Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Hostname: page-component-77c89778f8-cnmwb Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2024-07-19T13:19:32.067Z Has data issue: false hasContentIssue false

4 - Ordinary Paranoia

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  22 September 2020

Ashley Barnwell
Affiliation:
University of Melbourne
Get access

Summary

Over the past decade there has been a growing chorus of discontent with what are perceived to be the suspicious reflexes of critical methods. The common charge is that critique has become paranoid and stagnant, unable – and often unwilling – to register the dynamic attachments and affects that vitalise everyday life. My aim here is to unsettle the seemingly disparate identities that justify this turn – the critical, structural forms of attention assigned to the critic on one side and the affective, dynamic attentions that animate everyday life on the other. To open up the lived and creative dynamics of suspicious attention, the affects of critique, this chapter addresses an intriguing, internal conflict within a text that has been widely commended for its response to calls for methodological change, Kathleen Stewart's Ordinary Affects(2007). Though it is marked as a departure from ‘paranoid reading’, I argue that Stewart's work gives us reason to reconsider the potential, character and social utility of suspicious attention, and thus the division of critical and social methods. By highlighting this counter-narrative within Stewart’s work, my discussion also addresses broader questions about the nature of affect and the value of critical reading that have arisen in recent and prominent debates about methodology.

In consonance with Stewart, I am in favour of inclusive forms of inquiry that consider non-human-centred modes of change and agency. However, I envision that this approach would mean not excluding a range of methods and possibilities from the outset. With this in mind, instead of asking how critique could be more than suspicious, with the hope of forging a new method, I want to ask a slightly different question, namely how might this suspicion be more than critique? And by ‘more than’ I mean how might the desire to reveal hidden motives and agencies have a broader social location and purpose? How might it resonate in and with logics that blur what are presumed to be the distinct realms of critical and common thought? In this frame, we have the potential to decentre critical hermeneutics in a way that does not seek to exclude or dismiss it as erroneous or obsolete, but rather considers the way that all methods – not just a select ‘better’ few – are immanent to the social affective spaces they engage.

Type
Chapter
Information
Critical Affect
The Politics of Method
, pp. 108 - 128
Publisher: Edinburgh University Press
Print publication year: 2020

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)

Save book to Kindle

To save this book to your Kindle, first ensure coreplatform@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about saving to your Kindle.

Note you can select to save to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Available formats
×

Save book to Dropbox

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Dropbox.

Available formats
×

Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

Available formats
×