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


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