Thursday, February 5, 2015

The Affective Fallacy

In the beginning of The Affective Fallacy, Wimsatt and Beardsley openly state that they are analyzing two very different theories. The Affective Fallacy is one of the "detours" in which Wimsatt and Beardsley believe has "led away from criticism and from poetry"(31) ; the other being The Intentional Fallacy. 

Rather than focusing on the author's intent to determine the "correct" interpretation of the work like The Intentional Fallacy, this theory focuses on the reader's emotional reaction, or the lack thereof. The theory explains that emotions are something to completely disregard when analyzing a piece of literature. Both The Intentional and Affective Fallacy say that the objective of the work is always going to vanish. By saying "A question about the relation of language to objects of emotion is a shadow and index of another question, about the cognitive status of emotions themselves" (37).

For this assignment I ironically chose to write a poem. I thought that it made the most sense because the central idea of this theory is that emotional response is how the work is rightly judged. I did choose to have the subject matter of my poem be about writing and authorship for a reason. I wanted each of these stanzas to produce a different emotional response, but still each have their own place and fir well within the poem.


If I Had No Expectations From Anyone

I would write the dirtiest scummiest shit
about scandal and struggles;
what people understand to be the truth
but choose not to listen to.
I would end up with no money,
no insurance
and write to try to
expose the evil.

One who creates something out of nothing
has to be able to be a minimalist
when they begin and
slowly graduate to
levels of creation.
They need to be able
to break one down
one idea to it's
most simple form to see
what it truly
is;
hence destruction.

A person can be mad and sane
at the same time
when they have one thought
at hand and elaboration
cannot be helped.
The mirage of madness
to an artist or an
or an author,
seems close to sanity.



For me, this theory is exceptionally flawed. If we read a text or look at a piece of art of any kind with no emotional reaction we are not human. It would be impossible to completely strip all emotional biases and not relate your personal circumstances to an experience. Emotions help us to more easily assess the world around us. If we are asked to form an opinion or assess something that is unknown to us without the use of our emotions, our immediate reaction or defense is going to be an emotional one.

1 comment:

  1. Great work encapsulating the major point of the theory! The details are a bit fuzzy (I am not sure the quotes get explained as clearly as they could be) and we could use a bit more explanation of how the poem relates to the theory. But in terms of the big picture, it's all good here!

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