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Ugly Feelings

Started by droqen, November 06, 2022, 02:39:49 AM

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Very, VERY often games participate in "a series of fatigues or minor exhaustions, rather than a single, major blow to the imagination" when I would distinctly prefer the latter. Is there something nonetheless worthwhile in the former?

Quote from: p272-273In the stuplimity of slapstick comedy, which frequently stages the confrontation of small subjects with the big systems that circumscribe them, one is made to fall down---often. . . with an exaggerated expression of inexpressiveness---only so as to get up again, counteracting the seriousness of one-time failure with an accumulation of comic fatigues.

Such an elaborately put description of another oft cited 'videogame benefit'---that of failure experienced in safety---but it is particularly fascinating to see this particular benefit completely outside of their domain.


Also, "the confrontation of small subjects with the big systems that circumscribe them" is a strong aesthetic. I love it!


Topic: stuplime as unsublime

Ngai seems eager to describe the stuplime affect as distinct from the sublime, as wholly different, as nearly incompatible, but I can only see it myself through the lens of some awful force, some new subcategory of Kant's sublime, some tool of emotion for the considerer to overcome and thereby experience sublime superiority over it.

P. 261-262 "...shock and boredom...both are responses that confront us with the limitations of our capacity for responding in general."
P. 265-266 "...the sublime encounter with the infinitely vast or powerful object...is at the outset negative...threatens the mind's sense of its own capabilities...physical inferiority to nature that induces fear and pain...both encounters [the dynamical and mathematical sublime] end by reversing these initial challenges to the self's autonomy, culminating in "inspiriting satisfaction" rather than in unpleasure"
P. 266 "...for Kant sublimity applies only to a quality or state of the subject's mind...not the object of great magnitude or power that awes...but rather the self's pleasurable and emotionally satisfying estimation of itself"


P. 268 "Yet the passivity, duration, and ignoble status of boredom would seem to contradict nearly all aspects of the sublime..."

I think perhaps I am too unfamiliar with Kant's sublime and too familiar with my own personal appreciation of its hazy aura; Ngai makes many comments such as this one about how the stuplime is not the sublime, cannot be, would not be considered properly as a part of it.

Can one not feel transcendentally superior to boredom? Well...


Quote from: p278...stuplimity...at times deliberately risks seeming obtuse, as opposed to making claims for spiritual transcendence or ironic distance. Instead of emerging [...or...] exaggerating... boredom resides in relentless attention to the finite and small

~ See also PLAY ANYTHING (worldfulness, anti-irony, paying (playing) attention)


Quote from: p280...stuplimation, as the synthesis of awe...with what refuses awe...


Topic: the purpose of stuplimity?

Why make stuplime art? As above, the reasons given by Ngai are reminiscent of my own explorations. (Good!)

Quote from: p283"Open feeling," which is a prerequisite for what Stein calls "loving repeating being", could be described as a state of undifferentiated alertness or responsiveness

Quote from: p284...the state of receptiveness fostered by [open feeling] actually depends on slowing down other emotional reactions, much the way states of extreme excitation or enervation do... the negative affect of stuplimity might be said to produce another affective state in its wake, a secondary feeling that seems strangely neutral, unqualified, "open."

Quote from: 284...the final outcome of stuplimity--the echo or afterimage produced by it, as it were--makes possible a kind of resistance.

The explorations I speak of are those that touch Emersion... I think that Ngai is attempting to describe a specific affect which I cannot yet identify, but I would like to. My own direction has been towards a quiet... a quiet reflection... a moment of calm... comprehension of one's own reality.


I wish to read Difference & Repetition (Deleuze, Gilles).

Quote from: p296. . . the postmodern subject, always already a linguistic being, hence always a small subject enmeshed in large systems.
Quote from: p297"too-perfect attention to detail" is [a] strategy . . . "falsely submissive souls" . . . have followed this stuplime path in . . . confrontations with the systems encompassing them, formulating a resistant stance by going limp or falling down. . .

~ Difference and Repetition (Close Reading)


And quite suddenly the  chapter is over.


Paranoia starts with a strong link to a concept from the previous chapter, that of "small subjects caught in larger systems" or, as referred to earlier, small subjects confronted by the "big systems that circumscribe them"(p272-273):

Quote from: p298-299Was "conspiracy theory" quietly claimed as a masculine prerogative in the last decades of the twentieth century? . . . male protagonists who, like the conventional film noir detective, belatedly find that they are small subjects caught in larger systems extending beyond their comprehension and control.

There is a common, related idiom: that of the "small fish in a big pond", a small subject who finds themselves unimportant in an overwhelmingly larger system. This idiom is distinct, however, in that it evokes its inverse, "big fish in a small pond", this pair of metaphors suggesting that the subject's importance is relative to their position in the world. Generally the small fish in a big pond describes a situation where someone has escaped some smaller system into a larger (and more desirable) system only to discover that this act has inadvertently caused the loss of their individual importance.

Ngai's "small subject in a big system", especially given the 'conspiracy theorist' lens, is similar but implies one major difference which speaks to the global culture that pervades today: There is no small pond to return to. That is, there never was a small pond to begin with. It is not an inflicted state but a discovered one, with which one must now deal, forever.

(This is not to say that this is the truth of the matter-- I have myself greatly enjoyed returning to the small ponds which are available-- but over my lifetime thus far I have certainly felt a seductive invitation, as well as an efficiency-minded pressure, towards global connectivity via the internet and other technologies which produces this specific stress of pervasive individual unimportance.)


P. 308, 309
... for the critic today, most attempts to articulate a poetics based on foregrounding connections between the literary text and poststructuralist theory will end up ... predictable or descriptive—a rather undesirable outcome [to the] privileging and politicization of difficulty and defamiliarization. Interestingly, the problem here is not one of a gap, dissonance, or contradiction...but rather one of a fit that seems too close[, to which] you might well respond: "Tell me something I don't already know!"


Again there is a startling familiarity at work here, themes of art and art criticism and art disconnection and art criticism disconnection which I relate to on a level obviously not bound to medium.

I highly privilege difficulty and unfamiliarity, and I believe the experience of them is... political in some sense, certainly.


A fit that seems too close. What does Ngai have to say about the too-close fit's relation to paranoia?


And what do I feel about difficulty and unfamiliarity? Why these aesthetics??