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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A Thousand Plateaus, abstract machine, concept, Deleuze, diagram, Difference and Repetition, French Translation, Logic of Sense, ontology, Véronique Bergen

Translation: Véronique Bergen’s Diagram of the Evolution of Deleuzian Concepts

The following is a translation of a section containing a table of the evolutions of the names of the transcendental field and the operators of differenciating liaisons from L’Ontologie de Gilles Deleuze, Véronique Bergen. Paris: L’Harmattan, 2001. 545-549.
Original translation by Taylor Adkins 11/05/07.

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A Thousand Plateaus, definitions, Deleuze, difference, Difference and Repetition, French Translation, intensity, Logic of Sense, nomadic distribution, ontology, pre-individual, singularities, Theory / Philosophy, transcendental field, univocity, Untranslated Theory, Zourabichvili

Translation: Two Entries from Francois Zourabichvili’s book on Deleuze’s Vocabulary: Univocity and Pre-Individual Singularities


The following are two entries from Francois Zourabichvili’s book La vocabulaire de Deleuze. Paris: Ellipses, 2003. Original Translation by Taylor Adkins 11/03/07.

Pre-individual Singularities

* We cannot accept the alternative which thoroughly compromises psychology, cosmology, and theology: either singularities already comprised in individuals and persons, or the undifferentiated abyss. Only when the world, teeming with anonymous and nomadic, impersonal and pre-individual singularities, opens up, do we tread at last on the field of the transcendental (LS 103).

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A Thousand Plateaus, assemblages, BwO, Deleuze, deterritorialization, guattari, interbeing, multiplicity, Nomadology, rhizome, Schizoanalysis, tracing

Notes to Deleuze and Guattari’s A Thousand Plateaus: Rhizome, Chapter 1


D+G have reached the point where it is no longer of any importance whether one says I [This, of course, is preceded by similar assertions about the schizophrenic in Anti-Oedipus]. (3).
A book is an assemblage and a multiplicity:
One side of a machinic assemblage faces the state, which doubtless makes it a kind of organism, or signifying totality, or determination attributable to a subject; it also has a side facing a body without organs, which is continually dismantling the organism, causing asignifying particles or pure intensities to pass or circulate, and attributing to itself subjects that it leaves with nothing more than a name as the trace of an intensity. What is the body without organs of a book? …We will ask what it functions with, in connection with what other things it does or does not transmit intensities, in which other multiplicities its own are inserted and metamorphosed, and with what bodies without organs it makes its own converge…Literature is an assemblage. It has nothing to do with ideology. There is no ideology and never has been (4).
This assertion resonates with what D+G write of earlier in Anti-Oedipus pg. 104—they will write there: “It is not an ideological problem…unconscious investments are made according to positions of desire and uses of synthesis, very different from the interests of the subject, individual or collective, who desires’ (104).
D+G insists upon ‘Stratometers, deleometers, BwO units of convergence. Not only do these constitute a quantification of writing, but they define writing as always the measure of something else. Writing has nothing to do with signifying. It has to do with surveying, mapping, even realms that are yet to come (4-5).

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