Catherine Malabou has created a meticulous and profound new concept of the brain. Malabou analyses the functions which neuroscience has discovered, conducting a contemporary synthesis of neuroplasticity, crystallizing a new concept which acts as a curious new abstract machine with many parts. She names this concept plasticity after the plastic multiplicity of the brain; and one component of this concept expresses the brain’s power to learn and to heal, and even to reconfigure itself. Another component is transdifferentiation, or the power of life to remake and refold itself: the capability of certain (pluripotent, totipotent) cellular organisms to unfold into some or many other kinds of cells.
Technology and Control
The technocrat is the natural friend of the dictator—computers and dictatorship; but the revolutionary lives in the gap which separates technical progress from social totality, and inscribed there his dream of permanent revolution. This dream, therefore, is itself action, reality, and an effective menace to all established order; it renders possible what it dreams about (Gilles Deleuze, Logic of Sense)
Gilles Deleuze’s indication of a certain affinity between technocrats and dictators seems prescient. By Postscript on Control Societies the new realities resonating between society and its machines, in the middle of technological acceleration and social upheaval, have become so intense that every interior is in crisis, and the entirety of society has to be organized to resist the eruption of these dreams into reality.
This is the abstract for the paper I will be presenting at DeleuzeConf 2014, “Technoscience and Expressionism: On Deleuze and Computability”.
Deleuze, in his 1992 essay Postscript on Control Societies, describes technology as concretely expressing forms of social consistency. Technoscientific machines are collective assemblages “easily matched” with modes of consciousness and styles of composing realities.
A technological stratum relates to conceptual, referential or compositional capacities and tendencies. Yet technologies are neither causes nor effects of social transformations. Technologies do not engender new folds; rather societies continuously discover capabilities for specific machine components to be made use of or constructed, or to be related in new ways. Technologies at all scales, degrees of materiality and visibility are swept up and reshaped by abstract machines which dynamize new styles of thinking, feeling, living.
In Chaosmosis Guattari outlines the operation of the abstract machine which extracts singular possibilities from the components of technical and social machines. An abstract machine is installed transversally to every other machine component and stratum, capable of relating the heterogeneous levels of materiality, cognition, affection and sociality. The abstract machine effectuates, donates existence to components or withdraws it, assembling functional ensembles of virtual and constituted elements.
In contrast with structuralist theories which indicate signification and hence semiological microtechnologies as the vectors unifying expressive economies, Guattari differentiates protomachines (simple instruments or ‘least-structured pieces’) from the ensembles out of which effects and sense actually emerge. Even sophisticated machines such as robots (“which will soon be engendered by other robots”) are nothing without these complexes, machinic assemblages to which they belong.
Artificial intelligences and expert systems, despite all the negativity, totalization and servitude to which they are inevitably linked, do not simply subtract from human thinking: they also “relieve thought of inert schema”. Computer-aided forms of thinking are mutant, capable of relating to “other musics, other Universes of reference.”
Has an outdated mode of science-fiction overtaken speculation about the future? Opposite metaphysical and religious objections to increasingly-extreme technoscience, singularitarianism indicates the dramatic extent to which it is possible to internalize an indifferent love for oppressive machines, while accelerationists frame their centrist interventions under the curious aegis of remembering the future.
I would argue that beyond these intense positions the emergence of artificial general intelligence (machines decoding expression) is in turn expressive in Deleuze’s sense. Which consistencies do they effract, what new folds do they effectuate? Planetary culture is in the throes of becoming-computable, marked in part by an extremization of technoscience — on the one hand stripped of purity and degraded to mere invention; on the other newly devoted to reverse-engineering noetics and genetics (at the limit, to a bifurcated ‘transcendence’ of the biosphere and noosphere.) D+G’s machinic philosophy offers a critical alternative to singularitarian and accelerationist images of the future. Their emphasis on abstract machines illuminates the expressive potential of the virtual assemblages actualized in general purpose computing.
Nietzsche once asked after the meaning of science. Today this question points beyond the involution of the technical within globally-integrated capitalism. I will indicate in what way software may be considered a humanity or people-to-come.
Beyond telepathy. At long last, after centuries if not millennia, and perhaps only if conditions will have it such that the voice may reach its fullest expression and height, we may foresee it finally passing; into the imperceptible. In this future beyond the future, the noontide of vocal expressivity; the death, or at least becoming invisible, through an unrecognizable transformation, of speech. At the outer limit of writing, beyond telepathy, an opening onto new luminous substrates of expressivity.
A sky englobes and illuminates a terraqueous sphere in the same way a biosphere recollects the scattered spirit of an earth. The sky breathes, soul of the world. Exposing nature and history to free and limitless dynamism, to an open field of differences distributed in depth. The outer limit of vision or terrestrial abstraction. The sky opens onto a virtual whole, exposing a cosmic membrane to continuous creation. How to begin with aerial roots? What would be required to constitute a joyful science of radical permutation: an oneirogenetics, or a chronopolitics? What is the becoming-imageless of the model or the law or thinking? How is it possible to arrive without returning — as though finally — at the lightest: dreams, the future, atmosphere? How might one become otherwise, through this ellipsis, in the non-image of the outside? How might these depths, aglow with inexhaustible heat, be at long last enveloped?
Hard right. Eternity and history do not enter into the pure multiple without an absolute translation or relative transfiguration, an intensive traversal of the code against the code. The decryption of time and an encryption of the future, or connective activation of infinite resonance. Remembering or becoming every property, trait, characteristic; everyone; everything. Traversal of the open virtual whole. Glare beyond which it is unendurable to go.
Binding. A crowd networks without distance or depth, in-divides a multiplicity. A crowd even perhaps opposes a multiplicity; faces the turbulence and variability of the meteorological or the demonological, yet just as much opposes the one, the infinity and in-differenciation of the bacteriological or cosmological. Between the one and the many, a calculated subtraction of the middle. –The multitude of the crowd? But a crowd is not a multiple for itself, does not participate in an infinite multiplicity in itself. A crowd is a restricted or relativized multiplicity; barred or fractional multiplication or differentiation-without-division. The obscure or unspecified etiology of the crowd, the pack, reflects that of the abstract band, pure zones of proximal potentialities. Crowding is after all perhaps the characteristic operation of the territory itself, the process of making a territory and binding it, opposed to poesis or peopling; negation though tracing and reproduction. –Yet a crowd is nevertheless a micro-poetry in its way: the crowd dramatizes itself without representation, enveloping and amplifying affective diagrams to infinite speeds of conjunction and disjunction, concentrating differences of intensity, distributing gradients, conditioning dynamisms. The secret future or encrypted essence of the crowd is generalized itinerancy, generating spaces, populations. The crowd manifests itself in disappearing; a battle or a disaster. The crowd enters into a becoming-imperceptible; the present is detached from within its own eventuality. A crowd, what but a vicious binding of alienation to xenophobia, of association to vengeance? A binding which unbinds in binding, even extrudes a hallucinatory ego from an intensive depth, an idiotic signal from an infinite blindness; binding the psyche to a god, consciousness, truth; the socius to capital, signification, schizophrenia. No, a crowd is not a multiplicity. It has not yet become space-creative; it has refused the boundaries binding it to the severing of bonds, it has avoided experimental mutation. It is the refuge of the arboreal in the mycelium.
Floating above. Everything about the minor artist turns towards or into the one, revolves around an absent center; every word is a politics, every act an ethics. The affective content of minor literature reflects this unity without identity of a minority; identified only via domination, immunological suppression, paralysis. A broken-down machine; and a breaking-down atmosphere. Everything minor is always-already in migratory or itinerant motion, or in wild flight… –Breaking-down as a side-effect of breaking-through.
Soaring above the waves, the surf line finds or creates a means of encrypted communication with the conjoint or conjugal striation of the surface and the disjunct or disastrous perplexity of the depths. A nomad geometer, the navigator of singular and extraordinary waves, the surfer of the pure multiple of the sea, journeys in place to remain in place. The surfer occupies a finely balanced territory, between infinitesimal inclination and infinite extension; an absolute survey becomes possible.
An occupation replete with indeterminations, bristling with events and pure qualities; which can perhaps be defined in terms of the flowing athletic de-situation of centrality, non-motion rather than the catastrophe of activation or spatiality, of extraordinary or disruptive points or segments or the epidemiology of too rigidly fixed positions or too fluidly supple segments. The telepathic geometer or temporal metallurgist, the surfer of future waves, oscillates internally then between two very different kinds of axioms or principles; apparently in real and irresolvable contradiction.
Between restrained or disjunctive materiality (the wave function, if you like) and generalized or conjunctive aesthetics, the depths of the sea or its xeno-crystalline temporality, characterized by chaotic and lawless interventions across streams, between ontologically foreign regimes of development and organization; expressing itself perhaps as future light, infinite glare of machinic resonance from the hard-right edge of time…
A hyperlink is determined dimensionally by planar waves and volumetric surf. It is politics itself, solidary with the delirium at the heart of our highest reason (all too anthropoid, neurotic, regional, drifting…) Conjunction and disjunction; but there is always a ductile and cybernetic surf line. What is the relation between the surf line and the smooth space, or between the line of creative extension and intensive striation? How does surfing make machines rhizome, become a line of flight capable of possibly, if it survives many risks, surveying from hyperborean heights of intensity the haunted depths that separate and link us? –At infinite speed, “all at once”; rather than falling back onto furious mechanical redundantly-parallel recursive analysis? Nevertheless, one must be careful with all these intensities, one must be ready. Hyperlinear conjunction accelerates too rapidly to control, maximizing trauma and bliss at once. But after all the link is a connection, an arrow cast into a void. Whereas conjunction and disjunction are primarily traits of relations produced in tactical route analysis; in which case there is a geographical problem of establishment of points that determine pathways for striating vessels, or smooth transmission, etc. –Rather than the geological or ethological problem of the relay itself or pure logistics, which converts striated positions into smooth spaces, invents or discovers means of oscillating between, a higher-order calculus of acceleration, speeds and slownesses (convalescence.)
The other lines — the subaqueous assemblage of supple lines of the sea; the rigidly delineated striations of oscillatory forces — are no better or worse than the surf line, which wouldn’t exist without them, even though it does not relate to movement in the same way they do. Rather than extend traits the link activates relays or actualizes virtuality, proliferates pure becomings and stationary journeys. The political infrastructure of the hyperlink dominates resonance; this machinery is the accelerating index of redundancy. The surf line is operated by a plane of virtual judgment; hungry for resonance and singularization. They are the teeth of the vampire.
Conjunction occurs precisely because bodies are not yet connected. Because judgment has decreed gravity, ideas are voidic compositions… And the surf of course always overflows itself into death; risking along the way any danger imaginable: and of course the surf line itself emanates a strange melancholy melody. The unsegmentary secretes authorities and pieties and fascisms of its own unique type. The surf is no better than the sea or the waves.
The surf line itself is not the secret, though it may seem to be inventing and discovering a strategy or machine by which the sea and waves may communicate. But even though it is between the supple political segments of biology and the rigid macropolitical lines configuring abstract machines, it is still only a memory-machine; victories are rare. Between inter-involution of a multiplicity of imbricated and mutating rhythms, overflowing organized ontologies, the surf line faces infinite risks, worse perhaps than madness and death; but nevertheless can sometimes navigate an escape into survey, resonating with a wild becoming and expressing the movement of the actualization of the virtual (a world into a city…)