Going back into the world

“I think affective expressions like anger and laughter are perhaps the most powerful because they interrupt a situation. They are negative in that sense. They interrupt the flow of meaning that’s taking place: the normalised interrelations and interactions that are happening and the functions that are being fulfilled. Because of that, they are irruptions of something that doesn’t fit. Anger, for example, forces the situation to attention, it forces a pause filled with an intensity that is often too extreme to be expressed in words. Anger often degenerates into noise and inarticulate gestures. This forces the situation to rearray itself around that irruption, and to deal with the intensity in one way or another. In that sense it’s brought something positive out — a reconfiguration.
“There’s always an instantaneous calculation or judgment that takes place as to how you respond to an outburst of anger. But it’s not a judgment in the sense that you’ve gone through all the possibilities and thought it through explicitly — you don’t have time for that kind of thing. Instead you use a kind of judgment that takes place instantly and brings your entire body into the situation. The response to anger is usually as gestural as the outburst of anger itself. The overload of the situation is such that, even if you refrain from a gesture, that itself is a gesture. An outburst of anger brings a number of outcomes into direct presence to one another — there could be a peace-making or a move towards violence, there could be a breaking of relations, all the possibilities are present, packed into the present moment. It all happens, again, before there is time for much reflection, if any. So there’s a kind of thought that is taking place in the body, through a kind of instantaneous assessment of affect, an assessment of potential directions and situational outcomes that isn’t separate from our immediate, physical acting-out of our implication in the situation.”
Brian Massumi

Like a hole in the white wall, rage is an irruption in the everyday. Within a social exchange it is literally embarrassing, because it takes the moment to the brink of complete annihilation. There is no recourse and no social ‘script’ for dealing with one’s own rage or somebody else’s.

I hardly ever lose my temper, but when I do, well, it is normally very bad. What I had forgotten is the feeling afterwards. It feels like you are crying, like really sobbing, but without tears. I am pretty sure it is what the TV policemen always call ‘shock’; as in, “He is going into shock!”

If rage is an irruption of everyday social exchange, rather than going into shock it is more like you are going out of rage and attempting to go back into the world. The world comes rushing back around you. Like when you run your hand through some water and a zone of low pressure is produced behind your hand, the water has to rush back in to fill the space. Rage is pure affect and the speed of sensation can produce that ‘low pressure’ zone where the world has to inevitably come rushing back. So the TV policemen should say, “He is going back into the world!”