The Affect Lab: The History and Limits of Measuring Emotion 1517915457, 9781517915452

Examines how our understanding of emotion is shaped by the devices we use to measure it   Since the late nineteenth cent

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The Affect Lab: The History and Limits of Measuring Emotion
 1517915457, 9781517915452

Table of contents :
Cover Page
Title Page
Copyright Page
Introduction: Techniques of the Affect Lab
Chapter 1. William James’s Planchette
Chapter 2. Books of Faces
Chapter 3. The Prison Dynograph
Chapter 4. E-Meter Metaphysics
Conclusion: The Epistemology and Aesthetics of Empathy
About the Author

Citation preview

The History and Limits of Measuring Emotion



Grant Bollmer

The Affect Lab

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THE AFFECT LAB The History and Limits of Measuring Emotion

g r ant bo l l mer

University of Minnesota Press Minneapolis London

Open access edition funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities Portions of the Introduction and chapter 2 were originally published in a different form in “Books of Faces: Cultural Techniques of Basic Emotions,” NECSUS: European Journal of Media Studies 8, no. 1 (2019): 125–­50; the original article was published under a CC-­BY-­4.0 Creative Commons license. Copyright 2023 by the Regents of the University of Minnesota The Affect Lab: The History and Limits of Measuring Emotion is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0): Published by the University of Minnesota Press 111 Third Avenue South, Suite 290 Minneapolis, MN 55401-­2520 Available as a Manifold edition at ISBN 978-­1-­5179-­1545-­2 (hc) ISBN 978-­1-­5179-­1546-­9 (pb) Library of Congress record available at Printed in the United States of America on acid-­free paper The University of Minnesota is an equal-­opportunity educator and employer. UMP BmB 2023

We have only to speak of an object to think that we are being objective. But because we chose it in the first place, the object reveals more about us than we do about it.  .  .  . In point of fact, scientific objectivity is possible only if one has broken first with the immediate object, if one has refused to yield to the seduction of the initial choice, if one has checked and contradicted the thoughts which arise from one’s first observation. Any objective examination, when duly verified, refutes the results of the first contact with the object. To start with, everything must be called into question: sensation, common sense, usage however constant, even etymology, for words, which are made for singing and enchanting, rarely make contact with thought. Far from marvelling at the object, objective thought must treat it ironically. —­Gaston Bachelard, The Psychoanalysis of Fire A new way of thinking—­which is always a new way of measuring and presupposes the presence of a new standard, a new sensation-­scale—­feels itself to be in contradiction with old ways of thinking and constantly says, while resisting them, “that is false.” Examined more closely such a “that is false” really only means “I do not feel anything of myself in that,” “it’s of no interest to me,” “I do not comprehend how you are not able to feel as I do.” —­Friedrich Nietzsche, Unpublished Fragments (Spring 1885–­Spring 1886)

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Introduction: Techniques of the Affect Lab   1 William James’s Planchette   2 Books of Faces  




3 The Prison Dynograph   4 E-­Meter Metaphysics  

127 165

Conclusion: The Epistemology and Aesthetics of Empathy   Acknowledgments   211 Notes   215 Bibliography   245 Index   267


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INTRODUCTION Techniques of the Affect Lab

Th ro u g h o u t the cou r s e of the twentieth century occurred major reinventions in North American emotional life—­in what it means to express an emotion, in what it means to interpret an emotion, in what it means to measure an emotion. These changes took place in dispersed and varied incarnations of what this book terms the Affect Lab  : experimental spaces in which a technical instrument identifies something moving inside a body, something emotional, something we refer to as the affects. The techniques of the Affect Lab can happen and have happened in a range of locations—­the university, the asylum, the prison, the parlor—­locations that often mark the border between science and pseudoscience in the history of the emotions. The story I’m telling in these pages is a media archaeology of American psychology, which explains how, between 1900 and 2000, affect and emotion became things described and theorized only when affect and emotion became incited and registered by way of media. “The observing gaze refrains from intervening,” remarks Michel Foucault of the birth of clinical medical practice, “it is silent and gestureless. Observation leaves things as they are; there is nothing hidden to it in what is given.”1 Yet the affects cannot be perceived unless one moves beyond the empirical to the occult, the unseen, the interior, and interiority is accessed only through operations that refuse to refrain from intervention. Questions of simulation and dissimulation, of deception and malingering, of the incommensurability of my experience and your experience, of the distinction between what is written and what is felt—­these lead to fears, anxieties, problems: problems assumed assuaged by material things that promise access to the mind as a physical, embodied, and impersonal entity that moves and is moved in relation. Knowledge of the affects exists only  • 1

as bodies are processed through a medium. Yet techniques of observation, inscription, and identification serve to invent that which is observed, inscribed, identified. The techniques of the Affect Lab precede and produce the affects they identify. Admitting as such creates significant complications when we use affect as a concept to theorize the ontology of the body and its relations. “When one hears about another person’s physical pain,” writes Elaine Scarry, “the events happening within the interior of that person’s body may seem to have the remote character of some deep subterranean fact, belonging to an invisible geography that, however portentous, has no reality because it has not yet manifested itself on the visible surface of the earth.”2 As with pain, so with affect more broadly. It is in making another’s interiority sensible, empirical, that their interiority becomes real, communicable. But one can only trace particular incitements of affect through particular techniques and technologies. These particularities are assumed generalities, an eternal truth of the body rather than a momentary fragment. My argument foregrounds how the body, its capacities, its movements, its experiences—­any quality that exceeds the empirical—­have never been successfully differentiated from the physical capacities of media. When we attempt to locate an affective metaphysics of life, of humanity, of relation, what we find are the materialities of media. The ontology of the body, when it comes to that which cannot be directly perceived, can only be understood as a metonymy for the technics employed to make sensible. These media are necessarily placed under erasure, otherwise one must contend with the fact that all knowledge, like all power, “emanates from and returns to archives,” the archives delineated by the technical capacity for writing, recording, storing, and transmitting.3 This book examines several technologies related to the history of psychology in North America: William James’s use of spiritualist toys at Harvard University, the practice of serial photography in a number of early American psychological laboratories, experiments on “psychopaths” performed in a Canadian prison with an instrument called an Offner Dynograph, and the development of the “electropsychometer,” or “E-­Meter,” by Volney Mathison and L. Ron Hubbard in the early days of Hubbard’s religion, Scientology. But any moment a medium is employed to identify—­and thereby produce—­the affects, this moment can be said to be a specific instance of the process identified as the Affect Lab. And 2  • I N T R O D U C T I O N

even though I render this phrase in the singular, my use of “lab” throughout this book follows Darren Wershler, Lori Emerson, and Jussi Parikka when they suggest that “despite the singularity, certainty, and individuality of the moniker ‘the lab,’ labs have never been static, unchangeable, unitary entities with clear-­cut histories.”4 My investigation into the psychological history of affect and emotion is intended to draw out contingencies, multiplicities, not the “origins” of affect as a singular, transcendental “thing.”5 As I will seek to demonstrate, the versions of emotion and affect produced in each of these experimental settings should best be considered incommensurable, with any one experimental understanding of the body and its affectability impossible to reduce to another.6 Or, through particular, situated, technical definitions of the body that emerge from the instruments employed in experimental work, affect is revealed as an incoherent concept with few foundations in the materiality of the body—­ and many foundations in the material capacities of media. Apart from Mathison and Hubbard’s E-­Meter, which was never properly “psychological” to begin with, the varied historical moments described in this book are directly and indirectly foundational for the contemporary understanding of affect employed in the humanities and social sciences, a range of work grouped under the name “affect theory.” While there are many traditions that go by the name affect theory, there are two clear, dominant strains in the humanities and social sciences. One derives from cultural theorist Brian Massumi’s interpretation of philosopher Gilles Deleuze, the other from queer theorist Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick and her reading of the psychologist Silvan Tomkins.7 These two strains are not identical, but they share many assumptions about what a body is and what a body does, often legitimating arguments through reference to psychology and the neurological. While, for instance, Sedgwick’s understanding of affect accepts the existence of several universal, basic emotional categories and Massumi’s does not, both definitions of affect are united in arguing that “affect” is something distinct from “emotion.” The former is physiological, preconscious, a body’s impersonal capacity to act on and be acted upon by others, a substance that cannot be said to exist within a body but, rather, bridges interiority and exteriority. The latter is captured by language, by meaning, by culture and interpretation. The former is ontological, foundational; the latter is personal, subjective. These are claims that have some grounding in the history of psychology. Confusingly, however, this distinction is similar to the one that psychology makes I N T R O D U C T I O N  • 3

not between “affect” and “emotion,” but between an “emotion” and a “feeling,” where the former is physiological and rooted in the body, and the latter is subjective and interpretive.8 As I’ll return to later in this introduction, there are numerous other definitions of affect and emotion, several of which are in line with the critique I offer in these pages. Yet the biological, psychological understanding of affect as a neurocognitive universal that exists prior to meaning, consciousness, and interpretation, bridging bodies as a material force that moves impersonally between them, regularly characterizes how “affect” is defined. While I often use “affect” and “emotion” interchangeably in this book, I am almost always using these terms to refer to biological, neurocognitive processes that exist prior to or outside of language and culture. In this book, I am interested in how a range of similar but distinct concepts—­not just affect and emotion, but also something called “empathy,” for instance—­are presumed grounded in the material reality of the body through a veiled deferral to scientific and experimental knowledge, a deferral that cannot acknowledge the material and medial foundations of the body and mind. The biological, the neurocognitive, and the psychological thus haunt affect theory in many of its articulations. As such, this book demonstrates why this affective ontology must be approached ironically. In looking at the technological foundations of American psychology, The Affect Lab historicizes the fabrication of an object named “affect” and how the assumed qualities that exist within that object as its ontology are metonymically grafted onto it by way of the media employed to discover the object in the first place. This book is, in other words, a story of a materialist epistemology preceding ontology; a story about the forgetting of mediation; a story of how claims of being and becoming are made through the neglecting of the physical capacities of media. Measuring Interiority There is an exigency for my argument, an exigency implied throughout this book and made explicit at several points, extending beyond concepts popular throughout the humanities and social sciences. But to make it overt: today, the emotions and affects have come to be central points in developing interfaces between bodies and machines, interfaces central to not only digital media but a broader remaking of work, capital, entertainment. Around 1900, with the rise of psychophysics and a technological 4  • I N T R O D U C T I O N

splitting of the senses, Friedrich Kittler argues, “What remains of people is what media can store and communicate. What counts are not the messages or the content with which they equip so-­called souls for the duration of a technological era, but rather . . . their circuits, the very schematism of perceptibility.”9 Since around 2000, there has been a particular motivation behind perceptible penetrations of the body’s surface, enabling a transmission and manipulation of emotion that links the face and skin with the brain and nerves: measuring and cultivating the emotions for profit—­keeping people working, buying, and watching—­all to extract value and predict behavior in the name of risk management and social control.10 The political economy of digital media requires the modulation and maintenance of affective bonds between user and platform.11 These changes began in the middle of the twentieth century with a reconstruction of work in both the factory and the office.12 But in the present, various forms of emotional capitalism continue to add value to the technological shaping of emotional life.13 Contemporary economic reality leads to depression, burnout, and misery.14 Measuring and cultivating happiness invents a crude, utilitarianist form of capitalism that guides both “behavioral economics” as well as attempts to develop pharmaceuticals to keep people productive.15 Even if one does not accept arguments for misery and the ideal of happiness in the sustaining of late capitalism, it’s easy to see how attempts to identify and measure the emotions are widespread. In 2015, the social networking website Facebook filed a patent to propose a passive use of digital cameras on computers and smartphones, taking pictures of users, matching photographed facial expressions with expressions in a database (Figure 1).16 This would permit, the patent suggests, the automated evaluation of subjective feelings about whatever appears on one’s social media feeds, an evaluation that would manipulate what content is seen and how one would potentially feel in response. Facebook’s patent application defines neither what an emotion is nor which facial expressions are assumed emotional. It merely suggests their system would rely on “one of many well-­known techniques.”17 Facebook’s proposal is representative of tech companies investing in the identification of facial expressions of emotion. Reasons for this include the refinement of user experience following principles of “affective computing,”18 attempts to create realistic, digitally animated characters in games and film for purposes of “immersion,”19 a cybernetic reinvention of prediction and control,20 and even a broader, more fundamental transformation of sensibility that I N T R O D U C T I O N  • 5

Figure 1. A diagram of the technological “logic flow” of emotion detection from Facebook’s patent application, from US Patent Application No. US20150242679A1.

rests on the technological manipulation of embodied affection prior to conscious awareness.21 Each of these examples has some relation to determining internal emotional states from images of facial expression—­ extracting value by way of attention, creating “friendly” and unintrusive interfaces with computers and robots, inventing fully “immersive” simulated environments. 6  • I N T R O D U C T I O N

Affective interfaces presume that the body and experience can be separated from the media that observe and thereby “know” interiority. The face is most often the privileged place to divulge that which is behind the surface of the skin, revealing one’s intentions and beliefs. The face is a signifier for the uniqueness of individuality, a screen supposed to disclose more than it hides. But an unmediated face is an impossibility. The face only reveals interiority if one knows the proper technique: if a twitch of the eye indicates a lie, if a movement of the mouth indicates fear or contempt. The technique instructs one of where to look or how to see (or leads one to see through the proper instrument, an instrument that can never be acknowledged as determining what is visible). And yet we regularly have examples where these techniques inevitably fail when faces are too strange, too different.22 Or they fail when faces deviate from the default assumption of a neutral, white, male countenance.23 Nevertheless, a belief in the unintentional facial exposure of truth has guided, among other things, the condemnable persistence of physiognomy, the pseudoscience that argued one’s character to be revealed through the physical features on one’s face widely popular throughout the Victorian era in Europe, now updated for an age defined by social media metrics.24 The quantified face, measured and mechanized through metrics of the social graph, determines varied means of predicting and controlling that reproduce homophobia, racism, and sexism, among other things—­as was the case with physiognomy in its initial form.25 The truth revealed by the face in physiognomy was itself derived not just from normative judgments of appearance, but from technical and medial practice. Physiognomy has long been associated with the Zurich pastor Johann Kaspar Lavater, whose books widely circulated throughout Europe around 1800. Lavater began from the position that “all men (this is indisputable), absolutely all men, estimate all things, whatever, by their physiognomy, their exterior temporary superficies.” In judging others, we depend, “in part, upon the exterior form, and thence [draw] inferences concerning the mind.”26 Lavater’s essays provide a detailed elaboration of how his readers could learn to perform Lavater’s own judgments of others themselves, to the best of their abilities, cultivating a moral precision in evaluating others on appearance alone—­Lavater believed that particular forms of beauty were evidence of a divine soul, that appearance was character made manifest. But the techniques Lavater taught, illustrated repeatedly in his writings, were guided by unclear reasoning and presumed the face to be still and motionless, as if a drawing in a book I N T R O D U C T I O N  • 7

could substitute for the lived motion of a body. Indeed, there was something particular about drawing that Lavater thought essential for the physiognomist, a technique that surpassed the ability to judge from a visual evaluation of the body alone. “Drawing is the first, most natural, and most unequivocal language of physiognomy. . . . The physiognomist who cannot draw readily, accurately, and characteristically, will be unable to make, much less to retain, or communicate, innumerable observations.”27 The most instructive artistic technique is the production of “shades,” which, Lavater suggests, predates drawing and painting. A shade is an image of a face in profile, abstracted of all detail except for a darkened outline, produced by having a subject sit on a specific kind of chair (see Figure 2).28 It is only with the proper artistic discipline, the proper artistic method, the proper tools, and the proper abstraction that, for Lavater, one can see and judge correctly, one can get beyond the visible surface of the face,

Figure 2. Lavater’s instrument for the drawing of shades. Plate 25 of Lavater, Essays on Physiognomy.

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approaching the interiority of self, character, and feeling. Drawing could only render faces inert and motionless—­and therefore, the understanding of facial expression and character outlined in Lavater’s physiognomy presumed its truth to emerge from faces devoid of movement. The techniques of physiognomy have long been dismissed as without scientific merit, evidence of popular prejudice rather than fact of character. But today, what was once a technique of drawing is a technique given to computer vision and machine learning. The logic of Facebook and other algorithmic models for identifying faces would suggest that the problem is the fallibility of human judgment, not physiognomy itself. Divorced from techniques of the hand and eye, computers can supposedly inform us if someone is trustworthy or not, if someone is criminal or not, what someone’s sexuality might be—­a resurrection of discrimination through data that descends from Lavater and early attempts to identify criminal types.29 Artificial intelligence can once again make racism scientific.30 But the specificity of today’s AI, its reliance on techniques derived from the mathematics of Bayesian probability, reinvents Lavater—­ rather than truth that emerges from the stillness of a drawing, the interiority of a person comes from mathematical correlations that presume the likelihood that what came first also will follow, remaining the same. The technique draws on historical precedents, but specificity of measurement changes how the interior essences of individual subjects are produced and organized. The machine is “ignorant of theory and incapable of speculation,” and the deferral to the machinic observation and revelation of truth is a nineteenth-­century ideal Lorraine Daston and Peter Galison term “mechanical objectivity.”31 Mechanical objectivity is defined through a drive to repress human agency and interpretation, using technologies and techniques to “put in its stead a set of procedures what would, as it were, move nature to the page through a strict protocol . . . This meant sometimes using an actual machine, sometimes a person’s mechanized action, such as tracing.”32 While not all forms of objectivity are mechanical, the techniques of the Affect Lab are guided by a perpetual, implicit assumption that instruments, as an embodiment of mechanical objectivity, merely reveal the truth of interiority, the truth of the affects and emotions. The deferral to the objectivity of the instrument is what turns a psychological metaphysics into a science, purging it of spiritualistic, religious, and mystical beliefs about interiority and the communication of souls.33 The separation between science and pseudoscience derives from I N T R O D U C T I O N  • 9

the use of a medium to measure—­something implicit even with Lavater’s physiognomic studio and its chair for shades. The production of interiority through a medium to measure and inscribe has massive implications for our current attempts to technologically identify, manage, control, and commodify the emotions, where the emergence of experimental psychology can even be understood as the “prototype” for defining the user of contemporary technological interfaces.34 When one uses an instrument to measure, I claim, one merely discovers measurements. What exists beyond mediation is still withdrawn, beyond empirical access. If the face can reveal anything—­even a face digitally photographed and measured—­it can only show that approaching truth beyond the skin is forever differed. Philosopher Emmanuel Levinas tells us that “the face is the evidence that makes evidence possible.”35 Anthropologist Michael Taussig responds, “By no means does Levinas’s face depend on giving us the Other’s interiority.”36 For Levinas, the evidence of faciality is evidence of infinite alterity—­the data supplied by the face disclose only that the truth of the other is withdrawn. In observing a face, we presume that the other has interiority, even though this interiority of the other descends into a metaphysical infinitude. Yet the assumption that guides Facebook (and a range of other technological solutions for identifying emotion) is that measurement will mitigate against (and solve) the problem of metaphysical alterity, alterity being the inverse of the homophilic ontology of the social graph.37 This does not mean that metaphysics is dead in a time of digital media. Rather, at least since around 1900, media are that which provide our metaphysics. Media are our first philosophy. An interiority mediated by technical means reveals not the biological capacities of the human body but the ability of a machine to modulate and measure time and space. Methods like that of Facebook’s descend not only from Lavater but from the massively influential work of psychologist Paul Ekman and the broader paradigm of “affect program theory,” which argues that each of the “basic emotions,” emotions such as fear or anger, has a specific, unique neural “circuit” or “signature” (or “program”) triggered in response to a particular stimulus, a “program” that also directly relates to the triggering of specific facial muscles, giving each emotion a visible, facial correlate.38 These programs—­this theory tells us—­are innate to human, and often animal, neurophysiology, and their existence is assumed to have some evolutionary benefit. Ekman, along with his collaborator Wallace Friesen, developed their influential “Facial Action Coding System,” or FACS, in the 1970s. This system links the movement of specific facial muscles with 1 0  • I N T R O D U C T I O N

specific affect programs, providing theoretical and practical grounding for many technological systems of emotion detection.39 Affect program theory has influenced a wide range of other disciplines. Ekman and Friesen, along with other affect program theorists, like Silvan Tomkins, Carroll Izard, and Jaak Panksepp,40 are regularly cited in a broad range of research arguing for the existence of biological, emotional universals,41 assuming that the biology of emotions is something that psychology knows and, in addition, that it’s something that the theoretical humanities now know as well—­by way of Tomkins, affect program theory has directly shaped the version of affect theory that descends from the work of Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, who appropriated the biological, neurological grounding of emotion accepted by these writers as a provocation directed at cultural theorists around the turn of the past century.42 Ekman’s work was developed using still photographic images and, occasionally, video and film, techniques that I return to in chapter 2.43 While photographs of the face are perhaps the most well-­known medium in my history, the techniques of the Affect Lab are many and have changed throughout over a century of research in psychology, including—­alongside photography, video, and film—­spiritualist toys, electrical shocks, and devices that measure electrical resistance. In tracing distinct, if related, historical moments, I ultimately argue that what we refer to as “affect” is guided through what happens inside particular instances of the Affect Lab. What affect is depends on the techniques of the Affect Lab. It is only through these techniques that the body is transformed into an object of knowledge capable of becoming scientific evidence, it is only through these techniques that evidence is then interpreted in accordance with narratives about the body and its behaviors (which are often derived, in turn, through past inscriptions of the body).44 It is only through these techniques that affect theory can find something called affect that emerges from the neurocognitive materiality of the brain. These techniques that visualize what a body is and does are inherently symbolic, even if they may not be linguistic.45 They are material, but we must understand materiality as a process of materialization that occurs at the intersection of the physical and the symbolic.46 Media Epistemology and the Antisocial Turn in Affect Theory To make these claims, this book examines specific technologies used in empirical, experimental studies in North American psychology, along I N T R O D U C T I O N  • 1 1

with how these studies emerged—­and deviated—­from problems posed in the arguments of German aesthetics. It also examines the technologies used in some pseudoscientific offshoots of psychology and psychiatry that emerged in the middle of the twentieth century as psychotherapy began to be broadly popularized, demonstrating the limits of mechanical objectivity in psychology—­and how the deferral to a medial, mechanical objectivity in psychology reached its limit around 1950. While it is widely known that the turn to laboratory instruments in the history of American psychology around 1900 emerged to legitimate psychology as a science, separating it from spiritualism and the occult,47 one dimension of my argument is how these same technologies and practices cannot possibly exclude the occult and the metaphysical. If the point of scientifically and experimentally studying affect and emotion is to get beyond visible, empirical surfaces, approaching the truth of the body’s interiority—­the very thing Levinas noted led to a metaphysical infinitude of the other—­then, because technologies are presumed to allow access to the metaphysical beyond, they cannot separate “science” from spiritualist speculation. Or, in following these laboratory instruments, this book makes an argument about the epistemological implications of measurement devices. Technologies of measurement produce the phenomena that is to be measured, they do not aid in observation,48 which consequentially leaves psychological interiority in a mythical space beyond mediation, only accessed through technical mediation. One must transcend the empirical to approach a beyond of concealed inner experience. Yet while I center on specific technological instruments and their physical, material capacities for measuring the human body, I do not argue that these instruments can be detached from larger historical or interpretive contexts.49 Rather, it is my intent to situate the objects I examine, showing how material instruments can serve to legitimate cultural, metaphysical knowledge as objective, as separated from broader cultural debate and contestation, an objectivity that, today, has led not to a hegemonic victory of scientific thought but to a range of scientistic beliefs that imagine technology as endowed with speculative capacities to synthesize bodies and minds, transcending material existence. As Gaston Bachelard once wrote, in one of his books foundational for the French tradition of “epistemological critique” in the history of science,50 “It may well be the instruments that produce the phenomenon in the first place. And instruments are nothing but theories materialized.”51 Any science must reflect critically upon how it produces its objects, and 1 2  • I N T R O D U C T I O N

how legitimating scientific truth requires attending to historical, social, and technical contexts, assuming not continuity and progress in how objects are made but discontinuity and difference.52 While the instruments used in particle physics, given their massive scale and cost, often lend continuity to that which we call “physics,”53 the psychology of the emotions in America is guided by no such continuity. Yet this continuity is assumed. Rather than continuity, I argue, psychology in the United States is shaped by a range of incommensurate methods that appear illegitimate when properly contextualized, employed in “laboratory” spaces that are barely controlled and barely laboratories, guided by questions about spiritualism and religion, about theater and audience reception, about incarceration and recidivism, about cults and mind control. Attending to the physical qualities of instruments used in psychological research has consequences for not only the history of psychology, but, today, the humanities and social sciences writ large. As mentioned above, psychological claims about the physiology of emotion often guide what has come to be known as “affect theory.” Even though many of those associated with affect theory claim that affect is material in some respect—­as in, affect is a way of placing the physical capacities of the body into humanistic work after decades of attention to language54—­most engagements of affect theory with the history of emotions have systematically neglected the instruments that produce these “things” as objects upon which a range of other claims depend. In its deferral to psychology and the brain, affect theory simply accepts that psychology can, in fact, know what an emotion is, that there are means for identifying and understanding the experience of an emotion, that there are qualities about a body that can be considered emotional. Yet attempts to technically identify an emotion dictate how bodily capacity has become something to control, manage, and correct, producing a range of problems for the contemporary study of affect that cannot—­and will not—­be addressed until the role of technical devices in providing the ontology of affect is acknowledged. Recent critiques of affect theory have also sought to historicize affect—­ and its relation to modern scientific thought—­in ways that resonate with my argument here, seeing affect and affectability as scientific norms inextricably bound together with racist, colonial models of social behavior. Or, affect and emotion, as concepts we use to define an essential “humanity” and “sociality,” presume the control and management of bodies and their capacities, enforcing proper ways of being and existing, proper norms of sentiment and sympathy, norms deemed necessary for inclusion in a I N T R O D U C T I O N  • 1 3

modern liberal polity. In Toward a Global Idea of Race, Denise Ferreira da Silva argues that modern liberalism differentiates between an “affectable ‘I’” and a “transparent ‘I,’” the former of which characterizes colonized, racialized subjects imagined to be “affectable” and defined by relations of exteriority, the latter characterizing white Europeans, their rationality, their self-­determination, defined by their enclosed (and yet “transparent”) interiority.55 Colonized subjects must be made “transparent,” self-­determining in accordance with European Enlightenment norms of autonomy. Other writers and theorists, such as Sianne Ngai and Mel Y. Chen, have made similar arguments, claiming that affect and emotion are inevitably organized in hierarchies—­one’s ability to affect and be affected is not neutral and universal but unfolds along raced and gendered lines, differentiating between a properly sentimental (white) subject and, to use Ngai’s words, an “overemotional racialized subject.”56 Kyla Schuller and Erica Fretwell have placed these arguments in relation to nineteenth-­century psychophysics and psychology, arguing that the early study of sensation in psychology framed the ability to affect and be affected as one in which sensory capacity—­the ability for a body to “properly” make sense “impressions”—­is linked with race, particularly. One can be affected too much or too little. Capacity is not a universal. Normative definitions of sensation and affection can be, and have been, used to exclude particular bodies and populations from social life throughout modern existence.57 Xine Yao has proposed that the tendency characterized by these writers, along with earlier arguments by Sara Ahmed and Lauren Berlant that demonstrate how emotion and sentimentality can serve to exclude and discriminate, be characterized as an “antisocial turn” in affect studies.58 Referencing arguments from queer theory and their characterization as an “antisocial” critique, such as those of Leo Bersani and Lee Edelman, who frame queerness as negation,59 Yao argues that these authors all demonstrate how the privileging of a universal, neutral affect leads specific bodies to, in Fretwell’s words, “differentially amass ontological weight,” which subsequently requires an analysis “of how gendered, raced, and disabled being (rather than gender, race, and disability as such) becomes ‘a problem.’”60 The antisocial turn in affect studies, then, foregrounds these “problems,” bodies and modes of being considered “disaffected” or “antisocial,” examining how other modes of feeling and relating cannot be acknowledged by affect studies as commonly defined, which—­in the model descending from Massumi and Sedgwick and their appropriations 1 4  • I N T R O D U C T I O N

of psychology—­has a tendency to understand the body’s capacity to affect and be affected as an evenly distributed universal. My argument, however, is slightly different from these authors. I, too, reject affect as a cognitive universal and, in this book, I occasionally privilege bodies seen as “problems” in terms of their affective capacities—­ something I share with the “antisocial turn” in affect studies, most obvious in chapter 3, which examines the construction of “psychopathy,” a “pathology” defined by its inability to experience empathic affect. The distinction between these other authors and what I offer here, though, emerges from how I am interested not just in the history of psychology and its policing of emotional life but in the epistemological role of technological instruments in shaping (and making “objective”) the normative boundaries upon which this policing can take place. This leads me not just to question the power of the human sciences to differentially organize bodies and their capacities but to question the very possibility of knowing a body’s capacities beyond the limits of instrumental measurement. I am not just interested in how affect invests in different bodies differently—­ even though I agree with and often follow this argument in these pages. I am interested in how the very definition of “affect,” its legitimation as a material concept to describe the body and its relations, becomes, when properly contextualized, a range of incoherent, irreducible statements that are less about the capacities of bodies than the capacities of media to measure.61 If, as Bachelard argues, instruments are theories materialized, then the “theory” with which we begin shapes our ultimate arguments in the end, even if we approach history archaeologically, attempting to avoid rigid genetic determinisms in our analysis. Taking “theory” here to mean not just scientific theory, not just an imagined ideal, but a contextual, situated way of being, my beginning is not with the seeming rationality of Enlightenment science as it attempts to control and manage colonized populations, the beginning of most of the authors I reference above. I instead start with how emotional expression was taken up as a problem in German psychophysics and early American psychology. In my history, we will see, the “transparency” of the European subject was an impossibility to be solved through technical instruments. The self-­contained, rational subject was not always an ideal in European thought, or, at least, was not something understood to exist without a form of technical realization—­one just needs to turn to German Romanticism and German aesthetic theory, both of which were major influences on early American psychology, to see how. I N T R O D U C T I O N  • 1 5

Descending from Romanticism and German aesthetics, emotion became a scientific problem because outward expression could never be said to transparently display interiority, as the autonomy of the subject was seen as a barrier to collective existence. This is not to say that I radically disagree with any of those I mention above, but, again, that my starting point is not with a rationalist exclusion or policing of the affective, and not with attempts to define (raced, gendered) capacities for sensation. Instead, I begin with the almost irrationalist emphasis on the power of art to generate feeling, to express emotion, something associated with the Romantic coining of Einfühlung, or “feeling-­into,” as a desirable goal for art and representation—­a concept that descends from Enlightenment problems of national belonging but ultimately rejects Enlightenment rationality and autonomy, a concept that would come to directly shape early German experimental psychology and its influence on American psychology. Or, as I’ll detail momentarily, I begin with how the turn to emotion in European thought emerges from the failure of Enlightenment rationality to understand the power of art to generate emotional responses in audiences—­how presumedly autonomous individuals could be overtaken by an aesthetic experience, and how this loss of individual autonomy in the face of aesthetic spectacle was framed as socially desirable. While Yao and Schuller focus on sentimentality and sympathy, normative and restrained forms of emotional experience that involve identification of one with another, I hope to reframe what we might mean by affect as well as empathy, the word coined in English as the translation of Einfühlung, a term that carries with it presumptions about a loss of individuality and a direct movement from one into another. Today, more than sentiment or sympathy, empathy has come to be a kind of master term to describe the ability to cognitively experience relation.62 Empathy produces the bonds that bring people together. It forms the foundations of sociability as the material thing that unites members of a collective body.63 While empathy cannot be said to be precisely the same thing as “affect” or “emotion” more broadly, sentiment and sympathy cannot, either. But my turn to empathy here is intended to foreground its role in shaping foundational problems in German aesthetics that would be taken up in American psychology, problems that would become foundational for the study of emotion as such. How can one be affected by an artwork? How can one be affected by others? How can affection bridge seemingly separate interiorities, bringing isolated individuals together beyond sentimental identification? Even more 1 6  • I N T R O D U C T I O N

significantly, the history of empathy demonstrates an essential mediation to emotional relations, one that moves from a work of art to, in American psychology, an instrument in a laboratory. The German Aesthetic State and Einfühlung The twentieth-­century transformation in American emotional life examined in this book revised a set of problems posed much earlier, problems that linked shared feeling and national belonging with the contemplation and judgment of art. Or, experimental work in American psychology was a continuation of a project that emerged from nineteenth-­century German aesthetics, the quest for an “aesthetic state,” in which the public communication of sensation grounds the possibility of a national public.64 This link among emotion, sensation, and national belonging resonates with arguments made by Schuller and Fretwell, among others,65 but I am less interested in a normative sensory capacity as a precondition for the communication of emotion and sensation as I am in the material, technical production of this aesthetic state. If one line in the history of psychology—­the study of sensation—­framed the normative correction of bodies and sensory capacity as grounding inclusion in a liberal polity, what I focus on here is how this aesthetic state was often framed as only possible through technical, aesthetic mediation, eventually moving from art to the instrumental, experimental methods of psychological research. Around 1900, several German psychologists—­particularly Theodor Lipps, whose work brought together aesthetic theory, Husserlian phenomenology, and experimental psychology—­linked aesthetics with the earliest experimental psychological research in Germany: Gustav Fechner’s psychophysics and the methods derived from Wilhelm Wundt’s Psychological Institute, the influential laboratory of experimental psychology at the University of Leipzig. The problems that psychologists such as Lipps attempted to solve derived from questions central to modern German philosophical thought: What is the relation between art and nation? Can art be used to educate and bond disparate individuals into one?66 The solution Lipps provided was to be “proved” through the methods of experimental psychology. This was a problem not just of the communication of sensation, or proper aesthetic perception, but of the movement between mental interiors to visible exteriors. The problem of binding different individuals together was not merely about the ability to sense, but the ability to correlate external appearances with internal emotional states. I N T R O D U C T I O N  • 1 7

A century before Lipps, several German-­language writers began to link the creation of a national identity with the education of aesthetic judgment. These authors all seemed to wonder, if in subtly distinct ways: How might art serve to unify distinct individuals, producing a coherent national identity, one linked with Enlightenment values? How might aesthetic experience be harnessed for moral education, education that advances both collective identity and individual self-­mastery? “Sapere aude! Have courage to make use of your own understanding!” So goes Immanuel Kant’s “motto of enlightenment.”67 Yet this free use of reason, of daring to know, is not merely a celebration of the rational capacities of an individual, cut off and independent from others. Thinking for oneself, Kant suggests, is the route to guarantee obedience to the state and to authority.68 This link sketched by Kant, which would articulate individual reason and collective obedience, was further developed by Friedrich Schiller, who saw “aesthetic education” as leading an individual into “a regularity of conduct without which nature could never achieve its great aim of uniting men into a whole . . . To unite men truly and inwardly requires another, positive bond, that of social character, or the communication of sensations, and the exchange of ideas.”69 With Schiller, Kantian rationality became the production of a collective identity through the sharing of aesthetic experience.70 Here we can see how the emotional disinterestedness and autonomy emphasized by Kantian judgment was already being undermined. While Kant and Schiller mostly focus on sensation, leading to the scientific genealogy of sensation and impression described by Schuller and Fretwell, a larger problem that emerged here was the belief that rational autonomy must be placed in service of collective life, a link that would be fostered by the arts. And this emphasis on the arts must grapple with the well-­known fact that in some arts—­like theater—­the emotions experienced by the audience did not inherently match those of the performers. With theater, the question of “sympathy” and the “communication of sensations” among individuals must address the problem of interiority. The transparency of interiority, rather than defining the rational Enlightenment subject, became a problem to be addressed through technical means. In 1767, Gotthold Ephraim Lessing, already a popular writer and critic at the time, was hired by the Hamburg National Theater to serve as an in-­house critic. In this role, Lessing would regularly publish a periodical, the Hamburgische Dramaturgie, for the theater’s patrons. Lessing would argue for the necessity of emotion in performance to arouse the 1 8  • I N T R O D U C T I O N

compassion of the audience, allowing it to serve as a “school of the moral world.”71 Was it necessary for an actor to genuinely feel the emotions they were intending to express? Was it even possible for an actor to genuinely communicate and express the emotion they were experiencing? Lessing’s answer was inventive, suggesting that dramaturgical technique could induce in the actor as well as the spectator intended emotions, which would serve to unite performer and audience: Among an actor’s abilities, feeling is undoubtedly always the most questionable. It can exist where one does not perceive it; and one can believe that one sees it where it does not exist. For feeling is something interior, which we can only judge by its outward manifestations. It is quite possible that certain things in the construction of the body either simply do not allow for these manifestations, or they weaken them and render them ambiguous. The actor could have a particular facial structure, particular facial expressions, or a particular tone that we tend to associate with completely different capacities, different passions, and different sentiments than those he ought to express and demonstrate at a given moment. In such a case, regardless of how much he feels, we will not believe him, because he is in a state of contradiction with himself.72

The actor may be feeling what they’re performing, and yet their body may distort the observer’s perception. This is an argument that, while not indebted to Lavater’s physiognomy, certainly resonates with its assumptions.73 The body projects “character,” which may be at odds with the emotion (or character) the actor intends to portray. Some actors may be adept at simulating emotion, but not all are equivalently trained (or capable) at simulation. Lessing presumes an inherent inequivalence between interior states and exterior performance—­an inequivalence essential to almost all questions of performance and audience reception. In his dramaturgical essays, Lessing would thus propose a series of performed emotions, which would result in “modifications of the soul that bring about certain changes in the body,” changes “powerful enough in the moment of performance to bring about some of the involuntary changes in the body from whose presence alone we believe we can dependably infer a person’s inner feelings.”74 These “aesthetics of compassion” would generate a shared feeling between performers and audience, which would enable the moral development of the audience.75 What is the social and moral purpose of art? What is the social and moral significance of emotion, of sympathy, of compassion? What is the relationship between I N T R O D U C T I O N  • 1 9

performed emotion and real emotion? Lessing’s answers were Aristotelian—­the goal of theater should be to cultivate mimesis,76 a mimesis that would unify audience and performer, educating through emotion. But the ability to express and convey emotion is not innate. To foster mimesis one needs a performance technique in which the body’s gestures precede and produce the feeling of emotion, both in the performer and in the spectator. The problem here is not just sensation, but expression—­an expression that requires mediation. Around a decade after Lessing began his position at the Hamburg National Theater, Johann Gottfried Herder, the philosopher and student of Kant, proposed a different solution to the problem of art, nation, and aesthetic sentiment. In several books published in 1778, Herder began to describe beauty as a form of inner transposition, or Versetzung, into the figure an observer contemplates. This contemplation allows the viewer access to both that which is observed as well as oneself, as “we can only feel ourselves inside others (hineinfühlen).”77 Aesthetic judgment emerges from an intersubjective relation, in which sensation would allow one “inside” of another, feeling “into” them. A term Herder would occasionally use, Einfühlung, captures this experience. Einfühlung is literally translated as “in-­feeling” and was proposed to describe a sense in which an observer would project themselves into another. One would grasp one’s own autonomous feelings only through one’s relations—­and experience within—­others. Most often, this “other” was a work of art, not another person. While Einfühlung initially appeared in early German Romantic thought, it was more fully developed as a concept by philosopher Robert Vischer. In his 1873 dissertation, On the Optical Sense of Form, Vischer suggested, when observing a work of art, “I entrust my individual life to the lifeless form. . . . I am mysteriously transplanted and magically transformed into this other.”78 Vischer’s initial theorization was expanded in the writings of his contemporaries to describe various implications of a viewer transporting themselves or “feeling-­into” many kinds of art. Art (theatre, sculpture, painting, architecture) enables shared sensation by allowing different individuals access to the work’s interiority, generating a communal whole through absorption into a work. Einfühlung refers to the feeling that would emerge from spectatorship if a work were successfully mimetic. The role of mimesis would bind one to others, producing a sense of national solidarity, through the contemplation of an artwork. Einfühlung, then, is a term to evaluate techniques for the aesthetic production of national identity—­ones that emerge not 2 0  • I N T R O D U C T I O N

just from proper sensory capacities of an observer but from a proper technical and aesthetic mediation that permits one to transcend individual autonomy, entering into something (or someone) else. The mediation of the work of art was necessary for the communal entering-­into of others. Nearly a century after Lessing and Herder, and with the emergence of psychophysics and experimental psychology in Germany, this feeling-­into would become a principle to describe all intersubjective relations in the psychological aesthetics of Theodor Lipps. Not just aesthetic relations, and not just for national community. Not only would the spectator or observer feel-­into the work (which would act as mediator in binding different consciousnesses together), but the possibility of intersubjective relation was grounded in this psychic projection into another, a projection that would yoke observer and observed into a singular sharing of experience—­and yet, we will see, this feeling-­into inevitably defers to techniques of mediation. Today, what was once described with the word Einfühlung is now described with the term “empathy.”79 Making Einfühlung into empathy was not something that happened easily, since it was never always clear what Einfühlung described in the first place. Because of the writing style of these authors, it is difficult to identify if Einfühlung referred to a unique concept distinct from similar German agglutinates, many of which appeared to be different terms used to describe the same phenomena—­of feeling-­into or alongside an artwork that would then bind different people into a single, shared collective of sensation. Regardless, the proposal of Einfühlung as an ideal aesthetic condition, combined with technical, practical means for bridging interiority and exteriority proposed by dramaturges like Lessing, suggests that, after Romanticism, emotional interiority and rational autonomy were not inherently ideals, but rather were problems, problems to be addressed with the emerging technical methods of experimental psychology. Einfühlung and Empathy Einfühlung gained some stability in translation. The British-­born psychologist Edward Titchener coined the neologism “empathy” to translate Einfühlung into English in 1909.80 Titchener was a student of Wilhelm Wundt and a major figure in the institutional creation of American psychology, developing the largest doctoral program in psychology at the time, at Cornell University. He first defined empathy in his Lectures on the Experimental Psychology of the Thought-­Process, claiming that the I N T R O D U C T I O N  • 2 1

German term had a unique, conceptual specificity different from the classical concept of “sympathy,” or, in German, Mitfühlung, which referred to a kind of “fellow-­feeling.” Lipps often seemed to use the two terms interchangeably, but Titchener, in offering empathy as a translation for Einfühlung, produced empathy as distinct from sympathy, with the former referring to a kind of direct entering-­into of another, the latter referring to a kind of feeling-­alongside another.81 Proposing a concept to describe the experience of emotionally entering-­ into another person doesn’t appear to have been Titchener’s intended goal with his neologism. Folk understandings of empathy today, along with some neuropsychological versions of this concept, seem to replicate the idea of “feeling-­into” another (be it through “walking in another’s shoes” or through the cognitive mimesis produced by so-­called mirror neurons).82 But Titchener’s initial coining of empathy in his lectures refers to something distinct from its contemporary usage. Titchener was trying to describe how the observation of an image often includes the sensation of embodied motion along with judgments of quality represented visually. When looking at a particular image, Titchener remarks, not only do I see gravity and modesty and pride and courtesy and stateliness, but I feel or act them in the mind’s muscles. This is, I suppose, a simple case of empathy, if we may coin that term as a rendering of Einfühlung; there is nothing curious or idiosyncratic about it; but it is a fact that must be mentioned. And further: just as the visual image may mean of itself, without kinaesthetic accompaniment, so may the kinaesthetic image occur and mean of itself, without assistance from vision.83

We might think of Titchener’s translation in terms of art historian Aloïs Riegl’s distinction between the optic and haptic. The optic takes a visual image as exclusively visual, the haptic emphasizes space and produces an embodied sense of movement in the observer.84 Yet this distinction in Riegl is often unclear. Sometimes, touch and vision are rendered distinct, sometimes “touch becomes effectively a subset of vision,” and sometimes touch is distinct from but subsumed by sight.85 Regardless, Riegl—­like the German art historians, aesthetic theorists, and psychologists invested in theorizing Einfühlung, such as Heinrich Wölfflin, Lipps, and Vischer—­was clearly moving away from sight as a sense that could be completely separated from the body’s other senses, especially that of movement and touch.86 What Titchener is suggesting follows the ambiguities in Riegl’s understanding of haptic visuality. The visual and kinaesthetic, 2 2  • I N T R O D U C T I O N

the optic and the haptic, while often linked, may be differentiated. Empathy, here, refers to how the “meaning” of an image is reproduced as a cognitive simulation in the body of the observer—­empathy is, at this point of Titchener’s lectures, explicitly kinaesthetic, about a literal feeling of movement. “Feeling-­into” a work of art is not a metaphor. Titchener elaborates this idea later in his lectures, asking, “What do we experience when we have a ‘feeling of relation’?” He then proceeds to talk of a particular memory of sitting “behind a somewhat emphatic lecturer” who repeated the word “but” repeatedly. “My ‘feeling of but’ has contained, ever since, a flashing picture of a bald crown, with a fringe of hair below, and a massive black shoulder.” This memory isn’t solely visual, even if Titchener describes it as a “picture.” Rather, “In this particular instance, the picture is combined with an empathic attitude and all such ‘feelings’—­ feelings of if, and why, and nevertheless, and therefore—­normally take the form, in my experience, of motor empathy. I act the feeling out, though as a rule in imaginal and not in sensational terms.”87 Feelings of relation were initially described by William James, though James proposed this idea to suggest feelings of “and” or “if” or “but” indicate the lived experience of his radical empiricism—­that these conjunctive feelings demonstrate how one’s experience overflows the boundaries of one’s body.88 Titchener sees these conjunctive feelings as individualistic associations of memory and how one enters-­into their own recollections. Relation, for James, exceeds the individual body; relation, for Titchener, exists within an individual, referring to the imaginary kinaesthetic relation one has to one’s own self-­consciousness. Titchener believed these sensations of motor empathy could be isolated, defined, and—­while he is yet to do so at the time of his lectures—­ measured. The reasons for working to measure these sensations are overtly aesthetic, and particularly about judgment. “I wish that I could offer some positive contribution to the psychology of judgment,” Titchener remarks after explaining his definition of empathy, “but the insuperable difficulty there is that we do not yet know what judgment is. It is an anomalous position!”89 The words we use that are foundational for judgment—­but, if, why, therefore—­work to associate, linking words and memories and images and things. For Titchener, these conjunctions are empathic but only empathy for one’s own self. Empathy is a feeling of presence, for kinesthetically feeling-­into the visual images of one’s own memories. This definition of empathy has little in common with how we use the term today, but it has much to do with the German understanding of a physical I N T R O D U C T I O N  • 2 3

sense of motion provoked by an image.90 Titchener, in many ways, strips the collective dimension from empathy and Einfühlung, though this comes from how he unintentionally foregrounds the role of mediation in the transmission of sensation and emotion. From Aesthetic Experience to Mechanical Objectivity How did we get from Titchener’s individualized description of motor empathy, its relation to aesthetic experience, to a concept that refers to emotional linkages between distinct individuals? At one point in his lectures, Titchener uses empathy to describe something different than this sense of imagistic movement, when he discusses the methodology of the German psychologist Karl Bühler, the Ausfragemethode, or “inquiry method.” Bühler wanted to know what is consciously experienced when someone thinks. He developed a question-­and-­answer technique, in which he would make a set of deliberately chosen “observers” read aphorisms of Friedrich Nietzsche, or poetry, or answer an abstract question—­albeit one to be answered with a yes or a no. (These questions included, “Can our thought apprehend the nature of thought? Does Monism really involve the negation of personality?” Or, more simply, “Do you understand? Do you agree with this?”91) Nietzsche, poetry, and metaphysical questions—­ Bühler assumed—­cause thinking to happen. Bühler would time responses with a stopwatch, then ask his observers to describe the experience of his experiment. As Titchener explains, Bühler believed that the “experimenter must be in full sympathy with his observers; he must think, by empathy, as they think, understand as they understand, speak in their language.”92 What might this mean? In this quote, Titchener seems to be conflating a mental simulation of motion provoked by an image—­which is what all his other uses of empathy refer to—­with the simulation of being and knowing another person, the experience of their thought, though this knowing might still be essentially kinaesthetic. This simulation is something Titchener ultimately condemns. Titchener describes Bühler as a psychologist whose experimental method “served to retard rather than to advance the progress of our knowledge.”93 While he provided “a revolutionary attempt to rewrite the psychology of thought from the beginning,” Bühler’s work suffered because, while he began by employing timing devices—­material technologies of measurement, that is—­he was “at first merely to mention them and later to drop them altogether, and Bühler so shapes his method 2 4  • I N T R O D U C T I O N

that anything like an experiment in the ordinary sense of the term, and regulation or regular variation of conditions, is impossible.”94 Empathy’s simulations, Titchener seems to be arguing, do not substitute for the measurement of a technology, do not substitute for the techniques of laboratory research. Titchener’s discussion of Bühler should strike us as significant for several reasons. First, Titchener coins the term “empathy” to refer to a number of distinct ideas (a problem that persists throughout the entire history of this concept).95 Empathy is both a way of feeling-­into another person (which is how Titchener uses “empathy” when talking about Bühler) but also the feeling of motion from a visual image (which Titchener uses to talk about memories and association, and has overt relations to the earlier aesthetics of Einfühlung in German philosophy). Second, the major distinction between these senses of empathy lies in not their experience, but in measurement through instruments. Psychology becomes a science through quantification via instrumentation.96 The experience of feeling should be bracketed to produce knowledge about feeling, bracketed by mechanically objective means in which the experience of the experimenter does not come into play. Bühler’s method acknowledged the inability of the experimenter to understand “thought” as another’s lived experience, and thus the experimenter must simulate and try to grasp the subjectivity of another. Titchener, on the other hand, saw the instrument as a means for revealing knowledge that otherwise could not be circulated or public. The role of art in the initial theorization of Einfühlung, as a physical mediation that enabled the synthesis of others and the sharing of feeling, was given to the instruments of the lab in Titchener’s attempt to make psychology a science. The synthetic ability of an artwork to assemble the nation, in which aesthetic contemplation is the privileged mode for achieving knowledge and feeling of others, is reinvented by Titchener, privileging the ability of a medium to objectively measure feeling without also transmitting shared experience. These different authors did not argue precisely the same thing about Einfühlung and, eventually, empathy.97 But we can outline the emergence of a broad discursive formation that guided early work in American experimental psychology and its debt to German aesthetics. We see the emergence of various scientific norms about experimentation that come from a bracketing of the feelings and relations of all those in the laboratory—­a fact that is particularly strange when the object of research is emotion. Gertrude Stein, in her “Radcliffe Manuscripts,” written for a I N T R O D U C T I O N  • 2 5

sophomore composition course, has a section dated December 19, 1894, titled “In a Psychological Laboratory.” This fragment reflects on some of Stein’s experiences as a subject of psychological study in the lab at Harvard, observed by pioneering psychologists William James, Hugo Münsterberg, and their students (of which Stein is included). “One is all things to all men in a laboratory,” Stein remarks: At one moment you find yourself a howling mob, emitting fiendish yells, and explosive laughter, starting in belligerent attitudes hammer in hand and anon applauding violently. Before long this vehement individual is requested to make herself a perfect blank while someone practices on her as an automaton. Next she finds herself with a complicated apparatus strapped across her breast to register her breathing, her finger imprisoned in a steel machine and her arm thrust immovably into a big glass tube. She is surrounded by a group of earnest youths who carefully watch the silent record of the automatic pen on the slowly revolving drum. Strange fancies begin to crowd upon her, she feels that the silent pen is writing on and on forever. Her record is there she cannot escape it and the group about her begin to assume the shape of mocking fiends gloating over her imprisoned misery. Suddenly she starts, they have suddenly loosened a metronome directly behind her, to observe the effect, so now the morning’s work is over.98

While the object may be the feeling of relation, the experience of this relation must be excluded. As such, the lab requires a technical reduction of experience to that which can be measured and inscribed, a technical reduction that registers the subject and imprisons her. The experience of the subject comes as a series of surprises—­disjointed, and yet unending. The mechanical objectivity of the device must stand in for the senses of a human being. Relations between researcher and researched are framed as if by a barrier, one erected to “know” the interiority of the other, to “know” the biology and neurology of relation. These relations are, in this case (and in numerous others) marked by inequalities of gender and, in others, by inequalities of race.99 The instrument inscribes, writes, composes, the subject and their affects, a writing that exceeds the subject and endures, trapping her. This early work on empathy and emotion was guided by a set of problems that emerged from the German context. What might it mean to measure what it feels like to relate to another person? What might it mean to measure what it feels like to relate to one’s own memories, 2 6  • I N T R O D U C T I O N

which, in Titchener’s lectures, are imagistic and visual? And while questions of nation and solidarity—­so central for the German theories of aesthetics that begin the entire attempt to describe something like empathy —­vanish in Titchener’s description of experimental psychology, does the idea of an empathic (and affective) relation presume something must be excluded?100 We can already see how the physical mediation of relation is both presumed and excluded, but are there other exclusions at stake as well? We will return to Titchener later in this book, but his claims about emotion and measurement are foundational for the arguments I make throughout these pages. To make the body’s interiority an object of scientific knowledge—­the capacities of a body to affect and be affected, to express emotion and understand emotion, to empathize and relate to others at a level prior to conscious, interpretive knowledge—­one cannot approach these affects and emotions on their own. One defers to the capacities of an instrument, an instrument that must inevitably be forgotten as an essential mediator in producing the truth of the body. In the following chapters, I draw out several material techniques of experimental research, along with how they relate to the judgment of aesthetic experience and the symbolic possibility of writing the physiology of the human body. What might it mean to have a genuinely materialist theory of affect, emotion, and empathy, one that accounts for the practices—­the cultural techniques, the physical “operative chains”—­that precede and produce these concepts?101 One that situates these practices historically, drawing out not continuities but discontinuity and difference? What are the implications of these techniques and their erasure? The qualities of tools used in psychological research determine how an emotion is understood by psychological researchers. Is an emotion something that precedes consciousness? Are there a set of limited, distinct, and universal emotions that are expressed on the human face? Is the presence or absence of emotion found in the ability to predict and associate cause and effect? These three questions derive from three instruments used in experimental research: William James and his use of the planchette (a spiritualist toy) in the few experimental studies he performed for his monumental Principles of Psychology  ; photographs of actors performing posed emotions, which provide the grounds for a large amount of early experimental research in the United States, leading to Ekman’s “affect program theory”; and the use of the Offner Dynograph—­an electroencephalograph-­adjacent technology for transducing I N T R O D U C T I O N  • 2 7

and inscribing a range of biological signals—­in studies of psychopathy. Looking closely at these moments demonstrates radically different definitions of what an emotion or affect might be. And yet these incommensurate understandings of emotion, which develop out of the instruments used in experimental research, are framed as guiding a coherent and singular model of emotion and affection, a model that has in the past several decades become foundational for the humanities and social sciences. The fourth tool this book describes—­the “E-­Meter” of Scientology—­is used as a counterpoint against these other three moments, a counterpoint that demonstrates how, why, and when this technical metaphysics began to fail. Affect Theory and the Material History of Psychology and Psychiatry As I’ve referenced above, a major goal of this book is to challenge how some cultural theorists discuss “affect,” embodied in the range of arguments grouped together as “affect theory.” But it does this obliquely, through a series of historical cases designed to claim that any affective “ground” is unsteady and shifting, at best. The above discussion, linking a problem in the history of German aesthetics with the emergence of American experimental psychology, opens my archaeological critique of empathy and affect through its unintentional foregrounding of an essential mediation in the apprehension of interiority and relation. In the coming chapters, I’ll follow how attempts to experimentally demonstrate whether or not people act without conscious awareness (chapter 1) and whether or not observers can identify emotions performed by actors (chapter 2) became experiments to demonstrate that this ability is so ingrained in human (and animal) cognition that it is foundational for any bio-­ontological ground of relation, and how those that “lack” this affective capacity become marked as dangerous and subhuman (chapter 3). As well, I’m also interested in how these “technological” and “objective” claims have been used to legitimate specious metaphysical arguments as if they were “science” all the same (chapter 4). Because I make my critique through specific, relatively distinct historical moments, I feel I must highlight how my archaeology relates to our present. I’ve already mentioned how affect and emotion have a particular relevance today when it comes to what might be called “emotional capitalism” and “affective computing.” But, even more broadly, the past two to three decades in the theoretical humanities have been guided by attention to this “thing” called affect. I do not think anyone would find 2 8  • I N T R O D U C T I O N

this claim controversial. I’ve mentioned above some of the basic outlines of affect theory associated with theorists such as Brian Massumi and Eve Sedgwick already, along with an emerging critique of this body of work that this book could be associated. But, before I turn to the historical cases covered in each chapter, I want to describe in additional depth how my critique relates to affect theory more broadly, since I emphasize situated (and relatively distinct) historical cases rather than “theory” as such. I’d also like to expand on some of the theoretical and methodological implications I see guiding my arguments. If one is not particularly interested in questions related to these methodological, epistemological, and theoretical issues, and is primarily interested in the historical and technical details of my specific cases, then I imagine one could skip the remainder of the introduction, even though it is at this point that I’ll outline most directly the stakes of my critique of affect. As well, some readers may note that I hesitate to give a singular or truly coherent definition of affect—­this is because one of the goals of writing this book is to claim that “affect” is ultimately a situated concept, incoherent at a general, ontological scale. Often, affect is framed as descending from Spinoza’s Ethics. The affects refer, to use Spinoza’s words, to the means “by which the body’s power of acting is increased or diminished, helped or hindered.”102 Affect guides capacities for compassion, for sharing pleasure and pain, for love and hatred.103 Other sources for affect theory include William James’s psychological work, and especially the theory of emotion known as the “James-­ Lange” theory, which argues that the embodied sensation of an emotion precedes conscious awareness of that emotion.104 Perhaps most surprisingly, another source for affect theory (if one not often acknowledged) is the pessimistic philosophy of Arthur Schopenhauer. His “Prize Essay on the Basis of Morals” suggests that all of life is comprised of a single unified preconscious energy, termed “will,” and the misery produced by the conflict between conscious perception and the force of preconscious will can only be rectified by cultivating a compassion for all life.105 One could go even further back in the Western philosophical tradition—­to Epicurus, or to Lucretius—­and find similar arguments. The sources for affect theory suggest a hard split between some “substance” (which goes by the name “affect” or “will” or “the body,” among other names used by other philosophers not mentioned here) and conscious intention, perception, knowledge, and language.106 Affect theory is a frame that negotiates, though does not undermine, a range of dualisms, either Cartesian (with I N T R O D U C T I O N  • 2 9

a split between mind and body) or Kantian (with a split between phenomena and noumena), inverting the privilege to these categories given by Descartes and Kant. Affect theory emphasizes body rather than mind, or the inaccessible noumena rather than conscious rationality that judges phenomena.107 The subtle distinctions between these many sources, the fact that Schopenhauer’s “will” is not completely identical to Spinoza’s affectus, for instance, leads me to agree with Eugenie Brinkema’s suggestion that “we might be better off suggesting that the ‘turn to affect’ in the humanities is and has always been plural.”108 Yet there are still broad, relatively common tendencies within affect theory. My focus is on affect theory’s appropriation of a particular lineage from the legacy of psychology, which it uses to legitimate affect as a material, neurological “substance” rather than a metaphysical ground. The terms once used by Schopenhauer and Spinoza have been supplemented (and buttressed) by the fact that James and those following in his footsteps would foreground the materiality of the brain and body to do away with what once appeared as a dualist metaphysics. Instead of a metaphysical force, substance, or energy, affect becomes something located in the brain, even though it transcends individual bodies and precedes consciousness. I would argue that this neurological, psychological ground is implied whenever affect is framed as material. Yet in looking toward the history of affect and emotion in psychology, at no point can affect be legitimated as material, or even nondualist, without several conceptual and political problems.109 This deferral to brain and body presents as physical what is inherently metaphysical. In its deferral to the brain and cognition, affect theory is a theological or idealist philosophy, not a materialist or realist one. As I will discuss in chapter 1, James’s embrace of religion and spiritualism (along with his ultimate rejection of experimental methods) seems to signal his understanding of this, of the limits of a truly biocognitive materialism. Today’s attempts to ground affect in the arguments of psychology and neuropsychology, on the other hand, follow the tradition of Titchener, even if they cite James instead.110 The instrument produces a material object called affect, in which this original material context is forgotten. This book has two possible interpretations, which I see as linked: a “strong” interpretation and a “weak” interpretation. While I use these terms for their colloquial opposition, I also am thinking of the “Strong Programme” in the sociology of science, its insistence on emphasizing broader contexts and treating “irrational” arguments the same as “rational” ones,111 3 0  • I N T R O D U C T I O N

and the “weak thought” of Gianni Vattimo, in which one attempts to avoid any singular, metaphysical foundation, treating any and all positions with some level of irony.112 The weaker interpretation of this book suggests that any knowledge about affect as a sensible object has only been made through technologies and practices that register, inscribe, and document something called “affect” or “emotion.”113 Affect is inevitably linked with symbolic inscription, and the only reason we can speak of affect at all is because of how the body’s capacities are written down symbolically. Specific means of inscription directly transform what affect is, so when one speaks of the nonlinguistic, autonomous, or innate capacities of the affective body, one also speaks of the material effects of technologies used in psychological research, the material effects of technologies designed to write symbolically. One most assuredly is not theorizing any unmediated capacity of the human body that exists prior to these means of inscription—­affect, and mediation, exist multiply, undermining the possibility of claiming any neurocognitive foundation for relation. There are only multiple forms of “affects” derived from multiple, situated technologies, found in specific, isolated laboratory settings. This is the process I’m referring to whenever I mention the Affect Lab, and the process that Titchener began when he outlined multiple senses of empathy.114 The strong interpretation of my argument claims that affect is little more than a metaphysical placeholder. It can exist only outside culture, else it is corrupted by language or corrupted by conscious thought. Affect is a specter that haunts contemporary cultural theory, pointing toward a final, material synthesis of body and mind that only arrives after the discarding of intentionality, agency, and interpretation, effectively eliminating “mind” altogether. It is a signifier for a posthumanism that sees a future completion of being in the emptying out of interiority.115 The weaker interpretation grounds the stronger one. If affect is only known through means for symbolically inscribing the body, then attempts to locate it beyond the symbolic or outside of language requires deferral to some substance that can be neither known nor understood. Material, symbolic technologies in psychological affect research demonstrate how affect theory is best understood as a set of theological arguments masking itself as a turn to the materiality of biology. It can only make its claims by relying on the materiality of media but also by placing this materiality under erasure. One can accept the weak version of the argument (that there are only situated “affects” and never affect as such) without accepting the strong I N T R O D U C T I O N  • 3 1

version (that “affect” is a metaphysical substance that the deferral to psychology falsely frames as material or physical). But the overall point of the book is to advance the strong version of the argument. The importation of affect into the theoretical humanities and social sciences throughout the past two decades or so makes the brain into a fetish, one that permits a redirection of cultural theory beyond the symbolic generation of meanings and ideologies. Affect, as an ontological ground that overflows, bridges, shatters, and remakes bodies, an intensity that is felt prior to awareness rather than consciously known, a force that moves the body but does not speak through language, is thus regularly defined through reference to the neurological.116 To avoid the trap of the symbolic—­which includes the inscriptions performed by laboratory instruments—­the materiality of the biological stands in to legitimate claims that, a century ago, were once speculative ideations about psychic contagion, mindreading, or meditations on shared existence enabled by a pantheistic god.117 These metaphysical speculations are now assumed grounded in the physical, located in the biological capacities of the brain. References to the scientific and the psychological in cultural theory often cannot address the historical and material specificity of the scientific and the psychological, simply ignoring historical processes that enable laboratory observations to become scientific fact. Affect theory approaches the legacies of the sciences as fields from which interesting ideas may be poached, as if the sciences should be positioned as little more than a fertile ground for counterintuitive statements about the human body for those who study culture. A turn to the biological, once a cutting provocation designed to ruffle feathers about what theory “knows,”118 has become so entrenched among some theorists of culture that an attempt to historicize and understand the limits of science is neglected as irrelevant to the project of theory, even when science is drawn on uncritically as a source for normative claims about the body and its capacities.119 Science, in its ostensible charting of an empirical real, becomes something that fills in gaps that would otherwise require a turn to theological rumination, acting as an ontotheological given that legitimates other claims about the body and culture. Thus affect theory abandons a historical attempt to grasp the sciences as a wide range of contested fields with their own materialities and politics. In so doing, it assumes “affect” to exist without question, as an object without history, without contingent methods necessary for its production. It assumes the neurological function of the brain is universally 3 2  • I N T R O D U C T I O N

understood, as if the ability to generate intensities that overflow the body and bind different individuals together without recourse to the symbolic is just something science “knows.” At a foundational level, narratives about affect and the brain in the sciences—­and not the physicality of the brain itself—­guide assumptions about what “affect” even is, placing the materiality of the brain, be it the amygdalae, the insula, or another part of the so-­called “empathy circuit,” into a matrix that undermines many of the claims made about affect existing outside of the symbolic.120 And this is not even to mention that even though emotions are “embodied,” historical and anthropological research on the emotions suggests that they manifest and are experienced quite differently in different contexts.121 So, when cultural theorists look to neuroscience and neuropsychology for a holy grail of “affect” as a realm of bodily intensity that exists beyond language, they often do so in a way that obliterates from existence not only historical and cultural specificity, but the everyday, material life of the laboratory, which includes machinery, narratives, bodies, and experiences that all have to be negotiated in the name of producing something that can be called “affect.” The cultural theorization of affect, when it defers to the biological, tends to remove the constitutive role of culture from theory.122 To speak of something called “affect” that somehow moves and escapes signification denies the very methods upon which any knowledge of the body has been produced throughout the entire history of research into the emotions. It transforms the physical practices of the sciences into ideal speculation about forces that autonomously move between bodies, bridging and remaking them independently of any specific agency. Mechanisms of inscription from over a hundred years of research into the body and its emotions are designed to make the movements of the body into scientific knowledge.123 Yet saying affect exists outside of these methods assumes affect to be a quality forever divorced from context, not the product of statements produced through very specific conjunctions of bodies and machines. Ontological Exclusions and the Media Archaeological Method As I noted above, the binding powers of empathy, in which feeling links one with another, requires a fundamental exclusion. The four chapters that follow rely primarily on the documentation given by scientists (and pseudoscientists) to describe their experimental processes, discovering I N T R O D U C T I O N  • 3 3

some of these exclusions. It is difficult, if not impossible, to reconstruct everyday laboratory practices from scientific reports. (Gertrude Stein’s “In a Psychological Laboratory” is important because it manages to capture some of the experiences obliterated in scientific documentation.) Despite a wealth of details given about procedures and techniques, contingency is removed in the name of generalities that can be repeated through observation, generalities that require physical reality to be reduced and abstracted into guiding principles that enable the reproduction of similar conditions multiple times over. The “empiricism” of the lab is, as it was classically, about sense and experience, about the isolation of a specific “thing,” cut off and differentiated from the rest of the world, observable in and of itself, outside of contextual or historical specificity.124 The practices of the lab identify specific objects through tools and methods that measure and, thus, determine the limits of objects and the limits of our knowledge about them. The production of objects requires the exclusion of a vast range of experiences that characterize everyday life, experiences that do not enter “empirical” knowledge simply as a side effect of the techniques of the lab. We rarely encounter the feelings and beliefs of individuals that implicitly guide scientific knowledge, at least directly, their “fiendish yells,” their “explosive laughter,” or their violent “applauding.” We seldom confront the aberrational frustrations that emerge when a particular body is placed into an apparatus and transformed into a machine to produce knowledge. In scientific documents, we almost never hear of the “laborants, operators, artificers, and servants” in the history of science, those Steven Shapin terms “invisible technicians” that make scientific research happen.125 We only occasionally hear of the pain that may come from an electrical shock, or the anxiety and boredom expressed in the isolation of an fMRI machine. Procedures that may be quite strange or even violent are framed in language that appears “neutral,” or “scientific,” or “objective.” Accounts of laboratory practice minimize the power of narrative to guide observation, or discount the material force of technology to shape precisely whatever scientific truth is recorded. Chance and singularity are written out of existence for principles that, ideally, transcend the circumstances of their invention. These assertions are well known to the history of science and are regularly acknowledged by scientists themselves. There are many attempts to place laboratory practices in the foreground of scientific knowledge, recognizing that science is something that happens at the intersection of 3 4  • I N T R O D U C T I O N

human bodies and technical inscription.126 There is no scientific knowledge without the technologies of the laboratory, no empirical understanding without tools that write down and shape what can be seen and said.127 This is especially true of emotions research.128 There is no “affect”—­in the sense of an object that can be known, debated, and spoken of—­outside of the material fact of its registration and documentation. This is to say, this book should be thought of as a contribution to the field of “media archaeology”129 that draws out commonalities in some strains of media archaeological research with the tradition of “epistemological critique” in the history of science and medicine.130 It is a focus on instruments and inscriptions that unites these fields. I do so here to highlight a range of historical moments that might be otherwise considered dead ends, disreputable, or insignificant, deriving an alternative history of modern life, an orientation that guides much of what goes by the name “media archaeology.” It might be said that I’m interested in, following a more “orthodox” sense of Foucauldian theory, the “apparatus” or dispositif of the psychology of affect. In philosopher Giorgio Agamben’s interpretation of the apparatus, he uses this term to refer both to specific inscription technologies as well as broader milieus of legibility—­ the apparatus would include not just the specific tools used at a particular moment but broader discursive formations and even language itself.131 While I generally agree with this understanding of an apparatus, which bleeds outward from specific instruments—­an approach I share in this book—­I hesitate to completely endorse Agamben’s arguments in this specific case. This is primarily because the history of psychology in America—­as is often the case for the history of sciences more broadly—­ has regularly employed tools and techniques that are “illegitimate” in one sense or another, in places that are not “scientific” in one sense or another. While Agamben seems to argue that apparatuses are there to discipline, control, and separate the human from a nondeterminative openness that characterizes existence (a ground that relates to Agamben’s debt to Heidegger), he doesn’t account for how the truth of any particular process itself needs to be legitimated, how the apparatus intersects with what Foucault called sites of veridiction, local practices that differentiate and judge the true and the false.132 Agamben doesn’t address how particular apparatuses can be wrong, and how this wrongness, this untruth, this error, is essential for the production of the true.133 As François Delaporte notes, in describing the materiality of scientific practice, “Since in research matters no solutions are given in advance, one must improvise as musicians I N T R O D U C T I O N  • 3 5

do.”134 Or, as Paul Feyerabend argues in his “anarchistic” philosophy of science, scientific developments throughout history “occurred only because some thinkers either decided not to be bound by certain ‘obvious’ methodological rules, or because they unwittingly broke them.”135 The story I provide here affirms this commitment to scientific improvisation and anarchy, and of an essential—­but contingent—­linkage between instrument and veridiction. But it also stresses the limits of this anarchism, of how the history of psychology has continuously policed the boundaries between authority and falsity, a boundary that has been permeable and fluid throughout psychology’s modern development. Thus while the chapters that follow center on particular instruments, a major point of each case is to draw out the historical and contextual factors that permitted—­or refused—­to let a particular inscription become “scientific.” As was the case for Friedrich Kittler’s histories of psychophysics and psychoanalysis, the normative claims of the body we have are derived from the varied technological a priori employed at a specific moment in time. It is not so much that we don’t yet know what a body can do, to refer to a Spinozist cliché, but that we only know what a body can do only by way of the systems that write the body, that inscribe it, that store it, that transmit it. Affect, then, rather than an attribute of the body that escapes symbolic processing, is another domain invented and remade by the tools that representationally transduce, inscribe, store, and transmit the energies of the nervous system. Just because our technologies no longer write language does not mean that something called “affect” escapes the symbolic processing of machines. We only know of affect because of our ability to record and store the body’s movements, inscribed as signifiers that point to writing beyond language. Emotion, Affect, and the Metaphysics of Presence One final caveat: As I mentioned above, I am using words such as “emotion” and “affect” (somewhat) interchangeably in these pages. This is counter to the trends of affect theory, which often presumes a hard distinction between these terms, so I feel a bit more needs to be said on my reasoning in doing this and also on how the terms of affect theory relate to, but remain somewhat different from, the terminology of psychologists. For affect theorists, an emotion is something qualified by subjective experience, something that we understand and categorize through the symbolic. Affect is an intensity outside of this categorization. Recent critics of affect 3 6  • I N T R O D U C T I O N

theory have noted that this distinction flies in the face of contemporary psychology,136 uncritically reproduces a Cartesian mind-­body split,137 or denies contextual specificity, where affect becomes a uniform capacity of the body outside of history, outside of the contingencies that characterize culture.138 Language and representation, after all, are not things that exist on top of or separate from brain activity but are fundamentally part of cognition,139 and the history of consciousness tells us that something called cognition is, likewise, inevitably changing over time. Emotions research in psychology has a similar differentiation to the one affect theory makes between “affect” and “emotion,” which is the distinction between an “emotion” and a “feeling.” Yet this differentiation in psychology suggests the neurology of an emotion is linked with, but distinct from a subjective account of what a body does. A feeling, for instance, is what an emotion feels like to a specific individual. An emotion is in the body’s material, neurological response to various stimuli. Now, this may mean that emotions are hardwired in the brain and would exist (given “proper” development) regardless of any symbolic process of differentiation. It also may tell us that the emotions are shaped through the plasticity of the brain and fundamentally coevolve with language and subjective experience. Is a feeling merely a side effect of a physical emotion? Or does subjective experience shape the materiality of the brain? Can there be a causal chain between the two? Are they ontologically intertwined? These are questions upon which different psychologists and neuroscientists disagree. Yet no version of this differentiation in psychology presumes a hard, fast, and rigid—­or at least settled—­bifurcation between language and physiology, though it does presume a difference between subjective accounts of experience and the seemingly “objective” study of the body’s structure and behavior (a difference that descends from Titchener, among others). The biological processes that constitute the emotions are never directly experienced, after all. I never experience my personal feelings of “happiness,” or of “sadness,” or of any other possible feeling, in the literal terms of my body’s neurology, though I may have some sensed awareness of blood moving through my veins, my heart beating quickly, and so on.140 A difference between experience and physiology seems warranted, even if they both have a shared material ground, especially since this difference does not require the explanation of a feeling, filtered through language, to describe the material movements the body itself is making. Making a hard distinction between affect and emotion is quite different. This differentiation in affect theory perpetuates something like what I N T R O D U C T I O N  • 3 7

Jacques Derrida once referred to as the “metaphysics of presence.”141 In affect theory, language is that which reduces or captures the affective experience of the body. Symbolic expressions of the emotions are lesser than a wild and free affectivity that exists beyond signification. Attending to the affective, some claim, provides a more primal, more sensual, and perhaps more authentic understanding of the relational experience of the world itself than can possibly be given through the symbolic.142 This suggests that a world prior to language is more full, or more present than the world of speaking and thinking through the symbolic. Moving—­ not speaking, not writing—­is the most foundational, essential capacity of the human body, and to speak or to write is to freeze or destroy the relational capacities invoked by movement. Ironically, this position can only be articulated in language, by those who speak, and it ends up privileging the subjective experience of particular positions that are supposedly uncontaminated by language—­namely, the experience of infants or autistics, both of whom are then Orientalized as closer to the affective holism of nature.143 Affect, thus, is a perpetuation of a metaphysics that has grounded Western thought since the time of Plato, in which presence is assumed degraded through the name of various technologies and tools that mediate relations, in which specific articulations of otherness are fetishized as more authentic, primal states, closer to nature.144 Language, in particular, is presumed to be that which reduces or restricts the body and its capacities, a straightjacket or prison from which we must struggle to liberate ourselves. The deferral to the brain and the neurological is a prophylactic against accusations of this metaphysics. The empirical facticity of neurology is presented as the truth of cognition, while language and symbolic order are sidelined as techniques overlaid onto the brain, reducing its ability to feel and move. The attack on language, in which speech and writing are both technologies that lack presence in the face of the affective fullness of the body’s movements, is thus legitimated through the materiality of the brain, even though the legacy of the sciences invoked by affect theory are themselves neglected beyond a philosophical alibi that obscures the perpetuation of a metaphysics of presence. If the sciences were genuinely acknowledged, then the sheer centrality of machines that write the body would be obvious as a determining technique that produces “affect” from the outset. But instead, an unspeaking, moving brain becomes a fully present form of existence, while the symbolic degrades the neurobiological movements autonomously undertaken by the body. 3 8  • I N T R O D U C T I O N

The historical reconstruction offered in the following pages denies the existence of something called “affect” outside of the techniques of the Affect Lab. The body and its capacities only exist within the situated, material assemblages through which the body becomes an object of knowledge. The body is embedded in the dual articulation of materiality and the symbolic; the body is spoken and written through the means with which it is inscribed.145 This book demonstrates how the forms through which we organize and experience our world are shaped by the physical capacities of media. Media inscribe and reveal what can be seen and said—­and felt, and affected. We cannot, should not, must not embrace a metaphysics that suggests the intensity of affect is more present than communication via symbols. Concepts and bodies are, inevitably, the product of the tools, techniques, and technologies that are “culture.”146 There is no affect without culture, without language, without media, without the techniques of the Affect Lab.

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In 18 8 9, Wi lli a m Jam e s wrot e to the Proceedings of the American Society for Psychical Research to advocate for continued experimentation with a spiritualist toy called a planchette (Figure 3). James was a member of and contributor to both the American and British Societies for Psychical Research, and one of the founders of the former. Both societies examined human abilities thought supernatural or paranormal.1 “I regret that the appeal to experiment with the planchette, which was made at the public meeting in the spring of 1887, was followed by insignificant results,” James wrote. But, he continued, an early lack of clear outcomes or evidence should not dissuade society members from continued experimentation. “Planchettes can be obtained at the toy-­shops, or (at cost) by writing to the Secretary of the Society; and, possibly, the remainder of this paper may lead to a little wider trial amongst associates and members.”2 Members of these societies had different opinions regarding the psychical phenomena to which they devoted their attention—­telepathy, trance, mediumship. Some were interested in debunking; some were believers. James’s views could be linked with neither belief nor skepticism, at least without qualification. He was interested in how states that appeared supernatural or mystical could help explain possibilities of human experience yet to be grasped by empirical science—­a mission best understood through James’s “radical empiricism” as a philosophy that holds “any kind of relation experienced must be accounted as ‘real’ as anything else in the system.”3 Even that which is beyond perception counts as experience, because it remains in relation with the empirically sensed. Because the phenomena associated with spiritualism, phenomena that could be neither debunked nor rationalized, were “experienced,” then it seemed to James that they must have some grounding in physical reality.4  • 4 1

Figure 3. An advertisement for G. W. Cottrell’s “Boston Planchette,” from 1868, initially printed in Revelations of the Great Modern Mystery Planchette, and Theories Respecting It, a book published by Cottrell to advertise his planchettes.

This chapter examines James’s experiments with the planchette, which were few in number but, I aim to show, exceptionally important in the development of James’s broader theories of emotion. This toy provides a suture through which I’ll articulate a range of James’s interests—­in spiritualism, in pragmatism, in radical empiricism. Most significantly, the planchette provides a primary empirical technique James used to support his theory of emotion, a theory of emotion that remains central to contemporary claims of affect theory and a range of other psychological theories. The main assertion of James’s theory is that the embodied aspects of emotion precede conscious awareness, and much of our emotional activity happens divorced from conscious knowledge. As I seek to demonstrate, these arguments were made “scientific” through an “unscientific” means James was never able to justify: quasi-­spiritualist experimentation with the planchette, which he used to revise arguments about emotion and “will” found in the pessimistic philosophy of Arthur Schopenhauer—­a philosopher James was known to have read thoroughly in his youth. And yet, the planchette was understood as an empirical technique so illegitimate that James’s work was regularly regarded—­and remains remembered—­as completely lacking experimental grounding. Despite these spiritualistic experiments, many of James’s students and contemporaries instead claimed that he lacked the ability or patience for experimental research.5 I seek to demonstrate that experimental work was, in fact, foundational for some of James’s most influential claims. And this same experimental work led to James’s ultimate abandonment and dismissal of experimental methods in favor of metaphysical speculation about that which is inevitably beyond an instrument and its ability to inscribe the body. Further still, arguments about the planchette from within spiritualist circles, arguments that preceded James’s writings on emotion by a decade, proposed an almost identical explanation for consciousness and emotion as the one James would develop, even though these spiritualist explanations were imprecise when compared to James’s own writings. This relation, between spiritualist writings on the planchette and James’s experimental use of it in the early psychology of the emotions, suggests we should frame James’s theory of emotion as an attempt to improve on debates within spiritualism. While many suggest James used an “introspective” technique in making his arguments about human psychology, a term James himself accepted to describe his method,6 fully embracing this claim requires one to disregard both the empirical work James performed W I L L I A M J A M E S ’ S P L A N C H E T T E  • 4 3

with spiritualist techniques and also the relatively common arguments about consciousness debated in spiritualist publics.7 A theory of emotion and affect as a nonconscious, automatic force of the body is a theory grounded in the planchette as a material technique for generating nonconscious, automatic writing. This is the argument I’ll develop in this chapter, providing a first instance of how an instrument can be thought of as a theory materialized. And, as we’ll see, a focus on a tool demonstrates how an instrument can articulate a range of beliefs often held in strict opposition. Many of those writing about the development of psychology in the United States attribute to James the founding of the first American psychology laboratory in 1875, a lab that preceded Wundt’s in Leipzig.8 But James’s lab at Harvard was small, filled with a few timing devices and some tools derived from the work of psychical researchers, tools such as the planchette. It had one student working in it around the time of its founding, G. Stanley Hall. Hall initially followed James not only in the development of psychology in America but also in the development of the American Society for Psychical Research (Hall was also one of the cofounders of the American Society and one of its first vice presidents).9 Hall would later break sharply with James in the formation of American experimental psychology, and eventually founded a much larger, more formally “scientific” laboratory at Johns Hopkins. James was notoriously disdainful of the “brass instrument” reaction-­time experiments that characterized Fechner’s psychophysics and Wundt’s experimental psychology—­experiments of the sort Titchener held up as essential to make psychology a science—­even though he and most other founders of American psychology had some direct relation to Wundt.10 While James would eventually warm to Fechner, it was not for his experimental, psychophysical work but for his metaphysical speculations about life and death.11 James’s Principles of Psychology, which would come to define the field in its early days, barely contained any experimentally based claims throughout its entirety. Wundt, after reading the Principles, remarked, “It is literature, it is beautiful, but it is not psychology.”12 Because James was so misaligned with other trends in early American psychology, rejecting the methods and approaches derived from Wundt and instead taking up what his contemporaries understood as pseudoscientific fakery, he is often framed as simply not engaging with an experimental tradition. Yet experiments with the planchette, which provide the majority of examples of experimental, empirical research in James’s entire 44 • WILLIAM JAMES’S PLANCHETTE

oeuvre, were foundational for his suggestion that the psychological constitution of the human mostly precedes conscious knowledge, and that the purpose of conscious will is repressive—­will, for James, exists primarily to prevent some of the body’s “instincts” or “habits” from materializing as action—­ideas that resonate deeply with Schopenhauer even if James employed “will” in a very different sense.13 In James’s writings, the planchette provides one of the first examples of a technique of the Affect Lab that shapes and drives claims about the body’s experience and performance of emotion. The Unclassified Residuum James’s interest in the planchette, which lasted for nearly two decades at least, can be dated to 1869,14 the year he received his MD degree and the year he published an unsigned review of Planchette; or, the Despair of Science, a book by the popular journalist, poet, and playwright Epes Sargent. In his review, James laments how “the particular instrument, Planchette, which gives the name to the whole,” is “disposed of in very few lines,”15 serving only as an example through which to begin a discussion of spiritualism’s legacy. James’s comments suggest he was more interested in the techniques of spiritualism than its broader worldview. Nineteen years after his review, in 1888, James wrote in a letter to his spouse, Alice Gibbens, that he had let members of Harvard’s philosophy club leave his office “bearing away six planchettes, which I will charge to my college appropriation.”16 I begin with this span of time to not only highlight James’s interest in spiritualism, which is widely known, but also emphasize how this interest was related to a very specific, decades-­long focus he possessed for a particular spiritualist toy. James was less interested in spiritualistic arguments about ghosts and mediumship, these two moments indicate, than he was in the practical methods, toys, and tools used by spiritualists and mediums. Today, James is sometimes held up as a sort of proto-­hippie who wanted to make reality “weird” through an open-­minded embrace of religion and the occult.17 I think this is a serious misreading. I do not believe James was all that interested in the particular metaphysical arguments of spiritualism but was very interested in the practical means through which spiritualist phenomena was produced.18 This focus on practical techniques is not only deeply pragmatic but also fully consonant with an empiricism that worked to explain the real existence of the world beyond what is immediately sensible—­two W I L L I A M J A M E S ’ S P L A N C H E T T E  • 4 5

things for which James is today well known. This is not to say that James was not interested in metaphysics—­quite the opposite—­but that the conflation of his radical empiricism and pragmatism with spiritualism is a misinterpretation of what James did, in fact, take from spiritualism. James’s interest in the planchette initially came from his long-­standing attempts at relating scientific knowledge and “unscientific” experience. Be they altered states produced by nitrous oxide or the seemingly automatic writing produced by the planchette, the “unclassified residuum” surrounding scientific knowledge—­to use the term James coined for the inexplicable, illegitimate, and occult evidence and belief dismissed by his contemporaries—­was that which should direct the attention of scientists in their attempts to explain human experience.19 Too often, James argued, these religious and spiritual phenomena were excluded at the outset of scientific attempts to understand and explain, ridiculed as a delusion or trick. Rather than rejecting the supernatural as unqualified error, James thought incorporating and attending to the mystical could advance scientific knowledge, though in ways that refuse speculative arguments and embrace what we would today refer to as a materialist conception of the brain. James’s comments on spiritualism and religion, at the time of the writing of his Principles of Psychology, suggested that scientific explanations for paranormal phenomena should be understood explicitly through reference to the body’s neurology.20 Thus, his interests in psychical research and spiritualism were directed toward understanding the limits of psychological science, embracing the mystical as material phenomena to be explained without recourse to idealism, to any privileging of “thought” or “mind” as independent of the brain and body. All psychological experience, for James, should be explained through the physiology of the body. James’s rejection of spiritualist explanations for mental experience is pronounced at the beginning of his Principles of Psychology: “Our first conclusion, then, is that a certain amount of brain-­physiology must be presupposed or included in Psychology. . . . It will be safe to lay down the general law that no mental modification ever occurs which is not accompanied or followed by a bodily change.”21 How was it that the planchette helped make these claims? The planchette is well known today as a plastic or wooden triangle that glides over spiritualist “talking boards” such as the Ouiji board, spelling out words assumed to emanate from another plane of reality. A better picture of the planchette than the one evoked by “Ouiji board,” or at least one more specific to the planchette of James’s own time, can be found in Sargent’s 46 • WILLIAM JAMES’S PLANCHETTE

Planchette, the book James reviewed signaling an early interest in spiritualism. The planchette, or “little plank,” is a little heart-­shaped table with three legs, one of which is a pointed lead-­ pencil, that can be slipped in and out of a socket, and by means of which marks can be made on paper. The other two legs have casters attached, which can be easily moved in any direction. The size of this table is usually about seven inches long and five wide. At the apex of the heart is the socket, lined with rubber, through which the pencil is thrust. . . . The form of the planchette is of little consequence, and may be regulated by the caprice of the manufacturer. The instrument is made light, so that the slightest application of force will move it. As for the insulated casters and other “patent” contrivances, they are of no account, except to give novelty to an advertisement.22

Sargent locates the planchette as one of many tools in a long line of techniques for communicating with spirits, a genealogical descendent of rapping, where “communications were received by the tedious process of calling over the alphabet, and noting down the letters at which the rap was given,” or tipping tables, where “by arranging a pencil at the foot of a light table, and placing a sheet of paper under it, the intelligent force that was operating might produce written sentences”23 (Figure 4). The planchette, for Sargent, was a version of the tipping table in miniature, with the table “simplified by substituting little tables, the size of a hand; then small baskets, pasteboard boxes, and finally the flat piece of wood, running on little wheels, and called Planchette.”24 The planchette would usually be placed on a tabletop—­the table itself was not completely dismissed—­upon which people would lightly rest their fingers, either alone or in a small group. In doing so, the planchette “will soon begin to move; and this without any conscious intent or action on the part of any individual present, as there is reason to believe.”25 Blank sheets of paper would be placed underneath the planchette and the device would write, directed not by those touching it, but by the energies moving through their bodies, animating the object itself. At least this was the assumption of the spiritualists. For Sargent, the planchette was an inscription device for the communication of spirits, moving beyond conscious intention toward a spiritualist agency that exceeds the will of an individual. The planchette of James’s time was a machine for the generation of automatic writing. Its indexical communications emerged from the scrawling of legible traces, looped into script, from which observers would W I L L I A M J A M E S ’ S P L A N C H E T T E  • 4 7

Figure 4. A lithographic illustration of a Paris salon featuring tipping tables and other spiritualist entertainments, by Ange Louis Janet, “Histoire de la Semaine,” L’Illustration, May 14, 1853.

uncover meaning from written signs, meaning that spoke to the presence of an otherwise absent agency revealing itself through the medium. Spirits would speak through the hermeneutic examination of a looped line, written by a pencil under the command of a plank of wood on casters.26 Sargent’s discussion of the planchette uses it as “a convenient signpost,”27 where the material fact of intelligible writing given by the planchette, produced by no individual author—­what is “written” is not consciously intended by any particular human mind—­points to the limits of science to explain what would otherwise appear to be empirical evidence for supernatural phenomena. Hence, for Sargent, the necessity of spiritualism: to explain empirical phenomena the sciences were unwilling or unable to explain.28 If spiritualism would claim that a lack of conscious intention revealed the agency of spirits was acting through those touching the planchette, James would come to explain actions that occur without conscious intention quite differently—­that consciousness doesn’t really matter much at all, at least beyond its role in repressing the body’s urges. It is this link 48 • WILLIAM JAMES’S PLANCHETTE

between the automatisms produced by the planchette and the (repressive) role of consciousness in dictating behavior that allowed the planchette to become an influence in James’s psychological writings. Yet this effect of the planchette on James’s thought did not emerge sui generis. James, I suggest, was seeking to resolve a problem from an often-­unremarked influence: the pessimistic philosophy of Arthur Schopenhauer, combined with debates ongoing in spiritualist circles. Schopenhauer’s Will Spiritualism was not the only source of James’s interest in a separation between consciousness and embodied action. The year James published his review of Planchette, 1869, was also a year during the period James was known to be regularly experiencing moments of what we today would recognize as severe depression, a period often termed James’s “personal crisis.”29 This depression has been seen to guide many of James’s interests in both religion and emotion, and some of James’s reflections on depression are memorably described in his lecture on “The Sick Soul,” from Varieties of Religious Experience. In this lecture, James remarks that there are many who see “the evil aspects of our life are of its very essence, and that the world’s meaning most comes home to us when we lay them most to heart.”30 This “evil” may emerge from a belief in the misalignment between one’s self and one’s environment, but it also may be so foundational for one’s belief about existence that “no alteration of the environment, or any superficial rearrangement of the inner self, can cure, and which requires a supernatural remedy.”31 While it’s possible that James was describing his own depressive feelings, these comments seem to be veiled references to Schopenhauer, which James first read when he was sixteen. James continued to read Schopenhauer for years after, into the time of his “crisis,” and Schopenhauer’s pessimism is occasionally discussed in James’s writings.32 Schopenhauer’s central claim can be summed up as follows: existence is characterized by a complete separation and misalignment between conscious knowledge (termed “representation”) and a single, universal, nonconscious force (termed “will”). This separation leads to self-­destructive misery. Hence, Schopenhauer’s pessimism: this opposition cannot be overcome, one will never be happy or satisfied, one is always working to destroy oneself because of the incompatibility of consciousness and this singular vitalist force of the world. Change is illusion and one is forever stuck in W I L L I A M J A M E S ’ S P L A N C H E T T E  • 4 9

the grips of the single, self-­destructive will that unites all that exists. The solution to this misery is not to resist self-­destruction, but to embrace an aesthetic attitude that works to soothe the misery one inevitably experiences, cultivating an aesthetic compassion and kindness for all others, who are also caught in the grip of this self-­destruction.33 In his Will to Believe, James claims that “pessimism is essentially a religious disease. In the form of it to which you are most liable, it consists in nothing but a religious demand to which there comes no normal religious reply.”34 While James agrees with Schopenhauer in the refusal “of the notion of moral progress,”35 he ultimately disagrees with Schopenhauer in accepting the existence of a foundational and self-­destructive “will” that eternally turns the individual on itself, producing the existential misery James describes in “The Sick Soul.” Yet even if James rejects the foundational function of a Schopenhauerian misery, he still follows Schopenhauer in the argument that some foundational force—­Schopenhauer called it “will,” James called it “emotion”—­precedes and determines conscious existence. Some of these similarities may seem a bit specious. But ideas central to Schopenhauer’s metaphysics are genealogical predecessors to James’s arguments about emotion. James’s reading of Schopenhauer is a reading of pessimistic “will” mediated through the practical techniques of American spiritualism. James’s interpretations of both Schopenhauer and spiritualism propose an underlying, often imperceptible force or substance that guides aspects of human behavior and feeling—­both pessimism and spiritualism are “Varieties of Religious Experience.” Schopenhauer argues for a churning and destructive “will” that moves and determines the misery of an individual beyond their capacity for self-­mastery. Spiritualism argues for a world filled with imperceptible agencies that shape and weakly determine everyday life. James articulates and rewrites these invisible, imperceptible forces as an embodied capacity for “emotion” that precedes conscious awareness, attempting to refuse the implied dualisms that guide both spiritualism and Schopenhauer. Most significantly, James demonstrates what an emotion is—­as a nondualist, even monist force that precedes conscious perception—­by using a spiritualist toy. James’s somewhat unorthodox interpretation of both pessimism and spiritualism unite in his planchette experiments. The planchette becomes a material means for demonstrating the empirical existence of will and emotion—­ and not a technique for manifesting the agency of the deceased—­using the tools of spiritualism to revise arguments about human experience derived from Schopenhauer.36 50 • WILLIAM JAMES’S PLANCHETTE

My claim, that the birth of James’s theory of emotion should be taken as an articulation of spiritualism and Schopenhauer made by way of the material technique of the planchette, is unconventional. James’s relation to Schopenhauer is rarely acknowledged, even though Schopenhauer’s “will,” along with his discussion of compassion and “loving kindness,” seem deeply resonant with much of James’s own philosophies.37 James’s relation to spiritualism is regularly noted,38 though more often than not it’s framed either as a reason for why his psychology was rejected by his contemporaries,39 as a contextual factor shaping James’s philosophy in late nineteenth-­century America,40 or, if his spiritualist enthusiasms are celebrated, as the foundations for a popular “science” developed alongside James’s institutional research.41 I’m instead emphasizing the practical, material techniques of spiritualism as an appropriately pragmatic means for grounding and revising the neo-­Kantian arguments about emotion provided by Schopenhauer, among others, using the techniques—­if not the metaphysics—­of spiritualism to propose a monistic theory of emotion that dislodges consciousness as necessary for emotional life. James’s Theory of Emotion Before I turn to describe James’s planchette experiments in detail, I want to describe his theory of emotion, along with its relation to Schopenhauer. James is a major figure in a long-­standing tradition that distinguishes between conscious experience and the embodied, physiological sense of an emotion, or at least he is an individual often associated with the invention of this tradition. While a dualist divide between empirical awareness and the reality of existence is foundational for most philosophical positions that descend from both Descartes and Kant, including that of Schopenhauer, James is notable for placing the physicality of the body as a foundation that grounds and precedes empirical knowledge—­ a body that drifts into intertwined relations that comprise what James called “pure experience,” the “one primal stuff or material in the world, a stuff of which everything is composed.”42 What we experience as empirical reality is, then, a “particular sort of relation towards one another into which portions of pure experience may enter.”43 James’s general ontology presumes a single, monistic substance, only part of which enters into empirical perception. What this means for psychology, however, is that conscious, psychological experience is a selection—­and thus secondary to the “pure experience” that grounds all that exists. W I L L I A M J A M E S ’ S P L A N C H E T T E  • 5 1

For most theories of emotion in James’s own time, along with what many people still hold as common sense, subjective, emotional thoughts cause someone to feel a specific way. One cries because they have sad thoughts in their conscious knowledge, because thought, assumedly, happens prior to the body’s experience. Consciousness is presumed to be the motor that drives the body.44 James, on the other hand, suggests that the body comes first (and we might say, as well, that “consciousness” of emotion is thus a selection of the material “stuff” that constitutes emotional relations). One is sad because they are crying. Pure experience precedes empirical perception and knowledge. When it comes to what James refers to as the “coarser” emotions, such as grief, fear, rage, and love, he explains in this famous passage: Our natural way of thinking . . . is that the mental perception of some fact excites the metal affection called the emotion, and that this latter state of mind gives rise to the bodily expression. My theory, on the contrary, is that the bodily changes follow directly the perception of the exciting fact, and that our feeling of the same changes as they occur is the emotion. Common-­sense says, we lose our fortune, are sorry and weep; we meet a bear, are frightened and run; we are insulted by a rival, are angry and strike. The hypothesis here to be defended says that this order of sequence is incorrect, that the one mental state is not immediately induced by the other, that the bodily manifestations must first be interposed between, and that the more rational statement is that we feel sorry because we cry, angry because we strike, afraid because we tremble, and not that we cry, strike, or tremble, because we are sorry, angry, or fearful, as the case may be.45

This understanding of emotion is today referred to as the James-­Lange theory, named for James and his contemporary Carl Lange, who independently proposed a similar model that shaped James’s own arguments.46 In his suggestion that bodily intensity precedes conscious knowledge, James has been foundational for affect theorists who argue that “affect” should be positioned as a capacity of the body that occurs prior to or outside of language and consciousness,47 even though many of the distinctions James gives here would seem indebted to Schopenhauer, who framed this nonconscious capacity of the body as that which generates misery. For James, the physical basis of the emotions precedes and is explained through conscious reflection. For Schopenhauer, the world as “will,” meaning the nonconscious volition of the body, the emotions, the instincts, the drives—­which extend beyond the body into the world as a singular force that weaves its way through all—­precede and produce 52 • WILLIAM JAMES’S PLANCHETTE

(though remain forever distinct from) the world as “representation” we approach consciously. If, for Schopenhauer, the will is forever beyond conscious knowledge, we can see that James turned to spiritualism to access the will beyond representations, a rejection of the strict dualism of Schopenhauer in favor of a technical mediation of an otherwise occult real. James’s theories of emotion, thus, must be understood in the context of his experiments with the planchette. These experiments he used as empirical support for the existence of “hidden selves,” his name for the existence of multiple states of embodied awareness, not all of which are present to conscious knowledge. This likewise, if indirectly, provides support for some of his arguments about the body and the emotions as advanced in the famous chapter in The Principles of Psychology titled “The Emotions,” along with the influential, earlier version of that chapter published as “What Is an Emotion?” in Mind in 1884.48 James’s experiments with the planchette were designed to provide an empirically based, scientific explanation for spiritual phenomena, one that suggested multiple levels of agency within the body’s psychology, in which a “real” agency exists somewhere beneath conscious knowledge and will. And likewise, the technical mediations of approaching the world beyond conscious intention enable James to refuse the necessary dualism of Schopenhauer, a dualism that also suggests the inescapability of misery and self-­destruction. James’s Planchette Experiments On January 24, 1889, James and his colleague Richard Hodgson were joined by William L. Smith, a twenty-­one-­year-­old student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who had been practicing writing with the planchette for two years at the time. Hodgson was an Australian who had studied under Cambridge psychical researcher Henry Sidgwick and was known as being particularly adept at detecting fraud and slight-­of-­ hand, discrediting claims of mediumship.49 Smith, referred to as “S.” in James’s notes, sat with his right hand touching the planchette, his face buried in the crook of his left arm. James recounts: The planchette began by illegible scrawling. After ten minutes I pricked the back of the right hand several times with a pin—­no indication of feeling. Two pricks on the left hand were followed by withdrawal, and the question, “What did you do that for?”—­to which I replied, “To find whether you were

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going to sleep.” The first legible words which were written after this were, You hurt me. A pencil in the right hand was then tried instead of the planchette. Here again the first legible words were, No use [?] in trying to spel when you hurt me so. Next: Its no use trying to stop me writing by pricking. These writings were deciphered aloud in the hearing of S., who seemed slow to connect them with the two pinpricks on his left hand, which alone he had felt.50

Smith’s hands gradually became numb to sensation. James continued to prick and pinch the left hand, and then the right wrist and fingers, to which Smith gave no clear visible or audible response. When asked later, Smith apparently had no feeling of the pricking and pinching, but his hand, independent of Smith’s conscious knowledge, wrote out, “Don’t you prick me anymore,” seemingly exhausted of any molestation by James.51 The experiment continued along these lines for some time, on different days, with James prodding and poking at Smith, with Smith’s hand protesting through automatic writing, produced by planchette or by pencil, Smith apparently oblivious to much of what was going on. “Here,” James concluded, “we have the consciousness of a subject split into two parts,” a consciousness that speaks via spoken language and a consciousness that communicates through the scrawled writing of a technically augmented hand. While the mouth may be blissfully unaware of its environment, the hand may know and remember as an “automatic consciousness” that carries “its own peculiar store of memories with it.”52 At other times James asserts to have witnessed Smith, again with his face buried in the crook of his left elbow, writing backward, in mirror-­script, and “even beginning at the right-­hand lower corner of the page and inscribing every word with its last letter first, etc., till the top is reached.”53 These practices, seemingly veiled to Smith’s vision while he sat, face buried in his arm on the table, demanded an explanation that need not defer to conscious awareness or knowledge. Other cases James refers to appear to reveal similar facts about consciousness, which also demonstrate how he saw these spiritualistic experiments as linked with established psychological traditions, albeit ones distinct from the emerging American experimental tradition. James references cases of hysterical epilepsy from both his colleagues in the United States and also from one of the founders of the French tradition of experimental psychology, Pierre Janet, and his research from the Parisian Hôpital de la Pitié-­Salpêtrière. James interprets both automatic writing 54 • WILLIAM JAMES’S PLANCHETTE

and hysteria as nonconscious states that reveal other “selves” and other “consciousnesses” that may be hidden, only exposed when anesthetized hands write under the influence of hypnotism, drugs, or technology. Quoting a report of a colleague from Providence, James recounts the case of a young woman, Miss Anna Winsor, aged around nineteen at the time of this entry: February 1 to 11 [1861].—­Under the influence of magnetism writes poetry; personates different persons, mostly those who have long since passed away. When in the magnetic state, whatever she does and says is not remembered when she comes out of it. Commences a series of drawings with her right paralyzed hand, “Old Stump.” Also writes poetry with it. Whatever “Stump” writes, or draws, or does, she appears to take no interest in; says it is none of hers, and that she wants nothing to do with “Stump” or “Stump’s.” I have sat by her bed and engaged her in conversation, and drawn her attention in various ways, while the writing and drawing has been uninterrupted.54

“Stump,” Winsor’s name for her right arm and hand, seems to be completely beyond her control, and is wholly numb to any sensation. Winsor writes in her sleep, in the dark, and during a period when she appears to be blind. Winsor claims no knowledge of French or Latin, and yet “Stump” can compose rhyming verses in those languages. These cases, James concludes, demonstrate kinds of agency beyond conscious will. James draws two notable conclusions from his experiments with the planchette and examples from research on hysteria and hypnotism. First, the body can store memories completely divorced from any conscious understanding of “memory.” There is a kind of memory that is explicitly embodied and need not defer to any direct conscious awareness.55 Memory, thus, is comprised of the same material as the rest of the body, located within the body and its movements. Second, techniques like the automatic writing of the planchette, or hypnotism, reveal how one can liberate the memory or agency of the body, enabling the body to act divorced from conscious knowledge. Discussing Janet’s research at the Salpêtrière on hysteria and somnambulism, James suggests that Janet has revealed how the body acts without conscious awareness: He has been enabled to do this by tapping the submerged consciousness and making it respond in certain peculiar ways. He found in several subjects, when the ordinary or primary consciousness was fully absorbed in conversation with a visitor (and the reader will remember how absolutely these hysterics then lapse into oblivion of surrounding things), that the submerged

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self would hear his voice if he came up and addressed the subject in a whisper; and would respond either by obeying such orders as he gave, or by gestures, or, finally, by pencil-­writing on a sheet of paper placed under the hand. The ostensible consciousness, meanwhile, would go on with the conversation, entirely unaware of the gestures, acts, or writing performances of the hand.56

Be it through distraction, drugs, or “disorder,” the ability to do two things at once—­without one of them directly attended to by consciousness—­ suggests to James a multiplicity of agencies and “selves” within one body, performing different acts in relatively independent ways. When consciousness is dislocated as the seat of agency, tools like the planchette can enable kinds of authorship beyond individual, conscious agency.57 When consciousness is actively bracketed, the body is transformed into a writing machine, the body’s true agency is finally revealed, an agency that uncovers to James the neurology of emotion as that which precedes conscious experience. At the same time, James did not suggest that consciousness or will was an illusion, an unnecessary byproduct of the brain, a means that forever obscures reality. He did not truly embrace the belief that consciousness fundamentally hid a “self” that would be revealed by experiments with something like the planchette. To be a bit reductive at this point, James understood consciousness as a fundamentally repressive force that exists at the same ontological level as preconscious emotions, inhibiting reactions the body otherwise performs automatically. Altered states of experience, in which the body is numb to experience and beyond conscious control, states produced by hypnotism, drugs, and tools like the planchette, were necessary to liberate the body from the repressive acts of will that characterized conscious choice. Again, this has deep Schopenhauerian resonances. For Schopenhauer, a cultivation of aesthetic judgment and compassion would assuage the destructive force of will that forever exists beyond experience. The distinction here, which underlies the revelation of “emotion” for James, seems dangerously close to a binary distinction between two completely different levels of experience, conscious and nonconscious. But this was a binary James worked to do away with through a spiritualistic means that both embraced but also rejected spiritualist metaphysics. We have a distinction between sensation and numbness, in which the liberation of the body’s “true” emotional capacities requires the numbing of consciousness, be it through drugs, distraction, hypnotism, or spiritualist 56 • WILLIAM JAMES’S PLANCHETTE

toys. Conscious knowledge of the world fundamentally limits the capacities of the body and the capacities of experience, and the empirical is a boundary that circumscribes (hence, a turn to the radical empiricism that gets beyond immediate empirical sensation). But, at the same time, James would later argue that we must understand the limitation placed on pure experience as part of pure experience itself, otherwise one ultimately embraces the dualisms of neo-­Kantians like Schopenhauer. “If neo-­ Kantism has expelled earlier forms of dualism” like those of Descartes, “we shall have expelled all forms if we are able to expel neo-­Kantisms in its turn.”58 What might it mean to expel these dualisms, though? Between conscious and unconscious experience, between the empirical and the radically empirical? We have with James the (unsteady) belief that conscious thought and experience are that which repress the affective capacities of the body, a belief that James would later attempt to rethink or challenge, as this interpretation of the emotions still seemed guided by the dualisms of Kantians such as Schopenhauer. With the planchette, affects are the movements the body produces automatically. Consciousness seems to obscure these movements, actively working to suppress the body’s affective capacities. In his later work, however, as he developed his radical empiricism more thoroughly, James attempted to push beyond this dualism through a perspective we might today call “materialist,” even though James does not use this term (in part because materialism, for him, was a perspective more or less consonant with the positivist empiricism of the other major psychologists at the time). Consciousness, as something that exists as “mind” separate from the reality of the world, James tells us, “That entity is fictitious, while thoughts in the concrete are fully real. But thoughts in the concrete are made of the same stuff as things are.”59 Even in the Principles, I should note, James did not think of this repression as a problem to overcome—­at least completely. This is unlike many affect theorists today, who seem to argue that attention to the affective capacities of the body is somehow a space for political engagement or liberation.60 Even if affect theory today presumes something akin to James’s “pure experience,” a monistic matter-­energy that unites all, a break between James and those writing today can be found in an implicit politics this ontology is often presumed to carry.61 If, as I’m suggesting, the foundations for James’s theory of emotion can be found in Schopenhauer, then this idea would be fairly horrific—­“liberating” the emotions (or liberating Schopenhauer’s will) would lead to self-­annihilation and deep depression, feelings that probably led James to Schopenhauer in the W I L L I A M J A M E S ’ S P L A N C H E T T E  • 5 7

first place. Rather, for James, the point of human development, of education and cultivation, would instill in the human body good “habits” to redirect and limit the instinctual, autonomic reactions that the body would perform without education, remaking the brain through its innate plasticity. The point of “culture,” thinking of culture as a term for the pedagogical shaping of the human being through education, was to teach proper ways of limiting and inhibiting the body’s affective capacities.62 Consciousness, rather than a side effect of the brain, was a mechanism for the control and management of the body. Instead of a celebration of the body’s affective capacities, James gives us an understanding of consciousness and rationality as a yoke through which the body’s desires would be channeled, without which the body is undisciplined, disordered, and even “perverted.” This is a point to which I’ll return. But first, I want to elaborate further how James’s arguments about the planchette derived from debates within spiritualist publics. Reverend William Weston Patton’s Planchette James was not the first person to make the argument sketched above about the planchette, will, and consciousness, even if other versions of this claim did not relate the planchette to a philosophical metaphysics like that of Schopenhauer. Rather, explanations like James’s occurred in spiritualistic and religious publics to explain (and potentially refute) the idea that the planchette was a tool for accessing a metaphysical plane inhabited by spirits. In 1868, one year before James’s review of Sargent’s book, Reverend William Weston Patton, a Congregationalist pastor and abolitionist—­most remembered today for chairing the Chicago committee that asked Abraham Lincoln to issue the Emancipation Proclamation, serving as the fifth president of Howard University, and for his lyrics to the song “John Brown’s Body”—­published in the December 16, 1861 issue of the Chicago Tribune, glorifying the violent acts of Brown even more than previous versions of the song—­would write a short article on the planchette in the Chicago-­based Congregationalist newspaper he edited, The Advance. Patton began his piece with an ambivalent judgment of the planchette, which he offered in opposition to claims from the Vatican that associated it with a kind of Satanism: This is the name of an instrument of amusement in the family . . . which may be termed a philosophical toy. Some of the Romish dignitaries, indeed, have elevated it to the mysterious and dubious honor of being an instrument of


literal deviltry. But that is as near as they ever get to science. . . . Instead of being the devil’s tool, Planchette is more likely to be the means of exposing the errors and frauds of modern Spiritualism which the devil has so successfully employed to shake the faith and undermine the morals of thousands.63

If the planchette is a means of exposing the fraudulence of spiritualism, how might it do so? How might it work to undermine the cause into which it is most often enlisted? Patton, like James, accepts the basic foundations of what a planchette is assumed to do—­to write without conscious intention willing that which is written. But he sees his explanation as one that disproves spiritualism in the name of a rationalist explanation for consciousness—­again, much like James seems to do in the Principles. Patton’s explanation is fascinating for its similarity to James’s arguments about emotion, and I do not think is widely known, so I quote it here at length: How, then, shall we account for the writing which is performed without any direct volition? We will give the result of our own experiments and reflections. Our method of explanation refers it to an automatic power of the mind separate from conscious volition. Life reveals its mysterious nature by two kinds of action—­voluntary, as when one wills to raise his arm, and automatic, as in the action of the heart, which beats on irrespective of volition, whether we are sleeping or waking. The act of breathing comes still closer to the idea, since we can stop it and renew it by our will, at any moment, and yet it also goes on in the automatic way without conscious purpose on our part, and this latter is the usual mode. Let us call to mind the fact that the soul is also capable of simultaneous thoughts, one train of which may be connected with outward acts, and the other not. Thus a man may read aloud to others, and his mind at the same time revolve a different subject. Or one may write, in the glow of composition, and while his mind, through the pen, traces the end of one sentence, by another and simultaneous act, it is considering the next sentence. Very common is the experience of an automatic power in the pen, by which it finishes a word, or two or three words, after the thoughts have consciously gone on to what is to follow. We infer, then, from ordinary facts known to the habitual penman, that if a fixed idea is in the mind, at a time when the nervous and volitional powers are exercised with a pen, it will often express itself spontaneously through the pen, when the mental faculties are at work otherwise. We suppose then, that Planchette is simply an arrangement by which, through the out-­stretched arms and fingers, the mind comes into such relation to the exceedingly delicate movements of the pencil, that its automatic power finds play, and the ideas

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present in the mind, are transferred unconsciously to paper. Indeed, all the phenomena of of [sic] somnambulism prove the possibility of varied and continuous inward and outward action, separated from consciousness. Consciousness goes to sleep, but the automatic powers are exercised, in walking, sewing, writing and the like. Planchette puts the consciousness into this condition of isolation, so that the will does not seem to act, and yet the mind transmits its thoughts to the pencil and moves it to write . . . The Romish bishops have been in haste in forbidding their people to use Planchette. It is but a philosophic toy, which may be used to bring to light hidden connections of the mind and body, and to refute the assumption of Spiritism.64

I do not know if James was familiar with Patton’s arguments. The Advance was a Chicago-­based publication distributed to Congregationalist churches, including those in Massachusetts and New England more broadly. Throughout the majority of 1868, James was in Germany, returning to Boston in November (Patton’s article was published on November 12). But we do have evidence that those attending to the debates around spiritualism were familiar with Patton’s interpretation of the planchette, and discussions of his explanation could be found in some relatively popular spiritualist publications. It was discussed at some length in the article “The Planchette Mystery,” initially unsigned and published in The Phrenological Journal and Packard’s Monthly, republished in 1870 as a full pamphlet attributed to “A Truth-­Seeker.”65 This pamphlet was later reprinted in the book The Salem Witchcraft, The Planchette Mystery, and Modern Spiritualism, with Dr. Doddridge’s Dream, edited by the New York–­based publisher Samuel R. Wells, who also published the Phrenological Journal.66 The writer of “The Planchette Mystery” is today known to be William Fishbough, a Universalist pastor who was a very early public defender of spiritualism in America, seeing spiritualism as completely consonant with Christianity. Fishbough was also well-­known as the primary documenter of the “otherworldly messages” received by the teenage medium Andrew Jackson Davis.67 Given James’s relation to the varied Societies of Psychical Researchers, he was most likely familiar with some of these publications and people. My point here is not that James’s theory of emotion emerged from elsewhere, that he plagiarized Patton in some way. Patton’s explanations for the planchette’s ability to write without conscious intention precede and mirror many of James’s arguments, to be sure. But rather, I’m suggesting that the ideas James proposed about consciousness and emotion were central to spiritualistic debates about the planchette prior to their 60 • WILLIAM JAMES’S PLANCHETTE

emergence into American psychology. The idea that the planchette revealed not a connection to spirits but the fact that the self could be split into multiple agencies that remain beyond conscious awareness was an argument proposed to describe how a planchette works before it was proposed to describe how the emotions work. What this suggests to me is that James’s understanding of emotion, of consciousness, of will—­while more detailed than Patton’s—­is an elaboration of a debate that preexisted psychological arguments about emotion, one in which a range of religious figures, spiritualists, and journalists debated the possibility of a device to write without thought. James saw how this debate was, in fact, one that spoke to the arguments of early psychologists in the United States, if one that carried with it a taint of pseudoscientific mysticism that led to perpetual questions about James’s relation to “science.” Habit and Repression What separated James from those discussing spiritualism was how, as I’ve been suggesting, he used these arguments not only to propose a model of embodied emotion as preceding consciousness, but also to further engage with problems of consciousness and dualism by way of his planchette experiments. Schopenhauer, following some of Kant’s dualisms, maintained a strict separation between “representation” and “will,” a fundamental reality that exists but is impossible to access. Spiritualism presumes an occult knowledge of a world beyond our own that remains unseen except in exceptional, liminal contexts, except by a few gifted and unique individuals. The planchette, in producing a form of unwilled, nonconscious agency, also seems to demonstrate a dualistic split between conscious knowledge and unconscious action. James, in his attempt to undermine these dualisms, would also work to undermine the distinction between consciousness and unconsciousness. The distinction between conscious perception and unconscious action, James claimed, “is the sovereign means for believing what one likes in psychology, and of turning what might become a science into a tumbling-­ ground for whimsies.”68 The theories of James’s contemporaries had to suggest some mechanism through which a material thing is not registered by the mind—­there are, after all, limits to human perception. Concepts like a threshold of visible and audible phenomena, of apperception, so central for the psychophysical work of Fechner and Wundt, inevitably suggest that the world is divided up into parts upon our experience of W I L L I A M J A M E S ’ S P L A N C H E T T E  • 6 1

it. For James, these arguments drift into idealism. The experience of the human body is, in some way or another, rendered distinct from the reality of the material world, a dualism that requires an absolute divorce between sensory awareness and the reality of existence, as was the case with Kant and Schopenhauer. Thus, James argues, any argument that suggests how something in the world exists and is not registered in some way by the body should be dismissed, because material reality cannot be differentiated into constituent parts—­an argument foundational for his radical empiricism. Or, one cannot separate the brain’s activity from the total experience one has of the world—­one’s awareness of the world directly and completely corresponds to what the brain registers. This assumes an empirical parallelism—­what is empirically sensed correlates with the world, “a blank unmediated correspondence, term for term, of the succession of states of consciousness with the succession of total brain-­processes . . . Such a mere admission of the empirical parallelism will there appear the wisest course. By keeping to it, our psychology will remain positivistic and non-­metaphysical.”69 For James, then, there cannot be any assumption of an unconscious mind that exists beneath consciousness, at least if one wants to advance positivist understandings of mental phenomena (which, admittedly, was something James was ultimately ambivalent about). But there can be the assumption that multiple states of consciousness exist—­or perhaps not consciousness, but experience.70 The world may not fully correspond to our experience, but our empirical sense of reality, in some way, must correspond to what is happening in our brain. It is not so much that parts of the world are impossible to sense, that there are thresholds of perception or apperception. Rather, active exclusions render the continuity of empirical reality into discontinuous oppositions. My interest here is less with how James understands the relation between sensation and the world than in how, in making this argument, he also draws upon some of the conclusions of his spiritualistic experiments to deny the significance of consciousness and intention. This selection is not grounded in a distinction between consciousness and the unconscious, about a difference between perception and apperception. It must be grounded in something else. James uses hypnotism as an example for why unconscious states do not exist, though the example of hypnotism only seems to make sense given how James has dislodged consciousness as the primary function of the brain—­an explanation for hypnotism that follows his spiritualistic experiments with the planchette. Hypnotism 62 • WILLIAM JAMES’S PLANCHETTE

suggests not an unconscious state that is secondary, but the revelation of the primary state of experience, a wholeness that is obscured through conscious experience. Seemingly “nonconscious” or “unconscious” experiences like hypnotic states demonstrate not that an unconscious exists, but that conscious awareness is not particularly essential for much of human life—­consciousness is a selection of what the body responds to and reacts to, only occurring after sensation has already taken place. We can see this even more explicitly when James turns to discuss instinct and habit. Any experience leads, intrinsically, to the body moving. Experience is fundamentally affective; it serves as a stimulus that ignites a reflex in the brain that is related to the body as a whole.71 The physiology of the body as a single, unified organism is that which receives primary consideration, not consciousness. But, as James notes, “Some of the actions aroused in us by objects go no further than our own bodies,”72 meaning that some stimuli do not appear to manifest as physical movement. Rather, they stop within the body—­the body prevents a specific reaction from taking place. There is some mechanism in the body that enables specific reflexes to become visible through the expression of movement, while others remain hidden. Above, I mentioned that a major distinction between James and affect theorists today is in how James denies, subtly, that an affective liberation is desirable. Readings of James that suggest his theory of emotion descends from Spinoza presume this “liberation” to be something that expands the capacities of a body (and is therefore desirable or ethical in some form). But foregrounding the relation between Schopenhauer and some of James’s arguments reveals something different—­namely, how an inability to restrict and repress the body’s affective capacity can lead to violence and criminality. Some emotions are best trained out of the body. While something like the planchette can reveal the body’s imbrication with a world beyond conscious experience, this is not a state in which one should remain indefinitely. The mechanism that enables specific reflexes to hide is, explicitly, education, training, and cultivation of the body. The brain, for James, is plastic, and he provides an understanding of neurological development that articulates a clear theory of what we would today call “neuroplasticity.” Plasticity, for James, “means the possession of a structure weak enough to yield to an influence, but strong enough not to yield all at once,” and, due to the brain’s plasticity, learning instills not knowledge per se, but habit  : “the phenomena of habit in living beings are due to the plasticity of the organic materials of which their bodies are W I L L I A M J A M E S ’ S P L A N C H E T T E  • 6 3

composed.”73 We are born with specific capacities, but, through training and experience, our capacities are shaped and transformed, changing with them the very material organization of the body and brain. Conscious thought plays no real role here, aside from inhibiting innate instincts to transform instinct into habit, where conscious thought again recedes. James gives the following, particularly disturbing example of an instinct to be trained out of one’s body: The boys who pull out grasshoppers’ legs and butterflies’ wings, and disembowel every frog they catch, have no thought at all about the matter. The creatures tempt their hands to a fascinating occupation, to which they have to yield. It is with them as with the “boy-­fiend” Jesse Pomeroy, who cut a little girl’s throat, “just to see how she’d act.” The normal provocative of the impulse are all living beasts, great and small, toward which a contrary habit has not been formed—­all human beings in whom we perceive a certain intent towards us, and a large number of human beings who offend us peremptorily, either by look, or gait, or by some circumstance in their lives which we dislike. Inhibited by sympathy, and by reflection calling up impulses of an opposite kind, civilized men lose the habit of acting out their pugnacious instincts in a perfectly natural way, and a passing feeling of anger, with its comparatively faint bodily expressions, may be the limit of their physical combativeness.74

Were it not for civilization and cultivation, James seems to be suggesting, we would all be out fighting, ripping the bodies of insects to shreds, eviscerating all that which appears to us as alive—­at least those living beings that appear and move in ways we find objectionable. But, thankfully, our brains are plastic, and new habits can be drilled into our bodies. We can learn “sympathy,” and though the mere existence of another may “offend” our sensibility, through proper training the only bodily response may be a minor, passing flutter of rage. These claims are deeply Schopenhauerian. In his “Prize Essay on the Basis of Morals,” Schopenhauer argues that compassion is the basis of justice and kindness, and kindness is ultimately “reserved for one who is suffering in some respect or other. For we do not sympathize with the happy one as such; rather he remains as such foreign to our heart.”75 And what of the anger, rage, and violence James notes? Schopenhauer makes a similar point: For what rain is to fire, compassion is to anger. For this reason I advise anyone who would prefer not having something to regret, if he is inflamed with


anger towards somebody, to think of inflicting a great suffering on him— ­he should vividly imagine that he had inflicted it on him already, see him now wrestling with his mental or bodily pains, or his distress and misery, and have to say to himself: this is my work. If anything is capable of damping down his anger, it is this . . . Our spiteful mood towards others is displaced by nothing so easily as when we take up a viewpoint from which they make a claim on our compassion.76

The will (or instinct) may direct and provoke, but the role of thought (of compassion, of sympathy, of—­might we say, avant la lettre—­empathy, even though Schopenhauer is ultimately suggesting one to imagine the consequences of rage and violence rather than entering into another) is there to prevent and mitigate against the baser reactions of the body. To focus on a small point in James’s example above, the invocation and defense of Jesse Pomeroy is strange. Pomeroy, known as “The Boston Boy Fiend” and “The Boy Torturer,” credited with several brutal beatings and murders that occurred in the Boston area from 1871 to 1874, is the youngest person to have ever been convicted of murder in the first degree in the history of Massachusetts (Figure 5). James is arguing that Pomeroy’s crime is a result of an inability to curtail innate human urges. The human body is inclined toward anger, toward violence. These are some of the “coarser emotions” that James argues emerge prior to conscious knowledge, emotions central to some of Schopenhauer’s understandings of will. For James, education, the cultivation of habits that transform the brain through plasticity, is there to repress these instinctual emotions through habituation, such as the desire to kill another (or, one could suppose, the desire of curiosity—­as it seems that James believed that Pomeroy’s real evil was his wonderment about another’s reactions upon the infliction of a mortal wound). [Habit] alone is what keeps us all within the bounds of ordinance, and save[s] the children of fortune from the envious uprisings of the poor. . . . It dooms us all to fight out the battle of life upon the lines of our nurture or our early choice, and to make the best of a pursuit that disagrees, because there is no other for which we are fitted, and it is too late to begin again. It keeps different social strata from mixing.77

Education is there to cultivate beasts into humans, and education is that which provides the habits that then create the social divisions that are classes. W I L L I A M J A M E S ’ S P L A N C H E T T E  • 6 5

Figure 5. A newspaper illustration of Jesse Pomeroy, after thirty-­three years in jail, indicating the broad popular fascination with him as an early American serial killer. The Spokane Press, April 8, 1909, 8.

We do not have conscious thoughts with instinct, we do not consciously think when performing that which is habitual, the latter of which emerges from training early in life that modifies the plasticity of the brain. Habit forms as we are taught how to behave, and, for James, it provides the grounds upon which we tread the entire rest of our lives. Our brains are more plastic in our youth, more easily reshaped than later in life. Habits acquired in our early life determine our direction, our orientation, from which we face the world for our years to come, hammering out of us antisocial behaviors for ones that are of positive social value.78 This, of course, is also a fascinating defense of a “cultural” explanation of violence. It’s not so much that Pomeroy, for instance, was doomed to a life of crime from his birth, but that his drift toward crime and murder emerged from his everyday life, failing to instill habits that would prevent the expression of rage, viciousness, and, perhaps, morbid curiosity. 66 • WILLIAM JAMES’S PLANCHETTE

So, what does consciousness do? Consciousness is not illusory, but a secondary epiphenomenon produced by the brain to explain its reactions. We may find ourselves inspired to act in ways that are fundamentally beyond our control, actions that lead, for James, to “perversion.” Consciousness is there to prohibit. In cases of “explosive will” the body reacts too quickly for consciousness to disallow its activity (as one flies into a rage, for instance). With “obstructed will,” a state like drunkenness may cause one to act on impulses that would otherwise be repressed. We do not act because we think, thinking prohibits acts that would otherwise take place. Consciousness is not “the prime condition of impulsive power,” it is “the prime condition of inhibitive power.”79 This, additionally, takes place without any adjudication as to experiences like pleasure or pain: As I do not breathe for the pleasure of breathing, but simply find that I am breathing, so I do not write for the pleasure of the writing, but simply because I have once begun, and being in a state of intellectual excitement which keeps venting itself in that way, find that I am writing still. Who will pretend that when he idly fingers his knife-­handle at the table, it is for the sake of any pleasure which it gives him, or pain which he thereby avoids. We do all these things because at the moment we cannot help it; our nervous systems are so shaped that they overflow in just that way.80

The natural state of the human being is automatism, be it with acts as diverse as breathing, fondling a knife, or generating textual output on paper. Our automatic actions come from training, in-­habited within the plasticity of the brain. Nonetheless, consciousness is there to prohibit specific acts from happening, to make sure some thoughts lead nowhere, to stop some impulses in the brain from manifesting as action. It should be easy to write if we remove that which inhibits us. The training of the body should be there to remove how will prevents us from acting, maintaining good habits for a productive life. “What checks our impulses is the mere thinking of reasons to the contrary,” suggests James, a line that mirrors Schopenhauer, “it is their bare presence to the mind which gives the veto, and makes acts, otherwise seductive, impossible to perform. If we could only forget our scruples, our doubts, our fears, what exultant energy we should for a while display!”81 But James already knew of states that permitted these scruples, doubts, and fears to be forgotten: hypnotism, drugs, the ecstasy of mysticism. And, of course, the automatic writing of the planchette. The goal of the mystical, W I L L I A M J A M E S ’ S P L A N C H E T T E  • 6 7

here, is to leave consciousness behind, to liberate the body from the repression of consciousness, to return to the primal state of the human being, to act without thought. But also, these ecstatic states of religious ecstasy, even if they reveal the embeddedness of an individual within the whole of pure experience, are states that likewise liberate the most base, primal, destructive urges of humanity—­violence, rage, anger—­which must be educated out of the body and replaced with different habits of compassion, of kindness, of concern. But ideally, once habituated, these feelings will likewise become automatic and thoughtless. Doing and Thinking The goal of acting is elevated to the highest authority in James’s world. Doing is more important than thinking and dwelling in a world of thoughts—­without some sort of “action”—­is the very definition of moral impoverishment. No matter how full a reservoir of maxims one may possess, and no matter how good one’s sentiments may be, if one have not taken advantage of every concrete opportunity to act, one’s character may remain entirely unaffected for the better . . . There is no more contemptible type of human character than that of the nerveless sentimentalist and dreamer, who spends his life in a weltering sea of sensibility and emotion, but who never does a manly concrete deed.82

Feeling is not doing. Thinking is not doing. Art may produce some emotional response, but the point should be to act on that emotion, not to think about it.83 Fiction must transfer into reality. The point should be to move, not to contemplate. Thinking, living a life of ideas and imagined alternatives to the reality of this world, is the lowest form of living for James. Later in his life, upon developing his philosophical arguments about pragmatism, James defines his perspective as the “attitude of looking away from first things, principles, ‘categories,’ supposed necessities; and of looking towards last things, fruits, consequences, facts.”84 Rather than speculation on ontology, truth is, in other words, what works. We can already see this perspective in his stress on action rather than thought. Truth moves. It is, for James, that which is found in action, in experience, not in conscious reflection and contemplation. The only thought that has value is that which leads to action—­and, since thought often serves to 68 • WILLIAM JAMES’S PLANCHETTE

repress and inhibit action, then there is little value to thought beyond that which prohibits “perversions.” Ideally, these thoughts change the brain through its plasticity, becoming habit, in which thought need happen no longer. Planchettes, along with the other spiritualist acts James investigated, are today no longer thought by many to reveal any sort of truth, psychical or otherwise. Long explained and dismissed, be it through the discovery of the technical inventiveness by which someone was able to manipulate a tipping table, be it through the hermeneutic interpretation of the looping writing generated by “spirits,”85 be it through the fabrication of photographic evidence of hypnotic, hysteric states,86 the “unclassified residuum” of the psychical research that so fascinated James has been explained away. Yet his arguments about consciousness, will, and affect remain. As Bruno Latour has suggested, by way of James, “to have a body is to learn to be affected, meaning ‘effectuated,’ moved, put into motion by other entities, humans or non-­humans.”87 Perhaps we can say that the persistence of James’s arguments about consciousness and the body is the ultimate proof of James’s pragmatism. The “truth” of the body he identified emerged, in part, from evidence supplied by an apparatus known, today, to reveal little we should regard as “true.” Psychical research has regularly been disproven by the scientific method, and yet the etchings of a planchette still provide us with normative claims about what a body is and does, and how conscious will is secondary to affect. Ideas, for James, come from somewhere. Yet that somewhere is not conscious thought. They come from pure experience, experience that, when properly accessed, reconfigures the brain. For those who write, the words that emanate from one’s hand are not consciously willed but emanate from the “hidden self” inside. They just happen if consciousness remains at bay, not getting in the way to prohibit words written down on paper, an expression of the brain and, thus, of experience. I can only write myself once I stop talking, once I stop thinking. “Normal Motor Automatism” Let me conclude with a brief coda before I move on. Gertrude Stein, while a student at Harvard, performed a series of experiments with the planchette under direction of James and Hugo Münsterberg—­a fact that reveals, at least partially, how James’s experimental method with the planchette was at least partially acceptable to Münsterberg, one of James’s contemporaries W I L L I A M J A M E S ’ S P L A N C H E T T E  • 6 9

who was well known for lambasting James’s interest in spiritualism, rejecting much of James’s work as beyond the boundaries of a truly scientific psychology. The results of these experiments were published in 1896, the timing of which suggests that it’s possible that Stein was experimenting with one of the planchettes that James had purchased. In the article, cowritten with Leon M. Solomons and titled “Normal Motor Automatism,” Stein used a planchette to “split” her consciousness, writing while talking with others, writing while reading aloud, and so on.88 Though not referenced in their article, Stein and Solomons worked to reproduce the conditions that James had previously performed in his experiments with Richard Hodgson and William L. Smith a few years prior—­even eventually replacing the planchette with a normal pencil, just as James had done with Smith. Solomons and Stein’s re-­creation of James’s experiment is well-­ known, in part because of its notorious location within debates about the aesthetic value of Stein’s writing. And yet the fact that Stein was reconstructing one of the most significant experiments James ever performed, duplicating its findings, is almost never acknowledged—­“Normal Motor Automatism” does not even mention James once, concealing his influence on Stein and Solomons’s experiment.89 The behaviorist psychologist B. F. Skinner once suggested, in a 1934 article written for The Atlantic Monthly, that Stein’s Tender Buttons was the product of automatic writing performed with the planchette.90 (This claim, I’ll note, Skinner was only able to make because his arguments were “premised on a series of factual and interpretive mistakes.”)91 Given the similarities between Stein’s descriptions of automatic writing in her article and the response of what Skinner calls the “average reader” when confronted with Tender Buttons, Skinner concludes that Stein’s writings likely have the same origins as her psychological experiments. Skinner sees Tender Buttons as having the same characteristics Stein uses to describe automatic writing, “The stuff is grammatical, and the words and phrases fit together all right, but there is not much connected thought.”92 Tender Buttons appears to be “the stream of consciousness of a woman without a past.” Skinner concludes: Although it is quite plausible that the work is due to a second personality successfully split off from Miss Stein’s conscious self, it is a very flimsy sort of personality indeed. It is intellectually unopinionated, is emotionally cold, and has no past. It is unread and unlearned beyond grammar school. . . . The superficial character of the inferential author or Tender Buttons consequently adds credibility to the theory of automatic authorship.93


Tender Buttons, for Skinner at least, provides a literary refutation of James’s arguments about consciousness and the body, even though he seems to be going after Stein and not James, not making the connection between Stein’s experiment and James’s own theory of emotion—­James is not mentioned by Skinner, his planchette experiment neglected, the link between Stein’s automatism and James’s understanding of emotion forgotten. I conclude here with Skinner’s questionable evaluation of Stein (and, by extension, James) to indicate one way that arguments about what an emotion is depend on a specific medium used to write the body. These media are inevitably in dispute, documenting experiences that may be seen as “more” or “less” full, “more” or “less” real, as “more” or “less” affective. There’s nothing intrinsically in these experiments that provides us with an evaluation of what is or is not “affective,” and there’s nothing in the planchette that indicates how automatism is or is not an essential capacity of an emotional body unconstrained by conscious thought. Regardless, the planchette was a tool that inscribed a truth about emotion that came to be debated since James’s initial experiments: that affect precedes the body and is more primary than conscious experience. Münsterberg eventually noted his disagreement with James on the significance of psychical research: “Mysticism and mediums were one thing, psychology was quite another. Experimental psychology and psychic hocus-­pocus did not mix.”94 I feel this claim should be taken as less about James’s arguments than about his methods and their link with spiritualism. James’s contemporaries were able to accept his arguments as long as they never accepted the material, empirical means with which he made them, and thus erased from the history of emotions the material function of a medium in grounding the ontology of the body, suggesting James merely used an “introspective” method without experimental grounding. If we foreground the planchette, then affect is not just about the body moving, but about the body writing, without thought, without awareness —­and, perhaps, without meaning. And it is this writing that is the expression of the true, inner self, uninhibited by the repression of consciousness. As I write myself, truth only emerges from the unthought, the unwilled, the unintended. Truth comes from movement, the act of writing, not the intent of writing, not the meaning of writing. It is affect that is true, not thought, not knowledge—­yet affect is inextricably bound with a medium, a medium whose experimental context has been forgotten.

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In th e p revi o u s ch a p t e r, I mentioned how William James’s investigations with the planchette descend from the formations of French experimental psychology, especially the work of Pierre Janet, who completed his medical training while at the Psychological Laboratory of the infamous Parisian Pitié-­Salpêtrière Hospital. In this chapter, we’ll begin at the Salpêtrière, following a path that will take us to the psychology labs at Cornell, Columbia, and Princeton Universities as they worked to free psychology from the spiritualism and mysticism that James’s contemporaries believed infected his work. The means that take us from the Salpêtrière to America is photography: specifically, photography as a technique for studying facial expression, images of faces in serial, collected in books, folios, and academic journal articles. In following this practice we’ll engage with several other themes—­not only how a particular understanding of emotion depends on the physical qualities of books of faces, a theory of emotion that would eventually be termed the “basic emotions paradigm” or “affect program theory,” but how this theory relates both to the very possibility of photographic truth beyond the empirical and to the gendering of the photographic gaze. The goal of this chapter is to trace the emergence of affect program theory and its dependance on photography’s ability not only to freeze and isolate particular facial expressions but to group them together through the comparison of photographs in multiple. As John Tagg tells us, the emergence of photography as a form of documentary evidence did not emerge from the indexical capacity of the image alone, but through photography’s situation within “the emergence of new institutions and new practices of observation and record-­keeping” in the nineteenth century, “the police, prisons, asylums, hospitals, departments of public health, schools, and even the modern  • 7 3

factory system itself.”1 This chapter follows the convoluted story of how one of the most popular models of affect and emotion today descends from and reinvents the documentary practices of a French medical asylum, doing so not through the visible, indexical evidence of an image, but through the evidence of many images, placed in relation. “The Salpêtrière was the mecca of the great confinement,” Georges Didi-­Huberman tells us in his history of hysteria and photography.2 The “great confinement” is the name Michel Foucault used for a moment in the seventeenth century defined by the construction of buildings to sequester and remove from society those deemed abnormal, pathological, dangerous, undesirable. In psychiatry and medicine, these buildings provide a material mechanism for separating the normal and the pathological, the sane and the insane.3 The Salpêtrière, Didi-­Huberman continues, was “known locally as the ‘little Arsenal,’ and was the largest hospice in France. It was another Bastille, . . . with its ‘courtyard of massacres,’ ‘debauched women,’ convulsionaries of Saint-­Médard, and ‘women of abnormal constitution’ confined all together. It was the general hospital for women, or rather for the feminine dregs of society.”4 Janet was one in a line of influential psychologists and neurologists to emerge from the Salpêtrière, a line that included Janet’s teacher, Jean-­Martin Charcot, as well as Charcot’s predecessor at the Salpêtrière, Guillaume-­Benjamin-­ Amand Duchenne de Boulogne.5 Charcot and Janet used hypnotism, trance, and a range of other techniques that bordered on the occult to study hysteria and other “feminine” mental disorders. Their research developed methods to identify “truth” concealed beneath the visible appearances of their patients. The assumption was that the women at the Salpêtrière were fundamentally deceptive. As another doctor at the Salpêtrière, Jules Falret, remarked in 1890, the women at the hospital “are veritable actresses. . . . They do not know of a greater pleasure than to deceive. . . . The life of the hysteric is nothing but one perpetual falsehood.”6 Hypnotism and trance, Charcot and Janet thought, could get beyond the assumed lies of their patients, revealing an uncertain “reality” concealed by performance, a method that James would expand on in crafting his practical means to access the singular reality of which conscious perception was only a selection. The birth of psychology in France is deeply indebted to both pathology and the “psychic sciences,” or parapsychology. French psychology’s debt to pathology is obvious—­the moment one turns to the Salpêtrière as a point of origin, the existence of the hospital as a space of confinement 74   •   B O O KS O F FAC E S

for pathological women should be overt. Yet the link with parapsychology, the occult, and mysticism is often ignored in contemporary accounts of the French history of psychology,7 much as it was when James’s contemporaries would dismiss his interests in spiritualism as central and essential for his psychological work. For American and French psychologists alike, the taint of spiritualism was something from which psychology must free itself. This chapter makes three intertwined arguments. The first follows this specific articulation of photography in psychology as it moved from Europe to the United States—­not singular images, but serial photographs collected for comparison and classification. Beginning with Duchenne,8 whose 1862 Mécanisme de la physionomie humaine was one of the first examples of a book of faces photographed in serial, the practice of collecting photographs in books was furthered by Charcot’s three-­volume Iconographie photographique de la Salpêtrière, published between 1877 and 1880.9 From France, the technique of serial photography published in books migrated to Germany, then to the United States, a means to identify discrete emotional states represented as facial expressions for purposes artistic, theatrical, and scientific. One of the most popular understandings of emotion today, affect program theory, argues that there are a set of around six to nine universal “basic affects” that can be observed as discrete facial expressions on all human beings (and often animals, too), given the correct laboratory conditions. This chapter argues that the very possibility of a set of discrete, limited facial expressions, correlated with a set of universal cognitive states, is derived from the use of serial photography as it moved from France and was installed as a standard method in American psychology. But this story is not simply about photography’s discrete stillness and seriality as enabling the comparative identification of basic affects as facial expressions. Photography’s importation into American psychology was also used to reject James’s spiritualism—­along with the occult associations with which photography had been associated. Photography, since its beginnings, has been framed as a technology that enables the visualization of the invisible, a stopping of time that makes fleeting, imperceptible movements seen—­including those of spirits and other occult agencies.10 The use of photography by American psychologists rejected this understanding of the medium, which corresponds with its rejection of anything resembling spiritualism. Thus American psychology did not presume the centrality of photography’s capacities for making things visible, at least B O O K S O F F A C E S  • 7 5

initially. Rather, it embraced serial photography’s capacity to make bodies and faces comparable and judgable. And yet, over time, as psychology became recognized as a science, it also came to use photography as a technology to inscribe what is otherwise invisible, accepting the materially specific capacity of the photographic image to reveal the unseen. But a comparative judgment between images preceded the belief that the “truth” of a photograph emerged from something within an image. Third, and finally, the psychological use of photography has always had problems with questions of performance and deception, questions that have been marked by a politics of gender since its beginnings at the Salpêtrière. Photography has been assumed to identify “truth” beyond the lies told by a body, lies told specifically by women’s bodies. But the negotiations of photographic truth also are linked with questions about an observer’s ability to determine if a performance’s intent can be correctly discerned, if the lie can be taken as true. The material quality of a photograph, as a still image compared with other still images, is conjoined with changes in what Foucault termed a regime of veridiction, changes in a broader discursive formation that enables something to be judged as true or false11—­changes that ultimately led American psychologists to eventually accept some photographs, but not others, as a visual archive. Can we say a photograph documents the true or not? Today, we often assume a logic of an intrinsic “indexical” truth to the photographic image,12 even though history demonstrates that the very possibility of judging a photo as true or false needed to be produced.13 In the history of psychology I’m following here, these changes follow, explicitly, changes in who is documented in an image and who sees and judges the image. In psychology, it becomes possible to judge a photograph as “true” or “false” when the object of the photograph ceases to be a woman, a woman who is assumed to deceive, and becomes a man, a man who is assumed to represent the truth of all bodies and of all emotions. Thus, a limited number of “discrete” categories of emotion, which occur because of the material technique of serial photography, become “universal” emotional categories when the camera turns its gaze away from women and actors—­assumed both specific and deceptive—­and toward the male psychologists who construct the image sets, understanding themselves as universal subjects capable of all possible emotional experiences. Photography is one of the most notable methods of early psychological research, and one of the few that moved not directly from Germany to the United States, but from France (albeit by way of Germany). I emphasize 7 6   •   B O O KS O F FAC E S

that the methods I describe in this chapter are not just about photography in general, not about a single photograph, and not about the ability of a photograph to isolate and embalm an indexical moment in time. These material aspects of the photograph provide its ontology as described in classic analyses of the photographic image, such as Roland Barthes’s Camera Lucida, which focus on the photographic moment, an isolation that comes from the singularity of an image. The seriality of photographic images is often associated with the ontology of cinema, which extends the index of the photograph into a sequence that reproduces an illusion of motion. Yet movement is not assumed when the seriality of an image is placed in bound pages instead of a celluloid reel. Rather than any truth of the “that-­has-­been” found in a singular image,14 the photographic method particular to the psychology of emotions is the comparative use of the photography of facial expression, of the collection of a wide number of images of a face into a large set—­often published as a book. A book of faces provides an atlas of expression, an assumed archive of all possibilities enabled by a face, both multiple and yet frozen. Thus this chapter is, in many ways, an attempt to separate a particular psychological use of photography from typical histories of photography and from histories of cinema, accounting for the seriality of image sets, a change in medical spectatorship, and the uneasy relation to the occult that characterizes the history of psychology—­and how the possibility of a photograph as documenting the truth of the emotions is itself variable and unstable. The Photography of Female Pain Particular authors linked with beginnings of the French tradition—­most specifically Duchenne—­are regularly cited by contemporary figures in American psychology, such as Paul Ekman, as if the methods and arguments made today are simple refinements of those from the nineteenth century, as if an apparent historical continuity is a sufficient means to legitimate present arguments.15 Yet the shared use of photography must account for the divergence of milieus that gave rise to French experiments and American experiments, as the negotiation of these differences reveals radical breaks psychology has obfuscated in its study of facial expression. Some of these differences are obvious. The Americans were based in the university setting, with psychologists mostly studying themselves and their students—­people like Gertrude Stein. Duchenne, Charcot, and Janet were mostly studying women in an asylum (Figure 6). But other differences are B O O K S O F F A C E S  • 7 7

more subtle. Thus I first want to provide a brief discussion of Duchenne’s and Charcot’s use of photography and its relation to the documentation and visualization of female pain—­pain which was never fully acknowledged as genuine even though its infliction was thought essential to guarantee the documented truth of the body and its experience.16 Duchenne and Charcot’s use of photography assumed not only a capacity of the image to visualize the otherwise invisible but, more significantly, the ability to use photography to create a comparative medical archive. As this method moved to the United States, the latter aspect of this practice was retained while the former was initially rejected, for reasons which follow the very problems that emerged in both Duchenne and Charcot’s practices—­it was never clear if the bodies they recorded should be taken as “true” or genuine in their expressions and performances.

Figure 6. Plate 36 from the first volume of Bourneville and Régnard’s Iconographie photographique de la Salpêtrière, the collection of images produced under the supervision of Charcot.

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Duchenne’s images, made in collaboration with photographer Adrien Tournachon, suggest the existence of specific, immobile facial expressions that represent the emotions, even though Duchenne’s primary influence is the direct linking of expression with facial musculature.17 Duchenne made his images by pairing photography with an instrument that would shock and stimulate particular facial muscles and contort the face into relatively frozen, still expressions—­something he imagined to be useful for not only the study of anatomy, but for sculpture and painting, which could use his images to replicate the passions in an anatomically correct way (Figure 7). Duchenne’s method broke the face into discrete, independent muscles, abstracting the visual to arrive at an anatomical correspondence between appearance and essence, providing evidence later used in Charles Darwin’s writings on emotion. (“No one has more carefully studied the contraction of each separate muscle, and the consequent furrows produced on the skin,” Darwin said of Duchenne. “He has also, and this is a very important service, shown which muscles are least under the separate control of the will.”)18 There have been many attempts to describe a limited set of basic emotions as existing in a broad range of contexts that predate what I describe

Figure 7. Duchenne’s “Double current volta-­faradic apparatus,” which he used to stimulate the muscles of his subjects, from The Mechanism of Human Facial Expression.

B O O K S O F F A C E S  • 7 9

here, arguments that in some way accept the general argument that some emotions are innate, located in the body’s neurology, and have evolutionary reasons for their existence.19 But I tend to follow the argument given by François Delaporte in his excellent study of Duchenne: “One wants to discover the history of passions and expression before Duchenne or Darwin, but one does not realize that the passions and expression did not exist then. And if they did not exist, the reason was quite simple: the brain and the face themselves did not exist.”20 This may seem to be a radical and suspicious claim. But Delaporte is making an argument that logically follows Foucault on the birth of modern sexuality. Foucault positioned the modern religious, medical, and scientific management of sexuality as fundamentally productive, a power that incites subjects to speak, directing bodies and their abilities. “Sexuality” did not predate the broader technical apparatus that brought “sex” into discourse, enabling it to be directed and managed to foster and maintain the population.21 Delaporte is arguing that, if we today presume the face to represent the emotions in a direct way, correlating expression, emotion, and cognition, we only can do so given Duchenne’s photographic experiments. Duchenne invented the connection between “face” and “brain” in a way that was both aesthetic and anatomical. The specific articulation of facial expression and the passions, or the articulation of individuated facial muscles with specific cognitive states, was called into being only when Duchenne shocked a few faces and took a few photographs (Figure 8). Of course, Duchenne was drawing on some precedents, on assumptions derived from physiognomy and, especially, from assumptions derived from the work of the painter Charles Le Brun (Figure 9), who saw emotional expression as exceeding the empirical sign visible on the face, dependent on the anatomy of the face. But Le Brun did not directly link anatomy with the nerves and brain. It is only with Duchenne that we have the invention of a “theatre of affects” produced using “transfigurative photography,” photography that would necessarily dis-­figure the face, create a facial expression, and document it.22 The face and brain became material to be manipulated by the scientist and the artist, material to mold into ideal forms through technical means. The photography of Duchenne emerged out of medical pathology and its gaze upon confined, “abnormal” subjects, who were employed to define the capacities of “normal” citizens living beyond the walls of the hospital. For Georges Canguilhem, “It is not paradoxical to say that the abnormal, 8 0   •   B O O KS O F FAC E S

while logically second, is existentially first.”23 Medicine cannot operate on or treat bodies that are not already marked as disordered, unwell, pathological, and the norm is established by the “historical anteriority of the future abnormal.”24 When medicine produces “knowledge” of anatomy or the mind, it does so through methods prohibited on the study of the “well” or “normal.” This anteriority of the abnormal is overt in Duchenne. His subjects comprised six different individuals, five of whom were his patients. The sixth was a young man (Figure 10), an artist who was almost never photographed through use of Duchenne’s apparatus and was allowed to simulate facial expressions. The one image of the young man being shocked was because Duchenne wanted a photograph of the only muscle the man could not voluntarily move (Figure 11). Including other images of this artist being shocked—­Duchenne assures us they could have been produced—­“would have unnecessarily multiplied the number of figures.”25 Duchenne’s favorite model was an “old toothless man, with a thin face, whose features, without being absolutely ugly, approached

Figure 8. Guillaume-­ Benjamin-­Amand Duchenne de Boulogne and Adrien Tournachon, Scornful Laughter and Scornful Disgust, from Duchenne’s Mécanisme de la physionomie humaine (1854–­56, printed 1862). Albumen silver print from glass negative, 28.2 x 20.5 cm. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

B O O K S O F F A C E S  • 8 1

Figure 9. Three Faces: Weeping (Top), Expressing Compassion (Bottom Left), and Scorn (Bottom Right). Engravings after Charles Le Brun. Wellcome Collection. Reprinted via a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

ordinary triviality” (Figure 12). This old man, Duchenne tells us, had a disorder that resulted in “reduced sensation. He was suffering from a complicated anesthetic condition of the face. I was able to experiment on his face without causing him pain, to the extent that I could stimulate his individual muscles with as much precision and accuracy as if I were working with a still irritable cadaver.”26 He was “of too low intelligence or too poorly motivated to produce himself the expressions that I have produced artificially on his face,” though the young man was almost fully capable of simulation.27 With this old man, Duchenne was able to shock and photograph without significant concern about the pain his method might cause. With his other subjects he believed that excessive pain would produce merely a “grimace” rather than an accurate representation of muscular motion.28 And Duchenne’s other subjects, beyond the old man and the artist, were women and girls. The absence of explanation in Duchenne’s writing indicates a gendering of pathology and psychology which parallels general beliefs held at the

Figure 10. Guillaume-­ Benjamin-­Amand Duchenne de Boulogne and Adrien Tournachon, Extreme Pain to the Point of Exhaustion, the Head of Christ and Memory of Love or Ecstatic Gaze, from Duchenne’s Mécanisme de la physionomie humaine (1854–­56, printed in 1862). Albumen silver print from glass negative, 28.3 x 20.3 cm. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

B O O K S O F F A C E S  • 8 3

Salpêtrière: its female patients were liars deserving of their sequestering from society, something that even can be seen in the kinds of expression Duchenne induces into his female subjects (scorn, cruelty, lustfulness, coquetry) as opposed to those of the male subjects (suffering, terror, astonishment, aggression). The sole photograph of the young man made with the apparatus, an image supposedly of “severity,” suggests an impossibility of his “natural” ability in this expression. And further, we never read similar justifications about pain and expression when it comes to Duchenne’s female subjects. His explanation of the old man’s face makes it understood: Duchenne was concerned his readers would wonder about the pain his old man was feeling when shocked repeatedly and at length. That his female subjects would potentially be experiencing pain, that their pain would lead to grimaces and not his intended expressions, was discussed in relation to how this pain would ruin the accuracy of his images. Duchenne provides an explanation as to why the men in his images weren’t being tortured by the scientist, a justification which is absent for his other

Figure 11. Guillaume-­ Benjamin-­Amand Duchenne de Boulogne and Adrien Tournachon, Expression of Severity, from Duchenne’s Mécanisme de la physionomie humaine (1854–­56, printed in 1862). Albumen silver print from glass negative, 28.5 x 20.4 cm. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

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subjects. We hear nothing about the pain or intelligence (or lack thereof) of Duchenne’s female subjects. The legitimacy of seeing women’s pain, of a scientist causing women’s pain to consume it as spectacle, to generate scientific knowledge from the visual consumption of pain—­these themes, implicit in Duchenne, are overt for Charcot, using visual spectacle to reveal and document what previously had escaped documentation, providing the promise of seeing what otherwise cannot be seen. Charcot would parade subjects out in an amphitheater: “In a moment I will give you a first-­hand experience, so to speak, of this pain; I will help you recognize all its characteristics by presenting you five patients.”29 He was, as Didi-­Huberman notes, following physiologist Claude Bernard’s “scopic postulate”: “To understand how men and animals live, it is indispensable to see a great number of them die.”30 To understand pain, suffering must be inflicted and seen. Nineteenthcentury French medical science presumed the necessity of the spectacular consumption of death, of pain, of pathology. In Charcot’s photographic

Figure 12. Guillaume-­ Benjamin-­Amand Duchenne de Boulogne and Adrien Tournachon, Terror, Semiprofile, from Duchenne’s Mécanisme de la physionomie humaine (1854–­56, printed in 1862). Albumen silver print from glass negative, 28.4 x 20.3 cm. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

B O O K S O F F A C E S  • 8 5

work, this pain is again circumscribed by gender: his subjects were entirely women.31 Neither Duchenne nor Charcot denied that their female subjects were in pain, suggesting that their expressions were deceptions. Duchenne worried that this pain would ruin his photographic archive, distorting the technologically induced expressions recorded by the camera. Charcot saw this exhibition of pain as a source for the archive, photography as “a museological authority of the sick body, the museological agency of its ‘observation’: the figurative possibility of generalizing the case into a tableau.”32 Photography was the method through which a woman’s body was made into a document—­reinventing what can be known through a means which would render a body seemingly still and, perhaps just as important, making a body one among many that can be compared, contrasted, and organized by means of books that collect the body in multiple, or collect multiple bodies all performing variations of the same pose.33 Seriality and the Objectivity of the Photographic Image This assumption—­of the necessity of photographing not just a singular individual but photographing multiple people in multiple poses—­guides the use of photographic archives in psychological research in numerous contexts. The psychological use of photography occurred not because of the qualities of a single photograph to stop time but because of the abilities of serial photography to be grouped and compared. It is not so much that photography in and of itself led to experimental conclusions, but books and folios of photographs used in a comparative manner. Duchenne’s Mécanisme de la physionomie humaine is one of the earliest examples of this approach. Not a photograph of a specific face, contorted by electrical stimulation, but many images of several faces. With the multiple volumes of Charcot’s Iconographie photographique de la Salpêtrière,34 not an image of a specific hysteric, but many images—­ a practice continued by both Germans and Americans following from Duchenne and Charcot, if with notable distinctions. Duchenne’s book was intended to advance both artistic representation and anatomical knowledge. Charcot’s books were filled with photographs of women at the Salpêtrière, made for medical purposes (even if they never lost an appeal to the male gaze of the scientist). German books were of hired and trained actors, created to refine representations in the visual arts. American photos (which were often published as academic articles, not books themselves) were of the researchers who made the photos, designed to 8 6   •   B O O KS O F FAC E S

better evaluate the human capacity of judgment. Part of these changes had to do with the problem of performance, of posing, of truth or deception intended by the object of the image. While Duchenne’s images were “true” because of his apparatus—­apart from the young man in his photographs, all his poses were electrically induced—­Charcot’s method served to systematize the appearance of hysteria without any additional technology beyond the camera. Thus his systematization could never do away with the potential of observers to be deceived by performance. Early German and American books of faces were, from the outset, acknowledged as posed, not “natural” expressions. We often assume photography to be objective in some way, an index of reality rather than a representation. Photography, as André Bazin memorably claimed, “embalms time” through “an impassive mechanical process.”35 Yet the earliest photography almost always had problems in revealing truth without question. Collodion wet plate photography, which dominated photographic practice between 1860 to 1880 and was used to produce the images in Charcot’s Iconographie photographique, takes around fifteen minutes for an exposure.36 While Duchenne’s apparatus enabled a body to remain still long enough for an exposure, this wasn’t the case for Charcot, whose subjects had to perform their own hysteria for the camera.37 Other early methods for obtaining a photograph, if they did not rely on posing, required elaborate apparatuses for lighting and would often “disturb” or otherwise intervene in the “natural” state the psychologist was working to document.38 Additionally, the errors produced by the physical inconsistencies of early photography produced a bleeding between the scientific and the occult. “The realm of the invisible is vast,” according to the art historian Peter Geimer, “and the demarcation line between science and nonscience, fact and artifact, was often blurry at best.”39 The same could be said of the photos themselves. Early debates about the objectivity of a photographic image, as opposed to scientific drawings, often revolved around the fact that a single photograph could not stand in for an entire category, and the specific visual aspects of a photo were routinely distorted by the medium.40 But today, the photograph, it is assumed, “reveals” what the eye cannot see and thus becomes a method for scientific study—­a fact that, in nineteenth-­century science, was not uniformly accepted. This instability of photographic truth was compounded by the broader context in which these experiments were embedded. If one accepts the visible evidence of a picture as moving beyond the empirical evidence of B O O K S O F F A C E S  • 8 7

sight, then this “beyond” drifts into the occult, never entirely subsumed as scientific fact—­as was the case with James’s discussions of the “unclassified residuum.” What a photograph documents, when it came to the late 1800s and early 1900s, was never the result of an “impassive mechanical process,” to use Bazin’s words. With early photography, the lines between spirit and science remained unclear, though ensuring this distinction was necessary for further separating Geisteswissenshaften from die Psychologie. In expanding the possibilities for the empirical, photography also threatened to expand the metaphysical, and its visible evidence was not always taken as that which could be assumed “true.” Or, photography (and for that matter, Duchenne’s method) implies an inability of the empirical to grasp the essence of the emotions, and thus opens up a possible metaphysics that escapes what sensation knows on its own. Because of this drift into the spiritual and metaphysical, American psychology had to work to eliminate any potential for the spiritualistic or occult dimensions of photography when it began to employ photography as a method. To do so, American psychologists replaced the “problem” to be solved by experimental science; James’s contemporaries were not interested in seeing beyond the empirical, at least initially. They used photography to address the German problem of aesthetic judgment and aesthetic education, the problem of the variable and multiple interpretations of judgment given by assorted observers. James’s contemporaries did not initially assume a photograph to be an objective index. While Duchenne used photography to systematize the link between face and brain in emotional expression, the American use of photography initially worked to evaluate if observers could correctly identify and judge the facial expressions performed by actors—­a problem that resonates precisely with Lessing’s Hamburgische Dramaturgie and its methods for creating performance as a pedagogical development of sympathy and compassion.41 The Americans accepted that a photograph was essentially posed, that an image was closer to an artwork than a scientific document. They wanted to know if people could consistently identify facial expressions as representative of emotions, which would work to help understand the cognitive investment a spectator would have for a performance—­a mission similar to the one proposed by Theodor Lipps and Edward Titchener in their discussions of empathy and judgment.42 The subject addressed by American psychology, initially, was disagreement about what an image and an expression represented. As we will see, this problem of disagreement was framed in different ways by different people—­Was disagreement the 8 8   •   B O O KS O F FAC E S

result of the inability of the subject in a photograph to serve as a universal model of all emotions? Was it about experimental constraints (or the lack thereof)? Or simply about the fact that people interpret facial expressions in relation to a range of local norms? By the middle of the twentieth century, however, this problem was deemed “solved,” it seems, as attention to disagreement disappears in work descending from Titchener and others in the American experimental tradition. The attempt to psychologically understand aesthetic judgment was yet again rewritten, this time in accordance with past attempts to use photography to reveal that which is otherwise invisible. The problem of multiple interpretations and judgments became an assumption about the universality (or lack thereof ) of the subject of an image. The “solution” to judgment was to gradually invent a photographic archive of a person that represents all people and all expressions. This transformation, I aim to demonstrate, has epistemological problems for our present, given the widespread popularity of the psychological paradigms that it helped produce: affect program theory and the discrete “basic emotions” thought universally understood and expressed by all “normal” humans.43 Mimesis, Community, and Aesthetic Judgment In his 1931 essay “Little History of Photography,” Walter Benjamin identifies one promise of photography as visualizing “the optical unconscious,” a promise similar to other arguments about the capacity of photography to visualize the invisible. I introduce Benjamin here because he provides a striking example of how a number of French understandings of photography—­as a scientific means of visualizing the invisible, classifying and comparing particular forms of expression—­were revised and reimagined in relation to the German concern of aesthetic judgment as that which grounds community. This happens as the methods of Duchenne and Charcot migrated to Germany and were taken up and modified, directly and indirectly, by individuals such as the doctor and physiologist Theodor Piderit, who influenced Darwin and who produced materials that would be incorporated into American psychological experiments, and the portraitist August Sander, whose People of the 20th Century provides a massive archive of portraits divided up into seven general categories intended to create an archive of a broad range of “types” of modern German society.44 B O O K S O F F A C E S  • 8 9

As Benjamin discusses some potentials of photography, he seems to be describing the photographic capacity to visualize the invisible in the halting of time: Whereas it is a commonplace that, for example, we have some idea of what is involved in the act of walking (if only in general terms), we have no idea at all what happens during the fraction of a second when a person actually takes a step. Photography, with its devices of slow motion and enlargement, reveals the secret. It is through photography that we first discover the existence of this optical unconscious, just as we discover the instinctual unconscious through psychoanalysis.45

The photograph, Benjamin admits, reveals an unseen that exceeds the empirical. And yet the secret details revealed in the stopping of time matter not because of their revelation of the occult to the empirical, at least not completely. Benjamin tells us, in his essay “Doctrine of the Similar,” an essay that shares many of the same themes as the “Little History,” “The similarities perceived consciously—­for instance, in faces—­are, compared to the countless similarities perceived unconsciously or not at all, like the enormous underwater mass of an iceberg in comparison to the small tip one sees rising out of the water.”46 Benjamin sees something of a parallel between physiognomy and photography, in the idea that similarity and likeness, be they perceived instantaneously or exposed only in a photograph, are foundational for a cosmic intertwining of human lives. This similarity and likeness—­that there is a form of mimetic judgment that unites disparate individuals together—­seems more akin to a Schiller-­like sense of aesthetic community than to the French use of photography as a document that borders empirical science and the occult. The role of the mystical and the occult, in Benjamin, is far more expansive than an “unseen” one that can be revealed technologically. Rather, they represent premodern forms of sociality that have waned in modern life. While likenesses may be seen in faces readily—­hence the obsession physiognomy has with reading character from the face—­photography rewrites the ability to see otherwise unseen similarities. Whenever Benjamin speaks of the “mimetic faculty” that sees and produces similarity, he also suggests that the role of mimesis in modern life has eroded, something related to the very idea of empathy as feeling-­into another. Seeing others, training bodies to exchange glances and exchange expressions, mirroring one another—­if this is a means to know and judge others, a means that enables the feeling-­into others, empathizing and sympathizing with them, 9 0   •   B O O KS O F FAC E S

then photography is a potential method through which to regain a waning mimetic capacity. Benjamin memorably discusses Sander as an exemplary means to photographically generate a pedagogical, technical form to ground a renewed compassion lost in modern life, albeit a technical pedagogy that also renews an occult, astrological set of values in which people mirror not just others, but the cosmos as well. The mimetic faculty, for Benjamin, is about faces and gestures—­but also about one’s place within the universe, about the ability to copy the cosmos, a faculty lost through the disenchantment of ritual in modern life. The optical unconscious is not only about seeing that which is otherwise invisible, but a way of restoring to perception the sympathetic human abilities lost in modern life. The photograph not only stops the movement of a particular gesture; it also enables its frozen countenance to be replicated, circulated, ripped from its original context. It allows a particular motion to be broken down and become “universal.” Benjamin unintentionally provokes several important questions, questions that only become clear when contrasting his writings on photography with photography’s use in psychology: How do we understand the ability of a photograph to document, and how does this relate to the ability of a photograph to produce relation?47 Photography, with Duchenne and Charcot, is not about a potential community, a potential relation. For these French scientists, photography permits a spectacular consumption of the bodies of others, others who become an archive that carries a pedagogy of pathological classification. Benjamin, on the other hand, sees the books of faces created by Sander as advancing a pedagogy of mimetic relation. Who gets photographed? Who sees these photographs? With Duchenne and Charcot, the subjects are mostly women, categorized as pathological, living in a hospital, photographed and observed by scientists, a means to classify and contain, with a purpose of educating medical practitioners to recognize the visible signs of emotion and madness. With Sander, the subjects are potentially anyone and everyone, seen and classified by a photographer for observation by potentially anyone and everyone, a means to classify and unite. Are photographs a method to segment, separate, rationalize, to shape and produce what Foucault would describe as the “docile bodies” of modern discipline?48 Or are they a means for regaining a fading mimetic capacity? What changes in the migration of photography from France to America, which has much to do with who is photographed, who takes photographs, and who looks at these photographs, is a relationship between B O O K S O F F A C E S  • 9 1

normal, pathological, and pedagogical. Duchenne was photographing a general, normal capacity of facial expression, albeit by shocking abnormal subjects, creating images intended for researchers and artists. Charcot used photography to define the visual appearance of the abnormal, and his archive was intended for researchers. Like Sander, the Americans would use photography to define the visual appearance of the normal, the everyday, the quotidian. But instead of building an archive of many different people, representing a wide range of social positions and roles, the Americans would eventually create multiple sets of photographs of single individuals—­individuals who were initially actors, but then became the researchers themselves, assuming the researcher is the very essence of a normal and universal human. They would show their photographs to the subjects of their experiments, asking them to group and arrange the images. In this reversal of who is photographed and who looks at a photograph, the Americans would eventually use their books of photography to make claims about the visual appearance of emotion that exists as a fundamental structure of all human minds. The Americans would assume themselves to be ideal men, models against which all others would be compared. Affect Programs at Columbia University The problem to which we now turn is one of individual interpretation, of collective similitude, of knowing that a set of images corresponds to a universal sense of judgment. As Sigrid Weigel has argued, the evidence for physical and neuronal “arousal,” such as pulse, blood pressure, and muscle contraction, inevitably require one to “rely on interpretation,” a fact that includes the interpretation of facial expression.49 These interpretations only occur through the use of a particular technology, providing the grounds of what is seen in conjunction with what can be said about it: books of faces provide the material foundations for an exceptionally influential body of thought, often referred to as affect program theory. Affect program theory’s primary claim is that each of the “basic emotions,” which almost always include happiness, sadness, fear, anger, and disgust, has a specific, unique neural “circuit” or “signature” (or “program”) that is triggered based on a response to a particular stimulus.50 These programs are supposed innate to human, and often animal, neurophysiology, and their existence is assumed to have some evolutionary benefit. 9 2   •   B O O KS O F FAC E S

The extensive deployment of affect program theory, both in psychology and beyond, is a problem. The most popular source for affect program theory has, for decades now, been derived from the work of Paul Ekman and his regular collaborator, Wallace Friesen. Over the past decade or so, Ekman’s work, which has an astounding level of interdisciplinary influence, has been challenged by several of his contemporaries in psychology. Alan Fridlund, a former student and coauthor of Ekman, was one of his earliest critics. Fridlund has condemned the affect program paradigm for a foundational misreading of Darwin and a reliance on techniques of forced choice in laboratory experiments. Fridlund also found, in reviewing laboratory notes from some of their most widely cited experiments, evidence that Ekman and Friesen manipulated the published reports of their most influential findings to make claims not supported by their experiments, calling into question the empirical validity of some of their studies.51 Similar critiques have been made in the work of psychologist James A. Russell and the neuropsychologist Lisa Feldman Barrett, who have engaged in experimentally based research to undermine the claims of Ekman and other affect program theorists, using technologies like facial electromyography.52 Authors like Ruth Leys53 have provided detailed histories that follow the research of one of Ekman’s mentors, Silvan Tomkins, and those who trailed in his wake, like Ekman and Carol Izard, demonstrating a range of issues that arise in this history, such as Ekman’s involvement in manipulating grant funding, determining which research was funded and which was not, along with a number of other questionable, normative assumptions that guided his ethnographic work on the universality of facial expression. Rather than repeat the arguments of these authors in much detail, I now turn to a constellation surrounding psychologists Robert Sessions Woodworth and Harold Schlosberg and how they draw on and reinvent what I’ve discussed in this chapter so far. Woodworth and Schlosberg’s textbook Experimental Psychology is the source for the experimental processes later taken up by Ekman and other affect program theorists—­a source that has been obscured and hidden throughout the development of affect program theory.54 I turn to this book as it demonstrates how the American photography of posed facial expressions became codified, and it also sketches the birth of the basic emotions paradigm in experimental psychology. While there have been countless attempts to describe the basic emotions throughout history, the link among emotion, expression, and empirical study did not occur until this book claimed that the B O O K S O F F A C E S  • 9 3

basic emotions could be determined experimentally. So I want to move further into the space that, according to François Delaporte, Duchenne worked to invent: not only did the face and brain come into being with Duchenne but the idea that there are a limited set of five to nine “basic emotions” that exist in the brain as discrete “affect programs” only came into being when American psychologists attempted to purge spiritualism from and thus reinvent the use of photography in psychological research. Basic emotions and affect programs did not exist until they were photographed and organized without recourse to a photography that revealed an occult truth hitherto unobserved, replacing the documentation of truth with aesthetic judgment.55 Experimental Psychology, which was also referred to as the “Columbia Bible,” circulated initially in 1909 in mimeograph form at Columbia University. Its first published edition, the 1938 edition solely authored by Woodworth, and its 1954 revision, jointly authored by Woodworth and Schlosberg, together sold over sixty-­seven thousand copies, making it an academic bestseller that influenced the experimental practices of several generations of psychologists. A third edition was published in 1971, revised and rewritten mostly by Schlosberg’s former colleagues at Brown University.56 The book’s first edition was warmly reviewed by luminaries in American experimental psychology, such as Titchener’s student Edwin Boring, and it could be argued that this book was the central text in defining what a psychological experiment even was as psychology was formalized as a discipline in the United States.57 Experimental Psychology is one of the most important texts in the formation of experimental psychology in the United States and provided a central route that techniques of German psychophysics entered—­and were revised by—­American psychology. It is also the specific place that the empirical description of the basic emotions was first written down and disseminated. Yet I have never seen Woodworth and Schlosberg given a prominent place in histories of emotions research, and much of the memory of their work seems to have been obliterated despite their centrality in defining American psychology. Again, this book provides the birth of the discrete emotions used by Ekman, and thus the model of affect programs more broadly; this model of emotion stems not from the work of people like Silvan Tomkins, whose massive Affect Imagery Consciousness is more often described as the origin of the affect program model.58 Woodworth and Schlosberg’s methods were foundational for almost all affect program research, and, in examining their textbook, I demonstrate 9 4   •   B O O KS O F FAC E S

how research on facial emotions depend directly on the material capacities of books of faces and revolve around the physical aspects of bodies recorded in drawings and photographs. In doing this, the occult aspects of photography were sidelined to make the photograph not something that reveals the optical unconscious but something that provides evidence of universal emotional judgment. The Precedents of Experimental Psychology There are three intertwining, if relatively distinct, historical traditions that produced the range of physical books of faces used in Woodworth and Schlosberg’s research, which move from drawings and etchings of faces to photography. One tradition, the one Benjamin was interested in, is physiognomic—­books of faces were published and circulated to “teach” the interpretation of character from images of faces. The second is artistic—­books of facial expressions were created to help artists and actors accurately represent “the passions.” We’ve already seen how some of the above relate to both traditions. Duchenne was firmly embedded in the two. His work was both an engagement with physiognomy, providing an anatomical basis for what were previously physiognomic signs, and also a project intended to improve the abilities of artists.59 The third is the Darwinian tradition—­so often misinterpreted—­that follows from Darwin’s influential 1872 book, The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals, a book that is itself derived from Duchenne. Each of these traditions works to visualize and produce similarities, between human bodies, between human faces, between human and animal. Benjamin’s identification of similarity and mimesis as the ultimate pedagogical goal of photographic books of faces is particularly important. While Charcot was not particularly interested in similarity and mimesis beyond the recognition of “types” to be identified and confined, this theme, latent in Duchenne and physiognomy, becomes explicit in Darwin: facial expression is a means to identify commonalities and similarities throughout humanity that link humans with each other and with their evolutionary predecessors. But, through their combination in Woodworth and Schlosberg’s experiments, these three traditions are rationalized to limit the possibilities for similarity, constrained to a set of categories determined by negative differentiation. Or, in combining these traditions and introducing forced choice into experiments on emotion, what Woodworth and Schlosberg discovered is not that observers agree about particular, posed B O O K S O F F A C E S  • 9 5

photographs of emotion representing specific emotional states, not that expressions of emotion are a means to unite individuals through a pedagogy of spectacular emotion, fostering empathy and compassion. Rather, observers agree on what specific facial expressions do not represent. If, for Duchenne, for Charcot, and for a broader understanding of photography writ large, the photograph is a trace that represents something’s once extant materiality, a signifier of a truth of the body documented for the first time, this is not the case for Woodworth and Schlosberg. Instead, the photograph is a comparative means of negation. While part of a long history that descends from Ancient Greece, physiognomy achieved widespread popularity throughout nineteenth-century Europe through the work of the Zürich pastor Johann Caspar Lavater. While many editions of Lavater’s work were large, ornate, and expensive, his writings were circulated—­often in pirated form—­in inexpensive pamphlets and paperback editions, disseminating his belief in “a way to access the invisible internal through the external” that he saw as evidence of the agency of a divine creator.60 Lavater distinguished between physiognomy and pathognomy. Physiognomy studies the immobile, neutral face, while pathognomy examines the muscular motions of the face that provide evidence for the passions.61 Facial expression, according to Lavater, distorts the face and makes it difficult, if not impossible to judge character (Figure 13). Physiognomy is inherently visual and, as mentioned in the introduction, embodied in artistic practice. “The art of drawing is indispensable,” claimed Lavater, and the “physiognomist who cannot draw readily, accurately, and characteristically, will be unable to make, much less to retain, or communicate, innumerable observations.”62 Physiognomy is therefore intertwined with questions about the training of artists, but is somewhat distinct. The physiognomic tradition worked to remove the presence of facial emotion to approach the “truth” of character in the stillness of the face. The artistic tradition, instead, sought to improve artistic representation and, ideally, produce techniques to induce in the viewer or spectator particular emotions from a mimetic relation with an artwork.63 One perspective on representation (the one we find in Lavater) could be said to be Platonic. The proper form of a representation is one that accurately depicts, through a cultivated method of sketching, the ideal interior essence of character of a person. The drawings in Lavater’s book are abstractions and caricatures. The artistic tradition, which is more Aristotelian in its emphasizing of an accurate mimetic reproduction, can be seen in the work of 9 6   •   B O O KS O F FAC E S

Figure 13. Plate 21 from Lavater’s Essays on Physiognomy (1800?). None of these drawings—­of faces known from history—­contain anything beyond a “neutral” expression.

Charles Le Brun and a range of eighteenth-­and nineteenth-­century artists and scientists who followed him, the most notable of which were Sir Charles Bell and Duchenne. This also includes the Germans Theodor Piderit (Figures 14 and 15) and Heinrich Rudolph, both of whom published illustrated books or pamphlets with the goal of helping artists accurately represent facial emotions, often synthesising physiognomy with the arts.64 Bell, Le Brun, and Piderit all relied on drawings and paintings. Duchenne’s Mécanisme de la physionomie humaine, as mentioned above, was one of the first works to rely extensively on photography. Duchenne’s book was divided up into two parts: a “scientific” section that isolated particular facial muscles, and an “aesthetic” section that reproduced works of art and other “artistic” scenarios to demonstrate how “beauty” could be achieved even with scientifically accurate facial expressions.65 This division is one of the most interesting parts of Duchenne’s book, as it speaks to both the intertwining of art and science at his time—­an intertwining that also characterizes Bell, Le Brun, and Piderit—­along with a rejection of arguments like those of Lessing’s in the Laocoön, with the suggestion that beauty cannot coexist with physiological accuracy (Figure 16).66 Duchenne’s division between scientific and aesthetic also speaks to the moment in which Darwin’s The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals emerged and separated out artistic representation and the physiology of emotion.

Figure 14. Illustration from Theodor Piderit’s Mimik und Physiognomik (1886).

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Figure 15. Illustration from Theodor Piderit’s Mimik und Physiognomik (1886).

Darwin’s Expression of the Emotions is, perhaps, the most influential book of all nineteenth-­century works on facial expression.67 Darwin was operating within the space opened by Lavater, Bell, Piderit, and Duchenne, relying on evidence from their writings and the illustrations from their books. But he was also offering a critique or reinvention many of their assumptions. This instability means that Darwin’s work on facial expression is the most misread of all of those I’ve mentioned. Darwin is often invoked by affect program theorists to argue facial expressions have an evolutionary purpose. This is a misreading: Darwin suggests that facial expression of emotion is less something that has a clear evolutionary function in contemporary human life than it demonstrates humanity’s descent from animals.68 The point of the Expression of the Emotions, which was originally drafted as an additional chapter of his Descent of Man, is to highlight continuity between humans and their evolutionary ancestors. The emphasis on facial expression is another way to emphasize this

Figure 16. The inclusion of the Laocoön sculpture in Duchenne’s book suggests a belief that, if accurately represented, realistic emotion should be a goal of representation in the visual and plastic arts. Guillaume-­Benjamin-­ Amand Duchenne de Boulogne and Adrien Tournachon, Head of the Laocoön of Rome, from Duchenne’s Mécanisme de la physionomie humaine (1854–­56, printed 1862). Albumen silver print from glass negative, 28.2 x 20.3 cm. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

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continuity, not to suggest that we have facial expressions—­or even emotions—­because of some current evolutionary benefit we get from expression and emotion.69 Darwin was offering a particular critique of the artistic tradition, especially as represented by Theodor Piderit and Charles Bell.70 Bell saw facial expression as an endowment from god, differentiating humans from animals. Through his critique of Bell, Darwin was attempting to dismiss the artistic tradition’s suggestion that the aesthetic experience produced through facial expression was a uniquely human means for producing sympathetic relation. Darwin was also attempting to reject the assumptions of Lavater because of the “unscientific” reputation of physiognomy and his employment of similar illustration strategies as Lavater.71 In fact, the limitations of photography were something Darwin was working against. The theorization of emotion Darwin offers undermines the idea of discrete emotional categories, conceptualizing emotions as blurry states that cannot be defined discretely. Despite his use of photographic illustrations, Darwin was deeply skeptical about the use of photography to document scientific truth, in part because of the stillness of the image used to capture dynamic movements.72 But he still saw Duchenne’s apparatus as a productive engagement with physiology, and he found some of Piderit’s descriptions of facial movements (especially those of nostril flares) to be particularly notable. Duchenne and Darwin, together, demonstrate Delaporte’s argument that the face and brain did not preexist their studies. Together, they highlight a break that engages with but completely remakes the association of character, representation, and physiology. What we get with Darwin is a critical engagement with the photographic halting of motion that works with photography as a limited medium, which must be taken skeptically as a distortion of embodied motion, not as “evidence” of what is otherwise unseen or occulted in daily life. Classifıcation and Differentiation in Experimental Psychology Darwin’s skeptical engagement with photography, while influential, was never completely understood by his followers. In American psychology, a misreading of Darwin provides the motivation for research on facial expression, the artistic tradition provides physical materials used in laboratory experiments, and physiognomy looms in the background as a disavowed, yet determining ancestor, in which some interiority of another can be known and judged through appearance alone. The breaks represented by B O O K S O F F A C E S  • 1 0 1

Darwin and Duchenne are reconfigured and reinvented, suggesting continuity where little exists. Merely representing emotion through drawings and photographs—­highlighting the “optical unconscious” of emotion—­ leads to the belief that the emotions are discrete because drawings and photographs are discrete. But this unseen, occulted interiority of another is rarely divulged in this work—­the grounds upon which these American experiments took place did not initially assume photography to reveal something that would exceed the empirical. The spiritual and the metaphysical could not be determined through empirical means, and so were refused from the outset. Instead, the ability to organize photographs into groups—­which comes from both the discreteness of the image and the ability to arrange photographs in serial, published in books, repeated across pages—­creates an experimental method in which different images are conjoined to generate particular “classes” of emotion through the differentiation of facial expressions from each other. As is the case with Saussure’s semiology, emotional categories are arbitrary and differential. Yet these are not “ideal” or “ideological”—­rather, these categories emerge from techniques of sorting drawings and photographs to create semiotic oppositions through material, experimental practice. In the first edition of Experimental Psychology, Woodworth begins by suggesting Darwin claimed that emotions were “serviceable,” or “remnants . . . of practical movements” that were “directed to the securing of practical results.” But instead of interpreting this as a “remnant” from broader evolutionary descent alone, Woodworth assumes that the emotions are also vestiges from human development, and that, say, the “expression of grief in the adult is toned down from the frank crying of the infant. The vocal part of crying is a practical call for help, and the facial part was originally an adjunct to the vocal. The wide open mouth involved the muscles which depress the corners of the mouth, and this little movement remains as a sign of grief after vocal crying has been eliminated.”73 Woodworth begins by assuming emotion to be both a derivation of evolution and a necessary aspect of human development—­one that may be inconsequential in adult life, but helps ensure the survival of the child. In this, Woodworth is conflating the claims of Darwin with those of Piderit, who claimed that expression has “a present utility which can be discovered without going back into individual and racial history.”74 Piderit saw the facial residue of habitual expressions—­which we refer to as crow’s feet, worry lines, and so on—­as the result of the perpetual performance of specific sentiments that would become read as character.75 While Piderit 1 0 2   •   B O O KS O F FAC E S

was attempting to reinvent physiognomy, reframing claims about the visual evidence of character away from some innate ideal form that in-­ forms the face and toward an argument about the habitual traces inscribed on the body’s appearance, he nonetheless is suggesting that the visual representation of character has some benefit (which is admittedly not evolutionary and not based in the descent of species). This conflation persists today in the psychology of the emotions. Piderit, the vast majority of whose work was never translated into English, is where we get the idea that facial expressions must have some current social value, rather than the Darwinian claim that facial expressions are remnants of evolutionary descent. Piderit is also the first source of images of faces used in psychological experiments. His 1886 book Mimik und Physiognomik included numerous line drawings of facial expressions, bridging the tradition of Lavater with questions of artistic representation. Many of Piderit’s drawings were similar to Lavater’s, though Piderit diverged from Lavater by including numerous images of the human face expressing particular emotions, with parts of the face broken up to isolate the eyes, forehead, or mouth (Figure 17). In their 1923 article, “A Model for the Demonstration of Facial Expression,” Edwin Boring and Edward Titchener used Piderit’s drawings to create a model of the human face, comprising wood, ink, and cardboard, in which fungible, physical pieces for brows, eyes, nose, and mouth would generate a range of different facial expressions (Figures 18 and 19).76 The

Figure 17. Illustration from Theodor Piderit’s Mimik und Physiognomik (1886).

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Figure 18. A sketch of Boring and Titchener’s cardboard, ink, and wood experimental model with interchangeable expressions, derived from Piderit, from their 1923 article, “A Model for the Demonstration of Facial Expression.”

Figure 19. Boring and Titchener’s groupings of the Piderit drawings, from their 1923 article, “A Model for the Demonstration of Facial Expression.”

combination of a technological model with a series of drawings provides the material techniques that separated eyes from brows, nose from mouth, splitting the face into a series of discrete elements that can be disassembled and recombined. We can already see a particular model of the face that, while not represented through photography, presumes from the outset a lesson of Duchenne—­the parts of the face are discrete and can be separated into several limited sections. A model such as that proposed by Boring and Titchener begins by thinking of the face as if constructed by discrete units, and expression is about the arrangement of these discrete units into a set of specific gestures that can be reduced through abstraction. If their goal was to demonstrate a universality of facial expression, an inborn (evolutionarily determined) ability to read the emotions of others, then Boring and Titchener failed dramatically.77 In one study performed using Boring and Titchener’s model, psychologists intended to represent dismay, horror, disdain, disgust, and bewilderment—­and, in a second study, suggested dismay could also be a “quizzical” expression, horror also attention, disdain also displeasure, disgust also contempt, and bewilderment also reverence. Without prompting from the scientists, the students who served as the subjects of their experiment would identify intended expressions at very low rates. Woodworth, in recounting the Boring and Titchener model, suggests that the failure of this experiment means “‘reading the emotion from the face’ amounts in large part to reading the emotion into the face,” though, he also suggests, it’s probable that Piderit’s drawings were the main problem.78 The implications here are either that the meaning of a facial expression is a projection or that the tools themselves are faulty. This second suggestion was deemed more likely by experimental psychologists, though the idea that emotion was read into the face, rather than from the face, was not dismissed. Psychologists admitted that their studies were about posed facial expressions, ideals that were abstractions in a lab, and not about the possibilities of universal “natural” facial expressions. They seemed to be interested in understanding if observers could identify the intent of an actor in a particular performance. The goal here was about aesthetic judgment first, and the experience of emotion second. This interest in art and performance had clear precedent—­psychophysics in Germany was developed alongside “psychological aesthetics,” which saw aesthetic response as indicative of broader psychological states,79 and, as I’ve been suggesting throughout this book, was part of the broader B O O K S O F F A C E S  • 1 0 5

German quest for the “aesthetic state,” of an emotional sociability produced through shared sensation. Theodor Lipps had already begun to conflate aesthetic judgment with emotional community and communication. Similar conflations were clearly happening in these psychological experiments, especially whenever the legitimating function of Darwin (and Piderit) served to suggest that something more fundamental was at stake in the judgment of facial expression. Rather than admit that people project emotions onto facial expressions, methods had to be refined. To solve the problem of Piderit’s drawings, experiments were conducted using images from another German book of facial expressions intended for the training of artists, Heinrich Rudolph’s Der Ausdruck der Gemütsbewegungen des Menschen, which included hundreds of photographic reproductions of a bearded actor simulating a range of expressions (Figure 20) along with drawings of faces derived from these images (Figure 21).80 Rudolph’s book was relatively well known in the United States. Walter Dill Scott, a professor of psychology who ran the psychological laboratory at Northwestern, another student of Wundt and one of the first Americans to apply experimental psychology to advertising and public speaking, included in his 1906 book The Psychology of Public Speaking a list of “the best works on expressions of emotions.” This list included texts by Wundt, James, Darwin’s Expression of the Emotions, a book by Herbert Spencer, and—­alongside these works still considered foundational for psychology today—­Rudolph’s book, for which Scott included a relatively lengthy description: Several authors have attempted to indicate the exact method of expressing scores of emotions. Ordinarily such work is inaccurate and misleading. Among the best of such attempts is an atlas with 680 heads, each expressing a different emotional condition, together with the explanatory text . . . by Heinrich Rudolph. . . . This book is in German, and the 680 heads, all of the same man, are all labelled. The reader who does not know German will usually have no trouble in understanding what emotion is intended.81

The purpose of Scott’s book was to develop a model that applied the claims of experimental psychology to advertising and public speaking, a model for persuasion that could influence others.82 Even though Scott found Rudolph’s photos to be obvious and thus persuasive, experiments performed with Rudolph’s images, as was the case with Boring and Titchener’s model, found a very low agreement on just what emotions these images were supposed to represent.83 This was, perhaps, because of the images themselves—­or at least that was the argument 1 0 6   •   B O O KS O F FAC E S

Figure 20. Photographs from Rudolph’s Der Ausdruck der Gemütsbewegungen des Menschen.

Figure 21. Rudolph’s drawings of his model’s face from Der Ausdruck der Gemütsbewegungen des Menschen.

offered by a number of those engaging with the Rudolph images. The methods were, yet again, at fault. As University of Iowa psychologist Christian A. Ruckmick argued dismissively, “The collections of facial expressions so far published and available for general use are made up of line drawings of a heavily bearded face that was obviously ‘touched up’ by some artist.” Ruckmick, who apparently only had access to Rudolph’s drawings, thus created his own set of images—­of a female student with acting experience—­in order “to see what range of expression we could obtain without such accentuating accessories as a moustache and beard”84 (Figure 22). At Columbia, the psychologist Antoinette M. Feleky produced a similar archive of faces as Ruckmick (Figures 23 and 24). Using herself (referred to as A. F.) as her subject in 86 photographs, she asked 100 observers to label her images as expressing a particular emotion from a list of 110 possibilities.85 Feleky’s image set was by far the most sophisticated and standardized of all of those used to that point. And it was the first in which the psychologist used their own face as the model for all emotions. In the first edition of Experimental Psychology, Woodworth tells a story of gradual refinement in empirical studies of facial emotion, both in terms of the material used in experiments and in terms of the general boundaries of empirical study. In the revised edition, Woodworth and Schlosberg claim that the first edition recounted how Woodworth, using data from Feleky’s study, was able to limit emotions to six categories and would then account for a range of “near misses” or inconsistencies in naming. This is a distortion. In the first edition, Woodworth’s six categories were presented as a hypothetical grouping in a table, not as a settled fact. His categories, while derived from gradually simplifying Feleky’s 110 emotions to 6, worked consistently with data from a range of prior studies, such as Ruckmick’s.86 In the revised edition, this tentative hypothesis became the following:

After some trial and error, [Woodworth] found the following scale to be satisfactory: I. Love, Happiness, Mirth II. Surprise III. Fear, Suffering IV. Anger, Determination V. Disgust VI. Contempt

The scale was satisfactory in that a pose which most [observers] judged to be Fear might seem to others to represent a neighboring step, as Surprise or Anger, but was rarely called anything as remote as Love or Disgust.87

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Figure 22. Christian A. Ruckmick’s photographs from his 1921 article, “A Preliminary Study of the Emotions.”

Figure 23. Antoinette M. Feleky’s photographs of herself from her 1914 article, “The Expression of the Emotions.”

Figure 24. Antoinette M. Feleky’s photographs of herself as collected in her 1922 book, Feelings and Emotions.

There’s some heavy lifting being accomplished with the word “satisfactory.” The Woodworth scale—­which, for anyone acquainted with the “basic emotions” of the affect program theorists, should be familiar—­was constructed after the fact. It was designed as a measure that, to Woodworth, sufficiently described past findings of psychologists such as Ruckmick and Feleky. But more significantly, it is not a measure of homology or association. It is not a description of what photographs represent, it is not a description of basic emotions, it is not a scale of natural kinds. It is intended “to say how far apart two different expressions are.”88 In Experimental Psychology, empirical studies of facial expression identify similarity through negation—­the posed images of love, happiness, or mirth are grouped together because those images were not interpreted as belonging to one of the other general categories, not because people identified “happy” faces as being happy. These categories are less about which images belong in a particular category than which images do not belong. The creation of the Woodworth scale reveals several important historical breaks, which come from both Feleky’s explanation of her images and Woodworth’s revision of Feleky’s project. We can see how the subject in the photographs has completely changed. With the books of Duchenne, Charcot, and Rudolph, with Ruckmick’s photo set, we have actors and confined, pathological, and abnormal individuals—­people assumed to be deceptive because of gender, because of profession, because of pathology, or because of a combination of these factors. Duchenne’s most famous images, of his old man, appear to be an exception, though this old man is still a “pathological” subject under medical care. Otherwise, Duchenne’s other subjects were women from the Salpêtrière and a male actor. With Rudolph’s book, we have one individual—­a male actor. With Ruckmick’s photos, we have a female student with acting experience. This changes with Feleky’s images, though not completely. With Feleky’s image set, we have the researcher, a woman, who performed her research while a graduate student at Columbia, made into a scientific scale by the male faculty members of her department. And yet even though the researcher now presumes herself to be the ideal human subject to represent all emotions, problems of acting and of men gazing at photos of women’s faces still permeate the entire study of facial expression from its outset in American experimental psychology. There’s an uneasy balance between questions of the falsity of theatrical performance and the anxieties encapsulated by Schopenhauer’s misogyny, which presumed women to be innate actors, abusing their capacity B O O K S O F F A C E S  • 1 1 3

of duplicity to elicit sympathy and kindness.89 It also seems that American psychology, intentionally or not, presumed that famous Freudian question first stated around the same time. As Freud wrote in a 1925 letter to Marie Bonaparte, this question “has never been answered and which I have not yet been able to answer, despite my thirty years of research into the feminine soul,” the question, “‘What does a woman want?’”90 Wanting to know what another is feeling initially appears as a question about art, about the ability to feel-­into a painting, or feeling-­into performers on a stage. But in its refinement, it becomes about men trying to feel-­into and know what women are feeling, mostly examining their own students. Feleky’s images were often constructed through the imagining of specific events, and often responses to particular aesthetic stimuli, such as a specific song or a line of poetry (Figure 25). The point was not so much to induce that emotion in the viewer, but to see if the viewer could correctly identify the emotion Feleky intended. The presumption is not that this identification has anything to do with the specific subject documented in the photo. Rather, Feleky’s images assume that she can represent and experience all emotions, and that her observers will be able to understand what these emotions are. With Feleky’s photos, the idea of judging images moves away from the specificity of subjective evaluation to an assumed universality produced in the construction of an experiment. Subjective difference becomes a problem to be solved through the invention of an artificial technology to capture judgment. Feleky herself explains that her photographic work should “bring out clearly and prove the existence of a phenomena known as prejudice” and thus “should be of value to all those who are interested in the human individual, to the physician, the lawyer, the social worker, etc.”91 This is a particularly strange claim given the fact that Feleky is the only person photographed in her work. Thus she’s claiming that her face, in substituting for all others, can serve to undermine a logic of prejudicial judgment, permitting an empathetic relation to be fostered and cultivated. Emotional projection is reinvented, no longer about an artistic effect produced through visual representation or through dramaturgy, but a universal capacity possible given the proper context.92 While Benjamin described the photography of August Sander as a “physiognomic gallery” that could rekindle the mimetic faculty, part of this was a result of how Sander was photographing an exceptionally broad range of “types” found throughout German society. Even though Sander did group his photographs into types, Benjamin’s interpretation of these photos emphasized their specificity and detail rather than their 1 1 4   •   B O O KS O F FAC E S

Figure 25. Antoinette M. Feleky’s third photograph of herself as collected in her 1922 book Feelings and Emotions, a pose representing a line from Faust.

categorizations. Feleky, on the other hand, has one subject, herself, that posits to become all subjects, all bodies, all categories. Finally, we can note that, throughout, what is at stake here is disagreement and difference, not agreement and identity, not mimesis and collectivity through empathy. Even though Feleky presumed a neutrality and universality to her images, and believed that her research demonstrated a high agreement among those looking at her images, this universality could not be sufficiently demonstrated in empirical study. Hence Woodworth’s reinvention of Feleky’s experiments, reducing possible emotions from over one hundred to only six. Regardless of her intent, Feleky’s photographs—­ and Woodworth’s rewriting of her research—­point to a radical change in what these studies were supposed to find. Universality and the Reinvention of Performance The experiments of Titchener, Boring, Ruckmick, and Woodworth seem very much indebted to a problem which descended from Schiller and Lessing—­How do we know an audience interprets what a performer intends correctly? In some ways, this connection to Lessing’s arguments is overt—­Feleky, for instance, begins her 1922 book, Feelings and Emotions, by describing a moment in which she is, quite literally, interrupted while reading a biography of Lessing.93 Feleky’s divergence from Lessing is almost reflexively emphasized in her account of interrupted reading: On Dec. 17, 1911, about 4 o’clock in the afternoon, I was sitting comfortably in my cosy apartment reading Rolleston’s Life of Lessing when, all of a sudden, I was disturbed by loud cries in the street. Rising from my mission-­ stained chair, I walked toward the window, drew aside the lace curtains, and looked out. Two men in the street were shouting frantically “Extra! Extra! War with Russia!” . . . I went back to the perusal of my book, but the cries of the two men haunted me. . . . Soon I was compelled to put my book aside, and allow my imagination free sway. I saw vivid images of battles soldiers—­ nurses—­gunpowder etc. I also thought of the Seven-­Years’ War mentioned in the story of Lessing’s life. . . . A kind of fear and horror went through my being when I saw the mutilated soldiers of my imagination.94

If Lessing was interested in the simulation of emotion in a theatrical performance to generate “real” emotional bonding in the audience, or the inability of a sculpture to represent an emotion—­in which simulation leads to the real thing, or artistic constraints prevent feeling from happening—­ 1 1 6   •   B O O KS O F FAC E S

Feleky literally puts down this historical understanding of art and emotion to turn toward her own feelings, which project and feel-­into a past that she imagines in her mind. She turns away from feeling-­into a work toward feeling-­into her own imagined memory of others, a turn Titchener also makes when he begins to describe Einfühlung as motor empathy for his own memories. But, as well, Feleky’s narrative here initiates an understanding of empathy that is, ideally, universal and without specific embodied histories. Lessing’s writings, which still value emotional experience, are almost always about the limits that prohibit the transmission of genuine feeling from one to another, which thus must be rectified through artificial means, through technique. Feleky’s ability to emotionally feel-­ into images provoked by newspaper vendors, to feel-­into the histories described in her reading, to feel-­into imagined (and yet “real”) surgeons, soldiers, nurses—­this seems to be a moment in which psychology ceases its interest in the specific reactions audiences have to a performance in favor of a pedagogical understanding of facial expression as a universal interface of humanity. And yet Feleky could not become this “universal” subject in the eyes of her contemporaries. In 1930, a French doctoral student in psychology at Princeton, Jean Frois-­Wittmann, published an article derived from his PhD research, “The Judgment of Facial Expression,” for which he created a series of photographs of himself that, implicitly, follow the method Feleky pioneered (Figure 26). Frois-­Wittmann is an interesting figure in this entire history.95 The cousin of Pierre Janet, Frois-­Wittmann enrolled in his youth at L’École des Beaux-­Arts de Paris in the studio of Luc-­Olivier Merson and was a member of the Surrealists. After World War I, during which he served as a medic, he began graduate study at Princeton and started practicing psychoanalysis in the United States in 1926. After the completion of his PhD in 1929, he returned to France and wrote about the relation between psychoanalysis and art, the only Surrealist to publish in the Revue française de psychanalyse, perhaps one of the earliest explicit links between surrealism and psychoanalysis beyond those published in La Révolution surréaliste.96 Frois-­Wittmann even appears in some of Freud’s home movies, taken in the summer of 1930 (Figure 27). Frois-­Wittmann tells us that his photos of emotions are the culmination of the process began by Feleky, directly incorporating many of the methodological criticisms previously leveled by Ruckmick, Woodworth, and others. “The face is fairly neutral; there is no indication of clothes, the hair is without parting and unobtrusive; the face is clean-­shaven and its B O O K S O F F A C E S  • 1 1 7

Figure 26. Examples of the Frois-­Wittmann images, from Hulin and Katz’s 1935 article, “The Frois-­Wittmann Pictures of Facial Expression.”

Figure 27. Frois-­Wittmann in one of Freud’s home movies, filmed in 1930. The Sigmund Freud Archives Collection, Library of Congress, freud.01705923.

muscles are thus plainly visible; the head has been kept in a uniform three-­quarter position, and only that mount of tilting necessary for certain expressions is present.”97 The problems of past studies are presented as about bodies appearing in photos. No longer are we dealing with the bearded actor of Rudolph, clothed, gesticulating wildly, but with a “neutral,” seemingly nude male body. The seriality of the photos is enforced, and the lack of continuity in the Rudolph photos is presented as a primary problem, a problem already addressed by Feleky, with the same “solution” in both sets. But in the Frois-­Wittmann images, the question of gender is overt. As Frois-­Wittmann put it in a footnote, clearly referring to Feleky’s photos, if not by name: Of course a woman would copy a woman’s expressions more readily than would a man. But this does not mean that a man cannot assume them. On the contrary, this is made possible by the plasticity of the facial musculature and the imitative capacity of the subject [Frois-­Wittmann], which depends for a great part on the ease with which he can identify himself with a woman and assume the feminine attitude (as exemplified by impersonators). As a

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matter of fact, a feminine expression like Coyness was frequently judged. This attempt at imitating expressions had an interesting bearing on the question of the learning of a new voluntary movement.98

Frois-­Wittmann positions himself as a universal, mutable subject, able to reinvent his face through the control of his facial muscles. This both follows and deviates from Schopenhauerian assumptions about gender, mimicry, and facial hair. “A beard can mask man’s lying face and give him half a chance at embodying feminine deceit,” glibly remarks the art historian Katherine Guinness, mocking Schopenhauer’s opinions on masculine follicular maintenance.99 Frois-­Wittmann, however, consents to the beardlessness of the face as a signifier of a true, genuine, and visible expression. But he also suggests, rejecting Schopenhauer on the lies of femininity, that man is the ultimate mimetic actor, that masculine control over one’s facial musculature turns one into a universal copy of all others. In some way, we’ve returned to Lessing’s dramaturgy, to Duchenne’s young male actor, or even to Gertrude Stein in a psychology lab. The ideal psychological object can be all things to all people in a lab. And here, this universalism becomes about a technical mastery over one’s own body and face, simulating all emotions without feeling them. Apropos of a surrealist psychoanalyst, Frois-­Wittmann becomes, to use the words of André Breton in his “First Manifesto of Surrealism,” “masters of ourselves, and masters of women.”100 This masculine, muscular control is, perhaps, the most significant contribution of Frois-­Wittmann to this history—­in his photographs, specific facial expressions are linked with particular groups of muscular contractions. As Frois-­Wittmann notes, his study demonstrates that, unlike Piderit, expressions do not have fixed patterns, and unlike Duchenne, they aren’t linked with specific, individual muscles. Instead, expressions come from groups of muscles in the face, which themselves exhibit some level of variability.101 Frois-­Wittmann gets under the skin and uses his images to suggest that facial expression is not only about a visual relation but about the biological, embodied aspects of a mutable face—­a face that, with enough training, could substitute for all others. While Frois-­Wittmann was the subject in front of the camera, Harold Schlosberg was the photographer behind it. The Frois-­Wittmann images were published as a set in the Journal of Experimental Psychology in 1935, two years before Frois-­Wittman’s death.102 Over the next twenty years, Schlosberg would perform a range of studies using these images, plotting 1 2 0   •   B O O KS O F FAC E S

them through a range of measures to refine the Woodworth scale. The posed nature of these images eventually began to bother Schlosberg, especially since the concerns of psychology had, by the 1950s, continued its move away from the aesthetic judgments that characterized it at the turn of the century, a move initiated with the Feleky images. As well, in the years between the publication of the Frois-­Wittmann images and the 1950s, Schlosberg’s original photographs and negatives of Frois-­Wittmann were apparently lost, and the only copies available were the published versions—­experiments used the images from the journal, each a two-­ and-­a half-­inch square, cut up and separated so each picture could be handled independently.103 In 1957, with some of his colleagues, Schlosberg published “A New Series of Facial Expressions,” images of Marjorie Lightfoot, a “leader in college dramatic activities” at Brown. Instead of having Lightfoot pose for particular expressions, the psychologists had her dramatically recreate a scenario narrated by one of Schlosberg’s colleagues, with a newspaper photographer taking pictures of her face at his own discretion.104 We return, once again, to actors—­but this time, without posed expressions. The documentary evidence of the photograph was now assumed. And what better photographer to capture truth than a photojournalist? Paul Ekman and the Reinvention of the Universal, Mutable (Male) Face A third edition of Experimental Psychology was published in 1971, written not by Woodworth and Schlosberg, but by twenty authors, most of whom were Schlosberg’s former colleagues and students.105 This edition completely removed the chapters on emotion. The quasi-­biological understanding of universal facial expression was out of fashion. Instead, a model of emotion that assumed the primacy of cultural specificity was dominant, represented by Gregory Bateson, Margaret Mead, and Ray Birdwhistell.106 In 1965, however, early in his career, Paul Ekman delivered a coauthored paper at the annual convention of the Western Psychological Association titled “A Replication of Schlosberg’s Evaluation of Woodworth’s Scale of Emotion.”107 Ekman’s research until around 1965 was focused on hand movements and gestures, not the face, and it was only in 1964 and ’65 that he began his research into facial expression. Ironically, considering Ekman’s eventual embrace of a model that identified almost the exact same set of basic emotions as Woodworth, a model primarily associated today with his name, arguing for their universality, Ekman’s paper claimed B O O K S O F F A C E S  • 1 2 1

that Woodworth and Schlosberg assumed too much order in their categories of emotion.108 Ruth Leys has analyzed Ekman’s photographs of facial expression in depth, so I’m not going to go into much detail about Ekman here.109 But I want to conclude this chapter by mentioning a few ways that Ekman both drew on and reinvented Duchenne’s photography, Frois-­Whittmann’s method, and the Woodworth scale, something that also reinvents the ability to identify an emotion as genuine or posed. Working to enhance the specificity of the coding system they derived from Woodworth, Ekman and his regular collaborator, Wallace Friesen, in 1977, published the manual for their Facial Action Coding System, or FACS. In the Investigator’s Guide for the FACS, Ekman and Friesen note the following: We spent the better part of a year with a mirror, anatomy texts, and cameras. We learned to fire separately the muscles in our own faces. When we were confident we were firing intended muscles we photographed our faces . . . There were a few areas of ambiguity, and here we returned to a variation on Duchenne’s method. A neuroanatomist placed a needle in one of our faces, inserting the needle into the muscle we were uncertain about. With the needle in place, the muscle was voluntarily fired, and electrical activity from that needle placement guaranteed that indeed it was the intended muscle.110

What might it mean to intend to fire a single, isolated facial muscle? The absolute opposition of Ekman to William James should be obvious, as Ekman foregrounds the primacy of intention, making reference to Duchenne but, really, drawing instead on the technique and method pioneered by Frois-­Wittmann: the emotions become represented through an extreme attention to conscious, bodily control. It’s only when this bodily mastery fails that one must turn to Duchenne’s electrical stimulation, as Duchenne himself did in his singular photo of his male actor. Not everyone possesses the level of control cultivated by Frois-­ Wittmann and Ekman. With Frois-­Wittmann, this ability is explicitly masculine. With Ekman, this ability is that of the psychologist, the master of the face and emotion. As Frois-­Wittmann wrote about himself learning to manipulate his face (in this quote, “the subject” refers to the author): In practicing a certain contraction of the brow[,] the subject . . . started with somewhat random contractions of the brow and nose until, out of these, he became aware of the existence and locality of a certain postural combination. With more practice the excess movements dropped out and the proper

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combination became so fixed as a new entity that he could now control it voluntarily in isolation from the contractions originally associated with it. He later learned how to control individually each side of the brow.111

Like Frois-­Wittmann, Ekman and Friesen supposedly could control their faces down to the individual muscle, and when that training failed, then electrical stimulation was used to produce movements that would not, by themselves, be recognized as signifying any specific emotion. Ekman and Friesen used this process to separate the face into forty-­six measurable units, the interaction of which produced all the possible ways a face could contort itself. As an instruction to coders, Ekman and Friesen suggest that all of those trained in the FACS should themselves be able to move all forty-­six facial muscles independently and should record themselves on videotape to visually code their own performance of facial affect at varying degrees of intensity. This would permit coders to understand the link between the firing of a specific muscle and its visual appearance on the face. While Duchenne linked the face, body, and brain through the visual representation of the passions, Ekman detaches emotion from expression with his method, though the practical disarticulation of face and brain is never recognized, instead privileging the visual appearance of an emotion as its real existence. Appearance becomes primary; the simulated performance of emotion becomes emotion as such. As Silvan Tomkins, one of Ekman’s mentors, once wrote, “The surface of the skin is where it is at, not deep within us, that the skin is the major motivational organ, and that a smile is where it appears to be.”112 No longer is there a necessary correlation between face and brain, a correlation invented by Duchenne. Instead, the control and manipulation of the appearance of emotion is the emotion. With the FACS manual, we have a recursion of Duchenne and Frois-­ Wittmann. Many of the early FACS images are of Ekman himself, the very model of “universal” emotions. But there is something I think that Ekman does to reinvent much of what I’ve described in this chapter, something that points to how Ekman’s understanding of emotion makes appearance and ontology interchangeable—­which allows the photograph to become documentary evidence while also refusing its occult nature. For Ekman, there is no concealed, occulted reality. There is no optical unconscious. There is no separation between inner experience and exterior expression. All that matters is proper attention to what’s already visible. In his popular B O O K S O F F A C E S  • 1 2 3

book, Emotions Revealed, Ekman presents to us a photo of grief, a photo of Bettye Shirley, a mother whose son has been murdered. (This is a murder whose salacious details are those in which Ekman seems to revel: “It is a parent’s worse [sic] nightmare. Your son suddenly disappears, with no apparent explanation. Months later you hear that the police have uncovered a homosexual mass murder ring that abducted, tortured, and killed young boys. Then you learn that your son’s body has been uncovered and identified at the mass burial site.”)113 The photo is supposed to speak for itself: in merely seeing grief, we, the viewers, are supposed to feel grief. Like Feleky, putting down her biography of Lessing to feel-­into her own imaginary images, we are assumed to project into and empathize with the image Ekman provides. And if we remain unmoved, Ekman gives us some helpful exercises: If you did not feel any sadness when you looked at the pictures, try looking again and permit those feelings to occur. If they do begin, let them grow as strongly as possible. . . . If you still have not had any feelings of sadness, if the photograph does not provoke any empathic feelings, and if no memory spontaneously emerged, try this path: Was there ever a time in your life when someone died to whom you were very attached and for whom you felt sadness? If so, visualize that scene, and let the feelings begin to re-­institute themselves. . . . If you still have not felt any sadness then try the following exercise . . . drop your mouth open. Pull the corners of your lips down. While you hold those lip corners down, try now to raise your cheeks, as if you are squinting. This pulls against the lip corners. Maintain this tension between the raised cheeks and the lip corners pulling down. Let your eyes look downward and your upper eyelids droop.114

Make yourself into a mirror of a photograph, so you can feel what the image represents. The expression is, after all, the feeling itself; the expression is the emotion. No link between face, body, and brain is needed. Greif is where it appears to be. “Our research shows that if you make these movements on your face, you will trigger changes in your physiology, both in your body and in your brain. If this happens to you, let the feelings grow as strongly as you can.”115 As we traveled from the Salpêtrière to the United States, following the varied uses of books of faces in psychology, we’ve gone from a method in which posed photographs from an asylum allow classification, a “truth” only seen through the stillness of an image, a “truth” that comes from women’s pain, a “truth” designed to identify and isolate. As books of faces became a technology used in American psychology, images were no longer 1 2 4   •   B O O KS O F FAC E S

assumed true, but rather material through which observers would disagree. What did an image of emotion actually represent? This practice was developed to understand the ability of audiences to feel-­into works of art and theatre, an extension of the German attempt to grasp aesthetics as linked with psychophysical measurement. And yet, the failure to demonstrate agreement, finding instead a wealth of judgments, led not to the abandonment of a quest to discover universals of judgment. The images used in psychological experiments were refined, reinvented, remade over time, making books of faces into objective materials. Actors and women, thought to be intrinsically dissimulative, were replaced with men, men who believed themselves to have such thorough control over their facial musculature to become any face, any expression. These men concluded that, with the correct bodily training, they could stand in for all emotions and all people, universal subjects producing sets of images that represent all possible facial expressions and the very essence of the neurobiology of emotion. And in so doing, interiority vanished, replaced with appearance alone. With Ekman, we see a particularly bizarre culmination that emerges from this tangled history. No longer is interiority the source of emotional, affective truth. Rather, appearance is. The photograph, as a document of appearance, is accepted as an authentic representation of the reality of emotion, transmitting empathy. No longer is the reality of emotion assumed separate from the laboratory means to capture feeling. The “problem” of the other’s interiority disappears. The medium precedes and teaches how one is supposed to feel, how one is supposed to understand others. The interiority and exteriority of emotion have been reversed. When you look at a photo of grief, Ekman tells us, you should let your face connect with your brain, let the movements of your body produce a flood of feelings, let your mimicry of an image reproduce and become the feeling of another. This should just happen automatically. Ekman doesn’t explicitly say this, but if it doesn’t, you may be a psychopath.

B O O K S O F F A C E S  • 1 2 5

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We’re now i n th e 1 9 6 0 s, at two radically different locations.1 One is the Burden Neurological Institute in Bristol, England, where the neurophysiologist and cybernetician W. Grey Walter is studying epileptics. The other is the British Columbia Penitentiary, a maximum-­security prison in Vancouver, Canada, where the psychologist Robert Hare is performing experiments on prisoners he has identified as “psychopathic.” Both Hare and Walter are using a particular technology: a direct-­writing oscillograph called an Offner Dynograph (Figure 28), an instrument essential in popularizing the medical and psychological use of electroencephalography, or EEG. The Dynograph, I claim in this chapter, was a primary medium through which temporal measurements of the brain and body entered psychology and psychiatry in the 1960s. But not just any temporal measurement—­a measurement of anticipation.2 A focus on anticipation began with Walter’s use of the Dynograph in his discovery of what he termed the “contingent negative variation,” an inscribed brain-­wave pattern interpreted as evidence of an apprehension of futurity, a document of a brain thinking of something about to happen. When Hare employed the Dynograph in a prison, this instrumental indication of cognitive anticipation became something far more consequential than a measurement of temporal cognition alone—­it became a measurement of empathy, a measurement used to justify permanent incarceration. In a prison, empathy would come to refer to a neurobiological ability to imagine the relation between one’s actions and another’s emotional response, to understand one’s capacity to affect and be affected, to anticipate a potential reaction, and to regret reactions that happened in the past. This definition of empathy and emotion has little in common with what this book has described thus far beyond the arguments of  • 1 2 7

Figure 28. “Woman on a Photography Set with Beckman Model R Dynograph Recorders,” n.d. This image was made after Offner’s acquisition by Beckman Instruments, Inc., in 1961, and depicts the wide range of Dynographs that were produced in the 1960s. Beckman Historical Collection, box 82. Science History Institute. Philadelphia. https:// Courtesy of Science History Institute.

Schopenhauer and James about imagination and the conscious inhibition of affective capacity. In rearticulating what emotion and empathy even are, Hare links the neurobiology of emotion—­as anticipatory, as relational, as empathetic—­to an argument for why a specific kind of person, a person called a “psychopath,” must be identified to ensure they remain in prison forever.3 Walter and Hare were working within a context distinct from that of our last two chapters. By the 1960s, psychology had been established as a generally respectable science instead of a fledgling academic discipline clouded (or supported) by a spiritualist metaphysics. But with this legitimacy came critique. Debates about psychology, psychiatry, and their politics in the 1960s presumed these psy-­sciences as powerful institutions, not “illegitimate” sciences struggling for authority at the edge of science and spirituality. We can chart the emergence of these debates through 1 2 8   •   T H E P R I S O N DY N O G R A P H

several major books still influential today. Michel Foucault published his Histoire de la Folie in 1961.4 Thomas Szasz’s Myth of Mental Illness was also published in 1961,5 as was Erving Goffman’s Asylums.6 David Cooper coined “anti-­psychiatry” in 1967 and published his Psychiatry and Anti-­ psychiatry in 1971, which discussed his “anti-­hospital” Villa 21, an experimental space for schizophrenics he ran from 1961 to 1965.7 Cooper’s “anti-­psychiatry” gave tentative coherence to this formation of writers and practitioners criticizing psychiatry and psychology, all united in their attempts to either abolish or reform its institutions, a formation which also included R. D. Laing, Jean Oury and Félix Guattari, and, most popularly, Ken Kesey’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.8 Psychiatric pathology has, throughout its history, been used to confine through amorphous categories like schizophrenia, neurosis, and psychopathy, categories without a clear or consistent definition, categories that have never been solidly grounded in the body’s physiology. The Salpêtrière imprisoned women who could not be made “productive” in the eyes of state and civil society, branding them “hysteric.” By the 1960s, the use of psychology and psychiatry to render captive would extend toward, in the words of David Cooper, “virtually whatever makes the family unbearably anxious about the tentatively independent behaviour of one of its offspring. These behavioural signs usually involve issues such as aggression, sexuality, and generally any form of autonomous self-­assertion.”9 Familial resistances became codified into pathologies to isolate and incarcerate. In the 1960s, psychology and psychiatry were seen as methods for social control and the management of population, reliant on infrastructures that would forever sequester “difficult” and “unruly” bodies. The use of psychology and psychiatry to imprison is overt in the case of psychopathy, and the grounds that supposedly legitimate this imprisonment are based in the affective and empathetic. With Hare’s studies of psychopathy, the inability to “properly” experience, interpret, and imagine a cognitive association between personal actions and visual signs of emotion became reasons for perpetual detention. This transformation in psychology and psychiatry, again, relied on the material capacities of a particular medium. This chapter traces how the behavioral resistances described by Cooper—­of aggression, of self-­assertion, of sexual experimentation—­came to serve as evidence of underlying cognitive deficiencies in the physiology of emotion, behaviors assumed so damaging to the social contract to necessitate extreme legal forms of punishment. Unlike the previous cases discussed in this book, with experiments T H E P R I S O N D Y N O G R A P H  • 1 2 9

performed at the Burden Neurological Institute and the British Columbia Penitentiary emotion is not merely a pre-­or nonconscious force (even if it is framed as such), and not about particular categories visible on the face (even if it is about the visibility of emotion as inscribed on a paper printout). Emotion, in this chapter, is about the ability to make judgments of cause and effect, the ability to comprehend temporal sequence, the ability to experience anticipatory fear and reflexive regret. The Offner Dynograph and the EEG The Offner Dynograph is a scientific instrument branded for its inventor, Franklin F. Offner. In the 1930s, as a doctoral student at the University of Chicago, Offner developed a range of electrical devices used in the Chicago biophysics lab. There, Offner invented the first direct-­writing oscillograph and the first differential amplifier, both regarded as foundational for most subsequent EEG devices. In the 1940s, Offner worked on the development of electroshock therapy, and especially methods to standardize electroshock processes by accounting for the differences in how bodies conduct electricity.10 After World War II, in 1956, he devised the first EEG machine to use transistors—­the Offner Type R Dynograph—­ which would not only write brain waves but do so with a level of stability and control previously unknown.11 The Dynograph was able to transduce and inscribe a wide range of embodied signals beyond the EEG, and early advertisements for the Dynograph did not even mention its use as an EEG (Figure 29). So the Dynograph is a form of EEG, but it also registers more than an EEG alone. The studies I discuss in this chapter often use not only EEG imaging but also other capacities of the Dynograph. The essential technical ability of the Dynograph (as an EEG and as a medical technology with capacities beyond the EEG), I emphasize, is how the “direct-­writing” oscillograph enabled something to be seen for the first time: the capacities of the body as a highly detailed, written wave on paper, in which “events” are identified as an anticipatory change over time. In other words, understanding emotion as a reflexive and anticipatory narration of cause and effect came about through inscription instruments related to a particular kind of EEG around 1960—­even though temporal sequence is not intrinsically what an EEG measures. An EEG visualizes the activity of “pyramidal cells” as an inscribed wave. Pyramidal cells are nerve cells on the outer layer of the brain, which were some of the earliest neurons to be identified. With the EEG, electrodes are attached to the 1 3 0   •   T H E P R I S O N DY N O G R A P H

Figure 29. An advertisement for the Offner Type R Dynograph, highlighting both its all-­transistor construction and its abilities as a direct-­writing oscillograph. This advertisement was published in Electronics 32, no. 20 (1959): 27.

patient’s head in a standardized arrangement, though different arrangements of electrodes are used to detect different things, and methods of connecting the electrodes to the head also do different things—­this combination of electrode arrangement and connection method is called a “montage,” and different montages can be used to diagnose epilepsy, coma states, and seizure disorders, as well as monitor sleep.12 It’s not always clear what, exactly, an EEG measures (pyramidal cells are correlated with motor function, but that’s not what an EEG usually detects). Books written as introductions to the EEG, throughout its history, foreground its function in sleep research, its ability to locate epileptic tumors, and its use in differentiating epileptic seizures from nonepileptic seizures.13 Many of the artifacts seen on an EEG aren’t the result of brain activity, however, and there’s always been uncertainty about what an EEG actually allows one to see.14 One theoretical discussion of the EEG, from 1993, goes so far to argue the following as a general first principle to explain the relation between the EEG and the brain: “First, accepting the premise that the EEG originates from the brain (more specifically, from the cerebral cortex), the EEG is considered as a signal from a ‘black box’—­that is, without regard to its generating mechanisms.”15 There’s a split between the firing of the pyramidal neurons and what an EEG actually “finds” in the brain. The signal the EEG transduces is independent of the arguments developed about its use—­the explanatory model receives primacy rather than the reasons that the brain generates patterns in the first place, meaning that most interpretations of the EEG are “idealist”—­the idea (the theory) precedes and determines how one understands the materiality of the body and brain. There are further problems with the EEG in the history of mental and psychiatric illness, as well. An overview of the EEG from 1976 notes that, even though the original use of the EEG was often in mental hospitals, as there are strong parallels between the history of the EEG and electroshock therapy, “patients who have psychotic illness generally show little EEG abnormality at all.”16 But accepting that the EEG is ultimately an idealist form of measurement, “EEG abnormality” presumes in advance what differentiates a normal brain and an abnormal brain, and it presumes a particular “montage” and a particular use of the EEG. Given these theoretical abstractions that guide the EEG, in the 1970s the brain of a psychotic was not something that this instrument could write. This relation between the EEG and “abnormal brains” is essential when it comes to identify “pathologies” such as psychopathy. How could this technology become 1 3 2   •   T H E P R I S O N DY N O G R A P H

a diagnostic means for identifying mental illness, identifying personality disorders? The inscriptions of the EEG should be taken as ideological rather than material,17 providing a means for governing bodies and minds that continues today with the spread of EEG “wearables” that promise the quantification of the self.18 Melissa Littlefield calls this use of the EEG “instrumental intimacy,” which refers to how “we learn about, access, and manipulate ourselves (in this case our brains) by interfacing with machines.”19 The EEG is a particularly salient example of how, to recall the words of Gaston Bachelard, instruments can serve as theories materialized. What an EEG inscription means is interpreted through preexisting assumptions about its meaning. Its actual measurements, grounded as they are in the activity of the pyramidal cells, have little to nothing to do with what an EEG is assumed to measure. But an EEG does measure something, and the device’s ability to inscribe also shapes possible interpretations through the physical qualities of writing. When it comes to studies of psychopathy, this interface reveals something extremely specific—­that EEGs are about temporality. An EEG is an assumed registration of the temporal materiality of cognition, even though there’s nothing intrinsically “in” the EEG that correlates what it registers with temporal change. So we cannot disregard the specific materiality of instruments here, and we must foreground specific variants of different kinds of EEG recorders. Some EEGs simply visualize waves on oscilloscopes, which, since the document recorded by the EEG itself vanishes after a brief amount of time, does not permit any sustained, comparative attention to detail. The EEG as a measure of temporal change emerged at a particular moment using a particular version of the EEG—­the Offner Dynograph, an EEG-­ related technology that would literally write “brain waves” as a printout (Figure 30). The materiality of the Dynograph, as a machine to write the brain and not just visualize the brain, allowed the inscriptions of the EEG to be interpreted in a way previously impossible. The ability to cognitively “narrate” causality, to “know” and apprehend the relation of cause and effect in one’s own actions and thoughts, to describe the anticipation of one’s actions and one’s experiences, then, would come to define personality disorders like psychopathy. Techniques that measure the body’s electricity, written by the Dynograph, be they EEGs or measurements of electrodermal response, inscribe temporal anticipation and thus frame affect as temporal prediction. Affective pathologies—­as T H E P R I S O N D Y N O G R A P H  • 1 3 3

Figure 30. “Electroencephalogram from Epileptic Patient.” This is an image of the first intracerebral EEG taken at the Burden Neurological Institute, from 1958, made with an Offner Type T Dynograph. The Burden Neurological Institute. Science Museum Group. Object 2001-­193. Reprinted under a Creative Commons Attribution-­NonCommercial-­ ShareAlike 4.0 License.

these studies were performed to identify abnormal and pathological subjects, and not “normal” brains and “normal” psyches—­are consequentially defined in terms of the presence or absence of specific reflex responses about the prehension of the future. Affect, here, is about judging, understanding, and preparing for what has yet to happen, what will likely happen in the future given specific stimuli. Anticipation and the Contingent Negative Variation The idea of an EEG as a measurement of future anticipation descends from a very specific point—­Grey Walter’s reinvention of the EEG as an instrument for measuring psychological states. Until Walter, the EEG had mostly been used to study brain waves as related to sleep and visual arousal. The failure to correlate the EEG with mental capacities was a well-­known problem in early EEG research. Hans Berger, a German psychiatrist, first used the EEG to chart the neural activity of humans between 1929 and 1938. Berger used devices intended to measure the heart to discover what he termed the “alpha” wave and “beta” wave, which correspond to the firing of the pyramidal neurons when a subject’s eyes are open or closed, respectively. While the discovery of “brain waves” is significant, and there’s good reason that Berger is central to the usual history of the EEG, Melissa Littlefield notes that privileging Berger as the figure who “discovered” the EEG must ignore how his work was overlooked for a decade, at least. His defining of the brain as electrical was radical for the time, and many of the beliefs we ascribe to the EEG today—­seeing it as a technology that provides access to the intimate, private thoughts in another’s brain—­are indebted to spiritualist and pseudoscientific desires in achieving telepathic communication that predate both psychology and the EEG.20 Even though Titchener and his followers worked to remove the taint of spiritualism from psychology in the wake of James, varied desires that guided spiritualism were influential even when this metaphysics was replaced with empirical “fact.” But the point I’m making here is that Berger —­along with these spiritualistic beliefs—­attributed to the EEG a technical ability to represent psychic states of consciousness and nonconsciousness. Berger was never able to make this link sufficiently, however, and the “waves” he found could not be grasped as a measurement of thought. For decades this correlation was never successfully made. This link was made by Grey Walter, who was able to do so through the Dynograph’s inscriptions of the temporality of cognition. T H E P R I S O N D Y N O G R A P H  • 1 3 5

Walter was well known as an innovator in reinventing the possibilities of the EEG. Through his work on epilepsy, Walter would use the EEG as a method not just of measuring space in the brain (i.e., when locating a tumor, mentioned above, which was another technique Walter pioneered). He would also reinvent the EEG as a method of assessing temporal change.21 Walter’s identification of the “contingent negative variation,” or CNV, which is popularly termed the “expectancy wave,” reinvented how psychologists, psychiatrists, and neurologists understood the measurements of an instrument like the EEG.22 Walter’s studies, which were published in Nature in 1964, followed a general experimental pattern: The subject is presented with a warning stimulus, often a click delivered by earphones, which is then followed by another stimulus about a second later—­a train of light flashes. The subject is instructed to respond when the flashes begin by pressing a switch which turns them off. In this experiment a negative wave appears between the warning stimulus and the flashes. The wave is only seen if the subject has been asked to respond to the flashes, and the moment the flashes are extinguished the wave disappears.23

Walter’s contingent negative variation is, explicitly, psychological. His work linked the activity of the mind and the inscriptions of the EEG, discovering a “close correlation between attentiveness, expectancy, contingent significance, operant response and the amplitude of the CNV,” a form of “cortical ‘priming’ whereby responses to associated stimuli are economically accelerated and synchronized.”24 Walter was able to associate EEG readings with varied defensive reflexes—­something we might refer to as “fear” or “anxiety.” At the end of his Nature article, Walter would also lay out the call to which Robert Hare would respond when he brought a Dynograph into the prison: “The application of these methods to the investigation of neuropsychiatric disorders has already shown a surprisingly close correspondence between the objective signs of cerebral expectancy and the mental state of disturbed patients.”25 The measurement provided by the EEG was of a specific type of mental function—­one about stimulus and, again, anticipation. Walter’s initial studies asked for his subjects to press a switch, but his later studies did not, leading to the conclusion that the expectancy wave is “not therefore dependent on motor action.”26 The EEG, with the contingent negative variation, is a measurement of the ability to imagine a future, a future in which one’s possible actions have effects, even if the action never happens. We yet again see a recursion of Schopenhauer and James, though now confirmed through a machine to 1 3 6   •   T H E P R I S O N DY N O G R A P H

measure anticipation. The imagination of the future is, here, an essential part of the body’s affectivity. Walter was using an Offner Dynograph in his discovery of the contingent negative variation. The Burden Neurological Institute in Bristol, where he worked from 1939 to 1970, and where he made many of his discoveries about the EEG, was in possession of an Offner Type T Dynograph from 1958. This Dynograph was central to Walter’s many innovations with the EEG as a tool for psychological research. In Walter’s contingent negative variation article, he writes, the effects observed “can be recorded accurately only with equipotential non-­polarizable electrodes and long time-­constants or directly coupled amplifiers.” His equipment included “specially prepared and selected silver-­silver chloride electrodes . . . connected to an Offner type TC 16-­channel recorder.”27 The mere ability to use an EEG to identify cognitive change and anticipation should be understood through the foregrounding of a machine to write the actions of a brain as temporal. The Dynograph, as a widely used device to write the EEG as a printout, allowed Walter, Hare, and countless other psychologists to correlate brain waves with changes in mental states, suggesting that a “normal” function of emotional cognition is prediction, attention, anticipation. Hare’s use of this technology and experimental method would suggest that people whose brains do not function this way should stay in prison forever, because the inability to evaluate cause and effect is, Hare would conclude, a pathology that leads to violence. The Skin of the Psychopath Through the contingent negative variation, Walter indirectly reinvented the interpretation of everything a Dynograph could register, physiological signs that could be inscribed by other, similar technologies as well—­ technologies whose appeal to scientific truth was often in question. The lie detector, or “polygraph,”28 for instance, indexes a number of the same signals a Dynograph can inscribe, such as changes in pulse, breathing rate, and sweating—­today, the last of these is referred to as “electrodermal response” but has been termed, among other things, “galvanic skin response” or “skin conductivity,” writing through galvanometers to register these changes on a printout and, ostensibly, identify “lies.”29 Throughout the twentieth century, as Geoffrey Bunn tells us in his history of the lie detector, the accuracy of the polygraph was regularly doubted, and, by mid-­century, the general belief among those in law was that the “polygraph T H E P R I S O N D Y N O G R A P H  • 1 3 7

was powerless against the pathological . . . the lie detector only worked on normal people.” These pathological people included “the psychopath,” “the moron,” “the feeble-­minded person,” children, and those expert in operating lie detectors.30 The polygraph, unless one was a “normal” person with “normal” emotions, could not measure meaningful differences between a body’s usual physiological signs. The implication here is that a so-­called psychopath was a person that could pass (or, in a sense, break) the polygraph; the polygraph could not discern between a psychopath telling the truth or a psychopath speaking lies. From its colloquial usage associated with law enforcement and the courts, a “psychopath” was a pathological term to signify a body that could lie without detection through the instrumental intimacy of a polygraph. Much like the fear that the EEG could not distinguish between normal and pathological in a mental hospital, particular pathologies of interest to law enforcement were feared to be beyond detection. But a Dynograph, as Walter would imply in his contingent negative variation article, was a particularly powerful and accurate device. His contingent negative variation could only be observed using the most specific of medical equipment. The polygraphs employed by the police, even if they looked impressive, were relatively simple technologies. Articles in popular newspapers and magazines such as the New York Times and Popular Science from the 1930s told of school principals building their own lie detectors for use in classroom discipline, or provided instructions that detailed how the hobbyist could make their own polygraph at home.31 The polygraph was a relatively portable and mobile technology, fitting inside the space of a briefcase. The Dynograph, however, was relegated to the varied spaces of the lab, advertised as a device operated by people in white coats, that ever-­present symbol of the doctor’s authority and expertise (Figure 31). This was especially the case with the Type R, which was a relatively large scientific instrument. Because the Dynograph was able to transduce all sorts of physiological signals, it could also allow psychologists—­in collaboration with law enforcement—­to study bodies through methods that reproduced those of the lie detector, but with a level of detail previously impossible. In the process, what the device measures changes: instead of a discernment between lies and truth, this new means of identifying the pathological and criminal was framed in terms of cognitive anticipation and empathy. In the late 1960s, there was an Offner Type R Dynograph at the British Columbia Penitentiary, along with Robert Hare and his associate (and, 1 3 8   •   T H E P R I S O N DY N O G R A P H

Figure 31. “Man with Beckman Model R-­711 Dynograph Reorder,” n.d. This image was made after Offner’s acquisition by Beckman Instruments, Inc., in 1961. Beckman Historical Collection, box 82. Science History Institute. Philadelphia. https://digital Courtesy of Science History Institute.

at the time, his doctoral student), psychologist Michael Quinn. Hare and Quinn were supported by three members of the prison’s staff. Hare is currently recognized as one of the most significant researchers of psychopathy in its relatively brief history, and is responsible for devising the most popular method of diagnosing psychopathy today, the Hare Psychopathy Checklist-­Revised, which was released in 1991 and is also referred to as T H E P R I S O N D Y N O G R A P H  • 1 3 9

the Hare PCL-­R. In the late ’60s, however, Hare had yet to develop his checklist, and his book Psychopathy: Theory and Research, which would come to define much of the subsequent research and discussion of psychopathy, was about to be published.32 When Hare would use the Dynograph at the British Columbia Penitentiary, he would rely on measures also performed by the polygraph—­heart rate, electrodermal response. But the epistemological context was radically different. If the lie detector “detects” by correlating spoken answers (of “yes,” of “no”) with, say, a “spike” in heart rate, respiration, and sweating, it is measuring a change that occurs in response to a lie, a lie already defined through a reductive, forced-­response question-­and-­answer method (a method that, if one thinks back to the introduction of this book, is similar to Karl Bühler’s Ausfragemethode). Hare’s use of the Dynograph, following Walter, was a means to measure changes of anticipation, and not reaction or response, properly speaking. In shifting the measurement from response (in which a psychopath can pass the polygraph because they never provide evidence for the presence of a lie) to anticipation (in which a psychopath can be seen and known because of an absence of anticipation), Hare attempts to place into discourse physiological signs that do not exist, defining that absence as both pathological and criminal. In one study, Hare and Quinn were studying fifty-­four prisoners, some of whom had been identified as psychopathic, some of whom had not, classified based on a fifteen-­item checklist administered by Quinn. This list was assumedly derived from the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory, or MMPI, a version of which was the standard diagnostic for psychopathy research at the time. Hare and Quinn, using techniques similar to those of other psychopathy researchers, had connected their prisoner to their Dynograph, which, according to an advertisement from the early 1960s (Figure 32), inscribed “any physiological signal you can transduce,” be it an EEG, arterial pressure, electrocardiogram (or EKG), oxygen tension, or respiratory carbon dioxide. The Dynograph was attached to the prisoner through sensors to detect pulse along with ones to identify changes in the electrical resistance of the skin. Heart rate and electrodermal response would provide evidence that the body’s autonomic nervous system was aroused and, assumedly, the body was producing some sort of nonconscious emotional response to a stimulus.33 These sensors, connecting the prisoner to the Dynograph, were attached to his fingers and forehead. One of the scientists would stand by, preparing to administer an electrical shock at the right moment. We can 1 4 0   •   T H E P R I S O N DY N O G R A P H

Figure 32. An advertisement for the Offner Type R Dynograph from 1963, after Offner Electronics’ acquisition by the much larger Beckman Instruments. The copy reads, in part, “A Siamese cat’s voice—­EEG, arterial pressure, EKG, oxygen tension, respiratory CO2, temperature—­any physiological signal you can transduce, the Offner Type R Dynograph can record with precision. And it does it in ink on inexpensive paper, or with heat or electric recording.” This advertisement is from the inside back cover of American Scientist 51, no. 2 (1963).

see the continued influence of James in this basic experimental setup—­ in Hare’s work, what the Dynograph measures are the embodied signs that occur prior to conscious awareness of “an emotion.” Sweat conducts electricity, and even exceptionally small and delicate changes in a body’s sweating can be measured by devices that detect differences in the electrical conductance of the skin. Today, the specific meaning of electrodermal response is still questioned, given how the conduction of electricity itself has multiple factors—­the mere presence or absence of sweat, measured as a change in skin conductance, may not signal all that much on its own.34 Regardless, electrodermal response is often interpreted as a sign that the body is undergoing emotional changes that may otherwise be invisible, an understanding that Hare accepts and is indebted to the James-­Lange theory of emotion. My account of Hare and Quinn’s prison laboratory is based on the description of a study they coauthored and published in 1971.35 The prisoner, as I mentioned above, was directly linked to the Dynograph. The shock came from a “constant-­current stimulator” applied to the top of the right forearm (echoes, here, of Duchenne). The prisoner was given “stereo earphones that had been placed inside padded ear protectors of the type used around aircraft engines,” which he then had placed on his head.36 Through the earphones, he heard one of three auditory tones, each of which would be ten seconds long. One tone was followed by a “pleasant” image, that of a nude woman, one of “16 colored slides of nude females, erotic value being somewhat greater than those usually found in Playboy magazine.”37 These slides had been ranked by the psychologists running the study, “that is, from the least to most erotic,” to avoid any “fairly rapid habituation”38 that may happen from viewing the images. The second tone was not followed with anything. The third was followed by a painful electric shock. Tones would be repeated, along with any linked image or shock. After, the prisoner would be given two packs of cigarettes and asked to keep any knowledge of the experiment to himself. Ninety minutes after his arrival, the prisoner would leave Hare and Quinn’s laboratory in the prison. Depending on the readings of the Dynograph, along with the results of other experiments the scientists had performed, Hare and Quinn would conclude one of two things. A prisoner who is not psychopathic, who is “normal,” has learned from the shocks and images to which he had been subjected. He experiences fear upon hearing the sound that would lead to pain, as is evidenced from changes in his perspiration. A “normal” prisoner 1 4 2   •   T H E P R I S O N DY N O G R A P H

would understand which tone was associated with a naked woman, nothing, or a shock, and his body would elicit the physical response of sweat that demonstrated preparation for the shock. This preparation, this perspiration, was the signifier that revealed fear, inscribed via the mechanism of the Dynograph. A prisoner understood as psychopathic, in accordance with the checklist administered by Quinn, would have a different physical response from those classified as “normal.” Those with psychopathy did not anticipate being shocked, the scientists concluded. Extrapolating outward from the evidence they had of electrodermal (non)response, the psychopathic prisoners would not learn or make inferences about stimulus and response, cause and effect. They would not experience fear, Hare would eventually conclude, because their brains were unable to experience a range of emotions. But the main reason they could not experience these emotions was because they could not understand causality, and thus could not reflect on the relationship between one event and another. They could not imagine the future as emerging from the association of sound and pain, and—­ extrapolating further—­they were unable to understand the motivations of others, the effect their actions have on others. They were unable to anticipate punishment, they were unable to feel “empathy.”39 Some of these larger conclusions about psychopathy are justified by other research Hare had undertaken, but this isn’t precisely what this specific study observed: Previous theory and research . . . suggest that the psychopath’s inability to avoid punishment is related to the failure to anticipate emotionally the consequences of his behavior, a suggestion based upon clinical observation and research involving electrodermal measures. The present electrodermal results are consistent with this suggestion, but the cardiovascular results are not. It is possible, of course, that electrodermal activity is a better (or simpler) indicant of emotional arousal in conditioning paradigms than is cardiovascular activity.40

Electrodermal response was different in the psychopathic prisoners than it was in the “normal” prisoners, but heart rate was relatively consistent—­ confirming similar problems with psychopathy found with other measures often used in conjunction with law, such as the polygraph, which often relies on measures of heart rate and respiration as well as electrodermal response. The lack of correlation between these different measures, which happens regularly with the polygraph, is assumed evidence for the lie T H E P R I S O N D Y N O G R A P H  • 1 4 3

detector’s failure as a means for interpreting thought.41 But with their Dynograph experiments, Hare and Quinn suggest that a lack of consonance between heart rate and sweating, perhaps, should be expected when it comes to psychopathy. They don’t rule out that this inconsistency was because of their experimental design, though they do not fault their Dynograph. Perhaps, Hare and Quinn suggest, this inconsistency was the fault of the slides of nude women, which didn’t seem to be very effective in eliciting any sort of physical response from any of the prisoners. Or, perhaps, heart rate isn’t associated in a clear way with fear—­electrodermal response may be a better technique for judging the presence or absence of fear. In the end, they concluded, “it may be that the cardiovascular responses indicate that both groups of [subjects] were aware of and attentive to the stimuli and their contingencies, while the electrodermal responses reflect the fact that only the nonpsychopaths experienced anticipatory fear (in the case of shock).”42 Other studies of Hare’s removed any attempt at understanding the reaction prisoners may have to “pleasurable” images. One, performed prior to the experiment recounted above, involved prisoners watching consecutive numbers through a “memory drum.” A memory drum is a relatively old psychological tool invented to revise German psychologist Hermann Ebbinghaus’s memory experiments, which involved the memorization of random, nonsensical syllables.43 Psychologists Georg Elias Mueller and Friedrich Schumann took a common piece of laboratory equipment, a kymograph, a metal cylinder that would rotate and inscribe through a stylus, placed it on its side, and used it as a technology that would present various items that the subject of the experiment was to remember. The memory drum was, like the scale accepted by “affect program theory,” popularized in North America by Robert Woodworth’s Experimental Psychology,44 and Hare used one as another stimulus that would result in an electrical shock. The numbers would pass by, rotating from one to twelve. At the number eight, the prisoner would receive a shock. Another experiment, which Hare coauthored a few years after his collaboration with Quinn, had pairs of prisoners taking “turns administering shocks to one another.”45 In having prisoners shock each other, Hare could measure if one would psychologically prepare for their own “direct shock,” as well as if they had any physiological response to the “vicarious shock” that they administered to another. “Psychopathic inmates gave smaller anticipatory SC [skin conductance] responses than did other inmates,” Hare concluded, “especially when they themselves were about the receive the shock.”46 1 4 4   •   T H E P R I S O N DY N O G R A P H

Fear and Anticipation What do Hare and Quinn mean by “fear”? In their research, they distinguished between different kinds of general emotional responses, responses they named pleasure and fear. They assumed these emotions were generated by soft-­core pornography and electrical shocks, respectively, and could be correlated to different physical signs, signs assumed to demonstrate the existence of an emotional response, be it heart rate or sweating. Nonetheless, not all bodily responses are equivalent, and some—­ like heart rate—­may not tell us much about the truth of the emotions when it comes to particular (psychopathic) bodies and particular (psychopathic) brains. The evidence they gathered from the Dynograph was interpreted according to the assumptions of classification they had previously accepted, which are about signs that may not be clearly visual but can be translated into visual form through the Dynograph and its method for inscribing the body’s electrical emanations. This is, in and of itself, very different than other notions of fear that characterize research on facial expressions, for instance. Hare suggests that the emotions are about temporal judgment, about stimulus and anticipation, about understanding cause and effect—­if not always about conscious understanding. Fear is about the movement of a body in relation to anticipating effects to come. There is an inherent, physiological distinction between those with psychopathy and those without, and the techniques of the lab discover how this distinction is expressed in the body. But this difference is framed in relation to an understanding of causality and temporal order. Fear is anticipation of something that could be judged as unpleasant. Fear is about preparing for the worst. Psychopathy, then, is not just about the presence or absence of fear, but the inability to make nonconscious judgments of cause and effect, about automatically imagining something bad to happen in the future, a judgment grounded in the materiality of cognition. This understanding of the materiality of cognition is different from the version argued by Hare’s contemporaries, like Paul Ekman. Ekman assumes fear to be a discrete, photographically identified state, a facial expression. It is an affective “object” that relates to the capacities of photography to isolate and compare. Following Ekman and like-­minded affect program theorists, fear is a cognitive state that exists as a reflex response, one that bridges face and brain. Fear happens after the stimulus, even if it happens before conscious awareness of “fear.” But it isn’t about anticipation, and most significantly, this fear is facialized. You can see it on the face, if you know T H E P R I S O N D Y N O G R A P H  • 1 4 5

where to look.47 The facial expression of fear is the emotion. Ekman places us in a similar problem space to that addressed with the polygraph. Techniques for seeing discrete facial expressions permit one to “know” what another person is feeling. The polygraph, while it doesn’t focus on the face, assumes a similar linkage. The embodied reflexes of the body, as signifiers for emotion, point out moments in which a body acting and a mouth talking disagree. One can look at the polygraph printout and “know” the truth of emotional cognition. While the mind and mouth may lie, the face and body—­these techniques assume—­cannot. The conscious statement is secondary, but, with the proper instruments, nonconscious emotions can communicate to verify or disqualify words intentionally spoken. With both Ekman and the polygraph, these techniques presume that the bodies observed by the psychologist are “normal.” And hence, the “problem” of psychopathy—­a category in which these prior understandings of emotion do not apply. Thus there are not only some similarities between Ekman’s conclusions and Hare’s experiments but some radical distinctions too. Hare does not assume fear to be universal, as its absence is a sign of a pathological deficiency. Hare does not assume that fear can be seen on the face, but is looking for other signs that must be made visible—­ sweating, heart rate, brain waves—­even though he does not believe a clear correlation can be made between the presence of these signs and psychopathy. The signifier of a disorder’s presence is an absence of embodied anticipation. The experience of fear, defined as an anticipatory response to a shock to come, simply does not exist for some people, people who do not and cannot understand that actions have consequences, who do not and cannot understand that stimulus leads to response. And identifying these people cannot rely on the face. Means to detect lies—­be they Ekman’s understanding of facial expression as universal, be they polygraphs to detect embodied signs—­simply do not work when it comes to the kind of person called “psychopathic.” The very point of Hare’s work is to identify bodies that do not or cannot experience particular states and thus label them as “deficient,” a deficiency that will keep these bodies in prison, ideally forever. As a recent, philosophical analysis of psychopathy has put it: “It might be sensible to keep [psychopaths] in custody to safeguard the public as long as they have not been treated adequately. . . . Since the outlook for actual cures for psychopaths is currently bleak, the potential length of commitment of affected people is indefinite, which obviously raises severe ethical and, again, legal issues, as it might be a 1 4 6   •   T H E P R I S O N DY N O G R A P H

practice that undermines human rights.”48 While fear may be a norm, it is not universal—­Hare’s psychopaths will never exhibit signs of fear, as long as fear is framed as anticipatory.49 This perpetual emotional deficiency, which is not merely about an “affect program” in the brain but about the ability to conjoin a particular cognitive state with an interpretation of sequence, should keep someone in prison forever. Anti-­psychiatry and Incarceration Hare’s understanding of psychopathic emotion coemerged with the rise of anti-­psychiatry. Anti-­psychiatry was grounded in the belief that mental illness is not an actual brain disease, but instead a social judgment of proper and improper conduct—­to summarize the main arguments made by David Cooper and others tangentially associated with anti-­psychiatry, like Thomas Szasz. And if mental illness is not an actual illness, then there is no “cure.” Schizophrenics, psychopaths, neurotics, and so on, shouldn’t be held in mental hospitals against their will, since these conditions are derived from value judgments of a society that cannot stand nonconformity, a society unwilling to let people take responsibility for their actions.50 Hare, in some way, agrees. There is no cure for psychopathy for him. Hare disagrees on the reasons why there is no cure. Szasz and Cooper argue that there is no cure because there is no illness. Hare uses the Dynograph to argue that there is a physical, cognitive ground for psychopathy, that it can be considered a disorder linked with the materiality of the brain. Because psychopathy is both material and uncurable, then those identified as “psychopaths” should be confined, not in a mental hospital, but a prison, which is where they were “found” in the first place. The prison is where psychopaths should remain, as there is no prospect of correction for those with psychopathy. Also—­to use the title of a book foundational for research on psychopathy, a book we’ll return to shortly—­ these bodies have a “mask of sanity” that allows them to escape being seen as “insane.”51 The role of incarceration—­and its different interpretation by Hare and the anti-­psychiatrists—­deserves drawing out to understand the implications of Hare’s work in framing affectivity as material. In short, Hare’s turn to an instrumental definition of a personality disorder “solves” the problem posed by anti-­psychiatry, a problem that frames mental illness as, to some degree, ideological rather than material. Making affect and empathy material, however, came from an instrument to visualize lack. T H E P R I S O N D Y N O G R A P H  • 1 4 7

Anti-­psychiatry was often aligned with other radical struggles of the 1960s—­best seen with the Congress on the Dialectics of Liberation, which Cooper helped organize. The congress was held in the summer of 1967 in London and included a range of activism-­minded participants such as, along with Cooper and Laing, cybernetician Gregory Bateson, poet Allen Ginsberg, critical theorist Herbert Marcuse, artist Carolee Schnee´  t Ha.   nh, mann, Marxist economist Paul Sweezy, Buddhist monk Thích Nhâ and Black Power organizer Kwame Ture (then Stokely Carmichael). Psychiatry was seen as one institutional form among many, institutions linked through their fundamental opposition to personal freedom, self-­ determination, and social liberation. “Is it surprising that prisons resemble factories, schools, barracks, hospitals, which all resemble prisons?” asks Michel Foucault, in one the most famous lines from his Discipline and Punish.52 Foucault’s comments were first published in 1975, echoing almost directly the arguments Cooper made a few years earlier in describing the mission of the congress, moving beyond psychology and psychiatry into the varied institutions of power populating modern life. Psychiatry, for Cooper, makes particular people into social scapegoats, which it labels “mad” and treats accordingly. This antagonism is equivalent to a much broader social structure that creates enemies by defining them as inhuman and deserving of incarceration, ensuring that those who do not conform are confined and punished until they submit. The hatred of the nonnormative guides a variety of “political facts,” facts that, for Cooper, ground most prejudice and hatred in the world by legitimating racism, greed, the destruction of the environment, the repression of sexuality, mass suicide, and mass murder.53 The congress was formed to address this broader structural context that began with psychiatry to lead elsewhere, toward other issues of civil rights and social liberation. With such a movement establishing itself against psychiatry, psychology, and their varied institutional implementations, anti-­psychiatry could be grasped as a critique that took on the psy-­sciences’ midcentury intimacy with institutions beyond the university, along with these sciences’ sheer power in dictating the use and cultivation of emotion in the transforming of work, family, and the self.54 But the politics of this critique were never entirely clear or consistent. Cooper’s arguments, grounded in an existentialist Marxism, saw social liberation as its goal. But Cooper opposed psychiatry for vastly different reasons than Thomas Szasz, the most influential critic of psychiatry in the United States, who was guided by a libertarianism that saw psychiatry as a means for undermining norms 1 4 8   •   T H E P R I S O N DY N O G R A P H

of personal responsibility. The anti-­psychiatric assemblage, which, with the Dialectics of Liberation Congress, achieved its closest articulation with Marxism and other overtly radical political movements, also included L. Ron Hubbard, science fiction writer and founder of the religion Scientology. Hubbard’s reasons for opposing psychology and psychiatry seem guided by personal spite, and potentially profit, more than anything else. Nonetheless, Szasz collaborated with Hubbard in the founding of the Citizens Commission on Human Rights in 1969, a major anti-­psychiatry group that many consider, today, a front for Scientology. Szasz, it seems, saw his libertarian political mission of taking down psychiatry to be far more important than the specific motivations of those with whom he associated.55 This coziness of psychology, psychiatry, and law led to one definition of mental illnesses for the purpose of incarceration. But “madness,” especially in the 1960s, because of very visible criticisms of psychiatry and psychology, could no longer be assumed divorced from technical measurements to locate mental illness within the materiality of cognition. Szasz’s arguments suggested that the real problem with psychology and psychiatry was in their inability to locate mental illness as a physical, embodied thing with an etiology to be treated by medicine.56 For Szasz, mental illness simply did not exist because of this lack of a demonstrable physical, embodied ground. Szasz’s claims hinge on a dualism that separates mind and body. Mental illness cannot be an “illness” because it is about mind, and not body. While Cooper’s arguments against the psychiatric hospital suggested the need for a much broader social reinvention, psychology and psychiatry have generally responded to this moment with an attempt to refute Szasz. Psychology and psychiatry after Szasz responded by emphasizing how mental illness is physical, and thus can be “corrected” through pharmaceuticals and neuroscientific means of surgically correcting brains.57 This rejoinder to Szasz is medical, and thus not the solution proposed by psychologists such as Hare, whose training did not permit the prescription of drugs or surgery to “correct.” Instead, for Hare, the writing of a Dynograph became visual evidence of neurocognitive (in)capacities in the experience of emotion, empathy, and relation. These measurements invented a new form of what Foucault, in his seminar Abnormal, termed a “human monster.” The human monster is a specific figure of psychiatric and psychological practice, an incurable individual who violates laws both social and natural, whose behavior cannot be explained T H E P R I S O N D Y N O G R A P H  • 1 4 9

through extant knowledge. Foucault contrasts the human monster with two other figures—­the “incorrigible,” an “individual to be corrected,” and the “onanist,” a masturbator and sexual deviant who must speak their sexual trauma.58 But the figure of the monster is our interest here, and why the monster is distinct from the incorrigible and the onanist: the monster cannot be corrected. When it comes to emotion and empathy, the name of this monster, the monster who cannot experience affective relations, whose deficiency is incurable, and who must therefore be confined forever in the prison, is the psychopath. Categories of people, like psychopaths, who can be identified through psychological testing but cannot be corrected by any means, medical or otherwise, permit psychology to participate in institutional practices of incarceration and confinement even when the means of physical, medical “correction” are beyond of the scope of psychological treatment, framing cognitive deficiencies as material. Techniques of the Affect Lab thus contribute to what Ian Hacking terms “making up people,” the invention of specific kinds of people that emerge within a broader historical conjuncture.59 This integration of the emotions into law, especially in its creation of the psychopath as a type of pathological person—­a type of person who is imagined best confined in prison, else this person acts as a singularly destructive antisocial force—­ relies on a model that assumes emotion as preconscious, derived from James and his planchette. The type of the psychopath doesn’t require emotion to be essentially discrete, at least in terms of a few cognitive affect “programs.” But it does assume a correlation among face, body, and brain that derives from Duchenne and his face-­shocking apparatus, and it does assume the necessity of making emotion visible. Most significantly, the understanding of emotion here emphasizes the capacities of the human mind to reflexively understand a relationship between cause and effect in the apprehension of intentionality and agency, reflecting on the implications of causality in the evaluation of one’s own actions. Emotion, when it comes to the psychopath, is about temporal sequence and causality, remorse and regret. We’re operating directly in the space James created when he framed consciousness as an inhibitory force that restricts nonconscious reactions and impulses until this conscious restriction becomes habitual and automatic. When it comes to Hare and psychopathy, emotion—­rather than reflecting a hidden self that exists beyond consciousness—­is bound together with a conscious ability to reflect, learn, and inhibit the body’s reflexes, becoming a “good citizen” that can live beyond the walls of a prison. 1 5 0   •   T H E P R I S O N DY N O G R A P H

Hare is thus picking up the thread that James loosened with his discussion of Jesse Pomeroy, the “Boy Fiend” of Boston.60 But while James saw Pomeroy as evidence for the need to instill good habits to repress an otherwise natural will to violence, the “kind of person” represented by Pomeroy—­inquisitive, unremorseful, destructive—­becomes uncurable with Hare, a permanently damaged and dangerous individual that psychology must seek out and incarcerate to protect society as such. James did not seem to fault Pomeroy for his actions. He faulted Pomeroy’s upbringing in failing to curtail his instincts. Hare, instead, would fault a cognitive inability to anticipate and reflect, an inability to learn, an inability of a brain to change, a kind of person invented by the Dynograph’s ability to inscribe the brain. Hare is, explicitly, inventing a kind of person whose brain cannot be said to be plastic, and therefore becomes the very embodiment of social evil and violence. Decision and Indifferent Affects Hare thus draws out the presumption that specific “pathologies” are defined by the body’s inability to experience the cognitive grounds of affective relation. Hare does not assume fear to be visible on the face, even though he does believe it to be physiological and detectable through an apparatus. Most significantly, Hare sees fear as anticipatory. Fear is not only an automatic response to a stimulus but a response to something one believes will come next. The use of photography in the foundations of affect program theory obliterates narrative sequence. A photograph of a universal facial expression assumes a continuity and stability over time, which exists regardless of narrative explanation. Hare is restoring sequence and narrative to an understanding of emotion after sequence was eliminated by the discrete photographic image. The (in)ability to perceive or narrate sequence now becomes the grounds that determine if one should remain in prison forever, or if one can be “reformed” and corrected through incarceration. The very point of Hare’s studies is to identify specific bodies that will never be reformed by prison, and, if released, will commit crimes with abandon. The psychopath, for Hare, never learns. The pedagogy of narrative sequence differentiates between monsters and the incorrigible.61 Hare’s work suggests that those with psychopathy are, in a sense, brain damaged, an instance of what philosopher Catherine Malabou calls “the new wounded.” The part of their brain that is damaged usually permits T H E P R I S O N D Y N O G R A P H  • 1 5 1

the body to experience the overflowing forms of affect that cultural theory often makes into an ontology of relation.62 Hare’s work has been foundational in providing evidence for the claim that “personality disorders” like psychopathy are not about cultural beliefs, flawed moral judgments, or other ideal capacities of thought. Rather, “personality” is about the brain, and is about the ability or inability of the brain to make specific “decisions.” Evidence for this inability is in the human body itself—­here, in electrodermal response, if not heart rate. As Malabou notes of similar claims made by other scientists, “According to research of this type, the brain is the organ of all of our attachments. . . . Today, obscurely yet certainly, the brain appears as the privileged site of the constitution of affects.”63 A neurological “decision” refers to the ability of the brain to make a specific association or perform a specific affective attachment. The inability of the brain to make a decision leads to a state in which the body appears to be indifferent or disaffected. With the brains of the “new wounded,” the neurological “apparatus remains mute” and “decision becomes a matter of indifference: Everything is just as good as everything else, so nothing is worth anything.”64 This indifference to decision, with psychopathy, is explicitly temporal. The inability of a psychopathic brain to experience fear means that it is unable to be shocked into movement, and unable to make causal associations. It does not have an affective response where, assumedly, a “normal” brain would, which means that it does not comprehend sequence properly. Today, the neuropsychology of psychopathy, if through imaging technologies vastly different from those by which Hare made his diagnoses, are unequivocal. Psychopaths have a “broken empathy circuit,”65 which means that they are unable to “share the feelings of others.” Neuroscientists and neuropsychologists often define this sharing as “empathy,” which is then used to suggest that brain deficiencies (namely in the anterior insula or amygdala) tell us that people with psychopathy are unable to have affective associations with others and are unable to recognize others as possessive of emotional states.66 Here, empathy is not a feeling, not a consciously interpreted “emotion.” It has very little to do with the aesthetic feeling-­into that began its history as a concept. Empathy is now a neurological capacity that enables a relation to exist between individuals, framed in terms of a prediction of a probable response. Psychopathy, along with autism and borderline personality disorder, are all thought to emerge from a similar neurological problem by many neuropsychologists. The brain is not able to act in a specific way that enables an individual to 1 5 2   •   T H E P R I S O N DY N O G R A P H

recognize another as a full person with their own interior life—­or, at least, the visual signifiers of an interior life in the form of facial expressions are not interpreted or performed correctly. Even though Hare’s work has never really been about the discrete facial expressions described in the last chapter, psychopathy, autism, and borderline personality disorder are all thought today to have something to do with the matching of facial expression with a cognitive experience of emotion.67 Empathy, in the study of these disorders, is defined as the ability to recognize another being as having emotions and being able to judge those emotions correctly, though this recognition is not conscious and is about the affective capacity of the brain itself.68 Above all, these “acts” of the brain are about causal associations, which necessarily reflect the laboratory practice of eliciting a conditioned response from an administered stimulus. Affect, when it comes to the skin of the psychopath, is a temporal movement of cause and effect that involves a prediction of future events. If, with photography, affect became an interpretation and classification of movement through still images, with the Dynograph it becomes the ability to interpret, narrate, and anticipate sequence. The Psychopath as a Kind of Person “Psychopath,” as I’ve discussed above, names a body that lacks the neurological ability to anticipate effects and experience feelings, such as fear, which are (for Hare) intrinsically anticipatory. This lack of anticipation becomes a deficiency in empathy, as a psychopath does not understand how the emotional responses of others result from their own actions. At the same time, psychopaths appear “normal” and can simulate emotional relations without feeling them. They can only be effectively “seen” through a technical means of diagnosis that charts cognitive anticipation. An inability to learn and predict is not a visible quality that can be seen on the face. Thus the necessity for a technical means for seeing cognition. Why is this cognitive incapacity proposed to suggest some bodies are best incarcerated indefinitely? Being unable to learn from experience and being unable to anticipate the future do not seem like qualities that would warrant imprisonment. I turn now to a brief discussion of the psychopath as a kind of person, as this broader context allows us to see how, since the late 1960s, the ability to genuinely possess an interior life—­or the ability to feign an interior, emotional life—­has become a point of both anxiety and fascination. This also provides insight into a broader cultural use of T H E P R I S O N D Y N O G R A P H  • 1 5 3

affect as a quality of personhood, in which disaffection becomes so threatening as to deserve permanent incarceration. Like Ekman and Tomkins, who argue that the visual representation of emotion is the emotion, theories of “impersonal affect” often presume that affect is a form of emotionality that need not defer to interiority or conscious emotional experience.69 But the psychopath as a kind of person demonstrates the limits of this understanding of affection. Representations of psychopathy tend to focus on the so-­called “dark side” of humanity, a dark side identified by psychology and by neuroscience, confirming a belief that some people are simply “evil.” Many contemporary social problems, this argument goes, can be reduced to a physiological absence of empathy.70 Psychopathy has become an ideal figure for philosophers speculating on the role of morality in defining the human.71 Identifying psychopathy, popular nonfiction suggests, protects against deceit and manipulation in interpersonal relationships, both private and professional.72 Popular books compound a fascination with the “psychopathic killer” trope in popular entertainment and true crime, along with the tendency to label particular public individuals psychopaths or sociopaths due to their antisocial behavior. From a brief perusal of these many books, “we” apparently live in a world awash with psychopaths, and it’s in “our” interest to learn to protect ourselves from “them.” Mark Seltzer’s analyses of true crime are here instructive. For Seltzer, public obsessions with serial killers relate to a broader fixation on those who represent the anonymity of the mass in modern, technological culture. The serial killer is a form of “nonpersonality” undetectable because of its everyday banality and blandness.73 Specific serial killers—­Ted Bundy provides an archetypal example—­attract interest not only because of the exceptionalism of their acts and their total otherness to social norms, but also because of their complete lack of exceptionalism, because of their inconspicuousness, their apparent ordinarity. Serial killers represent, on one hand, the limits of an anonymous, modern, mediated life—­of a life captured by statistics and information, a life where individuals are isolated, alienated, and rendered “docile” and malleable to the demands of state and capital as the social bond withers.74 On the other hand, serial killers also represent the perfection of an emotional logic of immaterial capital, where one must feign existence as an empathetic individual who is distinct from all others to be of value.75 The serial killer is a figure that embodies the absolute contradiction between these two trends: of a life in which one is an impersonal statistic, never taken as a “person” with a complex interior, 1 5 4   •   T H E P R I S O N DY N O G R A P H

emotional life, and of a life in which one must be emotionally intelligent, flexible, and responsive, laboring affectively in maintaining social bonds and relations while often bracketing one’s “real” feelings.76 The psychopath occupies a similar position to Seltzer’s serial killers. It is a figure that expresses a fascination with violence, trauma, and abuse. It personifies the absolute rejection of social order, a rejection that is perversely viewed as liberatory and ideal through a libertarian politics that desires the refusal of the social contract and social bond.77 But it is also a figure that represents the embodiment of the social bond as an impersonal, alienated mimicry that occurs without “real” feeling or “real” knowledge—­a figure that is all surface and no depth.78 The psychopath is often thought to be “at ease” in a world of temporary work arrangements, in which emotional flexibility is both a necessity and a stumbling block to success. In some popular books, including those written by Hare, such as his coauthored Snakes in Suits, which uses Hare’s past research to discuss executives and entrepreneurs,79 psychopathy is a social threat that also provides an ideal model for subjectivity today, a model from which to glean strategies for ruthless striving at work.80 The psychopath appears to be the quintessence of particular demands of contemporary capital because it can dissimulate and act “genuine” in the performance of emotional relations that may not internally exist.81 If capital demands we labor continuously to build flexible and fluid social relations and interpersonal connections guided by emotional “friendliness,”82 then the psychopath emerges as a figure of freedom from the bonds of social relations, freedom from caring for others.83 This freedom from social bonds has characterized almost all modern definitions of psychopathy. Robert Linder, a psychoanalyst who, in 1944, wrote an early major work to describe psychopathy, Rebel without a Cause (which is unrelated to the film aside from the shared name), suggested that psychopaths “sparkle with the glitter of personal freedom, the checks and reins of the community are absent and there are no limits either in a physical or in a psychological sense.”84 These limits are those of social interconnection, the meaning of which becomes confused and unclear when neoliberalism seems to both tell us of society’s lack of existence as well as require individuals to connect and network, producing the very relations that ground the social and the economic.85 What psychopathy shows—­ along with the influence of a particular apparatus that inscribes emotion as a causal and temporal narrative—­is how the postwar reinvention of social bonds, work, and emotion in the name of “flexibility” also made T H E P R I S O N D Y N O G R A P H  • 1 5 5

up kinds of “people” that are a response to, and a threat to, what would eventually be called “postindustrial” life.86 While Linder’s book was one of the first attempts to describe the psychopath as a particular kind of “free” and thus antisocial person, Hare’s work, while methodologically indebted to Walter and his reinvention of the EEG, was an attempt to empirically codify claims in another book published a few years before Linder’s. This book, psychiatrist Hervey Cleckley’s The Mask of Sanity, initially published in 1941, is widely considered the ur-­text of psychopathic personality disorder, providing the first major attempt to define a “psychopath” as a kind of person.87 The psychopath, Cleckley claimed, is invisible, cannot effectively be treated, and is a threat to the very foundations of society. Based on a series of case studies, Cleckley’s work defined a profile of psychopathy that has guided both psychological and popular representations since—­a profile that seems more about personality traits and behaviors that are a threat to the authority of the family than anything else, resonating with David Cooper’s dismissal of psychiatric pathology. The “freedom” explicit in Linder’s definition above is implicit in Cleckley’s. The rejection of social obligations—­be they familial, be they romantic, be they work related—­suggests a kind of person who does not conform to midcentury American social norms and thus is a threat to society. Cleckley’s book defines the psychopath as superficially charming and intelligent, unreliable, and untruthful or insincere. They lack clear motivation for their actions, are unable to learn from past experiences, lack symptoms of psychotic delusions or neurosis, and rarely follow a clear life plan. The psychopath’s sex life is impersonal and meaningless, and they rarely commit suicide. Perhaps most significantly, the psychopath lacks remorse or shame for their actions, cannot form affective bonds with others, and is ultimately egocentric and cannot love.88 Hare’s formalization of Cleckley’s argument, which would guide the development of his various checklists to categorize psychopathy, was remade into an actual medical disorder by stressing issues of motivation, of learning, of a lack of a life plan, and making the ultimate physical ground of psychopathy into a neurological inability to anticipate. Psychologists and psychiatrists continue to ascribe a similar logic to psychopathy as that proposed by Cleckley. Following Hare, the added dimension of a cognitive, material ground is always present, if with more depth than Hare was able to perform in the 1960s and ’70s. Hare’s use of the Dynograph was able to move psychopathy from a vague description of a personality type—­one that was more or less a description of drifters 1 5 6   •   T H E P R I S O N DY N O G R A P H

without sustained social bonds who didn’t get married, didn’t hold down a job, and engaged in nonprocreative sex for pleasure—­to a specific, technically produced quality that otherwise escaped empirical observation: an inability to cognitively anticipate a future. But this cognitive ground of anticipation, combined with the profile sketched by Cleckley, has led to the definition of this type as “evil” incarnate. Simon Baron-­Cohen, a clinical neuropsychologist known for his work on autism, has argued that the neurological foundations for psychopathy be explicitly linked with a biological, material foundation for the existence of “evil.”89 Further neurological research has worked to locate this evil as an absence in the brain—­again, a form of brain damage. James Blair, Derek Mitchell, and Karina Blair, in their book The Psychopath: Emotion and the Brain,90 claim that many of the observational traits that descend from Cleckley arise from dysfunction in the amygdala—­especially the hippocampus, superior temporal sulcus, fusiform complex, anterior cingulate, and orbital frontal cortex. Once again, we see how the response to particular categories and sketches of behavior, which were made without reference to the body and its physiology, are made “scientific” by locating behavioral acts in the brain through particular technologies—­technologies like the Dynograph or, today, fMRI and PET scanning devices. The problem here—­which is perhaps why Cleckley’s book has been so influential—­is the sheer difficulty in identifying psychopathy in daily life and, ultimately, treating psychopathy. One way of dismissing this problem would be to follow the logic of the anti-­psychiatrists—­that the difficulties in identifying and treating psychopathy are because this “disorder” refers to little more than a group of behaviors that resist and refuse to conform to the logic of the family, of patriarchy, of “good citizenship” and care, but are not in and of themselves indicative of a medical disorder. The response following Hare, however, is to locate psychopathy as a form of brain damage, one that is difficult to discern because psychopaths do not appear “disordered” or exceptional. Hare has claimed that one of the biggest clinical problems for psychology and psychiatry, when it comes to psychopathy, is that psychopaths do not see themselves as “pathological,” and therefore do not seek treatment of their own volition. “Psychopaths don’t feel they have psychological or emotional problems,” he remarks, “and they see no reason to change their behavior to conform to societal standards with which they do not agree.”91 This lack of a self-­reflexive ability to feel as if one is “disordered” is less important than a neurological inability to experience empathy, while T H E P R I S O N D Y N O G R A P H  • 1 5 7

nonetheless outwardly simulating a “proper” internal emotional experience.92 As Hare argues in his foundational clinical text on psychopathy, the 1970 book Psychopathy: Theory and Research, written around the same time as his experiments with Quinn, what defines psychopathy is a neurological inability to link particular behaviors with a particular emotional judgment: remorse. Remorse, Hare argues, differentiates psychopathy from sociopathy. The former does not cognitively experience remorse, regret, and guilt, while the latter does. While both may commit “antisocial” acts, their reasons for doing so are very different, and their ability to learn and change are completely opposed.93 The inability to cognitively anticipate becomes an inability to cognitively reflect. Hare makes a psychopath a body that has no ability to imagine a future and remember a past. The ability to recognize, and thus anticipate, a particular stimulus provides evidence of learning from experience. Because one can reflect on causes and effects, this then means that one can come to regret the actions they’ve taken in the past and the effects those actions have had. Hare’s work on psychopathy develops one real argument: some people cannot and will never be able to feel this way, will never be able to live in a reflective and anticipatory temporal mode. And because of this, these people should be imprisoned—­or even put to death. Psychopathy and Execution Hare, and many of those following him, have been explicit with the imbrication of their research with law enforcement.94 Hare’s checklist from the 1990s, the PCL-­R, which he would eventually develop out of his work from the 1960s and ’70s, is widely regarded to determine recidivism rates better than other possible measures.95 Or, the importance of Hare’s work is in its ability to predict who, once their prison sentence is completed, will return to prison. Psychopathy is a diagnosis that suggests prison may reform some bodies, but others will never learn. The entire reason that psychopathy is even debated today is because it presumes a particular goal to psychological and psychiatric research: to predict who should be released from detention and who should be incarcerated forever. This, of course, presumes that prisons have a necessary social function—­which they do not96—­and it presumes that a major function of psychology and psychiatry is its institutional support of prisons and law, a link that, also, should not be assumed.97 The diagnosis of a personality disorder becomes that which can legitimate permanent captivity, or even the death penalty, 1 5 8   •   T H E P R I S O N DY N O G R A P H

because of emotional dissimulation and the appearance (or lack thereof) of “remorse,” qualities that are related to, but not precisely derived from, Hare’s experimental work. In legal practice, as filmmaker Errol Morris has argued,98 the material, neurological underpinnings of psychopathy are almost never discussed in the courtroom. Instead, law relies on a visual, lay interpretation of “remorse” that remains almost unchanged from Cleckley’s original book. Does the one on trial demonstrate remorse for their crimes? Do they appear as if they’re sorry? As if they regret their actions? The courtroom context presumes the “fact” of a materially real “illness” as established and incontrovertible. While Hare’s initial experiments occurred in a context in which psychiatric disorders were regularly questioned as mythical and imaginary, the decades since, especially in the courts, defer quickly to the judgment of psychology and psychiatry as indisputable. A psychopath is a thing, and we know it exists as a kind of person because the psychologist or psychiatrist sits on the stand of the court as an expert. Additionally, merely being able to answer any one of these questions during a criminal trial, either affirmatively or negatively, requires, from the outset, a performance of guilt by the defendant, thus undermining the very point and purpose of a democratic system of law. One might assume that the innocent would not appear remorseful, simply because they are innocent. They cannot regret a crime they did not commit. Yet prosecutors who invoke psychopathy, prosecutors who invite expert witnesses like Hare to testify on their behalf, use this lack of remorse as visual evidence that the one on trial lacks conscience. Not demonstrating remorse, rather than a sign of innocence, is a sign that one cannot imagine going to jail because of an inability to articulate cause and effect. The assumption is that the one on trial must be guilty, evidenced by the fact that they are on trial. Their remorse—­or lack thereof—­ only determines if prison will “reform,” or if any attempt to reform will be useless in the long run. The moment psychopathy is invoked in a courtroom means that neither guilt nor innocence can be debated. The death penalty is an extreme extension of this logic. According to some following Hare, because psychopaths do not learn, then the world would be better with them put to death. This turn can be seen most directly in the figure of James Grigson, a Texas-­based forensic psychiatrist nicknamed “Doctor Death” who testified in 165 capital trials, the majority of which ended in death sentences. Grigson’s psychiatric evaluations were central to the 1981 U.S. Supreme Court case of Estelle v. Smith. Grigson T H E P R I S O N D Y N O G R A P H  • 1 5 9

was to perform a psychiatric evaluation of Ernest Benjamin Smith, who took part in a grocery store robbery where an accomplice shot and killed a clerk, determining only if Smith was competent to stand trial. In the process of his psychiatric screening, however, Grigson also performed a broader evaluation and was brought in as a witness for the prosecution during sentencing—­with his initial evaluation as that which guided his conclusions for sentencing. Here, Grigson used the term “sociopath,” meaning what is today consistently referred to with “psychopath”: Dr. Grigson testified before the jury on direct examination: (a) that Smith “is a very severe sociopath”; (b) that “he will continue his previous behavior”; (c) that his sociopathic condition will “only get worse”; (d) that he has no “regard for another human being’s property or for their life, regardless of who it may be”; (e) that “there is no treatment, no medicine . . . that in any way at all modifies or changes this behavior”; (f) that he “is going to go ahead and commit other similar or same criminal acts if given the opportunity to do so”; and (g) that he “has no remorse or sorrow for what he has done.” Dr. Grigson, whose testimony was based on information derived from his 90-­minute “mental status examination” of Smith (i.e., the examination ordered to determine Smith’s competency to stand trial), was the State’s only witness at the sentencing hearing.99

Because of Grigson’s testimony, the court determined that Smith was to be put to death. In an appeal to the Supreme Court, this ruling was overturned in favor of Smith, following the precedent of the 1966 Miranda v. Arizona decision, as Smith was not informed that Grigson’s psychiatric evaluation would potentially contribute to sentencing. Grigson, who died in 2004, was in 1995 expelled from the APA and the Texas Society of Psychiatric Physicians for ethics violations related to his activities as an expert witness. Until his expulsion he repeatedly appeared in Texas courtrooms to argue defendants were incurable on the basis of psychopathy and would inevitably kill again, as he did in Smith’s trial. Grigson’s expulsion from psychiatry had to do with his haste in arriving at a diagnosis—­as with Smith—­not with the problems in the diagnoses as such.100 One would expect the turn to neurology to reinvent the evidentiary means for determining psychopathy in the courtroom. Yet Hare and other psychiatrists who follow the model of Grigson have been opposed to the neurological diagnosis of psychopathy they helped create, instead arguing for the continued relevance for Hare’s PCL-­R and lay, visual interpretation of remorse and empathy.101 For Hare, this can be attributed to 1 6 0   •   T H E P R I S O N DY N O G R A P H

how much of his income comes from teaching law enforcement and lawyers—­ at exceptional fees—­ how to identify psychopathy from visual information.102 With psychopathy, carceral capitalism103 has combined with emotional capitalism, using psychology to extract value from bodies judged evil and necessary to confine. In the courtroom, the technical evidence once supplied by the Dynograph falls away, and we are left with qualitative checklists that sort bodies into categories, a means that presumes the correlations Hare once found with the Dynograph to be true in all circumstances, even if the actual, material evidence for cognition is not inscribed. Psychopathy and the Ends of Empathy Psychopathy provides a neurological basis for arguments that some people are simply “evil,” this “evil” cannot be corrected, and thus these individuals should be permanently incarcerated or sentenced to death. More broadly, the figure of the psychopath brings together several themes that guide this book as a whole—­that the history of emotion in American psychology has created a problem space in which interiority has become something to be visualized and managed, which, given the sheer diversity of ways that “emotion” and “empathy” have been defined, is an exceptionally large space indeed. I want to conclude this chapter with a few speculations on why psychopathy matters as a point to stitch together some of the themes of this book before we turn, in our final chapter, to a case in which the mechanical objectivity of the Affect Lab collapses. The first theme I want to mention takes us back to our introduction, and the broader context of why emotion matters today. If we understand the transmission and modulation of affect to describe a primary way that capitalism exploits the affective or immaterial labor of human bodies, directing and pre-­empting labor prior to the conscious perception of human cognition,104 then psychopathy refers to a limit point of bodies that do not labor in some sense, because these bodies do not neurologically experience “normal” emotional bonds and relations. If affect names an impersonal energetic quality through which human bodies overflow their subjective limits, becoming relationally networked with the others around them, then the psychopath becomes a major problem for theorizations of affect as a kind of social ontology.105 Additionally, psychopathy becomes a figure that prevents the transmission of affect through a neurological disruption or limitation, all the while performing and acting as if T H E P R I S O N D Y N O G R A P H  • 1 6 1

a conductor of networked, affective flows. This first theme demonstrates limitations in the affective ontology assumed by many, and how those who exceed this ontology are a threat because they pass as “normal,” at least until caught by the carceral apparatus. The fear and fascination with psychopathy derives, on one hand, from the technical means that demonstrate how some bodies have a different relation to temporality, to anticipation, to remorse. On the other, it derives from a sense that some people can fake sincerity and can pretend to feel without actually caring, are able to manipulate and cajole without the guilt and anxiety that “normal” people might feel when faced with the constant, exhausting, moral quandaries of a life lived at the intersection of countless, seemingly inextricable bonds. Much of this hinges on empathy, a quality that, as should be clear from this book thus far, is rarely defined well, be it in neuropsychology or in more humanistic and social scientific works that describe empathy as an essential part of human relational experience.106 Empathy refers to, among other things, the ability to understand others as possessive of an independent mind, or the ability to mirror the emotions of others based on visual evidence from facial expression. Yet, even with its many definitions, empathy is today assumed to be a fundamental, neurological form of social connection. Psychopathy is a threat because bodies associated with it do not feel empathetic affection neurologically, even though they can simulate facial expressions and certainly do feel a range of emotions. Unlike other personality categories associated with the neurological empathy circuit, such as autism or borderline personality disorder, psychopathy can appear “normal.” If it were not for the links between psychopathy and the carceral, most likely the “problem” of psychopathy would be fodder for popular entertainment and little else. Psychopathy would be the source of fears, which although important because it indicates how popular culture makes sense of the commodification of emotional life, would have little consequence because of the invisibility of psychopathy in daily life. Considering the juridical–­psychological apparatus, along with the increasing presence of surveillance technologies designed to detect emotions,107 we should nonetheless be concerned about how the liminality of emotion, the indiscernibility of emotion, is complicit with a mechanism designed to identify bodies that should be incarcerated or put to death because of a seeming duplicity and lack of remorse. Moral panics about psychopathy are less about empathy than they are about the continued inability to visualize 1 6 2   •   T H E P R I S O N DY N O G R A P H

interior, emotional experiences in an age of surveillance and neurological prediction. Contemporary capital asks us to circulate affect, to be genuine in feeling, to express emotion visibly on the face. Psychopathy is a limit point in which internal, neurological events do not conform to external performance, denying the necessity of sincerity. When it comes to the liminality of emotion, psychopathy demonstrates how this inscrutability can lead to death. And this all depends on a specific measurement that turns emotion and empathy into a cognitive judgment, prediction, and reflection on causality and sequence. The measurements of the Dynograph—­while they necessarily define emotion as temporal and causal—­do not intrinsically lead to the prison. Thus one final anecdote of a Dynograph, an anecdote that orients us elsewhere, to a beyond that, once again, emerges from the suspension of conscious experience. In 1951, a graduate student at the University of Chicago, Eugene Aserinsky, was told of an exceptionally old Dynograph held in the basement of Chicago’s Abbot Memorial Hall, which housed its physiology department. Aserinsky was interested in eye movements during sleep, but he couldn’t secure grant funding for his research. He was left to improvise methods he could derive using some old, forgotten tools lingering in storage. He dragged the Dynograph from the basement of Abbot Hall to the lab on the second floor, and, in getting the Dynograph running, found that it “spontaneously spewed forth pen movements even when no subject was attached to the instrument.”108 Aserinsky began to repair the Dynograph himself. He came to learn that the Dynograph he was using was, in fact, Offner’s original prototype from the Chicago biophysics lab. After fixing up the original Dynograph, Aserinsky would come to perform a range of sleep studies, discovering the “Rapid Eye Movement” period of sleep, correlating REM to dreaming. The inscriptive capacities of the Dynograph were central in inventing the varied “discoveries” discussed in this chapter—­the contingent negative variation, psychopathic anticipation, and REM sleep. And the capacities to inscribe interiority—­interior feelings unable to be seen otherwise, or moments of dreaming beyond conscious experience—­repeatedly turn us toward a metaphysical beyond that, despite so many attempts otherwise, has never been dismissed or eliminated. This relation between the objectivity of the machine and the metaphysics of the soul, a theme that has a perpetual and uneasy relation with all this book has described so far, is the subject of our final chapter.

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E -­M E T E R M E T A P H Y S I C S

O n e di mensi o n of ou r s to ry has been experimental psychology’s struggle to remove the spiritual, deferring to the mechanical objectivity of an instrument to do so.1 Thought, feeling, affect—­these things remain withdrawn to the observer. But a technical inscription is not evidence of the otherwise unseen. The inscription produces whatever it is we call “affect.” The failure to attribute this agency to the instrument leads to a massive problem. If the instrument merely reveals unseen scientific truths, then it also brokers access to knowledge we might frame as occult. In experimental psychology, machines for writing are assumed to protect against fissures that otherwise allow the intrusion of spirits. Simultaneously, media “are always flight apparatuses into the great beyond,” to use the words of Friedrich Kittler.2 Unless we admit the material agency of a technology, media become a means not for negating the spiritual, but for the multiplication of ghosts.3 This flight to the beyond implies not only the impossibility of doing away with the spiritual through technical means, but, additionally, that that which is metaphysical is first physical. And if we presume that the instrument brokers access rather than produces what it writes, then the inscriptive qualities of an instrument fabricate secret knowledges—­access to which must be restricted in the name of enlightenment.4 My final case examines science fiction author L. Ron Hubbard and the therapeutic techniques he developed around 1950. It begins with Hubbard’s crafting of a midcentury form of self-­help derived from Freudian psychoanalysis, a practice he named “Dianetics.” But more specifically, this chapter examines how Hubbard relied on a specific technology, an “electropsychometer” or “E-­Meter” (Figure 33), to transform his therapy into a religion called “Scientology.” Hubbard’s religion would rewrite Freud through science fictional themes and occult jargon, legitimated through  • 1 6 5

a device to promise transcendent, unseen knowledge. Initially described as a psychological tool, the E-­Meter allowed Hubbard to appeal to “science” while making claims otherwise derived from linking psychoanalysis with the practices of modern esotericism.5 The transformation from self-­help to religion, I argue, required a technology of measurement, a technology that would appeal to a pragmatic sense of truth to differentiate Scientology from other new age religions and practices. And in measuring the esoteric, Hubbard would also present Dianetics and Scientology as alternatives to—­and critiques of—­psychology and psychiatry.6 Despite the regular use of instruments to legitimate scientific practice as “science,” when technical methods to make sensible are foundational

Figure 33. Two E-­Meters held at the Media Archaeology Lab at the University of Colorado, Boulder. The E-­Meter on the top left is a Hubbard Professional Mark Super VII Quantum E-­Meter, from 1996. The one on the bottom right is a Hubbard British Mark V E-­Meter, from 1962. The Mark Super VII is functional, and was used by the author as a basis for some of the claims in this chapter. Photograph by the author.

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for modern scientific and spiritual practice alike, then the boundary between the two is difficult to delineate.7 When the inscriptions of a medium come to ground objective truth, then “truth” can never do away with the spectrality of that which is inaccessible to sensation. “Truth,” then, becomes less about privileged access to an unseen reality than access to a community that asserts authority in prescribing the boundaries of knowledge. Scientology makes this theme overt. Its ability to access gnostic, hidden knowledge—­an ability central for its existence as a religion—­ is determined by the ability to know and use an instrument. This is also true of psychology in general. When truth is guided by what a machine inscribes, then access to truth is also access to technology. When the emotions are known through a machine, the materiality of affect drifts away into occult energies and spirits that conflate ontology with inscriptions of technical measurement, known only by those who know how to interpret these measures. This chapter, in many ways, deviates from the rest of this book as it does not have any direct relationship to affect theory and its genealogy. I do not believe that there would be anyone who self-­identifies as an affect theorist that would claim Scientology as an influence. Yet what I aim to show here is how, despite the “materiality” of affect and relation derived from the presumed truth of experimental science, the materiality of technological instruments and the “truth” of scientific measurement cannot guarantee an exclusion of the metaphysical. If, as I claimed in the introduction, affect should be thought of as a metaphysical placeholder, this chapter demonstrates how technical instruments and experimental technique, today, can be placed in the service of transcending the material into the metaphysical. A caveat: it’s not my intent to give an expansive understanding of Hubbard, Dianetics, or Scientology in this chapter. I’m not interested in passing judgment on Hubbard, his therapy, or his religion, but I’m not interested in legitimating them, either. The history of Scientology is filled with abuse, coercion, and blackmail.8 As well, academic scholarship on Scientology—­until recently—­has had to deal with the religion’s secrecy, with many accounts of the religion based on narratives provided by defectors who were otherwise disillusioned or critical of its practices.9 Comprehensive, academic work on Scientology is now available, but tends to be uncritical of the religion or frames its history as similar to that of other mainstream religions—­some contemporary scholars of religion seem to regard a history of abuse as an intrinsic element of religious phenomena, E -­M E T E R M E T A P H Y S I C S  • 1 6 7

and Scientology would be no different.10 This is to foreground that, while this chapter does not examine in depth the more scandalous aspects of Scientology, I am not dismissing them, either, though these details are beyond my scope.11 As well, Dianetics and Scientology both involve a dense jargon that I’ve attempted to avoid as much as possible. I’ve worked to keep my discussion of Hubbard’s biography to a minimum. Yet the inclusion of jargon and biography are unavoidable, especially since the mere existence of this jargon is central to my discussion. Again, my intent is to locate Hubbard, his writings, and the E-­Meter as engagements with and deviations from American psychology, and how the shift from Dianetics to Scientology tells us much about the changing relations between technology, truth, and metaphysics in American emotional life around 1950. The E-­Meter and the Polygraph To start, what is an E-­Meter, and what does it do? In Scientology, as Jonathan Eburne describes it, the E-­Meter separates “the immortal, transcendent, and otherworldly part of man—­called the thetan, an immortal spiritual being—­from the bodily.”12 While the E-­Meter’s theological use materializes this distinction between spirit and body, the technical design of the E-­Meter merely measures electrodermal response, like the polygraph or the Dynograph of our previous chapter. As such, the E-­Meter has regularly been compared to a lie detector. Eburne states that the E-­Meter “is basically a lie detector,”13 and artist Jamie Allen included the E-­Meter in a survey of technologies designed, in some way, to transduce the body’s physiological signals, distinguishing “truth” from “lie.”14 Hubbard himself compared the E-­Meter to a lie detector, differentiating the two technologies while also emphasizing their similarity. In a lecture from 1952, around the time of the earliest uses of the E-­Meter, Hubbard remarked: The difference between this machine and a police department machine is elementary: a police department machine is just more of it. A police department machine measures respiration, blood pressure . . . and electronic impulse. . . . The point is, this machine measures solely the electrical resistance of the body.15

Further explaining the similarities and differences between the E-­Meter and a lie detector, Hubbard would claim later in 1952 that “the E-­Meter is 1 6 8   •   E -­M E T E R M E T A P H Y S I C S

never read for lies, but only for stress.”16 These comparisons are relatively vague, and, for one skeptical of Scientology, do not really separate the E-­Meter from a polygraph. Further attempts to differentiate the two, which delve fully into Scientology’s metaphysics, also do not help in this differentiation. In his book Scientology: A History of Man, published the same year as these above comments, Hubbard remarks that police who have experimented with the E-­Meter “become startled half out of their wits to discover that some of the crimes they find on their machines were committed two or three ‘lives’ ago by the criminal under test.”17 Rather than finding lies, Hubbard claims, the police find “thetans” with an E-­Meter; they find not the “truth” of criminality, but ancient, immortal beings who transcend the physical body under examination. The difference between a lie detector and an E-­Meter becomes, then, the separation of body and soul mentioned by Eburne. This comparison—­obfuscated by Hubbard’s use of “stress” to describe whatever it is the E-­Meter measures, his claim that the E-­Meter separates the material body from an ancient self—­distorts how the E-­Meter differs from the polygraph and the Dynograph, if only subtly, if to great effect. Hubbard’s attempt to distinguish the two ultimately defers to vague nonconcepts and metaphysical themes, not the technologies themselves. I want to highlight this technical difference, though a focus on the technical basis also highlights similarities. The technical methods these technologies employ to measure the electrical resistance of the skin are similar, if not identical. Both a traditional lie detector and an E-­Meter rely on a circuit called a “Wheatstone bridge,” a circuit used to determine an unknown electrical resistance. It was invented in 1833 by Samuel Hunter Christie and popularized in 1843 by Sir Charles Wheatstone, used by Wheatstone to analyze and compare soils. The Wheatstone bridge is known for its sensitivity and accuracy, and variants of this circuit have a wide range of practical applications throughout engineering and medicine.18 So why should the E-­Meter and the polygraph be taken as different technologies, given all these similarities? Both the polygraph and Dynograph are technologies for writing on paper, a writing that inscribes temporal change. This is not the case for an E-­Meter, which only “writes” through temporary movements of a needle. The movement of the needles of the polygraph and Dynograph result in specific marks to be interpreted after the fact, a form of graphical inscription that has a lengthy history that links art, science, and media.19 With the E-­Meter, the movements of the needle themselves are to be interpreted without the additional graphical E -­M E T E R M E T A P H Y S I C S  • 1 6 9

writing. The distinction here—­between writing on a scroll and patterns interpreted in a needle’s movement—­may seem superficial, but results in significant distinctions in how electrical resistance, as measured by these devices, is understood. A polygraph, after calibration to determine a base level skin resistance, writes changes in electrodermal response identified through the inspection of a written scroll of paper. A polygraph “test,” which refers to a set of nine to fifteen questions asked while a subject is attached to the machine, is often repeated and is part of a longer “examination.” Throughout, test and exam work to create baselines and standards that allow comparison. The deviation from the baseline separates truth from lie.20 The Dynograph also measures change, but a change that signals anticipation and regret. With the Dynograph, deviation signifies a mind thinking of the future, a mind judging what has happened and what will happen. The E-­Meter, in contrast, never establishes a genuine baseline and is never used for an accurate comparison between a baseline and its deviations, simply because it never writes. It never makes the same temporal associations of the polygraph and the Dynograph because its signs cannot be compared in the same way. Its measurements depend entirely on techniques that would be, for a polygraph examination, about determining this baseline resistance. Even though Scientology does not admit as such, the function of an E-­Meter is to secure a consistent baseline rather than change. Thus the goal of a “test” administered with an E-­Meter would be for the person under examination to somehow maintain a relatively constant electrical resistance that is read through specific, physical movements of the meter’s needle. That the E-­Meter does not really measure change, but instead depends on identifying a generally stable, quantified electrical resistance, suggests the device does not reveal the truth of a brain and body, at least not in the sense employed by psychology and law. Scientology has developed an elaborate system for interpreting what inconsistencies in electrical resistance may mean, along with what the bodily capacity for electrical conductivity indicates—­signs that denote not lies, but the presence of cosmic traumas to be worked through therapeutically, traumas completely beyond the conscious knowledge of an individual, traumas that may emerge from other lifetimes, from thousands, if not millions, if not trillions of years in the past, from an existence lived on other planets beyond our universe. The E-­Meter comes to measure not temporal change, but the simultaneous coexistence of all temporal frames. The device reveals gnostic knowledge 1 7 0   •   E -­M E T E R M E T A P H Y S I C S

that transcends time, space, and materiality by presenting electricity, as measured through electrodermal response, as an energy that exceeds physical existence. This turn to the mystical out of technology is not a reversal or perversion of science, I suggest—­or at least, not completely. The E-­Meter is evidence of a dialectical intertwining in which the technical deferral to an unseen truth guides both scientific knowledge and its spiritualist negation. This argument, which claims that a cosmic, science fictional theology is a plausible—­even necessary—­outcome of technical measurement, one generally equivalent to the claims of experimental psychology, relies on several links that aren’t often elaborated or are generally dismissed elsewhere: first, the radical changes Hubbard made in his writings between 1950 and 1952, and second, Dianetics’ similarity to psychoanalysis along with the American reinvention of both therapy and self-­help publishing in the late 1940s and early 1950s. Discussions of Scientology in critical and cultural theory frame it as symptomatic of new age themes that embraced the occult, the religious, the mystical, the science fictional to address postwar trauma and the social instability of the 1960s.21 The specific function of the E-­Meter, when addressed, is a technical means for accessing this science fictional, gnostic beyond.22 Scholars of new religions, however, argue that Scientology is not simply a symptom of postwar social unrest but a unique religion distinct from other new age or occult movements from the same time. They emphasize the E-­Meter as that which legitimates the “science” of Scientology,23 serving as a metonym for Hubbard as the singular “source” of the religion. As noted on the E-­Meter itself, the technology “does nothing” (Figure 34), though this statement derives from various legal battles that prevent Scientology from saying its techniques have therapeutic results.24 Nonetheless, the machine, as a device that “does nothing,” is assumed to stand in for Hubbard’s authority when his presence is otherwise displaced.25 I generally agree with all these arguments, to some degree, but tend to side with the scholars of religion. There’s something specific about Scientology irreducible to other forms of spiritual experience. At the same time, Hubbard and Scientology do speak to broader social structures reinvented around 1950—­structures not only related to alternative forms of spirituality, but to the midcentury popularization of psychology, best seen in the rise of therapy and self-­help in the 1950s.26 I do not think the E-­Meter can be described as an artifact that primarily stands in for Hubbard’s authority, at least without some E -­M E T E R M E T A P H Y S I C S  • 1 7 1

Figure 34. “By itself, this meter does nothing.” Disclaimer panel on the bottom of the Hubbard Professional Mark Super VII Quantum E-­Meter held at the Media Archaeology Lab. Photograph by the author.

qualification, though it helps legitimate Hubbard’s arguments through the deferral to the mechanical objectivity of an instrument. My goal in the remainder of this chapter is to highlight how Hubbard’s methods are a deviation and dissemination of popular trends derived from American psychology, arguing that the E-­Meter is one of the most direct conjunctions of the practices of experimental psychology with a “pseudoscience” that remains illegitimate in the eyes of psychological science. I now turn to the transition from Dianetics as a form of popular psychoanalysis to the birth of Scientology. I’ll then delve into Scientology’s system for interpreting the movements of the E-­Meter’s needle as an occult technological practice. Scientology’s eventual journey into outer space reveals a problem for psychology—­and for science more broadly. Around 1950, the E-­Meter represents how a deferral to mechanical objectivity, as a substitute for the fallibility of empirical experience, could lead to conclusions even more “unscientific” than those made by William James when he would dabble with spiritualism. 1 7 2   •   E -­M E T E R M E T A P H Y S I C S

Dianetics as a Materialist Therapy Hubbard’s first attempt to create his own version of psychology and, specifically, his own version of psychoanalysis, went by the name “Dianetics,” which can be traced to a series of published and unpublished texts he started writing in 1938.27 “Dianetics” is a therapy to treat “all inorganic mental ills and all organic psychosomatic ills, with assurance of complete cure in unselected cases.”28 It would lead to not only mental well-­being but improved sensory capacities, such as a gradual return to perfect eyesight. Successful completion of his therapy, Hubbard claimed, would even grant one telepathic perception.29 Dianetics gained widespread popularity upon publication of Dianetics: A Handbook of Dianetic Therapy in May 1950,30 though many of Hubbard’s first devotees encountered his ideas through an excerpt, “Dianetics: The Evolution of a Science,” published the same month in the magazine Astounding Science Fiction.31 Dianetics does not presume any essential metaphysical belief system. It instead proposes a therapeutic relationship, called “auditing,” which involves an “auditor,” the person administering Dianetic therapy, and a “preclear,” sometimes stylized as “pc,” the person undergoing therapy on their path toward an end state called “clear.” In achieving the state of “clear,” one is effectively healed and thus gains perfect eyesight and the other supernatural abilities Hubbard claims will result from his therapy. In a session of Dianetic auditing, the auditor asks the preclear a series of questions to discover latent, unconscious traumas called “engrams,” traumas that are both physical and psychological, traumas framed as repressed memories from one’s past. Abstractly, this relationship between auditor and preclear is almost identical to the analyst–­analysand relation in psychoanalysis.32 Identifying “engrams,” as well, is relatively interchangeable with the Freudian goal of revealing unconscious traumas that the analysand is compelled to neurotically repeat. The most overt distinction between Dianetics and psychoanalysis is that Dianetics was initially designed with a specific goal, an end.33 Psychoanalysis, on the other hand, never really ends, and the possibility of its completion has been debated since some of the earliest days of its existence.34 In 1948, Hubbard wrote to a friend that, in developing Dianetics, he believed he had “cut psycho-­analysis down from a two year job to about two nights,”35 which indicates how the terminability or interminability of analysis was one of the main distinctions Hubbard saw between Dianetics and the methods of Freud. E -­M E T E R M E T A P H Y S I C S  • 1 7 3

Dianetics relies on a materialist conception of mind that links mental therapy with physical wellness. An engram, as a psychic trauma, exists in the body’s cells as a vitalist form of memory. According to Hubbard, Unless we postulate a human soul entering the sperm and ovum at conception, there are things which no other postulate will embrace than that these cells are in some way sentient. . . . The cells as thought units evidently have an influence, as cells, upon the body as a thought unit and an organism. We do not have to untangle this structural problem to resolve our functional postulates. The cells evidently retain engrams of painful events. After all, they are the things which get injured. And they evidently retain a whip hand of punishment.36

This cellular theory of traumatic memory is obviously speculative, though it resonates with vitalist or materialist philosophers Hubbard was likely to have read, like Henri Bergson.37 And furthering his debt to a materialist conception of the body and mind, Hubbard’s earliest writings on Dianetics draw heavily on behaviorist and materialist psychology, suggesting most physical and mental problems are conjoined in their mutual neurological foundations. Mind, body, and brain are united through the materiality of the neuron,38 a “materialism” that also characterizes the early writings of Freud completed while he worked under the supervision of Jean-­ Martin Charcot at the Salpêtrière.39 If we recall some of the arguments of the previous chapter, Hubbard was, therefore, anticipating counterarguments to the anti-­psychiatric claims of Thomas Szasz, counterarguments that would eventually lead to pharmaceuticals and other medical means to correct mental illness.40 For Szasz, psychiatry is an invalid science since “mental illness” is, for him, a contradiction—­mind cannot be reduced to body for Szasz.41 Hubbard suggests, however, that mental illness is “real” because mind is, in fact, physical. Therapy will result in very literal, physical changes in sensation. Dianetics, in this initial formulation, anticipates the changes psychology and psychiatry would undergo in the wake of Szasz, if through the embrace of psychoanalytic talk therapy rather than psychiatric techniques of electroshock and drugs.42 Thus Hubbard initially considered Dianetics—­or at least wanted it to be—­a plausible, materialist extension of (and rejoinder to) psychoanalysis, comparable to the versions of psychoanalysis advanced by Carl Jung or Wilhelm Reich, writers at the fringes of science who shared the same audience to which Hubbard’s work appealed in the 1950s and ’60s. While exposure to Dianetics occurred, for many, through a magazine that 1 7 4   •   E -­M E T E R M E T A P H Y S I C S

published pulp sci-­fi, this striving for legitimacy can be seen clearly through the political economy of book publishing. Dianetics was initially published by Hermitage House, a New York publisher of psychological and psychiatric books. It was marketed, like many of Hermitage House’s other publications, as a textbook.43 Psychoanalysis as Self-­Help Why would Hubbard want to create his own form of therapy, initially promoted though a textbook excerpted and advertised in a science fiction magazine? And, for that matter, why would he have based his therapy on Freudian psychoanalysis? In the United States, the popularization of psychoanalytic therapy as a legitimate medical treatment began after the positive reception of Freud’s 1909 lectures at Clark University, which introduced his ideas to many American psychologists and psychiatrists. Freud’s theories were embraced by some American psychologists after the successful use of psychoanalysis to treat bombshell trauma, or “shell shock,” during World War I,44 though psychoanalytic approaches to shell shock were more influential in Europe than the United States, where they were combined with hypnosis and other techniques derived from French therapies for hysteria.45 Psychoanalysis was further disseminated throughout the military during World War II, when psychologists and psychoanalysts were employed to administer army personnel, treat mental health, and develop propaganda.46 After the war, psychoanalytic practice—­and psychology more broadly—­expanded widely. The membership of the American Psychological Association grew by 1100 percent between 1940 and 1970, signifying how rapidly varied forms of therapy exploded in postwar America.47 Psychoanalysis, in other words, was first popularized in the United States as a therapy for dealing with trauma, especially those derived from the horrors of war. This goal of treating trauma was worlds away from what was going on in the psychology departments of American universities around the same time, even if there were similar imbrications between empirical psychology and the military. Experimental psychology was focused on demonstrating psychology’s significance for daily life, an applied psychology that could use the arguments of Wilhelm Wundt, Edward Titchener, and Robert Woodworth, among others, to help people succeed at work, help them maintain friendships, and help them become more effective public speakers. This drive toward practical application E -­M E T E R M E T A P H Y S I C S  • 1 7 5

was guided most overtly by William James’s colleague and successor at Harvard, Hugo Münsterberg, who saw the function of psychology as an attempt to solve everyday social problems.48 As the Northwestern psychologist Walter Dill Scott mentions in the introduction to The Psychology of Public Speaking from 1909, “It should be remarked that psychology, as studied to-­day, is one of the most practical and fascinating of all the sciences.” And because of advances in psychology, “much has been done in the last few years to advance the study of psychology among business men.”49 Following the models of Münsterberg and Scott, American psychology was interested in the improvement of business, teaching, advertising, public speaking, and law enforcement, among other “practical” and “applied” uses. The goal of psychology was to foster efficiency in persuasion, in self-­presentation, in interpersonal relations. The treatment of trauma and psychopathology was given to Freud and his followers, despite how the American experimentalists would denigrate Freud’s methods—­and even the treatment of mental disorders as a whole—­as beyond the scope of psychology because psychoanalytic therapy did not (and could not) follow techniques of instrumental, positivist objectivity.50 American experimentalists did, however, contribute to the development of psychological testing in the military. Or, psychoanalysis was used to cure, experimental psychology was used to predict. During World War I, Robert Woodworth developed tests for emotional stability designed to weed out soldiers who were already said to experience neurotic symptoms, symptoms he believed would correlate with an eventual susceptibility to shell shock.51 At the time, the American military believed that shell shock was a temporary condition, an injury that would go away on its own after a few months of treatment. After returning from battle, soldiers were evaluated as to their potential to be cured. The incurable were sent to the Army’s asylum or another public asylum. Those deemed curable, which was the evaluation for most soldiers, were sent to a neuropsychiatric ward of an Army hospital. There, the military provided four months of care, after which soldiers were then sent to either federally managed hospitals or a public asylum. The majority of soldiers receiving treatment for shell shock were not cured in the four months allocated by the military. As the U.S. Army Surgeon General’s office faced budget cuts, the military eventually decided not to treat shell shock and instead emphasized screening for potential neurotics following personality inventories derived from Woodworth’s, as treatment was far more costly than prediction.52 1 7 6   •   E -­M E T E R M E T A P H Y S I C S

Hubbard was first exposed to Freudian ideas in a military context, and eventually became an example of a soldier the military would not treat. Hubbard’s father was a Navy veteran who rejoined the military in 1917 to serve during World War I. In 1923, the Hubbard family took a trip from Seattle through the Panama Canal to Washington, D.C., where Hubbard’s father was posted as a member of the Navy. During this trip, Hubbard met Joseph C. “Snake” Thompson, a neurosurgeon and ex-­spy who had trained with Freud at the behest of the Navy,53 an example of the military’s investment in psychoanalysis after the First World War. While it’s not known precisely what Thompson taught Hubbard, there’s evidence that he introduced Hubbard to Freudian ideas at this time. In a lecture Hubbard gave in 1950, he remarked on meeting Thompson, and how Thompson “had just come from Vienna. And his mouth and mind were full of associative words, libido theories, conversion and all the rest of it. . . . The old man had a tremendous influence upon me and I’m sorry that he is not alive today.”54 It’s possible that Hubbard went through some form of psychoanalysis while he was enlisted in the Navy during World War II, though there is no clear evidence that he had any direct familiarity with Freudian methods beyond his encounters with Thompson. But Hubbard, in the 1940s, did believe that psychoanalysis had positive therapeutic effects. In October of 1947, Hubbard wrote the following in a letter to the VA: I am utterly unable to approach anything like my own competence. My last physician informed me that it might be very helpful if I were to be examined and perhaps treated psychiatrically or even by a psychoanalyst. . . . I avoided out of pride any mental examinations, hoping that time would balance a mind which I had every reason to suppose was seriously affected. . . . I cannot, myself, afford such treatment.55

There’s no record this plea led to actual counseling. But Hubbard’s letter indicates how, from the 1920s to the years immediately prior to the publication of Dianetics, he was aware of psychoanalysis and its uses in dealing with mental trauma. At the same time, Hubbard was also aware of the financial costs of psychoanalysis, how this treatment was inaccessible to him unless approved by the military, and how the very status of psychoanalysis and psychological therapy was, as it had been since World War I, something the military had an uneasy relationship with, given the sheer cost of therapy. The military became very invested in prediction, but not very interested in therapy.56 This lack of access to treatment became one of the points through which Hubbard’s therapy would flourish. E -­M E T E R M E T A P H Y S I C S  • 1 7 7

The parallels between Freudian psychoanalysis and Dianetics deserve further explanation, not only to highlight the debt of Dianetics to Freud, but to foreshadow these Freudian concepts before we transition into the development of Scientology. In Dianetics, Hubbard would describe something he called the “reactive mind,” an “unconscious” mind that acts on a cellular level, potentially “recording” everything one experiences. The reactive mind “does not ‘think’: it selects recordings and impinges them upon the ‘conscious’ mind and the body without the knowledge or consent of the individual.”57 Consciousness is reframed as the “analytical mind,” and the point of Dianetic therapy is to address the points in which engrams—­traumas—­stored by the reactive mind prohibit or block conscious functioning.58 To be “clear” is to reach a state in which engrams no longer block and distort conscious experience. As mentioned above, Dianetics works toward “clear” through a series of techniques in which the auditor asks the preclear to return to points in their personal history, repeating them, and talking through them. The auditor does not comment upon what the preclear says, they merely listen and ask guiding questions designed to confront and address past trauma. Hubbard’s understanding of the mind is similar to the one proposed in Freud’s “A Note upon the ‘Mystic Writing-­Pad,’” a short essay representative of how Freud often conceived of the unconscious, unique because of its foregrounding of writing in its description of mind and memory. Freud compares his theory of the unconscious to a child’s toy, a Wunderblock, “a slab of dark brown resin or wax with a paper edging; over the slab is laid a thin transparent sheet, the top end of which is firmly secured to the slab while its bottom end rests on it without being fixed to it.”59 When one writes on the transparent sheet, words form on the paper. But then one can lift the sheet and the words vanish, though the wax slab underneath retains traces of the words one has written. The Mystic Writing-­Pad serves as an analogy for the relation of consciousness to the unconscious, Freud tells us. “The layer which receives the stimuli,” which refers to both the transparent sheet and consciousness alike, “forms no permanent traces,” while “the foundations of memory,” the wax slab and the unconscious, “come about in other, adjoining, systems.”60 Not only that, the transparent sheet, like our varied psychic defenses, prevents consciousness from acknowledging or understanding experiences the mind otherwise represses. For Freud, the unconscious, as a storehouse of memory and experience—­a storehouse, especially, of traumatic memory and experience—­can never be addressed directly. The unconscious emerges 1 7 8   •   E -­M E T E R M E T A P H Y S I C S

through the symptom—­the forgetting of words and names, parapraxes, mistakes both mental and physical, the condensations and displacements of dreams.61 Hubbard, however, claims he has a method for directly accessing these forgotten, displaced traumas—­traumas that result not only in anxiety, but in pathological mental illness, which is the case for Freud and Hubbard alike. Hubbard claims that his method is easier, cheaper, and faster than Freud’s. While there are countless meditations on the specificity of the analytic situation in psychoanalysis—­discussions of transference and countertransference, for instance, how this relates to the visibility of the analyst to the analysand, and so on62—­Hubbard takes the basics of psychoanalysis as a therapy for trauma, reduces it through a language of his own devising, and sells it as a manual for cheap and easy self-­therapy. The rise of self-­help in America coincides with the rise of psychology and psychoanalysis after World War II, and provides a necessary counterpoint to Hubbard’s knowledge of psychoanalysis as a military therapy. Dianetics was not merely a book written as an extension of psychoanalysis, but an attempt to reinvent Freudian themes for a market that only began to emerge in the 1940s. Modern self-­help literature is often associated with Dale Carnegie’s massively successful How to Win Friends and Influence People, from 1937.63 Carnegie began his career by teaching and then writing books on public speaking, popularizing arguments like those made in Walter Dill Scott’s Psychology of Public Speaking.64 Yet Carnegie’s books are less predecessors to contemporary self-­help books than today’s business literature, providing advice for maintaining business relationships, increasing influence and prestige, achieving financial success through work, and becoming a better speaker—­generally, the same grounds that Scott and Münsterberg thought psychology could help in everyday life. These early instances of “self-­help,” if we can truly use this term to characterize Carnegie’s early works, follow the model of applied experimental psychology. Carnegie’s How to Stop Worrying and Start Living, from 1948, however, moves beyond business relationships toward strategies to avoid personal anxiety, worry, and fatigue, advising that positive thinking will help one achieve their desires.65 Carnegie begins this book by telling of widespread anxiety, of a world where “more than half of our hospital beds are occupied by people with nervous and emotional troubles.”66 His book, however, does not focus on these individuals in hospital beds, and instead implies that the mental hospital is a logical endpoint for those who do not follow mandates for positive, resilient thinking. E -­M E T E R M E T A P H Y S I C S  • 1 7 9

The shift in context between How to Win Friends and How to Stop Worrying is important—­one was published several years before the outset of World War II, the other several years after the war’s end. Nonetheless, How to Stop Worrying is still grounded in Carnegie’s previous work. While it begins by describing “pathological” states, Carnegie provides advice for rectifying anxieties about money, anxieties about friendships, anxieties about productivity—­not the kind of anxiety associated with the traumatic neuroses addressed by Freud. Hubbard’s Dianetics, conversely, emphasizes not generalized worries or unhappiness, but emotional traumas that would usually be addressed through psychiatric methods such as “drugs, hypnotism, surgery, shock or other artificial means.”67 Hubbard is talking about methods the military used to treat shell shock. He regularly describes hearing voices in his early books, not only in terms of negative thoughts—­self-­criticism as a taunting voice in one’s head—­but as symptoms that would be otherwise interpreted as evidence of schizophrenia.68 Hubbard was therefore both radically expanding the space pioneered by Carnegie and revising the very subject of self-­help in the wake of postwar trauma. Hubbard’s topics included everyday social anxieties, like Carnegie, but also embraced disorders which would, for a psychoanalyst or a psychiatrist, warrant hospitalization—­including schizophrenia and psychosis.69 Hubbard also refused to directly contrast Dianetics with psychoanalysis, given how Freudian methods did not necessarily rely on medication, surgery, or shock.70 Bizarrely, though there is ample evidence of Hubbard’s engagement with Freud in his writing of Dianetics,71 Freud is not mentioned in the book.72 Dianetics, then, should be taken as a covert attempt to make psychoanalysis into self-­help, and not just any variant of psychoanalysis—­the version that was used by the military to address shell shock and other psychological traumas. The popularity of Dianetics spoke to a context in which the everyday anxieties addressed by Carnegie had drifted into postwar trauma, trauma which could not be solved by positive thinking and mental resilience alone. Despite their similarities, Hubbard’s reinvention of psychoanalysis emerged at a precise moment in which the monetary cost of psychoanalysis (and its ability to “cure”) was increasingly questioned while, at the exact same time, the general social permeation of anxiety, malaise, and psychological distress were coming to be broadly acknowledged. W. H. Auden’s long poem The Age of Anxiety, for instance, published in 1947, charts the particular “anxieties” generated by postwar uncertainty and meaninglessness—­one example of the widespread malaise and alienation 1 8 0   •   E -­M E T E R M E T A P H Y S I C S

experienced after World War II.73 “But in war-­time,” Auden states in the prologue of his poem, which begins in a bar, “when everybody is reduced to the anxious status of a shady character or a displaced person, when even the most prudent become worshippers of chance, and when, in comparison to the universal disorder of the world outside,” then the safety of alcohol, of intoxication “seems as cosy and respectable as a suburban villa.”74 Auden tells of a world in which individuals no longer know their social role, no longer believe in or trust social bonds, and no longer believe that these feelings can be cured. The characters of his poem use alcohol to “establish a rapport in which communication of thoughts and feelings is so accurate and instantaneous,” that different individuals “appear to function as a single organism.” They seek “that state of prehistoric happiness” through drunkenness, a restoration of self and soul that requires a transcendence of space and time, permitting the achievement of “that rare community which is otherwise only attained in states of extreme wakefulness.”75 While restoring a traumatized, anxious self through alcohol is a theme of Auden’s poem (a restoration that is illusory and temporary), the psychoanalytic restoration of a “whole,” untraumatized, prewar existence was central for the embrace of Freud as a treatment of shell shock. Auden tells us how this dream of a psychoanalytic restoration, like the trance of intoxication, is also illusory and temporary. A poet long influenced by Freud, Auden began to reject some of Freud’s methods and theories in the early 1940s, refusing the idea of a psychological cure, writing in the magazine Commonweal: Psychoanalysis, like all pagan scientia, says, “Come, my good man, no wonder you feel guilty. You have a distorting mirror, and that is indeed a very wicked thing to have. But cheer up. For a trifling consideration I shall be delighted to straighten it out for you. There. Look. A perfect image. The evil of distortion is exorcised. Now you have nothing to repent of any longer. Now you are one of the illumined and elect. That will be ten thousand dollars, please.”76

Freud’s legacy, as Eva Illouz has argued, despite Freud’s own pessimism about the potential to achieve happiness and wellness, is “that we are the full masters in our own house, even when, or perhaps especially when, it is on fire.”77 This fantasy of mastery was what Auden found false, and so he replaced Freud with the mythologically grounded psychoanalysis of Carl Jung in much of his thinking and writing, replacing Freud as a “teacher” and “healer” with the Jungian grounding of psychoanalysis in E -­M E T E R M E T A P H Y S I C S  • 1 8 1

eternal myth and archetype.78 He replaced therapy with quasi-­mystical states generated through the reverie of intoxication—­reverie that both restores and destroys—­and the esotericism of a psychoanalysis derived from eternal myth. The problem with psychoanalysis, Auden implies, is its denial of its own paganism, its essentially religious morality that suggests mental wellness to emerge from the proper mirror, the proper technique through which one can see the world and their own existence within. The problem of psychoanalysis, Auden suggests, is that it promises gnostic truth but can only deliver financial debt. The rise of psychoanalysis and psychology in public life around 1940 and 1950, Carnegie’s move from the lessons of experimental psychology to the postwar emotional anxieties more often addressed by psychoanalysis, and Auden’s turn away from Freud to the mysticism of Jung—­these all tell us about the context in which Dianetics was created and popularized. Hubbard’s book foregrounded trauma and promised a cure—­ moving beyond Carnegie’s version of self-­help into the space occupied by Freud. But Dianetics came on the scene also as a range of people had lost faith in psychoanalysis—­as Auden would suggest, because of its false promise of a cure through self-­knowledge only accessible through an exorbitant fee. Hubbard, of course, did not reject the idea of becoming “illumined and elect” through therapy, to use Auden’s words. In fact, he further embraced the idea that therapy could allow one to become “elect” through completion. He just thought (initially) he could reach that state much faster than Freud and his followers, and (initially) at a cost that would be accessible to the everyday American. Yet while Dianetics was published as a textbook, a therapy accessible to most beyond the expensive clinical setting that characterized psychoanalysis, Hubbard would ultimately embrace the payment model initiated by Freud, institutionalizing his Dianetics through the training and credentialing of auditors.79 Auden’s turn to Jung also indicates how the failure of a seemingly rational form of therapy drove him toward a psychoanalysis of universal, cosmic architypes, away from science and toward the occult.80 To some extent, the move from rationality to spirituality in the 1940s is a recursion of a history that parallels many moments in Western modernity. The histories of Frances Yates, for instance, demonstrate the deep intertwining of Enlightenment science and medicine with the mystical and the occult.81 Yates describes second-­century Europe as a point in which logic seemed no longer sufficient as a guide: “Since reason seemed to have failed, [second-­century thought] sought to cultivate the Nous, the intuitive 1 8 2   •   E -­M E T E R M E T A P H Y S I C S

faculty in man. Philosophy was used, not as a dialectical exercise, but as a way of reaching intuitive knowledge of the divine and of the meaning of the world, as a gnosis, in short, to be prepared for by ascetic discipline and a religious way of life.”82 The feelings Yates describes gave rise to a range of esoteric philosophical writings, writings that have been profoundly influential throughout modern Western thought, guiding the birth and persistence of countless movements and secret societies, such as the Rosicrucians and Freemasons. But these feelings also resonate more broadly with many moments scattered throughout the twentieth century. In the aftermath of World War II, says Peter Sloterdijk, “the earth’s weapon potential sufficed for a multiple extinction of every citizen on earth,” with the “atomic bomb . . . the real Buddha of the West, a perfect, sovereign apparatus without bonds . . . the triumph of technical rationality and its sublation (Aufhebung) into the para-­gnostical.”83 Auden—­along with Hubbard—­are themselves archetypal figures in a turn away from rationality toward a mystical wholeness. Hubbard’s embrace of the mystical is unique because of his explicit use of technical measurement to do so. The realization of technical rationality’s essence is the literal annihilation of the world—­the bomb, Sloterdijk suggests, is the culmination, synthesis, and revelation of the world spirit at the end of history, the true gnosis of modernity. Hubbard represents an early example of those living in the wake of postwar atrocity, traumatized by the potential of global destruction and individual insignificance, who seemed, like those second-­century gnostics Yates describes, to seek a different rationality: a rationality in which technology can be used to refine and affirm the self and spirit. This rationality would embrace a spirituality that emerges after the triumph of technical being, which is what we see in Scientology. Hubbard’s true deviation from Freud coincides with the reasoning of the experimental psychologists. Freudian psychoanalysis cannot cure, not because a “wholeness” achieved through therapy is impossible, but because psychoanalysis does not measure and make its prescriptions objective. Spirituality must be made a science, this logic follows, through instrumental measurement. And “truth” is determined by proper access to and use of a specific technology. Scientology versus Dianetics “Scientology” refers to a particular system of metaphysical beliefs that emerged out of Dianetics but only came to fruition in 1952. While it E -­M E T E R M E T A P H Y S I C S  • 1 8 3

incorporates the foundational claims of Dianetics, Scientology emphasizes not mental therapy but spirit and soul—­a jarring shift given how, in Dianetics, Hubbard denies the role of the soul in the perpetuation of engrams. In moving toward Scientology, the traumas identified by Dianetics cease to be physical, and cease to be about an unconscious repression registered bodily throughout one’s lifetime. At its most basic level, Scientology is a religion of past lives and reincarnation.84 At its most extreme, Scientology presumes a “space opera” in which we are immortal, intergalactic beings engaged in an eternal war.85 Critics of Scientology often act as if this relation to science fiction is hidden or concealed.86 But Hubbard’s first official book about Scientology, Scientology: A History of Man, begins with the line, “This is a cold-­blooded and factual account of your last 76 trillion years,”87 going on to describe “thetans,” the true “I” of an individual, along with how thetans are immortal, live on planets that may be beyond our physical universe, and can only be addressed through the assistance of the E-­Meter. With Scientology, the body becomes a “vegetable”88 to be used by thetans, and traumas discovered in Dianetic auditing may refer to events from one’s lifetime or may be evidence of traumas from trillions of years in the past. These traumas, as well, may have happened to the specific thetan under auditing or may have happened to someone else. Hubbard describes thetans as telepathic and constantly making “facsimiles,” copies of others’ traumatic memories.89 There are several arguments as to why Hubbard created Scientology. The most common is that Hubbard wanted to make money.90 Branding his movement a religion was a way to avoid taxation. While this argument is repeated in many journalistic exposés of the church and in the personal narratives of defectors, religion scholar Donald Westbrook suggests that it ignores how Dianetics predated Scientology—­and Dianetics was a “mental health movement, not a religion.”91 The money argument hinges on a cynical understanding of American religion and the tax-­exempt status of religious organizations in the United States. That Hubbard began by peddling a therapy he wished to be recognized institutionally does not fit with this claim. Others suggest that the transition happened because of Hubbard’s desire to preserve an authoritarian control over his organization. Given how Dianetics did not initially assert Hubbard as its singular source—­while Scientology does—­this appears true.92 Dianetics was marketed as an activity people could do on their own at home with family and friends, but Hubbard’s second Dianetics book, Science of Survival, warns of unqualified auditors operating without official training.93 1 8 4   •   E -­M E T E R M E T A P H Y S I C S

Hubbard faced several personal and professional humiliations in the early 1950s—­including a failed public demonstration of someone supposedly “cleared” through Dianetics,94 financial difficulties, and the loss of copyright control over the name “Dianetics.”95 Rebranding was one way of regaining control over his organization. The shift from Dianetics to Scientology cannot be explained entirely through these personal and economic factors. The entire ontology of Dianetics presumes that psychological problems are based in physical traumas—­they are fundamentally material and biological. Scientology assumes that these traumas are immaterial and supernatural. Westbrook argues that the best explanation for the turn to religion was, rather than making money, an attempt to avoid prosecution by the United States government for practicing medicine without a license, combined with an actual change in Hubbard’s beliefs. I find the former claim convincing, as it provides broader contextual reasons for Hubbard’s shift from mind to soul. Hubbard was effectively de-­medicalizing his theories—­though Scientology’s later attacks on psychiatry and psychology suggest that he never completely abandoned the desire for Dianetics to be a credible alternative to psychiatry and psychology. Through the Citizens Commission on Human Rights, the anti-­psychiatric organization Hubbard cofounded with Thomas Szasz, Scientology has produced popular documentaries and engaged in public lobbying committed to exposing instances of violent malpractice performed in the name of mental health. The Citizens Commission has been influential in generating anti-­psychiatric activism around the globe.96 The continued centrality of anti-­psychiatry to Scientology is a hallmark of its theology, with Scientology regularly emphasizing itself as an alternative to psychiatry and psychology.97 The desire to de-­medicalize Dianetics was, in the early 1950s, particularly urgent. Throughout the 1950s and ’60s, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), following the powers granted to it in 1938 by Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, would often seize and destroy equipment, drugs, and books that they found to be falsely advertised as medical or therapeutic. In 1958, for instance, the FDA raided a Scientology-­affiliated distribution center in Maryland to confiscate and destroy tablets of a vitamin called Dianazene—­which was inaccurately advertised as protecting against radiation.98 A similar target of the FDA at the time was psychoanalyst Wilhelm Reich, a major psychoanalytic figure who could be considered to occupy a similar space as Auden—­Reich was a gifted psychoanalyst who broke E -­M E T E R M E T A P H Y S I C S  • 1 8 5

with Freud, turning toward the mystical to “restore” the psychic lives of his patients. Hubbard was likely aware of Reich’s harassment by the FDA in the early 1950s. The two have been compared as similarly charismatic psychological frauds,99 and, given the resemblance of many of their ideas, Hubbard probably stole from Reich’s writings.100 Reich claimed that his methods, which involved harnessing a vital energy he termed “orgone,” could lead to countless health benefits, most notably the curing of cancer.101 Orgone is a term derived from both “organism” and “orgasm” but is better defined as a singular, animistic force that grounds the emotions, among other things.102 Reich argued that cancer was the result of emotional and sexual repression, leading to “anorgonia,” or a deficiency of orgone energy, to be treated with therapies which would successfully harness orgone.103 The most notable therapy Reich developed was his “orgone accumulators” (Figure 35), metal boxes in which a patient would sit, allowing orgone energy—­in the body and in the environment—­to “accumulate.” As Reich explains, “Concentrated in accumulators, this energy is capable of stopping anorgonotic processes in the sick organism and reversing them. Anorgonia of the blood in cancer patients can be cured by orgone therapy. The organism feels strengthened, it develops stronger impulses, gains weight, etc.”104 In the 1950s, some estimates suggest that there were at least four thousand people passing as doctors, claiming that their therapies could cure cancer—­bilking those who had or were afraid of cancer out of about $50 million per year.105 Reich was, in the eyes of the FDA, one of these quacks. His books, along with his orgone accumulators, were investigated, seized, and destroyed by the FDA beginning in the late 1940s, leading to Reich’s eventual trial and imprisonment in 1956, along with his death in jail the following year.106 A major distinction between Reich and Hubbard was in the former’s refusal to change his arguments given legal definitions of what constitutes medicine. Reich appealed multiple times to scientific authorities (including Albert Einstein), the FDA, and the FBI in defending his work. Hubbard, on the other hand, turned to religion to avoid the federal persecution that Reich suffered. The importance of the FDA and the state in producing “crackpots” to be prosecuted should not be underemphasized. Chiropractic medicine, for instance, was founded in 1896 by Daniel David Palmer, an enthusiast of magnetic healing who vehemently opposed any “mainstream” form of medicine, such as vaccination. Palmer believed that he discovered chiropractic medicine from the spirit of a deceased physician, and 1 8 6   •   E -­M E T E R M E T A P H Y S I C S

Figure 35. Wilhelm Reich demonstrating the use of his orgone accumulators. This image is owned by the FDA and is currently included on a stream of images that highlight the FDA’s self-­proclaimed successes. From “Healing Devices (FDA 138),” .com/photos/fdaphotos/8224052279/in/photolist-dwJqdP-8sVXNq.

that chiropractic therapy healed because it corrected the flow of nervous energy. He also believed that there was a religious duty in performing chiropractic therapy and legitimated his science through reference to religion rather than medicine.107 Some of these beliefs are still debated today by chiropractors—­including the validity of vaccination108—­and those within chiropractic medicine vehemently reject arguments of its status as an “alternative” or pseudoscientific form of medicine, instead stressing its popularity and internal credentialing, even though there is little evidence that chiropractic therapy should be considered a valid form of medicine.109 This suggests, then, the decisions that governmental agencies take in deciding what “is” or “is not” medicine—­which, in the case of chiropractic medicine, can be associated with its popularization and governmental recognition before the passing of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act—­Kansas was the first state to recognize chiropractic as a form of medicine, California recognized it in 1922 (after a massive attempt E -­M E T E R M E T A P H Y S I C S  • 1 8 7

to jail chiropractors for practicing medicine without a license), and Louisiana was the last state to recognize it as medicine, in 1974.110 While there’s a range of contextual factors that contributed to the remaking of Dianetics into Scientology—­the fear of prosecution by the FDA, Hubbard’s desire to control his intellectual property—­this cannot explain the radical break between the two, a total reversal that moves from a materialism to a cosmic idealism. And Westbrook’s claim—­that this change signifies a genuine evolution in Hubbard’s beliefs—requires accepting that Hubbard, like Reich, genuinely believed what he said. My point is that the ontologies presumed by Dianetics and Scientology, while often conflated, presume radically different understandings of the body and mind. Both assume a centrality of trauma in daily life, a theme Hubbard poached from psychoanalysis. Dianetics frames trauma as a physical aberration in the body that results from lived experience. Scientology turns this lived, experienced, physical trauma into an intergalactic conflict between ancient souls called thetans. I claim this shift happened because of the turn to a technology to measure the body, which Hubbard interpreted through themes derived from esoteric and occult communities with which he was familiar. A Machine to See Cosmic Trauma The electropsychometer, or E-­Meter, as it would come to be known, was invented and patented by chiropractor, psychoanalyst, and science fiction writer Volney G. Mathison in the early 1950s, developed by Hubbard after 1957.111 Rather than a device that allows psychologists to see the truth of the emotions, the E-­Meter positions emotion—­identified through electrodermal response—­as evidence for a metaphysical system that relies on, but far exceeds, the physical materiality of the body. The development of the E-­Meter and Scientology represents a point in American history in which a regime of veridiction112—­the space in which “truth” and “falsity” can be determined, differentiated, and judged—­fell into crisis. One of the legacies of experimental psychology, descending from Titchener and his many students, is its absolute insistence that a science requires technological measurement. The “truth” of the emotions can only be judged through a machine to register the emotions. This was one of the main themes differentiating experimental psychology from the arguments of William James, and it is one of the reasons that psychoanalysis has long been disparaged as unscientific. Despite his debt to psychoanalysis, in 1 8 8   •   E -­M E T E R M E T A P H Y S I C S

turning to the E-­Meter Hubbard embraces this understanding of science. Scientology can only be “scientific” if its claims can be expressed and registered technologically. At the same time, the E-­Meter represents the end of this regime of veridiction. If, around 1950, technical measurement, in and of itself, was good enough to legitimate an inscription as objective, as uncontaminated by human belief, then the existence of a religion that claimed to be both science and theology became a significant problem.113 Letting the machine speak for itself—­assuming its “objectivity” emerges from the separation of the machine from empirical, conscious knowledge—­led not only to scientific truth but to claims of past lives and transcendental trauma. If the objectivity of the machine was no longer “scientific,” if a machine—­a machine that, at a basic technical level, directly paralleled those employed in experimental psychology—­could be used to legitimate beliefs that many people find bizarre and suspicious, then what does a device measure? How can a measurement be judged true or false? The E-­Meter, as Mathison described it in his initial patent application (Figure 36), “is a novel bio-­electronic instrument which registers human dynamic emotion in a more accurate and sensitive manner than has been possible with any previous device of comparable simplicity.”114 The E-­Meter was patented as a device for measuring electrodermal response, a device much cheaper to produce than others available at the time. Mathison framed the E-­Meter as a technology for psychoanalysts and psychotherapists, predating advances of people like Grey Walter in linking various measurements of the body with cognitive, psychological responses.115 One phrase Mathison uses signals his alliance with Hubbard from the outset. In measuring the body’s electrical conductivity, the E-­Meter “reflects in some degree the immediately prevailing nervous and emotional tone-­level of the subject.”116 The E-­Meter was designed with a particular understanding of how emotional, mental states correspond to the body’s electricity—­a measurement called “tone,” which can be measured and quantified through technical means. “Tone” is a term central for the reinvention of Dianetics into Scientology. In Dianetics, Hubbard proposes a scale of 0 to 4, which he terms the Tone Scale. These numerical tones correspond to broad affective states “by which a state of mind can be graded.”117 A tone of 0 is death. Tones 0 to 1 are apathy. Tone 1 refers to a state “where the body is fighting physical pain or illness or where the being is fighting in anger,” including gradations of rage, resentment, hostility, and argumentativeness. Tones 2 and 3 include a range of emotions extending from “bearable existence” E -­M E T E R M E T A P H Y S I C S  • 1 8 9

Figure 36. Diagram from Volney Mathison’s initial patent for the E-­Meter, from US Patent Application No. US2684670A.

to “general happiness.” One is “cleared” when they reach tone 4.118 Even though these tones suggest a quantification of emotional states, they are correlated—­and identified—­through qualitative means, through the judgment of the auditor when questioning the preclear. While they do suggest forward movement—­one progresses to a higher tone the further one advances through Dianetic auditing—­there’s little in Dianetics to suggest these numbers genuinely correspond to anything beyond qualitative judgments. This is also the case with the second Dianetics book, Science of Survival, which provides a lengthy elaboration of the Tone Scale. Science of Survival details correlations between the Tone Scale and emotional state, sensory acuity, ability to experience pleasure, relation to sex and children, courage, responsibility, and psychiatric diagnosis (which was nonetheless limited to psychotic and neurotic), among a vast range of other categories. In its elaboration of tone, Science of Survival makes some notable changes to Hubbard’s theories, signaling a turn away from the materialism of Dianetics. Instead of the reactive mind and analytic mind, both of which can be framed as materially grounded in the human body, Hubbard distinguishes between “theta,” a kind of immortal life energy that exceeds the body, and what he names the MEST body, the body in “Matter, Energy, Space and Time.”119 No longer are we dealing with an analog to the Freudian unconscious, no longer is trauma in the material abrasions of the physical body stored in cells. Trauma emerges out of conflict between theta and MEST. Theta is immaterial. It is privileged as the “real” self, while the physical body is secondary. Auditing becomes a task to get beyond physical matter to the immaterial “theta” energy beneath. In Science of Survival, the Tone Scale, while Hubbard still focuses on the range between 0 and 4, now begins at -­3, a complete separation of theta and MEST resulting in death, and goes all the way to 40. A 4, previously the point in which one is “cleared,” becomes a “MEST Clear,” meaning one’s physical body is free of the engrams described in Dianetics. Tones 4 through 36 become a “Theta-­MEST Clear,” which is, at the time of Science of Survival  ’s publication, an unknown liberation of human capacity exceeding the physical body. A 40 is an absolute state of perfection.120 Science of Survival still employs the techniques initially proposed in Dianetics, relying on auditor questioning and preclear response, and provides the reader tips and directives for questioning in auditing sessions. But in the turn away from the materiality of the body and mind toward energy —­a “theta” energy similar to Reich’s orgone—­Hubbard’s arguments now E -­M E T E R M E T A P H Y S I C S  • 1 9 1

move beyond the capacities of human sensation and empirical knowledge. In psychoanalysis, the unconscious is accessible only through techniques that reveal true desires and obscured trauma, techniques that cannot, then, defer to empirical experience and never truly conclude in a “cure.” Dianetics was built on the belief that one can access and “clear” these otherwise hidden traumas through relatively simple means. Because traumas are about one’s own present existence, then one needs a technique for remembering and recalling that which the mind conceals. In turning to theta as a transcendent energy divorced from yet intertwined with human experience, Hubbard undermines his own arguments for besting Freud. Something would need to measure “tones” without deferring to direct sensory experience. Hence, the significance of the E-­Meter. The E-­Meter begins to function as a machine that measures what is beyond human experience, quantifying this “beyond” through the numbers of the Tone Scale. In a footnote in Dianetics, Hubbard writes that technologies like the electroencephalograph can serve as a “mechanical aid to Dianetics. They are primarily used in research.”121 But these technologies aren’t used in practical auditing for a simple reason—­they’re too expensive. In the future, Hubbard speculates, “some engineer, I trust, will make something to measure nerve impulses cheap enough to be used in general practice.”122 Mathison, in his patent applications, emphasized the simplicity and affordability of his technology. And by 1952, when Hubbard published Scientology: A History of Man, the E-­Meter had become central to how Hubbard envisioned his therapy. “Occasionally people have told me that I should not release the data contained in this volume,” Hubbard says near the beginning of this book, “because there would be a repercussion throughout the country which would ruin Dianetics forever.”123 It’s possible that this was, in fact, Hubbard’s goal—­to ruin those who had the control over the Dianetics name.124 This potential ruination was a reference to the new mission for auditing only implied in Science of Survival. “Theta” was now the true essence of the individual, the true self. And theta bodies, or “thetans,” have existed for over trillions of years. Our physical bodies are only temporary houses for these thetans. We have multiple lives, but really, lives are recurrences of the temporary embodiments of ancient thetans. The only way to sort out the relationship between our present existence and our relation to these thetans—­ who are often deeply traumatized for a range of reasons—­is to use the E-­Meter to access this beyond. 1 9 2   •   E -­M E T E R M E T A P H Y S I C S

In contemporary publications of Scientology, we are now told that “there is no known way to clear anyone without using a meter,” and that “the only way to learn to use an E-­Meter is use one, handle one, practice with one. Skill in meter use depends on familiarizing oneself with the actual meter.”125 The E-­Meter “tells you what the pc’s [preclear’s] mind is doing when the pc is made to think of something,” and the “meter registers before the pc becomes conscious” of their response to a question, it “is therefore a ‘preconscious’ meter.”126 Knowing the mind of another “without a meter or without knowing a meter well is, of course, beyond the observational ability of Homo sapiens.”127 And, above all, “A properly set up meter . . . is ALWAYS CORRECT.”128 The publication of Scientology thoroughly reinvents Hubbard’s writings, arguing that his therapy is now capable of realizing cosmic knowledge. Its techniques now require a piece of technical equipment regulated by a religious organization. And it is only through this piece of equipment, access to it, knowledge of its use, that one can approach the secret knowledge that grounds existence. If the instrument is assumed to reveal—­rather than invent—­the truth of the body and the emotions, then it becomes a privileged portal, an oracle, access to which must be guarded and obscured. The E-­Meter and the Occultic Scientology: A History of Man, in explaining how to use the E-­Meter, also signifies a reinvention of Hubbard’s reliance on jargon. While his earlier publications also employ a complex and often strange language, his instructions in Scientology are incomprehensible to those who do not already possess an extensive knowledge of Hubbard’s writings. Scientology is supposedly a manual for performing “Technique 88,” an extension of the previously developed “Technique 80,” only available in audio recordings. (At the beginning of Scientology the reader is told that these recordings are “in the hands of your local organization.”)129 Technique 88 begins with the following: Symbological Processing on current life until preclear is well in present time. Return preclear to incidents where the thetan can be located as outside and in good control of the body and run such incidents to orient preclear. In absence of an outside thetan, audit preclear through failures to control self. Use an E-­Meter to locate youngest entity (newest bank in the body) and audit its effort to control body. Then audit any Transfer you can find. Then audit Blanketings until preclear finds thetan is without a body.

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Where thetan is outside where he belongs, audit preclear in current life through any and all DEDs and DEDEXes and degraders. Audit all present life Transfers of the thetan, all Switch and Control Transfers that can be found. Run off all incidents in present life where thetan and body create boil-­ off. (Don’t be surprised at thetan visios. You’re auditing theta, not MEST perception.) In-­scan and Out-­scan thetan through present life. This makes MEST clear.130

The specific meaning of this process is not my point. Rather, in employing this excessive jargon, Scientology follows what rhetorician Joshua Gunn describes as “the occultic,” which is “strange or difficult language designed to better apprehend or understand something that is, at base, incommunicable,” but, in so doing, “discriminates among groups or kinds of people with strange or difficult language.”131 If the occult promises access to otherwise inaccessible, gnostic truth, the occultic obscures and prevents access beyond those properly initiated into specific communities of discourse. In Scientology, this occultic strategy is linked directly with the circulation of commodities and payment—­though this is a common means of gatekeeping in occult communities. Scientology publications cultivate a broader public but eventually require additional purchases to understand or put into practice the varied methods and theories described. While Dianetics is relatively comprehensible—­given how it is ultimately a popularization of psychoanalysis, was intended to be read widely, and described methods one could perform in small groups at home—­this is not the case for Hubbard’s books after Scientology, which assume deep familiarity with all other Hubbard publications. This rhetorical tactic, Gunn notes, is a variant on Platonic teachings and characterizes a vast range of modern discourse. The occultic is a strategy used not just by the properly occult, such as Scientology, which promises the revelation of gnostic truth, but also by critical theory and contemporary science, which gatekeep through the knowledge of and restricted access to specific terms, processes, methods, and—­I’ll add—­technologies. But Gunn’s focus is on language, since the writings of modern esoteric thought regularly follow a similar pattern, in which enlightenment, truth, gnosis—­these emerge through an ability to master the language of a specific group: Human language, precisely because it is human, is incapable of “cutting through the grooves” to the Source, the One, the Infinite, or for Plato, the

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sphere of the Eternal Forms. . . . The best [one] can do is dialectic, the method of using language against itself in order to transcend it. But not just any dialectic—­certainly not Plato’s—­will do for modern occultists. Rather, the secrets that each occult or New Age group reveals (at $200 a workshop, of course) concern their privileged vocabularies, their better allegories, for that which cannot be expressed in human representation.132

Scientology certainly relies on this model. It, like most other occult or esoteric groups, relies on difficult-­to-­understand publications disseminated through paid workshops (or, auditing sessions and training), all with the point of achieving some higher enlightenment through time, money, and study. Scientology relies on the massive amount of documentation Hubbard was able to produce. These texts are to be read in a specific order, producing a specific, hermetic space of self-­reference. This is, again, a strategy that characterizes most contemporary occult and New Age groups, which are almost always organized around shared texts, many of which are excessively long. Famed esoteric figures such as H. P. Blavatsky and Aleister Crowley also employed this strategy, deferring to a lengthy, and difficult to understand, corpus to identify those who are properly enlightened and those who must remain excluded from access to knowledge. Another widely known (and widely disparaged) source of Hubbard’s is the Western esoteric group the Ordo Templi Orientis, or OTO, a secret society of which Crowley was the most well-­known and most significant member. In 1945, Hubbard lived in Pasadena, California, in the house of Jet Propulsion Laboratory founder, rocket scientist Jack Parsons, the leader of the Pasadena OTO. Parsons invited Hubbard to participate in several OTO rituals he held at his house. Hubbard would later discuss Crowley’s writings in a series of lectures named the Philadelphia Doctorate Course, held between 1952 and 1953, alongside other notable figures in Western thought (including Plato, Kant, Schopenhauer, Freud, and Louis Pasteur, among others). The influence of the OTO and Crowley on Hubbard is heavily debated, and it’s difficult to suggest a direct influence of Crowley on Scientology.133 The turn away from the popular psychoanalytic themes of Dianetics toward the costly and hierarchical structures of authority that characterize Scientology are reflective of the experiences Hubbard had with the OTO, however. While Dianetics, at least to some degree, promised a more democratic orientation toward psychoanalysis—­a democratic orientation that often characterizes self-­help134—­the occultic institutes a hierarchy of access maintained through ritual, through obfuscatory jargon, through training. E -­M E T E R M E T A P H Y S I C S  • 1 9 5

The OTO devised a two-­tier hierarchy, divided into a bottom tier and a top tier. In the first seven “grades” or “degrees,” initiates to the OTO would study “basic magic,” comprising mostly Crowley’s writings. In the next three grades one’s study turns to sex magick, and in the ninth grade one is allowed to participate in the governance of the OTO. As Gunn notes, however, the ascent through these different grades is less about the accomplishment of specific tasks required to move from one grade to another than “intended as catalyst for an experience of the sublime—­an aesthetic accomplishment.”135 In Scientology, Hubbard would come to institute grades or degrees to be obtained after the state of clear is obtained—­ grades that correspond to various points on the Tone Scale between 4 and 40, grades called “Operating Thetans.” As with the OTO, these higher grades involve confidential, copyrighted materials, and auditing becomes not a relationship between an auditor and preclear, but between an Operating Thetan and their E-­Meter.136 Occultic authority, rather than adhering to an aesthetic ideal of transcendence, unites these occult and gnostic themes by adhering to the authority of technical measurement—­with the ability to understand and use a technology. How to Use Your E-­Meter How does one use an E-­Meter, though? In a typical auditing session, the E-­Meter’s display is obscured to the preclear—­it includes a shield for the auditor behind which they adjust the meter, take notes, keeping these things out of sight of the preclear. Immediately, a relation of knowledge and power is produced—­the one using the instrument is assumed to “know” through their ability to see and interact with the machine. The activities of the machine must remain hidden to the one under examination. The preclear sits while holding the electrodes or “cans” of the E-­Meter, and the auditor begins by adjusting the E-­Meter’s “tone arm,” the main dial on the E-­Meter, to correspond to the preclear’s tone, which would usually be around a 2.5 or 3 (Figure 37). The tone arm is adjusted throughout auditing, as the needle must stay relatively still at “set” on the device’s display. The session begins with the assumption that one has identified a generally stable level of electrodermal activity, and that any and all changes will signify something. The auditor then interprets the movement of the needle while the preclear responds to the auditor’s statements or questions. The Book of E-­Meter Drills, for instance, includes pages upon pages of lists, including vegetables, musical instruments, and 1 9 6   •   E -­M E T E R M E T A P H Y S I C S

Figure 37. Detail of the Hubbard British Mark V E-­Meter held at the Media Archaeology Lab. The “tone arm” is the dial on the top left. (“M” and “F” are base “tone” settings differentiated by gender, which would be removed from E-­Meters in 1979.) Of note for the explanation in this chapter is the screen on the meter, with “Rise” marked on the left, “Fall” on the right, and “Set” between the two. The “Test” area on the screen is used to indicate that the E-­Meter is powered and operational. Photograph by the author.

varieties of flowers, which are used in initial “intake” auditing sessions. These lists are intended to see if particular words generate needle movements, which may guide questioning in a future auditing session. Sessions may eventually include auditors repeatedly requesting the same information (e.g., “Recall a communication,” “Recall a place from which you have communicated to another,” or “Recall a secret”).137 In a polygraph examination—­ or even in an experiment with a Dynograph—­the specific movements of the instrument’s needles are not particularly important. Rather, the waveform inscribed by the needle takes precedent. The actual physicality of the device writing is secondary to the writing the device generates. In auditing, however, the E-­Meter needle is the focus, and its possible movements all have a set interpretation and a set name. These motions include the following, as defined in Introducing the E-­Meter and E-­Meter Essentials: Null needle: The needle slowly drifts.138 Stuck needle: No needle movement whatsoever.139

E -­M E T E R M E T A P H Y S I C S  • 1 9 7

Fall: The needle moves to the right.140 This can be either a fast or slow movement.141 A fall “denotes that a disagreement with life on which the pc has greater or lesser reality has met the question asked,” “It is the click of the light switch illuminating where we are going.”142 Long fall blowdown: The needle moves so far to the right that the device needs to be reset.143 Rise: The needle moves to the left.144 A rise indicates the “pc has struck an area or something he isn’t confronting. One never calls his attention to this. But one knows what it is.”145 Theta bop: The needle moves back and forth rapidly and consistently (five to 10 times per second), and always the same distance.146 A theta bop “means ‘death,’ ‘leaving,’ ‘don’t want to be here.’ It is caused by a yo-­yo of the pc as a thetan vibrating out and into the body or a position in the body. It’s like the needle is jumping between two peaks across a narrow valley.”147 “Mention death to anyone (or make them think about it) while they’re on a meter and you’ll see a theta bop.”148 These signs, even though death would seem significant, “are not very important in diagnosis. They’re more interesting than vital.”149 Rock slam (or R/S): The needle moves back and forth widely and irregularly.150 A rock slam is probably one of the most important movements given by the E-­Meter. “A Rock Slam means a hidden evil intention on the subject or question under auditing or discussion.”151 Notoriously, rock slams were used to legitimate significant abuse within Scientology,152 especially when some models of the E-­Meter did not function properly according to the assumptions of Hubbard.153 Stage four: The needle moves an inch or two consistently, sticks then falls regularly.154 Floating needle (F/N): rhythmic sweep of a slow, even pace.155 An F/N signifies a satisfactory conclusion of an auditing session.156 Floating tone arm: The needle moves back and forth through the entire dial, requiring changes in the tone arm.157

When compared to the methods of a lie detector, the readings of an E-­Meter require an extreme level of scrutiny. “Calibration” of the E-­Meter is intended to make sure the needle stays at a generally stable position, at “set,” until otherwise prompted. And then, the very specific movements of the needle become signs to be interpreted by the auditor. Technically, Scientology does have a method for achieving a baseline of sorts with the E-­Meter, which it does through the asking of “nonmeaningful questions.” As with a polygraph examination, the subject is asked a range of obvious questions that are either insignificant or have answers known in advance. 1 9 8   •   E -­M E T E R M E T A P H Y S I C S

But while in a polygraph examination these questions generate a baseline from which a lie then deviates, this is not the case in auditing sessions. We can see this in a specific kind of auditing process termed “Security Checking,” which is probably the closest Scientology gets to using an E-­Meter like a polygraph. Security Checking is designed to reveal something the preclear “withholds.”158 But the point in asking these insignificant, nonmeaningful questions at the start of a Security Check is not to generate a baseline, which is there to determine if the technology itself is functioning properly. Rather, these questions are designed to ensure the auditor does not “mistake a real fall when it comes.” After several nonmeaningful questions, the auditor asks a question they do believe is meaningful, with the goal of getting a “fall” response, a movement of the needle to the right of the E-­Meter. Once they get a fall response, the auditor is told to keep asking this question until they get a floating needle.159 With a polygraph, the goal is to know how to judge the signs of the device. With Security Checking, the focus is not on the accuracy of the device, but on the ability of the auditor to interpret the device’s signs correctly. And yet the different movements of the E-­Meter needle are not evidence of physiological changes. Rather, these movements parallel what Hubbard terms “Theta Traps,” which “use electronic force to knock the thetan into forgetting, into unknowingness.”160 These “traps” correspond to forms of ancient electronic torture. A thetan called a “whirler,” for instance, “was placed on a platform which whirled eccentrically, jerkily, to the left and right until he would turn as the post turned,” and another called a “bouncer” “was bounced up and down eccentrically.”161 Changes in electrical resistance become literal movements supposedly experienced in the past. I detail all of this to emphasize how a technology that registers the body through methods almost identical to that of the polygraph and the Dynograph, a technical measurement of electrodermal response—­a measurement still employed in countless psychological studies—­can be made into a system that identifies something completely opposed to that of a lie detector or Dynograph. And yet this metaphysics is still determined by the centrality of an instrument to measure the unseen interiority of the body. The deferral to the objectivity of a device, Scientology demonstrates, is not sufficient to legitimate “truth.” Rather, these means of measurement and their interpretation—­reading the signs and motions of a needle, reading the movements of electrically trapped thetans who reveal themselves through changes in the body’s electrical conductivity—­become a physical, E -­M E T E R M E T A P H Y S I C S  • 1 9 9

material technique for metaphysical belief. In the hands of Scientology, the measurement of an electrodermal response provides the means for determining just what cosmic trauma one has suffered that continues to exert influence. In changing the device’s ability to write, the materiality of the inscription comes to mean something radically different, and radically opposed to the mission of psychology. Rationality and Gnosis In Hubbard’s Book of E-­Meter Drills one finds countless exercises to familiarize one with their E-­Meter. One of the earliest has a “coach,” the teacher, instruct a “student,” the one learning how to use the E-­Meter to eventually become an auditor, to do little more than respond to the commands “Touch the meter” and “Let go of the meter.”162 Other drills involve having the student use the readings of an E-­Meter to determine a random date the coach has in their mind (a birthday or a known anniversary), and another has the student determine dates that may include trillions of years, down to the second. (“The coach writes down a full date, like 56,276,345,829,100 years, 3 months, 4 days, 6 hours, 15 minutes and 10 seconds ago.”)163 If, for Crowley’s OTO, training develops a particular aesthetic sensibility, these exercises demonstrate something quite different. In Scientology, training develops technical adeptness with an instrument, in reading it, in manipulating it, in using it to pull off tricks that would otherwise be feats of mentalism. This training presumes an extreme limitation on access. For Crowley and other esoteric groups, the obscurity of their rituals and readings produced shared knowledges designed to foster an elite sense of exclusivity opposed to the mass of mass culture.164 For Scientology, this access is about the ability to use and interpret a technology. For psychology, we might add, this access comes from university credentials, through grant funding, through the ability to know and judge the difference between scientific knowledge and the unscientific.165 But really, this process for all three of these groups is a variation on the same theme. My point in this chapter was to demonstrate how deferral to a technology to “reveal” the otherwise unseen, deferring to technical expertise, cannot exclude the spiritual and the occult. Hubbard’s Scientology is a particularly notable example of the conjunction of scientific rationality and spiritual, esoteric thought. Since the 1950s, there have been many examples linking these two trends that experimental psychologists have 2 0 0   •   E -­M E T E R M E T A P H Y S I C S

long worked to keep separate. The most obvious, and influential, has been the emergence of the “Californian Ideology,” the “bizarre fusion of the cultural bohemianism of San Francisco with the hi-­tech industries of Silicon Valley.”166 This specific conjuncture, which continues to guide the tech industries today, links political liberation, a faith in digital computers as a utopian technology, and new methods of achieving personal and spiritual fulfillment.167 Rather than alienation from the assembly line and the bomb, the Californian Ideology preaches of digital, networked communication restoring a humanity lost through the alienation of mass production and industrial life—­a restoration achieved not through, say, collective struggle or direct action, as a Marxist or an anarchist would argue, or through governmental reform, as an advocate of liberal democracy might claim, but through individualistic means of cultivating mental and spiritual well-­being through personal technologies and “freedom” from institutional attachments.168 This neoliberal, libertarian ideology would then assume that community could return through the social connections engendered by (capitalist) informational networks.169 The desire for a community produced through the mediation of relation—­a desire foundational for Lessing’s dramaturgy, a desire central to the beginnings of Einfühlung as a theory of art and spectatorship—­again recurs with the Californian Ideology. While this technical libertarianism was imagined as leading to new, idealist possibilities for experience, reading this conjunction of spirituality and technology through Hubbard—­and not Silicon Valley counterculture —­shows how psychology and the measurement of the emotions are also part of this formation. Emotional life today follows in the wake of a technical psychology, in which the body can be known and predicted through instruments that abstract and write emotional life and interiority. Eva Illouz has demonstrated how the arguments of psychology and psychoanalysis have profoundly shaped contemporary capitalism since the 1950s, rationalizing emotional bonds in the name of optimizing economic productivity,170 something essential when capital requires the sustaining of flexible and tentative social relations in the generation of value.171 But this chapter argues that the influence of psychology on daily life in postwar America happened not only through its institutional acceptance but through a movement that was, explicitly, intended as the negation of psychological claims about the objective materiality of the emotions. The measurement of emotion was linked not merely with a rationalization of the body, but with the emotional fulfillment produced through a new E -­M E T E R M E T A P H Y S I C S  • 2 0 1

form of spirituality. The embrace of affect as an ontological ground of life occurred not only through the technical authority of psychology but also by way of a movement designed to undermine the authority of psychology. Hubbard’s use of the E-­Meter presents a contradiction essential for understanding the operationalizing of emotion in our present—­the technical measurement of emotion can be understood as both an outcome of extreme psychological rationalization and a technical liberation of the body’s otherwise untapped potentials, both a product of modern culture and an excess “residuum” that exceeds science and rationality. What remains, then, is the continued deferral to a machine to measure and inscribe the affects, an emotional machine at the end of history, extended outward in both material and metaphysical directions, drifting between the two at will—­an all-­encompassing definition of emotion, materiality, and ideality. This drift, however, requires the fundamental error that this entire book has worked to challenge. Techniques of measurement do not identify interiority, affects, emotions. They produce these things, and these “objects” change, radically, depending on the materialities of the media that produce them. .

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CONCLUSION The Epistemology and Aesthetics of Empathy

It is rather vulgarly, then, that philosophy poses to psychology the question: tell me what you aim for so that I may find out what you are[.] But a philosopher can also address himself to the psychologist in the form of offering orientation advice (one time does not a habit make!), and say to him: when one leaves the Sorbonne by the street Saint-­Jacques, one can ascend or descend; if one ascends, one approaches the Pantheon, the conservatory of great men; but if one descends, one heads directly to the Police Department. —­Georges Canguilhem, “What Is Psychology?”

In 1956, Georges C anguilhem gave a lecture titled “What Is Psychology?” “The psychologist,” Canguilhem began, “seems to be more embarrassed by the question ‘What is psychology?’ than the philosopher by the question ‘What is philosophy?’” The history of philosophy is characterized by a constant debate over its methods, its significance, its validity. Philosophy is “constituted by the question of its sense and essence much more than it is defined by any answer to it.”1 Philosophy, then, is less about the achievement of truth than a constant attempt to rethink the very possibility of knowledge, of being, of existence, of philosophy as such. Psychology is not guided by this constant questioning. Its legitimacy comes from an appeal to “efficiency,” from its ability to measure, verify, and propose a solution for a range of problems said to derive from the mind. But the “mind” lacks coherence as a scientific object. Efficiency alone cannot unify the range of disciplines that are, in some sense, “psychological,” which would include experimental psychology, clinical psychology, psychoanalysis, psychiatry, and even neurology. The  • 2 0 3

unity that is “psychology” falls apart. We have, instead, a general drive toward efficiency, not specific objects, not specific methods, not specific institutions, not specific truths. Canguilhem concludes, then, “We do not have the power to prevent anyone from just considering themselves ‘psychologists’ and calling whatever they do ‘psychology.’”2 Throughout this book, I’ve shown how experimental psychology, especially in the United States, has deferred to technical measurement to legitimate psychology as a science—­a deferral that produces a range of varied, incommensurable objects that all go by the same name and are assumed to be equivalent and exchangeable, objects called “emotion,” or “affect,” or “empathy.” If, as Canguilhem points out, the goal of efficiency is not sufficient to ground a science, if it cannot determine who is a scientist and who is not, then experimental psychology has policed its boundaries through deferral to technical instruments, access to their measurements, knowledge of their use. The instrument comes to perform disciplinary authority. The measurement defines truth, produces truth, makes “scientific” arguments out of phenomena that—­as William James was aware—­ were more often associated with spiritualism, religion, and mysticism. And measurement, rather than identifying and formalizing a range of qualities to describe a singular object, expands and produces as many objects as there are instruments to measure. Even if we do not accept the inevitable, technical multiplication of objects, a deferral to the mechanical objectivity of an instrument cannot guarantee scientific authority anyway. When an instrument is employed to “see” and materialize that which is otherwise beyond experience, it both produces the phenomena observed and, more questionably, maintains a broader ideology. This ideology presumes the existence of an inaccessible beyond, a beyond that conflates the interiority of the other with metaphysical speculation. It tells us that this beyond will be accessible in the future, that we—­individuals, societies, nations—­can regain a lost fullness once we have the technology to finally realize and reveal hidden knowledge of the mind’s movements and feelings. We will know, through instrumental measurement, the secret that guides the judgment of art, the secret of self-­control and education, the secret of another’s emotions, the secret of evil, the secret of trauma. When the body is extended and the empirical is remade with instrumental sensation, the authority of measurement legitimates belief in a metaphysical outside that the instrument permits us to access as never before. The intertwining of instrumental authority and a metaphysical beyond has been an occasional theme in modern culture. Modernist poet Blaise 204 • CONCLUSION

Cendrars’s 1926 novel Moravagine, for instance, begins in a mental asylum, where the book’s narrator—­the literally named physician Raymond la Science—­describes in rapt wonder the details of his hospital: Then I made a tour of the mechanical installations. These were truly a model of their kind. Hydraulic, electronic apparatus, the paraphernalia of mechanotherapy, bowls, phials, test-­tubes, angle-­tubes of glass, of rubber, of copper; steel springs, enameled petals, white levers, water-­taps, everything shining, everything furbished, polished, meticulously, pitilessly clean. On the walls, nozzles racked up in pan-­flute series glowed like a menacing show of weapons, and on the plate-­glass tubes and trays were other weapons, carefully laid out, smaller and more mysterious, irregular and elliptical forms, discs and balls, the keys to anaesthetic massage. On the white tiles of the wards the bathtubs, ergometers and immense percolators appeared as if on a screen, with the same terrible and savage grandeur that objects have in films: a grandeur of intensity . . . the frightening sum of permanent energy contained in every inanimate object.3

In every instrument, a fetish. The techniques of the laboratory bring their own animist energies even as objects remain still and gleaming in the sanitarium. The deferral to the instrument always leads elsewhere, to a metaphysics that cannot be contained and cannot be determined. We might name this excess as affect. Cendrars’s “intensity” and “permanent energy” is not an illusion projected by la Science, this interpretation would claim. La Science has managed to grasp the energies that these instruments allow seen and, potentially, liberated. Accepting this argument would mean that affect, despite the constant turn to biology and neurology to reframe cultural theory as “scientific,” emerges from the very moment in which instrumental authority is simultaneously necessary but inevitably forgotten. Like la Science, we approach the techniques and instruments of the Affect Lab as a means to access to a metaphysical beyond. The instrument is an otherworldly agency that expands sensation into an uncharted real hitherto unknown, not a material device. Yet as I’ve been claiming throughout this book, this metaphysical beyond does not exist—­if we want to be materialists, at least. The beyond is, like the truth of psychology, a product of the qualities of an instrument. The fetish of the instrument produces the embodied affects it discovers. There is no beyond, there is no primal, spiritual energy discovered through experimentation. Claiming that psychology, in its studies of emotion, has experimentally discovered something called “affect” requires accepting the instrument as a portal to the beyond, a portal that can capture the C O N C L U S I O N  • 2 0 5

truth of the body without writing, without language, without form.4 This argument simply cannot be made—­it would be ridiculous to claim that a scientific instrument can reveal something primal that is otherwise beyond culture, beyond language, beyond meaning, beyond consciousness.5 If we do so, and we take the instrument as this otherworldly portal, rather than poaching a scientific concept and borrowing scientific affects6 we achieve the perfection of scientism.7 We assume an unflagging and uncritical faith in the power of science. Science becomes a religion, its instruments talismans of its occultic authority, and the everyday, material facts of scientific knowledge are excluded in the name of scientific expertise. White coats become the vestments of the hospital and the laboratory. The EEG and the photograph become holy relics. Though perhaps this connection has always been latent in these histories.8 Maintaining the existence of something called “affect,” as I see it, can follow one of two possible directions. The first is to reject any deferral to psychology and neuroscience that accepts their arguments as decontextualized truths, acknowledging that affect is a variable, symbolic quality invented at the intersection of bodies and machines. Otherwise, accepting arguments from psychology and neuroscience as the empirical truth of the brain and body must assume that these claims are separate from the material life of laboratory research. “The turn to affect has corresponded with a disciplinary turn away from detail, from specificity and the local,” argues Eugenie Brinkema.9 The obliteration of the local is a particularly strange problem when it comes to the Affect Lab. Any link between the affective and the biological happens only in a local, specific place, in the material life of the laboratory. Thus affect theory must either remove reference to the psychological or must foreground the material foundations of its own arguments. These material foundations are not about the human body but about the material capacities of a medium. Affect theory, then, becomes a variant of materialist media theory,10 and a media theory of affect must embrace the history of science and medicine beyond a superficial engagement with “science” that treats the scientific as “fact” divorced from contingency, anarchy, and error. The second possibility is to admit that affect is not material, but is one among many names for an unknown, metaphysical substance, a substance that permeates the entire history of Western thought. Like Schopenhauer’s will, these substances are only grasped through a permanent and irreconcilable dualism between, on one hand, representation, sensation, experience, and, on the other, the affective, metaphysical ground 206 • CONCLUSION

that is “reality.” But contemporary affect theory often acts as if affect, as a material thing, is not dualistic, is “real” and “physical” and thus not reducible to will, or the élan vital, Lucretius’s atoms, Aristotle’s substance, Plato’s forms, and so on. My point here is that the entire history of philosophy contains countless names for a substance that moves, that flows, that grounds life, that may or may not be capturable through empirical sensation. Affect’s “difference” comes from the turn to biology and psychology, which, as I’ve been claiming, ontologically requires—­yet also refuses—­the materiality of media. It is completely plausible to maintain affect as one among many other names for this metaphysical substance, but doing so would radically revise almost all the ontological assumptions of affect theory, making it into a form of transcendental idealism, not a new materialism. In the history of psychology, emotion and affect have been—­and continue to be—­defined by the qualities of the instruments used in psychological research. With William James’s planchette, affect and emotion are preconscious and automatic—­qualities of the planchette. With serial photography, with books and folios of faces collected in multiple, affect and emotion are a series of discrete categories that can be observed, categorized, and compared—­qualities of serial photography. With the Dynograph, affect and emotion are temporal and sequential—­qualities that characterize the inscriptions of the Dynograph. And with the E-­Meter, affect and emotion are evidence of metaphysical, religious themes that collapse time and space—­qualities that emerge from the differences between the E-­Meter and other measures of electrodermal response. Of course, these technologies exist at the intersection of a much wider range of contextual considerations, including, but not limited to, the legacy of spiritualism, the spectacular consumption of women’s pain, anti-­psychiatry and the prison, and the militaristic legacy of Freudian psychoanalysis. But my ultimate point is how the instrument, in serving as a concatenation of a range of historical, contextual concerns, provides the means to make emotion “objective” by materializing these concerns. Let us recall Gaston Bachelard’s claim: “It may well be the instruments that produce the phenomenon in the first place. And instruments are nothing but theories materialized.”11 This may seem to imply an idealist dialectic—­that “theory” is reflected and made concrete in the “matter” that is the instrument and experiment. I do not believe this to be the case, and follow Karen Barad when she claims, “Experimenting and theorizing are dynamic practices that play a constitutive role in the production of objects C O N C L U S I O N  • 2 0 7

and subjects and matter and meaning . . . theorizing and experimenting are not about intervening (from outside) but about intra-­acting from within, and as part of, the phenomena produced.”12 The instrument is a materialization of historical and contextual practices within a specific object. When an instrument is taken from one context to another, it nonetheless retains marks of its original setting. The planchette never ceases to be an instrument for the occult generation of automatic writing. The photograph never ceases to be a means to stop time and categorize. The Dynograph never ceases to measure the brain and body temporally. The E-­Meter never ceases to let temporality vanish into the ether. The instrument materializes one theory and is appropriated elsewhere, and the conjunction of a body and a machine invent qualities that, because the original context is ignored or—­more likely—­actively excluded, then the meaning of a quality measured becomes something else. The instrument never truly loses the marks of its history, and thus we can see how a media history of psychology presents a new way of thinking about scientific error and anarchy—­about violations of method, about improvisation, and how these are central to the production of fact.13 Finally, why do we care about directly knowing the emotions of another? Or, not just knowing these emotions, but entering-­into and experiencing the emotions of another? Why is it that the social bond is imagined as emotional and conjunctive? Why has this been a problem for the twentieth century that extends into our present? These questions guide the contemporary context this book works to reimagine. Today, vicariously experiencing the emotions of another is often assumed to have a political and moral valiance. “Affect” is one way of grasping this vicarious, connective experience of emotion. When affect is “transmitted” from one to another there is a sociality that, to use the words of Teresa Brennan, “undermines the dichotomy between the individual and the environment and the related opposition between the biological and the social.”14 The specific articulation of this transmission of feeling, its relation to moral and political assumptions of community, are what “empathy” is often assumed to indicate, a cognitive ability to share feelings and “express a deep bond that can make others feel like an extension of the self.”15 Our present supposedly has a “crisis of empathy,” leading toward cruelty, dehumanization, and social violence.16 Psychology has given us one answer for this “crisis.” Literature, film, virtual reality, and other forms of media—­ with “content” designed specifically to cultivate identification, designed to allow the reader, viewer, player to “feel-­into” a fictional simulation—­ 208 • CONCLUSION

applies the methods of psychology to fictional representation. Media become an automatic means to cultivate identification and sympathy with “characters who are outgroup members,” transferring this identification onto “empathy with outgroup members in the real world,” allowing readers and viewers to “act on that empathic response in, for example, supporting anti-­discrimination legislation.”17 This popular “ethics” and “politics” takes emotional identification as the highest value—­identification assumed generated through imagining oneself in the same position as a fictional character, or through enduring digital simulations of another’s experience. Of course, this identification is limited and disciplinary, carrying with it a “proper” understanding of sentiment, sympathy, and emotional life.18 But perhaps something deeper is at stake, something that presumes the very existence of alterity—­of the fact that there are other people and that their interests, feelings, and motivations are beyond my knowledge—­is a barrier to social well-­being. In his classic philosophical analysis of alterity, Emmanuel Levinas argues that the ultimate metaphysical abyss emerges from the depth of another, the fact that the face signifies an interiority forever inaccessible.19 We cannot reduce this Otherness to ourselves, which Levinas terms “the Same.” Ethics, for Levinas, is based on this precondition of otherness. The mere existence of other people—­that the other is unknowable and incomprehensible, that the ethical demand is an openness to this radical alterity—­ this, for Levinas, is a, if not the, central metaphysical problem of existence. But accepting this alterity is antithetical to contemporary technological life. “The negativity of alterity and foreignness—­in other words, the resistance of the Other—­disturbs and delays the smooth communication of the Same,” says philosopher Byung-Chul Han.20 Technologies for identifying, transmitting, and fostering emotional identification work to make the mysteries of metaphysical alterity the very material of “the Same.” Through the mediation of technology, you become me.21 Art becomes a means to mediate separation out of existence. And this, it seems, will restore “community” and “compassion” through media. We seem, then, to have returned to the very beginning of this book—­ a recursion of the context in which Schiller, Lessing, Herder, Vischer, and Lipps were linking emotion, national identity, and art. Feeling-­into a work of art is once again assumed to create a synthetic unity through mediation of fiction, of simulation, of spectacle. Examples of these emotional, empathetic spectacles are everywhere. From reality television, to videogames, to contemporary performance, to installation art, the normative C O N C L U S I O N  • 2 0 9

aesthetic demand seems to be one that privileges total enclosure and simulation, with the purpose of a renewed aesthetic education. Art, once again, becomes a place of social bonding and emotional education.22 But this bonding always presumes a fundamental exclusion. Technology has been the most obvious in this history. But, as we’ve seen throughout this book, there are other exclusions as well, some more insidious than the forgetting of technology and the forgetting of metaphysics. The epistemology of empathy refers to how our knowledge of emotional, social bonds—­bonds we more regularly term “affective”—­can only be known through an instrument, a machine, a technology. The aesthetics of empathy refers to how the experience of this bond, the feeling of identification, the feeling of community, requires an exclusion, a beyond, something that cannot be experienced and must not be experienced for relation to be realized. “Affect” is based on the precondition of both, which it remakes into a metaphysical substance that both relies on, but cannot acknowledge, its own material history. When one leaves the Sorbonne, one can go south and make their way to the Panthéon, feeling-­into the history of Western culture, an empathetic bonding mediated through art, a mediation linked with the legacies of the Enlightenment, its cultivation of subjectivity and rationality. Or, one can go north, and make their way to the Préfecture de Police, where instruments and measurements determine that link among emotion, empathy, and the carceral. In some sense, one can argue both directions are prisons of rationality. Yet this rationality is always underpinned by its negation: the irrational, the spiritual, the metaphysical. The Panthéon was originally designed to be the Church of Saint Genevieve. And across the street from the police is Notre-­ Dame Cathedral.



What I’ve written here is a product of countless conversations, debates, and discussions, a product of a community of scholars, colleagues, and friends, without whom this book would not be possible. Of course, as so often accompanies similar acknowledgments, all limitations of the preceding pages are my own. I want to particularly thank Gregg Flaxman, who first suggested I investigate the history of Einfühlung and empathy, providing me with many of the primary sources I used in this book on this topic. The chapter on the E-­Meter only emerged after Lori Emerson was kind enough to show me many of the artifacts held at the Media Archaeology Lab in Boulder, Colorado. I was invited by maya livio, while she was curator of the MAL, to serve as one of the Lab’s residents in 2018, where I worked with the Lab’s E-­Meters and performed research that would lead to chapter 4. I am infinitely grateful to Gregg, Lori, and maya. All of the following people contributed in some way to this project, abstractly or concretely, directly or indirectly, during the time I was working on The Affect Lab  : César Albarrán Torres, Hava Aldouby, Tom Apperley, Brooke Belisle, Alex Bevan, Andy Binder, Ronisha Browdy, Helen Burgess, Nic Carah, Alice Cheng, Chris Chesher, Lily Cho, Kathy Cleland, Liz Craig, Deanna Dannels, Adriana de Souza e Silva, Fernanda Duarte, Jens Eder, Robbie Fordyce, Paul Fyfe, Vicki Gallagher, Margaret Gibson, Gerard Goggin, Marsha Gordon, Sushma Griffin, Leon Gurevitch, Atilla Hallsby, Julian Hanich, Mark Hayward, Larissa Hjorth, James J. Hodge, Ingrid Hoelzl, Rolien Hoyng, Jonas Ingvarsson, Jessica Jameson, Melissa Johnson, Andrew Johnston, Tero Karppi, Charlotte Kent, Maren Koehler, Derek Kompare, Scott Krzych, Nicole Lee, Jennifer Lieberman, Astrid Lorange, Alessandro Ludovico, John Morillo, Timothy Neale, Elizabeth Nelson, Jeremy Packer,  • 2 1 1

Jussi Parikka, David Parisi, Will Partin, Simon Penny, Stacey Pigg, David Rieder, Craig Robertson, Lynsey Romo, Paul Roquet, Miriam Ross, Ian Rothwell, Tony Sampson, Sarah Sharma, Yig˘ it Soncul, Jane Stadler, Jason Swarts, Nick Taylor, Armond Towns, Son Vivienne, Rebecca Walsh, Steve Wiley, Jack Wilson, Emily Winderman, Greg Wise, Liam Cole Young, and Ken Zagacki. Thank you all. I’d also like to thank the students I’ve advised or otherwise worked with during this time. So many of the real benefits of intellectual life come from the ideas and provocations offered by our students, and I’ve gained so much from all of the following (and from so many not listed here, too). During this time, I’m grateful to have advised Dina Abdel-­ Mageed, Tharaa Bayazid, Jeff Bruinsma, Mally Dietrich, Chloe Higginbotham, Mai Ibrahim, Shelby Lombardo, Ryan McGrady, Asa McMullen, Juniper Nie, Malcolm Ogden, Ben Ridgeway, Adam Suddarth, Bethany Tillerson, and I learned so much from those whose committees I’ve been on, Aaron Dial, Charles Ecenbarger, Malaka Friedman, Ragan Glover-­Rijkse, Alex Haire, Robin Holloway, Chris Kampe, Chance Lachowitzer, Paola Mejia, Anne Njathi, Sugantha Ramachandran, Grant Rivers, Laura Roberts, Marat Sadana, Madison Schmalzer, Kashian Scrivens, Bryce Stout, Nora Suren, and Luna Vanaman. At the University of Minnesota Press, I’d like to thank Pieter Martin, who has maintained an incredible level of support and enthusiasm for this project from the first time we met, along with Anne Carter, Eric Lundgren, and everyone else at the Press who played a part in producing this book. I’d also like to thank the anonymous readers, whose helpful and enthusiastic comments were instrumental in revisions of this manuscript. I was invited to present some of the research leading to this book to audiences at Western Sydney University’s Institute for Culture and Society, where I was invited by Timothy Neale; the conference The Conquest of Ubiquity: Informational Imaginaries of Everyday Life before Ubiquitous Computing, held at York University and the McLuhan Centre for Culture and Technology, where I was invited by Mark Hayward and Craig Robertson; the Archaeologies of Media and Technology Research Group at the Winchester School of Art, University of Southampton, where I was invited by Yig˘ it Soncul; and the Department of Literature, History of Ideas, and Religion (LIR) and Centre of Digital Humanities, University of Gothenburg, where I was invited by Jonas Ingvarsson. Versions of these chapters were also presented at the Association for Cultural Studies Crossroads Conferences at the University of Tampere and at the University 212 • ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

of Sydney; the Knowledge/Culture/Economy Conference at the University of Western Sydney; the Art Association of Australia and New Zealand Annual Conference at the Queensland Art Gallery/Gallery of Modern Art; the Cultural Studies Association of Australasia Annual Conference at the University of Melbourne; the Society for Cinema and Media Studies Annual Conventions in Atlanta and Chicago; and the Interrogating Media Devices Symposium at the University of Queensland. I would like to thank the organizers of these events and conferences, many of whom I’ve mentioned above, along with the audiences of these talks. Most significantly, I’d like to thank Katherine Guinness. Her brilliance, creativity, and intellectual talents continuously amaze me. The arguments of this book derive from years of the most meaningful collaboration and partnership I could hope for, one I imagine will go on forever, beyond the limits of this world. Research for this book was made possible through the support of the National Endowment for the Humanities, Grant FT-­269862-­20. Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this book do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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1. Foucault, Birth of the Clinic, 107. 2. Scarry, Body in Pain, 3. 3. Kittler, Gramophone, Film, Typewriter, 5. 4. Wershler, Emerson, and Parikka, Lab Book, 37. 5. My use of “origin” here follows Foucault, Aesthetics, 369–­92. 6. Cf. Feyerabend, Against Method. 7. Hemmings, “Invoking Affect”; see also Yao, Disaffected, 9–­10. 8. The distinction made in psychology is, in actuality, far more complex than this, with many different kinds of “feelings” and “emotions” that account for a range of distinct bodily and interpretive states. See Wetherell, Affect and Emotion, 28–­31, 59. 9. Kittler, Gramophone, Film, Typewriter, xl. 10. See Clough, User Unconscious; Hansen, Feed-­Forward; and Sampson, A Sleepwalker’s Guide, among others. 11. Karppi, Disconnect, 21. 12. Illouz, Saving the Modern Soul, 86; Liu, Laws of Cool, 89–­104. 13. Lazzarato, “Immaterial Labor”; Illouz, Cold Intimacies. 14. Han, Burnout Society; Berardi, Soul at Work; Fisher, Capitalist Realism, 21–­29. 15. Ahmed, Promise of Happiness; Davies, Happiness Industry. 16. Naveh, “Techniques for Emotion Detection,” 3. 17. Naveh, 4. 18. Picard, Affective Computing. 19. Feng, Rosenberg, and Shapiro, “Just-­In-­Time”; Laine et al., “Production-­Level.” 20. Andrejevic, Infoglut. 21. Clough, User Unconscious; Hansen, Feed-­Forward. 22. Cf. Serpell, Stranger Faces, 14–­15; Leys, “How Did Fear?” 23. Gates, Our Biometric Future; Magnet, When Biometrics Fail.

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24. On the history of physiognomy, see Pearl, About Faces. On the contemporary role of metrics, see Beer, Metric Power. 25. Apprich et al., Pattern Discrimination; Noble, Algorithms of Oppression. 26. Lavater, Essays on Physiognomy, 15. 27. Lavater, 66. 28. Lavater, 188. 29. See Todorov, Face Value; Bunn, Truth Machine; and Sekula, “The Body and the Archive,” among others. 30. As an example of this, see Safra et al., “Tracking Historical Changes.” 31. Daston and Galison, Objectivity, 123. 32. Daston and Galison, 121. 33. Coon, “Testing the Limits.” 34. Hookway, “Making of the Experimental Subject.” 35. Levinas, Totality and Infinity, 204. 36. Taussig, Defacement, 224. 37. Bollmer, “Mimetic Sameness”; Chun, “Queering Homophily”; Han, Transparency Society. 38. Moors, “Theories of Emotion Causation,” 645. 39. For an outline of FACS in research, see Ekman and Friesen, Facial Action Coding System. For an overview of FACS in the history of emotion detection technology, see Gates, Our Biometric Future, 151–­90. For a critique of the development of FACS, see Leys, Ascent of Affect. 40. Izard, Face of Emotion; Panksepp, Affective Neuroscience. 41. For instance, see Turner and Stets, Sociology of Emotions, 3; Richardson, “Facial Expression Theory,” 66; and Grodal, Embodied Visions, 18. 42. What theory knows today is quite different from what it knew when Sedgwick and Frank provoked with their “Shame in the Cybernetic Fold.” See Sedgwick, Touching Feeling, 93–­94. 43. See Leys, Ascent of Affect, 93–­119. 44. Cf. Tagg, Burden of Representation, 4. 45. See Genosko, Critical Semiotics; Lazzarato, Signs and Machines. 46. Barad, Meeting the Universe Halfway, 46–­49; Bollmer, Materialist Media Theory, 46–­49. 47. See Coon, “Standardizing the Subject” and “Testing the Limits.” 48. Hacking, Representing and Intervening. 49. As Feyerabend claims, “The material which a scientist actually has at his disposal, his laws, his experimental results, his mathematical techniques, his epistemological prejudices, his attitude towards the absurd consequences of the theories which he accepts, is indeterminate in many ways, ambiguous, and never fully separated from the historical background” (Against Method, 45–­ 46). I generally follow Wershler, Emerson, and Parikka’s heuristic for describing this “material” that is actually available outlined in The Lab Book. Their


“extended lab model” argues that labs are comprised of bounded spaces; specific technical apparatuses; an infrastructure which comes from how a lab is funded; people who exist and work in a lab and occupy particular forms of subjectivity; the imaginary, or ideological or discursive frames that cannot be completely reduced to the material reality of a lab; and technique, or practices of the lab. Wershler, Emerson, and Parikka argue that these are all essential, and intertwining, categories for understanding the “situated” practices of laboratories. While I do not emphasize these categories in each chapter by name, and my emphasis almost always begins with either apparatus or technique, I follow their general argument in how I understand a “lab” throughout this book. 50. As Hans-­Jörg Rheinberger notes, epistemology for the authors in this tradition —­Gaston Bachelard, Georges Canguilhem, Michel Foucault, and François Delaporte, among others—­means “reflecting on the historical conditions under which, and the means with which, things are made into objects of knowledge” (On Historicizing Epistemology, 2). 51. Bachelard, New Scientific Spirit, 13. 52. The approach of this book resonates with several other recent works, though it focuses on a different set of technologies and problems than previously covered. This includes Jimena Canales’s Tenth of a Second, Robert Brain’s Pulse of Modernism, and the essays of Otniel E. Dror, such as “The Scientific Image of Emotion” and “Counting the Affects.” Brenton Malin’s Feeling Mediated covers a broader range of technologies than these other writers, but argues that a belief in “media physicalism,” or the capacities of media to physically inscribe and reveal the emotions, is misguided, an argument this book opposes. Branden Hookway’s “Making of the Experimental Subject,” like this book, draws explicit links among the history of psychology, art, and contemporary media. 53. Galison, Image and Logic, xix. 54. See, for instance, Frank and Wilson, Silvan Tomkins Handbook, 7. This argument is itself questionable since it presumes language to be disembodied. See Leys, Ascent of Affect. 55. Silva, Toward a Global Idea of Race. 56. Ngai, Ugly Feelings, 91; Chen, Animacies, 11. 57. Schuller, Biopolitics of Feeling; Fretwell, Sensory Experiments. 58. Yao, Disaffected, 10–­11; Ahmed, Cultural Politics of Emotion and Promise of Happiness; Berlant, Female Complaint. 59. Edelman, No Future. 60. Fretwell, Sensory Experiments, 5. 61. This would mean, then, that an affect theory that intends to be antiracist or decolonial has to contend with arguments from media studies such as those offered in Armond Towns’s On Black Media Philosophy.

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62. See Bollmer, “Pathologies of Affect.” 63. Baron-­Cohen, Science of Evil; cf. Rose and Abi-­Rached, Neuro, 141–­98. 64. See Chytry, Aesthetic State. 65. See Ahmed, Cultural Politics of Emotion, 42–­61. 66. This “problem” was perhaps best “solved” in the Gesamtkunstwerk of Richard Wagner, which provides the archetypal cultural technique to produce national bonding through feeling. For an outstanding study (albeit one sympathetic to Wagner) that links Wagnerian theater with this “problem,” along with attempts to theorize Einfühlung, see Koss, Modernism after Wagner. See also Smith, Total Work of Art. 67. Kant, Practical Philosophy, 17. 68. Also see Foucault, Ethics, 303–­8. 69. Schiller, Aesthetic Education of Man, 167. 70. Cf. Kant, Critique of the Power of Judgment. 71. Lessing, Hamburg Dramaturgy, 40. See also Baldyga, “‘We Have Actors,’” 14. 72. Lessing, Hamburg Dramaturgy, 43. 73. Lavater’s essays were first published a decade after Lessing’s hiring by the theatre. This similarity suggests that Lavater could be framed as responding to the same problem posed by Kant and Schiller—­how to employ the aesthetic as a means of producing and judging commonalities assumed essential for national belonging. 74. Lessing, Hamburg Dramaturgy, 43. 75. Baldyga, “‘We Have Actors,’” 19. 76. See Aristotle, Poetics. 77. Pinotti, “Empathy,” 93. 78. Cited in Koss, Modernism after Wagner, 68. For a collection of writings of Vischer and others involved in the initial theorization of Einfühlung, see Mallgrave and Ikonomou, Empathy, Form, and Space. See also Jarzombek, Psychologizing of Modernity, 37–­72. 79. Fritz Breithaupt is correct to note that exclusion, partisanship, and factionalism all can be considered linked with the cognitive capacity of empathy. See The Dark Sides of Empathy, 75–­130. Philosopher Kate Manne, in her analysis of misogyny, makes a similar move when she frames particular forms of gender-­based identification and exclusion as “himpathy.” See Down Girl, 196–­205. 80. “Empathy” can be found in print in English prior to Titchener’s use of the term—­in E. L. Hinman’s “Ueber psychophysische Energie,” a brief review of a German article on psychophysics written by German science fiction author Kurd Laßwitz. From the review, it’s unclear what word Laßwitz used in his own writing, but Hinman uses empathy to describe a quantification of neurological energy that correlates to pleasure or pain—­a definition that has little to no relation to its use since Titchener’s lectures. Other uses of empathy in


English from the early 1900s all appear to refer to Titchener’s translation of Einfühlung. 81. Depew, “Empathy, Psychology, and Aesthetics,” 99–­107; Jahoda, “Theodor Lipps,” 151–­63. 82. Overviews that situate present understandings of empathy in relation to its history include Lanzoni, Empathy  ; and Pinotti, L’empathie. 83. Titchener, Lectures, 21–­22. 84. See Parisi, Archaeologies of Touch, 34–­36. 85. Paterson, How We Became Sensorimotor, 128–­29. 86. Paterson, 127. 87. Titchener, Lectures, 185 (emphasis added). 88. James, Principles of Psychology, 1:245–­46. Cf. James, Writings, 1902–­1910, 1161. 89. Titchener, Lectures, 188. 90. This is a similar definition of empathy to the one recently given by art historian David Freedberg and neuroscientist Vittorio Gallese: “Viewers often experience a sense of bodily involvement with the movements that are implied by the physical traces—­in brushmarks or paint drippings—­of the creative actions of the producer of the work” (“Motion, Emotion and Empathy,” 197). Freedberg and Gallese argue that the pleasure a viewer gets from a painting by Jackson Pollock or Lucio Fontana emerges from the indexicality of motion captured in a work, be it the splattering of paint for the former or the slashing of the canvas for the latter. When looking at a work of Fontana’s, they suggest, “sight of the slashed painting invites a sense of empathetic movement that seems to coincide with the gesture felt to have produced the tear” (197). Empathy, here, is a mental simulation of motion that comes from an inner mirroring of external perception. This would be very similar to Riegl’s sense of haptic vision and how I’m associating it with empathy. This also would suggest that painting—­and the physical presence assumed left by the indexical trace of paint—­is a cultural technique that precedes our understanding of empathy today. 91. Titchener, Lectures, 90. 92. Titchener, 91. 93. Titchener, 96. 94. Titchener, 98. 95. See Batson, “These Things Called Empathy.” 96. An argument further developed by Titchener’s student and sometimes collaborator Edwin G. Boring decades later, in 1961. See Boring’s “The Beginning and Growth.” Cf. Canales, Tenth of a Second. 97. Einfühlung was translated into French in 1869 as sympathie symbolique, suggesting a completely different genealogy than the one I describe here, as well. 98. Stein, “Radcliffe Manuscripts,” 121, as cited in Meyer, Irresistible Dictation, 211.

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99. On inequalities of race as foundational for psychophysics and early American psychology, see Fretwell, Sensory Experiments. 100. The idea of a necessary exclusion as essential for the emotional bonding through art is one of the major criticisms leveled by Theodor Adorno against the Wagnerian Gesamtkunstwerk—­that aesthetic unity can only occur through the exclusion of the ground through which that unity is produced. See Adorno, In Search of Wagner, 91. 101. On cultural techniques, see Siegert, Cultural Techniques. What I mean by “materialist” is outlined in Bollmer, Materialist Media Theory. On the technical a priori, see Tuschling, “Historical, Technological and Medial A Priori.” 102. Spinoza, Ethics, 164. 103. Spinoza, 180. 104. James, Principles of Psychology, 2:442–­85. 105. Schopenhauer, Two Fundamental Problems of Ethics, 113–­258. Schopenhauer’s inclusion here as a predecessor of affect theory is uncommon, and is derived from Fritz Breithaupt’s The Dark Sides of Empathy, which locates Schopenhauer as the first philosopher of empathy. Placing current claims about empathy in the Kantian frame of Schopenhauer should be explored in more depth, especially given how affect and empathy are often assumed opposed to the Kantian critical project and how the “politics” projected onto affect today—­along with Schopenhauer’s own ethical arguments—­would seem to necessarily be at odds with Schopenhauer’s notorious misogyny and misanthropy. For an example of his misogyny, see Schopenhauer, Parerga and Paralipomena, 2:550–­61. For an analysis of Schopenhauer’s misogyny and its relation to will, see Guinness, Schizogenesis, 102–­8. 106. This is one of the main points of critique offered by Ruth Leys in her Ascent of Affect which, she claims, unites contemporary theoretical approaches to affect and the history of American experimental psychology on emotion. Frank and Wilson, in A Silvan Tomkins Handbook, attempt to defend Silvan Tomkins, one of the main psychologists popular among affect theorists in the humanities today, against this charge. I don’t think that they do so successfully, as Tomkins’ model presumes a cybernetic understanding of bodies and behaviors, which also sidelines consciousness and intentionality as epiphenomena. 107. Kant privileged a third category, the transcendental. But Schopenhauer’s interpretation of Kant invests in the noumenal “will” rather than the phenomenal world of “representation.” 108. See Brinkema, Forms of the Affects, xii. 109. This is something of which, I believe, James was quite aware, though many of his followers today seem not to be. Again, to be clear, the targets of my critique are the affect theorists who defer to biology and the brain for their arguments, suggesting that affect is thus “formless” or impossible to qualify, not those who see emotion or sentiment as a political force articulated with


a range of other qualities (meaning, form, etc.). This is a notable split that exists with, say, Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, Brian Massumi, Erin Manning, and William Connolly on one side, and Lauren Berlant, Sara Ahmed, and Lawrence Grossberg on the other. The list here is not exhaustive, and some authors tend to bridge these two “camps,” like Steven Shaviro or Mark Hansen, and even others link the affective with the traditions of aesthetic theory, like Fredric Jameson and Sianne Ngai. I’m interested in opposing a neurophysical definition of affect that escapes the symbolic, and thus am referring to the first group of authors I’ve listed here, the many, many scholars who have been influenced by their work, along with the conceptual slippages that happen when the materiality of the body is assumed “affective” and thus beyond language, which is a tendency in affect theory that far exceeds Sedgwick, Massumi, Manning, and Connolly. 110. Cf. Massumi, Parables for the Virtual. 111. See Bloor, “The Strengths of the Strong Programme.” 112. See Vattimo and Rovatti, Weak Thought. 113. I’m indebted to Maurizio Ferraris’s Documentality and its theorization of “social objects” on this point. For more on my interpretation of Ferraris, and my broader arguments about inscription and documentation, see my Materialist Media Theory, 51–­78. 114. There is a metaphysical assumption here, of course—­that the world is material and everything that exists must be grounded in the material. But even then, “matter” is inherently variable, changing, and situated. 115. Cf. Levinas, Totality and Infinity; Han, Transparency Society. 116. Leys’s Ascent of Affect has provided the most sustained version of this argument, though she focuses mostly on more recent (or more mainstream) debates than what I emphasize here. For other arguments that share my concerns, see Hemmings, “Invoking Affect,” and Papoulias and Callard, “Biology’s Gift.” An earlier version of my argument can be found in Bollmer, “Pathologies of Affect.” 117. See, for instance, Scheler’s Nature of Sympathy. 118. Sedgwick, Touching Feeling, 93. 119. See Massumi, Parables for the Virtual, 21. 120. Yaczo, “Fear and Panic,” 377–­397. 121. Otis, Banned Emotions, 2. 122. On “culture,” see Williams, Culture & Society, xvi. 123. On making motion into scientific data, see Salazar Sutil, Motion and Representation. 124. Schmidgen, “Laboratory.” 125. Shapin, “Invisible Technician,” 556. 126. Cf. Wershler, Emerson, and Parikka, Lab Book. 127. Barad, Meeting the Universe Halfway; Latour, Science in Action.

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128. Weigel, “Phantom Images,” 33. 129. Parikka, What Is Media Archaeology? 130. My approach here shares much with that proposed by Jeremy Packer in “The Conditions of Media’s Possibility.” 131. Agamben, What Is an Apparatus?, 14 132. Foucault, Birth of Biopolitics, 32. 133. See Delaporte, Chagas Disease. 134. Delaporte, Figures of Medicine, xix. 135. Feyerabend, Against Method, 7. 136. Wetherell, Affect and Emotion. 137. Leys, “Turn to Affect,” 455–­58. 138. Brinkema, Forms of the Affects, xv; Grossberg, Cultural Studies, 192; Bollmer, “Pathologies of Affect,” 303. 139. Otis, Banned Emotions. 140. Cf. Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations, §412. 141. Derrida, Of Grammatology. 142. This theme appears throughout the work of Erin Manning, including Relationscapes  ; Always More Than One  ; and The Minor Gesture. 143. I’m specifically referencing Manning here, who refers to those who are not babies or autistic as “normopaths.” I’d suggest it also informs the work of any affect theorist who draws on Stern’s The Interpersonal World of the Infant, or any theory of affect that draws on (and rejects) Lacanian models of development in order to privilege a form of subjectivity that has not internalized the Symbolic or Imaginary in favor of continual dwelling within the Real. This is, perhaps, a general problem of assuming an ethical or political valiance to the model of subjectivity articulated by Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari in their Capitalism and Schizophrenia books. 144. I’m again referring to Manning. See Relationscapes, 153–­206; Always More Than One, 149–­203; Minor Gesture, 111–­88. 145. See Bollmer, Materialist Media Theory, for a more thorough version of this argument. Cf. Deleuze and Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus, 39–­74. 146. Siegert, Cultural Techniques.

1. William James’s Planchette 1. And continue to examine, as they’re still around today. Alicia Puglionesi provides a thorough history of the American Society for Psychical Research in her Common Phantoms, though I feel this book is a bit too presentist in its orientation, claiming that psychical research is an analog of contemporary “citizen science,” which ignores how psychology in James’s day was yet to be a truly empirical science. I do agree with Puglionesi’s attempt to directly place the work of the ASPR as part of the history of American psychology, however.


2. James, Essays in Psychical Research, 38. 3. James, “A World of Pure Experience,” 1160. 4. James, “Confidences of a ‘Psychical Researcher,’” 1250. 5. Evans, “William James,” 436. 6. Evans, 435; Cf. James, “On Some Omissions,” 986–­1013. 7. On James’s relation to introspective psychology, see Meyer, Irresistible Dictation, 25. On the rejection of spiritualism by James’s colleagues, there are many examples. For an overview, see Bjork, Compromised Scientist; for a specific discussion of Hugo Münsterberg’s criticisms of James’s spiritualism, see Langdale “S(t)imulation of Mind,” 6. 8. Meyer, Irresistible Dictation, 26. 9. James, Essays in Psychical Research, 381. 10. I’m referring to Titchener, who was based at Cornell, Hugo Münsterberg, whom James would eventually hire to take over and develop his lab at Harvard, and James McKeen Cattell, who would develop experimental psychology at Columbia. See Bjork, Compromised Scientist, 10. 11. On the ironies of this eventual embrace, see Fretwell, Sensory Experiments, 6–­12. James also wrote an enthusiastic introduction to the English translation of Fechner’s Little Book of Life after Death, though it’s clear from this introduction that James admired Fechner’s more “philosophical” aspects than his methodological ones, such as what James called Fechner’s “anti-­ materialism,” or “the view that the entire material universe, instead of being dead, is inwardly alive and consciously animated” (James, “Introduction,” x). This view that James admires in Fechner has much in common with the materialism of Lucretius and many “new materialisms” today, but this argument is also what guides many of James’s own criticisms of what he calls “materialism” throughout many of his writings. 12. Bjork, Compromised Scientist, 12. 13. See Janaway, “Introduction,” xviii. 14. James, “Confidences of a ‘Psychical Researcher,’” 1261. 15. James, Essays in Psychical Research, 2. 16. Quoted in Skrupskelis, “Introduction,” li. 17. For instance, Davis, High Weirdness, 8, 20–­22. 18. There is significant evidence that James was interested in producing “physical” secular evidence for an afterlife, for instance. See Coon, “Testing the Limits,” 144. 19. James, Essays in Psychology, 247–­48; cf. Barnard, Exploring Unseen Worlds. 20. This focus on the physicality of the body does seem to vanish in James’s later work as he develops his radical empiricism and levels his criticisms of “medical materialism” in Varieties of Religious Experience, in Writings 1902–­1910. 21. James, Principles of Psychology, 1:5. 22. Sargent, Planchette, 1–­2.

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23. Sargent, 2. 24. Sargent, 2. 25. Sargent, 2. 26. Cf. Peters’s discussion of the links between spiritualism and hermeneutics in Speaking into the Air. 27. Sargent, Planchette, iv. 28. Books Sargent wrote after Planchette, such as The Proof Palpable of Immortality and The Scientific Basis of Spiritualism, the latter of which directly engaged with arguments of Wundt, further emphasized his way of linking spiritualism as a “science” at the edges of empirical knowledge, a belief that both he and James shared. 29. For details and interpretations of James’s depression, see Simon, Genuine Reality, 112–­23; Fullinwider, “William James’s ‘Spiritual Crisis’”; or Leary, “New Insights.” 30. James, Varieties of Religious Experience, 124. 31. James, 127. 32. For many of these biographical claims, I’m relying on the “Chronology” published in James, Writings 1902–­1910, 1321–­49. 33. Schopenhauer, World as Will and Representation, 1:417; Two Fundamental Problems of Ethics, 113–­58. 34. James, Will to Believe, 486. 35. James, 584. 36. It’s also clear that James derives some of his claims about emotion from Spinoza, but I think there’s a more solid link between James and Schopenhauer, including a separation between empirical phenomena and a world beyond sensible perception, which is not a claim advanced in Spinoza’s Ethics. The relation between James and Schopenhauer is almost entirely neglected in scholarship on James. In a recent article on James’s “crisis,” David E. Leary states that “no one has ever made much of James’s relation to Schopenhauer or his thought,” and Leary’s work does much to advance the idea that Schopenhauer was, in fact, very significant for James—­even though he frames this more in terms of James’s own feelings of depression and stops short of claiming that Schopenhauer had a significant influence on James’s philosophical arguments. See Leary’s “New Insights,” 2. 37. Schopenhauer, Two Fundamental Problems of Ethics, 113–­258. 38. John Durham Peters gets close to acknowledging the link between the two when he argues that several neo-­Kantian themes in James’s philosophy, which Kant found unable to be proven but “necessary for a rational and moral life—­ that nature is governed by law, that the will is free, and that the soul is immortal,” are investigated in both James’s philosophy and his psychical research (Speaking into the Air, 188–­89). Lisa Blackman also sees this link in her Immaterial Bodies, and Alicia Puglionesi, in Common Phantoms, acknowledges this


intertwining between psychology and psychical research in James, but does so to legitimate psychical research as science. Steven Meyer’s Irresistible Dictation makes similar claims, primarily to describe the relation between James and Gertrude Stein, but Meyer’s work provides a good account of how arguments from more recent authors from the neuropsychological tradition, such as Francisco Varela, Evan Thompson, and Eleanor Rosch, assume that James (and even Wundt) relied not on experimental methods but on introspection—­ a statement that seems to me to excise spiritualistic experimentation (Meyer, Irresistible Dictation, 25). Another notable example would be McGarry, Ghosts of Futures Past, 17–­65. 39. Bjork, Compromised Scientist. 40. Peters, Speaking into the Air. 41. Puglionesi, Common Phantoms; Blum, Ghost Hunters. 42. James, “Does ‘Consciousness’ Exist?,” 1142. 43. James, 1142. 44. Brinkema, Forms of the Affects, 8–­9. 45. James, Principles of Psychology, 2:449–­50. 46. Dalgleish, “Emotional Brain,” 583–­89. 47. See Blackman, Immaterial Bodies, 17–­18, 30. 48. James, “What Is an Emotion?,” 188–­205. It’s unclear if James had experimented with the planchette by 1884, since there’s no mention of the device in this essay. From his review of Sargent’s Planchette, he was clearly aware of the spiritualist use of planchettes at the time. His own use of the planchette can only be documented as early as 1888, published in 1889 and 1890. His research into hypnotism and other nonconscious states occurred throughout the 1880s, however, and there are many mentions of various spiritualist techniques throughout The Principles of Psychology, including discussions of his experiments with the planchette. 49. McDermott, “Introduction,” xix. 50. James, Essays in Psychical Research, 38–­39. Interpolation in this quotation is James’s own. 51. James, 39. This is also recounted in James, Principles of Psychology, 1:208–­9. 52. James, Essays in Psychical Research, 40. 53. James, 44. 54. James, 41–­42. 55. James, Essays in Psychology, 254. 56. James, 259. 57. James, Essays in Psychical Research, 44. 58. James, “Does ‘Consciousness’ Exist?,” 1142. 59. James, 1158. 60. Erin Manning is the most direct in articulating this kind of argument. 61. Cf. Bennett, Vibrant Matter.

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62. Cf. Arnold, “Culture and Anarchy”; on the general acceptance of this belief in the “culture and civilization” tradition, along with its links with British history, see Williams, Culture & Society. Note that the German Romantic tradition also shares similar beliefs (albeit ones that did not legitimate imperialism in the same way as the British), embodied in Schiller’s “aesthetic state.” See Schiller, Aesthetic Education; Chytry, Aesthetic State. 63. Patton, “Planchette,” 4. 64. Patton, 4. 65. Pentangelo, “William Fishbough Revealed,” 264. 66. Wells, Salem Witchcraft. The only signed work reprinted in this book was an article on spiritualism by Harriet Beecher Stowe. 67. Pentangelo, “William Fishbough Revealed,” 264. Fishbough’s records of Davis were published as Davis’s The Principles of Nature, for which Fishbough served as publisher. 68. James, Principles of Psychology, 1:163. 69. James, 182. 70. James, 284–­85. 71. James, Principles of Psychology, 2:372. 72. James, 403. 73. James, Principles of Psychology, 1:105. 74. James, Principles of Psychology, 2:414–­15. 75. Schopenhauer, Two Fundamental Problems, 224–­25. It would be interesting to contrast this understanding of sympathy and sentiment with the version described in Schuller’s Biopolitics of Feeling and Yao’s Disaffected, since Schopenhauer, who is not discussed in either book, is arguing that sympathy is best reserved for those with whom one does not fully identify, even those one is inclined to feel hatred or disgust toward. Central to the arguments of Schuller and Yao is that affective sympathy presumes likeness and similarity and thus enacts violence toward nonnormative, raced, or colonized subjects. James and Schopenhauer suggest a radically different genealogy of sentiment, albeit one also riddled with obvious limitations, such as Schopenhauer’s notorious misogyny. 76. Schopenhauer, Two Fundamental Problems, 225–­26. 77. James, Principles of Psychology, 1:121. 78. James, Principles of Psychology, 2:441. 79. James, 559; also see James, Principles of Psychology, 1:394–­96. 80. James, Principles of Psychology, 2:553. 81. James, 559. 82. James, Principles of Psychology, 1:125–­26. 83. A claim that many aesthetic theories, especially those in the Kantian tradition, tend to associate with propaganda and kitsch. 84. James, Pragmatism, 32.


85. Peters, Speaking into the Air. 86. Didi-­Huberman, Invention of Hysteria. 87. Latour, “How to Talk,” 205. 88. Solomons and Stein, “Normal Motor Automatism,” 492–­512. 89. Given the ongoing “replication crisis” in the experimental sciences, it is amusing to think that James’s “unscientific” work has more validity than many papers published today, given its replication by Solomons and Stein. 90. Skinner, “Has Gertrude Stein a Secret?,” 50–­57. 91. Meyer’s Irresistible Dictation provides an outstanding overview of the relations between James and Stein (along with other philosophical relations to Stein’s work), along with Stein’s automatic writing experiments. This quote is from his demonstration of why Skinner’s critiques are deeply misguided (224). 92. Quoted in Skinner, “Has Gertrude Stein a Secret?,” 52. 93. Skinner, 52–­53. 94. Bjork, Compromised Scientist, 63–­64.

2. Books of Faces 1. Tagg, Burden of Representation, 5. 2. Didi-­Huberman, Invention of Hysteria, 13. 3. Foucault, History of Madness, 44–­77. 4. Didi-­Huberman, Invention of Hysteria, 13. 5. Freud was also a student of Charcot at the time, and Freud’s psychoanalysis could be said to be a different “solution” to knowing the pathological states he initially observed at the Salpêtrière. For one approach to the history of psychoanalysis that shares much with what I’m drawing on here, see Davidson, Emergence of Sexuality. Freud is also discussed at length in Kittler’s Discourse Networks. 6. Quoted in Bunn, Truth Machine, 58. 7. Carroy and Plas, “Origins of French Experimental Psychology.” 8. As a point of fact, the British psychiatrist Hugh W. Diamond was the first to use photography in psychiatric practice, predating Duchenne by at least a decade. Diamond’s images did not seem to influence American psychology as I describe it here. For more on Diamond, see Gilman, Face of Madness and Seeing the Insane. 9. Duchenne de Boulogne, Mécanisme de la physionomie humaine; Bourneville and Régnard, Iconographie photographique de la Salpêtrière. 10. There are many discussions of the link among photography, death, and ghosts, but a particularly notable one is Batchen’s Burning with Desire, 172–­73. On Charcot’s studies of these topics, see Didi-­Huberman, Invention of Hysteria, 293–­301. 11. Foucault, Birth of Biopolitics, 32–­37.

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12. The entire debate surrounding digital photography and digital film as a loss of the indexical is bound up in this assumption. See Doane, “Indexical.” 13. Tagg, Burden of Representation; cf. Snyder, “Res Ipsa Loquitur.” 14. Barthes, Camera Lucida, 76–­77. 15. See Tomkins, Affect Imagery Consciousness, 125–­33; Ekman, “Duchenne,” 275–­79. 16. More detailed examinations of the photography of Duchenne and Charcot can be found in Delaporte, Anatomy of the Passions, and Didi-­Huberman, Invention of Hysteria, both of which I’m drawing on for my arguments here. 17. Duchenne de Boulogne, Mechanism of Human Facial Expression; Delaporte, Anatomy of the Passions. 18. Darwin, Expression of the Emotions, 5. 19. This includes sources as diverse as Descartes on the passions and the Sanskrit Na¯  .t yasha¯ stra, a text that radically predates European writings about emotion. See Descartes, Passions of the Soul; Dharwadker, “Emotion in Motion.” 20. Delaporte, Anatomy of the Passions, 5. 21. Foucault, History of Sexuality, vol. 1; Cf. Davidson, Emergence of Sexuality. 22. Delaporte, Anatomy of the Passions, 152. 23. Canguilhem, Normal and the Pathological, 243. 24. Canguilhem, 243. 25. Duchenne de Boulogne, Mechanism of Human Facial Expression, 44. 26. Duchenne de Boulogne, 42–­43. See also Sobieszek, Ghost in the Shell, 40–­44. 27. Duchenne de Boulogne, Mechanism of Human Facial Expression, 43. 28. Sobieszek, Ghost in the Shell, 43 29. Quoted in Didi-­Huberman, Invention of Hysteria, 8. 30. Quoted in Didi-­Huberman. 31. Bourneville and Régnard’s Iconographie, compiled under the supervision of Charcot, was produced between 1875 and 1880. Men did not enter the Salpêtrière until 1881, and only then in an outpatient capacity. While Charcot believed that hysteria was more common in men than most of his contemporaries, there is no photographic evidence of a male hysteric until 1888. See Didi-­Huberman, Invention of Hysteria, 80. 32. Didi-­Huberman, 30. 33. Didi-­Huberman also notes the importance of seriality for Charcot’s photographs, though he suggests that this seriality narrates or explains the images, which lack meaning when isolated given their “neutrality” when singular (Invention of Hysteria, 85). 34. Bourneville and Régnard, Iconographie. 35. Bazin, “Ontology of the Photographic Image,” 8. Cf. Doane, “Indexical”; Barthes, Camera Lucida. 36. Didi-­Huberman, Invention of Hysteria, 87–­88. 37. Didi-­Huberman, 87–­88.


38. See Geimer, Inadvertent Images, 174–­75. See also Snyder, “Res Ipsa Loquitur.” 39. Geimer, Inadvertent Images, 143. 40. Daston and Galison, Objectivity. 41. Cf. Lessing’s Laocoön. The problem of the medium in the Laocoön was about the impossibility of visually representing in sculpture expressions not previously judged beautiful. 42. This also relates to how many Americans were interested in expression and embodiment in determining the rhetorical appeal of public speech. See Malin, Feeling Mediated; cf. Scott, Psychology of Public Speaking. 43. I say “normal” because various personality disorders—­specifically, autism, psychopathy, and borderline personality disorder—­are all understood today through some breakdown in the cognitive ability to express or judge facial expression. See Bollmer, “Pathologies of Affect.” 44. Sander, People of the 20th Century. 45. Benjamin, Selected Writings, 2:510–­12. 46. Benjamin, 695. 47. Cf. Azoulay, Civil Imagination. 48. Foucault, Discipline and Punish. 49. Weigel, “Phantom Images,” 33. 50. Moors, “Theories of Emotion Causation,” 645. 51. Fridlund, Human Facial Expression; also see Leys, Ascent of Affect, 252. 52. Feldman Barrett, How Emotions Are Made. Russell and Feldman Barrett’s theories are contested from a range of perspectives. I would suggest their claims are determined by the techniques they use in their experiments—­such as facial electromyography—­which would intrinsically lead to a specific definition of an emotion. Ruth Leys critiques both Russell and Feldman Barrett, and goes so far to claim there “is no intellectually viable alternative to Fridlund’s position” (Ascent of Affect, 368). 53. Leys, Ascent of Affect. 54. In some of Ekman’s early work, you can find this book as the source for many of his methods, a source that he eventually replaces with self-­citations. For an example of Ekman citing the Woodworth Scale for his experiments, see Ekman and Friesen, “Head and Body Cues.” 55. I’ve mentioned Sylvan Tomkins and Paul Ekman, but this paradigm also includes widely cited figures such as Antonio Damasio, Jaak Panksepp, and Joseph LeDoux. 56. These editions are as follows: Woodworth, Experimental Psychology; Woodworth and Schlosberg, Experimental Psychology, rev. ed.; and Kling and Riggs, Woodworth & Schlosberg’s Experimental Psychology. 57. Winston, “Robert Sessions Woodworth,” 391–­401. 58. Admittedly, Tomkins did create the term “affect program,” which means that I’m using this phrase because of my own context of writing. While Tomkins’s

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work is fascinating and often different from the others I’m mentioning here, especially in Tomkins’s general opposition to the rigid positivism espoused by people like Titchener, his work is probably most important for its synthesis of the model of discrete affects with a cybernetic theory that demonstrates a great deal of continuity between his work and people like Gregory Bateson and Margaret Mead—­the latter being Ekman’s main rival in his legitimation of the model of universal basic emotions. See Tomkins, Affect Imagery Consciousness; Leys, Ascent of Affect  ; Frank and Wilson, Silvan Tomkins Handbook. 59. Delaporte, Anatomy of the Passions, 4–­5. 60. Pearl, About Faces, 11. 61. Lavater, Essays on Physiognomy, 11. 62. Lavater, 66. 63. This is central to the history of “empathy.” See Mallgrave and Ikonomou, Empathy, Form, and Space. 64. For publishing details about the books of these authors—­aside from Piderit and Rudolph—­see Smith, Charles Darwin, 179–­213. 65. Smith, 216–­18. 66. Lessing, Laocoön. 67. Darwin, Expression of the Emotions. 68. There is wide agreement that Darwin’s emotions book must be historically contextualized, but significant disagreement as to why. Jonathan Smith suggests that Darwin be situated in relation to the authors he is drawing on and differentiating himself from. Eric Korn and Paul Ekman argue that Darwin censored himself to avoid offending Victorian Christians. I think Korn and Ekman’s interpretation requires a retrojective projection of Ekman’s arguments into the original text when there’s scant evidence for these claims in the text itself. As well, this interpretation ignores Darwin’s criticism of Piderit, who does make the argument Korn and Ekman attribute to Darwin. Smith, Charles Darwin, 179–­80; Korn, “How Far Down,” 23–­24. 69. Darwin, Descent of Man; Fridlund, Human Facial Expression, 14–­15. 70. See Piderit, Mimik und Physiognomik. Darwin’s references to Piderit are rarely discussed in anglophone scholarship except by Fridlund. 71. Smith, Charles Darwin, 202. 72. Smith, 208, 221. 73. Woodworth, Experimental Psychology, 243. 74. Woodworth, 244. 75. Piderit, Mimik und Physiognomik, 139–­40; Fridlund, Human Facial Expression, 11. 76. Boring and Titchener, “A Model for the Demonstration of Facial Expression,” 471–­85. 77. As described in their article, this model was initially designed to be a pedagogical tool for classroom demonstrations. As Rand B. Evans has noted, instruments intended for experimental research, for the classroom, and in


undergraduate laboratory research, were often very different (“Psychological Instruments,” 322). As well, Boring and Titchener report that the initial model they designed was, in fact, faulty (“Model,” 473). And yet, even with these caveats, this model was used in actual experimental research, reported on in the Woodworth textbook. Even though the model was faulty, even though technologies designed for classroom demonstration were not often intended for laboratory research, Boring and Titchener’s model nonetheless was used in experimental work. This in fact further legitimates my claim that the instrument was deemed faulty in these experiments, if, in this case, for reasons more obvious than problems with the representation of the face. 78. Woodworth, Experimental Psychology, 247. 79. Cf. Jarzombek, Psychologizing of Modernity. 80. Rudolph, Der Ausdruck. 81. Scott, Psychology of Public Speaking, 101. 82. While Scott is not discussed in Malin’s Feeling Mediated, this book provides an excellent overview of how perspectives like Scott’s led to the development of public speaking and persuasion in American communication research. 83. Woodworth, Experimental Psychology, 248. 84. Ruckmick, “Preliminary Study of the Emotions,” 31. For more on Ruckmick, see Malin, Feeling Mediated, 157–­95. 85. Feleky, “Expression of the Emotions,” 33–­41. 86. Woodworth, Experimental Psychology, 251. 87. Woodworth and Schlosberg, Experimental Psychology, rev. ed., 118. 88. Woodworth and Schlosberg, 124. 89. Taussig, Defacement, 95–­97; Guinness, Schizogenesis, 102–­9; Schopenhauer, Parerga and Paralipomena, 2:551. 90. Jones, Sigmund Freud, 2:421; Elms, “Apocryphal Freud.” 91. Feleky, Feelings and Emotions, n.p. 92. Feleky’s images are one of the most overt in my story about presuming that aesthetic education can produce liberal sympathy for the marginalized. Cf. Schuller, Biopolitics of Feeling. 93. Feleky, Feelings and Emotions, 2. 94. Feleky. All typos in this quotation are from the original. 95. See Roudinesco, Jacques Lacan & Co., 9. 96. Fijalkowski, “Question of Play Analysis.” 97. Frois-­Wittmann, “Judgment of Facial Expression,” 116–­17. 98. Frois-­Wittmann, 117. 99. Guinness, Schizogenesis, 104. 100. Breton, Manifestos of Surrealism, 17; Guinness, Schizogenesis, 109–­20. 101. Frois-­Wittmann, “Judgment of Facial Expression,” 134–­35. Frois-­Wittmann’s own method also deviates from Woodworth—­he asked observers to group faces which had, in their minds, similar expressions, though did so without

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specific categories guiding their groupings. Yet the scale we use today descends from Woodworth, not Frois-­Wittmann’s method, thus indicating the importance of negation and not similarity in the judgment of emotion. 102. Hulin and Katz, “Frois-­Wittmann Pictures,” 482–­98. 103. Hulin and Katz, 495. 104. Engen, Levy, and Schlosberg, “New Series of Facial Expressions,” 264. The experiments performed with the Frois-­Wittmann images were repeated with the Lightfoot images in Levy and Schlosberg, “Woodworth Scale,” 121–­25. 105. Kling and Riggs, Woodworth & Schlosberg’s Experimental Psychology. 106. Leys, Ascent of Affect, 76. For more on Birdwhistell and his relation to film, see Watter, “Scrutinizing.” 107. Boucher and Ekman, “Replication of Schlosberg’s Evaluation.” 108. See Frijda, “Recognition of Emotion,” 188. 109. Leys, Ascent of Affect, 76–­128. 110. Ekman and Friesen, Facial Action Coding System, 6–­7. 111. Frois-­Wittmann, “Judgment of Facial Expression,” 117. 112. Tomkins, “Inverse Archaeology,” 284. 113. Ekman, Emotions Revealed, 82. 114. Ekman, 94–­95. 115. Ekman, 96.

3. The Prison Dynograph 1. In this chapter, I attempt to both link and differentiate psychology and psychiatry, though this points to how the boundaries of the “psy-­sciences” are often difficult to define. See Rose, Inventing Our Selves. 2. Similar arguments to what I advance in this chapter can be found in Schmidgen’s Helmholtz Curves and Canales’s Tenth of a Second. These books are about, respectively, the missing time between a stimulus and response in the firing of a nerve, and the technical standardization of small temporal measurements. Neither of these books discuss Grey Walter and the contingent negative variation, which is essential in linking the measurement of “missing” time and the claims of affect theory that appear derived from James but are, in fact, part of a much broader and more contested field. 3. Federman, Holmes, and Jacob’s “Deconstructing the Psychopath” provides a critical analysis of psychopathy that shares similar themes as this chapter, but I feel this article begins from assumptions that guide, as this chapter will develop, claims like those of the anti-­psychiatrists, rather than explain how this concept was developed with explicit reference to a technical mode of visibility. 4. The complete and abridged versions of Foucault’s thesis were translated into English as The History of Madness and Madness and Civilization, respectively.


5. Szasz, Myth of Mental Illness. 6. Goffman, Asylums. 7. Cooper, Psychiatry and Anti-­psychiatry. 8. See Kesey, Cuckoo’s Nest; Guattari, I, Little Asylum. 9. Cooper, Psychiatry and Anti-­psychiatry, 24. 10. Offner, “Electrical Properties of Tissues.” 11. Weinberg and Dallos, “Franklin F. Offner,” 190–­91. 12. Dondelinger, “Electroencephalographs,” 388–­89. 13. Scott, Understanding EEG, 45–­61. 14. Scott, 191. 15. Barlow, Electroencephalogram, 3. 16. Scott, Understanding EEG, 120–­121. 17. Which goes for other forms of brain imagining as well. See Dumit, Picturing Personhood. 18. EEG wearables are consumer technologies that allow hobbyists and artists to experiment with EEGs at home, usually with the intent of quantifying vital signs or engaging in some of the more questionable aspects of EEGs, like attempts to generate telepathy. 19. Littlefield, Instrumental Intimacy, 9. 20. Littlefield, 5. 21. For an overview of Walter’s EEG work and its relation to cybernetics, see Pickering, Cybernetic Brain, 37–­89. 22. Walter et al., “Contingent Negative Variation.” 23. Scott, Understanding EEG, 171. 24. Walter et al., “Contingent Negative Variation,” 382–­83. 25. Walter et al., 382–­384. 26. Scott, Understanding EEG, 171. 27. Walter et al., “Contingent Negative Variation,” 380. I can find no information about this model of Dynograph. Walter had a Type T Dynograph at hand, though this Type T Dynograph had only eight channels, and the TC, as reported in the article, had sixteen channels. 28. In this chapter and the next, I use “polygraph” in its popular sense, as a synonym for “lie detector.” In some of the scientific literature from the 1960s, Offner’s technologies are often referred to as polygraphs, though this follows the etymological history of this word as “writing much” or “many writings.” This differentiation is fuzzy, however, since the Dynograph can measure the same things as a lie detector. For an example of Offner’s instruments referred to as “polygraphs,” see Guedry and Collins, Adaptation to Vestibular Disorientation, 1. 29. For a description of how the polygraph functions, see Baesler, Clearer Than Truth, 23–­30. 30. Bunn, Truth Machine, 147.

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31. Bunn, 141. 32. Hare, Psychopathy. 33. See Critchley, “Electrodermal Responses,” for a recent elaboration of the relations between sweating and neurological activity. 34. For an overview of the problems and potentials of electrodermal measurement in psychology and physiology, see Boucsein et al., “Publication Recommendations.” 35. Hare and Quinn, “Psychopathy and Autonomic Conditioning,” 223–­35. 36. Hare and Quinn, 225. 37. Hare and Quinn, 225. 38. Hare and Quinn, 225. 39. This version of empathy relates strongly to what is termed “theory of mind,” which suggests that particular personality disorders, including psychopathy and autism, are characterized by an inability to experience “empathy,” defined as the simulation and comprehension of both oneself and others as minded. For a discussion of the “theory of mind” theory and its relation to autism, see Baron-­Cohen, Mindblindness. 40. Hare and Quinn, “Psychopathy and Autonomic Conditioning,” 234. 41. Baesler, Clearer Than Truth, 26–­27. 42. Hare and Quinn, “Psychopathy and Autonomic Conditioning,” 234. 43. Kittler, Discourse Networks, 206–­25. 44. Joyce and Baker, “Recalling Psychology’s Past.” 45. Hare, “Electrodermal and Cardiovascular Correlates,” 122. 46. Hare, 122. 47. Leys, “How Did Fear?,” 89. 48. Schramme, “Introduction,” 17. 49. Here we can locate Canguilhem’s claims about how the abnormal and pathological precede the normal, and how the pathological is assumed to be a deficiency in some vital capacity of the human body. See his Normal and the Pathological. 50. Cooper, Psychiatry and Anti-­psychiatry, 19; Szasz, Myth of Mental Illness. 51. Cleckley, Mask of Sanity. 52. Foucault, Discipline and Punish, 228. 53. Cooper, “Introduction,” 8. 54. See Illouz, Cold Intimacies and Saving the Modern Soul. 55. Westbrook, “‘Enemy of My Enemy.’” 56. Szasz, Myth of Mental Illness. 57. Szasz and Freud feature far more prominently in Harrington’s account of this history, in her excellent Mind Fixers, than any other figures mentioned above. To me, this is because Szasz’s arguments were made on grounds that could be easily refuted through medical means. The critiques of Cooper, Laing, Foucault,


and Guattari, among others, were far more complex and called for a complete reinvention of society. 58. Foucault, Abnormal, 57–­58. The entire passage where Foucault outlines these three types can be found on pages 44–­77. 59. Hacking, Historical Ontology, 99–­114. 60. James, Principles of Psychology, 2:414–­15. 61. This theme leads to much broader issues related to the history and function of prison. The liberal tradition assumes prison as a space of “reformation,” a theme central to Foucault’s Discipline and Punish. But the pragmatic realities of prison, especially in the United States, rarely if ever follow this “reformist” mission and instead serve to segregate through incarceration, which is often marked by inequalities in race. See Davis, Are Prisons Obsolete?, for an argument about prison abolition in this context. 62. Knight, “Empathy Circuit.” 63. Malabou, New Wounded, 3. 64. Malabou, 50. 65. Bernhardt and Singer, “Neural Basis of Empathy.” 66. Blair, Mitchell, and Blair, Psychopath. 67. For examples that associate autism, psychopathy, and borderline personality disorder through an inability to grasp interpersonal cues, including facial expression, see Baron-­Cohen, Science of Evil; Decety and Moriguchi, “Empathic Brain”; Lockwood et al., “Dissecting Empathy”; Dudas et al., “Overlap.” 68. Psychopathy would be the ability to understand the expressions of others and simulate expressions, but not experience the empathetic mimesis of facial expression; autism is an inability to interpret the expressions of others; borderline personality disorder would be an overreading of facial expressions. These understandings of expression and personality are highly debated, even if they’re very common. 69. Massumi, Parables for the Virtual. 70. Among others, see Baron-­Cohen, Science of Evil; Fallon, Psychopath Inside  ; Kiehl, Psychopath Whisperer. See Stadler, “Empath,” for an analysis of psychopathy and empathy in the television program Hannibal. 71. Schramme, Being Amoral. 72. See, for instance, Babiak and Hare, Snakes in Suits. 73. Seltzer, Serial Killers, 12. See also Seltzer, True Crime. 74. Cf. Foucault, Discipline and Punish. 75. Lazzarato, “Immaterial Labor”; Illouz, Cold Intimacies. 76. Liu, Laws of Cool. 77. Kotsko, Why We Love Sociopaths; Bollmer, Inhuman Networks, 204–­32. 78. Cf. Seltzer, Serial Killers, 135–­40. 79. Babiak and Hare, Snakes in Suits. 80. Dutton, Wisdom of Psychopaths.

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81. Adams, Psychopath Factory; Brons, Hegemony of Psychopathy  ; Kotsko, Why We Love Sociopaths. 82. Boltanski and Chiapello, New Spirit of Capitalism; Liu, Laws of Cool. 83. Cf. Bauman, Liquid Modernity. 84. Cited in Hare, Without Conscience, 81. 85. Bollmer, Inhuman Networks. 86. See Illouz, Cold Intimacies; Liu, Laws of Cool. 87. Cleckley, Mask of Sanity, 16. 88. A close reading of Cleckley’s case studies reveals that—­at least with some of his patients—­his interpretations are clouded by personal biases and judgments. This is obvious in his case study of “Anna,” one of the few women Cleckley discusses. 89. Baron-­Cohen, Science of Evil. 90. Blair, Mitchell, and Blair, Psychopath, 111–­34. 91. Hare, Without Conscience, 194. 92. I am reminded of Georges Canguilhem’s comments on how pathology must begin with the patient’s experience of being “unwell,” which is clearly not the case here. The pathology is defined directly through the inability of the patient to consent to the authority of psychological diagnosis. See Normal and the Pathological, 115–­23. 93. Hare, Psychopathy, 8. 94. Hare and Neumann, “Psychopathy.” 95. Blair, Mitchell, and Blair, Psychopath, 15. 96. Davis, Are Prisons Obsolete? 97. The link between applied psychology and law, in the United States, is indebted to the efforts of Hugo Münsterberg. See Baesler, Clearer Than Truth, 31–­65. This association between psychology and the police is regularly discussed, especially in the French context. See Canguilhem, “What Is Psychology?,” especially the final paragraph. 98. Morris, Wilderness of Error, 31–­33, 194–­99. 99. Estelle v. Smith, 451 U.S. 454 (1981), 459–­60. 100. Morris’s 1988 film The Thin Blue Line was initially planned to be a study of James Grigson, and much of this explanation comes from evidence from Morris’s book Wilderness of Error. For another example of Grigson’s significance, see Federman, Holmes, and Jacob, “Deconstructing the Psychopath,” 44–­45. 101. Some of these themes are discussed in Blair, Mitchell, and Blair’s The Psychopath, a book that foregrounds a more directly neuroscientific understanding of psychopathy, if one that correlates neuroscientific evidence with Hare’s checklist. Hare, Black, and Walsh’s “Psychopathy Checklist-­Revised” argues that Hare’s checklist is still the standard diagnostic for legal judgment of psychopathy, not other, more technically grounded methods.


102. See Ronson, Psychopath Test. 103. Wang, Carceral Capitalism. 104. Clough, User Unconscious; Hansen, Feed-­Forward. 105. Bollmer, “Pathologies of Affect.” 106. Cf. Batson, “These Things Called Empathy.” 107. Cf. Naveh, “Techniques for Emotion Detection”; Bollmer, “Automation of Empathy.” 108. Aserinsky, “Discovery of REM Sleep,” 216.

4. E-­Meter Metaphysics 1. Daston and Galison, Objectivity, 115–­90. 2. Kittler, Gramophone, Film, Typewriter, 13. 3. Cf. Kafka, Letters to Milena, 230–­31. 4. Gunn, Modern Occult Rhetoric. 5. My main sources for arguments about occult philosophy in modern society are Gunn, Modern Occult Rhetoric  ; and Eburne, Outsider Theory. 6. Hubbard, Dianetics, 119. 7. Cf. Eburne, Outsider Theory, 15–­25. 8. For instance, see memoirs such as Leah Remini and Rebecca Paley’s Troublemaker or Jenna Miscavige Hill and Lisa Pulitzer’s Beyond Belief. Wright’s Going Clear also documents historical instances of this abuse. 9. See Cowan, “Researching Scientology.” 10. Westbrook’s Among the Scientologists is, in my opinion, by far the best book on Scientology, though it contains almost no critical engagement with the religion’s history. Urban’s Church of Scientology attempts a “serious, respectful history of the church” (12), one that admits this history but does not disqualify abuse and violence. Most historians of religion seem to approach this abuse as similar to that performed by the Catholic church, or most other religions, both in the present and in history. 11. For readers interested in Hubbard, most biographical sketches are written by authors hostile to Scientology, using the unsavory details in his personal history to invalidate him and his work. Journalist Lawrence Wright’s Going Clear, while critical, takes a nuanced perspective and contains ample details about Hubbard’s personal life and the religion. Westbrook’s Among the Scientologists barely addresses Hubbard’s biography, as contemporary Scientologists see Hubbard as a flawed figure; his biography is less important to the religion than his methods, which they view less as a matter of faith than as a pragmatic series of techniques for accessing spiritual truth. Other examples of academic research on Scientology worth examining include Urban, Church of Scientology; Lewis, Scientology  ; and Lewis and Hellesøy, Handbook of Scientology, among others.

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12. Eburne, Outsider Theory, 358. 13. Eburne, 358. 14. Allen, How to Build a Lie. 15. Quoted in Westbrook, Among the Scientologists, 98. 16. Quoted in Westbrook, 98. 17. Hubbard, Scientology, 7. 18. Ekelöf, “Genesis of the Wheatstone Bridge.” 19. Brain, Pulse of Modernism; Schmidgen, Helmholtz Curves. 20. For an early description of this process, see Trovillo, “A History of Lie Detection,” 109–­10. For a recent description of it, see Baesler, Clearer Than Truth, 23–­30. 21. Eburne, Outsider Theory; Davis, High Weirdness. 22. Eburne makes this connection explicit in Outsider Theory, 358–­59. 23. Westbrook, Among the Scientologists, 18. 24. Wright, Going Clear, 111–­12. 25. Christensen, “Rethinking Scientology,” 63. 26. Illouz, Saving the Modern Soul. 27. Westbrook, Among the Scientologists, 60–­63. 28. Hubbard, Dianetics, 10. 29. Hubbard, 16, 381–­82. 30. The subtitle of Dianetics was changed after its first edition to The Modern Science of Mental Health. 31. Whitehead, “Reasonably Fantastic,” 567–­73; Westbrook, Among the Scientologists, 66. 32. Westbrook suggests that Dianetics cannot be considered a variation of psychoanalysis because the auditor “does not counsel in the traditional sense of engaging in conversation” (Among the Scientologists, 72). Yet the traditional therapeutic situation in psychoanalysis has the analyst simply listen and take notes. This is overt in some variants, in which the analyst says literally nothing, or where the analysand is prohibited from looking at the analyst. 33. This end exists in theory, but not in practice—­Hubbard would eventually add numerous goals beyond “clear,” advancing along a path Scientology terms “The Bridge to Total Freedom,” which he introduced in 1965, a turn which overtly links Scientology with the occult traditions I’ll discuss later in the chapter. See Westbrook, Among the Scientologists, 27–­30; Whitehead, “Reasonably Fantastic.” 34. Freud, “Analysis Terminable and Interminable”; Ferenczi, Final Contributions, 77–­86. 35. Quoted in Westbrook, Among the Scientologists, 70. 36. Hubbard, Dianetics, 87–­88. 37. Hubbard regularly invokes Bergson’s élan vital in the Dianetics books. See Dianetics, 280; and Science of Survival, 3.


38. Westbrook, Among the Scientologists, 73. 39. See Freud, Standard Edition, vol. 1 (1886–­1899); Cf. Oliveria et al., “Jean-­ Martin Charcot’s Influence.” 40. Harrington, Mind Fixers. 41. Szasz, Myth of Mental Illness. 42. Which is notable in and of itself. As Harrington describes in Mind Fixers, the turn to a materialist explanation for mental illness was not just a response to Szasz, but a rejection of Freudianism. 43. Westbrook, Among the Scientologists, 66. 44. Illouz, Saving the Modern Soul, 34. 45. Leys, Trauma, 83–­92. 46. Illouz, Saving the Modern Soul, 34. 47. Illouz, 34. 48. Baesler, Clearer Than Truth, 32–­33. 49. Scott, The Psychology of Public Speaking, 9. 50. See Moskowitz, “Hugo Münsterberg,” 829. 51. Woodworth, “Autobiography,” 373–­74. Woodworth’s tests would eventually lead to personality testing used to predict future work performance. See Thulin, “First Personality Test.” 52. Stanger, “Healing the Soldier,” 266–­68. 53. Wright, Going Clear, 26–­27. 54. Quoted in Westbrook, Among the Scientologists, 67. Hubbard also mentions this in Science of Survival, 291, 390. 55. Quoted in Wright, Going Clear, 61. 56. Stanger, “Healing the Soldier.” 57. Hubbard, Dianetics, iv. 58. Hubbard, vii. 59. Freud, “Note,” 228–­29. 60. Freud, 230. 61. Freud, Standard Edition, vol. 6; Freud, Interpretation of Dreams. 62. Racker, Transference and Countertransference. 63. Carnegie, How to Win Friends. Blum’s Self-­Help Compulsion argues that self-­ help has deep historical precedents, and does so to claim self-­help less as a kind of laissez-­faire demand of rational self-­mastery (as in the case of Carnegie) than as a form of resistant social mobilization. 64. See, for instance, Carnegie, How to Develop Self-­Confidence. 65. Carnegie, How to Stop Worrying. 66. Carnegie, xvi. Carnegie repeats this “fact” at least two more times in his book. 67. Hubbard, Dianetics, iv. 68. See the discussion of “dub-­in” and “demon circuits” in Hubbard, Science of Survival, 77–­78, or the broader chapter on “demons” in Hubbard, Dianetics, 103–­10.

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69. Hubbard, Dianetics, 106. 70. Hubbard does say that Dianetics “is not psychoanalysis.” Hubbard, 205. 71. Westbrook, Among the Scientologists, 67–­73; Urban, Church of Scientology, 36–­40. 72. Freud is mentioned in Science of Survival several times, where Hubbard remarks that the goal of “clear” is “far, far beyond anything envisioned by such investigators as Freud” (18). 73. Cf. Jay, “History of Alienation.” The reading of Auden here could also be performed through other devotees of psychoanalysis from this period, be they Georges Bataille, Herbert Marcuse, or Wilhelm Reich, the last of whom will be discussed later in the chapter. According to Jay, some of Jacques Lacan’s reinventions of Freud come from his rejection of a Freudian “wholeness” as a goal for psychoanalysis, a theme that directly parallels my use of Auden here. 74. Auden, Age of Anxiety, 11. 75. Auden, 55. 76. Didymus (W. H. Auden), “Sin in the Mirror.” 77. Illouz, Cold Intimacies, 47. 78. Jacobs, “Introduction,” xvii–­xxi. 79. Hubbard, Science of Survival, vi–­vii. 80. Cf. Jung, Psychology and the Occult. 81. Yates, Giordano Bruno and Rosicrucian Enlightenment. 82. Yates, Giordano Bruno, 4. 83. Sloterdijk, Critique of Cynical Reason, 128, 130. 84. Westbrook, Among the Scientologists, 21. 85. Westrbrook, 86–­91. Also see Hubbard, Scientology. Many popular critics presume that this science fictional aspect of Scientology is “hidden” to outsiders, but this book of Hubbard’s is publicly available. Perhaps more relevant is Westbrook’s finding that practicing Scientologists seem to not believe in this science fictional metaphysics, instead framing it as an excuse to organize the technical practices of Scientology. 86. Cf. Wright, Going Clear  ; Coleman, Hacker, 53–­79. 87. Hubbard, Scientology, 3. 88. Hubbard, 64. 89. Hubbard, 79. 90. A biography of Hubbard that emphasizes his con-­artistry is Miller, Bare-­Faced Messiah. 91. Westbrook, Among the Scientologists, 78. There are other explanations as well, though I feel these assume too much of Hubbard’s ability to simply dupe and con people. Anderson’s “A Brief History of Scientology,” for instance, even suggests that the turn to Scientology was simply because Hubbard was going through a divorce and was “desperately in need of a new project.” This


explanation is far too simplistic and does little to work out the similarities and distinctions between Dianetics and Scientology. 92. Wallis, Road to Total Freedom. 93. Hubbard, Science of Survival, vi–­vii. 94. Wright, Going Clear, 86 95. Westbrook, Among the Scientologists, 80–­82. 96. Westbrook, 196. 97. Westbrook, 195–­99. 98. Westbrook, 97. 99. For instance, see Leonard, “Scientology Debunked,” a review of Malko’s Scientology, an early attempt to debunk Hubbard. Kim Cooper’s “Very Different Tonight” also links Reich and Hubbard—­along with Crowley. 100. Eburne, Outsider Theory, 358. 101. Hubbard also claims Dianetics can potentially cure cancer in Dianetics, 114. 102. Reich, Ether, God and Devil, 86–­87. 103. Reich, Cancer Biopathy. 104. Reich, Ether, God and Devil, 112. 105. These numbers are from the 2015 introduction to Peter Reich’s A Book of Dreams, the memoir of Wilhelm Reich’s son, where Peter is describing the broader context that led to his father’s imprisonment and death. 106. See Sharaf, Fury on Earth. 107. For an overview of Palmer’s own beliefs, see The Chiropractor. Palmer’s religious legitimation can be found on pages 1–­12 of this book. 108. Busse, Morgan, and Campbell, “Chiropractic Antivaccination Arguments.” 109. Kaptchuk and Eisenberg, “Chiropractic.” 110. Kaptchuk and Eisenberg. 111. Hubbard, Introducing the E-­Meter, 103. This publication presents a pictorial history of all models of the E-­Meter. Until 1957, E-­Meters were branded as “Mathison Electropsychometers” and relied on vacuum tubes. The E-­Meter from 1957, the Hubbard American Blue Meter, was the first “Hubbard Electrometer,” and was the first to use transistors rather than vacuum tubes. 112. Foucault, Birth of Biopolitics, 27–­50. 113. Westbrook, Among the Scientologists, 17–­18. 114. Mathison, “Electropsychometer or Bioelectronic Instrument,” 1. 115. Mathison was following Carl Jung in developing his device. Jung was enthusiastic about the potential of “psycho-­galvanometers” in psychoanalytic therapy. See Urban, Church of Scientology, 39. 116. Mathison, “Electropsychometer or Bioelectronic Instrument,” 1 (emphasis added). 117. Hubbard, Dianetics, 31. 118. Hubbard, 31.

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119. Hubbard, Science of Survival, 4. 120. Tones beyond 4 are not discussed in the text of Science of Survival but are part of the “Hubbard Chart of Human Evaluation and Dianetic Processing,” included with the book and summarizing its arguments. 121. Hubbard, Dianetics, 280. 122. Hubbard, 280. 123. Hubbard, Scientology, 5. 124. Westbrook, Among the Scientologists, 82–­85. 125. Hubbard, E-­Meter Essentials, 1. 126. Hubbard, 5. 127. Hubbard, 11. 128. Hubbard, 12. 129. Hubbard, Scientology, 1. 130. Hubbard, 137–­38. 131. Gunn, Modern Occult Rhetoric, xxiv. 132. Gunn, 34. 133. Westbrook, Among the Scientologists, 69; cf. Wallis, Road to Total Freedom, 111–­13; Urban, Church of Scientology, 33–­35. 134. Blum, Self-­Help Compulsion. 135. Gunn, Modern Occult Rhetoric, 93. 136. Westbrook, Among the Scientologists, 31. 137. Hubbard, “Expanded ARC Straightwire Grade Process Checklist,” “Expanded Grade 0 Process Checklist,” and “Expanded Grade II Process Checklist.” 138. Hubbard, Introducing the E-­Meter, 62. 139. Hubbard, 63. 140. Hubbard, 64. 141. Hubbard, 65. 142. Hubbard, E-­Meter Essentials, 17. 143. Hubbard, Introducing the E-­Meter, 66. 144. Hubbard, 67. 145. Hubbard, E-­Meter Essentials, 21. 146. Hubbard, Introducing the E-­Meter, 68. 147. Hubbard, E-­Meter Essentials, 25. 148. Hubbard, 25. 149. Hubbard, 26. 150. Hubbard, Introducing the E-­Meter, 69. 151. Hubbard, E-­Meter Essentials, 27. 152. See Wright, Going Clear, 122–­23. 153. Hubbard, E-­Meter Essentials, 125. 154. Hubbard, Introducing the E-­Meter, 70. 155. Hubbard, 71. 156. Hubbard, 72.


157. Hubbard, 73. 158. Scientology treats this as a technical term. See Westbrook, Among the Scientologists, 108–­9. 159. Hubbard, E-­Meter Essentials, 41–­42. 160. Hubbard, Scientology, 113. 161. Hubbard, 114. 162. Hubbard, Book of E-­Meter Drills, 11. 163. Hubbard, 84. 164. Gunn, Modern Occult Rhetoric, 169–­71. 165. Compare this to the descriptions of Robert Hare’s psychopathy checklist (or PCL-­R) when used in legal and carceral settings, in Hare, Black, and Walsh, “Psychopathy Checklist-­Revised,” 251. 166. Barbrook and Cameron, “Californian Ideology,” 44–­45. 167. Elaborations and extensions of this argument can be found in Turner, From Counterculture to Cyberculture and Davis, High Weirdness. 168. Cf. Boltanski and Chiapello, New Spirit of Capitalism. 169. Bollmer, Inhuman Networks. 170. Illouz, Cold Intimacies and Saving the Modern Soul. 171. Lazzarato, “Immaterial Labor”; Bauman, Liquid Modernity.

Conclusion 1. Canguilhem, “What is Psychology?,” 200. 2. Canguilhem, 212. 3. Cendrars, Moravagine, 26–­27. 4. Cf. Brinkema, Forms of the Affects, xiv–­xvi. On media as portals, see Cubitt, “Limen, Portal, Network Subjectivities.” 5. Otherwise, we would drift into the theology of Scientology. 6. Massumi, Parables for the Virtual, 20. 7. See Sorell, Scientism. 8. Cf. Yates, Rosicrucian Enlightenment. 9. Brinkema, Forms of the Affects, xvi. 10. While Tony Sampson and Mark Hansen do not make this argument, their version of affect theory seems, to me, to be closest to this view. Eugenie Brinkema I also believe to be doing something similar, and, as I see it, it would be relatively easy to also read Sianne Ngai, Marie-­Louise Angerer, and possibly even Steven Shaviro as making similar claims. 11. Bachelard, New Scientific Spirit, 13. 12. Barad, Meeting the Universe Halfway, 56. 13. Delaporte, Chagas Disease; Feyerabend, Against Method. 14. Brennan, Transmission of Affect, 7. 15. Prinz, “Against Empathy,” 214.

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16. Cf. Breithaupt, Dark Sides of Empathy, which argues that this social violence is a result of cognitive empathy. 17. Hogan, Literature and Emotion, 20. See also Gallese and Guerra, Empathic Screen. 18. See Schuller, Biopolitics of Feeling. 19. Levinas, Totality and Infinity. 20. Han, Transparency Society, 2. 21. Cf. Guinness, “Coloniser and Corpus Nullius.” 22. See Bollmer, “Empathy Machines”; Bollmer, “From Immersion to Empathy”; and Bollmer and Guinness, “Empathy and Nausea.”



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Abnormal (Foucault), 149–50

normative, 14, 153–54, 161, 229n43;

acting. See performance

ontology of, 4, 13, 31–32, 152, 161,

Adorno, Theodor, 220n100

167, 202, 207; as preceding con-

Advance (Chicago), 58–60

sciousness, 44, 52, 69, 71; and race,

aesthetics, 20–25, 98, 209–10, 220n109,

14, 217n61; as symbolic, 31–38, 44,

226n83; of compassion, 19, 50, 56,

71, 165, 220n109; technical produc-

231n92; education, 18, 88, 231n92;

tion of, 2, 4, 11, 27–39, 44, 71, 74,

experience, 16–24, 101; German, 12,

93–94, 150, 153, 165, 205–10; univer-

15–17, 22, 25, 28, 88, 125; judgment,

sality of, 3–4, 15, 31–32, 37, 92–93,

18, 20–23, 27, 56, 70, 88–89, 94,

161–63, 206; visibility of, 2, 12,

105–6, 121; mediation of, 21, 125,

27, 31, 36, 154, 163–65. See also

220n100; occult, 196, 200; psycho-


logical, 17, 21, 25, 80–89, 105, 114;

affective computing, 4–7, 28

state, 17–21, 89–90, 106, 218n73,

affect program theory, 10–11, 27,

226n62 affect: as anticipatory, 133–35, 147, 151; definition of, 29–30, 205–7, 220n105; and emotion, 3–4, 13–14,

73–75, 89, 92–94, 113, 144, 150–51, 229n58; critique of, 93; and evolution, 100; and fear, 145–47 affect theory, 3, 28–30, 167; antisocial

31, 36–38, 204, 207–8; and empathy,

turn, 14–15; critique of, 13–15,

4, 14–16, 28, 127, 147, 152–53, 204,

28–29, 36–37; idealism of, 30–32,

210, 220n105; facial expression of,

167, 206–7; and psychology, 4,

123, 163, 229n43; as hierarchical,

11–13, 28–38, 43–44, 52, 57, 63, 206,

14–15; incoherence of, 3, 31–32;


incommensurability of, 3, 28–32,

Agamben, Giorgio, 35

204; liberation of, 57, 63, 222n143;

Age of Anxiety, The (Auden), 180–81

materiality of, 13–15, 27–33, 167,

Ahmed, Sara, 14, 220n109

206–7; neurocognition of, 4, 11, 13,

Allen, Jamie, 168

30–33, 163, 205–6, 220n109; as

alterity, 10, 209  • 2 6 7

anatomy, 79–81, 86, 95, 122

Berlant, Lauren, 14, 220n109

Angerer, Marie-Louise, 243n10

Bernard, Claude, 85

anticipation, 127–30, 133–47, 151–53,

Bersani, Leo, 14

156–58, 162–63, 170 anti-psychiatry, 129, 147–49, 157, 174, 185, 207, 232n3 anxiety, 34, 136, 162, 179–82 appearance. See exteriority

Birdwhistell, Ray, 121, 232n106 Blair, James: The Psychopath, 157, 236n101 Blair, Karina: The Psychopath, 157, 236n101

archive, 2, 76–78, 86, 89–92, 109

Blavatsky, H. P., 195

Aristotle, 20, 96, 207

bombshell trauma. See shell shock

Aserinsky, Eugene, 163

Bonaparte, Marie, 114

Astounding Science Fiction, 173

Book of E-Meter Drills, The (Hubbard),

Atlantic Monthly, 70 Auden, W. H., 181–85, 240n73; The Age of Anxiety, 180–81 audience, 13, 17–20, 116–17, 125 auditing (Dianetics and Scientology), 173, 178, 182, 184, 191–200, 238n32 Ausdruck der Gemütsbewegungen des Menschen, Der (Rudolph), 106–8 automatic writing, 26, 44–47, 54–55, 59–60, 67, 70, 208, 227n91 automatism, 49, 67–71

196, 200 Boring, Edwin, 94, 116, 219n96; “A Model for the Demonstration of Facial Expression,” 103–6, 230n77 Breithaupt, Fritz, 218n79, 220n105, 244n16 Brennan, Teresa, 208 Breton, André: “First Manifesto of Surrealism,” 120 “Bridge to Total Freedom, The” (Scientology), 238n33 Brinkema, Eugenie, 30, 206, 243n10

Bachelard, Gaston, 12, 15, 133, 207, 217n50

British Columbia Penitentiary, 127, 130, 138–40

Barad, Karen, 207

Brown University, 94, 121

Baron-Cohen, Simon, 157, 234n39

Bühler, Karl, 24–25, 140

Barthes, Roland: Camera Lucida, 77

Bunn, Geoffrey, 137

basic emotions paradigm. See affect

Burden Neurological Institute, 127,

program theory

130, 134, 137

Bataille, Georges, 240n73 Bateson, Gregory, 121, 148, 229n58

Californian Ideology, 201

Bazin, André, 87–88

Cambridge University, 53

beauty, 7, 20, 98

Camera Lucida (Barthes), 77

Bell, Charles, 98, 100–101

cancer, 186, 241n101

Benjamin, Walter, 89–91, 95, 114;

Canguilhem, Georges, 80, 203–4,

“Doctrine of the Similar,” 90; “Little History of Photography,” 89–90 Berger, Hans, 135 Bergson, Henri, 174, 238n37

268 • INDEX

217n50, 234n49, 236n92, 236n97 capitalism, 4, 155, 201; carceral, 161; emotional, 5, 28, 161–63, 201; immaterial, 154 Carmichael, Stokely. See Ture, Kwame

Carnegie, Dale, 179–82, 239n63; How

culture, 3–4, 31–33, 37–39, 58, 202,

to Stop Worrying and Start Living,

206, 226n62; mass, 154, 200; mod-

179–80, 239n66; How to Win Friends

ern, 204; popular, 162; Western,

and Influence People, 179


causality, 133, 143–45, 150, 163 Cendrars, Blaise: Moravagine, 205 Charcot, Jean-Martin, 74–78, 85–96, 113, 174, 227n5, 227n10, 228n16, 228n31, 228n33

Darwin, Charles, 79–80, 89, 93–95, 100–106; The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals, 95, 98–100, 106, 230n68

Chen, Mel Y., 14

Daston, Lorraine, 9

chiropractic medicine, 186–87

Davis, Andrew Jackson, 60, 226n67

Christie, Samuel Hunter, 169

deception, 1, 74–76, 86–87, 113

Citizens Commission on Human

decision, neurological, 151–52

Rights, 149, 185 Clark University, 175 clear (Dianetics and Scientology), 173, 178, 191–96, 238n33, 240n72 Cleckley, Hervey, 156–59, 236n88; The Mask of Sanity, 156

Delaporte, François, 35, 80, 94, 101, 217n50 Deleuze, Gilles, 3, 222n143 Derrida, Jacques, 38 Descartes, René, 29–30, 37, 51, 57, 228n19

colonization, 14, 15, 226n75

Diamond, Hugh W., 227n8

Columbia University, 73, 92–94, 109,

Dianetics, 165–68, 173–74, 182, 191–92,

113, 223n10 communication, 17–18, 39, 47, 106, 135, 201; research, 231n82 compassion, 19, 29, 50–51, 56, 64–65, 68, 82, 88, 91, 96, 209 Congress on the Dialectics of Liberation, 148–49 Connolly, William, 220n109 consciousness, 4, 27, 30, 48–49, 51–63, 67–71, 135, 150, 178, 206, 220n106; in spiritualism, 43–44, 59–60 contingent negative variation (CNV), 127, 135–38, 163, 232n2 Cooper, David, 129, 147–49, 156, 234n57 Cornell University, 21, 73, 223n10 critique, 29, 220n106, 220n109; antipsychiatry, 128, 148; antisocial, 14–15; Darwin’s, of facial expression,

241n101; as materialist, 174, 191; and psychoanalysis, 171–73, 178–80, 192–95, 238n32, 240n70; and Scientology, 183–85, 188–89, 195, 240n91 Dianetics (Hubbard), 173–84, 189–94, 238n30, 241n101 Didi-Huberman, Georges, 74, 85, 228n16, 228n33 disaffection, 14, 152–54 Discipline and Punish (Foucault), 148, 235n61 “Doctrine of the Similar” (Benjamin), 90 drawing, 7–9, 55, 87, 95–98, 102–9 drugs, 55–56, 67, 149, 174, 180, 185 dualism, 50, 53, 61, 149, 206–7; Cartesian, 29, 37, 57; Kantian, 30, 57, 61–62 Duchenne de Boulogne, Guillaume-

100–101; epistemological, 12, 15, 35

Benjamin-Amand, 74–102, 105, 113,

Crowley, Aleister, 195–96, 200, 241n99

120–23, 142, 150, 227n8; Mécanisme

I N D E X  • 2 6 9

de la physionomie humaine, 75,

E-Meter Essentials (Hubbard), 197

81–87, 98, 100, 113

emotion: and capitalism, 5, 10, 28, 148,

Dynograph, 2, 27, 127–41, 161, 168–70,

154–55, 161–63, 201; in Dianetics

197–99, 207–8, 233n27, 233n28; and

and Scientology, 189–93; as discrete,

EEG, 130–33; and psychopathy,

73–79, 93–96, 101–3, 109, 113–14,

136–53, 156–57; and sleep studies,

229n58, 231n101; expression of, 10,


15–19, 80, 96–101, 106, 122–25, 146; and feeling, 4, 37, 215n8; as hierar-

Ebbinghaus, Hermann, 144

chical, 14; identification of, 5–6,

Eburne, Jonathan, 168–69

10–11, 88, 105, 114–17, 216n39;

Edelman, Lee, 14

incommensurability of, 28; instru-

efficiency, 176, 203–4

mental production of, 13, 19–21,

Einfühlung, 16–17, 20–25, 117, 201,

25–27, 117, 188, 202, 205–6, 217n52,

218n66, 218n80, 219n97. See also

229n52; James-Lange theory, 29,


43, 50–68, 71, 142, 224n36; and

Einstein, Albert, 186

personality testing, 176; and psy-

Ekman, Paul, 10–11, 27, 77, 93–94,

chopathy, 130, 137–38, 143–58, 163;

121–25, 145–46, 154, 229n55,

as relational, 127–28, 143–45, 161–62,

229n58; and Darwin, 230n68;

208–9; simulation of, 19–20, 27, 88,

Emotions Revealed, 123–24; self-

96, 116, 122, 159; as universal, 11,

citations, 229n54. See also Facial

17–18, 33, 36, 89, 102, 106, 113, 117,

Action Coding System (FACS)

120–21, 124–25. See also affect; affect

electrical shock, 11, 34, 79–84, 92,

program theory; empathy

140–46, 150–52; therapy (electro-

Emotions Revealed (Ekman), 123–24

shock), 130–32, 174, 180

empathy, 4, 16, 21–27, 33, 117, 162,

electrodermal response, 133, 137,

204, 208, 218n79, 218n80, 220n105;

140–44, 152, 168–71, 188–89, 196,

absence of, 143, 147–54, 157, 160–61,

199–200, 207

234n39, 235n67; crisis of, 208; and

electroencephalograph (EEG), 27, 127,

“himpathy,” 218n79; incoherence of,

130–41, 156, 192, 206, 233n21; wear-

161–62; measurement of, 23–26, 88,

ables, 133, 233n18

127, 163; and mediation, 17, 88, 96,

electromyography, facial, 93, 229n52

125, 209–10; motor, 22–25, 117,

electropsychometer. See E-Meter

219n90; and relation, 16, 23, 26–27,

Emerson, Lori, 3, 216n49

33, 90, 127–28, 138, 152–53; and

E-Meter, 2–4, 28, 165, 172, 184–89; Hub-

sympathy, 16, 22–24, 65, 96. See also

bard Electrometer, 241n111; interpretation of, 170–71, 189–93, 197–99; Mathison Electropsychometer,

Einfühlung empirical, the, 1–2, 10–12, 32–35, 38, 51, 57, 62, 73, 80, 87–90, 102, 135,

189–92, 241n111; as metaphysical,

172, 192, 204–7, 224n28, 224n36

192–93, 200–202, 207–8; and poly-

empiricism, 11, 34, 41–44, 48, 50, 71,

graph, 168–70, 197–99; use, 196–200;

90–94, 109, 113, 116; radical, 23,

and Wheatstone bridge, 169

41–46, 51–53, 57, 62, 223n20

270 • INDEX

engram (Dianetics), 173–74, 178, 184, 191

120, 146, 151; and universality, 114, 117, 120–25

Enlightenment, 14–18, 182, 210

Facebook, 5–6, 9–10

Epicurus, 29

Facial Action Coding System (FACS),

epilepsy, 54, 132, 136 epistemological critique. See critique: epistemological esotericism, 166, 182–83, 188, 194–95, 200 Estelle v. Smith, 159–60 evil, 49, 65, 151, 154, 157, 161, 204

10–11, 122–23, 216n39 Falret, Jules, 74 Faust (Goethe), 115 fear, 7, 67, 152; as affect program, 10, 92, 109; as anticipatory, 130, 136, 142–47, 151–53; as a “coarse” emotion, 52

evolution, 10, 80, 92, 95, 100–105

Fechner, Gustav, 17, 44, 61, 223n11

experience, pure (James), 51–52, 57,

Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI),

68–69 Experimental Psychology (Woodworth and Schlosberg), 93–95, 101–2, 109, 113, 121, 144, 229n56 experiments, 3, 92, 165–67, 207–8,

186 Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, 185–87 Feelings and Emotions (Feleky), 112, 115–16

216n49, 233n18; of Bühler, 24–25;

Feldman Barrett, Lisa, 93, 229n52

of Duchenne de Boulogne, 83–87;

Feleky, Antoinette M., 109–21, 124,

forced choice, 93–95; of Hare, 142–46, 159; of James, 41–45, 53–56,

231n92; Feelings and Emotions, 112, 115–16

61–62, 71, 224n38, 227n89; judg-

Ferraris, Maurizio, 221n113

ment of facial expression, 92–95,

Ferreira da Silva, Denise, 14

101–6, 109, 114–16, 120–21, 229n52,

Feyerabend, Paul, 36, 216n49

229n54, 230n77, 232n104; psycho-

“First Manifesto of Surrealism”

physics, 17, 21, 44; of Stein, 69–71; of Walter, 136–37 Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals, The (Darwin), 95, 98–100, 106, 230n68 exteriority, 3, 7, 14, 17–21, 123–25

(Breton), 120 Fishbough, William, 60, 226n67 Fontana, Lucio, 219n90 Food and Drug Administration (FDA), 185–88 Foucault, Michel, 1, 35, 74–76, 80, 91, 217n50, 234n57; Abnormal,

face: anatomy of, 80; books of, 73–77, 82, 86–87, 92, 95, 103–9, 124–25, 207; fragmentation of, 79, 103–5, 122;

149–50; Discipline and Punish, 148, 235n61; Histoire de la Folie, 129, 232n4

and interiority, 7, 10, 91, 209; mea-

Freedberg, David, 219n90

surement of, 5–7, 11, 80, 113, 130,

Fretwell, Erica, 14, 17–18, 220n99,

230n77; and performed expression, 19, 27, 76, 83–88, 105, 122–24, 145,

223n11 Freud, Sigmund, 114, 165, 173, 181,

163; and physiognomy, 8–9, 90–91,

185–86, 234n57, 240n73; and Char-

96–97, 214n24; and truth, 7–10, 96,

cot, 227n5; Clark University lectures,

I N D E X  • 2 7 1

175; home movies of, 117–19;

Hermitage House, 175

influence on Hubbard, 177–83,

Hinman, E. L., 218n80

191–92, 195, 240n72; materialism

Histoire de la Folie (Foucault), 129,

of, 174. See also psychoanalysis; unconscious: Freudian Fridlund, Alan, 93, 229n52, 230n70 Friesen, Wallace. See Ekman, Paul Frois-Wittmann, Jean, 117–23, 231n101, 232n104

232n4 Hodgson, Richard, 53, 70 How to Stop Worrying and Start Living (Carnegie), 179–80, 239n66 Hubbard, L. Ron, 2–3, 165–74, 237n11, 240n90; and anti-psychiatry, 149, 166, 174, 185; The Book of E-Meter

Galison, Peter, 9

Drills, 196, 200; Dianetics, 173–84,

Gallese, Vittorio, 219n90

189–94, 238n30, 241n101; E-Meter

Geimer, Peter, 87

Essentials, 197; Introducing the

gender, 14–16, 26, 73, 76, 83, 86, 113,

E-Meter, 197, 241n111; jargon of,

119–20, 197, 218n79

193–94; and military, 177–79; and

Gesamtkunstwerk, 218n66, 220n100

occult, 183, 195–96, 240n85; Science

Gibbens, Alice, 45

of Survival, 184, 191–92, 240n72,

Ginsberg, Allen, 148

242n120; Scientology, 169, 184,

Goffman, Erving, 129

192–93; and self-help, 180–82;

Grigson, James, 159–60, 236n100

transformation of Dianetics into

Grossberg, Lawrence, 220n109

Scientology, 184–88, 191–93, 240n91.

Guattari, Félix, 129, 222n143, 234n57

See also Dianetics; E-Meter; Freud,

Guinness, Katherine, 120

Sigmund: influence on Hubbard;

Gunn, Joshua, 194–96

Scientology hypnotism, 55–57, 62–63, 67, 74, 180,

habit, 45, 58, 61–69, 102–3, 142, 150–51 Hacking, Ian, 150

225n48 hysteria, 54–56, 69, 74, 86–87, 129, 175, 228n31

Hall, G. Stanley, 44 Hamburgische Dramaturgie (Lessing), 18, 88, 120, 201 Han, Byung-Chul, 209 Hansen, Mark B. N., 220n109, 243n10 Hare, Robert, 127–29, 136–61;

idealism, 30, 46, 62, 132, 188, 201–2, 207 identification, 2, 5, 16, 75, 95, 114, 208–9, 210, 218n79 Illouz, Eva, 181, 201

Psychopathy, 140, 158; Psychopathy

immaterial labor, 161

Checklist-Revised (PCL-R), 139–40,

“In a Psychological Laboratory”

158–61, 236n101, 243n165; Snakes in Suits, 155 Harvard University, 2, 26, 44–45, 69, 176, 223n10 Heidegger, Martin, 35 Herder, Johann Gottfried, 20–21, 209

272 • INDEX

(Stein), 25–26, 34 incarceration, 13, 127–29, 147–54, 158, 161–62, 235n61 incommensurability, 1, 3, 13, 28, 204 indexicality, 47, 73–77, 87–88, 219n90, 228n12

inscription, 2, 10–11, 26–39, 43, 47, 54, 71, 76, 103, 127–45, 151, 155, 161–69, 189, 197, 200–202, 207, 217n52, 221n113. See also media instinct, 45, 52, 58, 63–66, 90, 151

Janet, Pierre, 54–55, 73–74, 77, 117 judgment, 7–9, 17–23, 27, 56, 76, 87–95, 105–6, 114, 121, 125, 145–47, 152, 158–59, 163, 204 Jung, Carl, 174, 181–82, 241n115

instruments, 3, 7–16, 24–35, 44, 133, 138, 165–67, 183, 193, 201–10, 230n77 interiority, 1–3, 8–14, 28, 125, 204, 209; measurement of, 4, 7–9, 26–27, 96,

Kant, Immanuel, 18, 20, 30, 195, 218n73, 224n38; and Schopenhauer, 51, 57, 61–62, 220n105, 220n107. See also dualism: Kantian

162–63, 199–202; as problem, 16–21,

Kesey, Ken, 129

31, 101–2, 161; and psychopathy,

kinaesthetic, 22–24


Kittler, Friedrich, 5, 36, 165

intention, 7, 29–31, 47–48, 53, 59–62,

kymograph, 144

122, 146, 150, 220n106 intimacy, instrumental, 133, 138

Lacan, Jacques, 222n143, 240n73

Introducing the E-Meter (Hubbard),

Laing, R. D., 129, 148, 234n57

197, 241n111 Izard, Carroll, 11, 93

Lange, Carl, 52. See also emotion: James-Lange theory Laocoön (Lessing), 98, 229n41

James, William, 2, 26–27, 43, 207; and affect theory, 29–30, 63, 220n109;

Laocoön group (sculpture), 100, 229n41

and experimental psychology,

Latour, Bruno, 69

44–45, 69–70, 223n11; feelings of

Lavater, Johann Kaspar, 7–10, 19,

relation, 23; “hidden selves,” 55–57, 70–71; influence of, 106, 135–36, 142, 150–51, 188, 232n2; personal crisis of, 49–50, 224n36; pragmatism, 43, 46, 68–69; Principles of

96–97, 100–103, 218n73 law, 137, 143, 149–50, 159, 170, 236n97 law enforcement, 73, 124, 138, 158, 161, 168–69, 176, 210

Psychology, 27, 44–46, 53, 57–59;

Le Brun, Charles, 80–82, 98

pure experience, 51–52, 57, 68–69;

Lessing, Gotthold Ephraim, 18–21,

radical empiricism, 23, 41–43, 46,

116–17, 124, 209, 218n73; Ham-

57, 62, 223n20; Schopenhauer’s

burgische Dramaturgie, 18, 88, 120,

influence on, 49–53, 57, 62–67,

201; Laocoön, 98, 229n41

224n36; and spiritualism, 30, 41,

Levinas, Emmanuel, 10, 12, 209

45–46, 50, 53–61, 69–70, 75, 224n38,

Leys, Ruth, 93, 122, 220n106, 221n116,

225n48; unclassified residuum, 45–46, 69, 88; Varieties of Religious Experience, 49–50; Will to Believe,

229n52 liberalism, 14, 17–18, 201, 231n92, 235n61

50. See also emotion: James-Lange

libertarianism, 148–49, 155, 201

theory; experiments: of James

lie detector. See polygraph

Jameson, Fredric, 220n109

Lightfood, Marjorie, 121, 232n104

I N D E X  • 2 7 3

Linder, Robert, 155–56

217n52, 220n101; and measurement,

Lipps, Theodor, 17–18, 21–22, 88, 106,

3, 5–7, 10–12, 15, 24–25, 169,

209 Littlefield, Melissa, 133–35 “Little History of Photography” (Benjamin), 89–90

221n113; and mediation, 1, 12, 53, 71, 165, 208–10 media archaeology, 1, 35 mediumship, 41, 45, 53, 71

Lucretius, 29, 207, 223n11

memory, 23, 55, 117, 124, 144; Freud-

madness, 91, 149

memory drum, 144

Malabou, Catherine, 151–52

mental illness, 129, 133, 149, 174, 179;

ian, 178; vitalist, 174

Manne, Kate, 218n79 Manning, Erin, 220n109, 222n142, 222n143, 225n60 Marcuse, Herbert, 148, 240n73

and anti-psychiatry, 147; materialist explanation of, 239n42 Merson, Luc-Olivier, 117 metaphysics, 10, 30–31, 43–44, 204;

Mask of Sanity, The (Cleckley), 156

and affect, 2, 30–32, 38–39, 167,

Massachusetts Institute of Technology,

206–7; and alterity, 10, 12, 209; of


Dianetics and Scientology, 169, 173,

Massumi, Brian, 3, 14, 29, 220n109

183, 188, 199–200, 240n85; exclusion

materiality, 11, 27–35, 39, 96, 204–5,

of, 102, 167, 210; materialist,

220n109; anti-materialism (Fech-

221n114; and photography, 88;

ner), 223n11; of cognition, 11, 33,

positivist, 62; of presence, 36, 38;

37–38, 46, 57, 132–33, 145–49,

Schopenhauer, 50, 58; of the soul,

239n42; of media, 2–4, 31, 167,

163; spiritualist, 12, 45–46, 51, 56–58,

206–7, 220n101; medical, 223n20;

88, 128, 135; and technological

and the occult, 167–71, 188, 191,

instruments, 9, 12, 28, 165, 199–200,

200–201; of theories, 12, 15, 44, 133,


207–8. See also Dianetics: as

military, U.S., 175–80


mimesis, 20–22, 89–91, 95–96, 116,

Mathison, Volney G., 2–3, 188–92, 241n111, 241n115 Mead, Margaret, 121, 229n58 measurement. See media: and measurement Mécanisme de la physionomie humaine (Duchenne), 75, 81–87, 98, 100, 113 mechanical objectivity. See objectivity, mechanical media: and empathy, 208–10; and epistemology, 9–10, 15; erasure of, 2–4, 27, 207; as first philosophy, 10, 39; as material, 11, 50, 202, 206,

2 74   •   I N D E X

120, 235n68 mimetic faculty (Benjamin), 90–91, 95, 114 Mimik und Physiognomik (Piderit), 98–99, 103 Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI), 140 misery, 5, 26, 29, 49–53, 65 misogyny, 113, 218n79, 220n105, 226n75 Mitchell, Derek: The Psychopath, 157, 236n101 morality, 7, 18–19, 29, 50, 68, 152–54, 162, 182, 208, 224n38

Moravagine (Cendrars), 205 Morris, Errol, 159; The Thin Blue Line,

Offner, Franklin F., 130. See also Dynograph

236n100; A Wilderness of Error,

optic and haptic vision, 22–23


Ordo Templi Orientis (OTO), 195–96,

Mueller, Georg Elias, 144 Münsterberg, Hugo, 26, 69–71, 176, 179, 223n7, 223n10, 236n97 muscles, 92; facial, 10, 79–83, 98, 102,

200 orgone (Reich), 186–87, 191 Ouiji board. See planchette Oury, Jean, 129

119–23; the mind’s, 22 mysticism, 9, 41, 46, 61, 67–68, 71–75, 90, 171, 182–83, 186, 204

pain, 2, 29, 34, 65–67, 124, 142–43, 186, 218n80; memory of, 174; visualization of, 77–78, 83–86, 207

narrative, 34, 151, 155

Palmer, Daniel David, 186, 241n107

Na¯  .t yasha¯ stra, 228n19

Panksepp, Jaak, 11, 229n55

neurological decision. See decision,

Parrika, Jussi, 3, 216n49

neurological neurology, 3–4, 10–11, 26, 30–33, 37–38, 46, 56, 63, 74, 80, 92, 122–28, 149, 153, 160, 174, 203–6;

Parsons, Jack, 195 passions, the, 19, 79–80, 95–96, 123, 228n19. See also emotion: expression of

of psychopathy, 154, 157–63,

Pasteur, Louis, 195


Patton, William Weston, 58–61

neuron, 92, 130, 174; mirror, 22; pyramidal, 132, 135 neuroplasticity, 37, 58, 63–69, 151 neuropsychology and neuropsychiatry, 22, 30, 33, 136, 149, 152, 157, 162, 176, 224n38 neurosis, 129, 147, 156, 173, 176, 180, 191

People of the 20th Century (Sander), 89 performance, 18–20, 74–78, 86–88, 92, 95, 102, 105–6, 113, 116–25, 155, 159, 163 personality, 156; disorders, 133, 147, 152–58, 162, 229n43, 234n39, 235n67, 235n68; secondary, 70; testing, 176, 239n51

Ngai, Sianne, 14, 220n109, 243n10 ´  t Ha.   nh, Thích, 148 Nhâ

personhood, 154

Nietzsche, Friedrich, 24

photography, 208; and Darwin, 101;

pessimism, 29, 43, 49–50

“Normal Motor Automatism” (Solo-

and death, 227n10; and Duchenne,

mons and Stein), 69–70, 227n89

79–86, 92, 98; of facial expression, 5,

Northwestern University, 106, 176

10–11, 73, 89, 93–96, 109, 113, 145; of Frois-Wittmann, 117–21; and

objectivity, mechanical, 9, 12, 24–26, 161, 165, 172, 204 occult, the, 12, 45–46, 53, 61, 74–77,

indexicality, 76–77, 87, 228n12; and the occult, 75–76, 88–92, 95, 102, 123; psychiatric, 77–78, 85–86, 92,

87–95, 123, 165–67, 171–72, 182, 188,

227n8; serial, 2, 27, 73–77, 86, 102,

195, 200, 208, 238n33

106, 151, 207; and universality, 114,

occultic, the, 193–96, 206


I N D E X  • 2 7 5

physiognomy, 7–10, 19, 80, 90, 95–103, 114 Piderit, Theodor, 89, 98–106, 120,

and pseudoscience, 12–13, 51, 71, 77, 88, 135, 165, 172, 222n1; as a science, 25, 36, 44–46, 70–71, 75–76,

230n68, 230n70; Mimik und Physi-

128, 204; and self-help, 171, 179;

ognomik, 98–99, 103

technological foundations of, 4,

planchette, 27, 41–63, 69–71, 150, 207–8, 225n48 Planchette (Sargent), 45–47, 58, 225n48 plasticity. See neuroplasticity

11–12, 15, 189, 201–8, 217n52 Psychology of Public Speaking, The (Scott), 106, 176, 179 psychopath, 127–29, 132–33, 138–63,

Plato, 38, 96, 194–95, 207

176, 232n3, 236n101; and other per-

police. See law enforcement

sonality disorders, 229n43, 234n39,

Pollock, Jackson, 219n90 polygraph, 137–43, 146, 233n28; and E-Meter, 168–70, 197–99 Pomeroy, Jesse, 64–66, 151 pragmatism, 43–46, 51, 68–69 Princeton University, 73, 117 Principles of Psychology (James), 27, 44, 46, 53, 59 prison, 1–2, 73, 127–28, 136–51, 158– 59, 163, 207, 235n61; language as, 38 pseudoscience, 1, 7–9, 12, 33, 44, 61, 135, 172, 187 psychiatry, 28, 74, 127–29, 147–49,

235n67, 235n68 Psychopath, The (Blair, Mitchell, and Blair), 157, 236n101 Psychopathy Checklist-Revised, 139–40, 158–61, 236n101, 243n165. See also Hare, Robert Psychopathy: Theory and Research (Hare), 140, 158 psychophysics, 4, 14–17, 21, 36, 44, 61, 94, 105, 125, 218n80, 220n99 psychosis, 180 pyramidal neurons. See neuron: pyramidal

156–60, 174–75, 180, 185, 203 psychoanalysis, 36, 90, 117, 165–66,

Quinn, Michael, 139–45, 158

171–83, 188, 192–95, 203, 207, 227n5, 238n32, 240n73 psychology: and aesthetics, 17, 21–25,

race, 7–9, 13–16, 26, 148, 217n61, 220n99, 226n75, 235n61

121; and affect theory, 11–13, 30, 33,

Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep, 163

37, 206, 215n8, 220n106; applied,

Reich, Wilhelm, 174, 185–88, 191,

106, 175–76, 179; carceral function of, 129, 150, 158–61, 236n97; critique

240n73, 241n99, 241n105 religion, 9, 13, 30, 45–46, 49–50, 58, 61,

of, 149, 166, 185; and digital media,

68, 80, 204, 207; and chiropractic

10; discontinuity of, 13; and

medicine, 187, 241n107; new age,

efficiency, 203; experimental, 17–18,

195, 166, 171; and psychoanalysis,

27–28, 44, 54, 73, 93–94, 165, 171,

182; and reason, 183, 206. See also

175–76, 188; history of, 2–3, 15–16,

esotericism; Scientology

21, 32, 35–36, 44, 77; introspective,

remorse, 150–51, 156–62

43, 223n7; materialist turn, 174; nor-

repression, 45, 48–49, 56–57, 61, 68, 71,

mative dimensions, 14–15, 154, 157, 167, 200; and parapsychology, 74–75;

276 • INDEX

148, 184–86 Riegl, Aloïs, 22

Romanticism, German, 15–16, 20–21, 226n62 Roosevelt, Franklin D., 185 Ruckmick, Christian A., 109–10, 113, 116–17 Rudolph, Heinrich, 98, 113, 119; Der Ausdruck der Gemütsbewegungen des Menschen, 106–9

Scott, Walter Dill, 231n82; The Psychology of Public Speaking, 106, 176, 179 Security Checking (Scientology), 199 Sedgwick, Eve Kosofksy, 3, 11, 14–15, 29, 216n42, 220n109 seizures, 132

Russell, James A., 93, 229n52

self-help, 165–66, 171, 175, 179–82,

Salpêtrière, 54–55, 73–76, 83–86, 113,

Seltzer, Mark, 154–55

195, 239n63 124, 129, 174, 227n5, 228n31 Sampson, Tony, 243n10 Sander, August, 89–92, 114; People of the 20th Century, 89 Sargent, Epes, 46–48, 224n28; Planchette, 45–47, 58, 225n48 Satanism, 58

sensation, 14–18, 21–24, 29, 54–57, 62–63, 83, 106, 167, 174, 192, 204, 207 sentiment, 13–16, 19–20, 68, 102, 209, 220n109, 226n75 seriality, photographic, 2, 73–77, 86, 102, 119, 207, 228n33

Saussure, Ferdinand de, 102

serial killers, 66, 154–55

Scarry, Elaine, 2

shades. See physiognomy

Schiller, Friedrich, 18, 90, 116, 209,

Shapin, Steven, 34

218n73, 226n62

Shaviro, Steven, 220n109, 243n10

schizophrenia, 129, 147, 180

shell shock, 175–76, 180–81

Schlosberg, Harold, 94–96, 109,

Shirley, Bettye, 124

120–22; Experimental Psychology,

Sidgwick, Henry, 53

93–95, 101–2, 109, 113, 121, 144,

Skinner, B. F., 70–71, 227n91


sleep, 53–55, 59–60, 132, 135, 163

Schneemann, Carolee, 148

Sloterdijk, Peter, 183

Schopenhauer, Arthur, 29–30, 43–45,

Smith, Ernest Benjamin, 160

49–67, 113, 120, 128, 136, 195,

Smith, William L., 53–54, 70

220n105, 220n107, 224n36, 226n75

Snakes in Suits (Babiak and Hare),

Schuller, Kyla, 14–18, 226n75 Schumann, Friedrich, 144 Science of Survival (Hubbard), 184, 191–92, 240n72, 242n120 scientism, 206 Scientology, 2, 28, 165–72, 178, 183–89, 193–200, 237n10, 237n11. See also Citizens Commission on Human Rights; Dianetics Scientology (Hubbard), 169, 184, 192–93

155 Societies for Psychical Research, 41, 44, 222n1 sociopath, 154, 160; difference from psychopath, 158. See also psychopath Solomons, Leon M.: “Normal Motor Automatism,” 69–70, 227n89 somnambulism, 55, 60 spectatorship, 19–21, 77, 88, 96, 201 Spencer, Herbert, 106

I N D E X  • 2 7 7

Spinoza, 29–30, 63, 224n36 spiritualism, 9, 12–13, 41–53, 59–61, 70–75, 94, 135, 172, 204, 223n7,

trauma, 150, 155, 170–85, 188–92, 200, 204 Ture, Kwame (Stokely Carmichael), 148

224n26 Stein, Gertrude, 69, 77, 120, 224n38,

unconscious, 57–63, 173; Freudian,

227n91; “In a Psychological Labora-

173, 178, 191–92; optical, 89–91, 95,

tory” (“Radcliffe Manuscripts”),

102, 123; reactive mind (Dianetics),

25–26, 34; “Normal Motor Automatism,” 69–70, 227n89; Tender Buttons, 70–71

178. See also repression universities. See names of specific universities

Stowe, Harriet Beecher, 226n66

University of Chicago, 130, 163

Strong Programme, 30–31

University of Iowa, 109

Supreme Court, U.S., 159–60 surrealism, 117, 120 Sweezy, Paul, 148

Varieties of Religious Experience (James), 49–50

sympathie symbolique, 219n97

Vattimo, Gianni, 31

sympathy, 13, 16–24, 64–65, 88–91,

veridiction, 35–36, 76, 188–89

101, 114, 209, 226n75, 231n92 Szasz, Thomas, 129, 147–49, 174, 185,

Vischer, Robert, 20–22, 209, 218n78 vitalism, 49, 174, 186, 207, 238n37

234n57, 239n42 Wagner, Richard, 218n66, 220n100 Tagg, John, 73 Taussig, Michael, 10

Walter, W. Grey, 127–28, 135–40, 156, 189, 232n2, 233n21, 233n27

Technique 88. See Scientology

Weigel, Sigrid, 92

temporality, 152, 158, 162; cognition

Wells, Samuel R., 60, 226n66

of, 133–37; measurement of, 127,

Wershler, Darren, 3, 216n49

136, 163, 169–70, 208, 232n2; and

Westbrook, Donald, 184–85, 188,

sequence, 130, 145, 150–55, 207

237n10, 237n11, 238n32, 240n85

Tender Buttons (Stein), 70–71

Wheatstone, Charles, 169

theater. See performance

Wheatstone bridge, 169

thetan, 168–69, 184, 188, 192–99

Wilderness of Error, A (Morris),

Thin Blue Line, The (Morris), 236n100 Thompson, Joseph C. “Snake,” 177 Titchener, Edward, 21–31, 37, 44,

236n100 will, 29–30, 43–45, 49–61, 65–69, 79, 206–7, 220n105, 220n107

88–89, 94, 103–6, 116–17, 135, 175,

Will to Believe (James), 50

218n80, 223n10, 229n58, 230n77

Winsor, Anna, 55

Tomkins, Silvan, 3, 11, 93–94, 123, 154, 220n106, 229n55, 229n58 tone (Dianetics and Scientology), 189–92, 196–98, 242n120

Wölfflin, Heinrich, 22 Woodworth, Robert Sessions, 96, 105, 117, 121, 175, 230n77, 231n101; Experimental Psychology, 93–95,

Tournachon, Adrien, 79–85, 100

101–2, 109, 113, 121, 144; personality

Towns, Armond, 61

tests, 176, 239n51

278 • INDEX

Woodworth scale of emotion, 109, 113, 116, 121–22, 229n54, 231n101 World War I, 117, 175–77 World War II, 130, 175–83

Wunderblock (“Mystic Writing-Pad”), 178 Wundt, Wilhelm, 17, 21, 44, 61, 106, 175, 224n28, 224n38

Wright, Lawrence, 237n11 writing. See automatic writing; inscription

Yao, Xine, 14, 16, 226n75 Yates, Frances, 182–83

I N D E X  • 2 7 9

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Grant Bollmer is senior lecturer of digital media in the School of Communication and Arts at the University of Queensland. He is author of several books, including Materialist Media Theory: An Introduction.