Tuesday, October 31, 2006

A Clean-Shaven Marx, A Bearded Hegel

In Difference and Repetition Deleuze calls upon the image of a 'philosophically bearded Hegel, a philosophically clean shaven marx, in the same way as a moustached Mona Lisa' (xxii). Duchamp's readymades strike home here, where art becomes the displacement of everyday common sense items out of their regular context.

So, could not philosophical or concepts in thought be considered in a similar way? Deleuze argues this in his typical modernist vein. Although this idea at first may seem antiquated, considering that Marcel Duchamp was making his readymades in the 1920's we can't help but see our understanding of ideas trapped in some other era, maybe the early 19th century perhaps?

Hegel looms large on the horizon, as the master of genre, overarching form, telos and superstructure. Popular music, and popular taste is considered in this way. Nice categorical homogenous units, that appear to be in a dialectic between high/low, with uniform rank, etc. Of course Hegel is more than this. But, it suffices to say that Hegel sees identity over difference, seeks continuity, genre and form for thought and "History" with a capital H.

How can we displace Hegelian ideas, put them out of their ordinary context to overcome them? Last night there was an "ugh" a call to 'look beyond Marx'. Is to overcome Marx philosophically to give in to the other side of the dialectic? Or to go by the sway of a position akin to the IDF?

Hegel is nice. Marx (capital "M") is nicer. But. Philosophy, thought and conceptualisation requires continual differentiation to stay fresh, without sticking to that dogma of micro-fascisms. Duchamp's art makes a statement- still - we can't work out what it does. Maybe thats all it needs to do. Is this enough for thought, or for critical theory?

Firstly we could displace our emphasis on the face. Or the sign that "marx" or "hegel" or "state" weighs us down with. Shave the face! It doesn't have to you know, be the worthy master signfier that contains everything. So how do we displace this theory beyond itself... without it being so "true" that we must always make sure that we pay homage. Not to say that its wrong.
Differentiate the claims onto new ground, new earth. Psycho-eco-analysis. Not just Philosophy-Art or.

Deleuze would look to the schizo. Famous for being unable to manipulate the symbolic order, the schizophrenic feels the connectedness of the real. This is not to fetishise some 1968 era Willheim Reich stylings. Yet the schizoid cannot make "new" words so has to use old words in inappropriate ways. Hmm...

Saturday, October 07, 2006

the use and abuse of good ideas

If you click on the above link, you'll be taken to a frieze.com journal article sent to me by a friend who knows I like Deleuze and Guattari.
It's an article that caused me some concern because in it is detailed the story about how the Israeli Army have used the ideas of some of the great (perhaps in inverted commas!) critical thinkers who have helped shaped much of Western philosophy and culture to enhance their war efforts, most recently for example, in Lebanon.
The article contains interviews with some high up Commanders who have spent time at universities and have taken some of the great ideas handed down to them and then used them most recently to aid in the destruction and devestation of the Lebanese, for example. I think Deleuze, Guattari, Foucault et al would turn in their graves.
It got me wondering about the criticism that is most frequently levelled at the post-structuralists that their ideas are actually conservative because they can be used to justify even conservative values. For example, there is the contention that there is no prescribed morality to their thoughts and that their ideas can be just as palatable to a conservative politician as they could be to a radical punk. (cf Slavoj Zizek's comment on the yuppie reading A Thousand Plateaus on a train and genuinely enjoying it.)
Thinking about it some more, I've decided that there are two issues here and that they both cry bullshit on the above assertion.
1) Whereas it is true, a death machine like the Israeli Defence Force (IDF) can and clearly does use Deleuze and Guattari's ideas for its own ends (you can sort of read a qualified death of the author argument in what I'm about to say), it is hard to make the authors accountable for those uses. Just today I poo-pooed Marx because of the legacy of his ideas. I stand by this because I see that there is a lot in Marx that commends to his followers to become the brainwashed, oppressive enemies of the liberation they purport to pursue that they are. I don't think it's fair to say anything of the sort about Deleuze and Guattari in regard to the IDF. Remember, it is possible to read someone wrong (although you will never read them absolutely right). The IDF hasn't even done that! Commanders in the IDF have read ATP and completely disregarded the anti state authoritarianism that permeates the whole text and, in particular, the numerous discussions of creating new ways of thinking for the purpose of unblocking stagnant relations - I'm thinking the whole Middle East versus Israel schmozzle here. And of course they haven't. They're in the business of war! Their purpose is to fight and win battles! Of course they could get excited about the prospect of reconceptualising spaces; in their case that reconceptualising refers to creating new corridors (rhizomes) and new spatial striations and rethinking the interior and the exterior. It makes sense to knock down the walls to civillian housing to make way for military fighting, under these conditions. And then they have the nerve to say that it's cleaner, friendly way of engaging the enemy. Bullshit!
2) Deleuze and Guattari mention in the chapter on Nomadology and the War Machine that the State when possible will co-opt elements of the war machine to ensure its survival. Never more ironic then is it when D+G's own war machine has been thus co-opted.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

the war machine and the political

I was walking home drunk with a friend late one night and I told him I reckoned that two of the good things about post structuralism is that it turns morality into aesthetics and politics into pragmatics.
I'm not sure if that makes any sense but it sounded nice when I was drunk. The War Machine chapter of ATP, which is prefixed Treatise on Nomadology is such an amazing chapter (or so the half of it I've read is, at any rate). It spans so many different facets. Of things. And it seems to tie them all back to various kind of micro-political processes.
From fabric and felt, to numbers and maths, to cartography and aero-nautical endeavours; it explodes dichotomies into thousands of tiny expressions and shows how these elements are primary and more vital than their overcoded and dualist off-sides that our culture tends to legitimate.
They are also inherently revolutionary and subversive. The rhizomes. The fractured and fracturing nature of stuff; coding, de-coding, re-coding.
Maybe this is what makes Badiou think he can re-badge and sell dialectical materialism to a new generation...

But the point remains that old orders are under constant flux and can be eroded, sometimes really quickly, by various factors such as technology or climate or social movements (not to mention warrior nomads) or all of these things combined and more.
And no attempt at a homogeneous worker's party could ever truly achieve revolution. It may overthrow an older order but it will inevitably undermine itself.
So Capitalism didn't destroy Communism. Communism was more than capable of destroying itself through unsustainable (ideology, propaganda) farming practices, social control and repression, industrial and commercial production, isolationism and various other effects.
That's one of the amazing things about Capitalism, it's the great (mis)appropriator. Kinda like the Borg, it can assimilate anything into its culture, even socialism.
But let's not get too Francis Fukuyama (fuck yr mama) about Capitalism. It's also sowing the seeds of its own destruction. It is too fatuous and has become unweildy and unstustainable. I think I already regret writing this because of the
naivete and simplicity of what I'm saying.
So where will we turn when Capitalism fails?
And what of Deleuze and Guattari's philosophy? A war machine itself, it has the potential to fracture and revolutionise not just philosophy but, because ideas are part of the stuff of reality, change the world too.
(Think I OD'ed on the google images...)

Monday, September 11, 2006

Involutions 1

Reading Becoming-intense, becoming-animal, becoming-imperceptible...

This plateaux is one of many parts. It strikes to the heart of D&G; against representation, analogy or likeness on the basis of identity towards flux, flow as becoming.
Here the position from Difference and Repetition is amplified outwards against an image of thought that reduces all philosophy to likeness and the same. What is meant by this? We see here that philosophy retreats to a basis of similarities and resemblances "a is to b" like "c is to d", collecting and clustering groups. At worst such understanding becomes fixed and rigid, the natural way of doing things.

So here instead we have thresholds and intensities, singularities understood as production and expression. Heidegger's retreat to the undercutting "Being of beings" stops the gaps, holds the flows and keeps everything else in its shadow even when we pause to consider aletheia. So what is meant here by the sorcery at hand by Deleuze and Guattari? And.. how do we come to terms with what on a surface appears a sheer collecting and swarming of ideas and notions? Levi-Strausseans shout "But bring back the structures and the subject!". D&G reply with a pseudo-Jungian positioning... instead of "I am a woman what a bull is to a cow, I am to another man what is to a sheep" it is "I am a bull, a wolf". On this note scepticism deserves to surface. Yet though in their defence, archetypal structures are defeated by differences; the bull-woman becomes as the wolf-man is becoming. Its not to retreat back to Oedipus, Jung whatever.

So Spinoza is in full flight here; with Bergson, transversal. The issue with Deleuze for me is the problem with the inside/outside (no Kant please...) This plateaux pushes the position against a fixed centre, self nor a satisfied world or weltanschauung viewpoint. So instead there is Bergsonian duree, and becoming as perfectly real. Becoming is. It is not filiation- and heading towards the territory of the nomadic war machine (get your pencils out) is contagion, transversality, flux... Becoming is otherways but not linear or necessarily straightforward. Here D&G wholeheartedly move away from a fixed source of Being, Self, God, Knowledge that lacks; instead it is heterogenous, a rhizome not a Cartesian tree. So it stratifies and recreates its on ground, as a form of creativity that is involution. As contagion it is packs/bands/power; not essential or given source. The DG twist is here; things are Nietzschean in spirit in that they are always taking over by force, as force; there is no flat affect. It is transformative in the least.

What is involution? Or maybe that is not asking it in the right way. DG see it as a becoming of heterogenous terms, not regression; maybe collapse, synthesis agression expression... It yields Spinozist expression. It is compositional rather than either/or; is Willard a rat? Or a man? But instead both. Here another feature of becoming-expressive is unleashed.. because identity is released from the same, there is no "the x" or "the louse" or "the wolf". Instead there is "x-ing", "lousing", "wolfing", where identity is affective not reductive. Away with Freud/Lacan! Towards becoming.

Here philosopher-thinker-artist-nomad as sorcerer gets a mention as well--it is a matter of playing on the outside, the margins with forces unknown. These forces are multiplicitous, a buzz of intensities expressions affects. But.. more on this next post.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Spoken word reading-group assemblages

The principles of reading group bring to mind reading, as activity with supplementary conversation-rupture. Could we not rewrite, or respeak our nomadology reading group as a speaking, or spoken group? Or, to get to the its inner kernel, meet and read-out sections from Deleuze&Guattari... rather than reading them before hand.
This entails a whole new assemblages and ways of looking at time (so to speak). Reading beforehand means that we must read a plateaux, compress and notetake so the reading itself becomes a n-way conversation series. I like this option, but its drawback is that reading d&g alone takes more time than, most things. So our nomadology-space slows down.
On the otherhand, reading-as-group means that meaning comes out of that collective space, infused with slippages, inconsistencies and new potentials of adding or clarifying particular language at that time. I have tried this recently.. it works.
Now, what makes the "a thousand tiny bobo's" option an addition, rather than a decompositional feature is that we can additionally read/create/venture new ideas here as well. So both reading, writing, speaking.. is more collective rather than individuated. Maybe this is polemical, but..?

Thursday, August 31, 2006

return is the movement of the tao

I've recently become hooked to a game called reversi (aka othello), despite my shitness at it. Windows XP comes with an online version of it so you can play other people from all over the world instead of doing your homework or whatever.
Concurrently, I've been reading 'Treatise on Nomadology: The War Machine' chapter of A Thousand Plateaux and the two activities complement each other nicely. Oh yes. And here's why.
Deleuze and Guattari contrast chess and go as two distinct ways of occupying space. Chess stratifies space as the pieces have determined roles and run determinate courses. In this sense, perhaps, chess is a statist game insofar as it re-presents stated aims and fixed relationships that are meant to coordinate and function together.
Not so go. Go is an ancient Japanese strategy game whereby each player tries to occupy the greatest amount of territories on a completely neurtral board by fencing off their opponent but because each go piece has the same numerical value (of one) a piece's value is purely determined by it's relationship to the space it and other pieces occupy (compare this to Chess where the King has the greatest value [if only because its capture spells either victory or defeat]).
What this means is that go pieces are nomads that transform their space, not by setting down striations and fixed flows of movement but because they tend to open up possible flows rather than restricting them in the way chess does. This makes go a kind of a war machine, a game that does violence to heavily codified structure (whereas chess perpetuates it).
I think this is what D+G are saying.
What about reversi? Well, I see a lot of taoism in the game of reversi and I see a lot of taoism in D+G's accounts of pretty much everything. Another name for reversi could well be vicissitudes as each piece can change colour many times throughout a single game. To-ing and fro-ing of pieces can throw what appears to be an advantage into a downward spiral of certain defeat and not because the pieces transform the space around them into fields of varying degrees of superiority but more because they transform the other pieces around them into relationships that ensure their constant change.
Each piece in reversi is a radically potential turncoat and saviour and needs to be taken account of at each turn.
No wonder I'm such a poor player...

Sunday, August 13, 2006

What is in a name?

Dreck, I apologise for name thievery. It needed to be done. But now that it's out of the way D.H. Lawrence will not laugh, even though we will laugh at him.

Keep it uncanny!

On the good ship...

Rhizomatic confusions are many. Especially when the cruise ship Thesis heads into troubled waters. Thankfully without Celine Dion though.

Difference and Repetition asks too many questions for one paragraph leading to many leaps-o-faith and other non sequiturs. This blog should blog out. What makes a good blog? Would D and or G blog? How can we make things spin into new territory ala the Magnetic Termite years?

On that note I would pledge that we must (must!) add many different strange tears of information that fit into the war machine into a new multifarious ways. Possibly with added concepts. Like the Gorski, or the Census-whip.

We also must have our meeting(S) sometime soon. Could this involve scones and or tea.? I have heard Anarcho-Dandyism (not anarcho-capitalism!!) has taken to the streets in London. Bobos there are doing it, so we, like our fellow breathen must unite with cucumber sandwiches, Bunbury and other Wilde-esque quotes that speak of our own fin-de-siecle. Or non?

(Speaking of getting old, my Birthday is later this month. We will connect up with our senior selves in a grand game of lawn bowls somewhere in coburg with cheapo whiskey and gin shots.)

Thursday, August 10, 2006

starting somewhere 'round the middle

Welcome to A Thousand Tiny Bobo's, the only blog we know of that is simultaneously dedicated to Deleuze and Guattari and our collective aspirations of one day becoming fully fledged boho's and not just the skanky little bobo wannabes we are so desperately becoming at present.
Throughout the course of this blog, should you choose to stick with us, you'll read about our heroic trials and tribulations as we try to come to terms with the late Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari's A Thousand Plateux: Capitalism and Schizophrenia part II.
We've already read a lot about these guys and we have read about a third of ATP so far but that doesn't mean we know what we're talking about so feel free
to contribute to our discussions and thow in your two cent's worth.
But to be honest, this blog is less for the anonymous public than it is for those of us in the reading circle as a means of helping guide each other as we try to
come to terms with some of the trickiest and most amazingly untimely philosophy set to challenge and stimulate our dark times that we've ever had the masochistic pleasure of wrestling with.
Regardless, we hope our discussions will inspire and interest any poor souls who stumble across us.
Our name is Legion, for we are many...