1: Affect Accretion

[Terminology – barrett – the base unit of measurement of Affect accretion.]

Transcriber’s note: This transcript taken from a video lecture from the Lilac Research Center.

Hi, hello, hey there! Terrence here. Terrence Lilac, head of the Affect Research Division. As you can see behind me, we’ve got quite the facility here. Thanks to Director Miller, we’ve begun striving for the greatest possible understanding we can have of the Affect. Or as I like to call it, the Atmospheric Emotional Field.

Hm, that is less catchy, isn’t it?

Well, that’s out of my hands anyway.

Now, you are one of the candidates of our PhD program, such as it is. Probably the last one left on Earth, ha ha! Unfortunately, due to the Joy Plague, we’re going to have to transmit lectures virtually for now. We hope you understand, and we also hope that you’ve got plenty of writing material on hand.

Transcriber’s note: The lecture proceeds as Lilac introduces the course and the syllabus.

What would I call the fundamental concept of the Affect, you ask? One could be tempted to say that the central concept is that emotions now impact the material. And certainly, that is the case. And it is a central case. But what do I think is fundamental for this course?

The concept of Affect accretion, which in turn helps us understand Foundation’s Weight classifications. I hope that you’ve read chapter one of your textbook, specifically the diagrams on page 6…

Transcriber’s note: Lilac is referring to the Manual on Affect he authored. The diagrams he refers to roughly spell out the classification system Foundation uses to delineate power levels, and goes as follows:

Featherweight – Affect accretion under 1-100~ barrettsno observable abilities.

Lightweight – Affect accretion ranging from 100-500~ barretts – minor qualities and quirks one could consider Affected (e.g. the permanent immunity to caffeine, or the ability to change the color of a finger.)

Welterweight – Affect accretion ranging from 500-2500~ barretts – certainly Affected and may have powers of specific use (e.g. the ability to stretch their arms to great lengths or perceive ultraviolet radiation.)

Cruiserweight – Affect accretion ranging from 2500-10000~ barretts – Affected to the level of demihuman status, will likely have more than one power working in tandem (e.g. someone who can lift a car over their head and not crush their own bones with their strength, or someone with extraordinary senses. Many of the comic book heroes from the late 20th and early 21s century would qualify!)

Heavyweight – Affect accretion at 10000+ barretts – Affected to the level of what might have been considered gods in primitive times. (e.g. someone with the ability, just as an example, of dynakinesis. Not to name names.)

…because that’s going to be vitally important moving forward. Accretion is the foundation of this course and all further Affect study, if you’ll pardon my pun. Transcriber’s note: he is very amused with himself.

If you’ve read chapter one, you’ll know accretion is defined as the process by which one person’s Affect swells, for lack of a better word. Please don’t mistake this as someone being more or less emotional than another person, or that someone who is heavyweight has a lived experience is somehow richer than someone who registers a lower barrett reading.

What it does mean, however, is that this person is the focus of intense emotions from other humans. That could mean any number of things, from love, adoration, hope, to fear, rage, and sorrow. It also helps us measure the strength of a particular emotion in a person. You see, we can elicit stronger readings from people in certain situations. Someone might only give you a reading of 50 barretts one day, but threaten their… I don’t know, their dog! And suddenly you’re reading 1000 barretts.

What’s even more interesting is that you, the measurer and the person threatening their dog, would find your own readings rising. You’ll find in chapter two a derivation of a formula that captures the relationship between the person angry with you and your own Affect. Eventually the dog lover’s readings would return to base levels, or perhaps even lower than before, but yours would not. 

Fascinating, no?