The chief discussion of study has been the relationship between what exists as media and what is perceived as affect. The wide definition of media as “that which is mediated” wishes to present something in a way that one experiences the overall atmosphere or aura of that medium, its affect. Further, analyzing the different types of media we have discussed, artifacts of print media (anything presented through ink on paper) and digital media (anything presented through digital technology), in different ways construct an argument in favor of the experiential nature of that which we understand about those artifacts. This is given that we are innately phenomenalistic beings, only understanding objects—in this case, mediated artifacts—as perceived stimuli for inner emotion. Perceiving artifacts such as these creates closeness and distance as a direct result to this perception-connection these artifacts form. It is this perception which is based in that which makes us, as phenomenalistic beings, most human: emotion.
Affect and emotion are very similar, as they are both labels for things which are uniquely perceived by the consciousness as specific effects to that which is being perceived. Affect is the essence or ambience of an emotion, whereas the emotion is the subjective feeling of one’s own perception. It is the subtle, but notable, difference between “I feel sad” (emotion) and “There is an ambience of sadness in this room.” It is this subtle difference to which I call, most fervently, your attention: the difference between subjectivity and objectivity. Affect is an objective sense of perception whereas emotion is the subjective experience of perception. This slight difference in print and digital artifacts is notable because, as we will see, the difference between an affect of closeness or distance is the direct result of one’s emotional experience with these artifacts. The affect for these artifacts is a closeness or a distance; and it is the emotional connection between the artifact and the reader—an experience so intrinsically readerly—which begins that process.
Our artifacts will be the print form of Mark Z. Danielewski’s The Familiar: Volume 1, A Rainy Day in May (herein further referred to simply as The Familiar) and the digital form of a Guardian article entitled “NSA Files: Decoded, What the Revelations Mean for You,” found here (herein further referred to simply as the Guardian article).
For Danielewski’s novel, the Narrative Constructs, or narcons, are programs designed to narrate the story based on their knowledge of that story. These programs function in a universe where they do not know any of what they have been disallowed from knowing—that is, anything which goes outside of their own design to narrate one specific thing— by a censoring higher power in the meta-fictive structure of the novel (VEM) and yet are given (theoretically) full narrative authority. This censorship, in conjunction with this particular narcon’s emotional connection to the characters, creates an experience wherein the reader feels both distance from the artifact by becoming hyper-aware of its constant self-awareness and meta-fictive structure and closeness to the text by identification with that narcon—we will specifically be studying TF-Narcon9—on an emotional level.
With the Guardian article, the creation seems to have a goal of spreading awareness about the surveillance the NSA can (and does) do. However, it is presented in a way which appeals to emotion by providing interviews and graphics reminiscent a crime drama for a closeness or relation/identification to the artifact while conversely creating several distractions from the fundamental information for the sake of sensationalism, which creates distance from the artifact by ultimately contributing to the Orwellian, Cold War-era narrative of fear surrounding the topic of surveillance.
As the scholarly articles will note, each of these mediums gets at an essential part of the experience of reading them that points to an affect of closeness or distance. Though, the goal here is not for me to explain merely the difference between the emotion and affect of each of these texts for the sake of doing so, but rather to hit the over-arching truth that reading anything in whichever mediated form is by nature experiential. This will be a multimodal analysis, therefore, using emotion and affect to prove this innate connection between reader and artifact.