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Deleuze and Guattari: from A Thousand Plateaus

My second presentation for ENG5933.

Josh Mehler

on 5 August 2010

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Transcript of Deleuze and Guattari: from A Thousand Plateaus

Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari:
A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia "Where are you going? Where are you coming from? What are you heading for? These are totally useless questions. Making a clean slate, starting or beginning again from ground zero, seeking a beginning or a foundation—all imply a false conception of voyage and movement. . . " (Norton 1462)

"There are no longer any true or false ideas, there are just ideas. There is no longer any ultimate goal or direction, but merely a wandering along a multiplicity of lines of flight that lead away from centres of power." (Goodchild 2) Where to begin?

In the middle, of course. (we are here.) The Rhizome “[The rhizome] is opposed to the ‘arboreal’ (tree-like) form, where parts are related to each other only through their relationship to a common root, and whose importance is measured according to their distance from the root. In contrast the rhizome spreads horizontally through leaps where each germination marks a new root system and one cannot assign an origin or end-point.”(McMahon 50)
". . .unlike trees or their roots, the rhizome connects any point to any other point, and its traits are not necessarily linked to traits of the same nature; it brings into play very different regimes of signs, and even nonsign states. . ." (D&G 1458) In this excerpt, Deleuze and Guattari describe the characteristics of the "rhizome":

1)Connects any point to any other point, bringing into play very different regimes of signs, and even nonsign states
2)Not reducible to the One or the multiple
3)Composed not of units but of dimensions, directions in motion
4)No beginning or end, but a middle from which it grows/overspills
5)Unlike "structure", only made of lines of segmentarity and stratification
6)Not the object of reproduction: "neither external reproduciton as image-tree nor internal reproduction as tree-structure"
7)An "antigenealogy"
8)A short-term memory, or "antimemory"
8)Operates by "variation, expansion, conquest, capture, offshoots"
9)Pertains to a map that must be produced, that is always detachable, connectable…has multiple entryways and exits
10)Acentered, non-heirarchical, nonsignifying system without a “General”, defined solely by a circulation of states
11)Made of “plateaus”

(Norton 1458-1459) Digging Up the Rhizome *** The Plateau

"A rhizome is made of plateaus."
Gregory Bateson's plateau : "a continuous, self-vibrating region of intensities whose development avoids any orientation toward a culmination point or external end." (Norton 1459 D&G's plateau: "any multiplicity connected to other multiplicities by superficial underground stems in such a way as to form or extend a rhizome. We are writing this book as a rhizome. It is composed of plateaus." (Norton 1459) In terms of writing and knowledge making, we could say that the plateau, then, is opposed to the "mountain" (much as the tree is opposed to the rhizome)--a structure that culminates into a finite point. Most importantly, the mountain delineates limits of knowledge, specific directions of knowing. For D&G, this type of epistemology is demonstrated by the "root book." "A rhizome has no beginning or end; it is always in the middle, between things, interbeing, intermezzo." (Norton 1462) Assemblage

"In a book, as all things, there are lines of articulation or segmentarity, strata and territories; but also lines of flight, movements of deterritorialization and destratification. Comparative rates of flow on these lines produce phenomena of relative slowness and viscosity, or on the contrary, ofaccelaeration and rupture. All this, lines and measurable speeds, constitutes an assemblage." (Norton 1455)

"We will call an assemblage every constellation of singularities and traits deducted from the flow--selected, organized, stratified--in such a way as to converge (consistency) artificially and naturally; an assemblage, in this sense, is a veritable invention."(A Thousand Plateaus 406)

". . .variable processes. . .that either stabilize the identity of an assemblage, by increasing its degree of internal homogeneity or the degree of sharpness of its boundaries, or destabilize it. The former are referred to as a process of territorialization and the latter as processes of deterritorialization." (DeLanda 12)

"Assemblages create territories. Territories are more than just spaces: they have a stake, a claim, they express (my house, their ranch, his bench, her friends). . .Territories are not fixed for all time, but are always being made and unmade, reterritorializing and deterritorializing. . ."(Wise 78-79)

Politics of Desire

"Bateson cites Balinese culture as an example: mother-child sexual games, and even quarrels among men, undergo this bizarre intensive stabilization. 'Some sort of continuing plateau of intensity is substitutes for [sexual] climax,' war or a cumination point." (Norton 1459)

"Desire. . .is a spontaneous emergence that generates relationship [sic] through a synthesis of multiplicities. . .[t]he theorist becomes an athlete of desire, aiming to include as much multiplicity and creation as possible in the work; the theoretical work then becomes a produce capable of lying alonside other products, affecting them, interacting with them, leading off on new trails. . ." (Goodchild 4)

Is the plateau, then, a metaphor pointing at the momentum of assemblage? Is this intensive stabilization the ideal mode for these processes?

Are D&G demonstrating their dedicated athleticism here: "Each morning we would wake up, and each of us would ask himself what plateau he was going to tackle, writing five lines here, ten there. We had hallucinatory experiences. . ." (Norton 1459) "strata"

In geology, this term designates a layer of rock or soil that have characteristics that distinguish it from the surrounding layers. They appear as bands in rock and earth formations.

J. Macgregor Wise presents the example of "home." He writes:

"Home is how we make a place our own, how we arrange artifacts, qualities and affect to express us. . . And one need not be fixed in one's dwelling to create home: an airline seat, a stroll in the neighbourhood, a car for daily commuting, a space on a lawn at a picnic or on a beach. Home is thus not a pre-existing space; it is not the house. It is the continual attempt to create a space of comfort for oneself, through the arrangement of objects, practices, feelings and affects."(79) The process/experience/motion (?) of assemblage, then, seems to involve two competing pulls; the first one stratifies, delineates. As D&G write: "One side of a machinic assemblage faces the strata, which doubtless make it a kind of organism, or signifying totality or determination attributable to a subject" (1455)

The other pull is represented by the "body without organs" (what DeLanda refers to as a 'body-plan')--"which is continually dismantling the organism, causing asignifying particles or pure intensities to pass or circulate. . ." (1455) This pull represents the

Wise summarizes it this way: ". . .assemblages have two axes. One axis is the creation of territory, on strata, thus moving between making (territorialization) and unmaking (deterritorialization) on the Body without Organs." (80)

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