28 September 2006

Working Notes for an Appendix on Deleuze's Theory of Individuation

In a beautiful passage from their "Treatise on Nomadology-- The War Machine", Deleuze and Guattari write,
Let us take a limited example and compare the war machine and the State apparatus in the context of the theory of games. let us take chess and Go, from the standpoint of the game pieces, the relations between the pieces and the space involved. Chess is a game of State, or of the court: the emperor of China played it. Chess pieces are coded; they have an internal nature and intrinsic properties from which their movements, situations, and confrontations derive. They have qualities; a knight remains a knight, a pawn a pawn, a bishop a bishop. Each is like a subject of the statement endowed with a relative power, and these relative powers combine in a subject of enunciation, that is, the chess player or the game's form of interiority. Go pieces, in contrast, are pellets, disks, simple arithmetic units, and have only an anonymous, collective, or third-person function: 'It' makes a move. 'It' could be a man, a woman, a louse, an elephant. Go pieces are elements of a nonsubjectified machine assemblage with no intrinsic properties, only situational ones. Thus the relations are very different in the two cases. Within their milieu of interiority, chess pieces entertain biunivocal relations with one another, and with the adversary's pieces: their functioning is structural. On the other hand, a Go piece has only a milieu of exteriority, or extrinsic relations with nebulas or constellations as bordering, encircling, shattering. All by itself, a Go piece can destroy an entire constellation synchronically; a chess piece cannot (or can do so diachronically only. (A Thousand Plateaus, 352)
This passage provides an excellent entry point to Deleuze's account of individuation. What Deleuze and Guattari here distinguish are two different perspectives on individuation. On the one hand, there is that account of individuation that sees what individuates the individual as an intrinsic property of that individual. This would be the instance of Chess, where the identity of the pieces belongs to the pieces as such. On the other hand, there is that perspective on individuation that sees individuation not as an intrinsic feature of the individual or as a feature of the individual to be found in the individual itself, but rather as a result of the relations that element enters into. Over the course of a game of Go, the "identity" of the disk changes depending on its relationship to other pieces placed on the board. It can thus be said that the disk, as an individual, is perpetually becoming or is a process. Just as I cannot understand the sense of a statement without knowing its relationship to other statements, the identity of the disk depends on its relationship to other disks.

It would thus seem to be simply a matter of claiming that there are two types of individuations: intrinsic and extrinsic. However, the issue is more complicated than this. As Deleuze puts it,
There is a crucial experience of difference and a corresponding experiment: every time we find ourselves confronted or bound by a limitation or an opposition, we should ask what such a situation presupposes. It presupposes a swarm of differences, a pluralism of free, wild or untamed differences; a properly differential and original space and time; all of which persist alongside the simplications of limitation and opposition. A more profound real element must be defined in order for oppositions of forces or limitations of forms to be drawn, one which is determined as an abstract and potential multiplicity. Oppositions are roughly cut from a delicate milieu of overlapping perspectives, of communicating distances, divergences and disparities, of heterogeneous potentials and intensities... Everywhere, couples and polarities presuppose bundles and networks, organized oppositions presuppose radiations in all directions. (Difference and Repetition, 51)
Limitation and opposition are names for representation, and indeed Deleuze and Guattari's point is that Chess functions according to the logic of representation. However, it would be a mistake to assume that there are two types of individuation. Rather, for Deleuze there is only one type of individuation upon which representation is based. Deleuze's central thesis, then, is that difference precedes representation, representation (the logic of identity) does not precede difference. Even the game of Chess presupposes prior differential individuation.

Setting aside any of the political or ethical implications that might follow from treating difference as prior to identity, the first question that naturally emerges is that of what ontological problem might motivate this thesis. Isn't it obvious that there cannot be difference without identical terms to differ from one another? Doesn't representation or the logic of identity adequately account for individuals? Presumably it is uncontroversial that there are individuals. So what is it about the logic of identity and representation that fails to account for individuals. Apart from his argument that the logic of representation fails to give us a concept of difference, but rather inscribes difference in the concept or identity (is this really a problem or is it a convincing way of formulating the problem?), the problem here turns out to be very simple. As Deleuze puts it, "Qualitative or extensive interpretations of individuation remain incapable of providing reasons why a quality ceases to be general, or why a synthesis of extensity begins here and finishes there" (DR, 247). On the one hand, the qualitative, I take it, refers to the logic of predication. If I say "Socrates is a man", I've predicated a quality of Socrates but I have not articulated what makes Socrates "Socrates" or how Socrates differs from other men. I can multiply predicates to my hearts content, striving to find the Socratesness of Socrates in his "accidental qualities", such as having a stub nose, being such and such a height, etc., but all of these qualities remain general. The individual qua individual still remains something that these general qualities are not. We thus have not accounted for what is unique to this individual or what the individual contributes to its individuation.

On the other hand, one of the classic ways of individuating individuals is to point out that no two identities can occupy the same place at one and the same time (individuation through extensity). Yet once again, we fail to give a positive account of the individual qua individual, but again resort to the negative. This time negativity appears in relation to the entities that this individual is not or which do not occupy this place. This, for instance, is how Hegel's account of individuation proceeds in his discussion of "being-there" in the Science of Logic.

I had planned to write a longer post on Deleuze's theory of individuation and the problem that motivates it, but as it turns out my mind is mush this evening, so I decided, instead, to throw out a passage from Difference and Repetition and make a few comments about it. In an amazing passage, Deleuze writes,
Difference is not diversity. Diversity is given, but difference is that by which the given is given, that by which the given is given as diverse. Difference is not phenomenon but the noumenon closest to the phenomenon. It is therefore true that God makes the world by calculating, but his calculations never work out exactly, and this inexactitute or injustice in the result, this irreducible inequality, forms the condition of the world. The world 'happens' while God calculates; if the calculations were exact, there would be no world. The world can be regarded as a 'remainder', and the real in the world understood in terms of fractional or even incommensurable numbers. Every phenomenon refers to an inequality by which it is conditioned. Every diversity and every change refers to a difference which is its sufficient condition. Everything which happens and everything which appears is correlated with orders of differences: differences of level, temperature, pressure, tension, potential, differences of intensity... Every phenomenon flashes in a signal-sign system. In so far as a system is constituted or bounded by at least two heterogeneous series, two disparate orders capable of entering into communication, we call it a signal. The phenomenon that flashes across this system, bringing about the communication between disparate series, is a sign. (DR, 222)
The first lesson to be drawn from this passage, I think, is that Deleuze cannot be adequately be described as an empiricist after the fashion of Hume, no matter how attractive and seductive such a temptation might be given the great difficulty of Deleuze's texts and the relative simplicity of Hume. Classical empiricism is an epistemology premised on the primacy of the given (impressions) and their diversity (the variety of impressions), whereas Deleuze is clearly trying to account for something deeper and more fundamental than the given or the principle by which the given is given. Put differently, what Deleuze calls "the being of the sensible" cannot be equated with what Hume calls the "sensible" or "lively ideas". Indeed, were Hume confronted with a position such as Deleuze's, he would denounce it as metaphysical garbage as the empiricist principle councils us to only accept those ideas that can be traced back to the immediate givens of experience.

What Deleuze likes about empiricism, I think, is its emphasis on the individual or its rejection of universals and a priorism, but no matter how tempting it might be, I think it should never be forgotten that Deleuze is putting forward an ontology designed to account for the individuation of the individual, not an epistemology or theory of knowledge that claims skepticism with regard to our ability to know laws and universals. That is, Hume doesn't reject the thesis that there may be causality or that there may be universals, but rather argues that we are unable to know such things by virtue of our inability to make valid inductions to the universal and necessary from a necessarily finite sampling of instances.

Deleuze's central thesis throughout Difference and Repetition-- a thesis he never rejected, as far as I know --is that individuation precedes the individual. That is, the individual is a product of its process of individuation. It is this process that Deleuze's account of indi-drama-different/ciation is designed to account for. Individuation is here understood as a process, rather than something that is already there in the individual. The "indi" of course, refers to "individuation". "Dramatization" refers to the spatio-temporal dynamisms or what Deleuze calls "intensities" that preside over the course of actualization. "Differentiation" refers to virtual multiplicities that distribute differential relations along with their singularities (potentialities), and which share no resemblance to the actualized individual (I need to write far more about this). Deleuze refers to the domain of differentiation as the domain of problems. And differenciation refers to the actualized individual, or species and parts. Deleuze's thesis is that in the course of actualization, the problem resolves itself and cancels difference by equalizing the inequalities that characterize intensity. That is, there is a movement from the intensive realm of the unequal, to what Deleuze calls the realm of diversity, the given, or the actualized world of extensity. In this process the inequality or insensity that presided over the individuation of the individual disappears or is cancelled. Actualization takes place through the equalization of intensities or inequalities, that are always going to be unique to the field in which processes of individuation are taking place. As such, each individuation is going to be a creation within being, even if their results resemble one another from the standpoint of the actualized entity. Deleuze describes these individuals as "signal-sign" systems as there's a communication between the actualized individual and the interiorized difference and problematic field (the heterogeneous series) and intensity that it continuously communicates with in the process of its ongoing individuation. The heterogeneous series are the virtual dimension of differential relations and their singularities and the extensity of the actualized entity, while the "sign" is the intensity that flashes between the two functioning as a spatio-temporal dynamism presiding over this actualization.

This thesis neatly allows Deleuze to account for the transcendental illusions of representation or the logic of identity. Identity isn't an illusion produced by a mind that is somehow independent of an object. Rather, identity is an illusion produced in and through being itself over the course of actualization. The problematic field and its intensities that are the condition for the actualization of the individual are covered over in the course of actualization. This point can easily be seen through a few examples. If we take the example of an icecube, the individuation of this icecube consists in a transition from water to ice. The "problem" or multiplicity in this example will be the molecules that compose the water, whereas the intensity is going to be the temperature. Deleuze is quite liberal with his use of the virtual, applying it to everything from all the drops of water in the ocean when he discusses Leibniz, to atoms, to genes. Ice is differenCiated by equalizing this intensive difference among the water molecules, activating certain potentialities, and thereby producing an actualized extensity in the form of the ice (presumably other intensive factors such as surface tension and resistance, etc., would apply were we to take into account the icetray, air pressure, and so on). The point is that the temperature or intensive factors disappear when we examine the icecube itself... It's nowhere to be found in the individual itself, though it was the sufficient reason for the production of the icecube. What Deleuze is able to account for by distinguishing the individual from the individuation is thus the specificity of this individual here on the basis of the process by which it came to be and its ongoing process of individuation in its capacity as a signal-sign system (the temperature must be maintained for it to maintain this actualized state).

This is a perfectly banal example and I only offer it to give a clear and readily accessible example of what Deleuze is trying to get at with his account of (indi)different/ciation. A more interesting example can be drawn from a slip of the tongue. For instance, recently in a psychoanalytic session, when going on about my inability to write or to bring projects to completion, believing my ideas to be pedestrian and conceiving myself to exist in an institutional setting where there's no place for me save writing commentaries, I also went on about how I keep obsessively returning to the same themes, thinking I'm discovering them for the very first time, only to find that I wrote something in nearly identical terms five or six years ago. In the process of this frustrated rant, I went on to talk about the temporal paradox of repeating, of not being able to have all my thoughts or "my system" in mind at once, and how each repetition already becomes different from what preceded as my enunciations take on different meaning due to new experience that I've had each time I repeat them. In moaning about this I said "I can't be before myself". Of course, by this I meant that I can't have my thought right there in front of myself like I might survey a venn diagram or a mathematical equation. Yet this expression is also a double entendre, or even a triple entendre. On the one hand, it could be taken to mean that I can't be prior to myself, or that I have a fantasy of engendering myself, creating myself, of having no influences. Yet on the other hand, it could more significantly mean that I can't be for myself (and indeed, I often have dark fantasies of doing something that thoroughly ruins me, which intrude in my thought against my will and cause me a good deal of anxiety). In other words, this slip of the tongue could be expressive of being against myself... If I can't be for (before) I must be against myself. No doubt I use this fantasy as a way of maintaining my desire, for by seeing no place for myself in the world of continental philosophy, I don't bother to revise the things I've written and therefore don't publish more material, thereby allowing myself to sustain the belief that in another universe there could be a place for me or that perhaps I'll finally get a grand idea that will "be for" (before) me, while also perpetually deferring such an act as it would ultimately be dissatisfying... Or something like that.

This bit of speech is, of course, an event and an individual of sorts. If we look to the expression itself for its identity or principle of sufficient reason, we would look among the words to find what it signifies. However, drawing on Freud's account of the primary process, such a slip of the tongue is produced by a differential field (what he describes as the neurological system in his Project essay) populated by energetic disparities among neuronal connections (the famous libido) that resolve themselves by actualizing themselves in a symptom (here the slip of the tongue) that allows for an outlet or dissipation of these inequalities. This individual statement is what it is by virtue of this differential field (the unconscious) and the intensities that animate it. If transcendental empiricism is anything, then it is that ontology that seeks to account for the given on the basis of the inequalities that condition and give it. This would be an approach that applies to social phenomena, physical phenomena, persons, biological systems, ecosystems, works of art, and so on. Everywhere there will be unique differential or problematic fields, along with animating intensities or inequalities functioning as spatio-temporal dynamisms presiding over differentiation or the functioning of different signal-sign systems and functioning as their sufficient reason. Not only does the individuation precede the individual, but the individuation precedes that species (for which Deleuze praises Freud and Darwin) in that individuals do not instantiate species, but rather species are aggregate effects of individuals in a population undergoing similar processes of individuation (environmental factors, genetic factors, developmental factors, and so on). Each individuation will be a unique event in that the intensities presiding over individuation never belong to one and the same differential field and therefore face different inequalities to resolve (hence one of the reasons that genetics are not determining... At most, genetics only outline one, among many, fields of potentiality).

What interests me most in Deleuze's remark about the unequal is that the remainder or unequal is never completely eradicated. That is, each cancellation of difference or intensity produces further inequalities that activate the potentialities of a system in new and different ways. Putting the issue in terms of "adaptation" (which is perhaps unwise as it indicates an environment is there in itself, present-at-hand, and that the individual must simply conform to this environment passively), individuals must adapt to their adaptations, or rather, each new actualization further complicates the field and generates new differential fields and intensities. It take it this is the meaning of the eternal return. How, then, are these concepts to be put to work? And how do they transform the way in which philosophy is conceived. At the very least it is clear that thought itself is an individuation, and any talk of foundations or origins already ignores individuation.


Anonymous glen said...


I want to think about this post some more and possibly add something to bring in Deleuze and Guattari's respective conceptions of 'transversality' as it has been something that I have been thinking about for some time and this truly wonderful post has got me thinking about their different conceptions of transversality (or different accents, I should say) in relation to individuation. It may be a useful way to explore individuation and transversality.

The passage you quote from D&R that begins "Difference is not diversity" is one of my favourites!!

September 28, 2006 11:34 PM  
Anonymous Jeff Wild said...

Dear Sinthome,

Thanks for your thoughtful post. I wonder what type of things you write when your mind isn't "mush" :-).

In reading this text, I couldn't help but think about a passage from John Rajchman's book The Deleuze Connections:

Our lives must be indefinite or vague enough to include such potential for other worlds of predications or individualizations, and so enter into complications with others that are never fully 'explicated.' The vagueness of 'a life' is thus not a deficiency to be corrected, but rather a resource or reserve of other possibilities, our connections. (p. 84)

It appears to me that the deeply felt need to be right, to hold on to one's own identified world view without interest in another's perspective is one of the foundational causes of so much tragedy and suffering in our world today. I think this concept of "vaugeness" can help loosen the hold of righteousness and fundamentalism.

I am wondering if you see this idea of "vagueness" relating to what you have written about individuation and difference?


September 29, 2006 12:39 AM  
Blogger Sinthome said...

Thanks Glen. I look forward to seeing how your work on transversality develops.

September 29, 2006 7:26 AM  
Blogger Sinthome said...

Jeff, Deleuze argues that all Ideas or virtual multiplicities-problems are distinct and obscure and clear and confused. On the one hand, the distinct-obscure polarity refers to the way in which multiplicities are completely differenTiated in terms of their differential relations and singularities, but not yet differeCiated or actualized into their species and parts (recalling that the actual doesn't resemble the problematic field or problem it incarnates insofar as this actualization is a genuine creation). Deleuze argues that the clear-confused doesn't refer to the Idea-multiplicity-problem (which is an ontological category) but to the thinker that thinks it. Here he draws on an example from Leibniz, where the sound of waves crashing on the ocean is clear, but the differential relations of which these sounds are composed (all the drops of water in the ocean) is obscure or the product of subrepresentation, preindividual fields that exceed the zone of clarity (DR 253-5). This strikes me as close to what you're getting at with "vagueness". Where there is no ultimate ground, any clarity is going to be provisional. This zone of clarity is the individual in processes of individuation (thoughts result from individuation as well and are individuals).

September 29, 2006 7:32 AM  
Blogger Nick said...

Great post again. It brings up a point that I've often been confused about though, and perhaps you (and your readers) can help me understand it. In the example you give of the ice cube, the virtual is defined in terms of the molecules and their relations, along with the intensities such as temperature and air pressure, etc. My concern/confusion is that the extensive actuality of an ice cube seems to be based on prior actualities - namely the molecules themselves. More generally, this seems to be the case in every example of the process of individuation. Insofar as the virtual is supposed to be devoid of identities though, this seems to be a contradiction. Now perhaps this problem can be resolved by positing individuations for the molecules themselves, thereby creating a sort of hierarchy of individuations. Or perhaps it's better to understand the term 'molecules' as pointing to a limitation of language, when in reality these molecules are inseparable from the entire field of differentiation. I guess I am wondering what your thoughts are on the issue?

September 29, 2006 3:18 PM  
Blogger Sinthome said...

Matt, I share your perplexity on this point and have grappled with it quite a bit in previous posts on this list. As you point out, every example Deleuze gives is itself an actuality. Genes are virtual, they are actual. Atoms aren't virtual, they are actual. Drops of water aren't virtual, they are actual. Perhaps the only example Deleuze gives that might be counted as virtual would be phonemes, but even phonemes require a material base. The most egregious example I've come across is in Cinema 2, where Deleuze talks about the decks below a ship where the workers work as the virtual and the upper decks as the actual. I don't have not yet been able to come up with an answer to the question that I find satisfying, and am thus inclined to reject the dimension of the virtual altogether as unnecessary. When I've raised these questions in the past here and elsewhere, I'm told that without the category of the virtual we're unable to account for creation and potentiality, yet I don't see why either of these claims are true.

After ten years of intense work on Deleuze's thought, reading his works over and over again, following up his references in Bergson, Spinoza, Leibniz, Kant, Simondon, Maimon, etc., I have yet to find a clear answer to your question. The best I can do is the following: 1) The domain of the virtual pertains to what Deleuze variously calls "differentiation", problems, multiplicities, Ideas, and the preinvididual. What Deleuze emphasizes here is the primacy of *relation* in the genesis of actualities. Relations are literally "no-thing", they aren't objects, yet no actual being would be what it is (according to Deleuze) without the problematic or relational field out of which it's engendered. As a person or biological organism, I might appear to be a discrete entity, detachable from the world, but my being is in constant communication with the physical world around me, other persons, the social (which I take to be distinct from other persons), other organisms, language, and so on and so on. Individuations are perpetually taking place constituting me as an individual, as I resolve these differentials and produce qualities as a result. That is, these elements are constantly being brought into relation with one another dy/dx, precipitating potentialities, that are then actualized along varying routes to produce the actual being that I am (the danger to be avoided here is that I preside over this actualization, when, in fact, I result from it... individuation precedes the individual).

However, as you rightly point out, these networks being brought into relation are themselves actual entities. So the best I can say is that 2) that the virtual is a relative term or that what is virtual from the standpoint of one individual is actual from the standpoint of another. Clearly, despite the hostility of some Lacanians, there is no activity of the unconscious without brains. In my example of the slip of the tongue, the brain is virtual with respect to the speech that came out of my mouth, but neuronal events are nonetheless actual when viewed from another perspective. This language of "perspective", though, is misleading. It would be better to say that neuronal events are "actual for-themselves", emphasizing that this isn't an epistemological issue, but an issue of scales and levels. That is, there are different levels of organization that each follow their own principles... For instance, molecules are perhaps virtual for neurons.

Although I don't agree with all of his characterizations of Deleuze (especially his use of group theory and tendency to reduce potentiality to possibility), DeLanda makes this point well when he argues that species themselves are individuals, rather than categories broader than the organisms that make them up. That is, for Deleuze there's nothing but individuals, but these individuals can enter into a variety of compositions in systems forming further individuals. Nor, it appears, are there any fundamental individuals (indivisible atoms out of which everything is composed), which would be part of what it means to claim there is no ground.

I wish I could give a better answer to your question. If anyone can give a better one that isn't circular (i.e., "without the virtual then there'd be no creation!"... who says, ontological, it's required for there to be creation?), I would truly appreciate hearing it.

Generally I'm suspicious of any *philosopher* claiming something has to do with the limits of language, as philosophy is obligated to be able to articulate its concepts and such a claim brings us perilously close to mysticism and religion.

September 29, 2006 3:58 PM  
Blogger Sinthome said...

Whoops, the previous comment was addressed to Nick, not Matt.

September 29, 2006 3:59 PM  
Blogger Nick said...

I tend to agree on your last point about language. Calling it a limitation was perhaps too strong a word; I merely meant to suggest that language has the tendency to draw our attention to detached units, rather than the entire system they inhere within. As I understand it, your discussion of the primacy of relations seems to be what I had in mind then, where the unit is inseparable (and in fact produced) from the field. To me, this is the most promising position I can think of on how to conceive of the virtual.

I wonder whether making the virtual relative to scales doesn't reduce Deleuze to a theorist of emergence though? Granted, emergence is generalized to the entire ontological field, but it still seems disappointing in some sense.

On the other hand, if there are always 'actual' elements in the virtual, then it certainly opens up new possibilities for thinking Deleuzian politics (against Hallward specifically). If we give up the idea of the all-consuming Virtual, then we are left with virtualities and the possibility of changing an actual by acting on the elements of its virtual. Or so it would seem at least?

September 29, 2006 4:53 PM  
Blogger Sinthome said...

Could you maybe say a bit more as to why being a theorist of emergence would be disappointing? What's the other vision of Deleuze that you have? Those are genuine questions, not hostile ones.

I have a great deal of respect for Hallward's book (and I hope it won't come to be casually dismissed, as so often happens among dogmatic Deleuzians), primarily because it works so carefully with Deleuze's actual texts, and attends deeply to his arguments, rather than giving us yet another series of trendy slogans about nomads, multiplicity, rhizomes, etc., coupled with circular arguments. In this regard, I think it belongs to a series defined by the work of Beistegui, Toscano, Badiou, DeLanda, Boundas, and Daniel W. Smith. But I think you're right, along with Toscano, that the primary problem with Hallward's reading is that it almost entirely ignores the issue of individuation for which the virtual is designed to account. Hallward seems to want to suggest that Deleuze is arguing that intensities are somehow more real than actualized individuals. However, as Deleuze remarks, "all differences are borne by individuals, but they are not all individual differences" (DR, 247)... The two are inseparable. Deleuze is not, I think, an otherworldly philosopher who suggests withdrawing from the world of actualized individuals, but rather seems interested in individuating differences so as to pose the question of how further individuations might be produced. Here, I think, it would be worthwhile to carefully work through his many discussions of pedagogy and learning through Difference and Repetition (which he contrasts with knowing), to see how materially embedded his thought process is.

Along these lines, I think your remarks about the political are right on the mark. Counter-actualization raises all sorts of possibilities for pushing social systems in different directions or producing further individuations through strategic action. I sometimes think Deleuze and Badiou are far closer than Badiou allows, as if he read DR and Deleuze's other works, was irritated with the language and playfulness (which admittedly has generated a lot of stupidities), and decided to give a rationalist presentation of certain claims. Thus, for instance, isn't what Badiou calls a "truth-procedure" simply another name for how new and further individuations emerge within the social field through collective action? Supposing my thesis about the "relativity of the virtual" is correct, and that there isn't an ultimate ground, isn't this Badiou's thesis about being as pure multiplicity with the added virtue of actually giving us a set of principles as to how something comes to be actualized out of this multiplicity without having to refer to something as vague and nebulous as "operations of count-as-one"? Or perhaps that's all just wish-fulfillment on my part.

September 29, 2006 5:22 PM  
Blogger kushakov said...

Not wish fulfillment - it's a spot-on assessment. Again, Badeuze, or maybe Gillain this time.

September 29, 2006 9:27 PM  
Anonymous Mark Crosby said...

Thanks for the bit-stream from D&R p222: "Every phenomenon flashes in a signal-sign system". This immediately resonated with what'd posted recently from Michel Serres' THE PARASITE (in conceptualizing purepast as dreamtime on your "Ranciere / Police" thread :) "Given 2 stations and a channel. They exchange messages. If the relation succeeds, it is perfect, optimum & immediate; it disappears as a relation. If it is there, if it exists, that means it has failed. It is only mediation".

You've opened up the code to the "Asymmetrical Synthesis of the Sensible", of course. It's noteworthy that Deleuze, there, bases this semiotic on thermodynamics (a persistent Serres theme ;) Thermodynamics, in social terms, is about territorialization (common sense) and deterritorialization (good sense). Deleuze, however, insists that, in addition to good & common sense, "there are distributions inspired by madness and repartitions" (D&R 224).

This is the "Logic of Delirium" I was citing last week.. Deleuze dramatizes: "In other words, reality is not the result of the laws which govern it, and a saturnine God devours at one end what he has made at the other, legislating against his creation because he has created against his legislation". But this is the Cartesian quandary - which leads Deleuze off "into another synthesis of time, that of the immemorial memory" (227 - Difference is the Parasite eating its way through the Godhead, ALWAYS traversing an extropic gradient ;)

I pointed to Stan Salthe in response to a recent post on Robert Rosen. An excellent essay on ENTROPY is Stan Salthe & Gary Furhman's "The Cosmic Bellows: The Big Bang & the Second Law" (search on Cosmic Bellows) where they suggest (with political implications ;) the need for "comparative studies on ... the gradient dissipation power of various courses of action [which] always produce unexpected effects, such as radiation and other pollution"..

Regarding the Alzheimers Godhead, Salthe & Furhman write: "information that could interfere with its internal communications ... must eventually tear it apart ... [OR] enhance or further overdetermine those of its habitual behaviors that have already become innertial, thereby diminishing its flexibility of response to perturbations... The result of these combined effects is system rigidity, setting up it for the recycling that has now become its best opportunity to further fulfill its entropy production destiny". (WHOO! Too teleological for me !)

Back to ch.5 from D&R, the term DIAPHORA briefly pops up, but Deleuze eternally returns to this: "The important point is that the divisible is defined as that which bears within itself the unequal, whereas the indivisible (the Same or the One) seeks to impose an equality upon it, and thereby render it docile... but underneath, at the deepest layer of the divisible, the unequal still rumbles in intensity" (233).

Emphasizing the trichotomic: "In terms of a third characteristic which includes the other two, intensity is an implicated, enveloped or 'embryonized' quantity" (237 - as you know, Deleuze goes on here to extoll Bergsonism and "the great synthesis of Memory, which ... rediscovers at the heart of duration the implicated order of that intensity which had been denounced only provisionally and from without", 239).

- Mark (flashing off with the Firery Furnaces:
"There's a place I passed called once upon a time - / tiny once upon a time - / never wasn't weren't what it was", from "Nevers" on BITTER TEA ;)

September 30, 2006 9:49 AM  
Blogger Nick said...

I think initially I was disappointed in the idea of seeing Deleuze as a theorist of emergence because it seems as though that concept has already gained currency in many fields. In that sense, I was disappointed because the radical-ness that I had always in some sense attributed to him seems to disappear - his project just becomes (somewhat) common place. More generally though, I think this idea of 'radical-ness' that I attribute to him is also largely due to the perception of continental works in analytic schools (which I come from). Specifically, there's a vision of them being willfully obscure and "out-there", and hence a perception of them as radical. (And I think that the dogmatic Deleuzians you speak of also tend to fall into this.) As a result though, it's not necessarily a bad thing that continental concerns be brought into a more - for lack of a better word - reasonable framework. Undoubtedly, these concerns of mine also connect nicely with the topic of devotion to a Master, and the focus on problems that you have elsewhere suggested as an alternative.

On the other hand, I'm not so sure anymore that Deleuze's project is any less radical (or important) for being a theory of emergence. As you mention, it can quite nicely be perceived as proposing principles for Badiou's under-theorized 'count-as-one'. Even if the mechanics have to be changed, Deleuze provides an important proposal for thinking through the transitions from the Multiple to the One, or from a continuous multiplicity to a discontinuous multiplicity. Insofar as these are ontological operations, they seem far beyond the scope of usual emergence theories, and therefore not as common as I had originally thought. So I'm not sure I find the idea of emergence as disappointing anymore.

Mark: I'm not sure I follow all of your post, but nice quote from the Fiery Furnaces! Definitely one of my favourite bands.

October 01, 2006 12:25 PM  
Blogger sexy said...








December 30, 2008 12:14 AM  

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