Affect and Effect
English can be confusing
I've always felt a bit insecure with these words. I'm often unsure if I'm
using the right one.
It's actually easy. Affect is a verb. Effect is a noun. Except when affect is a noun, or when effect is a verb.
To affect something is to change it somehow. The effect is the actual change.
This is the normal usage.
A person can try to cause a change to happen; that is they can effect a change. That's using effect as a verb. My doctor checks my affect when we meet. That's using affect as a noun. She's checking how I look; everything from my facial expression to my gait to my clothing.
In my HUM class this week I learned a new meaning for affect; there's an academic field these days called Affect Theory. Affect studies attend to those near-imperceptible, too-intense, interstitial, or in-the-making visceral forces and feelings that accompany and broker the entangled material - especially bodily - and conceptual potentials of an emergent or historical phenomenon. https://www.oxfordbibliographies.com/view/document/obo-9780190221911/obo-9780190221911-0103.xml#:~:text=Affect%20studies%20attend%20to%20those,an%20emergent%20or%20historical%20phenomenon.
uyup . . . whatever that means. (Have I ever said I dislike postmodernist writing:-)
But I think that the field is interested in the things that we don't notice that influence us. I think it relates to my doctors concept of affect in that usually we don't consciously notice our affect or the affect of those around us - but that affect has a strong influence over what we think and feel.
I relate this to my own concept of the reality/world distinction. Reality is the physical stuff we interact with. A world is what that stuff means to a person. Our senses give us information from reality but that information gets interpreted into meaning before we are aware of it. The information that doesn't fit into a meaningful structure is just discarded. We don't perceive it. I experience that all the time. For instance, there is a broken window that I pass on my daily walk. It has shattered in an interesting way. When I set out on my walk I wonder if the window has been replaced. Usually when I get home I can't remember if I saw it or not that day. I know that I walked right past it and that my eyes took the information in but I didn't perceive it.
A police force in Quebec has started training it's members by sending them into the community without guns or uniforms in structured meetings with community groups. The finding is that not having those symbols of authority changed the way the officers interacted with the people. Not having power was forcing the police to find other ways of interacting.
I'm seeing a variation of that on Hastings St nearby where a few hundred people have set up a tent camp on the sidewalk. The police want them to not be there but there are so many people that the police are powerless. Initially it was a huge hassle for the people living in the apartment buildings there. Tents would be blocking the door. Tempers were flaring. But eventually it settled down. The campers started being aware of things like doorways that shouldn't be blocked.
Of course one of the effects of the Hastings St affect is that I also avoid the area. But the camp itself is an effect of the affect of the vermin ridden places that poor people are often forced to live in.
What do you think?