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.
The movement of the signifier through history is toxic, viral, plastic — a fiery line of abolition interposing nullity into intensity, linking pure space to the absolute threshold. It is only in following an escape-trajectory out from language, from the territory, and in concert with a dynamically consolidated assemblage of enunciation, that the sign reveals an intimate and internal logic of affirmation: dispassionate and frozen core of the signifier smoking beneath the burning skin of language. The sign veils a line of free and continuous mutation, but exhuming it necessitates accelerating language to its outermost exterior, viscous and horizontal plunge into Cthonic darkness. Ceaseless depths disfigure this primal cunning of the sign, enfolded and absorbed as infernal network infrastructure; the sign disappears into the matrixial substrate of expression. Signals ambiguate continuously contingent upon semiotic or semantic discontinuities in the substrate or the ultra-real (second-order simulacra simulating first-order reality.)
Striations distribute stuttering redundancies in order to make expression resist mutation, to harness a surplus value of resonance. Lodged within a fractally-triangulated cosmos-mind-body, subjected, signified, situated, language encounters its other or outside only by activating non-linguistic relationships to the non-linguistic, in becoming-otherwise — becoming genetic, machinic (and ontological at the absolute limit.) Let there be x; but only very special signs escape from purely signifying regimes and acquire this non-linguistic power of pure reversibility, activated at the threshold of the substrate: to remember x, to become-x. Power-signs which live the process of production as an intensive series of transformations, which live the infinite permutability of matter: these signs emerge in fusionability at infinite zero, when the sign encounters the desert of the spirit, when the viroid lethality lurking beneath the sign has encountered an other-place (genius loci) it can utterly infest: an emptied and inhuman outside across which it can propagate, a rich and variegated ontology to fragment. Only in the direct manipulation of the substrate can the conditions of possibility for the development of language be altered; the developmental toxicities linked to the sign can only be reconfigured at the terminal limit of signifiance (but this reconfiguration is effectively reconstitution according to ontologically-foreign continuities.) The sign at infinite speed fuses with production; the program must be pushed precisely to the point where free lines of ontological development and organization emerge. Pure differential morphogenesis.
The death core of the sign cannot be converted wholesale into a rhizomatic expressive substrate; after all, we even require some of this death in order to reinject back into the machine at critical points where the potentiality for an explosion of the crystalline type is present. This death is ourselves, our shadow at intensity=0. There is no evasion of the signifier which alters the teratological situation; there is only heterogenesis or acceleration of the monstrosity to infinite depth, sober atheology of continuous and experimental mutation: inflating the schiz to cosmic dimensions, fusing hyper-reality to glittering emptiness, unloading the death-carrying depth-charge of the signifier’s monstrous hatred directly into the rumbling depths of mass culture.
Theory 1: Epigrams and Involutions
“When I’m dreaming back like that I begins to see we’re only all telescopes.” Joyce, Finnegan’s Wake
“We have to learn to think differently — in order at last, perhaps very late on, to attain even more: to feel differently.” Nietzsche, Daybreak, II.103
“The greater part of the world’s troubles are due to questions of grammar.” Montaigne
Preface. These collected epigrams, my thoughts of the morning — and occasionally late evening — this collection of azure and gleaming obsidian birds, I give to you today. If only you could have seen these terrible thoughts, these wicked birds in life, in joyful flight! I give this gift also to mark a break from this work, this first theory, this Theory 1 — for some of it is now alien to me. We are still becoming. Another theory, to refocus and amplify the first; incipit the second!
With infinite love,
Joseph Weissman, July 22, 2012 C.E.
The 99% movement sweeping the globe is indeed something new under the sun. Little molecular revolutions, the occupations are rhizomes; in this clear revolt against neoliberal “realism” who does not see the spirit of sixty-eight, dormant for a long winter of four decades, awakening once more?
Thinkers have not only the opportunity but in many ways a profound obligation to help focus and organize the will of the people, to help inspire and to amplify revolutionary reflection and affect.
While the medium of thinking is primarily writing, nevertheless theory can help crystalize and push complex systems towards transformation — towards becoming-something-else. This transformation need not, as some might have it, be specified entirely in advance; indeed, such a specification is perhaps impossible.
The self-regulated emergence or becoming of the people’s voice through the consensual decision-making mechanism of general assembly, the thunderous roar of the people’s mic, are things that philosophy should not simply note, or even sit back and interpret, but actively encourage and assist.
Irrealism. Modernity can be seen as a kind of victory for realism, but this victory was always already betrayed by capitalism, disseminated to death. Despite all appearances, the masks and pseudonymity of the postmodern era indicate not an abandonment of the war against cynicism and superstition, but rather a renewed undertaking of this same battle with a greater degree of caution, pragmatism and assiduity than the modern age could have imagined necessary.
Will to think. Philosophy at its very best is saddening, a cautious disenchantment: a deciphering of the hidden resentment with which we have crafted our values, the nihilism behind the idealities humanity has raised above itself. Yet how could philosophy ever have taken hold and prospered without a certain artistry in masking its true purpose from us; how could it not begin by seducing us to another reality — seducing us to reject this life and this reality? Consider that the will to think must partially close the “field” of thought, in this way allowing it to acquire definite shape and form: the force of thought severs thought from becoming, reducing the chaos of becoming into an organized noise. In this sense, the force of thought disjoins not only a given thought from what it can do but transforms the very categories of thought in order to render existence inert, harmless and ready for transmission. The innate becoming reactive of thinking is what philosophy opposes in all ages and throughout all its disguises.
Silence, that shadow of language in which everything is nevertheless said, is today almost always but a lapse, the momentary oversight of an animal which acts as though in speech it found its very reality, its absolute and primary function. The distinction between language and noise dwindles, and yet is taken all the more seriously. Too often our silence seems but a desire to escape noise; it is so rarely to evade our enslavement.
And so one but barely and insubstantially glimpses that Silence which is both resistance and elevation, even a kind of victory against a terrible foe, which is not without its spoils. To discover language is in fact to be without a language, a radical immediacy which at once shatters every moral or political claim, and every shred of symbolism; and at this point many things are possible, indeed, too many things: a violent regression to the prelinguistic, a wispy and premature transcendence to the postlinguistic, or finally the immanent resistance and spontaneity of the counterlinguistic.
The necessity of silence in the transformation of the soul cannot be overstated. That indeterminate silence in which sublime meditation, the uncanny intermediation of thinking, takes place — is a warlike silence. For language as such does not think but merely tyrannizes, blindly suturing truth to meaning, a neuroticized “schizophrenia” whose experiments lead inevitably into a cavernous abyss.