My first introduction to the idea of Affect Theory was the scenario modeled by Teresa Brennan The Transmission of Affect. A person walks into a room and “feels” the atmosphere charged this way or that. The feeling or affect is not one’s own. “[S]omething is present that was not there before, but it did not originate sui generis; it was not generated solely or sometimes even in part by the organism or its genes” (p.1). This to me gave the best of affect as something not specific to the individual or to individual consciousness, but as socially transmitted and biologically or physiologically registered, on the skin, as it were. This stands against the modern or Cartesian notion of the ego as a self-contained unit severed from connection with other people and the environment. That concepts in Jewish philosophy should be recognizable already in Buber (pp.2, 18-19)
Methodologically, these claims are intended to be backed up by  clinical findings in biology,  history, the history of religion and the history of philosophy,  neuroscience (p.8). The readings are hard to gauge. Most scholars in the humanities are unable to assess the science about pheromones, hormonal entrainment, crowd behavior, maladaptive behavior, olfaction, fetal emergence. I’d also mention that the occasional reference to rabbinic ideas are odd insofar as they are unrecognizable, almost impossible to identify with any degree of certainty. And the presentation of modern (Cartesian and post-Cartesian) philosophy seems one-sided and tendentious.
More persuasive is Brennan’s model of reason and reasoning that require sensing and discernment (what Robert Brandom would call while evaluating differently the relationship between sapience and sentience). The discernment called for encourages a subject who sifts named feeling out of still vaguely sensed affects through attention, love, analyzing, sensing, and words (p.139). The education of the sense is supposed to lend itself to a re-alignment of body and mind.
The felicity of that realigning is temporally paced in terms of speed. Images –the visual image and the self-image in particular– are criticized for blocking up and slowing down what should be fast neural connections that we are intended by Brennan to trust. The visual image is said to trap the energy fixed in its frame. Confronted by the image, we slow down to look and to ask, is this real or this not real (pp.148-50)? Instead, the author commits herself and her reader to an end run around the image, fantasy, repression, and blocked human subjectivity. But this end run depends upon an image or fantasy of her own making, i.e. the picture of a pure corporeal logic, quick and unimpeded. Language and understanding are reconnected into fleshy and environmental codes, assuming that once upon a time the human creature enjoyed a prior unity of linguistic, sensitive, and affective registers. The transmission of affect is, in a certain way, an anti-modern and restorative project, which would make sense of the regular reference to (vaguely determined) Christian and East Asian ascetic and mystical beliefs and traditions.
Is this a crypto-spiritual project? She never quite sells it straight out, but what I suspect Brennan is pitching is nothing less than immortality. Throughout The Transmission of Affect, pay attention to the word-constellations that combine appeals to “freedom,” “unburdening,” “unlocking,” and “reuniting” (cf. p.113). This is a Stoic morality (named clearly as such), the aim of which is “freedom from possession by the negative affects” (p.118). By breaking the hold of negative affect, what is promised is the release of more life, more freedom, more intelligence, more energy (pp.148-9, 158).
In Brennan’s most speculative assertion, “immortality” is presented as “a starting point” for that “correct realignment of “flesh” and “language” as “transformation.” (p.149). In the “scenario” she sets, the “orders of the flesh…have become mortal” only “because they are obstructed by something slows them down” (p.147). “The problem” for Brennan is “the disjunction” between infinity (i.e. the infinite structure of the signifying chain) and “the finite concerns of neurotic subject, who are worried about birth and dead and their meaning in the scheme of things” (p.147).
Brennan writes with verve and brio, but is she careless? As for my own final take on that race towards immortal life, I remain stuck in a position of basic sympathy for the problematic disjunctions faced by those so-called neurotic human beings who worry about birth and the death in the great scheme of things. In this, I’m holding out for a little bit of slowness against the strains drawn from Deleuze and Spinoza upon whom Brennan’s model of Affect Theory relies.