Order-Words

The Postulates of Linguistics:

You will never find a homogeneous system that is not still or already affected by a regulated, continuous, immanent process of variation (why does Chomsky pretend not to understand this?).” (Deleuze and Guattari 103)

Within the limited scope of Chomsky’s scientific approach to language, this notion of homogenization is rooted firmly.  As language is naturally grounded in the capacity to systematize thoughts, Chomsky’s system is based on a linguistic model that develops constant relations between parts of language. Homogeneity, in this sense, can be a concept that ranges from the idea of multiple languages being grounded in universal principles to the idea of a language being static or unchanged internally (relationally). Deleuze and Guattari make it a priority to attack the foundations, and the notion of naturality, within Chomsky’s binary model of sentence structure. To Chomsky, this notion of sentence structure moves from S (sentence structure) to the necessary next step of a verb phrase and noun phrase. To Chomsky this is the basis his scientific approach to language.

Not only do Deleuze and Guattari attack the binary appeal of such a structure, but also go on to situate this practice in a political and ontological location. They argue that homogeneous linguistic models are developed in order to make scientific research possible; meaning that this research is abstracted from the heterogeneous reality that allows for variation, thus making further studies confined by their own general assumptions. The “S” that dominates the structure is viewed not only as a linear starting point for all languages, but also as a “power marker” that establishes the constant relations between parts of language. In building the distinction between minor and major literature (minor as a language of variation, major as a language of constants), Deleuze and Guattari attempt to show that there is within a minor language the possibility for affection and process (change).

Further, by conceiving of the notion of “order-words, Deleuze and Guattari display that language does wishes to demarcate identity, but rather provides a series of actions, relations, and affections that make obvious certain redundancies that structure language. “We call order-words not a particular category of explicit statements (for example, in the imperative), but the relation of every word or every statements to implicit presuppositions…” (Deleuze and Guattari 79). In this sense, order-words function to receive certain teleological ends, to demarcate, or ‘pedagogically’ in the sense that hope for obedience. Language is a location of power in the most broad sense, but also a location that perpetuates obedience while immanently changing relations, but often doing so in a subtle fashion.

The pedagogy of the order-word is to look as if one has control, identity, and structure, while the shaky relations between subjects points towards difference and affection. To command is internal to the structure, to teach would be to remain in order. This is what provides hope and scandal to the class-room.

~Jay Bowe

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