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, 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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breath, celan, expression, flowers, growth, heidegger, humboldt, inorganic life, intensity, language, life, light, organism, speech, spirit

Speaking (of) Flowers…

The stone.
The stone in the air, which I followed.
Your eye, as blind as the stone.

We were
we baled the darkness empty, we found
the word that ascended summer:

Flower – a blind man’s word.
Your eye and mine:
they see
to water.

Heart wall upon heart wall
adds petals to it.

One more word like this word, and the hammers
will swing over open ground.

Paul Celan, “Flower”

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alterity, being, difference, expression, harmonics, history, language, memory, post-modern, radiation, science, time, transcendence, writing

The Thought of Language


The human being is in the most literal sense a political animal, not merely a gregarious animal, but an animal which can individuate itself only in the midst of society.

(Karl Marx, from the introduction to Grundrisse)

Between being and language there is an interval, a purified difference articulated through individuation, a difference in time or development: language is in such a way that it always is yet to be as a being. Language becomes through the production of alteration or mutation: we can and cannot formulate the sense or direction of writing — it is always in a process of developing into an exotic, immaterial, and “purified” being — or even into a different kind than “being.”

Through a coincidence of non-identicals, language plunges into becoming in order to reverse its temporal structure: pure language is tachyonic, a signal reversed in time, whose being unfolds in waves, inverting the radiation of light and noise, subverting distribution of space, producing an unusual, internal co-resonance which unfetters time (alterity) itself.

Language is radiation, interference; thus linguistics is a kind of harmonics: a science of language without phonetics, a science of noise and parasitic diagrams, which would already in some sense be reducible to a violently “purified” mathematics (the “post-modern” is but footnotes to Aristotle, a fervently anti-idealistic “clarification” of ontology.)

The analysis of linguistic structures unconsciously proceeds in (genea)logical fashion: yet should we not also seek language in its positive or generative aspect (which correlates with a larger sense of language as expressivity, productive recording,) that is also to produce new languages of pure forms, and also to invent mathematical and scientific languages; and between and underneath both to produce instructions for pure machines?

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critique, decision, determination, epoch, expression, freedom, history, illusion, Marx, metaphysics, networks, Politics, practice, production, religion, slavery, struggle, Thought

Being and Revolution



The materialist doctrine concerning the changing of circumstances and upbringing forgets that circumstances are changed by men and that it is essential to educate the educator himself. This doctrine must, therefore, divide society into two parts, one of which is superior to society.

The coincidence of the changing of circumstances and of human activity or self-changing can be conceived and rationally understood only as revolutionary practice.

Karl Marx

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becoming, birth, composition, expression, mathematics, music, Nietzsche, resonance, rhythm, sensitivity, space, transformation

Rhythm, Expression, Transformation: Music and Nietzsche

(Image by Hectik,

In music the passions enjoy themselves.
Friedrich Nietzsche

In early 1872, the same year The Birth of Tragedy was published, Nietzsche delivered a series of lectures entitled “An Investigation into Rhythm and Meter.” (The lecture which interests me, “Toward a Theory of Quantified Rhythm,” appears to still be untranslated!)

Music is at the heart of Nietzsche’s effort. In a very important sense, without a musical ear, his work cannot be understood. Music is his framework. Not only that he writes in arpeggios, but that his thought is arpeggiated; to make sense or value from his work, we must hear it performed; that is, we must realize through ourselves all the properly musical moments of discord and accord in his thought, all the contradictions and harmonies which resonate not only through his critique but also through his concepts.

The moment of accord between morality and genealogy (or discord between truth and science) must be felt; they cannot be simply understood. His account of the origin of morality, for example, only seems not to be completely rational for the reason that it is perfectly and even sublimely rational; it is in fact a mathematical argument! Just as the infinite overflows reason, Nietzsche’s style, his thoughts and ideas, must be heard and felt, not only read but performed. His voice must become as a pulsation or rhythm seizing us; or else it remains, merely a contradiction, merely a static critique.
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