wildhood welcome

Share what you have gathered wildly.

CHCB 467
Missoula, MT 59802

Wildhood is kinship of the wild in all people, places, and things.

Workshop

Welcome the wild.

What, why, how now wilderness affect?

Mark Douglas

feeling. 2. an emotional state or disposition; an emotion.

emotion. 1. a strong feeling, as of joy, sorrow, or hate.

affect. feeling or emotion, esp. as expressed physically.

Affects are the physical expression of emotion. Affects are not the psychological expression of emotion. Affects are not the neurological or physiological expression of emotion. Affects are the physical expression of emotion. The physical expression has been studied extensively as something that comes after an emotion or strong feeling in the form of mood as it is psychometrically defined by the Positive and Negative Affect Schedule and other measures.

Jaimie Lorimer, Associate Professor in Human Geography at the University of Oxford, states that affect "describes prediscursive, embodied experiences that are subsequently codified into subjective emotions" (2009, p. 344). Anderson differentiates emotion from affect with "emotion being used to refer to the ways in which [a] non-conscious background is named, interpreted and reflected on by people. By contrast, affect refers to the felt quality of an experience: a quality that provides something close to the background sense of an event or practice or space" (2014, p. 764). Wilderness affect is the pre-discursive, non-conscious background sense of wilderness events, practices, or spaces.

Wilderness affect is important to study because it adds to our understanding of wilderness and the role it plays in American society and fills out our understanding of the relationship Americans have with wilderness. As a concept, "affect is used to refer to the taken-for-granted 'background' of life and thought: the feeling of what happens" (Anderson, 2014, p. 766). Wilderness is the background of American society. It is a non-conscious background in that it exists with "entire freedom from the manifestations of human will" (Marshall, 1930). Wilderness is also in America's background as helping form the pioneer spirit. 

There is little question that many of the attributes most distinctive of America and Americans are the impress of the wilderness and the life that accompanied it. If we have any such thing as an American culture (and I think we have), it distinguishing marks are a certain vigorous individualism combined with ability to organize, a certain intellectual curiosity bent to practical ends, a lack of subservience to stiff social forms, and an intolerance of drones, all of which are the distinctive characteristics of successful pioneers. (Leopold, [1925], p. 138) 

Studying wilderness affect as the background sense of wilderness is important because it will remind us of the constant presence of wilderness beyond its boundaries. 

Non-representational theories (non-rep) refers to a style of work with an emphasis on practices "that cannot adequately be spoken of, that words cannot capture, that texts cannot convey" (Nash, 2005, p. 655 in Parr, 2014, p. 755). "Here the assumption is that emotions can never be reconvened in words that somehow represent their interiority, nor their intangible threads of connection" (Parr, 2014, p. 755). Intangible threads of connection constitute the emotional geography of wilderness. Non-rep urges investigation beyond "that which is fixed, or dead" toward "that which is in the state of becoming, or alive" (Cloke, 2014, p. 743).

Wilderness is an ideal case for non-rep study because it exemplifies specific aspects considered key requirements for non-rep geographical work. Namely, wilderness is helpful to study if "we take the nonhuman world seriously, especially in how the social relates to the material" (Cloke, 2014, p. 742). To study the background sense of wilderness in everyday life also means taking seriously "the coming together of assembled hybrids of networks and interconnections" (2014; citing Thrift, 1997). 

In their 2016 book, Wilderness, Phillip and April Vannini make the case for wilderness as assemblage. Broadly, "an assemblage is a group, an aggregate, as assembly, a collection of things and/or persons" (2016, p. 18). And "each wilderness area may be thought of as a constellation comprising places, inanimate objects, animals, humans, ideas, memories, regulations, technologies, and much more" (p. 18). Thinking wilderness as assemblage means wilderness lends itself fittingly to non-rep studies of interconnected relations in emotional geographies.