You can simulate transparency, but behind your back an overheated network will condition your component lines. It is remarkable indeed the degree of encryption, not to mention extreme speeds and slowness, which a signal may be made to endure. Gentle decelerations, frenzied accelerations, stationary null journeys: real movements which the machine or a part undergoes — or else sudden breaks, unforeseen shutdowns, severed lines. The differential logic of the signal system mutates continuously according to the functioning of a semiological machine which does not resemble what it creates, crystallizes, shatters or sets into flight. Expression, insofar as it frames or signs itself, is always-already conditioned and operated by a grammatical field of semiological dynamisms redoubling encounters-affects into visions and auditions, possible worlds. The receiver is symmetrically encrypted, a recursive and resonating labyrinth: translating wild variations of rhythms, interpolating approximately-decrypted sub-signals, differentiating referential opacity where it is not constitutive. A signal is always-already composed of instructions, an actively-encrypted network of orders: a volumetric control field radiating from multiple command cores, enmeshed with the transmissive and receptive apparatus. The virtual line is incorporated into the machine; actual resonating devices become attuned to the most subtle or rarefied waves. Desire, dreams, delirium are signals as real production: a construction of new senses or problems, new distributions of the interesting and uninteresting, the surprising and unsurprising, the tolerable and the intolerable. Reattributing the cosmos, dreams create problems… What nourishes the bad dream, that the void should dominate? What distributes scarcities, interpolates lack, interposes this alien and monstrous ontology of interrogation-judgment-punishment? Who wishes this interrogation of delirium, this interpretation of desire and dreams according to need, wish-fulfillment? It is astonishing that reactionary madness should have had such wild success; that low truths, base dreams, sick desires should be able to appear high, noble, affirming; that entire discourses of these broken and enslaved truths should attain cultural hegemony. How is it that it could occur, what happened? How can it be that this slow suicide, this disinterested love for whatever is fucking you, can masquerade as life? Capital Tyrannus, or Oedipus Rex: the self-immolation of desire, the diminution of dreams, the toxification of the sky. The signal communicates with a virtual substrate organizing deeply-nested or encrypted signs, conditions expressive lines which are also lived forces or affects: sadnesses or joys. The dream is open to becoming a nightmare as a condition of its possibility; desire goes all the way. The delirious and wandering line of decoding, of the adventure of decryption, does not only face certain disaster or death; but also sings seductively, in minor keys; it is melancholy, and itself a risk. But while it is easy to botch their construction, only cartographies of the virtual, planes of consistency at the limit of consciousness or the common, can emancipate new images of the collective, mobilize and restructure conditions of possibility…
So I thoroughly enjoyed reading through two books this weekend: Tubes: A Journey to the Center of the Internet by Andrew Blum and Where Wizards Stay Up Late: The Origins of the Internet by Katie Hafner and Matthew Lyon. The first book focuses on the geographically grounded physicality of the internet and is quite fascinating insofar as it brings it back down into the mud of things in flesh and blood away from the heavenly realm of Platonic Ideas–even though the ‘blood’ of the internet is pure light, something Blum is really insistent to point out all throughout the book.
“[U]topia is a fictive representation of an ideal social structure…”
Michel Serres names heaven the rejoining of the rational and the real. Is there not truly a disquietingly infinite distance between the celestial dream of this adjoining and the hell we have made of the world? What then is the utopian? A first provisional approach might highlight temporal disjunction, utopia as uchronia: a no-when as well as a no-where; utopia denoting a world, a city, a life (but also a thought) to come. What then is this “to come”? It denotes the trace of a critique of political temporality; in a cautious deconstruction it becomes possible to make concrete the sense in which the future itself has a future. Utopia, not only forcelosed place but also time out of joint. Yet its virtual assembly is inspiratory, and therefore even transgressive since it tends to engender unforeseen but dangerous speeds and forces. Within any city whatsoever, the pathway to utopia is already present, but crossed-out, erased, blocked. The “to come” is therefore a denatured future involving radical transformations of psychic and social faculties. The utopian involves the unleashing of presently imperceptible potentialities.
War on Information. Idealism begins with the proposition that life is futurity, yet attempts to halt before the inevitable futility this produces, the cancerous desires which follow, not from “particular” notions, but precisely from the incorporation of Truth into life, that is, the incorporation of a point of ideality into the social diagrammatics of thought. A bad conscience, alienation, a nullity or ‘nihilism,’ is the necessary counterpart to this process of internalization of the infinite (or at least a “point at infinity”) into the collective machines through which the world is enunciated. Existence as the stability of identity is the absolutely firm foundation upon which all idealism has hitherto constructed its watchtowers and fortresses.
I just wanted to throw out there that I have finished the bulk of translating Guattari’s The Machinic Unconscious: Essays in Schizoanalysis. Now begins the revision stage of my project, and a few interpolations of quotes from Proust’s In Search of Lost Time (I’m using the new Penguin editions, which are fabulous translations btw).
I hope this excites some people (I know Joe has been impatient for this…). I, too, am pretty thrilled about this work appearing in English. It has been a difficult work for me to translate, let alone read, but I feel that it is infinitely more valuable to me for all the efforts I have put into it. This book wasn’t necessarily received well in France (one of his interviewers mentions the obscurity and difficulty of this work specifically), perhaps because it is so closely tied to A Thousand Plateaus in scope and timeframe (it was published about 6 months before the latter, being a sort of work book for A Thousand Plateaus, as Gary Genosko puts it). But I hope that this is different for the English, especially with all the work that has gone into translating much of Guattari’s work already, and the Deleuze phenomenon, etc.
Let me just note in passing that this work has helped me overcome one of my own crises. As an English graduate student-dropout, I sort of rebelled against literary criticism, rebaptizing my field of research as philosophy. I gave up on its uses to evoke radical political change, and I felt like it played with the binary oppositions of established culture, not to truly dismantle the phenomena, but to reify them and sediment them more thoroughly.
I can only note with great fervor that the second part of the Machinic Unconscious, which is dedicated to a reading of Proust’s novel, is really something extraordinary, because it takes the obscure theoretical conceptualizations of the first half and propels them into concrete situations, deducing the abstract relations from this reading. But it goes further because it is not just an intellectual exercise: Guattari’s thought, if anything, is so radically enrooted in the outside that every phrase has a rhetorical-micropolitical bent to it. He proves the validity of literary criticism to really illuminate the inner machinisms of reality, bearing out its political potential in a systematic and pragmatic way.
This book has changed my life. I hope you get a chance to read it.
“…all superior men who were irresistibly drawn to throw off the yoke of any kind of morality and to frame new laws had, if they were not actually mad, no alternative but to make themselves or pretend to be mad—and this indeed applies to innovators in every domain and not only in the domain of priestly and political dogma…” (Daybreak, 14).
In contrast to some of the shrewder commentary on Nietzsche’s politically charged philosophy, I would like to try and sketch out my case that Nietzsche’s middle works (Human, All Too Human and Daybreak) do not constitute anomalous representatives of the whole, but a much more thoroughly nuanced discussion of politics than Nietzsche grants his other books. It would be facile to say that Nietzsche is only concerned with morality in these works, and that his true political ruminations will come later. Even if the tone of these works does not immediately resemble that of the later works, there is no viable reason to avoid theorizing some of the most provocative statements I have come in contact with in reading Nietzsche’s oeuvre. Understanding how morality brings about the political conditions of its overcoming will help us to posit a vision of the world and community that does not at all lead to the “great politics”: instead of the latter, in these two books it is always a question of law, history and transformative universalism.
Nevertheless, the importance placed on the middle works is only relevant here to me as a secondary interest (read: they are being used as material or as a foil) insofar as they promote a general (problematic) reciprocity between the political theorization of Nietzsche and Aristotle; it is above all in Human All Too Human’s infamous section “A Glance at the State” where we see Nietzsche coming close to a classical description of the different forms of government which were relevant for his time (hence the critiques of socialism, utilitarianism, and above all democracy).
In fact, a quick skim of Aristotle’s Politics against this section may give some the impression that Nietzsche slept with a copy of the Politics under his pillow during this time. Yet, as I intend to show, the methodology with which these two thinkers approach the subject of politics are almost diametrically opposed: we could say that Nietzsche’s politics here is “open,” whereas Aristotle formulates a “closed” view. This is the same as arguing that Nietzsche, in the middle works, operates according to a logic of transformational politics, and Aristotle is mainly concerned with a generative outlook.
“..for the relationship between people and government is the most pervasive ideal relationship upon which commerce between teacher and pupil, lord and servants, father and family, general and soldier, master and apprentice have unconsciously been modeled.”—Friedrich Nietzsche.
For centuries, the history of philosophy has explored the general opposition set up between Occidental and Oriental philosophy, especially concerning their respective “origins.” Generally speaking, it has been assumed that Western and Eastern philosophies differ over the metaphysical question of the constitution of the (conditions of possibility of the) universe, ending with the antinomy of a decision concerning Being/Nothingness (Plato vs. Lao-Tzu, both of whom subordinate becoming either to the movement of the idea or the non-activity of the Dao). In the same sense, Aristotle’s political ontology has been argued to end up in another binary opposition with that of Confucius: it is asserted that the former makes the state primary to the family, whereas for the latter this formula must be inverted. Instead, these reflections will attempt to illustrate that the opposition of these philosophical decisions should be shown to be inadequately founded and that a more clarified reading can show that this opposition is both untenable and capable of exemplifying that the problem has not yet been sufficiently determined.