desire, diagram, future, language, life, machine, ontology, outside, philosophy, thinking


Philosophy begins in aporia, with a paradox or inconsistent consensus. Thus, the most ancient metaphysical figure, which we also recognize as the most simple, the shadow of the parasite upon the unconscious: a thought which denies and provokes, which produces a paradox through its utterance, through its very way of existing. Precisely, then: a prohibition which prohibits its paradox from being thought. The most ancient trope of philosophy begins and ends with this “must,” which exceeds its limit, and so cannot “seriously” be interpreted as a prohibition. But now what does this injunction become? It functions as a portent — a premonition: do not think this now, but perhaps some day. Thus a portent in the precise sense that the paradox prohibits itself from being resolved, and so remains inextricably open, ex-posed to an outside of thought — to a possible future. A denial of the impossible — which follows as a necessary consequence of the possible. Thus the prohibition is not a “discipline” of mind but a rigorous passivity or vulnerability which allows the compulsion of a result, even against the heart’s own desires. Hence the labor, and danger, of thought.

The prohibition barring the very Thought is a portent in the literal sense that it proclaims the immanent Reality it simultaneously denies. The world is swept away and transfigured, merely by a breath, a word, a thought: the originary paradox of becoming, already giving birth to both those of language and being, of discourse and discipline. The philosopher’s stone is only an implosion; to philosophize is to make legible this indecipherable transformation, to reveal this uncanny origin of writing, and to uncover the divergent roots of sensation and signification: in short philosophy’s task today is to crack itself open… Philosophy is a vulnerability, not a power but precisely a humility before thought, a restrained reason which is finally capable of inventing a way out of the black hole, of engendering immanent becomings… We are only beginning to diagram this machine. Philosophy sometimes realizes itself to be one with its result, and poses the question of its foundational prohibition in rigorous terms as the force of a concept: this “strange” energy attending the donation of signs. We may well ask: why are we continually returning, or rediscovering this result, this symptom? Reality itself become symptom; of what origin is this “hidden” glare, this resonance, this infinite inter-mediation, this fold?

An odd but simple paradox which is immediately the production of an entire system of mixtures, a complex and diversely-constituted assemblage, rigorously but madly constructed — axiomatic and diagrammatic by turns. A machinic immanence, where we had thought to discover life; and a new humanity, where we had “only” thought to invent machines. We are moving outwards from the middle of language, turning towards an outside. The essence of language is not this journey but the sound of pure silence, the tension of the saying without a “said,” which indicates a unique vulnerability before truth: the sincerity or truthfulness which is the very donation of the sign itself; thus beyond essence or before being, this giving without a given, this ambiguity.

axiom, derrida, diagram, fear, Interpretation, joy, Marx, proof, property

Fair Reflection

The selfish misconception that induces you to transform into eternal laws of nature and of reason, the social forms springing from your present mode of production and form of property — historical relations that rise and disappear in the progress of production — this misconception you share with every ruling class that has preceded you. What you see clearly in the case of ancient property, what you admit in the case of feudal property you are of course forbidden to admit in the case of your own…
Marx, The Communist Manifesto

It’s more difficult than ever. If one is not to trust blindly in the prevailing language, which remains most often subservient to the rhetoric of the media and to the banter of the political powers, we must be very careful using the term “terrorism” and especially “international terrorism.” In the first place, what is terror? What distinguishes it from fear, anxiety, and panic? …How does a terror that is organized, provoked and instrumentalized differ from that fear that an entire tradition, from Hobbes to Schmitt and even Benjamin, holds to be the very condition of the authority of law and of the sovereign exercise of power, the very condition of the political and of the state?

Derrida, Philosophy in a Time of Terror

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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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boundary, diagram, expression, form, knowledge, language, machine, network, organization, parasite, relationship, representation, topology, wikipedia

Expressive Networks

expressive networks

towards a new diagrammatic model for the abstraction and representation of relational knowledge

How can we apply distributed network theory to knowledge representation? In this paper, we advance a new hypothesis regarding the role of the network topology in information science. In particular, we argue for the need (and significant advantage) of thinking in terms of a parasitic or “counter-network” topology.

While networks are certainly good at representing many things, we need to recognize the significant limitations of this image of knowledge. What does this mean? That the network structure itself must be deformalized, made “molecular” and placed in constant pragmatic variation. The network topology is the most questionable “paradigm” today — despite, or in a sense, because — it has rendered the old hierarchical models obsolete. We find evidence of an uncannily deterministic (and even political) character of the network topology in terms of the protocol or prescriptive communicative rules ‘in force’ throughout the network space. But what if we were to consider a system where all the rules are optional?

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abstract machine, assemblage, becoming, code, cosmos, diagram, God, intensity, language, molecular, segmentarity, semiotics, sign, subject, truth



“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 not. There is no universal propositional logic, nor is there grammaticality in itself, any more than there is signifiance 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…

A Thousand Plateaus 148

The world is segmented, stratified, breaking or already broken-up: what happened, what is happening? What crosses over, releasing free, untamed intensities as it travels along the intermediary zones? What is it which is just now passing through — beyond, behind, between — these lines? How do these lines — and always bundles of lines, fibres — work? A question of codes, partitions, signal-sign networks: are these lines of forced motion (interpretation) or rather lines of free variation (experimentation)? “The mixed semiotic of signifiance and subjectification has an exceptional need to be protected from any intrusion from the outside.” (ATP 179) A single expressive substance precludes the development of nomadic machines — truth, God, the Earth, are not “allowed” to have an outside! Do we think we understand this “allowed”? What happened? But already in order to translate we must achieve an expressive unification, yet this by no means guarantees that the language we thus arrive at conveys a message: “You will never know what just happened, or you will always know what is going to happen…” (ATP 193)

All becoming are molecular — not objects or forms easily recognized from science, habit or experiences — and in this sense “unknowable,” at least from the outside. Are human beings the same way? Is there no relation of resemblance between the woman and becoming-woman, the child and becoming-child? “All we are saying is that these in-dissociable aspects of becoming-woman must first be understood as a function of something else: not imitating or assuming the female form, but emitting particles that enter the relation of movement and rest, or the zone of proximity, of a micro-femininity, in other words, that produce in us a molecular woman…” (ATP 275) The question is not about representing a woman, producing an accurate imitation of a particular molecular multiplicity — but of making something that has to do with that multiplicity enter into composition with the speeds of the image. In becoming we discover our own proximity to the molecular: “That is the essential point for us: you become-animal only if, by whatever means or elements, you emit corpuscles that enter the relation of movement and rest of the animal particles, or what amounts to the same thing, that enter the zone of proximity of the animal molecule.” (275)

Can we “make” the world a becoming? Only if we reduce ourselves to “one or several” abstract lines can we find our own proximities, our own zones of indiscernibility; that is, our own passageway to a becoming-everywhere, a becoming-everybody: “The Cosmos as an abstract machine, and each world as an assemblage effectuating it.” (ATP 280) Eliminate everything exceeding this moment; but don’t forget to include within the moment everything which it includes in its turn. We ourselves slip into the moment, which slips transparently into the impersonal, the indiscernible. “One is then like grass: one has made the world, everybody/everything, into a becoming, because one has made a necessarily communicating world, because one has suppressed in oneself everything that prevents us from slipping between things and growing in the midst of things… Saturate, eliminate, put everything in.” (ATP 280)

abstract machine, assemblage, chomsky, content, diagram, expression, hegemony, indiscernible, information science, intensity, Labov, linguistics, pragmatics, production, rhizome, semiotics, signifier, variation

Notes to Deleuze and Guattari’s A Thousand Plateaus: November 20, 1923 — Postulates of Linguistics

In truth, the nature of the abstract machine is the most general problem: there is no reason to tie the abstract machine to the universal or the constant, or to efface the singularity of abstract machines insofar as they are built around variables and variations.

Deleuze and Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus (92-93)

Deleuze and Guattari’s analysis of the Chomsky-Labov debate exemplifies a well-developed but perhaps under-emphasized aspect of their thinking — namely, their theory of semiotics — and in particular the curious relationship they argue holds between language and the abstract machine. The debate between Labov and Chomsky concerns linguistic variation — an issue which, as we shall see, helps illuminate an important aspect of Deleuze and Guattari’s theory of the abstract machine. Chomsky’s position is more or less what you would expect it to be: linguists isolate from an essentially heterogeneous linguistic reality a standard and homogenous system, thus grounding abstraction not in aggregations but in positions, roots, and linearity. In fact, he claims, it’s only in this way that one can get at real principles, and that science can operate in no other way… — and so on. D+G summarize:

“Chomsky pretends to believe that by asserting his interest in the variable features of language, Labov is situating himself in a de facto pragmatics external to linguistics. Labov, however has other ambitions…” (A Thousand Plateaus 93)

What does Labov do (according to Deleuze and Guattari)? He refuses the very alternative which Chomsky presumes exists between linguistic constants and pragmatic variability. Labov asks us to think about lines of pure or inherent variation. It’s not difficult to see why Deleuze and Guattari like Labov so much; it’s also not difficult to see see why they must move definitively beyond this particular debate, and challenge its very pretext. But let’s slow down, what do these lines mean in the first place — these lines of “inherent variation”? Deleuze and Guattari clarify that, on the one hand, we ought not to think of these simply as “free variants” already in relation to a given style or pronunciation (that is, whose features would still lie completely outside the system, thus leaving its homogeneity intact.) On the other hand, these lines of variations are not a “de facto” mix of both systems — in other words, we shouldn’t think that each system is homogeneous in its own right (“as if the speaker moved from one to the other,” write D+G.)
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