The Autoaffection of the Brain and the Nonhuman Unconscious
Patricia Ticineto Clough

This presentation reflects on the relationship between affect, digital media and computational technologies to show the inseparability of affect and the technologies by which it is measured and materialized. The core example here will be the brain and how the technological capacity to measure affective processes has fuelled an interest in everything neuro, giving us neuropsychology, neuropsychiatry, neuropsychoanalysis, neurophilosophy, neuroethics, neuroaesthetics, neuromarketing and neurotherapies. The turn to the neuro is an opportunity to rethink the body, subjectivity, sociality and unconscious processes in terms of digital media, including social. Clough then develops what she calls the “nonhuman unconscious” in relationship to what Catherine Malabou describes as “the autoaffection of the brain,” borrowing from psychoanalysts Harold Searles and Sue Grand who have written on the nonhuman environment. The discussion concludes with the implications of the nonhuman unconscious for art and political practices.

Patricia Ticineto Clough is Professor of Sociology and Women’s Studies at the Graduate Center and Queens College of the City University of New York. Recent publications include: Beyond Biopolitics: Essays on the Governance of Life and Death (co-editor) (2011); The Affective Turn: Theorizing the Social (editor) (2007); and Autoaffection: Unconscious Thought in the Age of Teletechnology (2000). Clough’s work draws on theoretical traditions concerned with technology, affect, unconscious processes, political economy and experimental methods of research and presentation. She is also a psychoanalyst practising in New York City.