Wednesday, February 4, 2015

What You See & What You Get

Wimsett and Beardsley in sharing with the world The Affective Fallacy explain the theory of removing emotion from reading. The affective fallacy is to read any piece of literature without having any emotional value attached to it. A big part of this is the difference between meaning and suggestion of a word. "One of the most emphatic points in Mr. Stevenson's system is the distinction between what a word means and what it suggests" (33). This is a huge part of the theory because as English students we are familiar with words and their definitions, connotations and the like. I focused on this aspect for my art piece, but more on that later. It is vitally important for readers, certainly, but also just humans in general to understand that just because something means one thing does not mean that it is physically what it means. As readers we understand this as the affective fallacy. As humans,mew understand this as life. 

 "What makes one angry is something painful, insulting, or unjust. One does not call it an angry thing. The feeling and it's correlative, far from being the same, are almost opposites" (39)
This quote helped me to reflect on how I wanted to portray my feelings on the affective fallacy as a theory. I have used the app picstitch to collage together a picture of me with my little sister and a drawing of a word that riddles me daily. I am using myself as an example that meaning and suggestion of a word are not identical. Looking at me, I do not "look" like anxiety. I look happy, I look cheerful, and I look like I am a fun-loving, positive girl. The word anxiety suggests a nervous person, perhaps a shy, quiet person because that is how anxiety makes a person feel. My picture is meant to illustrate that just because you know what a word means, you may not know what it looks like, because emotion has to be detached from words.

I feel that the Affective Fallacy was more useful than Intentional Fallacy because the examples used within this article were more realistic in a way. Understanding that emotions cannot be attached to words and literature is an important part of understanding literature and the humanities as a whole. 

1 comment:

  1. Ok, I love so much about this, but at the core of this post is a bit of ambiguity that we need to clear up. A "fallacy" is an error, so W&B believe that it is an error if a reader uses her own personal emotional reactions to a text in order to determine what the text means. If a reader does this, she commits the affective fallacy, which is a problem for the New Critics, who advocate for a more objective approach to analysis. At points it seems like you are clear on this, but at other moments I wasn't quite sure if you got it. This statement, "just because you know what a word means, you may not know what it looks like, because emotion has to be detached from words," is very hard to follow because of the ambiguity of words like "means" and "looks like." Just want to make sure you are good! I like that you are wrestling with the quotes, though, and trying to dig through it all!