We are all familiar with the battles between the heart and the brain (if you're not, you're probably a robot). Our brain shouts and cheers for logic and reason, while our heart screams emotion and feeling. I think, for many of us, our hearts often win this battle. I mean, there are songs written about this stuff. . . "Listen to Your Heart," anyone? But for New Critics, the heart never wins.
The Affective Fallacy states that it is "a confusion between the poem and the results (what it is and what it does). . . It begins trying to derive the standard of criticism from the psychological effects of the poem and ends in impressionism and relativism" (31). What is the outcome of the Affective Fallacy? The essence of the poem disappears.
The biggest problem, New Critics believed, about the way people were interpreting and analyzing poetry and other forms of art, was that it was highly emotional. People focus on their personal response to a work, rather than interpreting it through a more cognitive lens. Wimsatt and Beardsley write: "affective theory has often been less a scientific view of literature than a prerogative--that of the soul adventuring among masterpieces, the contagious teacher, the poetic radiator" (41). (Careful now, that's getting a bit emotional, don't you think?)
My piece of art is a drawing of a heart and a brain dueling each other. Wimsatt and Beardsley acknowledge that a poem will certainly have emotional ties towards an individual. People will relate their experiences to a poem or their connotations of a given word. What they challenge us to do, however, is to let our brains lead, to quiet the heart, so as to interpret the poem more thoroughly, objectively, and critically.