Deleuze, Deleuze and Guattari, Laruelle, transmutation, zero

Dooley on Deleuze: the Dieulieuzian-Dooleuzian Disjunction

Thinking in waves

Let me just say that it has been such an honor and such a treat to welcome Brian Dooley and his voice to Fractal Ontology (cf. Brian’s recent work “Schizophrenia of Zero” and “Transvaluation“). I can only inadequately convey my excitement and joy to share a mutual interactive space with a free-spirit like Brian, who, in (not being) himself, constitutes a veritable thought-force, a violence that forces one to think. Nevertheless a positive violence that takes thought to its immanent limit; the violence of the witch’s broom and the dice throw. Obviously not an empirical violence…

How to engage such a violence while coming out unscathed? Wrong question: how to come out scathed, how to love the fate of the wound for which we are born–the nothingness and abyss through which Bryan transports (us). Hence the ethics of transmutation: not to be unworthy of what happens (to us), since the ‘us’ does not repeat in the purity of the event, except as surface effect…But also the ecology of the virtual, or, in another vein, the respons-ibility towards the infinity of dialogue: how to throw down the gauntlet for the exhaustion of the infinite conversation while affirming the negation of agon, the anagonic war at the genital heart of acephalic thought? The encounter where violence is simply the thresholds crossed by reactive forces being tapped into, activated, countereffectuated…

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coding, Deleuze and Guattari, dream, freud, joyce, production, psychoanalysis, unconscious, writing





“When I’m dreaming back like that I begins to see we’re only all telescopes.”

Joyce, Finnegans Wake



Dream-analysis does not necessitate an affirmation of the existence of universal structures of expression; it need not amount to the tiresome interpretation of the same hidden message over and over again, wherein the forms of thinking and speaking and finally reality itself are rendered identical, cruelly reduced to a single and all-encompassing formula. It suffices to mention that the good doctor Freud would have us believe the dream-work is essentially uncreative, that it amounts in the end to an organic process of coding, one of unsteady translation between the sleeping consciousness and the passive unconscious, producing a kind of dense hieroglyphic writing which must then be interpreted through an analytic exchange. 

The dream understood as writing (even schizowriting) becomes poisoned; the dream taken as representation leaves us only with a kind of mindless condensation and confusion of many distinct memories. Even so, the messages are too free; Freud always seems to lose sight here, missing the material process of decoding unfolding before his eyes. We miss the dream-work entirely, we find only translation instead of production. Freud is neither the last nor first scientist to seek relentlessly to crush singularity in favor the universal — a strange moment where it seems reason itself has gone mad, engaging itself in an infinite and searching analysis “beneath” for some powerful and profoundly-hidden writing. It is this desire for some universal “meaning” disseminating itself through the dream in a distorted form which necessitates the uncreativity, the non-productive character Freud ascribes of the dreamwork. And thus the dream has already frozen, and becomes a little analysis in itself.

The interminability of the analysis corresponds precisely with this frozen process, this hideous arresting of the infinite circulation of the dream. It is only possible to open psychoanalysis to the outside by arresting its own process of continuous interpretation: “No longer are there acts to explain, dreams or phantasies to interpret, childhood memories to recall, words to make signify; there are colors and sounds, becomings and intensities… There is no longer a Self that feels, acts and recalls; there is a ‘glowing fog, a dark yellow mist’ that has affects and experiences movements, speeds.” (ATP 180) It is clear enough a non-productive unconscious could not produce a cure; such an unconscious could only accept one imposed from without, a cure intended to code and crush desire — to normalize our unconscious, not to assist its process of production. 

A Thousand Plateaus, body without organs, BwO, Deleuze and Guattari, deterritorialization, line, line of flight, micropolitics, molarity, molecularity, plane of consistency, segmentarity

A Thousand Plateaus, Chapter Eight: Lines and Segmentarity

Deleuze, Gilles and Felix Guattari. A Thousand Plateaus. Trans. Brian Massumi. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2003.

Although Deleuze and Guattari consistently use the line of flight as a concept along with the distinctions between molecularity and molarity throughout the earlier chapters of the book, plateau 8 on the three novellas is the first time that we see the distinctions being formalized. Earlier in plateau 3 on the geology of morals (I say earlier provisionally as though one must read ATP linearly, which is not true as the authors point out) we began to read about how we are stratified. The relation to the strata and the BwO or plane of consistency becomes a focal point for discussing the two sides of the abstract machine. In many ways, the understanding of this balance is helpful and analogous to understanding the different types of lines and the conditions for their specific segmentarity. We will come back to the abstract machine later so as to streamline our analysis.

The molar line, or rigid segmentarity, is basically defined as a clear-cut or calculated arrangement (Nietzsche’s prophetic mnemotechnics–we shall/must become calculable). Molar aggregates are segmented “to ensure and control the identity of each agency, including personal identity” (195). There are no becomings on the rigid line of segmentarity, but that does not mean that it is bad, nor does it mean that other lines are completely separated from the molar due to the immanence of all lines, even in relation to each other.

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A Thousand Plateaus, abstract machine, abstraction, assemblages, guattari, machinic unconscious, pragmatics, redundancy, rhizome, Schizoanalysis

Guattari’s Schizoanalytic Pragmatics

Until Marxism, capitalist political economy has also pretended for a long time to pass as the general grammar of all economy, but linguistics still has not found its Marx and Engels who would reset it on its feet. –Guattari, L’Inconscient Machinique, p.30 fn. 14.

The sign is a position of desire; but the first sings are the territorial signs that plant their flags in bodies. And if one wants to call this inscription in naked flesh ‘writing,’ then it must be said that speech in fact presupposes writing, and that it is this cruel system of inscribed signs that renders man capable of language, and gives him a memory of the spoken word. –Deleuze and Guattari, Anti-Oedipus, p. 145.

All methods for the transcendentalization of language, all methods for endowing language with universals…have fallen into the worst kind of abstraction, in the sense that they validate a level that is both too abstract and not abstract enough. Regimes of signs are not based on language, and language alone does not constitute an abstract machine, whether structural or generative. The opposite is the case. It is language that is based on regimes of signs, and regimes of signs on abstract machines, diagrammatic functions, and machinic assemblages that go beyond any system of semiology, linguistics, or logic. There is no universal propositional logic, nor is there grammaticality in itself, any more than there is signifier for itself. “Behind” statements and semioticizations there are only machines, assemblages, and movements of deterritorialization that cut across the stratification of the various systems and elude both the coordinates of language and of existence. That is why pragmatics is not a complement to logic, syntax, or semantics; on the contrary, it is the fundamental element upon which all the rest depend.—Deleuze and Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus, p. 148.

Linguistic Machinics: Guattari’s Schizoanalytic Pragmatics

In their Capitalism and Schizophrenia volumes, Deleuze and Guattari outline a historically materialist theory of language and society which is essentially based upon their theories of assemblages, multiplicity, abstract machines, and deterritorialization along with many other concepts. The difficulty in fully appreciating the second volume, A Thousand Plateaus, is mainly due to an ignorance of Guattari’s solo work L’Inconscient machinique which was published a year before ATP and constitutes a sort of companion volume or workbook for the former. It is now time to fully explore this work while keeping A Thousand Plateaus closely in mind in order to fully understand what Guattari’s critiques and use of linguistic theories really amounts to. In other words, the main focus of this essay (beyond an explication of Guattari’s untranslated work) is to specify how language in its stabilization in power formations comes to dominate our everyday lives and what are the means of transformation that pragmatics proposes in order to conceive and actualize new possibilities of subjectification. To perform such a (broad) task, we will focus here mainly on the concepts that Guattari proposes and how they work together to specify the problem in working toward new solutions that the project of a schizoanalytic pragmatics can offer.

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A Thousand Plateaus, abstract machine, becoming, Deleuze, language, machine, ontology, Politics


The scientific enterprise of extracting constants and constant relations is always coupled with the political enterprise of imposing them on speakers and transmitting order-words.

Deleuze and Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus 101

Deleuze and Guattari admit that the notion of “minority” is very complex, with references and correlations in all dimensions of human and non-human existence. The opposition is not simply quantitative: “Majority implies a constant, of expression or content, serving as a standard measure by which to evaluate [it].” (ATP 105) Thus the majority need not be in numerical majority; for majority supposes only the assumption of a “state of power and domination, not the other way around” — the standard measure, when it is assumed to be the standard, thereby becomes major. Minorities, on the other hand, are not determined by constants — they are not systems but subsystems, outsystems — seeds of potential, creative and created, crystals of becoming.

These considerations are deployed together in one of the most significant points in Deleuze and Guattari’s critique of linguistics, which is this: that grammar is a system of power primarily, not a prototype but a protocol, directly connected to an economy and a politics more primarily than to a network of syntagms and semantemes. Thus even though grammar cannot be presented as an invariant linguistic substructure, it nevertheless possesses singular structural features — political ones — namely, functioning as the medium of transmitting commands, “order-words.” Thus language is shaped directly by political and economic forces; it is a prerequisite for the individuals’ submission to social laws. “No one is supposed to be ignorant of grammaticality; those who are belong in special institutions.” (101)

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abstract machine, antiproduction, body, code, diagram, diagrammatics, flux, idea, language, model, ontology, parasite, process, symbol, text



It is impossible to conceive the assemblage of a scientific experiment apart from a field that generates plans and topological, mathematical, axiomatic and computational descriptions. But sign-machines can function equally well directly within material and social machines without the mediation of significant processes of subjectivation, something which has become more obvious each passing day. The fact that the common essence of semiotic machines and material or social machines proceeds from the same type of abstract machine is the decisive step we must take in order to found a political pragmatics on something other than good intentions.

Felix Guattari, L’Inconscient machinique: essais de schizo-analyse. Paris: Editions Recherche, 1979. p. 67.

That we underestimate machines is an understatement. Human language itself is a code which produces codes, hence an always already over-coded decoding — and the decoding processes, for their part, go as far as you like. Let us be cautious, then, and attempt to linger for a moment on the side of the symbolic. Every discourse, every instance of language, every explicit “saying” — is also implicitly a kind of abstract program. A program gives us in turn the language in which that program is expressed — and also in which completely new programs can be expressed. Finally, every text also contains an irreducible element of pure ontology, thereby encoding — between the lines — the very principles for organizing discourse itself. Whichever metaphor obscurely prefigures the communicative passage, tracing these interdependent “resemblances,” or “differential” networks of “abstract” models, (or even “ethico-spiritual” traces of traces) necessarily takes us on an adventure outside of the text — but mysteriously or ironically, always into other kinds of texts! This infinite indeterminacy — or antiproductive rupture — is the basis of a “parasitic” logic, the logic of interruption, inequality, a constitutive non-determination.

Hence, in addition to these four distinct but interwoven layers or aspects co-existing in even the shortest text — indeed in a single word — it seems we must also suppose some pre-logical flux of intensity, a matrix of differences, in which these varying aspects would themselves become locally codified and relatively grounded. A diagram needs a space in which to be built and materials from which to be constructed; ideas needs relational fields in which they realize themselves sensibly and and dramatize their “break” into reality to one another — how, why and where they fall to their death onto the depths of bodies — but even this as though organically or by divine judgment. Bodies break the recursive cycle of language through the intervention of a partial object (programmer-parasite.) The parasite, the cold body sucking the warmth, writes new programs, and in doing so inevitably scrambles the meanings of the old instructions. The parasite is ontological rupture or antiproduction, phenomenological transduction — its work, grounding relation, is itself grounded only by an act of invention, translation, dramatization. Grounded in metaphor, in a productive diagram, in an abstract machine. Or, in other words: the parasite, whose provisional ground or counter-network is the minimal subject of the abstract machine, guarantees the consistency of the abstract programs’ specific productive diagram simultaneously as (1) a single variation, which is also (2) a model for variations; yet this is model is at once a (3) variable language of models, as well as the (4) machinic meta-ontology pragmatically governing the organizational principles of languages themselves.

abstract machine, code, Cognition, diagram, difference, energy, entropy, identity, knowledge, learning, memory, problem, structure, Thought, unconscious, wittgenstein

On Learning


One way of approaching the difference between knowledge and learning (so profound in our opinion that, despite their entanglement, there can be postulated neither a material nor conceptual ground which could ever serve to unify them) is by considering that even while wholly disparate, they are not in the least opposed for that reason. To learn and to know are two divergent operations, contrapositive dynamisms, which are nevertheless always both active simultaneously, as the “cutting edges” or ungrounding machines of cognition. A thought is grounded not in abstract oppositions, but in concrete forces traversing real problematic fields.

Knowledge is classically represented as a heterogeneous assemblage — our minds are far too imperfect to clearly perceive the pure, homogeneous Truth — which is self-totalizing and self-regulated by an internal learning process, charged with traversing its own experiences (as they are represented and reactivated as memories of varying intensities.) In this sense, abstract oppositions emerge only as variables of these mixed compositions of energetic and entropic flows. This is the illusion of hyper-diagrammatism (implying a kind of super-diagram of “all” thought.) We must try and see that thought isn’t about models and copies, not about identity and ideology — but rather about lines along which interminglings are operative, as though “between” concrete and abstract flows of energy — food for words, money for sex, death for love, virtue for pain, and on and on…

What is produced in this process of establishing communication between incommensurable problematic fields — or learning — should certainly not be characterized as a pure memory, but rather a decentralized and a-subjective cognitive process. “Thought” is not the difference between learning and knowledge, but rather an abstract machine which underlies them while nevertheless separating them, almost as though by an absolute divergence. Learning fights dullness and emptiness with lightning and fire, mortally threatening the stasis and death of “serious knowledge,” which would otherwise totally consume the brave and fiery heart of discovery. So let’s stop asking what “knowledge” and “learning” mean in themselves (and trying to ‘deduce’ the ‘difference’ — and thereby, most likely, only serving to overcode it by an all-too-serious line of death); let’s rather ask: how do these operations work?
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