A Surplus of Pathos Project: Rhetorical analysis of the affective intensities
swarming around the current budget debate.
Not your typical affective event.
Scope: Institutionalized discourses; specifically Rep. Ryan's Path to Prosperity speech & President Obama's Response
Visual & Aural Artifact: the use of charts and graphic displays in Representative Ryan's Path to Prosperity video. Findings:
The budget is more than just a budget. It's fundamentally about potentials to affect and be affected.
Both Ryan and Obama's rhetoric make affective appeals beyond the spreadsheets and numbers.
“This debate over budgets and deficits is about more than just numbers on a page, more than just cutting and spending. It's about the kind of future we want. It's about the kind of country we believe in.” - Obama Theoretical Framework:
Massumi's Theory of the Affective Fact
and Preemptive Governance
Edbauer's Executive Overspill
Ahmed's Affective Economies
Lauren Berlant's Cruel Optimism
Ernst Bloch's Hope for the not-yet Futurity:
Cruel Optimism - Berlant
Hope as Uncertain Contradiction - Bloch Anticipatory Imaginary - Massumi & Anderson
Past, Present, and Future linked in the imaginings of the crisis.
The Budget Debate as Affective Event - ontogenetic/self-causing/fetish object
Defense Spending & Osama Meta-Commentary:
Parallel between discipline and asceticism in governance but also in rhetorical etiquette
'Adult Conversation' Crisis - Ahmed
Victimization & Shame
Baby-boomers and babies yet to be born
The link between crises and character
Links the present morality to the future
The budget debate is envisioned as an intergenerational process that is larger than the sum of its parts.
Both sides formulate affective appeals in reference to the temporal inscription of the budget within a value system.
"These budget debates are not just about the programs of government; they're also about the purpose of government. This is a future in which we will transform our social safety net into a hammock, which lulls able-bodied people into lives of complacency and dependency." - Rep. RyanSee the full transcript