comments 5
becoming / Deleuze / difference / ontology

Metamorphosis. There is a kind of explanatory knot or gap in every narrative model of world history; a thread of teleology which tightens around the throats of every minor voice, every parasite and schism. One of the gravest dangers of the line of the flight is the line itself. The notion of a trauma which fractures history itself is built into the problematic vision of a historical totality. It seems to me that it is a rehabilitation of the concept of the event as substance of history and radical irruption at once which is required, rather than the restoration of the concept of ‘story’ as total historical narratological unity leading to some eschatological utopia — whether Judgment Day or finally-actualized communism, this is the force of ideology at its purest (Nick Land’s recent article in Urban Futures conveys some of the unsettling depths of this problem).

Metamorphosis participates in a series of evental diagrams which collectively assemble situations, gradually ‘applying’ these diagrams in order to accelerate or decelerate certain movements, intensities, affects, passions. The point is not about imitative action but becoming-molecular. The psychoanalytic investigation of the unconscious is effectively deadlocked around this central difficulty — only beginning to be displaced by the gradual transformation of linguistics into a praxis or pragmatics, a diagrammatology. The movement of the signifier is bound within vorticial frameworks that traverse the unconscious like a network; a kind of wormhole dynamics where lines of flight are intimately related to lines of death.

The intermixing of abstract forces and concrete forms, expressions and contents, enables a practice like schizoanalysis to be possible — by subtracting a dimension, the political dimension of a milieu becomes visible, “auto-diagrammed” as a collective assemblage of enunciation. The ‘automatic’ character of the schizoanalytic process should not be dismissed; it is indeed a kind of auto-experimentation, the cautious and deliberate extrusion of abstract machines from within their concretized expressions, gently removing the shackles from desire. Inspiring metamorphosis involves meta-modeling — diagramming tendencies, processes and functions heuristically in order to maximize them. The whole problem is within metempsychosis, in a way — the possibility of ‘de-individualizing’ and ‘re-individualizing’ into another existence, which points towards a pre-individual intensive continuum.

The political dimensions of phenomena like metempsychosis point to the joy and freedom implicit in myths of metamorphosis. Is there a secret or hidden aspect to the animals, to the earth, to moments and becomings? This secret or this withdrawal is related to the possibility of an alternative orientation, which is perhaps to say to philosophy’s radical project of the creation of a ‘free’ subjectivity, one not subservient to the aims of State or the Church — who with critical joy and deliberate freedom aggressively seeks the demystification of world-historical narratives, whose daybreak is the twilight of all false idols, all master codes.

The Author

mostly noise and glare


  1. Joe, this is nice, and it in a sense brings directly into contact metempsychosis and schizoanalysis. My one question is this shift from the movement of the signifier to metempsychosis. I suppose I would bounce off your wormhole (black hole?) the white wall of faciality that reflects the signifier, and then perhaps I could follow you down the rabbit hole here. All I mean to say is, what’s going on with the displacement of the movement of the signifier into the intermixing of abstract forces…I hate to say that it makes me want to show you the end of Lacan’s reading of Irma’s injection, about immixtion–that again would bring us back to a question of signification….

    But, I suppose I should clarify: can I again try to bridge your movement from signification and its semiotic collapse/wormhole to the notion that we find in Two Lessons, where Simondon shows how Francis of Assisi argued that humans, under the right circumstances and with the proper moral purity, could be understood by animals.

    So, to state my question in another way: can I read this lacuna, this shift in your focus on a way of trying to tackle questions of animality and signification…in other words, trans-semiotics, something like the animal and the order of signification?

    Is the sainthood of the animal a sublation of its role as sacrifice? Jesus as lamb/lamb as saint, some sort of squaring the circle of sacrifice? What is the master signifier (you mention master codes…master narratives?) for animals, becoming-animal, etc.?

  2. Thanks! As to the first issue, it strikes me that writing/literature is a productive assemblage like any other, identifiable by relations of movement and rest, speeds and slownesses on the planenomen. The rhizosphere which the technology of the signifier unleashes is involved in a relentless becoming that is nevertheless as contingent as social and economic arrangements. What I mean to say is that the mobilization of expressive forces is by no means limited to the human sphere, but connects to an outside, as well as to more radical and “pure” exteriorities: planes of pure intensity, of sound and of color. Animals do not need to wait for humans to assemble creative expressions rich in color or movement. Conversely life is always already ordered, organized, conducted into individuation by a molecular master code.

    Let’s touch base soon. Your last question strikes me as particularly fruitful. (Does life narrativize; is it meaningful to speak of organic ideology?)

  3. Maybe I balked at ‘signification’, because my notion was to think through Guattari in terms of the asignifying, to try and wonder whether or not signification (signifiance/interpretance)…the play of chains of signifiers, or whatever it can be called…isn’t part of the problem? I suppose I was trying to lead back into the work of schizoanalysis in its attempts to move beyond treating ‘language’ purely in terms of signification….Something to consider.

    Now, on the other hand, what does Simondon do? He takes the term signal and signification, and rends them from their anchorage in the symbolic, or even in language considered in a reductive or capitalistic way. In a anthropomorphic way. He de-anthropomorphizes signification……this can be seen more clearly with the 20 vocab entries on Simondon. That could be a potential for clarifying and extending the Two Lessons.

  4. “According to the distinction between signals and significations, we will say that there is an individual when there is a process of real individuation, i.e. when significations appear: the individual is that by which and that in which significations appear, whereas between the individuals there are only signals. The individual is the being that appears when there is signification; reciprocally, there is only signification when an individuated being appears or is prolonged in a being that is being individualized; the genesis of the individual corresponds to the resolution of a problem that could not be resolved by means of prior givens, because they did not have a common axiomatic: the individual is the auto-constitution of a topology of being that resolves a prior incompatibility through the appearance of a new systematic; that which was tension and incompatibility becomes functional structure…the individual is thus a spatio-temporal axiomatic of being that compatibilizes previously antagonistic givens in a system to a spatial and temporal dimension” (127).

  5. This seems to really resonate with your turn to metempsychosis….and it also makes me think about signification in terms of Simondon….

    In fact, if we also look at the notion of ‘subject’, there is a sense in which that, too, is also highly de-anthropomorphized. The subject becomes the process of compatibilizing the affective and perceptive worlds of the individual…

    Is metempsychosis a metaphor–a myth–or some other type of analogy to this movement of compatibilizing the individual and pre-individual? This alludes to your last paragraph…

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