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Affect by Charlene Elsby  

Affect is the surreal love story of a graduate student who, hyperaware of the absurdity of love in a universe where all is finite and death is inevitable, interprets the developing relationship through philosophy.

Have you ever met a person who actually seems larger than life? I did, once, just where you’d least expect him to be (standing around), in an environment you wouldn’t be able to fit him into (the courtyard outside the Philosophy building), if the concept meant what it implies. Such a being makes us question whether we are, in fact, so limited, with the one life and the one death, and nothing else to reasonably look forward to, whether the whole system is flawed, whether it’s not the case that they’ve cheated the system and come out on the other side of it still living, living more, doing something more than living.

That was Logan for me.

Hyper-rational and unapologetically cerebral, Affect is the story of a philosophy graduate student who falls in love with a complex older man. Their relationship develops through a series of surreal events, where Logan comes to infiltrate the narrator’s psyche and occasions the collision of her interior and exterior worlds.

As much a love story as the analysis of a love story, Affect explores philosophical notions of life and death, time and distance, and the astounding transformation of an ‘other’ to an ‘I’.

Excerpt from book


Space and time prevent us from seeing all sides of something at once. The spatio-temporal object defies objectification by being constantly inaccessible. We see its front and its back isn’t there. We turn it around and its front is its back and the problem comes back to the fore. What isn’t always half not there?

Nevertheless, the invisible side has an affect.

Logan isn’t visible from all sides, and I wouldn’t want him to be.

That’s two-dimensionality for you.

We used to confuse love and passion. Passion and action are opposed and in relation, they’d say. Action negates passion, they’d have to say, if they wanted to be logically consistent.

But not all who love are passive.

This book is about affections. The word is pathemata. We struggle to represent the pathemata of the psyche, because words only represent them from one side. You can’t contain anything in a word, nonetheless maintain it—not all of it, not all at once.

If there’s a word for him, it’s Logan.

Logan and I have chosen to direct ourselves towards the same universe.

As a result, our words all mean the same things.

This is pretty much how it happened.


Charlene Elsby is an assistant professor of philosophy and was recently philosophy program director in the Department of English and Linguistics at Purdue University Fort Wayne. She is the author of several scholarly works on logic, rationality and philosophy. Her first novel, Hexis (Clash Books), was published in February 2020. She lives in Cambridge, Ontario.

The Porcupine's Quill would like to acknowledge the support of the Ontario Arts Council and the Canada Council for the Arts for our publishing program. The financial support of the Government of Canada through the Canada Book Fund (CBF) is also gratefully acknowledged.

FICTION / Literary

FICTION / General

ISBN-13: 9780889844377

Publication Date: 2020-10-01

Dimensions: 8.75 in x 5.56 in

Pages: 144

Price: $18.95