Except from ‘Deleuze, Altered states and film’ By Anna Powell
‘For Guattari, aesthetics are viral in nature, being known ‘not through representation, but through affective contamination’. In its broader, verbal usage, to affect is to ‘lay hold of, impress, or act upon (in mind or feelings)’ or to ‘influence, move, touch’. Affection as noun is ‘a mental state brought about by any influence; an emotion or feeling’. Although it retains connection to more general meanings, Guattari uses affect in a special sense here and in his work with Deleuze. Affect also permeates Deleuze’s solo-authored cinema books, with both the movement-image and the time-image as distinct but congruent explorations of it.
Henri Bergson is the main philosophical precursor of Deleuze’s temporally based cinematic affect. Bergson accused early cinema of representing the flux of matter in time as a series of static ‘snapshots’ that, strung together by mechanical movement, prevent awareness of duration.
Despite this explicit distrust of the ‘cinematograph’, Deleuze identifies a fundamentally ‘cinematic’ philosophy in Bergson’s implication of ‘the universe as cinema in itself , a metacinema’. Both regard the world as ‘flowing matter’, a material flux of images and the human perceiver as a ‘centre of indetermination’ able to reflect intensively on affect.
For Bergson, perception is extensive and actual but affection is unextended and virtual. Unlike perception, which seeks to identify and quantify external stimuli, affection is qualitative, acting by the intensive vibration of a motor tendency on a sensible nerve. Rather than being ‘geographically’ located, affect surges in the centre of indetermination. Its pre-subjective processes engage a kind of auto-contemplation that participates in the wider flux of forces moving in duration.’