Notes to a Scholarly Article on Writing Enthusiasm: Part 2

Part 1 is here

Writing Enthusiasm: Defining a Working Conceptualisation of Enthusiasm

Enthusiasm is defined by the challenges within which it is mobilised. The theoretical point here is that enthusiasm is an event repeated in different ways depending on the situation. One key influence on my thinking here is Gilles Deleuze. It is fun to use the work of a complex and esoteric philosopher to help conceptualise enthusiasm within modified-car culture. One way to think about Deleuze’s oeurve is that he continually worked to conceptualise the architecture of events that characterises actual experience. In my dissertation I developed ways to conceptualise the architecture of events that characterises an enthusiasm. The primary reason for an event-based conception of enthusiasm was to avoid a subjectivist account of subject-object relations by which enthusiasm is mistakenly characterised. The culture may be of modified cars, but the enthusiasm is of the socio-technical challenges inculcated in the biographical transience of the car. The shifting terrain of the culture is the best way to frame and analyse the enthusiasm.

The applied use of this conceptual point is that to write enthusiasm means translating and communicating the specific conditions within which the enthusiasm was mobilised so that readers get an appreciation of the enthusiasm and actually feel the same frustrated engagement or masterful satisfaction experienced by the enthusiast. There is an informational component regarding the technical elements of the automotive technology or more general automobility in question, but beyond this are the affects of enthusiasm itself. ‘Appreciating the enthusiasm’ means having an appreciation of the challenges faced and overcome (or not) by the enthusiast. Firstly, this is a radically different conception of enthusiast car culture compared to that circulated by those plugged into the late-capitalist ‘creative capitalism’ machine where it is all about expression of one’s individual identity.

Scondly, I am still focusing on what is expressed through the car, but this is a semiotics of force and action inculcated in the very material fabric of the car, not a semiotics of style. Secondly, enthusiasm is shared but subjectively experienced. The shared dimension is evidenced through the mobile positive affects of joy and excitement that circulate across the bodies of enthusiasts at car shows and the like. Yet, these affects are experienced and lived through the individual enthusiast’s body in a singular fashion. To reiterate the defining property of enthusiasm, the character of one’s enthusiasm will be determined by the challenges that mobilise the enthusiasm. For car enthusiasts this could be the challenge posed by racing or cruising and tuning heads. Every enthusiasm is a compound of a multitplicity of these mobilisations. As a writer one’s task is to write the enthusiasm by offering an account of the challenges engaged with by the enthusiast.

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