” (p. 164-165)

The compounding of percepts and affects, this bloc of sensations is what the Deleuzian bloc of becoming is. Indeed isn’t any form of becoming dizzy, staggering towards understanding and navigating the Unknown?