05 September 2006

I Am Legion

For some reason I haven't been able to get the image of one of the demons from the film Constantine, starring Keanu Reeves, out of my mind this evening. Sadly I've been unable to find a film still of this particular image, so if anyone could acquire one for me I'd be eternally grateful... Or very grateful, at any rate. When the character of Constantine leaves the church, walking into a dark and rain drenched night, after meeting with the angel Gabriel, he's fallen upon by a horrific demon that lacks any sort of overarching unity, but which is instead composed of all sorts of insects, shellfish, crabs, centipedes, etc. Although the creature has a humanoid form, whenever Constantine goes to swipe at it breaks apart, flying in all directions, only to unify itself once again and strike him. What we have here is a sort of unity that resembles that described by Leibniz when he writes that, "Each portion of matter may be conceived as like a garden full of plants and like a pond full of fishes. But each branch of every plant, each member of every animal, each drop of its liquid parts is also some such garden or pond. And though the earth and the air which are between the plants of the garden, or the water which is between the fish of the pond, be neither plant nor fish; yet they also contain plants and fishes, but mostly so minute as to be imperceptible to us" (Monadology, 67-8). The unity of this creature is a unity of creatures, all with their own autonomy and distinct organization.

Such a being brings to mind Deleuze and Guattari's offhand remark about mosquitos in A Thousand Plateaus. There Deleuze and Guattari, describing multiplicities, write that
In any event, the pack has a borderline, and an anomalous position, whenever in a given space an animal is on the line or in the act of drawing the line in relation to which all the other members of the pack will fall into one of two halves, left or right: a peripheral position, such that it is impossible to tell if the anomalous is still in the band, already outside the band, or at the shifting boundary of the band. Sometimes each and every animal reaches this line or occupies this dynamic position, as in a swarm of mosquitoes, where "each individual moves randomly unless it sees the rest of [the swarm] in the same half-space; then it hurries to re-enter the group. Thus stability is assured in castrophe by a barrier." (245)
Returning to the Nietzschean theme from a couple days ago regarding the relativity of unity-- wherein a multiplicity takes another multiplicity as an individual --the sort of unity of a swarm is a unity composed of further multiplicities that can themselves be conceived as being composed of further multiplicities. I can conceive my own body, for instance, as a sort of highly unified swarm composed of a multiplicity of other organisms. The interest of this model of organization and individuation, I think, is that it doesn't rely on any higher code or command-heirarchy to maintain its fuzzy organization, but rather produces its unity in and through the interactions of the elements belonging to the swarm.


Blogger Padraig said...

The Evil Demon of Images strikes again:


September 08, 2006 4:11 PM  
Blogger Sinthome said...

Thanks Padraig! The demon I'm looking for is the molusk-insect demon from the scene in the road outside the church.

September 08, 2006 4:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Get over it, its a stupid poorly made movie based on a stupid poorly made comic book

February 25, 2007 10:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


November 10, 2007 9:30 PM  

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