Archive for the Rhizome 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.


[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

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.


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.”





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.


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.

What if the Tree was Laid Flat?

Posted in Bergson, Deleuze, Immanence, Phenomenology, Rhizome with tags on February 22, 2012 by immanentterrain2

I like the idea of the rhizome being more akin to roots than branches, but in further reading the material, the grass or weeds metaphor of the rhizome helped me to understand this concept as, in the way I assume Delueze wishes it to be, connoting something that spreads indefinitely in all directions. After going home and thinking about Deleuze’s ideas on genealogy taken from the interviews he had regarding Foucault’s work (expressly with concerns to his critique of a Darwinian point of view more so than Nietzsche’s with regards to the evolution of concepts as opposed to a genealogy or inheritance essentially not based in truth but power) I tried to work out some budding questions.  My hope was to attempt to fully understand what Deleuze was proposing.

The questions I had were whether or not, in our creating concepts in an additive function, even if on an immanent plane (i.e. concepts as a result of experimentation and the use of conjunctions such as “and”), would eventually create a hierarchal structure that was oriented in another way? What is the difference between evolutions of concepts, whether it is vertical or lateral, linear or spatial, as opposed to creating concepts from others and so on by experimenting on an artifice where nothing is relegated to cause and effect or any transcendental Laws of nature? (Visualize the tree metaphor used to describe knowledge production by Deleuze in describing the rhizome. Instead of its verticality being called into question, what if we laid the tree flat?). By creating concepts from others (even in an immanent world) wouldn’t we be able to trace backwards towards the origins of such concepts laid out on this plane? Therefore, exposing a sort of evolution of the concepts created? In other words, a hierarchy laid sideways?

In my nascent understanding of the imagery laid out by Deleuze, this metaphor of the tree (knowledge branching out of an episteme) would imply a hierarchical system within the creation of concepts. This made the additive capacity of the use of the conjunction “and . . . and  . . . and” or “+ . . . + . . . +” with concerns to creating concepts at the edges of the artifice of knowledge, literature, etc. hard to grasp in accordance with my imaginings of how in his view we must move away from any “territorializing”, codifying, or hierarchically systemic identification of the world about. With a more rigorous reading over of Deleuze’s ideas, I was able to resolve my questions from a passage in the introduction of A Thousand Plateaus and their discussion of the rhizome.

Deleuze brings in the concept of memory (which I believe is influenced by Henri Bergson) and states that there is a division between the long term and the short term. He proposes that the short term allows us to forget previously invented concepts and move on to create the next. In this system, the genealogical aspect of concepts – an evolution of sorts as a result of the additive use of the conjunction “and” (which in my view leads one to think that there has to be something to originally add to therefore the metaphor of the tree)  – lives in the long term memory which is not the active and/or creative aspect of our cognition. Removed from our conscious perception of concepts, this would allow for the creation of concepts to not be placed in a hierarchical ontic system.

“Many people have a tree growing in their heads, but the brain itself is much more a grass than a tree. ‘The axon and the dendrite twist around each other like bindweed around brambles, with synapses at each of the thorns.’ The same goes for memory. Neurologists and psychophysiologists distinguish between long-term memory and short-term memory (on the order of a minute). The difference between them is not simply quantitative: short-term memory is of the rhizome or diagram type, and long-term memory is arborescent and centralized (imprint, engram, tracing, or photograph). Short-term memory is in no way subject to a law of contiguity or immediacy to its object; it can act at a distance, come or return a long time after, but always under conditions of discontinuity, rupture, and multiplicity. Furthermore, the difference between the two kinds of memory is not that of two temporal modes of apprehending the same thing; they do not grasp the same thing, memory, or idea. The splendor of the short-term Idea: one writes using short-term memory, and thus short-term ideas, even if one reads or rereads using long-term memory of long-term concepts. Short-term memory includes forgetting as a process; it merges not with the instant but instead with the nervous, temporal, and collective rhizome. Long-term memory (family, race, society, or civilization) traces and translates, but what it translates continues to act in it, from a distance, off beat, in an “untimely” way, not instantaneously.” (Deleuze and Guittari, 15-16)

Our class discussion of Hume brought this home even further. The questioning of causality I think marked a break from actually knowing and believing. Before belief constituted knowing. Reason. Specifically, the belief that we could know things “in and of themselves” (which Kant rapidly tried to debunk) that served as the precedent to the creation of the whole world – God as Supreme Cause. But with Hume, we only have belief and imagination, which shows that we connect phenomena/events via inference and habit (which of course in empiricism means that we have to always check these happenings against observation). I feel that this image of thought makes human beings at heart, in the state of nature, inventive. Socially, scientifically, etc.

Foucault’s aims in his analysis of the discursive relations of power that exist within society to expose a genealogy through an archaeological technology to discover the episteme from which social institutions and their “power relations” act within the problem of subjectivity. To in essence unearth certain epistemic discontinuities in the history of concepts that we take for granted. In short, to discuss identity, with regards to institutions, knowledge, concepts, personhood, etc.  Deleuze, in contrast, wants to create a map as opposed to an archaeological site. To show the relationships between agents and not a family tree. 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. Deleuze seeks to be a cartographer, seeking the relationality between agents in his rhizome, his terrain of immanence. In this topography, we turn the social systems we believe we are subject to on their head (instead of working top down, in our plane of immanence, through the subsequent mapping of it, forces us to work from the bottom.  From within the purview of science, philosophy, literature, and art and to their edges). This is a move to push the image of thought, the subject, and art to its farthest limits and to concern ourselves with what is outside their demarcated boundaries. To dig around in the darkness and create new concepts along the margins.

– Victor Peterson

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

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

1914: One or Several Wolves?

Posted in Deleuze and Guattari, Philosophy and Science, Rhizome with tags , , , , on May 10, 2011 by immanentterrain2

You don’t have to read very far in Deleuze and Guattari’s chapter “1914: One or Several Wolves?” in A Thousand Plateaus to sense their near universal abhorrence for Freud’s reductionist methods of psychoanalysis. I have yet to come across anything as antithetical to Freud (granted I haven’t read that much on Freud) as the material found in this chapter, and it’s quite fascinating. Deleuze and Guattari don’t really bother deconstructing Freud’s arguments inasmuch as they more or less completely disregard them. Always “on the verge of discovering a rhizome” (27) but never allowing himself to cross that threshold, Deleuze and Guattari modify the fundamentals of Freudian psychoanalysis in a way that allows for psychoanalysis to build upon their model of the rhizome, assemblage, de-territorialization and re-territorialization.

They begin by delineating Freud’s definition of neurosis and psychosis. Freud claims that neurotics are those who are “capable of making a global comparison between a sock and a vagina, a scar and Castration” (27), but that they are incapable of perceiving larger connections and assemblages within the world. Meanwhile, the psychotic sees the pores, threads, minute connections in large surfaces and this direction of perception will effectively “‘prevent [the psychotic] from using them as substitutes for the female genital’” (Freud qtd. Deleuze and Guattari 27). From here, they claim Freud implies that the psychotic’s perception is defective. Their inability to reconcile their perception with their unconscious is, in the Freudian sense, abnormal. Deleuze and Guattari subvert Freud’s theories suggesting that the ability to distinguish multiplicities in a larger whole is not madness at all, but a process of becoming on the part of individual. It becomes no longer a question of comparison for the neurotic, as it is no longer a question of deficiency for the psychotic. It is Freud’s own shortcomings in limiting the ways in which the unconscious is affected by its interior and exterior milieu that contributes to his inability to evolve beyond the singular (Mother, Father, Castration, etc.).

They propose that the preconscious and unconscious be examined as a body without organs; a vessel or plane in which the process of becoming, de-territorialization and re-territorialization can occur. That which serves as organs is distributed among many. The singularity of one’s body becomes a plane in which a multiplicity of objects, beings, molecules and intensities become an extension of the unconscious and where affective internal and external forces can manifest. Every doubling or multiple that appear in dreams should not be divisible back to the singular as Freud would characteristically move to do, but should be examined as merely a fragment of a multiplicity of forces. Deleuze and Guattari clarify that “the body without organs is opposed less to organs as such than to the organization of the organs insofar as it composes an organism” (30).  Here, the natural formation, placement and presence of organs is subtracted from the body, and instead exists as a plane populated by multiplicities. From this point Deleuze and Guattari transition into their concept of the rhizome and its relation to the multiplicities they contend are present in dream space. They suggest, “one of the essential characteristics of the dream of multiplicity is that each element ceaselessly varies and alters its distance in relation to the others” (30). Multiplicities, populations and intensities circulate freely in dream space without limitations or conventions. The unrestrictive ebb and flow of mass in the unconscious materializes as intensity—something which cannot be measured as lack (something Freud might instinctively suggest), just infinite moves towards and away from the body without organs (31).

They conclude that Freud’s problem was as inevitable as it was inherent in his framework; it grew out of the limitations of linguistics, semiotics and dialectic. He perceived psychoanalysis as a means to give a voice to the unconscious, but failed to realize it would never speak (36). Multiplicities were born out of the very restrictions of dialectic—“to escape… to succeed in conceiving the multiple in the pure state, to cease treating it as a numerical fragment of a lost Unity or Totality” (32). They come to encompass both preconscious and unconscious forces:

[f]or it is the assemblage of both these that is the province of the unconscious, the way in which the former condition the latter, and the latter prepare the way for the former, or elude them or return to them: the libido suffuses everything (35).

Deleuze And Guattari propose an alternative spectrum in which to examine perception and affect. One that accepts a free-play of relations without restrictions and without rigid links as to how their manifestation in the preconscious and unconscious be analyzed.

– Aïcha

D&G’s Nomad as War Machine

Posted in Deleuze, Deleuze and Guattari, Rhizome with tags on April 27, 2011 by immanentterrain2

Deleuze’s Treatise on Nomadology-The War Machine is a manifesto of sorts on not just the analogous example he uses at the beginning of the essay on chess and Go. Chess represents the State and the striated space, while  “Go” (a Chinese and Korean board game) represents the nomad and smooth space.  He writes, “The difference is that chess codes and decodes space, whereas Go proceeds altogether differently, territorializing or deterritorializing it (Make the outside a territory in space; consolidate that territory by the construction of a second, adjacent territory; deterritorialize the enemy by shattering his territory from within; deterritorialize oneself by renouncing, by going elsewhere…) (p.353).Deleuze goes on further to write that the War-Machine in its purest form is exterior to the State apparatus.  His definition of a State is not necessarily any society that has a hierarchy as he writes that primitive societies with chiefs are not a State, but that in ordered to be considered the State, there must be organs of power at work, or mechanisms. These are mechanisms, that go beyond the primordial, rhizomatic structure of a pack, which is nomadic, while what is arborescent, is centered around the organs of power (p.358).

For Deleuze and Guattarri the State is sedentary, while the nomadic moves in and tries to territorialize smooth space, and again deterritorializes striated space. The chapter moves increasingly form discourse about the war-machine and war to the opposition to the State. The war machine can occur anywhere in opposition to any mainstream school of thought, such as in mathematics, science, and (what I am planning to write my final paper about) art and cinema.

The characteristics and definition of the nomad were not as clear to me as the concept of the war machine in relation to the nomad, I think in this essay, but in searching for the meaning, some nomadic notions expressed are, “becoming, heterogeneity, infinitesimal, passage to the limit, and continuous variation (p.363). My own notion of what a nomad is, is turned upside down when reading this, as I have always thought of a nomad as just a sort of wanderer, but in doing a simple Google search of a nomad, Wikipedia describes nomads in three different stages. What is interesting is that in the Wikipedia article there is a section titled “Sedenatarization” which describes the many different examples of the threats to the nomadic lifestyle in the 20th century. As Deleuze and Guattarri go on to explain the nomadic lifestyle is one that is always at threat of appropriation, of being taken up by the state. For example, according to the Nomad Wikipedia page,

“In the 1950s as well as the 1960s, large numbers of Bedouin throughout the Middle East started to leave the traditional, nomadic life to settle in the cities of the Middle East, especially as home ranges have shrunk and population levels have grown. Government policies in Egypt and Israel, oil production in Libya and the Persian Gulf, as well as a desire for improved standards of living, effectively led most Bedouin to become settled citizens of various nations, rather than stateless nomadic herders..”

Once thought of as a people without a land (to me), Deleuze explains that the nomad is not without space, but has a territory; “the elements of his dwelling are concretized in terms of the trajectory that is forever mobilizing them “. “Whereas the migrant leaves behind a place, the nomad is one who does not depart, who clings to the smooth space left by the receding forest. The nomad moves, but while seated, and he is only seated while moving. He knows how to wait with infinite patience. He is a vector of deterritorialization.

Toward the end of the essay, Deleuze and Guattari define the war machine more broadly. They define it as a potential “creative line of flight” from the Statist apparatus of conquer and appropriation. But it is not the nomad who defines this constellation of characteristics, but the constellation that defines the nomad, “and at the same time the essence of the war machine” (423). For Deleuze and Guattari, war is not necessarily the prime activity of the nomadic, but they must create war to counter the destruction. This, I think is found in the work of some artists, philosophers, and scientists.

-Jennifer Thomas