Archive for the Immanence Category

Empirical consumerism

Posted in Deleuze, Immanence, Rhizome, Subjectivity with tags on May 17, 2012 by immanentterrain2

This post might err on the side of saccharine; I want to talk to you about milieus and customer service. Taking permission from empiricalism – in which everyday experiences is knowledge – I’d like to make some statements from personal experience, bouncing off a Deleuzean mirror. Also too, I am interested in substantive philosophy: something that can be internalized has more value to me.

Passing through a city, we encounter multiple sites of exchange. We pay for transit, food, too many beverages, learning, accessories, entertainment, fashion, housing. Our lives are paid for at every level. Aside from negotiating, or choosing what is the appropriate product to consume (based on personal guidelines, beholden to personal standards), the method of transaction is fairly automatic. Present the good, receive the price, hand the money over, watch the cash be put in the register, the change is counted out and the receipt enclosed. The moment that this perfected chain of events is interrupted is if there is a problem with the expected good/payment, or if there are questions/information needed to complete the purchase. The certain chain of events has been disrupted. The reaction of the consumer ranges from nonchalant, to awkward, to even irate, and possibly angry. Customer service representatives, don’t they just take it all in?

These representatives fill our environment; racing feet to fetch that thing, busy hands to fold that item, arrange, rearrange, provide, and solicit. They occupy the establishments we go to, and we hold them accountable for our experience. Good service or bad service, the very mood of our purchases is attached to that person, or team of people expected to fulfill our needs and wants in exchange our money.

Now, let me qualify my stance before I slant this piece. I have a crazy hospitality resume. In about 12 years, I have worked in hockey arenas, golf course maintenance, snack shack, beer cart, cafes, university residence, hotel, hostel reception, butchery, honey factories, vineyards, housekeeping, and bars. I’ve despised and adored my jobs in the same day. To get through to the next paycheck, there was something in me to care about these jobs. As a result, these experiences have shaped how I approach other “customer service representatives,” a clinical term to classify all those who are the gatekeepers to our commodities.

The other day, to upkeep my bad lung clogging habit, I recognized a man from another tobacco store. This was my chance to say ‘hey!” I asked him his name, and he asked for mine, and now we exchange the news and our commentary every time I step into one of his shops. This more familiar encounter makes my vice glow. A dormant congeniality is activated, and without ulterior motive. Dividuation is a lesser issue now.

Component to a rhizomous existence, a plane of consistency, forming multiplicities, are the very nodes that connect to our own personal rhizomes. This is our relation to the world, to engage with the stimuli that surround us. Deleuze dubs this environment as a milieu. As Uexküll notes in his study of the tick, and Deleuze incorporated in his philosophy, in order for stimulus to have an impact, it needs to be noticed by the subject. Our milieus are the result of our observations and our input into them. Rather than be motivated by enhancing insulated lives, we need to have an ulterior motive of relations: such “relations to form or compound extensive relations or to enable an intensive power, sociabilities and communities.”[1]

Poverty of our relations can be this skimming of an elemental part of our daily lives. Societal codes, or even just the experience of dealing with multiple strangers in a day can inhibit our relations with various keepers of commodities. Maybe it’s because we are forced to give our money over that causes us to feel somewhat distrustful. In this obligatory milieu, we can consider our habits, and devise lines of flight by interacting with these goods-and-services-keepers. This yields some perks that lessen or bypass some of the capitalist expectations. Friendly banter with a bartender gets a shot passed to you under the table, the barista will ring in a small drip for that latte, the tobacco store will sell you the pack, but throw in free papers and filters. This is not to try and garner free shit, but a symbol of camaraderie. Consider, “the simple animal has a simple environment; the multiform animal has an environment just as richly articulated as it is”[2]

Here is a to and fro to our milieu, a re and pro. This is to make our experiences ceaseless versions of us, to construct a common plan of immanence that is inclusive of beings.[3] Creators make a move by dotting that canvas or whatever medium. Creators in everyday living make a move with others to continuously launch an inexhaustive variation of ourselves to exercise the capacity to become more complex persons in experiencing milieus. The trick is, creation is not a divine ability, it is in all of our abilities. In terms of our daily lives, by maintaining the contact at the level of money transaction, there is obedience to the transcendent capitalist flows. Rather, to be inexhaustible is to include other bodies, minds and individuals, and develop unique, diverse multiciplicities. To create is to make an action, unpredictable, is to willingly open up to be affected and to affect, to expand the capacities for relations. This is key as in our currency habits; we are left unaware of the dormant qualities unless we release them through re-engaged encounters.

Milieus are not maintainable surroundings, but are modulated through our concern and action towards. Let’s take the idea of guardian angels for a second. We’ve all had those random events when life really blows, and we are at our wit’s end. Then out of generosity and resourcefulness, or sheer luck, some stranger alleviates the situation. Our gratitude is likely to be genuine, but also borne out of relief. But now consider how to be that guardian angel, that miracle instigator, for someone else.

This is sometimes what the customer service team does for us. Someone needs to make a move to make someone’s day. While service is an expectation, there is value in a reciprocal relationship. This is regulated through a tipping system, but there can be intangible exchanges in which can liven up someone’s position or a general circumstance. Something unexpected beyond the customary manners of please’s and thank you’s, but a genuine engagement of persons. In this busy buzzing service climate, there are multitudes of becomings to connect with. It is an idealistic, sweet notion, but this makes sense to me, and this is what I consider while reading Deleuze. In my hospitality experiences, I would come to know the various chefs, baristas, housekeepers, bussers, etc. in any  environment. My tone of voice, my attention towards them, my appreciation for their work, and my expectation of work is all involved in my potential interaction with them. A mentor taught me, always ask for their names.

In attempts to open up a rhizomatic existence, there are affectual capacities in being sensitive, while contributing to our milieus. If anything is to be achieved, my thought is to pay attention to subtle possibilities in every opportunity of relations.

-Bria


[1] Deleuze, Gilles. “Spinoza and Us” Spinoza, Practical Philosophy. Trans. Robert Hurley. (San Francisco: City Light Books, 1988)). P.126

[2] Uexküll, Jakob von, A Foray Into the Worlds of Animals and Humans: With a Theory of Meaning. Trans. Joseph D. (O’Neil Minneapolis: University of Minnosota Press 1940) P. 5o

[3] Deleuze, P. 122

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Ba lance. Rep it tish ion. Com pose zish ion. Mir rors.

Posted in Art, Deleuze, Immanence, Theater and Performance with tags , , , , , on May 7, 2012 by immanentterrain2

Before The Books called it quits, I was fortunate enough to see them perform live. For those who don’t know, The Books are an experimental duo who make music with found sound, recorded sound, and instruments. As Pitchfork’s Mark Richardson says, “Their music is easy to appreciate immediately because they use pretty sounds – it’s not harsh, noisy, they use space […] Ringing guitars, cello, melodic – but it’s also hard to put a finger on, and there’s an in-between-spaces aspect to The Books that I find really appealing” (qtd. in Ganz). Unlike many other artists who use found sound, The Books only use analog audio (most of which is found in thrift stores or other random places). Instead of taking audio from the Internet, they use old answering machine recordings, self-help audiobook cassettes, ancient exercise tapes, etc.

One of their first songs, “Enjoy Your Worries, You May Never Have Them Again,” will probably give you a good idea of the kind of music that they make:

When they perform live, The Books project videos that they’ve created (with stock footage). Some of these videos, like the one for “Smells Like Content,” are simple but effective:

The album that houses this track, Lost and Safe, is a deviation from their earlier work. Thought for Food and The Lemon of Pink (their first two albums) both used very few vocals and focused mainly on found voices coupled with sparse instrumentation while on the other hand, “Smells Like Content” contains a full set of lyrics. What I like about the songs with vocals is that they’ve put into words what they’re trying to initially express solely with sound. In other words, if you weren’t sure what their agenda was after listening to the first two albums, pick up the third and everything will begin to come together.

For me, The Books are a very philosophical group. After many listens, I have noticed bits of Hume, Nietzsche, Sartre, and (recently) Deleuze in their work. “Smells Like Content” is a song that explores the purpose of life and asks the same question as modern philosophers, “How might one live?” At their show, Nick Zammuto (the half of the duo that provides vocals) said that his brother went on a hike and recorded his stream of consciousness ramblings which were then used as inspiration for the lyrics. In “Literature and Life,” Deleuze says, “Syntax is the set of necessary detours that are created in each case to reveal the life in things” (2). For this song, syntax is very important: each word is placed in a specific way so as to create a rhythm that exists on its own, without the addition of extra sounds. In “Smells Like Content,” the extra sounds that are included act as a form of repetition and as what Deleuze and Guattari would call a refrain.

In “Of the Refrain,” D&G talk about territory, deterritorialization, milieu, and assemblage (among other things). From what I gather, rhythm is the difference created through repetition and repetition is what moves us from milieu to milieu (while simultaneously creating those milieus). D&G say, “A milieu does in fact exist by virtue of a periodic repetition, but one whose only effect is to produce a difference by which the milieu passes into another milieu. It is the difference which is rhythmic, not the repetition, which nevertheless produces it . . . (346). In simpler words, the difference is what creates the rhythm. I don’t feel it’s necessary to summarize the whole essay, but I will say that in the end, D&G basically say that something called “the Cosmos” is the end game (which probably isn’t the right phrase) of music. They say, “[. . . ] modern philosophy tends to elaborate a material of thought in order to capture forces that are not thinkable in themselves. That is Cosmos philosophy, after the manner of Nietzsche” (377-8). So then music (not pop music, but music that D would deem worthy) does the same thing as philosophy, it seems. The Books are one of my favorite experimental duos because I think it’s obvious that they are trying to express that inexpressible through their music.

For me, “Smells Like Content” is a great song, albeit it doesn’t play with space, silence, and sound in the same way as their earlier material. Essentially, the entire song is about process ontology, the idea that the world is always in flux and that all we can do is think about what is coming into existence. The lyrics tell us, “But then again, the world without end is a place where souls are combined,/ but with an overbearing feeling of disparity and disorderliness./To ignore it is impossible without getting oneself into all kinds of trouble,/despite one’s best intentions not to get entangled with it so much.” The world is complicated and it makes sense for people to want to try to understand it; however, it is impossible to know for sure what the world is and why we’re here, etc. Philosophy is often hard to understand because it is an exploration, not an explanation (and it’s easy to get entangled when exploring different ideas). It’s also notable that the words in the video are spelled out phonetically and that some of them change as they are changing (that sounds confusing, but for example, look at “overarching paradigm” as it appears on the screen). By breaking the words up into other words, we are given a visual example of how everything is just a fragment and part of something bigger.

This fragmentation also reminds me of Gertrude Stein’s “Susie Asado.” In this poem, Stein was trying to recapture the rhythm of a flamenco dancer, to paint a portrait of her with words. Stein’s writing uses phrases that almost make sense, but not quite. She forces us to toss away our conventional expectations and accept the open-endedness of her writing. When The Books say, “Meanwhile,/ the statues are bleeding green,” I am reminded of both Stein and Noam Chomsky (and of course, Deleuze). Chomsky’s sentence, “Colorless green ideas sleep furiously,” makes grammatical sense but really means nothing (15). How can ideas be both colorless and green at the same time? Because both “colorless” and “green” have figurative meanings, we interpret them a certain way. Stein’s poem strives to be nonrepresentational, even though the words that she uses also have figurative meanings; the meaning of her poem does not rely on what each of the individual words mean or what they are associated with. There would be no way to paraphrase Stein’s poem. To me, the lyrics of “Smells Like Content” are trying to tell us (with words and music) that conventional categories and ideas aren’t going to work if we’re trying to figure out what life is/what it means to be.

The Books describe how/why we created artificial categories and concepts in order to explain the world. They say, “Then finally, we opened the box, we couldn’t find any rules.” We’re born and never given any guidance about how to live our lives, what life means, what it means to be, etc. There are so many possibilities for what life is and what it could become but because of “faith,” we “decided to go ahead and just ignore them,/despite tremendous pressure to capitulate and fade.” There are so many possibilities that instead of considering them, we usually just fall into the routine/trap of artificial constructions (“So instead, we went ahead to fabricate a catalog/of unstable elements and modicums and particles”). The song ends with, “Expectation -/leads to disappointment. If you don’t expect something big huge and exciting . . ./Usually . . ./I dunno,/just, uh yeah . . .” While these maybe don’t seem like brilliant lyrics at first, I think that they say a lot in very few words. In a world that’s constantly changing, how can we have expectations for anything? As the video progresses, the images trick us. First, it seems like I’m looking at outer space. When I see jellyfish, I now assume I’m looking at the ocean. When the video ends, it is revealed that I was just watching footage from an aquarium the entire time. What if the world is just an aquarium and I’m just a fish? Does it matter?

If anyone is interested, here’s a link to the videos that The Books play at their shows: http://zammutosound.com/videos.cfm

— Kilgore Trout

Chomsky, Noam. Syntactic Structures. Berlin: Mouton De Gruyter, 2002. Print.

Deleuze, Gilles. Essays Critical and Clinical. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota, 1997. Print.

Deleuze, G. and Guattari, F. trans. Massumi, B. (1998). 1837: Of the Refrain.
In A Thousand Plateaus. Capitalism and Schizophrenia. London: Continuum.
pp. 342ñ386.

Ganz, Jacob. “The Books: Making Music Through Found Sound.” NPR. NPR, 04 Sept. 2010. Web. 07 May 2012. <http://www.npr.org/2010/09/03/129607098/the-books-making-music-through-found-sound&gt;.

Relations, Folds, Affects, Forms

Posted in Art, Art Exhibits, Body and Affect, Deleuze, Immanence, Process Ontology, Rhizome on May 2, 2012 by immanentterrain2

During the semester I went to the MoMa specifically with the intention of exploring the contemporary galleries on the 2nd floor, and with the hope to eat curry in Rikrit Tiravanija’s Untitled (Free/Still), which unfortunately had closed down by the day I got there.  While I wasn’t able to explore that piece, I engaged with a few pieces that have remained with me for this or that reason since my exploration of the exhibit, and I want to use this as a forum to explore why these pieces struck me and why they have remained with me.

I enjoy going to museums, and the city has some of the best and worst examples of them.  The MoMa, especially on Free Friday, is a perfect example of museums gone commercially wrong.  There are thousands of people shuffling in lines through completely white rooms, absorbing a piece for maybe a few seconds and eventually moving on.  The gift shops on every floor are filled with books, mugs, key chains and more with the stamp of various artists or iconic paintings.  I wouldn’t be surprised to see a candy wrapper from Felix Gonzalez-Torres’ Untitled (Placebo) on a T-shirt. However, in the galleries, every once in a while, someone will remain on a piece for a time for this or that reason. I had a few of these experiences, but only one on the 2nd floor.

I understand the idea behind relational aesthetics, and for me, sublimating the medium to the ideas behind the piece is equally as appealing as it is horrifying, and the emphasis on relations between people is enthralling.  Regardless, there is still some medium in the relational exhibits we’ve been shown, be it wood and curry, candy, or dilapidated huts in ethnic neighborhoods, and my question is if art is about the ends rather than the means, so to speak, as these exhibits, to me, all seem less focused on the experience (relation between person and piece) and more so about the relation between people in regards to the ideas of the piece.  All the Deleuzian thought that we’ve covered so far would lead me to say it is not about conversing about the piece or the experience but the experience itself: the means leading one self to the ends.  I say this knowing my own bias, as the pieces I related with (2 specifically) were all based in a medium, as has almost every art piece I’ve ever engaged with.  The other question brought to my mind is if there is a way to sublimate or remove the medium of cinema in this sense.

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The piece that truly shook the very fiber of my being during my visit was Keith Haring’s masterpiece, Untitled (1982), which occupies nearly 3 walls of a room on the 2nd floor that for some silly reason has a trio of basketballs in the middle, right where the perfect view of the piece is.  Regardless, in my attempt to describe my experience in words, there is no way I can communicate the sublime shock that overcame me when I rounded the corner and saw the room and the piece.  I’ve only seen a few Haring pieces in real life, and still have yet to make it to the exhibit in Brooklyn, but this specific piece is simply incredible. When viewed from right to left, it depicts basically every Haring theme and image in some sort of epic, grand narrative of humankind, and yet every corner of it contains folds within folds so that one can remain within a certain section of the piece for lengthy periods of time.  I spent what felt like an hour going back and forth through this piece, discovering new image after image every time I returned to a section.  I didn’t even see the giant penis the men having sex with each other were riding on, or the Mickey Mouse testicles, until the 2nd or 3rd time around.  The piece is, to say the least, baroque in the sense Deleuze describes in his essay, “The Fold.”

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The other piece that grabbed my attention from another side of the room was Kandinsky’s Panels for Edwin R. Campbell.  Even now looking at these pieces on a computer monitor, they seem to jump out of the screen.  The description reads, “Kandinsky coined the expression ‘nonobjective painting’ to refer to painting that depicted no recognizable objects. Although preliminary studies for one of these paintings suggest that Kandinsky had a landscape in mind when he conceived it, he ultimately envisioned these works as free of descriptive devices. Kandinsky stressed the impact of color and its association with music, explaining that, “color is a means of exerting direct influence upon the soul.”  Whatever Kandinsky was painting, he painted the affects of the pieces in a different way than Cezanne or Bacon, without any descriptors, using the simplest phonemes of formal composition: color and movement.  There is form, but not in the sense that we are used to, and it is painted so masterfully that it exerts a direct visceral response from the beholder upon viewing even on a computer monitor.  What the painting is describing is indescribable in words, as well as in any other medium and digital representation of the painting on a computer, but the affect comes across from piece to viewer without any problem.

Jeff

New Ways of Seeing

Posted in Art and Philosophy, Deleuze, Deleuze and Guattari, Film, Immanence with tags on April 29, 2012 by immanentterrain2

The first time I saw the end of Michelangelo Antonioni’s L’Eclisse I felt I had been caught off guard, disoriented.  The film ends with a string of desolate shots without any narrative progression, shown one after another.    For most of the film we had been following the drama of the central characters.  Suddenly, for the last seven minutes, the characters we have come to know have disappeared — and yet the film continues.  We see deserted streets, shadows, anonymous strangers.  Without the characters to ground us in story, the presence of the camera itself seems stronger.  We become aware of it as an apparatus, a seeing-device that acts as its own separate entity.  There is camera movement (panning, following a figure walking on a street) which suggests that something is about to be revealed; it seems Antonioni is trying to tell us something.  There are some wide, long takes from above that slowly pan around as if surveying the streets. Trees rustle in the wind.  A man in a suit rounds a corner.  A toddler looks up at his mother.  A close up of a man’s earlobe.  A stream of water flows into the gutter.   “Yes, what is it Antonioni?” I remember thinking, “What are you trying to show us?”  I was searching for meaning, for story.  A streetlamp burns brightly.  The music crescendos.  The film is over.  There is an elegance to this sequence that I cannot quite explain.


(a clip from the last seven minutes of L’Eclisse)

This Italian neo-realist film is a break from “classical” filmmaking, in which the director shapes chunks of reality into comprehensible segments.  Through continuous editing, the film takes on a coherent perspective that places it in relation to a world that is otherwise chaotic and absurd.  The perception of one’s life as a linear progression with a chain of cause and effect is reinforced through continuous editing.  People’s lives are invented as stories with a beginning, middle, and end.  A film that shows a continuity of action reaffirms our belief that there is a logical order to things in this world, that we are in control of our actions and can predict their outcomes.

Film theorists of the mid 20th century, such as Siegfried Kracauer, speak to the issues of living in a modern society where, as we’ve heard before, the question shifts from “how should one live?” to the more daunting and open-ended question of “how might one live?”  Kracauer says in a period when religion or ideology are not imposed upon the individual, people become fragmented beings, living in a weird abstractness.   Cinema can be a way to ground oneself, to make sense of things, in this new and orderless world.  In Siegfried Kracauer’s Theory of Film,  he suggests to get rid of this uncomfortable state, we turn to cinema, as it is a way to reach the full potential of the immediacy of physical reality.  It’s about showing us what’s real, what’s tangible. He applauds film for its ability to reveal truths that go unseen in daily life.   Kracauer is not necessarily saying that cinema is life-affirming because it feeds us a logical order around which operate; rather, he values the way the camera can isolate objects and show them in ways previously unimaginable, bringing back life into them.

Deleuze speaks of smooth and striated spaces.  Smooth spaces allow for happenings that are more intuitive or spontaneous.  In contrast, striated spaces are those that limit, confine, and schematized.  Classical cinema can be described as striated because it is mapped, defined, coded — it uses a system of symbols that with pre-determined meanings.   The shots “speak” to one another, meaning they connect or associate with each other in a predictable way.  Cinema becomes smooth when meaning becomes unpredictable, when images take on associations that could not have been conceived of prior to their creation.  Deleuze does not say that modern cinema is necessarily defined by a lack of narrative.  Of modern cinema he writes “suppose a character finds himself in a situation, however ordinary or extraordinary, that’s beyond any possible action, or to which he can’t react […] when we find ourselves in those purely optical and aural situations, not only does action and thus narrative break down, but the nature of perceptions and affections changes, because they enter a completely different system from the sensory-motor system of “classical” cinema” (On The Movement-Image, 51).  

It is in this way that we come to appreciate existence in a new way that functions differently from the automatic responses embedded within the codes of society.  Deleuze espouses this type of “cinema of immanence” in which there are no preconceived notions or givens — everything happens as it unfolds. For me, this is embodied in L’Eclisse.  

 

J.C.K.

_____________________________________________________________________

 

Resources:

Kracauer, Siegfried.  Theory of Film: The Redemption of Physical Reality.  Princeton: Oxford University Press, 1960

Deleuze, Gille. On The Movement-Image,”  in Negotiation 1972-1990, trans. Martin Joughin and Barbara Habberjam. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press. 2000.

Deleuze, Gilles and Guattari, Felix. A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia, trans. Brian Massumi. Minneapolis and London: University of Minnesota Press. 1987

 

I Don’t Want to be a Spaghetti

Posted in Bergson, Body and Affect, Deleuze, Film, Immanence with tags , , , , , on April 17, 2012 by immanentterrain2

Lately, I have been obsessed with the concept of suspension of disbelief. To fully enjoy a movie, we must suspend our disbelief to a certain extent. If we sit there thinking, “this is only a movie,” we will not become immersed and the experience will not be as meaningful. To me, watching a good film is very much like being in a dream. In my dreams, sometimes bizarre events occur (and sometimes I even find them bizarre as I’m dreaming) but I never stop to analyze them – I just continue on with my actions. Also, transmogrification is a big part of dreaming. Throughout a dream, I might be in several radically different locations without any explanation as to how I got there. In dreams (and to a certain extent in films), time can be nonlinear and rapid changes need no explanation.

While watching the second half of Tropical Malady in class, it wasn’t until after the film had ended that I wondered, “what exactly did I just watch?” As the action was occurring on the screen, I was watching intently, curious to see what would happen next. Weerasethakul ended part one of his film without any resolution. Tong finishes licking Keng’s (potentially) urined-stained fingers and then walks away. When the second part of the film starts, it becomes clear that we are following a different narrative. While the same actors pop up, it is unclear to the viewer whether or not they are the same characters in part one. The fact that films like this exist (and are able to win the Jury Prize at Cannes) excites me. If viewers are becoming advanced enough to watch and enjoy films like Tropical Malady, the art of filmmaking will surely advance to new and exciting territories.

So, how does all of this apply to Gilles Deleuze? From what I understand thus far, Deleuze holds cinema in very high regard. Unlike other art (painting, sculpture, dance, etc.) it is not merely a means for communicating a message or an aesthetic device. Instead, cinema is pure immanence and sensation; cinema is its own reality. It’s also important to note that as a film is being made, it’s already a memory. While a painter can see what is he is working on as he works, a filmmaker cannot. Sure, he can edit and re-watch material thousands of times; however, memory plays a big role in the filmmaking process (after all, cinema is movement in time, so it’s not something that can be immediately absorbed all at once). At this point, Deleuze’s writings on memory and sensation are what most interest me most and have helped me to understand why he’s an important philosopher. Deleuze’s body of work seems to build toward a radically different film theory.

If we go back to Uexküll and the tick, we remember that the only way that tick knows of its existence is when it comes into contact with a warm blooded animal or the sun; the tick’s entire life revolves around these two sensations. For humans, life is different because there are larger external forces, more things to influence and to be influenced by. Sitting in a dark movie theater, watching a movie like Tropical Malady, my life becomes more like that of the tick because I am entering into a whole new existence, a new reality, a place that is “between art and life” (according to Godard) and seems more like a dream than being awake. When other elements are combined with the moving image, I think it becomes harder to become absorbed and experience a film the way a tick would sunlight. When I am just faced with the moving image and nothing more, I am given the opportunity to notice new things and to let my mind run wild. In movies without dialogue, I often find myself thinking incredibly random thoughts that don’t directly have anything to do with the film. Because I don’t have any dialogue to follow, I’m letting my eyes absorb the images and my mind run wild. When I watch films multiple times, I never experience them in the same exact way – it all depends on my mood, what I had been thinking about previous to the film screening, etc. Although the same images are repeating themselves, every single viewing is unique.

Since watching a movie is like dreaming, when we see a dream in a movie it is like having a dream within a dream. For example, the final scene of Ingmar Bergman’s Shame feels like a dream although it is not blatantly identified as such. Although I can’t find a clip of the final scene, here is the trailer for those who haven’t seen it:

To make a long analysis short, Bergman does many things in this final scene in order to make it feel dreamlike to the audience. In the beginning of the film, a character name Fillip is introduced as an acquaintance of the two main characters, Jan and Eva. When we see him again, he seems to have no memory of the couple – he doesn’t show any sort of recognition or compassion towards them when he sees them during war. Another character, Mrs. Jacobi, also goes unrecognized at the end of the film. In real life, people remember one another and even if they’re pretending not to, we can see glimmers of recognition in their eyes or on their faces. When watching the film, I Jan, Eva, and Fillip to remember one another; however, when they did not, I accepted it and did not question it until after the fact. In real life, I would find this lack of recognition strange and unacceptable; in cinema life (or cinema reality) I don’t really question anything until the film is over and the lights are turned on.

Recently, there have been many films about dreams. In Michel Gondry’s The Science of Sleep, Stephane’s father has just died and he’s moved back to France to live in his childhood apartment. While his mother has promised him a creative job, he realizes from the first day that he is just a cog in the wheel, copying and pasting text that he himself has not created. As the film progresses, the images on the screen become less easy to identify. Is this a dream? Is this really happening? As film progresses, I accept the images as the reality of the cinema – what is happening on the screen is, in some way, actually happening to Stephane. After the film is over and I actually try to decide what were Stephane’s dream and what was his reality, I realize that it is impossible to do. Gondry has created a film that is an combination of dream and reality – it’s a dream reality that we see on a screen (if that makes sense). Without artificial constructions, our minds are haphazard… filled with unconnected, delirious thoughts. In Gondry’s film, there are no artificial constructions and we are able to experience a mind unbound. The following is one of my favorite scenes from the movie:

Movies like The Science of Sleep are important because they provide a starting point for discussing philosophical ideas. As long as filmmakers keep creating works like Tropical Malady, people will continue to respond in new ways…there will be more opportunities for them to affect and be affected.

— Kilgore Trout

Democracy, Affect, and “Enter-activity” in Zoe Strauss

Posted in Art, Art and Philosophy, Art Exhibits, Bergson, Body and Affect, Deleuze, Immanence, Process Ontology, Relational Aesthetics, Subjectivity with tags on April 3, 2012 by immanentterrain2

The first of these ideas is the concept of antagonism. Laclau and Mouffe argue that a fully functioning democratic society is not one in which all antagonisms have disappeared, but one in which new political frontiers are constantly being drawn and brought into debate — in other words, a democratic society is one in which relations of conflict are sustained, not erased. Without antagonism there is only the imposed consensus of authoritarian order—a total suppression of debate and discussion, which is inimical to democracy.

Antagonism and Relational Aesthetics – Claire Bishop

It is always a truly peculiar situation. The tension residing in the interstices between the one and the other. The stark juxtaposition between percept and affect. The grinding in between.  The antagonism we reference above is resultant of one being thrown amongst the detritus of society. Those forgotten. That’s how it begins.  A violence that confronts the somnambulist as they are awakened from their complacent, passive, acceptance of the world about. The attempt to striate the miasma, to diffuse the smell, to relegate and delineate roles and responsibility, has created a zone of possibility where finally . . . finally, the representative becomes expressive. This I believe was the goal and intent of a Ms. Zoe Strauss. An utterance that could finally be discerned from the constructed milieu of an art world, of a home, of a people. One that resounded “don’t forget us”.

Zoe Strauss’ exhibit, located throughout the city of Philadelphia as billboards with her work strategically positioned in neighborhoods and business districts as well as in the Philadelphia Art Museum, is a materialization of these utterances and the memories of those left along the margins of our society. The identity of these individuals, as just that, individuals, via this display, has created a psycho-geography of sorts out of the cityscape as their stories inscribe their-story (as opposed to his-story) along billboards that dot the sky. The contrast of these images can be jarring as you pass the hopes and dreams of these individuals and the falling out of those same dreams against the progressive utopic skyline of a area betting everything on becoming “America’s next great city”. Zoe is calling for a reading of the lives of the individuals she documents – people she has lived with and befriended – to disturb those walking by. To wake them up. Calling attention to the artistry of these people and the environment that many blindly walk through as these people, trembling and hungry, stand to make up the foundation of our society. Kafka’s melancholic style, resultant of the hyper industrialization of the times he lived in makes plenty of commentary on these facts. His Hunger Artist is evocative of his resentment of the times. “When . . . some leisurely passer-by stopped . . . and spoke of cheating, that was in its way the stupidest lie ever invented by indifference and inborn malice, since it was not the hunger artist who was cheating, he was working honestly, but the world was cheating him of his reward”[1]. Zoe attempts to show the failings of this society in a very human way. To show that society has cheated that which it was meant to protect and afford the right to live. For isn’t the mainstay of our culture supposed to be the pursuit of life, liberty, and happiness. Most importantly to life?

The role of identity within these images – the expressive gestures finally enunciated by those who were subjected to alterity in our society – begs to action not only from the reader of these works but from the subjects documented themselves. In a process of individuation, their identity moves from that of negation to a bellowing affirmation of self. As me because I am me. In truth it was hard to hear these voices at first. The space was filled not with shock and awe but with what Gilles Deleuze would state from his analysis of the works of Francis Bacon, a scream where the source was nowhere to be found. The residue of an attempt to codify and define, to striate the subjects and the subject matter within these pieces. A violent disorientation was the end goal. Screams to the tune of “that’s disgusting” . . . “do people live this way” . . . “this is so random” were ever apparent as they were said by the reader’s of the exhibit.  It was angering, however, this violent disorientation was required of myself as well. Amidst the sounds of laughter, disgust, awe, “don’t go in there . . . don’t look”, was a beautifully tragic project. Tragic in the Greek sense of the hero falling at the expense of what they love or those closest. This story however was re-invented. Zoe’s attempt to give voice to these situations were not about heroicizing problems or vilifying the people’s stories displayed by her works but to vivify their memory. To add a thickness and intensity that contributed to the materialization of their memory. Not as an epithet or effigy but to in-liven their faces.

The soundscape that accompanied the experience of these works added to the working assemblage of constructing their meaning.  The juxtaposition of the well off, high middle class and the open display of the lower rungs of society and the resultant reactions were a jarring reminder of the socio-political landscape that we occupy in our contemporary urban landscape.  “Images without sound are powerless to express horror”. [2] The exegesis of this horror is essential to begin a process of constituting the subject and the individual within this environment of the exhibition space. Allowing for an affective re-constitution that transforms both agents within this assemblage of meaning. There is a rebellious duty to disturb that is evident in each piece by Strauss. Art is meant to disturb and disrupt the status quo. In other words to question.

Zoe Strauss (source: Philly.com)

Identity really becomes material as one traverses the landscape of the exhibit. The promise of photography as a medium is its ability to record difference and time. Difference becomes innate and identity is not constituted through a negation of an other. It becomes a process.  The idea of the subject becoming an individual breaks with a historical trajectory that has tried to demarcate the boundaries of humanity and those included within its purview. The other and their existence, their minor status within the social, have been shown to be a conscious construct of those (regardless of number) who have ascertained power in relation to those subjected to it. “One ever feels his twoness . . . two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body, whose dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder.”[3] One ever feels their status and the status that has been imposed on them. DuBois would go further to say that “[i]t is a peculiar sensation, this double-consciousness, this sense of always looking at one’s self through the eyes of others, of measuring one’s soul by the tape of a world that looks on in amused contempt and pity.” The work of Zoe Strauss is an attempt to reconfigure the image of those with this double consciousness. Those that are subjected to the discursive laws of society and made to feel a “twoness” as the result of the unity of the multiple forces that constitute their identity being torn between two ends or points in the landscape that make up or social-hierarchical structure. To render the invisible not merely as a form of representation but to begin the process of expressing the identity of those within the photographs at that particular instance in history.

Zoe, with an allusion to Bergson and his notions of concrete and abstract time, tries to render the forces within our social terrain visible and remove the confusion that Bergson would constantly refer to in his ideas on time, matter, and memory.  Strauss wants the viewers of these pieces to be realized and to know that they are existent because they truly are. The viewers experiences juxtaposed with those in the photographs renders this distinction more real.  For the viewer, they become a part of this coming into existence as they travel through the spatial enunciation of this identity recorded in a visually material literature. A material language that is read through their active participation in the construction of these spaces meaning and recording in history. To turn this image on its head and give voice to those who in society were told that their voice could only be validated through certain schema or blocks in the social terrain of human experience.

In the case of antagonism, argue Laclau and Mouffe, ‘we are confronted with a different situation: the presence of the ‘Other’ prevents me from being totally myself. The relation arises not from full totalities, but from the impossibility of their constitution.’ 40 In other words, the presence of what is not me renders my identity precarious and vulnerable, and the threat that the other represents transforms my own sense of self into something questionable. When played out on a social level, antagonism can be viewed as the limits of society’s ability to fully constitute itself. Whatever is at the boundary of the social (and of identity), seeking to define it also destroys its ambition to constitute a full presence: ‘As conditions of possibility for the existence of a pluralist democracy, conflicts and antagonisms constitute at the same time the condition of impossibility of its final achievement.’[4] We must push to the edges of those boundaries and burst through. To invent through the openings that have been created via the intense accumulation of otherness on the fringes of society. “Antagonism is discursively constituted”[5] and was made evident through the conversation surrounding each piece within the art gallery and the pieces throughout the city as well.

The process of individuation and democracy must be exhausted as these terms – democracy, interactivity, agency, etc. – are blindly wielded in not only the art world but also the world theater at large. How is a sense of agency, empowerment, or democracy within these theaters even possible based on certain superficial or superimposed ideals glazed over agents and bodies in society? Identity must be valid within one’s self. If unity is multiplicity, as discussed by Nietzsche or even Spinoza, we cannot solely rely on a constituted subject as the result of a derogatory machine that works, subjugates and “reposes on a double identity: of the thinking subject, and of the concepts it creates and to which it lends its own presumed attributes of sameness and constancy . . . In thought its end is truth, in action justice. The weapons it wields in their pursuit are limitive distribution (the determination of the exclusive set of properties possessed by each term in contradistinction to the others: logos, law) and hierarchical ranking (the measurement of the degree of perfection of a term’s self-resemblance in relation to a supreme standard, man, god, or gold: value, morality). The modus operandi is negation: x = x = not y. Identity, resemblance, truth, justice, and negation . . . The end product would be ‘a fully legitimated subject of knowledge and society’ . . . endlessly reproduced and disseminated at every level of the social fabric.” [6] An X = X not because X is not equal to Y but because X is X. This demarcates an indiscernible zone of autonomy within the social landscape that allows for identity to stand in and of itself. A zone that is relationally and affectively interconnected with its milieu. Zoe herself is emblematic of this concept as she still lives within the environments and personally interacts with all of those in her work. The question now becomes how, in these “indiscernible” zones of autonomy, do we truly identify the subject and give it voice? How do we release it from the territorialzed confines of society at large? How do we allow for it’s becoming?

The subject, identity, and/or the individual is realized through a spatial/relational orientation with its milieu. This is an affective relationship. One that allows for all parties involved to enact change on each other. Without this relationship constituted in this way, nothing can occur within the modernist or postmodernist ideal as we have defined it (if we can truly say that it is something that can be defined). Interactivity occurs within the encounter and experience derived of actively perceiving these images that afford us the opportunity to think outside given frameworks. There is no cause and effect type of relationship here as these perceptions and the subsequent meaning – created, not derived – from them occur in the instantaneous moments which we perceive as we “enter-act” (as opposed to merely interact) with pieces. They are created in praesenti. As Hume would note, cause and effect is inferred – it is not given. It is a construction that humanity uses to make the world sensible or intelligible and occurs a posteriori. Hindsight is always 20/20. Thus is logic and causality. Our knowledge and meaning emerges in that miraculous duration of attentive tinkering we call perception. “ . . . The emergence of both individual and milieu – following a course [devenir] in which preliminary tensions are resolved but also preserved . . . the conservation of being through becoming”[7]. Any democratic notions inherent within these works are upheld through this tension. This tension is the creative force, in the in-between (mediation or medius in its pure etymological sense), that materializes the memories and stories told through the interaction one enters into with the photography in the exhibit and billboards displayed throughout the city.

Memory and perception are the apparatus by which we construct a narrative through perceiving these works. Along with Bergson (In his Matter and Memory), the inventive capacity of our cognition, our action in thinking, lies within our ability to forget – our short term memory – which in turn forces us to invent. Henri Bergson defines memory itself as an image that intervenes in active perceptions as we experience the world. Memories become the residual of our affective experience of the world about. These memories are “materially” perceived. By attaching memory and consciousness to a physical process of perception, I believe Bergson allows for the materialization of not only matter but identity itself to be rendered comprehensible even in art. “Matter can be impressed with a form, and the source of ontogenesis can be derived from this matter – form relation. Indeed, if haecceities were not somehow inherent within the atom, or matter, or indeed form, it would be impossible to find a principle of individuation in any . . . realities. To seek the principle of individuation in something that preexists this same individuation is tantamount to reducing individuation to nothing more than ontogenesis. The principle of individuation here is the source of haecceity”[8]. This formation of matter is the beginning of our material perception of our milieu and the beginning of how we can enter into interactivity with the world and in this case this exhibit. Our memory (in the long-term) can no longer be perceived as a latent vegetative contemplation or “image”. “In truth, it no longer represents our past to us, it acts it; and if it still deserves the name of memory, it is not because it conserves bygone images, but because it prolongs their useful effect into the present moment”.[9] This expressive transformation of memory as images and its becoming active in the present is exactly what Zoe’s aim becomes as she spatially gives voice to those within her photographs throughout the city and the art gallery. Our perception of these elements, interwoven into the social fabric of the urban landscape, and the socio-political and economic landscape of the art gallery, allow for a prolonging, and vivification of our experiences long gone but brought to the for.

Zoe Strauss Billoard Project Map
(source: Philadelphia Museum of Art)

The first records, in the form of memory-images, all the events of our daily life as they occur in time; it neglects no detail; it leaves to each fact, to each gesture, its place and date. Regardless of utility or of practical application, it stores up the past by the mere necessity of its own nature. By this memory is made possible the intelligent, or rather intellectual, recognition of a perception already experienced; in it we take refuge every time that, in the search for a particular image, we remount the slope of our past. But every perception is prolonged into a nascent action; and while the images are taking their place and order in this memory, the movements which continue them modify the organism, and create in the body new dispositions towards action.

Matter and Memory – Henri Bergson

These new dispositions allow for a transformative change that in a present, immanent, world of relationality we gain agency in our autonomy as a becoming individual. Agency can no longer be relegated to something that is bequeathed to subjects which in turn subjectifies and indebts them once more to the one who gave this all-too-wonderful gift. These changes can be read as we, as well as our milieu, come into existence in a symbiosis of in-volution. These changes can be read across many different mediums.

This is the primary reason why, in this essay, we have referred to the viewers of these works as readers. This in-volution calls for a new form of literacy in how we interact and navigate an environment such as the one we have been describing in gallery space housing Zoe’s exhibit. A form of literacy that in many ways has been devalued as it cannot be controlled or has been subjugated to other forms of knowledge construction so that it can be. For are not words microcosms of difference that are physically and psychically read due to their innate and minute differences in their constitution and how they’re juxtaposed against open space? Are they not read by the scanning of even the most infinitesimal differences in the assemblage of their visual components? Do we not hold them in contrast to the plane from which they emerge (their environment/milieu)? Essentially, a poetic (and by poetic we mean in the greek sense of creation) attempt to striate, territorialize, and demarcate areas of space to construct systematic meanings from a smooth, indiscernible plane? This action in and of itself, and the illocution or statements that elicit performative acts is exactly what constitutes a language (especially when it comes to art and materially based linguistic systems), otherwise, what is the point? “[T]he performative itself is explained by the illocutionary . . . and the illocutionary is in turn explained by collective assemblages of enunciation”[10].

It is in these assemblages that we are truly interested in order to ascertain a new image of what it means to read these newly re-constituted spaces. What begins to define these territories are these becomings of expression, the enunciated utterances mediated through the words represented by the works placed throughout the city and the gallery space. “ . . . [T]his moment: the becoming-expressive . . . the emergence of expressive proper qualities, the formation of matters of expression that develop into motifs and counterpoints . . . [is] the essential thing. . . [T]he disjunction noticeable between the code and the territory”[11]. The coding of these territorialized spaces are due expressively to this “disjunction”, juxstaposition, or difference in contrast to the milieu these objects are embedded in. In other words, a psycho-geographical rendering of urban space that we consciously perceive and begin to read. And finally beginning to construct knowledge and meaning based on their collective force in expressing their identity. These codes are not predetermined, a priori, determinations of meaning but are derivative of experience and experimentation (as Hume would lay out on his artifice of thought). Through Zoe’s works, it becomes apparent that we enter into these assemblages of meaning not by choice or rationale, but by a necessity to make sense of it all. An affective, symbiotic, relationship that interconnects bodies, modalities, or these indiscernible zones of being to one another. As stated before, if left to logic and ratiocinicity, there would be no room for readers to perceive the variance or chromaticism innate within these pieces. We would be confined to the same functive, normalizing lingual games that we continually impose on environments to derive sense from them after the fact. Meaning can no longer unfold and we are taken out of the immanent and immediate environment in which we conceptualize and communicate the beauty in the world. We must be inventive and through our collective assemblages of meaning and affective (instead of effective) interaction with each other we can communicate this ontogenetic, engendering knowledge. For a new image of language, “[t]he organization of qualified marks into motifs and counterpoints necessarily entails a taking on of consistency, or a capture of the marks of another quality, a mutual branching of . . . colors-gestures . . . Consistency necessarily occurs between heterogeneities, not because it is the birth of a differentiation, but because heterogeneities that were formerly content to coexist or succeed one another become bound up with one another through the ‘consolidation’ of their coexistence and succession”[12]. This consolidation of expression begins to constitute our new image of language, the word itself, and move toward the valorization of lingual systems that are not primarily representative.

This capacity is found in art and is exemplified by the work of Zoe Strauss in her 10 years exhibit and billboard project. Zoe’s work, “produces an active solidarity in spite of skepticism; and if the writer is in the margins or completely outside his or her fragile community, this situation allows the writer all the more the possibility to express another possible community and to forge the means for another consciousness and another sensibility”[13]. An act of solidarity bellowing out from the margins of society and captured in Zoe’s photography.

Victor Peterson 

Notes:

Zoe Strauss: 10 Years Exhibit – Philadelphia Museum of Art

Zoe Strauss Billboard Project in Philadelphia


[1] Kafka, Franz. A Hunger Artist. CreateSpace , 2010. Print.

[2] Toussaint, Jean-Philipe. The Bathroom. Dalkey Archive Press, 1985. Print.

[3] DuBois, W.E.B. The Souls Of Black Folk. Penguin Classics, 1996. Print.

[4] Bishop, Claire. “Antagonism and Relational Aesthetics.” October Magazine, Ltd. and Massachusetts Institute of Technology. (2004): 51-79. Print.

[5] Laclau, Ernesto, and Chantal Mouffe. Hegemony And Socialist Strategy, Towards A Radical Democratic Politics. Verso Books, 2001. (P. 168)

[6] Deleuze, Gilles, and Félix Guattari. A Thousand Plateaus, Capitalism And Schizophrenia. Univ Of Minnesota Press, 1987. Print.

[7] Simmondon, Gilbert. The Birth of the Individual. J. Crary and S. Kwinter. Zone Books, 1992. Print.

[8] Simmondon p. 298. A Haecceity encompasses the discreet qualities, innate to a body or entity. Difference is at the root of all identity.

[9] Bergson, Henri. Matter and Memory. Mineola, New York: Dover Publications, Inc. , 2004. Print.

[10] Deleuze, Gilles, and Félix Guattari. A Thousand Plateaus, Capitalism And Schizophrenia. Univ Of Minnesota Press, 1987. Print. (p. 78).

[11] Deleuze and Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus, p 322.

[12] Deleuze and Guattari. A Thousand Plateaus, p. 330.

[13] Deleuze, Gilles, and Felix Guatarri. “Kafka: Toward a Minor Literature.” Theory and History of Literature. Volume 30. (1986) Print.

Theoriography – On the writing of concepts

Posted in Deleuze, Deleuze and Guattari, Immanence, Process Ontology, Rhizome with tags , on March 5, 2012 by immanentterrain2

… in which a new student of Deleuze attempts a commentary on/using his methodology.

“There is no sharper point than that of Infinity. What bliss to plunge the eyes into the immensity of sky and sea! Solitude, silence, incomparable chastity of the blue! … monotonous melody of the waves, all these things think through me or I through them … I say they think, but musically and picturesquely, without quibblings, without syllogisms, without deductions.” — Baudelaire, “The Artist’s Confiteor,” Paris Spleen.

– to begin in the middle, experiencing the sea not as one does from the shore – the water first touching a toe, then a knee, then perhaps the shoulders, and after a while wading back out; tension rising and falling as a narrative arch, rising and falling as the waves, which, by keeping one’s head out of the water are always clearly visible from above. No. Instead, plunging into the water. Perhaps at night, perhaps upside down. Trying at first to orient oneself, to find the surface, but then, acclimating, acquiescing. The waves are not now visible as distant, discreet entities with beginnings and endings, but rather are felt, as flux and flow that pass over and affect.

This is to read Kafka. And to read Deleuze. I was impressed to learn Kafka’s method of writing “The Judgement”: in one sitting, overnight, flowing, writing almost continuously, “thinking through things,” or at least, thinking through writing, “without syllogisms, without deductions.” When Deleuze writes about Kafka, he writes about blocks and lines of flight. As someone currently working on a thesis project, I know about blocks – which is why I was so intrigued by Kafka’s methods and Deleuze’s reflections on them: they gave me a new inspiration to just write. Having already done much research and already constructed many thoughts on my topic, reflecting on this method of writing initially made me feel that all I needed to do was write and transfer those internal concept structures into a written form.

But this is where my initial understanding was slightly off. Deleuze would not be interested in this idea of some internal structure that writing simply transfers to the page, nor do I think this would be his interpretation of Kafka’s method. This is what Deleuze would call a tracing rather than a mapping. The tracing attempts to copy the internal to external; “to explore an unconscious that is already there from the start, lurking in the dark recesses of memory and language.” (TP, p. 12) This is the thought that seems perfect at 4am but then melts at the first light of day. The Baudelaire passage poignantly illustrates this: his beauty is always lost and distant. Baudelaire’s “incomparable chastity of the blue” connects with what Rebecca Solnit calls “the blue of distance”: “the light that does not touch us … that gets lost [and] gives us the beauty of the world.” Baudelaire watches the waves from the shore. This is the desire always out of reach that Walter Benjamin describes as the “Blue Flower” in his essay on Surrealism “Dream Kitsch.” When thinking about Kafka writing “The Judgement”, I initially thought of the automatic writing of the Surrealists, but now I realize that this too is more of a tracing than a mapping. About the Surrealists, Benjamin writes: “They seek the totemic tree of objects within the thicket of primal history” (TWoA, p. 238) clearly not a rhizomatic pursuit.

Deleuze contrasts the map to the tracing: “The map does not represent an unconscious closed in upon itself; it constructs the unconscious.” (TP, p. 12) In his introductory notes to A Thousand Plateaus, Brian Massumi clarifies his translation of “lines of flight”: the original French term fuite conveys “not only the act of fleeing or eluding but also flowing, leaking and disappearing into the distance.” (TP, p. xvi) Indeed Kafka (and Deleuze) is not content to contemplate infinity from afar in quiet reverie, but instead is always moving towards it. So my task then is not to write some predefined internal structure but instead to create the structure through the act of writing it.

[Added paragraph, 5/17/2012. -rory] The distinction here is the difference between the map and the tracing. Mapping involves a transfer from one domain into another — which requires the collapsing or consolidating of certain dimensions (as in from 3D to 2D), and/or the selective filtering, ignoring or abstracting of certain details. Each of these operations require some kind of subjective decisions at each step (the introduction of perspective, for example). That means that maps are productive, create power, can be expressive of ideology and so on — and as such, mapping can be an operation that consciously challenges all those things. On the other hand, tracing is intended to be value neutral and thus can only pass those things through, not challenge or recast them. My impression is that “automatic writing” is intended to be this kind of “pass through”: a tracing of the unconscious onto the page. By contrast, in “The Judgement”, K was flowing but not ignoring reflection or critical judgements; or rather, he was trying to cultivate a process that did all these things through the process of flowing.

But all this brings me to my one confusion / critique of Deleuze so far, and that is: how does one sustain the time or duration that is essential to his process ontology? How does a becoming not simply reduce into a new fixed category? [This example updated, 5/17/2012. -rory] For example, a droplet of water. As a fixed identity it is just a molecule. But it always exists in motion, as a part of some flow or process of becoming — for example, falling as rain. Is this then a fixed category “rain”? No because that too is in motion: into a stream, into a river, into the sea — in process and becoming. And yet, this entire process of becoming could be defined as another fixed thing, for example, the water cycle (precipitation, percolation, evaporation, etc). How does process resist always falling into a fixed static identity or concept? Even the wave can exist as a standing wave — a flowing that becomes a fixed thing. Perhaps I am misunderstanding something. Though really it probably doesn’t matter. As Brian Massumi advises in his introduction: “The question is not: is it true? But: does it work? What new thoughts does it make possible to think? … What new sesnsations and perceptions does it open in the body?” (TP, p. xv) Perhaps, at least in my case, it may at least help make possible the thinking (and writing) of my thesis first draft.

– Rory Solomon

Baudelaire, Charles. Paris Spleen. New York: New Directions Pub. Co., 1988.

Benjamin, Walter et al. The Work of Art in the Age of Its Technological Reproducibility, and Other Writings on Media. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2008.

Deleuze, Gilles, and Félix Guattari. A Thousand Plateaus : Capitalism and Schizophrenia. Minneapolis, Minn.; London: University of Minnesota Press, 1998.

Solnit, Rebecca. A Field Guide to Getting Lost. New York: Viking, 2005.