02 October 2006

Still Trying to Think Virtuality

In response to my recent post on Deleuze's account of individuation, Nick, from Accursed Share, astutely remarks,
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.
This has been, I think, the problem that I've been trying to put my finger on in my previous criticisms of Deleuze's account of the virtual. Every example of the virtual Deleuze gives us is yet another example of the actual, so either we're left with the conclusion that the virtual is just a relative term, referring to relations of dependence among actualities presiding over the emergence of organization, or that it is something that cannot properly be described by language. As chance would have it, right after this discussion, I came across the following passage in Zizek's Ticklish Subject, which, I think, describes something very close to what Deleuze is trying to get at. There Zizek writes,
At the level of speech itself, a gap forever separates what one is tempted to call proto-speech or 'speech-in-itself' from 'speech-for-itself', explicit symbolic registration. For example, today's sex psychologists tell us that even before a couple explicitly state their intetion to go to bed together, everything is already decided at the level of innuendos, body language, exchange of glances... The trap to be avoided here is the precipitate ontologization of this 'speech-in-itself', as if speech in fact pre-exists itself as a kind of fully-constituted 'speech before speech'-- as if this 'speech avant la lettre' actually exists as another, more fundamental, fully constituted language, reducing normal, 'explicit' language to its secondary surface reflex, so that things are already truly decided before they are explicitly spoken about. What one should always bear in mind against this delusion is that this other proto-speech remains virtual: it becomes actual only when its scope is sealed, posited as such, in explicit Word. The best proof of this is the fact that this proto-language is irreducibly ambiguous and undecidable: it is 'pregnant with meaning', but with a kind of unspecified free-floating meaning wating for the actual symbolization to confer on it a definitive spin... In a famous passage from his letter to Lady Ottoline Morrell, in which he recalls the circumstances of his declaration of love to her, Betrand Russell refers precisely to this gap that forever separates the ambiguous domain of proto-speech from the explicit act of symbolic assumption: 'I did not know I loved you till I heard myself telling you so-- for on instant I thought "Good God, what have I said?" and then I knew it was the truth.' And again, it is wrong to read this passage from In-itself to For-itself as if, deep in himself, Russell 'already knew that he loved her': this effect of always-already is strictly retroactive; its temporality is that of a futur anterieur-- that is to say, Russell was not in love with her all the time without knowing it; rather, he will have been in love with her. (54)
Zizek goes on to argue that this gap is not simply an epistemological gap, or simply a gap belonging to language, but is ontological, holding for phenomena as diverse as quantum mechanics (light as a wave and a particle), chaos theory, and events. I am not trying to suggest that Zizek and Deleuze are somehow the same (though I do have a nasty habit of seeing similar patterns and analogies in everything I read), but rather, that this gap, this pregnancy of potential, this ambiguity and undecidability is precisely what Deleuze is trying to get at with his account of the virtual. What must be avoided is the ontologization of the virtual that would treat everything as already being there... The virtual must instead be treated as pre-ontological, as a field of potentialities that only become explicit or explicated in being actualized. Following Nick's suggestion, it then becomes clear why we cannot give examples of the preindividual or virtual, as language is structured in terms of actualities, whereas the virtual is necessarily undecidable until explicated or unfolded. Of particular interest here, I think, is the Lacanian account of the futur anterieur as a way of reading Deleuze's understanding of the Bergsonian pure past or conception of memory. Deleuze makes some nods in this direction in his discussions of Oedipus, Hamlet, Holderlin, and revolution in chapter 2 of Difference and Repetition (88-91), when discussing the eternal return, talking about events that divide time into an irreducible before and after or a pure form of time, though he doesn't himself use the expression futur anterieur.

26 Comments:

Anonymous mARK cROSBY said...

I think we have threads weaving together with persistent patterns. You guyz are right? that those are not 'the virtual'.

Apologies for my rather sloshed weekend posts (they're usually much longer and get chopped down the next morning so as not to hog the blog ;)

The virtual is firstness ('sporting' in Peirce's 19th-c terms) - the same 'feeling' that operates in the proto-speech Zizek mentions, the logic of sensation in the esthetic of Deleuze & Ranciere, not to mention the indeterminism confronted by all artisans, entrepreneurs & scientists; the same delirium that erupts in deterritorialized minds from deep down in the quantum gravitational ('molecular') soup..

By the way, Lee Smolin's 21 Sep NEW SCIENTIST article, "Do the laws of nature last forever?" almost? acknowledges Peirce's contention that the laws of nature evolved from the original trichotomy of being..

My persistent point has been that, in addition to the actual (2ndness - the interactive negotiated NOW) and the virtual (1stness - implicate order of the could-yet-come) there is also the habitual (3rdness - consistency of probable outcomes). Unlike most of Peirce's thrust, however, this line of flight loops back from 3rdness to 1stness, riding delirium logic through subsconscious excavations back to utterly unconscious remixes of a 'pure' past yet-to-cum! Mutually-implicated generative, militant & rational orders (to invoke my 3rd favorite philosopher, of DOMINATIONS & POWERS ;)

October 03, 2006 6:19 PM  
Anonymous Yusef said...

"... The trap to be avoided here is the precipitate ontologization of this 'speech-in-itself', as if speech in fact pre-exists itself as a kind of fully-constituted 'speech before speech'-- as if this 'speech avant la lettre' actually exists as another, more fundamental, fully constituted language, reducing normal, 'explicit' language to its secondary surface reflex, so that things are already truly decided before they are explicitly spoken about. What one should always bear in mind against this delusion is that this other proto-speech remains virtual..." Zizek, The Ticklish Subject, as quoted by Sinthome

Zizek goes on to argue that this gap is not simply an epistemological gap, or simply a gap belonging to language, but is ontological, holding for phenomena as diverse as quantum mechanics (light as a wave and a particle), chaos theory, and events. - Sinthome, commenting on the former.

I don't understand your move here, Sinthome. It seems to me that Zizek argues that this gap is not simply an epistemological gap, or simply a gap belonging to language, OR AN ONTOLOGICAL GAP EITHER...

October 04, 2006 11:52 AM  
Anonymous Yusef said...

What I mean is, why bring the ontological or 'ontologization' back into the picture at all ( even if you've carefully qualified it)?

October 04, 2006 11:56 AM  
Blogger Sinthome said...

Yusef, Zizek is a bit vague or inconsistent in his use of the term "ontological" here. What Zizek wants to avoid is the suggestion that the incompleteness of the world is *epistemological*. That is, he wan't to argue against that position that would claim that the world or universe is, in itself, a whole and we are simply incapable of knowing that whole. The not-all of being is not an epistemological affair pertaining to our inability to know the All, but rather, being itself is not-All or constitutively incomplete. I take it he sees this as one way of traversing the fantasy of completeness or our desire for wholeness, while also accounting for how it's possible for something new to be created.

October 04, 2006 12:22 PM  
Anonymous Yusef said...

" If we think of the organless body as a solid egg, it follows that, beneath the organization that it will assume, that will develop, the egg does not present itself as an undifferentiated milieu: it is traversed by axes and gradients, by poles and potentials, by thresholds and zones destined later to produce one or another organic part. For the time being, however, the egg's organization is intensive. It's as if a flow of variable intensity permeated the egg. It is in this sense that the organless body ignores and repudiates the organism, in other words, the organization of extended organs, and instead forms a matrix of intensity that appropriates the intensive organs. It seems that the various proportions of attraction and repulsion on the body without schizophrenic organs produces various intensive states through which the schizophrenic passes. The schizophrenic journey can be stationary; but even in motion, it happens on the organless body-- it is an intensive journey. The organless body is at zero-degrees intensity, but is enveloped by the production of intensive qualities. From zero, these intensities are effectively produced as that which will fill up space to this or that degree. Thus the organ-machines are like the direct powers of the organless body. The organless body is the pure intensive matter, or stationary motor, whose organ-machines will constitute the working parts and the appropriate powers. And this is confirmed by schizophrenic delirium: beneath the sensory hallucinations, beneath the delirium of thought, there is something more profound, a feeling of intensity, i.e. a becoming or a passage. A gradient is crossed, a threshold traversed, forward or backward. A migration is under way: I feel that I am becoming a woman, I feel that I am becoming god, that I am becoming clairvoyant, that I am becoming pure matter..."-Gille Deleuze, Schizophrenia and Society, from "Two Regimes of Madness":Texts and Interviews 1975-1995, Semiotext(e),2006

October 04, 2006 2:12 PM  
Anonymous Yusef said...

"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."

Maybe the problem lies in that the virtual has been defined in terms of the molecules and their relations, ALONG WITH the intensities such as temperature and air pressure, etc.

The virtual could be seen as organized purely by intensivities, along side of nothing else... NO molecules and relations at this level, unless molecules and relations could be understood as intensivites, (and I think we may have a basic disagreement that they can be seen that way...I don't think they can.)

October 04, 2006 2:22 PM  
Blogger Sinthome said...

Yusef, I'm carefully following the analysis Deleuze develops in chapters 5 and 6 of Difference and Repetition, which is the most extensive and detailed presentation he gives of the virtual. On pages 184-186 he gives three concrete examples of the virtual: Atoms, organisms/DNA, and the social as understood by Althusser. Elsewhere in the same chapter he refers to Saussure's and Trubetzky's understanding of language in terms of phonemes. He also refers to Leibniz and the virtual domain of the sound of an ocean roar as being composed of all the drops of water in the ocean brushing against one another.

Under Deleuze's account we have the virtual that is composed of differential relations and their singularities, then we have intensities that are neither virtual nor actual, then we finally have actualities composed of individuals, species, parts. Deleuze does not attribute a virtual status to intensities, but rather argues that intensities preside over the actualization of virtual differential relations and their singularities. If Deleuze is to avoid falling back into an ontology of identity, it's crucial that the virtual domain be differential and presuppose no prior identities. I'm just following the letter of the text my friend.

October 04, 2006 2:47 PM  
Anonymous Yusef said...

Your point is well taken, Sinthome, and I hope I'm not quibbling ( suffering from "quibbling delirium"), but you are, it seems to me, actually mixing concepts from DR and ATP,( some quotes from the first individuation post are from there.)

I think the later concepts from ATP reflect a self-criticism and come in part as answers to short-comings of the ideas in DR - and that you can't make the ideas in DR work because they don't work.

I don't see why 'singularity' isn't a synonym for a pre-formed individuality (a prior identity); why differential relations would be considered virtual and not actual; how intensities could be neither virtual nor actual...

October 04, 2006 6:44 PM  
Anonymous Sinthome said...

Yusef, as I've argued in the past, I don't see that some radical transformation has taken place between Difference and Repetition and A Thousand Plateaus regarding the issue of individuation. For instance, the passage you cite from Two Regimes of Madness is present, almost word for word, in chapter 5 of Difference and Repetition where Deleuze discusses the dynamics of eggs in relation to von Baer (this discussion props up again in almost identical terms in the chapter on the Geology of Morals in ATP). Similarly, Deleuze never renounces his doctrine of differentials (we find it again in Leibniz: The Fold written in 1988, written 8 years after ATP), nor does he renounce his account of the virtual (we find it again in Cinema 2, written in 1985 five years after ATP). And, of course, there's the whole issue of Immanence: A Life where all these concepts: singularity, differential, multiplicity, the virtual, the actual, etc., are present in an extremely condensed form (this is Deleuze's final written work). As such, I just do not believe that a case can be made that there was a radical break in Deleuze's thought. There are changes that take place, but this basic structure repeats again and again.

As for why differentials are not actual, I think the answer is rather obvious. The actual is the domain of identity where difference disappears in extensity, yet there's nothing identical about a differential. As Deleuze puts it in chapter 4 of Difference and Repetition, dy is strictly *nothing* in relation to y, just as dx is strictly *nothing* in relation to x. It is only through reciprocal determination (dy/dx) that differentials take on a value (a singularity) that functions as a *potentiality* presiding over actualization. Actualization is the process whereby potentialities are exhausted in extensity, becoming *something*. More properly speaking, singularities aren't prior individuals, but are pre-individual, which is a concept that's all over the place through ATP and beyond.

I'm optimistic that Deleuze's account works, but if you're correct that this account of individuation doesn't work, then this would hold for Deleuze in toto, not simply for an earlier work. As for why I focus on DR, this is because it's the most thoroughly developed discussion of different/ciation and is presupposed by all the later works.

October 05, 2006 8:03 AM  
Anonymous Yusef said...

"There are changes that take place, but this basic structure repeats again and again."

Thanks for your valuable answer, Sinthome. I need to take a look at all of this again.

I don't think that it is a basic structure which repeats again and again.

I think the changes change everything.

I think Nick is right to point out that the actuality of the ice cube is the result of prior actualitites of the molecules themselves, but that Deleuze's thought has changed radically if later he does not think of atoms as an example of the virtual.

Browsing through "Two Regimes of Madness" yesterday, I got the impression that Deleuze had concluded that space-time was the virtual... that seemed to relate to the idea that the "solid egg" was differentiated along axes,etc.

There are no molecules per se in space-time... somehow this point seemed to address Nick's problem, and if it doesn't, then I'm simply off base, and will stop it.

I can't blame lack of coffee - I'm on my second cup.

October 05, 2006 9:12 AM  
Anonymous Sinthome said...

Yusef, I'd like to emphasize that I was not claiming that the molecules themselves are the differentials. The differentials are embodied in the molecules, but are not the same as the molecules. To clarify, take a differential such as dy/dx, plotting a chemical reaction. For each value of this equation, I can plot a point on a graph, corresponding to the chemical reaction; however, these points are literally nothing (unless we grant the *existence* of infinitesimals). It is not the molecules themselves that are virtual, but these unfolding torsions or relations that are embodied in the molecules (and, of course, the medium embodying these relations will differ in each instance). Second, I'm unclear as to where to go with your points regarding later texts, as, for instance, D&G talk extensively about things such as genetics (or the dynamics of an egg), throughout ATP when talking about processes of individuation. Finally, third, I think your proposal is destined to cause more serious problems with regard to other key elements of Deleuze's ontology. In particular, your remarks risk discerning a radical cut between the virtual and the actual that turns the virtual into something *transcendent* to the actual, undermining the univocity of being (being is now said in two senses: one way for the virtual and one way for the actual) and immanence.

October 05, 2006 9:32 AM  
Anonymous Yusef said...

"I'd like to emphasize that I was not claiming that the molecules themselves are the differentials. The differentials are embodied in the molecules, but are not the same as the molecules. To clarify, take a differential such as dy/dx, plotting a chemical reaction. For each value of this equation, I can plot a point on a graph, corresponding to the chemical reaction; however, these points are literally nothing (unless we grant the *existence* of infinitesimals). It is not the molecules themselves that are virtual, but these unfolding torsions or relations that are embodied in the molecules (and, of course, the medium embodying these relations will differ in each instance)."

I think this perfectly satisfies Nick's concerns, and if it doesn't, I hope Nick will pop in here and comment on why it doesn't.

"Second, I'm unclear as to where to go with your points regarding later texts, as, for instance, D&G talk extensively about things such as genetics (or the dynamics of an egg), throughout ATP when talking about processes of individuation."

I don't read them as talking about individuation. I read them as practical advice about how to conduct schizophrenic processes without becoming a schizophrenic in the clinical sense. And I think this is an entirely different reading.

"your remarks risk discerning a radical cut between the virtual and the actual that turns the virtual into something *transcendent* to the actual, undermining the univocity of being (being is now said in two senses: one way for the virtual and one way for the actual) and immanence."

This is funny, because I thought the exact same thing regarding your remarks.

October 05, 2006 10:04 AM  
Anonymous Sinthome said...

After I wrote the above, I thought to myself that this seems to be the whole crux of the issue: the metaphorics surrounding the use of the term "virtuality". That is, the relationship between the virtual and the actual invites thinking in terms of levels or strata, where the virtual is something "deeper" or "beneath" the actual, and therefore transcendent to the actual. One then ends up embroiled in all sorts of "what is it questions", since it is assumed that the virtual is something other than the material it's embodied in.

As for "conducting schizophrenic processes" you're right to point out that isn't even on my radar. I've never enjoyed D&G's rhetorics of schizophrenia. Don't get me wrong, I'm sensitive to all the issues that surround the primacy of identity (what Lacan would call the logics of the imaginary), I just don't see the schizophrenic as an end in itself. I like things that allow me to answer questions pertaining to the "why" and the "how", or which allow me understand my world better. I tend to think that the most "schizophrenic" thing of all is a good argument supporting a particular conclusion that transforms our understanding of the ontological furniture of the universe, taking thought and praxis in directions it would never otherwise have gone. Under the poetics of the schizophrenia, I've seen a lot of poor imitations of Artaud, without a lot of interesting concept formation and good argumentation. Indeed, I've seen a tendency to dismiss the work of precise reasoning altogether.

Under the "ATP as toolbox" metaphor, I've also seen a tendency to throw all labor of thought out the window, turning intuition or common sense into the highest court of appeal, abdicating philosophy altogether. I don't like it.

October 05, 2006 10:24 AM  
Anonymous Yusef said...

I don't know if that latter is aimed at me or not - I do know that if it is, there might be good reasons for it to be.

You made some scathing criticisms of Deleuze and Guattari earlier, some in conjunction with your commentary on Hallward. I think you said that Deleuze and Guattari were a deadend and slaves.

What I have to show, and I think that it involves NOT throwing away the labor of thinking, logic, and argumentation, is that those criticisms are not correct and are only formed because of a certain tendency of Lacanians to neglect the later material - to not encounter it... and in not encountering it, to draw exactly the wrong conclusions about what D&G are up to... or where they are correct or incorrect, or how.

Throwing away every trace of the transcendental in the virtual reveals a kind of primacy of a radically free creativity, a kind of externally undetermined agency- I even go so far as to say that the virtual is this creativity.

October 05, 2006 11:54 AM  
Anonymous Sinthome said...

I've since retracted certain elements of my endorsement of Hallward's reading and certainly wouldn't devote as much time to Deleuze and Guattari as I do. The entire problem with Hallward's impressive study (and Badiou's) is that they entirely ignore the account of individuation, and are therefore driven to see the virtual and the actual in external and separated terms. My views of the relationship between Deleuze and Guattari and Lacan can be found here:

http://larval-subjects.blogspot.com
/2006/05/lacan-and-deleuze-pet-peeve.html

You can judge for yourself whether I see an opposition between the two. I do, however, disagree with "Deleuzians" who have knee-jerk reactions to *psychoanalysis*, rejecting the role that negation plays in psychoanalytic thought. I think this indicates a very poor understanding of Deleuze and Guattari's ontology and the precise status of their claims about negation. Here I think enthusiasts of Deleuze have been far more dismissive (and inconsistent given the principles of D&G's own account of difference) of psychoanalysis than the reverse.

I do not see "radically free creativity" as an ideal. Creativity is *what is*, what happens. What interests me are solutions to problems, and avoiding stupid solutions to problems (such as fascism, etc). I don't see that there's an externally undetermined agency to be found in Deleuze given that all actualizations occur in what Deleuze refers to as a transcendental field, exceeding the individuals individuated in these fields (as Deleuze argues in his final essay "Immanence: A Life..."), but perhaps I just do not understand what you mean by this. What your remark suggests to me is that you hold that the individual is doing the creation, when rather the individual is a result of creatings (individuation).

October 05, 2006 12:43 PM  
Blogger Sinthome said...

Blah, the first sentence of the last post should read "and certainly wouldn't devote as much time to Deleuze and Guattari as I do did I not think them worthwhile and important."

October 05, 2006 12:47 PM  
Anonymous Sinthome said...

Yusef, in light of your most recent remarks, am I correct in concluding that you're reading all this work I'm doing with Deleuze as some sort of attempt to "prove him wrong" or show why he should be dismissed? Thus, when I write something like "I'm having this or that difficulty with this or that concept" you're taking me to be saying "Deleuze is full of shit" rather than "this is what I'm trying to get clear on"?

October 05, 2006 1:09 PM  
Blogger Nick said...

Yusef, I agree with you that Sinthome's point appears to resolve my concerns; I believe it nicely articulates what I was trying to get at with the idea of molecules being inseparable from their environment - as Sinthome says, the "unfolding torsions or relations that are embodied in the molecules".

October 05, 2006 1:34 PM  
Anonymous Yusef said...

"Yusef, in light of your most recent remarks, am I correct in concluding that you're reading all this work I'm doing with Deleuze as some sort of attempt to "prove him wrong" or show why he should be dismissed?"

No, you aren't correct on that.

I also wasn't trying to steer you into a political argument when we were discussing the Clinton interview.

I'm interested whether you can use Deleuze to answer questions about individuation if it is not the case that Deleuze himself was trying to answer questions about individuation.

I also now wonder what you do with those parts of DR which foreshadow the later discussions about schizophrenia...

I guess what I am trying to say is that whatever it is that Deleuze is saying about individuation, he is saying it in conjunction with what he has to say about schizophrenic processings, and that this is a crucial point.

It might be that you'll be led to conclude, as I would, that deleuze is full of shit ( as you seemed to be doing when following Hallward,) if you fail to include this aspect of his thinking, but I clearly see you wouldn't be giving him this kind of attention if you'd ALREADY concluded it.

October 06, 2006 7:23 AM  
Anonymous Yusef said...

Thanks, Nick.

I think that Deleuze is saying this same thing in this way when he says, " Foucault's general principle is that every form is a compound of relations between forces."-( "Foucault" first sentence of the first paragraph of the appendix.)

I think he's making the same point Sinthome made in his clarification, and he's making it without reference to some 'mysterious' virtual realm, which seems to morph into a kind of funky transcendental realm as soon as it gets talked about "as if it is"

( and it is this talking about it "as if it is" which is connected to its ontologization, which is why I think that Deleuze has no ontology.)

October 06, 2006 7:34 AM  
Blogger Sinthome said...

The issue of individuation already is the issue of "schizophrenic processing", and goes straight to the heart of Deleuze's critique of the relationship between models and copies governing most traditional philosophy (an argument repeated almost verbatum in D&G's critique of oedipus in AO). If you read me carefully, I said I don't like the RHETORIC of schizophrenia. I don't like the choice of words, and I think words matter, they make a difference, they influence how we think and what we think. And all too often, I've seen the figure of the schizophrenic function in thought turn into an *imitation* of the schizophrenic, rather than produce careful and rigorous thinking. I don't like the rhetoric of delirium either. My view is that these things generate a good deal of stupidity. You get what Deleuze and Guattari describe as the "worst": "But that is not the worst of it: the worst is the way the texts of Kleist and Artaud themselves have ended up becoming monuments, inspiring a model to be copied-- a model far more insidious than the others --for the artificial stammerings and innumerable tracings that claim to be their equal" (ATP, 378). Indeed. So I don't use these words. I translate them back into other rhetorical frameworks present in their texts, rhetorical frameworks that I take to be a bit more demanding, a bit less susceptible to easy and (vanity driven, machismo posturing) gleeful appropriation at the level of the imaginary... Frameworks that I think hurt a bit more and are just a little less appealing or seductive at the level of narcissistic self-image.

I suggest you go back and read the review of Hallward's book more carefully. It ends with these sentences: "The question, for me, thus becomes that of what's worth preserving in Deleuze? What was it that so captivated me about Difference and Repetition and The Logic of Sense when I first began studying them so many years ago? And what was I reading into these masterpieces of ontology that was already my own?"

This has been my position in even my most critical moments of Deleuze: What is vital and worthwhile in Deleuze's thought? Hardly dismissive even when praising Hallward.

October 06, 2006 7:43 AM  
Anonymous Sinthome said...

Yusef says:

"( and it is this talking about it "as if it is" which is connected to its ontologization, which is why I think that Deleuze has no ontology.)"

This really takes the cake.

"Philosophy must be ontology, it cannot be anything else; but there is no ontology of essence, there is only an ontology of sense."
~Gilles Deleuze

October 06, 2006 8:08 AM  
Anonymous Yusef said...

Okay, then Deleuze has no ontology of essence.

If he has an ontology of sense, that's great, but as of yet, I don't think anyone knows how that works.

Not knowing how that works, his ideas, when ontologized, result in an ontology of essence, as with his idea of virtuality, and are distorted (perhaps) beyond repair.

October 06, 2006 10:32 AM  
Blogger Sinthome said...

"If he has an ontology of sense, that's great, but as of yet, I don't think anyone knows how that works."

Brilliant:

Lecercle, Philosophy Through the Looking Glass (1985)

-----. Deleuze and Language (2002)

Good:

Bogue, Deleuze and Guattari chapter 3 (1989)

Brusseau, Isolated Experiences (1998)

Hallward, Out of This World, chapter 3 2006

October 06, 2006 12:09 PM  
Anonymous Mark Crosby said...

Yusef suggests: "Maybe the problem lies in that the virtual has been defined in terms of the molecules and their relations, ALONG WITH the intensities such as temperature and pressure, etc. The virtual could be seen as organized purely by intensivities".

Sinthome responds: "Under Deleuze's account we have the virtual that is composed of differential relations and their singularities, then we have intensities that are neither virtual nor actual, then we finally have actualities composed of individuals, species, parts. Deleuze does not attribute a virtual status to intensities, but rather argues that intensities preside over the actualization of virtual differential relations and their singularities. If Deleuze is to avoid falling back into an ontology of identity, it's crucial that the virtual domain be a differential and presuppose no prior identities".

This is an excellent tonic to my earlier besoughted inversion! Namely: 1st - feeling / intensity; 2nd - interaction / actuality; 3rd - habit / virtuality. Although this trichotomic should be understood as univocal, with each mode supported by both the others, at the same time, Peirceans typically present this numeric categorization as a progression from 1st to 3rd, as an emmanationist creationism (in the same way that Sinthome says: "then we FINALLY have actualities" ;)

As an aside, might I suggest, again, that THIS was Hume's emphasis that, as you so nicely put it, "intensities preside over the actualization of virtual differential relations". The PASSIONS, as Hume called them, which the rational Spinozan would want to purify in favor of REASONS (even though reason & passion cannot be separated ;)

Likewise, discussion of differential relations and singularities can easily be misinterpreted as Cartesian & Newtonian dualism unless the writer constantly brings in the 3rd term.. THAT has always been my problem with the "examples" of DIFFERENCE & REPETITION. Similarly the Deleuzian discussion of Plato seems to reduce Plato to a ridiculous caricature (in a way similar to how Locke was recently characterized here ;( In other words, for me, sensibility seems shallow if one is always prospecting analytically from the muddy water of intuition toward the gold nuggets of reason, but a bit deeper & more difficult when returning from realms of reason to realms of being and saturation..

But, 1st-2nd-3rd are proxies for persistent co-implicated dimensions - depth, surface & height (LOGIC OF SENSE, /passim/ ;) Nicholas Thoburn's DELEUZE, MARX & POLITICS Intro puts it entriguingly: "The minor, then, is the process of deviation or deterritorialization of life - it is a process of calling forth the virtuality of the world - against the molar standard... it is active inasmuch as it escapes the already formed... but the minor is not somehow 'outside' of identity. Rather, it is always implicated in any major or molar configuration... the molar looks like identity, but it is only that, a 'likeness' or 'optical effect', produced on the surface of something that is always dissipating".

So, we might wonder in circles, do "intensities [actually?] preside over the actualization of virtualities", or might it be the other way around? Or, better, both ways around..

- Mark(ing) BTW: I thought 1111 was one-1000, one-100 and eleven! (Just because I'm joking doesn't mean I'm not serious, and verse vica ;)

BTW2: It's possible to see Plato's forms as D's virtualities (once a trichotomic is swallowed ;) The trouble, as Thoburn points out, is distinguishing these from molar standards..

BTW3: Earlier in the discussion, Yusef cited "Schizophrenia & Society" from TWO REGIMES OF MADNESS, discussing the intensive egg and the body without organs: "If we think of the organless body as a solid egg.." we think a theological thought, for there is no such thing! Maybe it's a translation difficulty (although I suspect that it's rhetoric running away with the thought ;( but it's in passages like these that I've least liked Deleuze & Guattari. Why? It's bad metaphor. The egg has organs too! Shell, yolk and albumen, not to mention chalazae, blastodisc and airspace. IOW, there is no organless body and no solid egg. For me, it's exactly this aspect of Deleuze that Levi has been struggling to critique over the past few months. Derrida, in his eulogy for Deleuze, also had to point out that the BwO was, perhaps, a wrong turn on the plane of consistency. To me, in passages like this one Yusef cites, Deleuze seems stuck in dualism, "ignores and repudiates the organism", "for the time being", and loses this reader in the intensity of moving on..

Perhaps it's useful to add that MY idea of "delirium logic" encompasses a spectrum from Artaud banging his head against The Wall, to Francis Bacon painting screaming popes, to Sinthome, uncovering doubt entendres during psychoanalysis. It's the twisted return of rationality to the real, not its abandonment..

October 07, 2006 8:27 AM  
Anonymous Freddy said...

Hey

A few months have passed and you've probably went on to bigger and better things, but I've just come across your discussions and had to point at what I find the most difficult aspect of Deleuze's theory of individuation.

I think the problem is how to immanently explain the reoccurrence of individual patterns in the world without the usage of transcendental categories of any kind.
It's not enough to portray the immanent formation of a distinct body through intensive processes - from multiplicity to unity;
what has to be explained is why multiplicities come to be organized again and again in the same way, why the same patterns occur to different sets of multiplicities.

I think, and perhaps this a bit cryptic, that Deleuze needs the virtual precisely to explain the reoccurrence of patterns. Individuation and synthesis can be explained through intensive processes of immanent formation - you don't need the virtual to explain that. You need it only to explain the regularity of these movements without the use of essential types and species.

The thing I haven't figured out is how can the regularity of organization be explained through the the category of the virtual (or the abstract machine) without reintroducing an essential ontology.

In other words, I find the regularity of stratification to be the problem to be dealt with.

Yours

April 07, 2007 8:43 AM  

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