Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Burma in the Second Media Age

As Mark Poster points out, technologies of the second media differentiate themselves from the first media age. Whereas the first media age was defined as having few producers disseminating to a large number of consumers, the second media age is defined as having multiple producers and consumers. The obvious example of the second media age in practice, with multiple producers and consumers, is the Internet. I mention this because of the recent events in Burma and the important role of media technology.

One of the crucial struggles, apart from the protests, is the dissemination of information, pictures, and videos. It is through these that the people of Burma can hope to provide 'real time' coverage of what is occurring. While it is estimated that under 1% of Burma's population have access to the Internet, which is also censored, the cyber-bloggers of Burma have been able to exploit loopholes. The BBC website has an article on this practice here.
However, the Burma Junta have realised that the flow of information reaching the outside world is going to be a problem, and I recently heard they are closing down Internet cafes. The other problem, as Mark Poster discusses in his recent book, is that the Internet is not immaterial, and a lot of material technology is required for access to the WWW (phonelines, mobiles, PCs...).
It was even report on the 18th September that the Junta cut off mobile phone service to foreign reporters, which can be read here.

At present, I don't have much to say, but only wanted to bring attention to the significance of the medium in Burma, which I will certainly be paying attention to find how it plays out.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The blog's first pole

Struggles with philosophy has decided to create a recurrent pole.

The first topic is the who is the greatest french philosopher/thinker of the 20th century. Please don't be offended if your one is not there, i have tried to include what i view as the main philosophers. However, as with all polls of this nature some people are (unfairly) excluded: Maurice Merleau-Ponty; Marcel Mauss; Claude Levi-Strauss; Jean Baudrillard; Jean-Francois Lyotard, Henri Bergson...

the next pole will be on the greatest philosophy to come from the Frankfurt school tradition.

On another point, I had noticed the comment settings were set to only authorised members only, so sorry if anyone has been trying to comment over the last few weeks. It should be working now.

Monday, September 17, 2007

draft section - machinic heterogeneous of the Caribbean (part 2)

Here is the second part of my Deleuzian ontology for my PhD. The first section can be found here. As always, sorry about the poor grammer, the majority of my blogs are created to put rough stuff out before the editing process.

the third section should appear in a couple of weeks.

Deleuzoguattarian Machines:
As DeLanda points, a Deleuzian ontology is an ontology ‘where individuals do exist but only as the outcome of becomings.’[1] The important question is what are these individuals? This is where Deleuze’s ‘machinic thought’ is important, which argues the individuals are Deleuzoguattarian machines.[2] However what I term as Deleuzoguattarian machines is different to the conventional (mis)understandings of machines. To demonstrate this I compare and contrast Deleuzoguattarian machines with the definition of machines and machinery in Karl Marx’s Capital.[3] I then proceed to outline the three main characteristics of Deleuzoguattarian machines.
In Capital Marx dedicates a chapter outlining his thoughts on understanding machinery in modern industry.[4] As expected, Marx approaches the topic in relation to the mode of production, analysing the role of machinery in industrial capitalism. The economy is used to understand the place of machinery in the modern world. This leads him to state that ‘like every other increase in the productiveness of labour, machinery is intended to cheapen commodities, and, by shortening that portion of that he gives, without equivalent, to the capitalist.’[5] Machines are then part of the expansion of capitalism, and Marx connects them with the industrial revolution. The purpose of the machinery is to increase production and surplus value without increasing wages. This could even cause men to be replaced by machinery in the factory place where machines are construct to do the jobs human’s previously done.
The machinic thought of Deleuze is both influenced and critical of Marx’s definition of machines and machinery. It is inspired as Marx is able to acknowledge that machines play crucial roles in production process, recognising the creation of new machines transforms the working place. However, Deleuze is highly critical of Marx’s approach for being limited by economic determinism and attempting to separating humans from machines. Machinic thought critiques the idea that machines are only in the factory (for the purposes of capitalism) to argue ‘everywhere it is machines – real ones, not figurative ones: machines driving other machines, machines being driven by other machines, which all have the necessary couplings and connections.’[6] There are all types of heterogeneous machines for Deleuze: organic, political, territorial, economic, cultural, technical, natural, and so forth. Importantly these types of machines do not have their own discrete realms, and are part of the sample interconnected plane. This plane is what Deleuze terms as the plane of immanence [reference to WIP] and why Deleuze’s philosophy is an attempt at monism.
In Anti-Oedipus Deleuze (and Guattari) set out three clear characteristics of Deleuzoguattarian machines, which importantly connect them to a productivist ontology, but (crucially) not one tied to a mode of production. This is what allows Deleuze to claim ‘everything is production.’[7] These characteristics are: the production of production; the production of recording/coding; and the production of consumption.
The first characteristics of Deleuzoguattarian machines is ‘every machine functions as a break in the flow in the relation to the machine to which it is connected, but at the same time it is a flow itself, or the production of the flow, in relation to the machine connected to it.’[8] Deleuze terms this phenomenon as the law of production of the production. Each interruption and flow between machines is production and regarded as a bloc of becoming. Deleuze gives the example of the various desiring machines in the human body and the associative flow: ‘the anus and the flow of shit it cuts off, for instance; the mouth that cuts off not only the flow of milk but also the flow of air and sound; the penis that interrupts the flow of urine but also the flow of sperm.’[9] However, in respect to analysing the production of the Caribbean in the second media age, the law of production of production does not only need to be associated with the human body. Brain Massumi demonstrates how technical machines can be conceptualised in this characteristic of Deleuzoguattarian machines. In a brief section he describes the example of a saw, used by a wood worker, which is interrupted by wood.[10] This example helps to consider how the machine connecting, flowing, and interrupting can also involve inhuman machines. (reference Claire colebrook’s inhuman definition).
The reason for Deleuze illustrating this characteristic is to avoid machinic thought considering machines as being single objects, and to turn the focus onto the becoming of machine. This is achieved through reflecting on: what is flowing between machines; what machines are interrupting; and what productive qualities emerge from these flows and interruptions. In sum, it is the machinic bloc of becoming that is important, which concentrates on the exteriority of relations through understanding the coexistence and alliance of machines. This is termed as an assemblage later in the ontology.
The second characteristic of Deleuzoguattarian machines is ‘every machine has a sort of inbuilt code into it, stored up inside it.’[11] This is would Deleuze terms the production of recording/coding. The idea of machines having codes is important for asking functional questions about machines. However, when Deleuze claims that machines have codes it should be regarded as an interconnected dualism. The example of a clock can demonstrate the interconnected dualism, which has both a technical and social code. A clock’s technical code is inbuilt so the clock can measure uniform time, and the also produces a social code for assuring order in cities and societies.[12] The clock is therefore coded to measure time and also codifies society. The important feature about code is the determine, to a certain, extend how machines interact with one another.
One of the simplest ways to consider how codes function in technology (and life) is to consider a PC and software. The software codes the PC and allows it to function in a certain manner allowing particular tasks to be executed. A user of Microsoft Window, for example, therefore relies on the software package to provide the PC with an inbuilt code. The code is what Massumi refers to as the functional limitation of a things (e.g. machine) relations, as the codes of machines are important for the productive emergence as machines participate/connect with one another.[13] However, codes are not permanent features, and have the potential to be decoded and/or recoded. The decoding (and recoding) transformation of a code opens the opportunity for new experiences and sensations, which can cause society and life to be produced differently.
The third characteristic of machines is the production of consumption, where a residual subject is produced ‘functioning as a part adjacent to the machine.’[14] As Deleuze points out, this residual subject is a particular type of subject that has no personal or specific identity. This subject consumes and consummates other machines, and is born anew from these processes. The residual subject is therefore a productive subject as the act of consuming and consummation produces a difference, and alters things from what they were. One of the crucial differences between a Deleuzian subject and other ‘theories’ of subject is Deleuze’s subject does not need to be a human subject.[15] The subject is more of a machine than it is a human.
The Deleuzian residual subject perceives other machines and is altered from its capacity to be affected by these machines. Of course, the code of the residual subject is importance for (partially) determining how it is affected by other machines. However, the use of the word perceives is problematic as it leads thought to consider perception as a human quality.[16] Following A.N. Whitehead Deleuze prefers to adopt the term prehension rather than perception, which removes the anthropocentric connotations of perception. For Deleuze prehension is an attribute of an individual singularity (the residual subject), which has the ability to prehend (‘perceive’) other machines. A division is created between the prehended datum and the prehending one. The prehended datum is the data that the prehending one (the residual subject) passes through and consummes. Through consuming this prehended datum the predending one is born anew and a difference is created in the prehending one.[17]
The importance of Deleuze’s residual subject as a prehending one is that the subject is ‘trapped’ within time. This means the residual subject is produced through specific blocs of becoming that are historically contingent. The residual subject is therefore a subject that connects with Deleuze’s overall philosophy of immanence and rejects any definitions of the subject that call for transcendence. This means forces of subjectification are explained in terms of the immanent materials and energies of life and not some timeless and essential understanding of the subject. The result is the residual subject, through prehending, undergoes experiences of individuation, and these experiences are crucially productive.
This concludes the section on the characteristics of Deleuzoguattarian machines, which is now summarised. In general the machinic thought of Deleuze argues for a (re)conceptualisation of machines from the conventional (mis)understanding of machines. Humans are not separated from machines, but are regarded as compositions of machines – both external (state machine) and internal (bodily machines). Deleuzoguattarian machines provide a productivist ontology that does not concentrate on the mode of production. Instead the productivist ontology removes production from its economic determinism and is replaced by the maxim that ‘everything is production.’ [reference needed]. The Deleuzoguattarian machine have three main characteristics: the production of production; the production of codes/recording; and the production of consumption. However, to fully understand the machinic thought of this ontology the concept of assemblage now requires description.


In an interview Deleuze states the main unity of A Thousand Plateaus is the concept of the assemblage.[18] The idea of an assemblage is a complex one and has recently been expanded upon recently for understanding society.[19] One of the main advantages of the concept of assemblage is its versatility, which is capable for accounting for any number of micro-, meso-, and macro-level phenomena. In order to define the concept and connect it with the machinic thought of the dissertation I firstly describe it through negation (what it is not), and then define it through affirmation (what it is).
Following J.Macgregor Wise it is easiest to define an assemblage through describing what an assemblage is not:

An assemblage is not a set of predetermined parts (such as pieces of a plastic model aeroplane) that are then put together in order or into an already-conceived structure (the model aeroplane). Nor is an assemblage a random collection of things, since there is a sense that an assemblage is a whole of some sort of that expresses some identity and claims a territory[20]

The key point is assemblages are not predetermined or random, but rather blocs of becomin. In terms of machinic thought an assemblage can be described as interconnection of different machines to form a non-essential singularity. The assemblage is classified as a singularity because it is a unique assemblage of heterogeneous parts, but can not be classed as random as ‘there is also a contingency to the arrangement itself.’[21]
Deleuze develops the concept of assemblage to free thought from essentialism and totalities. In terms of assemblages being against totalities Manuel DeLanda differentiates between theories of relations of interiority and theories of relations of exteriority. Where the relations of interiorty, following the philosophy of Hegel, take organisms as their prime example, relations of exteriority approach concentrates on the coexistence and alliance of heterogeneous components. The relations of the heterogeneous components, which can be regarded as the Deleuzoguattarian machines, are not logically necessary, but only contingently necessary. Once again the Deleuzian example of the relations between the wasp and the orchid can demonstrate this point. In the relations of interiority approach the relation between the wasp and the orchid is understood as a constitutive whole, displaying an organic unity as it is logical for this relationship. However, in the relations of exteriority approach the wasp and orchid is considered as a contingently obligatory relationship of heterogonous parts, which is not logical but a result of their close co-evolution. This means assemblages are not totalities, but only arrangements of contingency as a result of blocs of becoming. Importantly this allows for new emergent properties[22] to emerge in an assemblage and also for component parts to be detached from one assemblage and plugged into another where its interactions are different.[23]
To avoid essentialism assemblage theory constructs a bottom-up approach and concentrates on causal interventions in reality. In accordance with the concept of becoming there are no essential traits but rather morphogenetic processes, which mean there are no timeless essences but rather ‘the idea of progressive differentiation.’[24] This means assemblages have the power to differentiate and become something different.[25] The result is assemblages can open themselves to new experiences, sensations, tastes, feelings, emotions, understandings, technologies and so forth. This is also true of machines entering into different assemblages from the ones they were in. An example is a person who learns to ride a bicycle, which results in them opening up their assemblage to new experiences. It also serves to indicate a machine (the bicycle) has been removed from one assemblage (the shop) and plugged into another assemblage (the persons).[26]
The bottom-up approach of assemblage theory is adopted to avoid totalising top-down approaches. The problem with the top-down approaches is they tend to talk of a system rather for accounting for how such systematic properties emerge. The analysis of capitalism from the Marxist tradition is an example of this top-down approach where they ‘place real history in a straight-jacket by surbordinating it to a model of a progressive succession of modes of production.’[27] Frenand Braudel’s historical analysis of capitalism has shown this model to be wrong; as from the its beginnings capitalism was monopolistic and oligopolistic, which means ‘real’ capitalism did not only emerge in the nineteenth century with the industrial revolution.[28] If a bottom-up approach, which would analyse singular and unique assemblages of capitalism, were considered then the successive stages of capitalism could not be proposed. This is a crucial point of the machinic thought of Deleuze (and Guattari) in generally, where an explanation does not come from explaining actions through a system, but rather how a system (or systems) emerges from causal interventions in reality, which are historical contingent and non-essential.
As DeLanda points out, the bottom-up approach could assume that individuals are the bottom-most level. This could risk constructing the individual in an atomistic way (e.g. the rational individual). However, assemblage theory avoids this situation as ‘persons always exist as part of populations within which they constantly interact with one another.’[29] As noted above the machinic ontology of Deleuze avoids taking an individual’s identity (human or inhuman) for granted through proposing a residual subject. The result means the individual in assemblage theory must be shown to emerge.[30] If this type of emergent individual was not assumed in the Deleuzian ontology then the bottom-up approach becomes a top-down approach through constructing a pre-given idealised subject (rational actor). The major problem is this individual is removed from the processes of becoming through their assumed transcendent features.[31]

Why this Deleuzian ontology:

The above lays out the Deleuzian ontology and now the purposes of constructing this ontology require attention. I firstly constructed the Deleuzian ontology for the ability (and danger) of saying ‘Yes’ to existence. This is crucial if the aim of the dissertation is to analyse how the Caribbean is produced in the second media age. It would be nonsensical to examine the empirical data without creating an ontology that affirms the existence. Secondly, the Deleuzian ontology is an attempt to create a materialist ontology that does not follow the materialism of [orthodox] Marxism, but is none the less materialist. It rejects the dialectic movement of history that unfolds through the antagonistic contradictions within the mode of production, and instead affirms specific blocs of becoming. Thirdly, the Deleuzian ontology is capable of studying how machinic identities are (trans)formed through various forces of continual inviduation. This can be termed Deleuzian sociology, where Deleuze follows the sociology of Gabriel Tarde, and argues the micro-textures of production are what needs attention. This sociology approach stands in opposition to the Durkeimiam tradition, who focus was on more on collective representations.[32] The Deleuzian ontology also avoids totalizing claims through concentrating on certain micro-textures of production, and using these as the empirical evidence, which, in turn, avoids discussing things in general.

[1] Manuel DeLanda, Intensive Science and Virtual Philosophy (London: Continuum, 2002) p106
[2] As should become clearer later the differentiation between machines and assemblages becomes a relative distinction, where can both be regarded as unique individuals that have underwent processes of individuation (i.e. blocs of becoming). However, it is necessary to discuss Deleuzoguattarian machines separately from Deleuzian assemblages in order to emphasise the characteristics of these machines.
[3] Karl Marx is chosen because Deleuze’s philosophy, especially post-Guattarian, is influence by Marx, and also because Marx’s thought is representative of ‘conventional’ notions of machines.
[4] Karl Marx, Capital: An Abridged Edition (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999) p229-298
[5] Karl Marx, Capital: An Abridged Edition p229
[6] Gilles Deleuze & Felix Guattari, Anti-Oedipus p1
[7] Gilles Deleuze & Felix Guattari, Anti-Oedipus p4
[8] Gilles Deleuze, Anti-Oedipus p39
[9] Gilles Deleuze, Anti-Oedipus p39
[10] Brian Massumi, A User’s Guide to Capitalism and Schizophrenia: Deviations from Deleuze and Guattari (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1992) p10-p15
[11] Gilles Deleuze, Anti-Oedipus p41
[12] Gilles Deleuze, Anti-Oedipus p155
[13] For Massumi emergence is a two-sided coin, one side is the virtual, which is the autonomy of relation, and the other actual, which is the functional limitations. This allows his to conceptualise the importance of affect in the production of emergence. ‘Emergence is a two-sided coin: one side virtual (the autonomy of relation), the other in the actual (functional limitation). What is being termed affect in this essay is precisely this two-sidedness, the simultaneous participation of the virtual in the actual and the actual in the virtual, as one arises from and returns to the other. Affect is this two-sidedness as seen from the side of the actual thing, as couched in its perceptions and cognitions. Affect is the virtual as point of view, provided the visual metaphor is used guardedly. For affect is synesthetic, implying participation of the senses in each other: the measuring of living thing’s potential interactions is its ability to transform the effects of one sensory mode into those of another…the autonomy of affect is its participation in the virtual. Its autonomy is openness.’ Brian Massumi, Parables for the Virtual: Movement, Affect, and Sensation (London: Duke University Press) p35. There is far too much detail in this quote that requires explanation, especially the role of Deleuze’s definition of the actual and the virtual. The quote is merely included to reinforce, implicitly, the significance of codes in machinic interactions, where participation are (partially) determined by these codes, and should be considered in terms of relationality. This is because these codes face an infinite amount of different participations.
[14] Gilles Deleuze, Anti-Oedipus p44
[15] For example, In Freud the subject is a human oedipal subject, in Derrida the subject is a human one created through a language act, in Habermas the subject is produced in human intersubjective communication, and Zizek’s subject is human through his (re)called for the Cartesian cogito. While having large divergences they all share a commonality of proposing the subject from a humanism and Deleuze is able to avoid this tendency.
[16] Reference a phenomenology of perception as an example of this tendency
[17] For Deleuze’s discussion of prehension see Gilles Deleuze, The Fold: Leibniz and the Baroque (London: Continnum, 2006) p87-89
[18] Gilles Deleuze, Two Regimes of Madness: Texts and Interviews 1975-1995 (New York: Semiotext(e), 2006) p176-178
[19] See J.Macgregor Wise, “Assemblage” 77-87 in Charles J. Stivale, ed., Gilles Deleuzes: Key Concepts (Chesham: Acumen, 2006), Manuel DeLanda, A New Philosophy of Society: Assemblage Theory and Social Complexity (London: Routledge, 2006)
[20] J.Macgregor Wise, “Assemblage” 77-87 in Charles J. Stivale, ed., Gilles Deleuze: Key Concepts p77
[21] J. Macgregor Wise, “Assemblage” 77-87 in Charles J. Stivale, ed., Gilles Deleuze: Key Concepts p77
[22] Emergent properties are unique properties that emerge when components are ‘joined’ together
[23] Manuel DeLanda, A New Philosophy of Society: Assemblage Theory and Social Complexity p10
[24] Manuel DeLanda, Intensive Science and Virtual Philosophy (London: Continuum, 2002) p16
[25] Deleuze makes this argument for the eternal return of difference most clearly in Gilles Deleuze, Difference and Repetition (London: Continuum, 2004)
[26] DeLanda actual provides the example of learning how to swim, which would change a persons habitual assemblage. I have altered this example to the included the introduction of the bicycle to demonstrate a new machine entering an assemblage. This is a crucial point, as the technologies/machines of the second media age have entered into assemblage that produce the Caribbean. Manuel DeLanda, A New Philosophy of Society: Assemblage Theory and Social Complexity p50
[27] Manuel DeLanda, Markets and Anti-markets in the World Economy (, accessed on 18/07/2007)
[28] For arguing that capitalism has always been oligopolistic and monopolistic Frenand Braudel uses the assemblages of Venice in the 14th century and Amsterdam in the 17th century. This is because there is evidence of coexistence of commercial, industrial and financial capitalism, which runs counter to the argument unfolds in totalising stages. See Fernand Braudel, Civilisation and Capitalism, 15th-18th Century. Vol 2 (New York: Harper and Row, 1982) p229
[29] Manuel DeLanda, A New Philosophy of Society: Assemblage Theory and Social Complexity p32
[30] ‘But more importantly, while the identity of those persons taken for granted in microeconomics, in assemblage theory it must be shown to emerge from the interaction between subpersonal components.’ Manuel DeLanda, A New Philosophy of Society: Assemblage Theory and Social Complexity p32
[31] An example of this flaw is in the philosophy of Kant, who, while opening his philosophy to the properties of time, was unable to extend this to the subject, and is why he created a (timeless) transcendental subject, which suffers from not (fully) considering how the subject emerges.
[32] ‘Durkheim’s preferred objective of study were the great collective representations, which are generally binary, resonant, and overcoded. Tarde countered that collective representations presuppose exactly what needs explaining, namely, “the similarity of millions of people.” That is why Tarde was interested in the world of detail, or the infinitesimal: the little imitations, oppositions, and inventions.’ Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus p240-241

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Deleuze's book on Hume

Deleuze's first book is available from here. the title is Empiricism and Subjectivity and is on Hume. I have yet to read it, but looking forward to, especially as Deleuze rarely mentions Hume after this book, but does often allude to empiricism.

thanks to notebookeleven for the link

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

nice short blog entry on Baudrillard

There is a nice blog entry on the work of Jean Baudrillard and specifically his concept of the hyperreal. I think this is a nice summary of the concept that both indicates the valuability and limitations of it.

I have always found there is something appealing to Baudrillard's writing, and I think that his work, especially post-1980 Baudrillard, may come across superficial, but this is because the world he sees is superficial, which appears a pretty accurate statement about late/contemporary capitalism and the world of advertisement. This is why Baudrillard can produce such hyperbolic statements as 'the truer than truer' that could come from a tv advert or tv programme. Of course Baudrillard should not be taken at complete face value, but when considering such things as the consumer society; media; technology; marketing; and capitalism there is a lot of content in his superficiality.

Foucault Quote

I came across this nice quote from Foucault in a interview entitled 'Question of Method' in volume 3 of the essential work - Power:

'I wouldn't want what I may have said or written to be seen as laying claims to totality. I don't try to universalize what I say; conversely, what I don't say isn't meant to be thereby disqualified as being of no importance...I like to open up a space of research, try it out, and then if it doesn't work, try again somewhere else...My book aren't treatise in philosophy or studies of history; at most, they are philosophical fragments put to work in a historical field of problems.' (p224)

The attraction of work not either being totalising or neither unimportant becomes an appealing trait for social science research. Three particular reasons stood out. One, there appears a lot of modesty in this method and perspective, claiming research is not the final and complete word on the subject matter, but rather arguing particular research has significance and relevance. Second, and related to the first, the fragmentary nature of the research hints at the perspectivism a particularly piece of research inherently contains. I tend to think of this as the place of discourse analysis and deconstruction, which don't claim to totality, but rather pose relevant issues and concerns about language, especially when other thinkers basically put a lot of their faith in the possibility of communication as a route to emancipation. Third, the emphasis on experimentation and possible failure, where the researcher actually experiments with a particular theory or method, for example, in order to produce research, but also crucially to transform themselves and society.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Chantal Mouffe audio and Ernesto Laclau review

Here is an audio lecture from Chantal Mouffe, which is pretty good for an outline of her position and philosophy, and also for understanding the difference between her approach and delibrative democracy.

I also found this review of Ernesto Laclau newest book.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Angry and bemused Naipaul

thanks to Thom for this link.

V.S. Naipaul has produced a strange request, calling for all English departments in universities to be closed down, which would release some workforce. This is probably due to the problem of criticism that he receives from literature scholars, as suggested by Neelam Srivastava (Newcastle University). There is something worry about this and almost authoritarian, which suggests he just wants people to read and pay for his books without serious in-depth analysis. Read and Pay, but do not think or analyse it!

There is also another curious claim of Naipaul which says universities should only deal with '"measurable truth". This seems a dangerous path, and is set against the idea of intellectual freedom, creating a strategic research agenda working on the rules of exclusion. Never mind how contestable the concept of truth is!

Last there is the critique of jargon in academia, which he describes as "a way for one clown to tell the other that he is in the club". to a certain extent I would agree with this statement, but language always consists of jargon, and sometimes creating jargon helps the reader to think as it is creating something new, and maybe a new way of perceiving. While Naipaul may think the jargon is concealing vacuous thinking, the jargon can be beneficial and is not only created to hide behind. The solution is if you are unwilling to engage in the author's language game then don't bother reading them and getting upset!

Monday, September 3, 2007

draft section of PhD- machinic hetrogeneous of the caribbean

I am in the painful process of composing draft chapters for my PhD, and thought I'd post some of the sections on my blog. This one is the construction of my Deleuzian ontology for the Caribbean, which uses Deleuze's concepts of becoming, machines, and assemblages. In sum the dissertation is arguing the Caribbean has entered into the second media age (Poster, 1995), and a cognitive map (Frederic Jameson) of how the Caribbean is being produced in the second media age is required for Caribbean Studies, which can be achieved through deleuze's empiricism and machinic ontology first laid out in Anti-Oedipus.

As always all comments are welcome. The following is introducing the chapter and starting to discuss Deleuze's concept of becoming. As this is a rough section please forgive the grammar.

The Machinic Heterogeneous of the Caribbean: Deleuzian Ontology

‘a philosopher is not only someone who invents notions, he also perhaps invents ways of perceiving’
Gilles Deleuze

‘It is when you decide what exists that you tie your thought to being’
Alain Badiou

‘I am not a man I am a machine’
Maximo Park

To understand how the period of the second media age[1] is producing the Caribbean, and in order to provide a cognitive map, a Deleuzian ontology is appropriate for the dissertation’s purpose. The following section is dedicated to constructing the Deleuzian ontology, created from the three Deleuzian concepts: becoming; Deleuzoguattarian machines; and Assemblages. In simple terms these concepts are used to construct an ontology that argues the Caribbean is in the process of becoming, which is composed of Deleuzoguattarian machines that form assemblages. The second media age therefore represents a new becoming of the Caribbean, as machines of the second media age are part of the assemblages that produce the Caribbean. To qualify this statement each of the Deleuzian concepts that form the ontology require a clear description. These concepts are described separately, which should help the reader understand their complexity and their practicality for contemplating the Caribbean in the second media age. Where possible I shall provide empirical examples that reinforce the ideas of the concepts in an attempt to avoid this section being overly abstract. The ontology of the dissertation can best be described as a machinic ontology connected to the concept of becoming.
The structure of this section follows the following outline. Firstly, there is a brief discussion/defence of electing to choose a Deleuzian ontology, which asserts that Deleuze’s philosophy is a practical philosophy, and one that is capable of understanding the significance of technology in producing the Caribbean without assuming a social or technological deterministic position. Secondly, the concept of becoming of is described, which argues the Caribbean ought to be conceived as a movement, which is a productive flux. Becoming is then opposed to other (philosophical) concepts of movement, which argues becoming is more appropriate for understanding how the Caribbean is produced. Thirdly, the three main characteristics of Deleuzoguattarian machines are introduced: production of production; production of code; and the production of consumption. As the name of these features suggest, Deleuzoguattarian machines argue for a productivist ontology, but one that crucially understands production differently from the economic theories that focus on the mode of production. Fourthly, Deleuze’s concept of the assemblage is explained to complete the three concepts of the dissertation’s ontology. Assemblages are required as a concept because Deleuzoguattarian machines are not discrete entities, and instead the emphasis is on how machines connect with one another to form assemblages. The concept of assemblages, following Manuel DeLanda, can then provide a theory of society, ranging from: single persons; networks; organisations; governments; cities; and nations.[2] One of the main reasons and attractions for using the concept of assemblage, which is explained below, is that is avoids essentialism and totalities, as machines can enter, be removed, or be de/re-coded in assemblages. Fifthly, I briefly relate the dissertation’s ontology to Antonio Benitez-Rojo’s Deleuzian ontology in The Repeating Island.

Why Deleuze? :
Arguably, there are more reasons for avoiding Deleuze, than there are trying to construct a Deleuzian ontology, aiming to understand how the Caribbean is produced in the second media age. Such reasons, for example, could be composed of the following: the idiosyncrasy of his style is too heterodox for practical research; his philosophy is non-relevant for the Caribbean; his philosophy is nothing beyond vitalism; his philosophy is a mathematical one; and he is a philosopher of de-materialism and spirituality.[3] While each of these critiques, or readings, of Deleuze’s philosophy are not without merit, they suffer from either concentrating too narrowly on certain aspects, or miss the practicality of Deleuze’s philosophy. Even though this Deleuzian ontology is only constructed around three Deleuzian concepts, it avoids a narrow reading of Deleuze, and (should) indicate the practicality of his thought, which becomes relevant for the Caribbean.[4] As this section of the dissertation makes clear below, Deleuze’s philosophy is curious and fixated with the new and novel, which is a relevant issue for producing a cognitive map of the Caribbean in the second media age, as this is a new and novel period for the Caribbean. Importantly, there is also the ability of Deleuze’s philosophy to contemplate the role and significance of technology in society.
There are two false positions that should be avoided when considering and analysing technology in social sciences: social determinism and technological determinism. Social determinism, in simple terms, would argue the role of technology is unimportant, and explains things from the social perspective. This views technology as inert and without agency, and would stress the social formation of a society or an event has nothing to do with technology. One only need think of Columbus’ voyages of ‘discovery’ to realise this position is untenable, as the technological development of the Portuguese navy allowed them the possibility of crossing the Atlantic ocean. In many respects, events or social formations are made possible from the technological developments of a society or culture, which opens up the possibilities of new experiences. In constructing a machinic ontology, the philosophy of Deleuze is able to account for this property of life, and understands the significance of new machines becoming part of the social.
However, while realising technological development creates new experiences for life, this does not mean the role of technology should be understood from a technological deterministic position. This perspective, in simple terms, would remove agency from the social and argue technology is the agent that requires analysis to understand social. The social is therefore only produced as a result of the technologies, and what occurs is a reverse humanism, where the objects (the technology) are given complete primacy over the subject (the human).[5] Deleuze collapses the distinction of machines being separate from humans, which is explain below, and creates an ontology that gives the primacy of production neither to human, technical, or natural machines, but can only be understood in terms of how these machines form assemblages with one another.

Deleuzian Movement: The Becoming of the Caribbean

For Deleuze movement is a crucial component of his philosophy. This movement is a specific type of movement and is termed as becoming. For Deleuze, following Bergson, there is no pre-existing identities (beings), but rather a productive life flux, drawing on the materials and energies of the world. This means things (Deleuzoguattarian Machines) are historical constituted and there are no timeless essences to ground beliefs (e.g. God, Human nature, Platonic ideals) as these are all in the process of becoming. Becoming, as a movement, also has no fixed end or predetermined goal (telos), nor any logical order for becoming as becoming progresses ‘not from a logical order, but following alogical consistencies or compatibilities’ as ‘no one, not even God, can say in advance whether two borderlines with string together or form a fibre, whether a given multiplicity will or will not cross over into another given multiplicity.’[6] Becoming, as a concept, relies on the opportunity or chance for things to occur, which means movement is not predetermined. The future, which the present moves into, is therefore conceived as an open whole in terms of providing infinite potentialities. While this may appear an abstract, or vague, a relatively simple example can demonstrate becoming in process, and how it becomes a practical and actual phenomenon.
Imagine an apple falls from a tree to a ground composed of soil. At that point the apple has a duration, or identity, as an apple. This would focus on the present materiality of the apple, taking into account its substance and form. However, in terms of becoming, the apple is in a flux, and Deleuze terms this ‘pure becoming’[7], where the apple has had an infinite amount of identities previously, and will be an infinite amount of identities in the future. For example, the previous amount of identities of the apple comes from the forces that produced the apple: the sun; the rain; the fertiliser in the soil; the farmer producing an orchid field; and so forth. Importantly is it recognised there is a multiplicity of forces that have assembled to produce the apple. In terms of the future of identity of the apple this is open to the infinite/open whole, and, for example, could become energy for a human which can lead to producing other things. Yet, as Deleuze states about becoming; ‘what is real is the becoming itself, the block of becoming, not supposedly fixed terms through which that becoming passes.’[8] This is an important aspect of becoming, and Deleuzian philosophy, which does not attach itself to transcendent notions or fixed terminology, but rather the actual blocs of becoming and their productive features. The metamorphosis of life, and the Caribbean, is therefore crucial for the concept of becoming, as the concept encourages thought to focus on the experiences and blocs of becoming occurring. The concept of becoming also demonstrates a Dionysian affirmation of life, where creation and destruction are on the same plane[9] as transformation and alteration cause destruction through their creation.
The example therefore demonstrates that becoming is not an object focused approach (e.g. identity), but rather a focus of coexistence and alliance. This illustrates that things are not separate or in a vacuum, and form consistencies and compatibilities with other things – the apple forms a compatibility with the ecosystem. However, these consistencies are not essential, but historically produced features that can alter or change. Deleuze’s provides the famous example of a wasp’s compatibility with an orchid, where the wasp becomes part of the orchid’s reproductive apparatus.[10]
The choice of providing the empirical example of the apple to describe the movement/process of becoming was also elected to demonstrate that becoming is not an anthropogenic centred movement. In contrast becoming can occur as a human mind-independent property of life. Deleuze, in Anti-Oedipus, takes the position to the extreme, arguing that consciousness of man is a historical product of becoming, and may have not of occurred if the contingencies of history were different. This point is also stressed in his book on Nietzsche.[11] The significance is becoming, as a productive force, is not a human centred concept, but a decentred concept, focusing on various bloc of becoming. The reason why this decentred concept of becoming is relevant for understanding how the second media age produces the Caribbean becomes most evident in the Google chapter. This is because search algorithms are now created as part of the second media age, which are used to move through, search, and databank the Internet. These forces of becoming, analysed later, are important as the search algorithms are part of the blocs of becoming that produce the Caribbean through the Google organisation.

[1] The concept of the second media age is from Mark Poster, The Second Media Age (Cambridge: Polity Press, 1995)
[2] See Manuel DeLanda, A New Philosophy of Society: Assemblage Theory and Social Complexity (London: Continuum, 2006)
[3] Hallwarddematerial/spiritual, Badiou-vitalism, DeLanda – maths (ISVP)
[4] The reason why I believe this ontology avoids a narrow reading of Deleuze is that the three concepts of the ontology are crucial for understanding any Deleuzian ontology which considers all of his main published books. This is contrary to Manuel DeLanda and Alain Badiou, where the former argues Difference and Repetition is Deleuze’s main book for his ontology, and where the latter critiques Deleuze from mainly reading his earlier pre-Guattarian books.
[5] This reverse humanism is seen in the work of Jean Baudrillard. However, we should read this as a science fiction, which is intending to warn people of the dangers of society becoming ever more reliant on technology through the risks of a new master/slave dialectic emerging where humans become the slaves of the technology machines, as seen in the popular trilogy of the Matrix.
[6] Gilles Deleuze & Felix Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus (London: Contiuum, 2004) p276
[7] Gilles Deleuze, A Logic of Sense (London: Continuum, 2004) p3
[8] Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus p262
[9] For Deleuze’s clear Nietzscheanism see Gilles Deleuze, Nietzsche and Philosophy (London: Continuum, 2004) Gilles Deleuze, Difference and Repetition (London: Continuum, 2004) & Gilles Deleuze & Felix Guattari, Anti-Oedipus
[10] Gilles Deleuze, A Thousand Plateaus p11
[11] ‘Nietzsche knew the hour had come…to remind consciousness of its necessary modesty is to take it for what it is: a symptom; nothing but a symptom of a deeper transformation and the activities of entirely non-spiritual forces’ from Gilles Deleuze, Nietzsche and Philosophy p39