Theory Group Texts
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1) "The Machinic Phylum," by Manuel DeLanda
http://framework.v2.nl/archive/archive/node/text/default.xslt/nodenr-70071 (01 Jan 1997 - 31 Dec 1997)
A key issue in philosophical analyses of technology concerns the most appropriate way of conceptualizing innovation. One may ask, for instance, whether human beings can truly create something novel, or if humanity is simply realizing previously defined technological possibilities. Indeed, the question of the emergence of novelty is central not only when thinking about human-developed (physical and conceptual) machinery, but more generally, the machinery of living beings as developed through evolutionary processes. Can anything truly different emerge in the course of evolution or are evolutionary processes just the playing out of possible outcomes determined in advance?
At the turn of the last century the French philosopher Henri Bergson wrote a series of texts where he criticized the inability of the science of his time to think the new, the truly novel. The first obstacle was, of course, a mechanical and linear view of causality and the rigid determinism that it implied. Clearly, if all the future is already given in the past, if the future is merely that modality of time where previously determined possibilities become realized, then true innovation is impossible. To avoid this mistake, he thought, we must struggle to model the future as truly open ended, truly indeterminate, and the past and present as pregnant not only with possibilities which become real, but with virtualities which become actual. Unlike the former, which defines a process in which one structure out of a set of predefined forms acquires reality, the latter defines a process in which an open problem is solved in a variety of different ways, with actual forms emerging in the process of reaching a solution. (1. Gilles Deleuze, "Bergsonism," Zone Books, New York 1988, p. 97.)
To take an example from physics, a population of interacting physical entities, such as molecules, can be constrained energetically to force it to display organized collective behavior. In other words, it may be constrained to adopt a form which minimizes free energy. Here the "problem" (for the population of entities) is to find this minimal point of energy, a problem solved differently by the molecules in soap bubbles (which collectively minimize surface tension) and by the molecules in crystalline structures (which collectively minimize bonding energy). Many other different structures can be generated as solutions to the "finding a minimum point" problem, each actualizing this virtual point in divergent ways. Moreover, these divergent ways are not given in advance, but defined in each case by the physical nature of the interacting entities. The number of possible structures that may emerge this way is open, limited at any one point only by the available variety of interacting entities.
Today, the insights of Bergson have been recovered by some philosophers, in particular, by Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, who have also managed to rid it of some of its troubling aspects. To begin with, Bergson embraced a late form of "vitalism," which rigidly separated the worlds of organic life and human consciousness, where innovation was possible, from the realm of the merely material, where repetition of the same was the rule. For Deleuze and Guattari, on the contrary, all spheres of reality, including geology, possess virtual morphogenetic capabilities and potentialities. This does not mean, however, that these potentialities are uniformly distributed in each sphere. In the geological, biological and cultural worlds we can detect some populations of interacting entities with more intense propensities to engage in self-organizing processes, and these special populations are indeed the key to a theory of innovation. But to understand their true importance we need to get rid of the "organic chauvinism" which led Bergson to view them as "essentially" linked to life and consciousness. In particular, according to Deleuze and Guattari, metals form a very special type of population: "... what metal and metallurgy bring to light is a life proper to matter, a vital state of matter as such, a material vitalism that doubtless exists everywhere but is ordinarily hidden or covered, rendered unrecognizable, dissociated by the hylomorphic model. Metallurgy is the consciousness or thought of the matter-flow, and metal the correlate of this consciousness. As expressed in panmetallism, metal is coextensive to the whole of matter, and the whole of matter to metallurgy. Even the waters, the grasses and varieties of wood, the animals are populated by salts or mineral elements. Not everything is metal, but metal is everywhere ... The machinic phylum is metallurgical, or at least has a metallic head, as its itinerant probe-head or guidance device."(2. Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, "A Thousand Plateaus," University of Minnesota Press, 1980, p. 409.)
There are several terms in this quote that need explanation. First, what they refer to as the "hylomorphic model," is a model of the genesis of form as external to matter, as imposed from the outside like a command on a material which is thought as inert and dead. Whether these forms come from the mind of God, or from essences inhabiting an eternal heaven, or from a military engineer in an eighteenth century arsenal, its does not matter. It implies a conception of matter that we inherited from Greek philosophers (perhaps best illustrated by Aristotle"s distinction between material and formal causes) and yet a conception that is totally alien to the history of technology up to the eighteenth century, particularly to that ancient branch known as "metallurgy." For the blacksmith "it is not a question of imposing a form upon matter but of elaborating an increasingly rich and consistent material, the better to tap increasingly intense forces."(3. ibid. p. 329).
In other words, the blacksmith treated metals as active materials, pregnant with morphogenetic capabilities, and his role was that of teasing a form out of them, of guiding, through a series of processes (heating, annealing, quenching, hammering), the emergence of a form, a form in which the materials themselves had a say. In the terms with which I began this essay, he is less realizing previously defined possibilities, than actualizing virtualities along divergent lines. Historians have clearly understood the importance of metals in technological history, even using them to label some crucial stages, such as the Bronze or Iron ages. But it would be a mistake to think that the relevance of metals for the question of innovation is due to human intervention. To see this we need to explain a second obscure term in the quote above: the "machinic phylum." What does this term refer to and what does it mean to say that it has "metallic probe-heads"? Let"s answer the latter question first. The key idea is to think of metals as being the most powerful catalysts in the planet. (The only exception being organic enzymes, but these have been evolved to achieve that potency.) A catalyst is a substance capable of accelerating or decelerating a chemical reaction, without itself being changed in the process. That is, a catalyst intervenes in reality, triggers effects, causes encounters that would not have taken place without it, and yet it is not consumed or permanently changed in these interactions, so that it can go on triggering effects elsewhere.
We can imagine our planet, before living creatures appeared on its surface, as populated by metallic particles which catalyzed reactions as they flowed through the Earth, in a sense allowing the planet to "explore" a space of possible chemical combinations, that is, allowing the planet to blindly grope its way around this space, eventually stumbling upon proto-living creatures, which as many scientists now agree, were probably autocatalytic loops of materials, that is, proto-metabolisms. (4. Stuart Kauffman, "The Origins of Order. Self-Organization and Selection in Evolution," Oxford University Press, New York 1993, chapter 3.)
So in this sense, metals are a kind of probe head. But what then is the "machinic phylum"? To answer this question we need to add one more thing, already hinted at above when I referred to "probing a space of combinations." As many researchers are now becoming aware, a crucial ingredient for the emergence of innovation at any level of reality is the "combinatorial productivity" of the elements at the respective sub-level, that is, at the level of the components of the structures in question. Not all components have the same "productivity." For example, elementary particles have a relatively low productivity, yielding only 92 possible atoms in this planet, although we can artificially stabilize a few more trans-uranic elements, beginning with Plutonium in World War II. However, when we move to the next higher level, the assembly of molecules out of atoms, the number of combinations becomes immense, essentially unsurveyable. Similarly, the number of cell types on Earth (nerve, muscle, bone et cetera) is relatively small, a couple of hundred types, but the number of organisms that may be built combinatorially out of these elements is, again, immense. As Hungarian physicist George Kampis has remarked, "the notion of immensity translates as irreducible variety of the component-types ... This kind of immensity is an immediately complexity-related property, for it is about variety and heterogeneity, and not simply as numerousness." (5. George Kampis, "Self-Modifying Systems in Biology and Cognitive Science. A New Framework for Dynamics, Information and Complexity," Pergamon Press, Oxford, England, 1991, p. 235.)
The point here is that a key ingredient for combinatorial richness, and hence, for an essentially open future, is heterogeneity of components. Another key element are processes which allow heterogeneous elements to come together, that is, processes which allow the articulation of the diverse as such. This is indeed, what Deleuze and Guattari had in mind when coining the term "machinic," the existence of processes that act on an initial set of merely coexisting, heterogeneous elements, and cause them to come together and consolidate into a novel entity. As they say, "what we term machinic is precisely this synthesis of heterogeneities as such." (6. Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, "A Thousand Plateaus," p. 330.)
The second part of the term, "phylum," they borrow from biology where it denotes the evolutionary category just under "kingdom" (we, as vertebrates, belong to the phylum "chordata," for example), but which also involves the idea of a common body-plan, which through different operations (embryological foldings, stretchings, pullings, pushings) can yield a variety of concrete designs for organisms. The idea of a "machinic phylum" would then be that, beyond biological lineages, we are also related to non-living creatures (winds and flames, lava and rocks) through common "body-plans" involving similar self-organizing and combinatorial processes. As if one and the same material "phylum" could be "folded and stretched" to yield all the different structures that inhabit our universe.
Making this last point plausible will involve introducing a few more concepts. We saw above that, to recover the Bergsonian insight on the necessity of thinking of the future as open in order to conceptualize true innovation, we needed to go beyond the dichotomy he established between living creatures (possessed of an "elan vital") and mere inert matter. Similarly, to understand the processes of self-organization (the "phylum") that may be common to rocks and animals, clockworks and steam motors, we need to move beyond Bergson"s dichotomy between determinism and chance. We need to introduce, in Deleuze and Guattari"s words, "advanced determinisms" between these two extremes, to avoid granting to chance all the creative powers we once granted to clockwork determinism.
These intermediate forms of determinism, laying between the two extremes of a complete fatalism, based on simple and linear causal relations, and a complete indeterminism, in which causality plays no role, arise in physical interactions involving non-linear causal relations. The most familiar examples of non-linear causality are those causal loops known as "feedback loops," which may involve mutually stabilizing causes, as in the negative feedback process exemplified by the thermostat, or mutually intensifying causes, as in the positive feedback process illustrated by explosions or spiraling arms races. These forms of circular causality, in which the effects react back on their causes, in turn, are one condition for the existence of forms of determinism which are local and multiple, instead of global and unique. (The other condition is a flow of energy moving in and out of the physical process in question). These "advanced" determinisms are the so called "attractors" which govern the dynamical behavior of a process, endogenously-generated stable states which allow certain structures to emerge spontaneously from relatively formless dynamics.
These endogenously-generated stable states may be static (yet multiple and hence local, since a system can switch between alternative destinies) but also dynamic, allowing for simple forms of stable cycles or for complex forms of quasi-periodic behavior, as in deterministic chaos. (7. Ilya Prigogine and Isabelle Stengers, "Order out of Chaos. Man"s New Dialogue with Nature," Bantam Books, New York 1984. The mathematics of attractors and bifurcations are best explained in: Ian Stewart, "Does God Play Dice: The Mathematics of Chaos," Basil Blackwell, Oxford, 1989, chapter 6.)
Moreover, one and the same attractor may be instantiated in several different physical systems: by wind flowing in a convection cell, by the spontaneous rhythmical behavior of components of radio transmitters or radar machines, by the periodic behavior in electronic circuits or chemical reactions and even the behavior of an economic system during a business cycle. In the terms with which I began this essay, attractors are the virtual forms defining a problem (in this case, finding the energetically most-favorable rhythm), and the solutions of this problem in natural, technological or economical systems, actualizations of this virtual cycle along divergent lines. If it turns out that the insights from non-linear dynamics are correct, and this periodic behavior is indeed universal in this sense, then attractors could serve as a good basis to define a "universal phylum," a single set of machinic resources common to all forms, natural and artificial.
The concept of the "machinic phylum" was created in an effort to conceive the genesis of form (in geological, biological and cultural structures) as related exclusively to immanent capabilities of the flows of matter-energy-information and not to any transcendent factor, whether platonic or divine (e.g. the hylomorphic schema). Endogenously-generated stable states, capable of many different physical instantiations, furnish at least some the immanent resources needed for such a theory. Moreover, because attractors are typically not unique (that is, several stable states may be available to a system at once) they form one context in which chance can play a "creative" role, by switching a system in a more or less random way from one deterministic state to another. And at certain critical points of intensity (called "bifurcations"), in which a set of attractors changes into another set, random fluctuations may also play a role, pushing the system from one path to another, giving indeterminism yet another role to play.
Deleuze and Guattari, who call attractors and bifurcations "singularities" (and the emergent, holistic properties these stable states give rise to, "traits of expression") have suggested that the history of technology may one day be rewritten as the history of artisans and metallurgists following the singularities in the machinic phylum, selecting a few of these "virtual machines" to actualize, creating new phyla, new lineages of technological objects:
"Let us return to the example of the saber, or rather of crucible steel. It implies the actualization of a first singularity, namely the melting of the iron at high temperature; then a second singularity, the successive decarbonations; corresponding to these singularities are traits of expression ? not only the hardness, sharpness and finish, but also the undulations or designs traced by the crystallization and resulting from the internal structure of the cast of steel. The iron sword is associated with entirely different singularities because it is forged and not cast or molded, quenched and not air cooled, produced by the piece and not in number; its traits of expression are necessarily different because it pierces rather than hews, attacks from the front rather than from the side ... We may speak of a machinic phylum, or technological lineage, wherever we find a constellation of singularities, prolongable by certain operations, which converge, and make the operations converge, upon one or several assignable traits of expression. If the singularities or operations diverge, we must distinguish two different phyla: that is precisely the case for the iron sword, descended from the dagger, and the steel saber, descended from the knife ... But it is always possible to situate the analysis on the level of singularities that are prolongable from one phylum to another, and to tie the two phyla together. At the limit, there is a single phylogenetic lineage, a single machinic phylum, ideally continuous: the flow of matter-movement, the flow of matter in continuous variation, conveying singularities and traits of expression." (8. Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, "A Thousand Plateaus," p. 406.)
Clearly, much work remains to be done extending these ideas into other, more complex realms of technological history. This would involve treating the different "species" of machines (balances and levers, clockwork mechanisms, motors and engines, electrical, telephone and computer networks) as non-linear dynamical systems, some of which rely on the simplest forms of singularities (balances, clockworks) while others involve more complex cycles and bifurcations (steam motors) and yet others exhibit even more complex dynamical behavior (networks). It would also involve going beyond the dynamics of specific technological assemblages into the realm of non-linear combinatorics, to reveal how the components of these assemblages have entered into different combinations, and how certain components (pendula, gears, Carnot cycles, transistors) have a greater combinatorial productivity than others.
But beyond this, to produce a history of technological innovation along the lines suggested by Deleuze and Guattari, will involve some conceptual breakthroughs, in particular, to get rid of the "hylomorphic schema" (form imposed on matter from the outside) and more importantly, to give a historical account of how this schema came to dominate our thought about the genesis of form. I have suggested elsewhere that military institutions, beginning with their eighteenth century contributions to the spread of mass production techniques, are one of the main sources of the current domination of the hylomorphic schema. (9. Manuel DeLanda, "War in the Age of Intelligent Machines," Zone Books, New York 1992.)
If Deleuze and Guattari are correct in saying that it is precisely this schema which makes the machinic phylum "invisible" or "unrecognizable," we may need much more than theoretical innovations to reconnect technological evolution to its old sources of inspiration and vitality. Reality itself, so homogenized after over two centuries of military uniformization, needs to be reinjected with heterogeneity; and our bodies, so deskilled after two centuries of military routinization, need to relearn the craft and skills needed to "hack" these heterogeneous elements into new combinations.
2) Deleuze lecture 'On the Nature of Flows' from 4/12/1971 [You can definitely see that DeLanda gets many of his basic ideas here, Deleuze goes on to publish many of these ideas in his book with Felix Guattari called "Anti-Oedipus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia I", 1972). source: http://www.webdeleuze.com/php/texte.php?cle=119&groupe=Anti%20Oedipe%20et%20Mille%20Plateaux&langue=2
I would like to pursue the problem of the economy of flows; last time, someone wanted a more precise definition of flows, more precise, that is, than something which flows upon the socius. What I call the socius is not society, but rather a particular social instance which plays the role of a full body. Every society presents itself as a socius or full body upon which all kinds of flows flow and are interrupted, and the social investment of desire is this basic operation of the break-flow to which we can easily give the name of schizz. It is not yet important for us to have a real definition of flows, but it is important, as a starting point, to have a nominal definition and this nominal definition must provide us with an initial system of concepts. As a point of departure for our search for a nominal definition of flows, I'll take a recent study by a specialist in the flows of political economy: "Flows and stocks," by Daniel ENTIER. Stocks and flows are two primary notions in modern political economy, remarked upon by Keynes, such that we find in Keynesian economy the first great theory of flows in his "General theory of employment, interest and money." Entier informs us that, "from the economic point of view, we can call flows the values of the quantities of goods and services or money that are transmitted from one pole to another"; the first concept to be placed in relation with that of flows is that of pole: a flow, inasmuch as it flows on the socius, enters by one pole and exits by another. At our last session, we had tried to show that flows implicated codes, in the sense that a flow could be called economic insofar as something passed, and where something else blocked it and made it pass; the example given was that of the rules of alliance in so-called primitive societies, where taboos represent a blockage of the flow of possible marriages; the first permitted marriages, i.e. the first permitted incests, called preferential unions, which are, in fact, hardly ever realized, represent something like the first modes of passage: something passes, something is blocked (this blockage taking the form of incest taboos), something passes, the preferential unions, something blocks it and makes it pass, for example the maternal [utérine] uncle. There is, in any case, the determination of an incoming and of an outgoing flow; the notion of a pole implicates or is implicated in the movement of flows, and this takes us back to the idea that something flows, that something is blocked, that something makes it flow, that something blocks the flow. Entier continues: "In the knowledge that the term pole will be given to an individual or a firm, or alternately a group of individuals or group of firms, or even a fraction of a firm..." "We are thereby defining the interceptors of flows... when the operations carried out by these -- the interceptions of flows -- can be described by a coherent accounting system..." Thus, a correlative of the notion of flow is that of an accounting system; when the operation carried out - such as the passage of a flow from one pole to another - may be described by a coherent system, this evidently being expressed in terms of capitalism, by which I mean that in this context we are in the framework of capitalism at the level of abstract quantities, as the final residue of something that has an entirely different scope in pre-capitalist societies, to wit, what in pre-capitalist societies present themselves as veritable codes. It's when a society is completely decoded that flows are prone to incorporation into an accounting system, that is, into an axiomatic of abstract quantities instead of referring to qualified codes; the accounting system under capitalism is the residue of quantities, abstracted from the coding of flows, and capitalism functions on the basis of decoded flows, from which point on these flows are taken up by a system based on accounting. Entier continues: "...we can consider all goods arriving at the same level of material or legal transformation at the precise moment at which they arrive as constituting one and the same flow..." Here you have a third correlative notion: material or legal transformation, "and if one is speaking of flows that are exchanged between industrial sectors, one must specify the notion of sector, if one is interested in precisely determining the flow of production, the flow of revenues, the flow of consumption, then one has to determine these terms carefully; take for example the flow of monetary revenue reached by calculating the totals of all liquid assets..." The question is, what is meant by 'all liquid assets' [tous les biens en monnaie]. This is what economists refer to as nominal salaries - a concept that covers real wages, as well as management salaries and dividends (interest on assets). Take for example the flow of cash revenues [flux de revenus monétaires]: this is determined by the total of all liquid assets at the disposal of all of the individuals making up the collectivity, where the revenue of a large number of individuals can be precisely evaluated since it is paid out by other individuals, such as state contractors, and since it has been precisely calculated; but for many kinds of revenue the importance of which must not be undervalued, one can't give an exact definition; well, well, so there's a sphere of indetermination in the sector? This is doubtless related to something very profound in what is, as we shall see, the accounting sector; but, for all that, we now have a triple reference : the flows refer for one thing to poles and for another to codes or accounting systems, then - in fourfold fashion - to rates of transformation, next to sectors and finally to stocks. This amounts to five correlative notions. >From an economic viewpoint we will refer to stocks of goods and monetary stocks, as the goods held and the money held by only one pole; the flow, then, is what flows from one pole to another, what goes in and what goes out, and the stock is what is brought back as the material and legal possession of one of the poles considered; this clearly shows the correlative character of the two notions; we can thus define stocks in the following way: the utility of stocks changes from case to case, but is linked in one way or another, at one time or another, to the existence of flows; we will, nevertheless, receive the distinct impression that stocks and flows are effectively the same thing as they relate to two different units: first, the passage from one pole to the other, and secondly, attribution to one of the two poles, as two units of measure for one and the same thing. The utility of stocks varies with every given case, but is linked in one way or another, and at one time or another, to the existence of flows; and yet, whereas flows allow one to extract the movements of values between different poles, stocks represent a sum of values that are at the disposal of a given pole; there are no goods related to a stock which are not, at a specified time, also correlated to a flow; this is, in fact, one of the fundamental principles of accounting, because the influx and output of a stock constitute flows; only the study of flows allows one to realize the role of the incoming and outgoing movements involved in stock variations...
So, we have just seen the correlation between the notion of flux and five other notions: pole, code or accounting system, stage of transformation, sector and stock. If we try to simplify all of this, I think that the notion which I was attempting to launch last time may be able to concentrate or group together all of these five references, this notion being that of the break-flow.
For this notion of the break-flow has to be understood simultaneously in two ways: it is to be understood as the very correlation of flux and code, and if, returning once more to capitalism, we are aware that flows are "accounted for", it is in favour of a movement of decoding such that the accounting system has simply taken the place of codes; it is at this point that we come to realize that it's no longer sufficient to speak of an accounting system, but rather of a financing system or structure.
The strict correlation of flux and code implies, apparently, that in a society -and this is clearly our point of departure - it's impossible to seize flows other than by and through the operation which codes them; the fact is that a non-coded flow is, strictly speaking, an unnameable or merely a thing. This is what I was getting at last time, this is the terror of society - it is the flood, the deluge which is the flow that breaks through the barriers of codes. Societies aren't exactly in mortal dread because everything is coded - the family is coded, death is coded; but what makes societies panic is when something or other breaks down, something that forces the codes to crack. A flow is thus not recognizable as an economic and social flow except by and through the code which encodes it, but this operation of coding implies two simultaneous interruptions, and it is this simultaneity which allows us to define the notion of a break-flow: simultaneously, in an operation of coding the flows, a subtraction [prélèvement] from the flows is produced, due to the code, and this subtraction from the flows defines its poles: it defines a certain entry point and a certain exit, and it is between the two that the break-subtraction takes place; this occurs at the same time as the code itself relates to a break of another sort which is strictly simultaneous, meaning once more that... there is no subtraction from a flow which is not accompanied by a detachment of or from the code which encodes this flow, although it is the simultaneity of the subtraction of the flow and the detachment of a segment of code that permits one to define the flow with reference to poles, sectors, rates and stocks. This notion of a break-flow presents itself in two-fold fashion, for it implies at once a break-subtraction of a flow and a break-detachment of a code. Here you've got the mechanism of delirium: it's this double schizz operation -- it's the schizz which consists both in an operation of subtractions of flow as a function of detachments of code, and vice versa. If, to begin, I take an indeterminate flow as a purely nominal starting point, then what flows on the socius, cannot appear socially speaking as a flow, except in correlation to a code, or at least to an accounting system, and the flow itself is qualified as a function of the code, and the correlation of the two is where you have a break-subtraction on this flow itself (as qualified by the code), at the same time as and in reaction to which you have a break-detachment of the code. A detachment of code is correlative to a subtraction of flow. This is simply a formal description. At first glance, a madman is someone who passes on the unnameable, who carries decoded flows: "a god speaks to me, but it's not your god". The Greeks had a notion of the demon, they had gods and the gods were allotted, everything was very properly allocated, they had powers and spaces; in a way, they couldn't move, they were sedentary, they had their territory and the demons carried out the coding. Religions are not to be understood from an ideological viewpoint, but at the level of their pertaining to a social code. Demons were above all powers which did not respect the codes. In Oedipus there is a text which is badly translated and which reads, "which demon has leapt the longest leap," a text which frankly leaps beyond the limits, it had to do with unnameable powers, with excess, and it is not forcing things to translate this as "decoding". Thus, a demon speaks in a certain way so that a madman receives decoded flows, and in turn emits decoded flows, such that it flows and escapes on all sides, messing up all the codes. Which is why in Oedipus' case, it just won't stick, because literally, Oedipus is a screwed-up code.
When something goes bad, you always have to go back up to a higher level to see where things start to go bad (cf. the USSR), and psychoanalysis goes bad, but why and how so? Derrida has seen very clearly in what way psychoanalysis, at least at the level of its first intentions, is opposed to the code; it is in fact a system of decoding, and this is why this affair just couldn't help going bad. Because decoding means either to read a code, to penetrate the secret of a code, or else it means to decode in an absolute sense, i.e. to destroy the codes in order to make the flows flow freely; a major part of the project of psychoanalysis was intended as an absolute decoding of the flows of desire and not as a relative decoding, to make the walls of the code cave in, and to make the flows of desire run wild. It is in this sense that psychoanalysis was very close to a desiring economy, and properly speaking, to desiring-machines, the producers of the flows of desire; and this is seen very clearly in Freud's writings, such as The Interpretation of Dreams, where he says: what distinguishes my method from the method of the key of dreams? The major difference is that the key of dreams proposes a code of desire; Freud says that they have seen everything, but that they propose a systematic coding : this means that, that is the key of dreams; and from the perspective of a key of dreams, if one decodes the dream, one decodes it in a relative sense, i.e. one discovers the cipher of its code. Now Freud says that psychoanalysis has nothing to do with all of that, that it does not interpret. And Derrida, in his article on Freud in Writing and Difference shows this very well. It carries out an absolute decoding, rendering the codes as flows in the raw state, and thereby psychoanalysis is opposed to codes. It goes without saying that, at the same time, and from the outset, they are inventing a new code, that is, the oedipal code which is even more of a code than any other code; thus, the flows of desire pass into the oedipal code, or else, whatever the flow of desire, it is stuffed into the oedipal grid. At this stage, psychoanalysis proves less and less capable of understanding madness, for the madman is really the being of decoded flows.
And who has shown this in a most vital and convincing way if not Beckett, whose strange creatures spend their time decoding things, they make non-codable flows pass. Social processes can't capture flows except in relation to codes which operate on them, and which are simultaneously a detachment of a flow and a subtraction of chains or codes, and the madman makes flows pass on it, flows from which it is no longer possible to detach anything; there are no more codes, there is a chain of decoded flows, but one can't cut into it. There is a sort of deluge or failure of the body, maybe that's it, after all, the body-without-organs, when on the body, or from the body flows enter and exit by way of poles, flows on which one can no longer carry out any subtraction because there are no longer any codes from which to detach anything.
The state of the body of someone who has undergone a fairly severe operation, the eyes of this patient are the eyes of someone who has not been very far from death, who has not been very far from madness, the eyes are elsewhere in a certain sense - he has gone through the wall. It is interesting that what we call convalescence is a kind of return. He's had a brush with death, it is an experience of the body, very strange, psychoanalysis: why does Freud cling so strongly to the notion of a death instinct? He tells his secret in "Inhibition, Symptom and Anxiety." It seems that if there is a death instinct, it's because there is neither a model nor an experience of death. When pressed, he admits that there is a model of birth but not of death, thus, all the more reason to make of it a transcendent instinct. Bizarre. Perhaps the model of death could be something like the body-without-organs.
Horror-story writers have understood, after Edgar Allen Poe, that death wasn't the model for schizophrenic catatonia, but that the contrary was true, and that the catatonic was the one who made of his body a body-without-organs, a decoded body, and that on such a body there is a kind of nullification of the organs. On this decoded body, flows can flow under conditions where they can no longer be decoded. This is why we fear decoded flows - the deluge; because once flows have been decoded, you can no longer subtract anything or break into them, no more than you can detach segments from any codes in order to dominate, orient or direct the flows. And the experience of one who has been operated on, of her body-without-organs, is that, on this body, there are literally noncodable flows which constitute a thing, an unnameable thing. At the very moment that she breathes, there is great confusion of the flows that form one great indivisible flow, no longer susceptible to subtractions, one can no longer interrupt it. One long stream that cannot be tamed, where all of the flows that are usually distinguished by their codes are united in one and the same indivisible flow all flowing on one and the same non-differentiated body, the body without organs. And as for the mad patient who has undergone an operation, every breath of air he takes is at the same time a breath of spittle, a flow of air and spit that tend to get mixed up together, so that there are no longer any distinctions. Moreover, each time that he breathes and spits, he feels a vague desire to defecate, a vague erection: it's the body-without-organs that escapes on every side. It is sad, but then again, it has moments of great joy, mixing up all the codes, it has its great moments, and this is what makes Beckett a comic writer.
Though here again, one can't help saying, and then, and then, though this is what constitutes the madman and his place in society, as the place of one through whom all of the decoded flows pass, which is why he is perceived as the fundamental danger. The madman doesn't decode in the sense that he would harbour a secret the meaning of which ordinary people have forgotten, but rather he decodes in the sense that he sits in his little corner and makes little machines which make the flows pass and which make social codes break down. The schizophrenic process as such, of which a schizo is only the schizophrenic continuation, well that schizophrenic process is a revolutionary potential in itself, in opposition to paranoid investments which are fundamentally of a fascist type.
This leads to a first result, namely, that the economic operation of coding flows involves a double break-flow, a break-detachment and a break-subtraction; and on the socius of a society one encounters these strange creatures, the mad, who make all of these decoded flows carry on. The strangest phenomenon of world history is the formation of capitalism because, in a certain sense, capitalism is madness in its pure state, and in another sense, it is likewise the opposite of madness. Capitalism is the only social formation which presupposes, as its condition of emergence, the breakdown of all preceding codes. In this sense, the flows of capitalism are decoded flows, and this poses the following problem: how could a society, with of all of its repressive formations, create itself on the basis of what constituted the terror of all other social formations: namely, the decoding of flows.
The intimate bond between capitalism and schizophrenia consists in their common basis and installation on decoded flows (insofar as they are decoded). How then was this decoding carried out? One has to keep the following two requirements clearly in mind: the basic affinity between schizophrenia and capitalism, but, at the same time, find in this basic affinity the reason for which the repression of madness under capitalism is conducted with much greater harshness and specificity than under pre-capitalist formations. In the one case there is a political economy and a libidinal economy, and, in the other, an economy of decoded flows. I'd like to show that, historically, this shift took place over a long period of time: there are synchronic social machines and there are diachronic social machines; despotic Asiatic social machines are of a truly synchronic nature - Marx's Asiatic state emerges in one blow, and all of the cogs and wheels of its state apparatus appear synchronically. The formation of the capitalist machine extends over many centuries. It's a diachronic machine and has taken two long periods to come about; it isn't capitalism that decodes the flows, rather, they are decoded on what we call the ruin and decline of great empires, and feudalism is only one of the forms of this ruin and decline. Capitalism does not proceed from the decoding of flows because it presupposes them, it presupposes flows that have lost their codes.
Marx is the author who has demonstrated the radical contingency of the formation of capital. Any history of philosophy is either theological, or else it is the history of contingencies and unforeseen encounters. The originary phenomenon of capitalism is this: decoded flows qua decoded flows must enter into conjunction. What then assures that this conjunction will take place? Here, one feels that history can teach us as much about the process of the decoding of flows, as about what ensures the conjunction of the decoded flows as such, and this can be nothing else than the processes of a specific historic sector. This tale of capitalism implies a generalised decoding of flows and at the same time something else, as if what ought to be put in place were an apparatus for conjugating decoded flows; this is what gives capitalism its purely illusory appearance of liberalism. It has in fact never been liberal, it has always been state capitalism. This tale begins in Portugal in the 12th century, this tale of state capitalism. There has never been a time when flows were decoded and when everything was free, bringing recuperation, which is an awful thing. If it's true that capitalism replaces the old ruined codes with conjugating machines, and axiomatic machines which are infinitely more cruel, crueller than the cruellest despot, although of another cruelty, it is at the same time as the decoding takes place [que ça se décode] that it is taken up by another machine which is a machine for conjugating decoded flows; whence capitalism?s affinity with schizophrenia, for it is based on decodings, and its opposition to schizophrenia, because instead of making the decoded flows pass, it blocks them in another way, and it makes them enter into a machine for conjugating decoded flows.
Take an example from the history of painting, the very bizarre history of the Venetian School: it is marked very late by the so-called Byzantine style, while Venice itself was already very advanced in mercantile capitalism, but this merchant and banking capitalism remained entirely nestled in the pores of the old despotic society. And all of Christianity at that time finds something like its pictorial form in these pyramidal structures, literally, in hierarchical mode, which respond to despotic overcoding. These Byzantine paintings of the Venetian school continue until the middle of the 15th century. Here you have this beautiful Byzantine style, and what do you see? - overcoded Christianity, Christianity interpreted according to the style and the manner of overcoding: there is an old despot, there is the father, there's Jesus and there are the tribes of the Apostles. In one of Delphiore's paintings, there are rows of pyramids which are spread in fine rows facing straight ahead. It is not just the people who are coded and overcoded in Byzantine art, it is also their organs which are coded, coded and overcoded, under the great unifying influence of the despot, whether this despot is God or the father or whether he is the great Byzantine Emperor. We get the impression that their organs are the object of a collective hierarchic investment. It would be mad for a Virgin to be looking to the right while baby Jesus was looking the other way. You've got to be mad to invent something like that; you couldn't do something like that under a regime where organs are collectively invested, are coded by the collectivity and are overcoded. Under Christianity, the codes are mixed up, but this is because despotic codes coexist with territorial codes, and the colours themselves enter into the pictorial code. And if, in a museum, you change rooms, you will discover something else altogether, it is a great joy and a great anxiety too, for they are in the process of decoding the flows, a process which doesn't coincide with the explosion of capitalism, but comes quite a bit later. The great decoding of the flows of painting takes place around 1450, right in mid-15th century, and it's a kind of radical break: all of a sudden we see the hierarchy of overcoding breaking down, the ruin of the territorial codes, the flows of painting go insane too, destroying all of the codes, a flow passes. We get the impression that painters - occupying their usual position amongst artists in relation to the social system - create Christs that are totally queer, they are totally mannerist Christs, it's all sexualized, they create Virgins who stand in for all women, and baby boys who have just nursed, little boys pooping, they really play at this process of decoding flows of colour.
And how does this happen? Everything happens as if, for the first time, the characters represented became the owners of their own organs: the collective hierarchic codification of organs, the social investment of organs is done with; from now on the Virgin and every other character will, literally, start to run their own affair; in fact the painting escapes on all sides: the Virgin looks to one side, there are two guys looking at baby Jesus, a third is looking on as if something were happening, there are scenes in the background and the picture explodes in all directions so that every one starts possessing their own organs. They are not insane, there is one member of the Venetian School who makes a creation of the world that is incredible: generally the creation of the world 'a la Byzantine' was done according to a hierarchy; there was a kind of cone or big pyramid of the despotic order and at the very bottom, the territorial codes. The creation of the world that interests me is a departure from this: there is God the Father up in the sky in the position of a runner, and he gives a starting signal; in front of him are ducks and chickens who are racing away as fast as they can, and in the sea there are fish who are also racing away, and God is the one who sends it all away, it is the end of all the codes.
And what do they do with the body of Christ? The body of Christ is useful as a body without organs; so they machine it in every way and direction, they make it amorous, suffering, tortured, but you can feel that it is joyous. The perspective, you see, the perspective, that's nothing, a useless trick; those who have done without it, it's because they didn't need it, they had other problems. Perspective is lines of flight, and can only be useful in a painting of decoding, but it is very secondary, it doesn't even count in the organization of a painting. So what are they trying to do, we're going to cut low along Christ's hip, we're going to make a mannerist Christ, all the tortured bodies are good bodies without organs, Saint Sebastian with his arrows sticking out in all directions; again, in this overthrowing of the pictorial system, perspective is only a little thing. The generalized decoding of flows has to be taken up again by something other than a code, and in effect, there is no longer a pictorial code, but instead a strange sort of pictorial machine that conjoins and that will give rise to the unity of the picture, no longer a signifying unity of a code or overcode, but a system of echoes, of repetitions, of oppositions, of symmetries, a veritable conjugating machine, where flows of colours and decoded features are conjugated. There emerges a real pictorial axiomatic that replaces the failing codes.
Capitalism doesn't arise by means of the simple decoding of flows, for it does not appear until such time as flows, inasmuch as they are decoded, enter into conjunction with one another. Marx has said that when this happens it proves his great theory of contingency. In Rome, as at the end of feudalism, the decoding of flows brought in a new kind of slavery and not at all capitalism. For what had to take place was the meeting of the flow of decoded capital and that of deterritorialized labour. Why did this encounter take place? Refer to Marx's notion of primitive accumulation, on one condition and that is that primitive accumulation, this can be a dangerous thing, if we say: oh yes, primitive accumulation, this is what served to fuel the process of accumulation, and we might as well say the formation of stocks at the beginning of capitalism. One has to see that primitive accumulation is called primitive to distinguish it from other types of accumulation, not primitive because it comes first...
The way capitalism functions, even if we are talking about its industrial essence, is the way banking and trading work, and we must hold that capitalism is essentially industrial, although it only functions through its banking system and through its trade circuits. Why? There is a kind of conjunction: capital starts to take control of production, but is it the first time? No. So, we take up Marx's analysis again, an analysis which Marx insists on: the control of production by capital has existed in a certain guise from the beginning, but it appears in another guise with capitalism. I mean to say that even from the perspective of banking and mercantile capitalism, the banks and merchants create a monopoly for themselves: there is at the outset of capitalism, the way in which English mercantile capitalism forbids foreign capitalists from buying wool and woollen cloth; in that case, this exclusive clause is the means whereby the local merchant capitalists ensure that they control production because the producers can only sell through them; so, we have to mark two times: a first time where merchant capitalists, in England for example, make the producers work for them by means of a system of delegation whereby the producer becomes a sort of sub-contractor, and this is where commercial capital directly takes possession of production; it is the great historic moment when merchant capital declared war on the leagues, i.e. the associations of producers. It's a war between producers who looked with trepidation upon their being in the service of merchant capital, and merchant capital which, on the contrary, was trying to obtain greater and greater control of production via this sub-contracting method. But it would take, as Marx declared, a second time ... means whereby the local merchant capitalists ensure that they control production because the producers can only sell through them; so, we have to mark two times: a first time where merchant capitalists, in England for example, make the producers work for them by means of a system of delegation whereby the producer becomes a sort of sub-contractor, and this is where commercial capital directly takes possession of production; it is the great historic moment when merchant capital declared war on the leagues, i.e. the associations of producers. It's a war between producers who looked with trepidation upon their being in the service of merchant capital, and merchant capital which, on the contrary, was trying to obtain greater and greater control of production via this sub-contracting method. But it would take, as Marx declared, a second time ...
3) from 'How do you make yourself a body without organs?' in A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia Part II, by Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, 1981. [Note: This is where DeLanda gets the BwO concept from the 'Nonlinear History' concluding section].
"We come to the gradual realization that the BwO [Body without Organs] is not at all the opposite of the organs. The organs are not its enemies. The enemy is the organism. The BwO is opposed not to the organs but to that organization of the organs called the organism. It is true that Artaud wages a struggle against the organs, but at the same time what he is going after, what he has it in for, is the organism: The body is the body. Alone it stands. And in no need of organs. Organism it never is. Organisms are the enemies of the body. (17) The BwO is not opposed to the organs; rather, the BwO and its "true organs," which must be composed and positioned, are opposed to the organism, the organic organization of the organs. The judgment of God, the system of the judgment of God, the theological system, is precisely the operation of He who makes an organism, an organization of organs called the organism, because He cannot bear the BwO, because He pursues it and rips it apart so He can be first, and have the organism be first. The organism is already that, the judgment of God, from which medical doctors benefit and on which they base their power. The organism is not at all the body, the BwO; rather, it is a stratum on the BwO, in other words, a phenomenon of accumulation, coagulation, and sedimentation that, in order to extract useful labor from the BwO, imposes upon it forms, functions, bonds, dominant and hierarchized organizations, organized transcendences. The strata are bonds, pincers. "Tie me up if you wish." We are continually stratified. But who is this we that is not me, for the subject no less than the organism belongs to and depends on a stratum? Now we have the answer: the BwO is that glacial reality where the alluvions, sedimentations, coagulations, foldings, and recoilings that compose an organism—and also a signification aid a subject—occur. For the judgment of God weighs upon and is exercised against the Bw0; it is the BwO that undergoes it. It is in the BwO that the organs enter into the relations of composition called the organism. The BwO howls: "They've made me an organism! They've wrongfully folded me! They've stolen my body!" The judgment of God uproots it from its immanence and makes it an organism, a signification, a subject. It is the BwO that is stratified. It swings between two poles, the surfaces of stratification into which it is recoiled, on which it submits to the judgment, and the plane of consistency in which it unfurls and opens to experimentation. If the BwO is a limit, if one is forever attaining it, it is because behind each stratum, encasted in it, there is always another stratum. For many a stratum, and not only an organism, is necessary to make the judgment of God. A perpetual and violent combat between the plane of consistency, which frees the BwO, cutting across and dismantling all of the strata, and the surfaces of stratification that block it or make it recoil.
Let us consider the three great strata concerning us, in other words, the ones that most directly bind us: the organism, signifiance, and subjectification. The surface of the organism, the angle of signifiance and interpretation, and the point of subjectification or subjection. You will be organized, you will be an organism, you will articulate your body—otherwise you're just depraved. You will be signifier and signified, interpreter and interpreted—otherwise you're just a deviant. You will be a subject, nailed down as one, a subject of the enunciation recoiled into a subject of the statement—otherwise you're just a tramp. To the strata as a whole, the BwO opposes disarticulation (or n articulations) as the property of the plane of consistency, experimentation as the operation on that plane (no signifier, never interpret!), and nomadism as the movement (keep moving, even in place, never stop moving, motionless voyage, desubjectification). What does it mean disarticulate, to cease to be an organism? How can we convey how easy it is, and the extent to which we do it every day? And how necessary caution is, the art of dosages, since overdose is a danger. You don't do it with a sledgehammer, you use a very fine file. You invent self-destructions that have nothing to do with the death drive. Dismantling the organism has never meant killing yourself, but rather opening the body to connections that presuppose an entire assemblage, circuits, conjunctions levels and thresholds, passages and distributions of intensity, and territories and deterritorializations measured with the craft of a surveyor. Actually, dismantling the organism is no more difficult than dismantling The other two strata, significance and subjectification. Signifiance clings to the soul just as the organism clings to the body, and it is not easy, to get rid of either. And how can we unhook ourselves from the points of subjectification that secure us, nail us down to a dominant reality? Tearing the conscious away from the subject in order to make it a means of exploration, tearing the unconscious away from signifiance and interpretation in order to make it a veritable production: this is assuredly no more or less difficult than tearing the body away from the organism. Caution is the art common to all three; if in dismantling the organism there are times one courts death, in slipping away from signifiance and subjection one courts falsehood, illusion and hallucination and psychic death. Artaud weighs and measures every word: the conscious "knows what is good for it and what is of no value to it: it knows which thoughts and feelings it can receive without danger and with profit, and which are harmful to the exercise of its freedom. Above all, it knows just how far its own being goes, and just how far it has not yet gone or does not have the right to go without sinking into the unreal, the illusory, the unmade, the unprepared ... a Plane which normal consciousness does not reach but which Ciguri allows us to reach, and which is the very mystery of all poetry. But there is in human existence another plane, obscure and formless, where consciousness has not entered, and which surrounds it like an unilluminated extension or a menace, as the case may be. And which itself gives off adventurous sensations, perceptions. These are those shameless fantasies which affect an unhealthy conscious. ... I too have had false sensations and perceptions and I have believed in them."18
You have to keep enough of the organism for it to reform each dawn; and you have to keep small supplies of signifiance and subjectification, if only to turn them against their own systems when the circumstances demand it, when things, persons, even situations, force you to; and you have to keep small rations of subjectivity in sufficient quantity to enable you to respond to the dominant reality. Mimic the strata. You don't reach the BwO, and its plane of consistency, by wildly destratifying. That is why we encountered the paradox of those emptied and dreary bodies at the very beginning: they had emptied themselves of their organs instead of looking for the point at which they could patiently and momentarily dismantle the organization of the organs we call the organism. There are, in fact, several ways of botching the BwO: either one fails to produce it, or one produces it more or less, but nothing is produced on it, intensities do not pass or are blocked. This is because the BwO is always swinging between the surfaces that stratify it and the plane that sets it free. If you free it with too violent an action, if you blow apart the strata without taking precautions, then instead of drawing the plane you will be killed, plunged into a black hole, or even dragged toward catastrophe. Staying stratified—organized, signified, subjected— is not the worst that can happen; the worst that can happen is if you throw the strata into demented or suicidal collapse, which brings them back down on us heavier than ever. This is how it should be done. Lodge yourself on a stratum, experiment with the oppurtunities it offers find an advantageous place on it, find potential movements of deterritorialization, possible lines of flight, experience them, produce flow conjunctions here and there, try out continuums of intensities segment by segment, have a small plot of new land at all times. It is through a meticulous relation with the strata that one succeeds in freeing lines of flight, causing conjugated flows to pass and escape and bringing forth continuous intensities for a BwO. Connect, conjugate, continue: a whole "diagram," as opposed to still signifying and subjective programs. We are in a social formation; first see how it is stratified for us and in us and at the place where we are; then descend from the strata to the deeper assemblage within which we are held; gently tip the assemblage, making it pass over to the side of the plane of consistency. It is only there that the BwO reveals itself for what it is: connection of desires, conjunction of flows, continuum of intensities. You have constructed your own little machine, ready when needed to be plugged into other collective machines. Castaneda describes a long process of experimentation (it makes little difference whether it is with peyote or other things): let us recall for the moment how the Indian forces him first to find a "place," already a difficult operation, then to find "allies," and then gradually to give up interpretation, to construct flow by flow and segment by segment lines of experimentation, becoming-animal, becoming-molecular, etc. For the BwO is all of that: necessarily a Place, necessarily a Plane, necessarily a Collectivity (assembling elements, things, plants, animals, tools, people, powers, and fragments of all of these; for it is not "my" body without organs, instead the "me" (moi) is on it, or what remains of me, unalterable and changing in form, crossing thresholds).
. . . We still have not answered the question of why there are so many dangers, and so many necessary precautions. It is not enough to set up an abstract opposition between the strata and the BwO. For the BwO already exists in the strata as well as on the destratified plane of consistency, but in a totally different manner. Take the organism as a stratum: there is indeed a BwO that opposes the organization of the organs we call the organism but there is also a BwO of the organism that belongs to that stratum. Cancerous tissue: each instant, each second, a cell becomes cancerous, mad, proliferates and loses its configuration, takes over everything; the organism must resubmit it to its rule or restratify it, not only for its own survival, but also to make possible an escape from the organism, the fabrication of the "other" BwO on the plane of consistency. Take the stratum of signifiance: once again, there is a cancerous tissue, this time ofsignifiance, a burgeoning body of the despot that blocks any circulation of signs, as well as preventing the birth of the asignifying sign on the "other" BwO. Or take a stifling body of subjectification, which makes a freeing all the more unlikely by forbidding any remaining distinction between subjects. Even if we consider given social formations, or a given straticapparatus within a formation, we must say that every one of them has a BwO ready to gnaw,proliferate, cover, and invade the entire social field, entering into relationsof violence and rivalry as well as alliance and complicity. A BwO of money(inflation), but also a BwO of the State, army, factory, city. Party, etc. If thestrata are an affair of coagulation and sedimentation, all a stratum needs is a high sedimentation rate for it to lose its configuration and articulations, and to form its own specific kind of tumor, within itself or in a given formation or apparatus. The strata spawn their own BwO's, totalitarian and fascist BwO's, terrifying caricatures of the plane of consistency. It is not enough to make a distinction between full BwO's on the plane of consistency and empty BwO's on the debris of strata destroyed by a too-violent destratification. We must also take into account cancerous BwO's in a stratum that has begun to proliferate. The three-body problem. Artaud said that outside the "plane" is another plane surrounding us with "an unilluminated extension or a menace, as the case may be." It is a struggle and as such is never sufficiently clear. "How can we fabricate a BwO for ourselves without its being the cancerous BwO of a fascist inside us, or the empty BwO of a drug addict, paranoiac, or hypochondriac? How can we tell the three Bodies apart? Artaud was constantly grappling with this problem. The extraordinary composition of To Be Done with the Judgment of God: he begins by cursing the cancerous body of America, the body of war and money; he denounces the strata, which he calls "caca"; to the strata he opposes the true Plane, even if it is only peyote, the little trickle of the Tarahumaras; but he also knows about the dangers of a too-sudden, careless destratification. Artaud was constantly grappling with all of that, and flowed with it. Letter to Hitler. "Dear Sir, In 1932 in the Ider Cafe in Berlin, on one of the evening when I made your acquaintance and shortly before you took power, I showed you roadblocks on a map that was not just a map of geography, roadblocks against me, an act of force aimed in a certain number of directions you indicated to me. Today Hitler I lift the roadblocks I set down! The Parisians need gas. Yours, A.A.—P.S. Be it understood, dear sir, that this is hardly an invitation, it is above all a warning."22 That map that is not only a map of geography is something like a BwO intensity map, where the roadblocks designate thresholds and the gas, waves or flows. Even if Artaud did not succeed for himself, it is certain that through him something has succeeded for us all.
The BwO is the egg. But the egg is not regressive; on the contrary, it is perfectly contemporary, you always carry it with you as your own milieu of experimentation, your associated milieu. The egg is the milieu of pure intensity, spatium not extension. Zero intensity as principle of production. There is a fundamental convergence between science and myth, embryology and mythology, the biological egg and the psychic or cosmic egg: the egg always designates this intensive reality, which is not undifferentiated, but is where things and organs are distinguished solely by gradients, migrations, zones of proximity. The egg is the BwO. The BwO is not "before" the organism; it is adjacent to it and is continually in the process of constructing itself. If it is tied to childhood, it is not in the sense that the adult regresses to the child and the child to the Mother, but in the sense that the child, like the Dogon twin who takes a piece of the placenta with him, tears from the organic form of the Mother an intense and destratified matter that on the contrary constitutes his or her perpetual break with the past, his or her present experience, experimentation. The BwO is a childhood block, a becoming, the opposite of a childhood memory. It is not the child "before" the adult, or the mother "before" the child: it is the strict contemporaneousness of the adult, of the adult and the child, their map of comparative densities and intensities, and all of the variations on that map. The BwO is precisely this intense germen where there are not and cannot be either parents or children (organic representation). This is what Freud failed to understand about Weissmann: the child as the germinal contemporary of its parents. Thus the BwO is never yours or mine. It is always a body. It is no more projective than it is regressive. It is an involution, but always a contemporary, creative involution. The organs distribute themselves on the BwO, but they distribute themselves independently of the form of the organism; forms become contingent, organs are no longer anything more than intensities that are produced, flows, thresholds, and gradients. "A" stomach, "an" eye, "a" mouth: the indefinite article does not lack anything; it is not indeterminate or undifferentiated, but expresses the pure determination of intensity, intensive difference. The indefinite article is the conductor of desire. It is not at all a question of a fragmented, splintered body, of organs without the body (OwB). The BwO is exactly the opposite. There are not organs in the sense of fragments in relation to a lost unity, nor is there a return to the undifferentiated in relation to a differen-tiable totality. There is a distribution of intensive principles of organs, with their positive indefinite articles, within a collectivity or multiplicity, inside an assemblage, and according to machinic connections operating on a BwO. Logos spermaticos. The error of psychoanalysis was to understand BwO phenomena as regressions, projections, phantasies, in terms of an image of the body. As a result, it only grasps the flipside of the BwO and immediately substitutes family photos, childhood memories, and part-objects for a worldwide intensity map. It understands nothing about the egg nor about indefinite articles nor about the contemporaneousness of a continually self-constructing milieu.
The BwO is desire; it is that which one desires and by which one desires. And not only because it is the plane of consistency or the field of immanence of desire. Even when it falls into the void of too-sudden destra-tification, or into the proliferation of a cancerous stratum, it is still desire. Desire stretches that far: desiring one's own annihilation, or desiring the power to annihilate. Money, army, police, and State desire, fascist desire, even fascism is desire. There is desire whenever there is the constitution of a BwO under one relation or another. It is a problem not of ideology but of pure matter, a phenomenon of physical, biological, psychic, social, or cosmic matter. That is why the material problem confronting schizoanalysis is knowing whether we have it within our means to make the selection, to distinguish the BwO from its doubles: empty vitreous bodies, cancerous bodies, totalitarian and fascist. The test of desire: not denouncing false desires, but distinguishing within desire between that which pertains to stratic proliferation, or else too-violent destratification, and that which pertains to . the construction of the plane of consistency (keep an eye out for all that is fascist, even inside us, and also for the suicidal and the demented). The plane of consistency is not simply that which is constituted by the sum of all BwO's. There are things it rejects; the BwO chooses, as a function of the abstract machine that draws it. Even within a BwO (the masochist body, the drugged body, etc.), we must distinguish what can be composed on the plane and what cannot. There is a fascist use of drugs, or a suicidal use, but is there also a possible use that would be in conformity with the plane of "consistency? Even paranoia: Is there a possibility of using it that way in part? When we asked the question of the totality of all BwO's, considered as substantial attributes of a single substance, it should have been understood, strictly speaking, to apply only to the plane. The plane is the totality of the full BwO's that have been selected (there is no positive totality including the cancerous or empty bodies). What is the nature of this totality? Is it solely logical? Or must we say that each BwO, from a basis in its own genus, produces effects identical or analogous to the effects other BwO's produce from a basis in their genera? Could what the drug user or masochist obtains also be obtained in a different fashion in the conditions of the plane, so it would even be possible to use drugs without using drugs, to get soused on pure water, as in Henry Miller's experimentations? Or is it a question of a real passage of substances, an intensive continuum of all the BwO's? Doubtless, anything is possible. All we are saying is that the identity of effects, the continuity of genera, the totality of all BwO's, can be obtained on the plane of consistency only by means of an abstract machine capable of covering and even creating it, by assemblages capable of plugging into desire, of effectively taking charge of desires, of assuring their continuous connections and transversal tie-ins. Otherwise, the BwO's of the plane will remain separated by genus, marginalized, reduced to means of bordering, while on the "other plane" the emptied or cancerous doubles will triumph."
4) "The Event in Deleuze," by Alain Badiou, from 'Logic of Worlds', 2006, at http://www.lacan.com/baddel.htm
"The idea [of the Event] is central in Deleuze, as it is in my own enterprise-but what a contrast! The interest of this contrast is that it exposes the original ambiguity of the idea itself. It effectively contains a dimension of structure (interruption as such, the appearance of a supernumerary term) and a dimension of the history of life (the concentration of becoming, being as coming-to-self, promise). In the first case, the event is disjoined from the One, it is separation, assumption of the void, pure non-sense. In the second case, it is the play of the One, composition, intensity of the plenum, the crystal (or logic) of sense. The Logic of Sense is the most considerable effort on the part of Gilles Deleuze to clarify his concept of the event. He does so in the company of the Stoics, they for whom the 'event' must be integrated into the inflexible discipline of the All, according to which Stoicism orients itself. Between 'event' and 'destiny', there must be something like a subjective reciprocation.
I will extract from The Logic of Sense what I will call the four Deleuzean axioms of the event.
Axiom 1: "Unlimited becoming becomes the event itself."
The event is the ontological realisation of the eternal truth of the One, the infinite power (puissance) of Life. It is in no way a void, or a stupor, separated from what becomes. To the contrary, it is the concentration of the continuity of life, its intensification. The event is that which donates the One to the concatenation of multiplicities. We could advance the following formula: in becomings, the event is the proof of the One of which these becomings are the expression. This is why there is no contradiction between the limitless of becoming and the singularity of the event. The event reveals in an immanent way the One of becomings, it makes becoming this One. The event is the becoming of becoming: the becoming(-One) of (unlimited) becoming.
Axiom 2: "The event is always that which has just happened and that which is about to happen, but never that which is happening."
The event is a synthesis of past and future. In reality, the expression of the One in becomings is the eternal identity of the future as a dimension of the past. The ontology of time, for Deleuze as for Bergson, admits no figure of separation. Consequently, the event would not be what takes place 'between' a past and a future, between the end of a world and the beginning of another. It is rather encroachment and connection: it realises the indivisible continuity of Virtuality. It exposes the unity of passage which fuses the one-just-after and the one-just-before. It is not 'that which happens', but that which, in what happens, has become and will become. The event as event of time, or time as the continued and eternal procedure of being, introduces no division into time, no intervallic void between two times. 'Event' repudiates the present understood as either passage or separation; it is the operative paradox of becoming. This thesis can thus be expressed in two ways: there is no present (the event is re-represented, it is active immanence which co-presents the past and the future); or, everything is present (the event is living or chaotic eternity, as the essence of time).
Axiom 3: "The event is of a different regime than the actions and passions of the body, even if it results from them."
Whether thought of as the becoming of becomings, or as disjunctive eternity, the event intensifies bodies, concentrates their constitutive multiplicity. It would therefore be neither of the same nature as the actions and the passions of the body, nor supervene on them. The event is not identical to the bodies which it affects, but neither is it transcendent to what happens to them or what they do, such that it cannot be said any longer that they are (ontologically) different to bodies. It is the differenciator of actions and passions of the body as a result. What then is an immanent One of becomings, if not Becoming? Or difference, or Relation (other Deleuzean terms)? However, Becoming is not an idea, but what becomings become. Thus the event affects bodies, because it is what they do or support as exposed syntheses. It is the coming of the One through them that they are as distinct nature (virtual rather than actual) and homogenous result (without them, it is not). This is the sense that must be given to the formula: 'The event is coextensive with becoming'. The event of Life will be thought as the body without organs: of a different regime than living organisms, but uniquely deployed or legible as the result of the actions and passions of these organisms.
Axiom 4: "A life is composed of a single and same Event, lacking all the variety of what happens to it."
What is difficult here is not the reiteration of the One as the concentrated expression of vital deployment. The three preceeding axioms are clear on this point. The difficulty is in understanding the word 'composed'. The event is what composes a life somewhat as a musical composition is organised by its theme. 'Variety' must here be understood as 'variation', as variation on a theme. The event is not what happens to a life, but what is in what happens, or what happens in what happens, such that it can only have a single Event. The Event, in the disparate material of a life, is precisely the Eternal Return of the identical, the undifferentiated power (puissance) of the Same: the 'powerful inorganic life.' With regard to any multiplicity whatsoever, it is of the essence of the Event to compose them into the One that they are, and to exhibit this unique composition in a potentially infinite variety of ways . . .
It is enough to invert these four axioms-here as in Book II (of Logiques des mondes), 'inversion' reveals negations-in order to obtain a quite good axiomatic of what I call 'event'. . . to break with empiricism, the event must be thought as the advent of what is subtracted from all experience: the ontologically un-founded and the transcendentally discontinuous. To break with dogmatism, the event must be released from every tie to the One. It must be subtracted from Life in order to be released to the stars."
4) a readable introduction to Jacques Lacan's theory of the four discourses, use of mathemes, etc., (from "Hysterical Academies: Lacan's Theory of the Four Discourses," by Christopher Robert McMahon, http://www.educ.utas.edu.au/users/tle/JOURNAL/Articles/McMahon/McMahon.html)
Context of student protest:
In the wake of the 1968 upheavals, Lacan gave what may have been his most politically engaged seminar - "L'envers de la psychoanalyse" (1969-70) - in which he introduced a schema for the dissection of discourse in general. Literally, the title could be translated as "The reverse of psychoanalysis". In many ways, the hysterical academy alluded to by Lacan was the academy in the grips of student revolt. It might just as easily have been the rule of the Red Guards. The schema proposed by Lacan is concerned with the way the content of speech is typically allied to structurally describable positions that are themselves associated with various styles of speech. These positions differ from each other, therefore, in that they are not simply positions within a social field, but have their own internal economy or semiotic form. They are socially competitive and occupy different power niches and also infrapsychologically different in structure. In other words, the schema looks at the "external" structure of power relations, as well as the "internal" structure of each position within that set of "external" power relations. By analysing the deployment of the elements that constitute these different discourses, it becomes possible to understand how a particular discourse (or set of arguments or utterances) serves a particular set of social interests by reinforcing a particular type of infrapsychic structure. Lacan's Four Discourses seminar was designed so as to be generally applicable to any social situation, but it was primarily an investigation into the power relations, situations of desire, and subjective orientations at work within the academy. (cf. Lacan, 1982, p.161; Jameson, 1977, pp.111ff & Sarup, 1992, pp.41-43)
Four algebraic marks: According to Lacan, the multiplicity of discourses can be categorised in terms of a table where four markers stand in for subindividual and suprasubjective "agencies" (i.e. active principles or "powers").
Four Discourse diagram: Lacan's four markers are: the Transcendental Signifier[S1]; the chain of signifiers[S2]; the divided subject[$]; and the object(s) of subjective desire(s)[a]. Each discourse is constituted by a particular arrangement of these agencies. Each marker bears a direct relation to two other markers, but influences all the markers in the system. The situation of each term is overdetermined in so far as it is gripped by the hands of the adjacent terms. In this way the term opposite, though removed, might be said to assert a double influence.
The four discourses "look" like this in Lacan's symbolic system:
Discourse of the Master: S1/$ -> S2/a
Discourse of the University: S2/S1 -> a/$
Discourse of the Hysteric: $/a -> S1/S2
Discourse of the Analyst: a/S2 -> $/S1
The Transcendental Signifier: The Signifier[S1] could be thought of as the supersignifier, or principle that controls signification and significance. It bounds and limits affect, and comprises the limits and centre(s) information and affects. Its essential "ties", consequently are to the signifying chain[S2] and the divided subject[$]. In a sense, the Signifier[S1] is the "Truth" that qualifies discourses and utterances[S2] as "true" (or productive) or "false" (or unproductive). Like the logos - or the phallus - the Signifier[S1] is presented by power structures as the "origin" of "meaning" both in discourse and for the subject; which is to say that the Signifier[S1] violently constructs a line, of inheritance. Learning under the regime of the Signifier[S1] certainly "empowers" students within academic fields, particularly the successful students, but the Signifier[S1] can also be used to keep students in their places. The Signifier[S1] is thereby conventionally used to sacrifice the hysteric (and her difficult questions) in order to guarantee meaning on behalf of the "normal" system of generation associated with a particular discipline, or "genre". The Signifier[S1] thus serves those with substantial investments in the reproduction of that line.
The Chain of Signifiers: Signifying chains[S2] refers to the Lacanian/Structuralist idea of syntagmatic (e.g. collocative) and paradigmatic (i.e. denotative and connotative) links between signs that are more or less regulated by the Signifier[S1]. These are conventionally thought of as parole(s): acts and speech acts related to practices, codes, conventions, protocols, habitual collocations, discourses, and "unwritten laws". The signifying chain[S2] links back to the Signifier[S1] and to the object of desire[a]. This allows the Signifier[S1] to influence the choice of "proper" objects of desire by way of its repressive force,which, in turn, promotes productive actualisations of paroles which select proper objects of desire. Accordingly, repression says "no" in such a way as to promote a certain kind of productivity. But because the chain of signifiers[S2] orbits a dead centre - the Transcendental Signifier[S1] - the chain of signifiers never reaches its "proper" destination. As Lacan found himself continually repeating, nobody has the Truth that could be spoken so as to finalise discourse, or give it a final meaning. For Lacan, then, the dialectic of desire operates between a divided subject[$], and the Signifier[S1] by way of "deferral". Deferral - which means "putting off till later" as well as "putting ahead" - here suggests a style of suspenseful or "partial" gratification that tends toward the "masochistic" in that it involves the renunciation of instant gratification in favor of long term projects. Deferral, consequently, is intimately tied up with submission to power. As the flipside of repression, in a world where all desires cannot be satisfied, "wishes" come to occupy the spaces of desires those that cannot be actualised. But this also means that "basic" forms of gratification (such as eating) can be transformed into more "complicated" and "educated" techniques of pleasure (e.g. the pleasures of Literary Criticism). These "educated pleasures", even when directing our love towards its "proper" destination (the Signifier[S1]), do not satiate. Instead of reaching the Signifier[S1], the chain of linked signifiers[S2] shuttles through various positions in language, including the positions of despot, teacher, hysteric and listener. Each position, as such, is a particular style of deferral. The Lacanian subject, accordingly, is always "divided", full of wishes, never satisfied, and typically wanders through life with a sense of having been missing out, of having lost something along the way, a long time ago, or of wanting something that cannot be had.
The divided subject: A "subject" is a whole person. In Lacanian psychoanalysis, this subject is "divided", created by a lack of power. It is linked both to the Singnifier[S1] and its objects of desire[a], and is torn between propriety and perversity. It loves and yet plots against the Signifier[S1] that stands opposite. The Subject[$]'s desire is thus the product of a fundamental sense of loss or incompletion. The violence of this splitting thus begins the hysterical question: Who am I and what do I want? This hysterical subject[$], then, is one who rebels antiproductively as a response to the weight of conscience (and its demand on behalf of reproduction). She knows that she should love the Signifier[S1] as the thing that could relieve her pain, and also, therefore, that the Signifier[S1] is the origin of her pain. She suspects its fraudulence, but cannot dispose of its influence over her life.
The subject is thus in a double-bind. On one hand, the fulfilment of desire would be the apocalypse of the Subject[$] - but on the other hand, as the Lacanian Subject[$] has come to rely on the deferral of desire for her pleasure- the cessation of desire would result in an apocalypse no less horrifying. To maintain the dialectic of desire the Subject[$] therefore interposes "objects of desire"[a] between itself and the Signifier[S1].
The object of desire: The objet petit 'a'[a] is thus a fraudulent object of desire that is called upon to sustain desire. As such, there is always a sense of deflation involved in the final possession of the object[a]. This deflation is associated with processes of demystification. The maintenance of the object[a] thus involves a partial possession. The relation between the subject[$] and the object[a] is like that of a lover who wishes both to control her beloved and yet fears the demystifying results of such control. As noted already, objects of desire[a] can be "appropriate" or "perverse" according to their relationship to the Signifier[S1], which, among other things, is concerned with instigation of basic gender divisions and the enforcement of sex roles (which extend to the situation of men and women in knowledge practices) and "normal" genetal sexuality.
An economy of counter-clockwise rotation: These four markers are rotated around and arrow and two sublatory bars. The arrow stands for the principle of production in the widest sense (including reproduction and antiproduction). The bars represent the Hegelian form of dialectical logic: a "rising up" (aufehbung) that forces one term "down" and the another term "up" while incorporating both terms into a new entity. This sublation or "rising up" is a form of conquest that retains or reserves the lower term in the service of a totality ruled by the higher term (sometimes translated "synthesis". Yet Lacan only develops the four discourses that are produced through strict rotation and uses only four markers. For example, the discourse of the hysteric is the only configuration offered by way of a system of rotation that begins with desire and subjectivity. We could nevertheless make an item [a/$] which would could be termed "schizophrenic" rather than "hysterical" in its positioning of the subjective construct under the dominion of the object construct, but only by violating the economy of rotation.
The four discourses summarised: The four discourses, described by Lacan, Rose, and Mitchell et al, are those of the Master, the University, the Hysteric and the Analyst. Summarising: the discourse of the master is basically despotic; the discourse of the university is "disciplinary" and regulative; the discourse of the hysteric is that of the obsessive questioner; and the discourse of the analyst is that of the ethical listener. These discourses, however, rarely appear in their "pur" forms. (Sarup, 1992, p.41) The fact that these positions within discourse are both "smaller� and "bigger" than the "individual" means that we are not talking about specific persons - as though one is automatically boxed and stuck in the role of a Master or a Hysteric. Though, in practice, because we tend to teach the way we were taught, individual teachers are often predisposed to a particular approach, usually a switching back and forth between "masterly" and "disciplinary" practices and arguments. But actually, these four modes of voice are more like roles or personae which specific individuals might adopt from time to time. This does not mean that the discourses merge so as to loose their characterisics. We can usually tell the precise moment when somebody stops talking like a Master and starts talking on behalf of the University, or when the discourse of Hysteria stops and is replaced by the voice of "reason". The "discourse analysis" techniques of Applied Linguistics, for example, are particularly good at noting such shifts in genre, direction and register.
In our academies, however, it is the "hegemonic" discourses of the Master and the University that are most commonly heard, and which struggle over the authority to organise courses, assessments, teaching regimes, research grants and so forth. (cf. Gramsci, 1971)
The Discourse of the Master: From Mitchell and Rose - S1/$ > S2/a: discourse of the master: tyranny of the all knowing and exclusion of fantasy: primacy to the signifier (S1), retreat of subjectivity beneath its bar ($), producing its knowledge as object (S2), which stands over and against the lost object of desire (a); (Mitchell & Rose (eds) Lacan, 1982, pp.160-161)
Here the teacher is situated as the master and producer of knowledge as power, demanding the recognition of his autonomy at the expense of the perversity of students' desire. (Foucault, 1970 & 1980) The students are expected to "reproduce" the discourse of the Master. As such, there is complete disregard for students who fail to adulate the Master or his approach to the text. Commonly, the Master will be found in the staffroom complaining about the way students seem to be getting more and more stupid, the general fall in standards and the unsuitability of some students in particular (who should have become waged labour at age fifteen). The educational process, according to a Master, involves an initiation through pain that thereby "civilises" the desire of students who would otherwise remain feral. The Master takes it upon himself to rescue "educated pleasures" from "brute gratifications". The mark of a civilised student is that she appreciates the Master and the body of knowledge which belongs to him and offers elevated pleasure at the expense of dedication. The inscribing process is thus legitimised. Under a "Society of Discourse" or "commentary" based regime (where Masters are particularly at home), education is seen as the necessary effect of students' painful or happy interaction with the text as "in itself it really is". (cf. Foucault, 1970) Masters, especially when operating in Societies of Discourse, typically place great emphasis on their own expertise and argue from their own experience as students to general principles for education. Even the requirements of the academy - particularly "modern" academies that are now attempting to prescribe "progressive" practices - are likely to be seen by a Master as thorns in the flesh. A real Master is even quite likely to be contemptuous of the state of affairs that dominates his own field (or where it is heading) and will cling instead to his "own" reactive (or radical) understanding of how the discipline should be. The Master is always "out of step" with the status quo, and can see himself as the champion of tradition or of progressive thinking. But he will rarely see himself as simply the agent of the academy or the state.
Here it should be noted that while the text is often positioned "phallocentrically", "centrally" (and is used regulatively) by a Master's discourse, it is actually very common to find the text positioned as the "feminine" partner in the seminal production of the Master's commentary. Positioning the student's as feminine "receptacles" and feminising the text means that we are here to learn how to be "sensitive" to the text - "women" in a sense, but not hysterical women. Indeed Terry Lovell goes as far as to suggest that the process of "humanisation" by means of student-textual interaction is primarily a process of the "feminisation" of students, no less phallocratic than masculinisation of women or the commodification of students as "womanly" receptacles. (cf. Lovell, 1987) So we have the situation, described by Lovell, of the rank and file English students, mostly women, who sit at the feet of the male professor, ready to take his civilising message out into the schools where the really feral students are supposedly working at becoming even more illiterate.
Essentially, the discourse of the Master is the "Tyranny of the all-knowing and exclusion of fantasy [before which we experience the] retreat of subjectivity...." (Rose & Mitchell, 1985) This best describes the ultimate in despotic classrooms where teacher says and students are not allowed to disagree. It is certainly grounded on a "delusion of Truth and mastery", but it is a delusion that is often endorsed by knowledge practices that prove themselves performatively (the discourse of the Master is not automatically the discourse of an idiot).
The Discourse of the University: The discourse of the University, on the other hand, is more subtle, more pervasive, and conceals egotism and personal "empire building" far more effectively. From Mitchell and Rose - S2/S1 > a/$: discourse of the university: knowledge in the place of the master; primacy to discourse itself constituted as knowledge (S2) [sound familiar?- ed], over the signifier as such (S1), producing knowledge as the ultimate object of desire (a), over and against any question of the subject ($); (Mitchell & Rose (eds) Lacan, 1982, pp.160-161)
Here, knowledge or disciplinary competence takes the place of the Master. What is at stake is the ability of a student to operate in the field in a "competent" manner. A body of knowledge and technique is constituted as the "core" with the subsequent demand that students "empower" themselves by learning certain techniques of knowledge production. Presently, in English Studies, such techniques might include a command of Critical Theory, a particular sophisticated style of "close reading", or a knowledge of historical and biographical contexts and intertextualities. (Foucault, 1970 & 1980; Derrida, 1981) Competence with regard to such practices separates the educated from the uneducated response. For the discourse of the University essentially attempts to regulate students and Masters on behalf of "sound educational practices", responsibility, accountability, the productivity of the field and, ultimately, the state.
For the Master, his signature is a mark of authority, for the University all signatures must be acquired as marks of assent. Paradoxically, the well-meaning teacher who feels the weight of the academy often feels a responsibility to regulate the discourse of the classroom so as to guarantee sound education. The University demands that time must not be wasted. The easiest way to do this is to monopolise the space(s) of speech. When the academy demands "student-centred" practices, and does so without revising its assessment protocols so as to allow for deviant forms of activity, the teacher finds herself in a double-bind which only "faith" in the ultimate "effectiveness" of well researched teaching practices can easily resolve. Thus the academy typically promulgates the requirement of such faith by advancing a utilitarian discourse grounded on the research findings endorsed by those currently in control. These research findings invariably rely on the value of performativity that accomodates the discourse of the University, rather than on Truth as such. When egalitarian, they are premised on the idea of the superior productivity of equal distribution, not on the idea of a categorical imperative which would demand an ethical response even at the cost of production. Because of this double-bind, the teacher might be encouraged to feel guilty if she is not constantly "improving". This is typical of what Foucault calls a "disciplinary" regime where surveillance is at maximum, as opposed to a "legislative" regime where once you have your papers you are on your own (the latter being an excellent recipe for producing Masters). Under such a disciplinary regime, the academy is quite ready to get inside your soul. During the compilation of staff "development" or "appraisal" profiles, for example, teachers can be considered egotistical and dishonest if they refuse to confess their frailties. When this happens, teachers quickly learn the ropes: confess to minor "problems", make the right noises about "improving in problem areas", but never let on that there you are having any serious difficulties. Filling in staff development questionnaires often leads to "mentoring", which, when compulsory, can be a rather degrading process, and is probably supposed to be. The first question a hysteric asks is "who mentors the mentors"? A teacher who refuses to take all this "prying" seriously - and most of them are acting like Masters - could, particularly in the current climate of renewable contracts and voluntary redundancies, even feel too threatened to really become "recalcitrant".
Nothing is too "small" or too "big" for the discourse of the University to concern itself. The discourse of the University reaches from the minutiae of how to record student marks to the "vision" of the academy as competitive in the "global market", and "pro-active" in its response to "government initiatives". The University even announces creativity its "top priority". But it's a kind of efficient and productive creativity. Everybody must speak, and speak in a way appropriate to the field. Thus in the classroom, tutorial or seminar, it is not infrequently observed that the teacher often forms what could be described as an "incestuous" alliance with one or two higs. Higs (high input generators) talk a lot. And they usually talk in acceptable ways. While this seems to be activating the discussion, an objective survey or discourse analysis would quickly reveal the price paid by ligs (low input generators). For those teachers who are themselves erstwhile higs, it is even more essential that pro-hysterical practices be engaged. In short, teacher-hig alliances maximise desire within the alliance, but minimised desire outside the alliance. Under such regimes, hysterics are hardly to be blamed for their internalisations, underproduction(s), or antiproductive outbursts.
This regime basically corresponds with Foucault's description of a "Discipline". (Foucault, 1970) In English Studies, this "disciplinary" element becomes tied to the performance of commentary, which is why it is strange in some sense to talk about the "discipline" of Literary Criticism (which has traditionally been highly idiosyncratic). But as Literary Criticism becomes less of a "Society of Discourse" and more of a "Discipline", it is becoming less idiosyncratic - and besides, personal style was never a matter of "individual taste" (it was always associated with a Society of Discourse). Let us hope it never freezes enough to be called a "Dogma". (Foucault, 1970) Presently then, our English institutions operate as mixed and unstable regimes, but almost always with an eye to regulating revolutionary commentary in so far as it remains productive.
The Discourse of the Hysteric: Once again, the discourse of hysteria is completely different. It is crazy and utopian - even when suicidal. Mitchel and Rose - $/a > S1/S2: discourse of the hysteric: the question of subjectivity; primacy to the division of the subject ($), over his or her fantasy (a), producing the symptom in the place of knowledge (S1), related to but divided from the signifying chain which supports it (S2); (Mitchell & Rose (eds) Lacan, 1982, pp.160-161)
The hysterical question is "unrealistic", paranoid, delusional, hypochondriac, unstable and fluxatious, troublesome. Hysteria violates textual and disciplinary codes, rules, conventions, modes of production, technologies of knowledge, discursive bounds or limits. Hysteria is self-contradictory and "uninformed": the "symptom" of the question takes the place of the real business: the text, the ego of the master, or the need to make a worthwhile contribution to the field. Hysteria disinvests the academic socius through the "fantastic" production of a disseminative surplus (eg: a "waste" of time, resources etc). (Derrida, 1981 & Spivak, 1987, esp. p.82) Hysteria makes spurious economies where counterfeit circulates. Hysteria turns the question/reply transaction into a ruse. (Deleuze & Guattari, 1983, 1987; Derrida, 1981; Cixous & Clement, 1986; Irigaray, 1985a, 1985b, 1991a, 1991b, 1993b) The hysteric raises the "question of subjectivity" (Mitchell & Rose, 1985), but not necessarily in a direct manner. The hysteric need not say: "Who am I?" or "What is Being?", but might ask another question, or pose a silence that nevertheless has the effect of alienating us from the certainties of knowledge and identity that we tend to buy into as we go about our daily business. Desire, for a hysteric is in the form of question that threatens the construct of subjectivity from below. It is the "old mole" of subjective revolution. As such, the discourse of the Hysteric might be seen as corresponding to the position granted (or more usually forced upon) the "subject" who has "failed" under a commentary regime, a Discipline, or even a Dogma (hysterics make excellent heretics). (cf. Foucault, 1970) Habituses (i.e. learned predispositions) and the rules that govern fields are not completely irrelevant to the hysteric, but are part of the problem. They are used to judge the hysteric. (Bourdieu, 1990) You could say that the hysteric has a dysfunctional or badly adapted habitus (or "feel for the game"), but you would be talking the discourse of the University. The hysteric, because she is dysfunctional, has no knowledge, but she is still supposed to love the Master or Analyst precisely because of her ignorance. (Lacan, 1977b & 1985). But, in fact, hysterics don't just have badly adapted habituses, they are actively and antiproductively engaged in destructuring both habitus and field. Hysterics are like sorceresses, positioned on the fringes. They are intermediaries between the "civilised" and the "wild", between the structured and the unstructured, between the formal and the heterogeneous, which is why listening to a hysteric can be so thought provoking.
The typical "University" solution, however, is to "nurture" the hysteric back to quiet "ligdom", or if possible, even higgish productivity. Otherwise, just fail her. Repression and inscription are the enemies of the hysteric, they are what she is tired of. The hysteric is the scapegoat (Cixous & Clement, 1986) accused of pretending, of hypochondria, of manipulation, of masochism, of selfishness, sadism, inconstancy, irrationality, and bad social skills. A hysteric is "producing the symptom in the place of knowledge". (Rise & Mitchell, 1982) But the preamble to such a symptomography is that, somewhere "inside her", the hysteric already knows too much. Contestation arises when, from the hysterical "knowing place", the hysteric feels free to raise the question of whose knowledge of whom.
The Discourse of the Analyst: This is where the role of the Analyst begins: Mitchel and Rose - a/S2 > $/S1: discourse of the analyst: the question of desire; primacy to the object of desire (a), over and against knowledge as such (S2), producing the subject in its division ($) (a > $ as the very form of fantasy), over the signifier through which it is constituted and from which it is divided. ........ Hence Lacan's description of psychoanalysis as the "hysterisation of discourse" ........ Lacan therefore poses analysis against mastery, hysteria against knowing...... (Mitchell & Rose (eds) Lacan, 1982, pp.160-161)
It is important to remember that the Lacanian analyst does not reply until the hysteric has given utterance to her splitting - but the corollary of this therapeutic reserve is that the analyst already knows that the hysteric's problem is that she loves and loathes the Signifier[S1]. (Lacan, 1977, pp.31ff) Her problem stems from an unwillingness - or inability - to make the "normal" compromises. On the bright side, the discourse of the analyst is the regime of the teacher who listens to the students without pre-empting their desires or immediately moving to negate or recuperate their voices. On the dark side, the Analyst is commonly just the Master or the University in disguise. It is, for example, commonplace didactic strategy to rephrase a student's utterance in "acceptable" terminology. This is obviously a recuperative practice, and when applied to the discourse of the hysteric, it can only further her sense of alienation. Operating the discourse of the Analyst does not mean listening only to offer this sort of comprehensive reply. The discourse of the Analyst is a small discourse. It is a belated discourse. It is a discourse that stops itself from knowing too soon. It waits, but while it waits it modifies itself so as to hear better, so as to produce situations where heterogeneous voices can feel comfortable. It is the regime of the "ethical" teacher who is prepared to make sacrifices and alter her mode of teaching and subject matter; who replies to the courage of those hysterics willing to risk disagreeing with the teacher, text, or field. Briefly, "ethics" is an intersubjective and pragmatic concern for subjective alterity and politico-relational equality. Like a Master, then, the Analyst is also "out of step". The University, itself, makes certain demands which effectively curtail the potentially ethical dynamic of hysteric and her ethical teacher. An Analyst is always in danger of becoming an agent of the University, just as she is always liable to lapse into mastery.
Revolutionary hysteria: Hysterics are usually seen as trouble, but they are actually good for many reasons. Not only are they inventive, but they also ask the so called "dumb questions" that so often get at the roots of what is going on (though often in such a way that the question looks like a "red herring" or "sidetrack"). Hysteria is a threat to knowledge, but not necessarily bad for the field. However antiproductive, the pleasures of hysteria are not just "brute" pleasures, they are more often pleasures of a particularly refined and rigorous kind. The hystericisation of English Studies, for example, would not necessitate the "impoverishment" of English Studies that Edward Said objects to when he attests to the "superiority" of students trained in "traditional" English discipline(s). (cf: Said, 1993, esp. pp.367ff). Such impoverishments arise from despotic and/or disciplinary regimes that work to reduce in order to regulate students' desires the state's vision of its labour requirements. The buzz word "relevance" typically refers to the needs of the capitalist mode of production rather than to the emancipation of antiproductive activity. Similarly, the Hysteric does not make the text vanish, she re-energises it. Techniques such as close reading and deconstruction do not automatically loose their "fecundity" in the hands of a Hysteric, rather, they become invested as technologies for desiring production (including writing). Sadly though, Irigaray is quite right when she observes that she has "never heard the word `hysteria' being used in a valorising way....." (Irigaray, 1991, p.47) Irigaray continues: "Yet there is a revolutionary potential in hysteria.... It is because they want neither to see nor hear that movement that they so despise the hysteric." (Irigaray, 1991, p.47) Replying to the question of students' desires, therefore, does not mean addressing the issue of students' "needs", or "failings", the "gaps in their knowledge" or the deficits in their "skill resources". All that belongs to the discourse of the University. For the Analyst, the desires of the students take precedence over the demands of either "Master" or "knowledge" - even if that desire is antiproductive.
5) "Eight Theses on the Universal," by Alain Badiou, 2004, from http://www.lacan.com/badeight.htm
"1. THOUGHT IS THE PROPER MEDIUM OF THE UNIVERSAL
By "thought", I mean the subject in so far as it is constituted through a process that is transversal relative to the totality of available forms of knowledge. Or, as Lacan puts it, the subject in so far as it constitutes a hole in knowledge . . .
Remarks: . . .
b. That thought, as subject-thought, is constituted through a process means that the universal is in no way the result of a transcendental constitution, which would presuppose a constituting subject. On the contrary, the opening up of the possibility of a universal is the precondition for there being a subject-thought at the local level. The subject is invariably summoned as thought at a specific point of that procedure through which the universal is constituted. The universal is at once what determines its own points as subject-thoughts and the virtual recollection of those points. Thus the central dialectic at work in the universal is that of the local, as subject, and the global, as infinite procedure. This dialectic is constitutive of thought as such.
Consequently, the universality of the proposition "the series of prime numbers goes on forever" resides both in the way it summons us to repeat (or rediscover) in thought a unique proof for it, but also in the global procedure that, from the Greeks to the present day, mobilizes number theory along with its underlying axiomatic. To put it another way, the universality of the practical statement "a country's illegal immigrant workers must have their rights recognized by that country" resides in all sorts of militant effectuations through which political subjectivity is actively constituted, but also in the global process of a politics, in terms of what it prescribes concerning the State and its decisions, rules and laws.
c. That the process of the universal or truth - they are one and the same - is transversal relative to all available instances of knowledge means that the universal is always an incalculable emergence, rather than a describable structure. By the same token, I will say that a truth is intransitive to knowledge, and even that it is essentially unknown. This is another way of explaining what I mean when I characterize truth as unconscious.
I will call particular whatever can be discerned in knowledge by means of descriptive predicates. But I will call singular that which, although identifiable as a procedure at work in a situation, is nevertheless subtracted from every predicative description. Thus the cultural traits of this or that population are particular. But that which, traversing these traits and deactivating every registered description, universally summons a thought-subject, is singular. Whence thesis 2:
2. EVERY UNIVERSAL IS SINGULAR, OR IS A SINGULARITY
Remarks:. . .
Thus it is necessary to maintain that every universal presents itself not as a regularization of the particular or of differences, but as a singularity that is subtracted from identitarian predicates; although obviously it proceeds via those predicates. The subtraction of particularities must be opposed to their supposition. But if a singularity can lay claim to the universal by subtraction, it is because the play of identitarian predicates, or the logic of those forms of knowledge that describe particularity, precludes any possibility of foreseeing or conceiving it.
Consequently, a universal singularity is not of the order of being, but of the order of a sudden emergence. Whence thesis 3:
3. EVERY UNIVERSAL ORIGINATES IN AN EVENT, AND THE EVENT IS INTRANSITIVE TO THE PARTICULARITY OF THE SITUATION
The correlation between universal and event is fundamental. Basically, it is clear that the question of political universalism depends entirely on the regime of fidelity or infidelity maintained, not to this or that doctrine, but to the French Revolution, or the Paris commune, or October 1917, or the struggles for national liberation, or May 1968. A contrario, the negation of political universalism, the negation of the very theme of emancipation, requires more than mere reactionary propaganda. It requires what could be called an "evental revisionism". Thus, for example, Furet's attempt to show that the French Revolution was entirely futile; or the innumerable attempts to reduce May 1968 to a student stampede toward sexual liberation. Evental revisionism targets the connection between universality and singularity. Nothing took place but the place, predicative descriptions are sufficient, and whatever is universally valuable is strictly objective. In fine, this amounts to the claim that whatever is universally valuable resides in the mechanisms and power of capital, along with its statist guarantees.
In that case, the fate of the human animal is sealed by the relation between predicative particularities and legislative generalities.
For an event to initiate a singular procedure of universalization, and to constitute its subject through that procedure, is contrary to the positivist coupling of particularity and generality . . .
Thus it is necessary to maintain that the universal emerges as a singularity and that all we have to begin with is a precarious supplement whose sole strength resides in there being no available predicate capable of subjecting it to knowledge.
The question then is: what material instance, what unclassifiable effect of presence, provides the basis for the subjectivating procedure whose global motif is a universal?
4. A UNIVERSAL INITIALLY PRESENTS ITSELF AS A DECISION ABOUT AN UNDECIDABLE: This point requires careful elucidation.
I call "encyclopedia" the general system of predicative knowledge internal to a situation: i.e. what everyone knows about politics, sexual difference, culture, art, technology, etc. There are certain things, statements, configurations or discursive fragments whose valence is not decidable in terms of the encyclopedia. Their valence is uncertain, floating, anonymous: they exist at the margins of the encyclopedia. They comprise everything whose status remains constitutively uncertain; everything that elicits a 'maybe, maybe not'; everything whose status can be endlessly debated according to the rule of non-decision, which is itself encyclopedic; everything about which knowledge enjoins us not to decide. Nowadays, for instance, knowledge enjoins us not to decide about God: it is quite acceptable to maintain that perhaps 'something' exists, or perhaps it does not. We live in a society in which no valence can be ascribed to God's existence; a society that lays claim to a vague spirituality. Similarly, knowledge enjoins us not to decide about the possible existence of "another polities": it is talked about, but nothing comes of it. Another example: are those workers who do not have proper papers but who are working here, in France (or the United Kingdom, or the United States ...) part of this country? Do they belong here? Yes, probably, since they live and work here. No, since they don't have the necessary papers to show that they are French (or British, or American ...), or living here legally. The expression "illegal immigrant" designates the uncertainty of valence, or the non-valence of valence: it designates people who are living here, but don't really belong here, and hence people who can be thrown out of the country, people who can be exposed to the non-valence of the valence of their presence here as workers.
Basically, an event is what decides about a zone of encyclopedic indiscern-ibility. More precisely, there is an implicative form of the type: E --> d(), which reads as: every real subjectivation brought about by an event, which disappears in its appearance, implies that , which is undecidable within the situation, has been decided. This was the case, for example, when illegal immigrant workers occupied the church of St. Bernard in Paris: they publicly declared the existence and valence of what had been without valence, thereby deciding that those who are here belong here and enjoining people to drop the expression "illegal immigrant".
I will call the evental statement. By virtue of the logical rule of detachment, we see that the abolition of the event, whose entire being consists in disappearing, leaves behind the evental statement , which is implied by the event, as something that is at once:
- a real of the situation (since it was already there);
- but something whose valence undergoes radical change, since it was undecidable but has been decided. It is something that had no valence but now does.
Consequently, I will say that the inaugural materiality for any universal singularity is the evental statement. It fixes the present for the subject-thought out of which the universal is woven.
Such is the case in an amorous encounter, whose subjective present is fixed in one form or another by the statement "I love you", even as the circumstance of the encounter is erased. Thus an undecidable disjunctive synthesis is decided and the inauguration of its subject is tied to the consequences of the evental statement.
Note that every evental statement has a declarative structure, regardless of whether the statement takes the form of a proposition, a work, a configuration or an axiom. The evental statement is implied by the event's appearing-disappearing and declares that an undecidable has been decided or that what was without valence now has a valence. The constituted subject follows in the wake of this declaration, which opens up a possible space for the universal.
Accordingly, all that is required in order for the universal to unfold is to draw all the consequences, within the situation, of the evental statement.
5. THE UNIVERSAL HAS AN IMPLICATIVE STRUCTURE . . .
Someone might object: "You're making things too easy for yourself by invoking the authority of mathematical inference." But they would be wrong. Every universalizing procedure is implicative. It verifies the consequences that follow from the evental statement to which the vanished event is indexed. If the protocol of subjectivation is initiated under the aegis of this statement, it becomes capable of inventing and establishing a set of universally recognizable consequences.
The reactive denial that the event took place, as expressed in the maxim "nothing took place but the place", is probably the only way of undermining a universal singularity. It refuses to recognize its consequences and cancels whatever present is proper to the evental procedure.
Yet even this refusal cannot cancel the universality of implication as such. Take the French Revolution: if, from 1792 on, this constitutes a radical event, as indicated by the immanent declaration which states that revolution as such is now a political category, then it is true that the citizen can only be constituted in accordance with the dialectic of Virtue and Terror. This implication is both undeniable and universally transmissible - in the writings of Saint-Just, for instance. But obviously, if one thinks there was no Revolution, then Virtue as a subjective disposition does not exist either and all that remains is the Terror as an outburst of insanity inviting moral condemnation. Yet even if politics disappears, the universality of the implication that puts it into effect remains.
There is no need to invoke a conflict of interpretations here. This is the nub of my sixth thesis:
6. THE UNIVERSAL IS UNIVOCAL
In so far as subjectivation occurs through the consequences of the event, there is a univocal logic proper to the fidelity that constitutes a universal singularity.
Here we have to go back to the evental statement. Recall that the statement circulates within a situation as something undecidable. There is agreement both about its existence and its undecidability. From an ontological point of view, it is one of the multiplicities of which the situation is composed. From a logical point of view, its valence is intermediary or undecided. What occurs through the event does not have to do with the being that is at stake in the event, nor with the meaning of the evental statement. It pertains exclusively to the fact that, whereas previously the evental statement had been undecid-able, henceforth it will have been decided, or decided as true. Whereas previously the evental statement had been devoid of significance, it now possesses an exceptional valence. This is what happened with the illegal immigrant workers, who demonstrated their existence at the St. Bernard church.
In other words, what affects the statement, in so far as the latter is bound up in an implicative manner with the evental disappearance, is of the order of the act, rather than of being or meaning. It is precisely the register of the act that is univocal. It just so happened that the statement was decided, and this decision remains subtracted from all interpretation. It relates to the yes or the no, not to the equivocal plurality of meaning.
What we are talking about here is a logical act, or even, as one might say echoing Rimbaud, a logical revolt. The event decides in favour of the truth or eminent valence of that which the previous logic had confined to the realm of the undecidable or of non-valence. But for this to be possible, the univocal act that modifies the valence of one of the components of the situation must gradually begin to transform the logic of the situation in its entirety. Although the being-multiple of the situation remains unaltered, the logic of its appearance - the system that evaluates and connects all the multiplicities belonging to the situation - can undergo a profound transformation. It is the trajectory of this mutation that composes the encyclopedia's universalizing diagonal.
The thesis of the equivocity of the universal refers the universal singularity back to those generalities whose law holds sway over particularities. It fails to grasp the logical act that universally and univocally inaugurates a transformation in the entire structure of appearance.
For every universal singularity can be defined as follows: it is the act to which a subject-thought becomes bound in such a way as to render that act capable of initiating a procedure which effects a radical modification of the logic of the situation, and hence of what appears in so far as it appears. Obviously, this modification can never be fully accomplished. For the initial univocal act, which is always localized, inaugurates a fidelity, i.e. an invention of consequences, that will prove to be as infinite as the situation itself. Whence thesis 7:
7. EVERY UNIVERSAL SINGULARITY REMAINS INCOMPLETABLE OR OPEN
All this thesis requires by way of commentary concerns the manner in which the subject, the localization of a universal singularity, is bound up with the infinite, the ontological law of being-multiple. On this particular issue, it is possible to show that there is an essential complicity between the philosophies of finitude, on the one hand, and relativism, or the negation of the universal and the discrediting of the notion of truth, on the other. Let me put it in terms of a single maxim: The latent violence, the presumptuous arrogance inherent in the currently prevalent conception of human rights derives from the fact that these are actually the rights of finitude and ultimately - as the insistent theme of democratic euthanasia indicates - the rights of death. By way of contrast, the evental conception of universal singularities, as Jean-Francois Lyotard remarked in The Differend, requires that human rights be thought of as the rights of the infinite.
8. UNIVERSALITY IS NOTHING OTHER THAN THE FAITHFUL CONSTRUCTION OF AN INFINITE GENERIC MULTIPLE
What do I mean by generic multiplicity? Quite simply, a subset of the situation that is not determined by any of the predicates of encyclopedic knowledge; that is to say, a multiple such that to belong to it, to be one of its elements, cannot be the result of having an identity, of possessing any particular property. If the universal is for everyone, this is in the precise sense that to be inscribed within it is not a matter of possessing any particular determination. This is the case with political gatherings, whose universality follows from their indifference to social, national, sexual or generational origin; with the amorous couple, which is universal because it produces an undivided truth about the difference between sexuated positions; with scientific theory, which is universal to the extent that it removes every trace of its provenance in its elaboration; or with artistic configurations whose subjects are works, and in which, as Mallarme remarked, the particularity of the author has been abolished, so much so that in exemplary inaugural configurations, such as The Iliad and The Odyssey, the proper name that underlies them - Homer - ultimately refers back to nothing but the void of any and every subject.
Thus the universal arises according to the chance of an aleatory supplement. It leaves behind it a simple detached statement as a trace of the dis-appearance of the event that founds it. It initiates its procedure in the univocal act through which the valence of what was devoid of valence comes to be decided. It binds to this act a subject-thought that will invent consequences for it. It faithfully constructs an infinite generic multiplicity, which, by its very opening, is what Thucydides declared his written history of the Peloponnesian war - unlike the latter's historical particularity - would be: , "something for all time"."