# Diagram

“We define the abstract machine as the aspect or moment at which nothing but functions and matters remain. A diagram has neither substance nor form, neither content nor expression. Substance is a formed matter, and matter is a substance that is unformed either physically or semiotically. Whereas expression and content have distinct forms, are really distinct from each other, function has only ‘traits’ of content and expression between which it establishes a connection: it is no longer even possible to tell whether it is a particle or a sign. A matter-content having only degrees of intensity, resistance, conductivity, heating, stretching, speed or tardiness; and a function expression having only ‘tensors,’ as in a system of mathematical, or musical, writing. Writing now functions on the same level as the real, and the real materially writes. The diagram retains the most deterritorialized content and the most deterritorialized expression, in order to conjugate them. Maximum deterritorialization sometimes starts from a trait of content and sometimes from a trait of expression; that trait is said to be ‘deterritorializing’ in relation to the other precisely because it diagrams it, carries it off, raises it to its own power. The most deterritorialized element causes the other element to cross a threshold enabling a conjunction of their respective deterritorializations, a shared acceleration. This is the abstract machine’s absolute, positive deterritorialization…

“Defined diagrammatically in this way, an abstract machine is neither an infrastructure that is determining in the last instance nor a transcendental Idea that is determining in the supreme instance. Rather, it plays a piloting role. The diagrammatic or abstract machine does not function to represent, even something real, but rather constructs a real that is yet to come, a new type of reality. Thus when it constitutes points of creation or potentiality it does not stand outside history but is instead always ‘prior to’ history. Everything escapes, everything creates — never alone, but through an abstract machine that produces continuums of intensity, effects conjunctions of deterritorialization, and extracts expressions and contents. This Real-Abstract is totally different from the fictitious abstract of a supposedly pure machine of expression. It is an Absolute, but one that is neither undifferentiated nor transcendent. Abstract machines thus have proper names (as well as dates) which of course designate not persons or subjects, but matters and functions. The name of a musician or scientist is used in the same way as a painter’s name designates a color, nuance, tone, or intensity: it is always a question of a conjunction of a Matter and Function. The double deterritorialization of the voice and the instrument is marked by a Wagner abstract machine, a Webern abstract machine, etc. In physics and mathematics, we may speak of a Riemann abstract machine, and in algebra of a Galois abstract machine… There is a diagram whenever a singular abstract machine functions directly in a matter.”

(Deleuze and Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus, “587 B.C – A.D. 70: On Several Regimes of Signs”)

The Author

mostly noise and glare

1. Pingback: Big Dog: Our Selves « Frames /sing

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.