As I covered, or, well, rather attempted to cover the plateau on the strata, titled ‘10,000 B.C: The Geology of Morals (Who Does the Earth Think It Is?)’, I kept running into what Deleuze and Guattari call a regime of signs in ‘A Thousand Plateaus’ by Deleuze and Guattari (translation by Brian Massumi). They (65) point out, for example that:
“Under these conditions, there is a semiotic system on the corresponding stratum because the abstract machine has precisely that fully erect posture that permits it to ‘write,’ in other words, to treat language and extract a regime of signs from it.”
Note that they are not concerned about how language is arbitrary, which it is, in a way, in the sense that we call a table a table, not a chair (and would be the same thing the other way around if that was the case), as they (62-63) point out, agreeing that “[l]anguage is the interpreter of all other systems, linguistic and nonlinguistic.” It’s worth emphasizing that this is, as they (63) point out, the abstract character of language and rather obviously so. At the same time, they (62-63) state that it is the interpreter, resulting in translations. Instead, what they (63-66) are concerned about is what they call the imperialism of language, or more specifically the imperialism of the signifier over language, and how it permits it to have illusory reach, yet actual consequences. It is in this context that they (63) state:
“A formation of power is much more than a tool; a regime of signs is much more than a language.”
A few pages later, they (66) define it as not “reducible to words but to a set of statements arising in the social field considered as a stratum[.]” They (66) actually speak of the form of expression in this context, but noting that “[it] is what a regime of signs is”, in reference to the previous sentence I formulated a bit differently from the original. The example they (66) are following is Foucault’s analysis of delinquency as a form of expression and prison as a form of content. In Foucault’s parlance these are discursive and non-discursive formations. It is worth emphasizing that as they (66) note, and as does Foucault, that the form of expression, the regime of signs, discursive formation or discourse is not just about words, not just about language, but more-than-language. To be more specific, Foucault (49) states in the ‘Archaeology of Knowledge and The Discourse on Language’ published in 1972 (translated by Alan Sheridan):
“Of course, discourses are composed of signs; but what they do is more than use these signs to designate things. It is this more that renders them irreducible to the language (langue) and to speech. It is this ‘more’ that we must reveal and describe.”
This is why I coined the hyphenated more-than-language. Language is arguably particularly important to it, but discourse is not limited to it, standing in some sort of isolation from what else is there. The plateau consists of a number of examples that Deleuze and Guattari object to, but as I’ve covered them in an earlier essay, it’s not worth reiterating everything, otherwise I end up rewriting it. Elsewhere, before I move on to the plateau concerning this essay, it’s worth stopping at a prior plateau where Deleuze and Guattari (83) state:
“[T]he assemblages combine in a regime of signs or a semiotic machine.”
Indeed, as they (83-84) continue, there are multiple regimes of signs, not just a or the regime of signs:
“It is obvious that a society is plied by several semiotics, that its regimes are in fact mixed.”
Aside making note of its plurality and calling it a semiotic machine, they (88) also call it the regime of enunciation. Conversely, they (108) also speak of the form of content as the regime of bodies. Anyway, after shortly addressing one of the concepts on certain other plateaus, it is time to move on to plateau number five, titled ‘B.C.-A.D. 70: On Several Regimes of Signs’ in the same book. Yes, yes, a whole plateau, some whopping 38 pages dedicated to this concept alone. Deleuze and Guattari (111) open up by defining the concept, once more, but this time there is no mucking about, you having to figure it out all by yourself in relation to other concepts:
“We call any specific formalization of expression a regime of signs, at least when the expression is linguistic. A regime of signs constitutes a semiotic system.”
Now, of course, this is, at least for me, a very neatly defined concept, but it might not open up as easily had I not dedicated my time on at a glance seemingly unrelated plateau on different strata. As I pointed out in an essay on that plateau, I didn’t do it for no apparent reason, but rather to make more sense of this plateau. They (111) sort of prove my point almost immediately:
“But it appears difficult to analyze semiotic systems in themselves: there is always a form of content that is simultaneously inseparable from and independent of the form of expression, and the two forms pertain to assemblages that are not principally linguistic.”
Ah, yes, it’s all so, so very messy as language does not exist in neat isolation from everything. For the sake of argument, however, they (111) are willing to play ball with such:
“However, one can proceed as though the formalization of expression were autonomous and self-sufficient.”
Only to point out that it makes little difference (111):
“Even if that is done, there is such diversity in the forms of expression, such a mixture of these forms, that it is impossible to attach any particular privilege to the form or regime of the ‘signifier.’”
Remember here, from the previous essays, Deleuze and Guattari are not exactly keen on the signifier-signified pair. But that’s just as a reminder if you managed to forget that or just didn’t read the other essays or the plateaus (which you should anyway). Anyway, they (111) continue and clarify their position on this:
“If we call the signifying semiotic system semiology, then semiology is only one regime of signs among others, and not the most important one.”
Note here that they refer to semiology, not semiotics. The former has to do with the signifier-signified couplet, the latter with Peircean semiotics that the two ascribe to with certain adaptations and modifications, as pointed out in an earlier essay. Their (65) take is on the plateau on strata. Instead they (111-112) advocate in favor of something else (which is covered on the plateau dealing with linguistics):
“Hence the necessity of a return to pragmatics, in which language never has universality in itself, self-sufficient formalization, a general semiology, or a metalanguage.”
After pointing out what they’d prefer, they (112) move on to address what they call “the signifying regime of the sign” or shortly “the signifying sign.” Here they (112) provide a lengthier discussion of the arbitrariness of language, how signs are not merely arbitrary in the sense that the signifier is whatever it is called, say table, but what we call a table has nothing inherently table to it, but also how signs refer to other signs in infinite deferral. Hence they (112) state:
“That is why, at the limit, one can forgo the notion of the sign, for what is retained is not principally the sign’s relation to a state of things it designates, or to an entity it signifies, but only the formal relation of sign to sign insofar as it defines a so-called signifying chain. The limitlessness of signifiance replaces the sign.”
Now, it’s worth noting that Deleuze and Guattari are not exactly saying anything that others, their contemporaries hadn’t also said. What I find more interesting is their (112) comparison of signification, that of semiology, to their adapted Peircean semiotics:
“Not much attention is paid to indexes, in other words, the territorial states of things constituting the designatable. Not much attention is paid to icons, that is, operations of reterritorialization constituting the signifiable. Thus the sign has already attained a high degree of relative deterritorialization; it is thought of as a symbol in a constant movement of referral from sign to sign.”
Now, it’s worth going back a bit, to point out that Deleuze and Guattari (65) take index, symbol and icon from Peirce but adapt them to work with the concepts of territorialization. Here, as pointed out, they see sign as highly relatively deterritorialized. It’s not absolutely deterritorialized as otherwise it would be obliterated out of existence, or so to speak. Anyway, they (112) continue, reiterating that “[t]he signifier is the sign in redundancy with the sign”, meaning that “[a]ll signs are signs of signs”, hence the infinite deferral, the chain of signification. So, they (112) state that signs don’t signify something signifiable but refers to other signs in a network of signs “without beginning or end” that project themselves “onto an amorphous atmospheric continuum” that plays the role of the signified. They (112) provide a host of random examples, including stepping into dog shit, pointing out that “[i]t doesn’t matter what it means, it’s still signifying.” While using the example of stepping into dog shit might just come across as an intentional transgression of academic norms regarding writing, me included as I just reiterated it, not only one but twice, it serves to prove a point. What does it mean to step into a pile of dog shit? Nothing, absolutely nothing … yet, it signifies something, something not shitty (assuming there ever was this signified, marking the essence of shit), but something, say, unclean. That of course more or less proves the point. What is unclean? And so forth, ad infinitum. That’s why they (112) state that:
“The sign that refers to other signs is struck with a strange impotence and uncertainty, but mighty is the signifier that constitutes the chain.”
They (112) further elaborate this is impotence of actually meaning anything as characteristic of paranoiacs, people who always think someone or something is out to get them, pushing them to think ahead in order to stay ahead of the game. They (113) characterize it as being in debt infinitely, tragically simultaneously existing as the debtor and the creditor. Therefore it’s always about staying ahead of the game, but never actually managing that, always in a loop, in infinite return, always eventually ending where you were, as they (113) characterize it. When it comes to the marked paranoia and hysteria of it, who’d be the one to have the most to fear? Well, following their (113-114) rather lengthy elaboration of it as a hallmark of an imperial system, it is, of course, the Emperor! They (114) call it the Despot, but that’s another word for the Byzantine Emperor, the viceroy of God. Emperors, be they Roman or Byzantine (feel free to extend the list), or anyone in essentially the same position, say, the General Secretary, the Führer, the Duce, the Doge or the Pharaoh (once again feel free to continue the list), are the sole top dogs, so they only stand to lose. No matter how great they are, how great the Empire is, you might always fall down a flight of stairs, drown in a bucket or the like. There are whispers everywhere. Pretenders are out to get you. The peasants might rebel at any time.
Summarizing Deleuze and Guattari (113-114), there are regulated, as well as prohibited or exclusive, concentric circles of signs with centers of signifiance with different thresholds for crossing one circle to another. In the center of it all is the Emperor. Deleuze and Guattari (114) state that as the chain of signification is a constant flux, it faces constant entropy that must be countered with not only expanding the circles but also by replenishing them, providing something new to replace the old, whatever succumbs to entropy. They (114) note that this necessitates interpretation and results in fixing portions of the instability, making what really just is unknowable, as it always was, to knowable. They (114) call this the formalization of the sign which is really only a mere deception. I have elaborated this a couple of times already in different contexts and I keep mentioning priests in my essays, but here we have them (114) explain what they mean by priests. Deleuze and Guattari (114) define priests as the bureaucrats of the Emperor, the ones in charge of interpreting how it is, whatever it is that happens to be, pertinent in the Empire. They (114) characterize priests as deceivers:
“[I]nterpretation is carried to infinity and never encounters anything to interpret that is not already itself an interpretation. The signified constantly reimparts signifier, recharges it or produces more of it. The form always comes from the signifier. The ultimate signified is therefore the signifier itself, in its redundancy or ‘excess.’”
This is, or should be, sort of obvious. When there truly isn’t anything truly signified, it’s just an endless loop of signifier after signifier, no matter how the priests claim otherwise. The priests will, obviously tell you otherwise and try to persuade you to abandon such worrisome thoughts. If you remain unconvinced, you may find yourself anathematized. They may also whisper loudly enough to trigger the paranoia in the Emperor. They (114) move the discussion from the Emperor’s faithful bureaucrats to a more contemporary thema, to psychoanalysis in which interpretation culminates in interpretosis, subjecting oneself to oneself in an infinite loop, never reaching anything but signifiers behind signifiers behind signifiers, ad infinitum, as one would expect really. If you push hard enough, you’ll end up facing, no kidding, you’ll see, the master signifier, the supreme leader, the center of the universe, the Emperor, the viceroy of God, the finite embodiment of the infinite. Deleuze and Guattari (115) call this the face and the redundancy it bears faciality. More specifically, they (115) define it as:
“The face is the Icon proper to the signifying regime, the reterritorialization internal to the system. The signifier reterritorializes on the face. The face is what gives the signifier substance; it is what fuels interpretation, and it is what changes, changes traits, when interpretation reimparts signifier to its substance. Look, his expression changed. The signifier is always facialized. Faciality reigns materially over that whole constellation of signifiances and interpretations[.]”
Now you might be wondering how this connected to the Emperor. Well, it’s rather obvious that just like it is the case with the priests, the Emperor is, just like those who seek to sit on the throne, a mere pretender, but the Emperor considers it the divine right to sit on the throne. I guess one could also state that the Emperor is also the embodiment of the Empire, but we’ll eventually get to how faciliaty is not just about the face. Maybe that won’t be in this essay or in this plateau, but it’s not off to point that out here. Anyway, they (115) elaborate:
“The despot-god has never hidden his face, far from it: he makes himself one, or even several. The mask does not hide the face, it is the face. The priest administers the face of the god. With the despot, everything is public, and everything that is public is so by virtue of the face. Lies and deception may be a fundamental part of the signifying regime, but secrecy is not.”
They (115) make another observation, pointing out how the face works not only as presence:
“He looked at me queerly, he knitted his brow, what did I do to make him change expression? I have her picture in front of me, it’s as if she were watching me … Surveillance by the face, as Strindberg said. Overcoding by the signifier, irradiation in all directions, unlocalized omnipresence.”
If we go back a bit, back to icons, what do they portray? Well, they typically contain the face and the upper body of Christ or a Saint, with emphasis on the face, as well as the hands, even when covered by a riza. They are not just depictions of people, regardless of their level of divinity. They are not only looked at, but they also look back. That is, I believe, the point made by Deleuze and Guattari (115) here. I think it’s worth adding that, to my knowledge, it’s uncommon for anyone else, that is to say those non-divine, to face the observer of a painting. Only God, in any of the manifestations, does that. Others avert their face. It’s fascinating to look at old paintings and photos. People actually do avert their face. It’s rarely someone dead on facing you, not to mention staring right at you. Anyway, I think we’ll get to this eventually as well, even if in other words.
I’m going to skip the scapegoating business they (116) elaborate as I’ve covered that before. In summary though, the point is that the antibody of the Emperor is someone who is made faceless. This sort of connects to losing one’s face. I’ve mentioned it and argued it before already, but it’s worth emphasizing that this god-despot and bureaucrats arrangement is by no means archaic or if it is, it’s rather neoarchaic. In their (116-117) words:
“The dreary world of the signifier; its archaism with an always contemporary function; its essential deception, connoting all of its aspects; its profound antics. The signifier reigns over every domestic squabble, and in every State apparatus.”
In practice then, they (116) state that it’s:
“[A]pplicable not only to the imperial despotic regime but to all subjected, arborescent, hierarchical, centered groups: political parties, literary movements, psychoanalytic associations, families, conjugal units, etc.”
In other words, the imperial despotic regime of signs is alive and well, even if the Emperor is not. In fact the Emperor was never actually necessary. The face is all that is required. Of course, having a living breathing face, one that is the embodiment of it all, does actually help a ton, but, as they say, it’s the thought that counts. Anyway, moving from the signifying regime of signs to something prior to it. Deleuze and Guattari (117) introduce the presignifying regime which they characterize as lacking the “reduction to faciliaty as the sole substance of expression” and “the elimination of forms of content through abstraction of the signified.” They (117) add that it’s also marked by:
“[P]luralism or polyvocality of forms of expression that prevents any power takeover by the signifier and preserves expressive forms particular to content; thus forms of corporeality, gesturality, rhythm, dance, and rite coexist heterogeneously with the vocal form.”
In other words, it’s far from being restricted to one voice as other forms of expression are not rendered irrelevant. They (117) further characterize it as marked by semiotic segmentarity, plurilinearity and multidimensionality which is not reduced to “any kind of signifying circularity.” Most importantly, however, they (117) note that, unlike in the signifying regime, the sign is not in infinite deferral of signs as the relative deterritorialization of signs is marked by “a confrontation between the territorialities and compared segments from which each sign is extracted[.]” As a result, they (117-118) add, the sign is not put into a reserve if it goes out of use or become transformed into something else, for some other use, but just abolished or cannibalized. They (118) note that this practice of abandoning a sign, rather than recycling it, should not be seen as “function[ing] by ignorance, repression, or foreclosure of the signifier.” Simply put, as they (118) note, there is no “universalizing abstraction, erection of the signifier [and] circularity of statements” which result in putting into place various state apparatus, installing a despot and the accompanying henchmen. The type of people they (118) associate with this regime of signs, the presignifying regime of signs, are hunter nomads.
I pondered earlier on whether to include the previous regime of signs and what comes after it, the countersignifying regime of signs, but in the past I haven’t really addressed them, so why not. Anyway, so, in contrast to the presignifying semiotic, the countersignifying semiotic is represented by what they (118) characterize as “the fearsome, warlike, and animal-raising nomads[.]” So, if the first one is the imperial (despotic) one, the one with the Emperor (Despot) and the clergy, like in, say, the Byzantine Empire and the second one is more along the lines of hunter gatherers, people who live off the land, like the Apsáalooke (Crow), as mentioned by Deleuze and Guattari (113) as an example in contrast to the imperial Hopi, the third are exemplified by the steppe nomads, such as the Avars, Cumans, Magyars, Khazars and Mongols to name some. They (118) state that unlike the second semiotic, this third semiotic is marked “less by segmentarity than by arithmetic and numeration.” After pointing out that numbers are, of course, part of segmentarity, how would you segment otherwise, and also present in the imperial bureaucracy, they (118) characterize the use numbers in the countersignifying semiotic:
“[M]arks a mobile and plural distribution, which itself determines functions and relations, which arrives at arrangements rather than totals, distributions rather than collections, which operates more by breaks, transitions, migration, and accumulation than by combining units[.]”
What is meant by this more specifically, bearing particular relevance to arrangements and distributions, is the way things are organized “into tens, fifties, hundreds, thousands, etc.” like in, erm., an army, as they (118) point out. Now, they (118) are quick to emphasize that armies belong to state, not to the steppe nomads. The steppe nomads didn’t have armies, as such, as they function in these large stacks, counted accordingly, as they (118) point out. Using the word horde is only accurate, but only in the sense that it indicates the sheer numbers involved. It is, in fact, worth noting that Deleuze and Guattari (117-118) do not label the pre- and countersignifying semiotics as primitive, hence using the wording “the so-called primitive[.]” Their (118) preferred characterization is the “nomad war machine” which functions as directed against the state apparatus, hence the moniker countersignifying. More specifically, they (118) state that the war machine:
“[T]urns back against the great empires, cuts across them and destroys them, or else conquers them and integrates them to form a mixed semiotic.”
It’s worth noting here that not only are there regimes of signs, but they also mix, as pointed out above. But before getting into that, it’s also worth pointing out that the war machine is not seen as some primitive, uncivilized horde of simpletons on horses out to wage war abroad. Deleuze and Guattari address these things in more detail in a separate plateau, but I’m not going to involve a plateau sized detour just to prove a point. I haven’t delved that much into the nomad segments of the book, but I remember Deleuze stating in the L’Abécédaire series of interviews with Claire Parnet that nomads differ from the sedentary by never actually traveling, never having a trajectory, from A to B and so on. In other words, you can never be abroad if you have no home. There is no being on the road. It’s similar to seafaring but instead on land. Landfaring? I guess the same applies to war as well, so there’s no war/peace binary. The way I think it is is that those on the receiving end perceive it as war, whereas for the nomads it’s more like someone has put stuff on their way, occupied the space they traverse. Among other things, Deleuze (37-38) states in ‘On the Superiority of Anglo-American Literature’, included in ‘Dialogues II’ with Claire Parnet, first published in English in 1987 (translated by Hugh Tomlinson and Barbara Habberjam, the one I’m looking at is the 2009 edition), one of the fascinating things with nomads is that they have “neither past nor future”, something which, according to him, is hardly ever understood or appreciated.
After mentioning the mixing and coexisting of the semiotics, that there is a multitude of regimes of signs, the listing provided by the two being arbitrary limited, Deleuze and Guattari (119) turn their attention to the fourth regime, the postsignifying regime which is not marked by signifiance unlike the signifying regime but by subjectification. Juxtaposing the regimes once more, they (119-120) posit the signifying regime as “a paranoid-interpretive ideal regime” and the postsignifying regime as a passional subjective regime. Moreover, they (120) characterize the postsignifying regime as:
“[D]efined by a decisive external occurrence, by a relation with the outside that is expressed more as an emotion than an idea, and more as effort or action than imagination … by a limited constellation operating in a single sector; by a “postulate” or “concise formula” serving as the point of departure for a linear series or proceeding that runs its course, at which point a new proceeding begins. In short, it operates by the linear and temporal succession of finite proceedings, rather than by the simultaneity of circles in unlimited expansion.”
They (119-120) exemplify this and the contrasting with the signifying regime with delusions, the signifying being marked by delusional interpretive paranoia and the postsignifying being marked by delusional grievances or passions. They (120) note that “people in the first group seem to be completely mad, but aren’t” as they remain quite capable of running things, even if they hear whispers everywhere and talk to God. In contrast, they (120) characterize the latter group of people as “those who do not seem mad in any way, but are, as borne out by their sudden actions” including but not limited to “quarrels, arsons [and] murders[.]” Simply put, the first set of people seem mad, but aren’t, whereas the second set of people seem just fine but are mad. This is why the two (120-121) state that “the psychiatrist was born cornered, caught between legal, police, humanitarian demands, accused of not being a true doctor, suspected of mistaking the sane for mad and the made for sane,” which results in, on one hand, pleading for understanding and better treatment for those who seem mad and, on the other hand, tighter scrutiny, surveillance, keeping tabs on those who do not seem mad as they are the ones actually mad but in hiding until they burst into action. Oddly enough, they (121) note that the paranoiacs tend to be well off people, bourgeoisie, not only Emperors, and the passionals tend to be less well off, working class and rural people. They (121) add that while it is by no means always the case, it happens to be, rather conveniently so:
“But God and his psychiatrists are charged with recognizing, among these de facto mixes, those who preserve, even in delusion, the class-based social order, and those who sow disorder, even strictly localized, such as haystack fires, parental murders, declasse love and aggression.”
So what they are saying is that the labels tend to apply to certain classes not because they necessarily do, but because the people in position to do so assign them to people by class. They (121) then move on to discuss how signs operate in the postsignifying regime, stating that they are no longer positioned on an “irradiating circular network” but instead “start running a straight line, as though swept into a narrow, open passage.” Now, I skipped a bit in characterizing the signifying regime as I had covered it before, but I have to point it out shortly here. They (121) characterize this straight line as a line of flight (escape, not literally flying, unless it is the case), but unlike in the signifying regime in which a line is indeed possible but it is marked as negative, the line in the postsignifying regime is positive. The negative line they (121) speak of is that of the scapegoat, the outcast, who is, as the label tells us, scapegoated, essentially for the common good, or so we are told anyway, and cast off to die somewhere else, as discussed by the two (116). The scapegoat does actually get to leave the circles of society, to go his or her own way, but it is hardly by choice and the person in question is doomed to fail and therefore it’s a negative line of flight. In stark contrast then, they (121) state that the positive line is “occupied and followed by a people who find in it their reason for being or destiny.” So, not only is the line then opted through volition, it is considered a path worthy of taking, one to be taken. While they (121-122) hesitant to attribute these regimes to certain peoples and eras, in order not to indicate them as invented by this or that people in this or that era, they exemplify this with “[t]he paranoid Pharaoh and the passional Hebrew”, how the Jewish people detached themselves from “the Egyptian imperial network” and “set off down a line of flight into the desert.” In other words, they (122) add that it “pitt[ed] the most authoritarian of subjectivities against despotic signifiance, the most passional and least interpretive of delusions against interpretational paranoid delusion[.]” In summary, they (122) note that in the Jewish context turning the negative line of flight into a positive one is that of becoming your own scapegoat, taking the hit, bearing the brunt, voluntarily.
Turning to the mixing aspect that I skipped for a bit, Deleuze and Guattari (119) note that there is more than meets the eye, something bubbling under the surface:
“Perhaps all semiotics are mixed and not only combine with various forms of content but also combine different regimes of signs. Presignifying elements are always active in the signifying regime; countersignifying elements are always present and at work within it; and postsignifying elements are already there.”
After stating that, they (119) warn not to take that too essentially, that the mixtures function in certain order and in certain ways once mixed. They (119) further note that they “are not suggesting an evolutionism … not even doing history.” Instead they (119) argue that:
“Semiotic systems depend on assemblages, and it is the assemblages that determine that a given people, period, or language, and even a given style, fashion, pathology, or minuscule event in a limited situation, can assure the predominance of one semiotic or another.”
So, when they pit the Pharaoh against the Hebrews led by Moses, it’s a bit overly convenient to label as simply this vs. that as the regimes in both cases are probably mixed and/or affected by certain active elements from the other regimes. They (122) make note of this after pitting them against one another:
“There is a Jewish specificity, immediately affirmed in a semiotic system. This semiotic, however, is no less mixed than any other.”
To be more specific, they (122) characterize it as:
“On the one hand, it is intimately related to the countersignifying regime of the nomads[.]”
“On the other hand, it has an essential relation to the signifying semiotic itself, for which the Hebrews and their God would always be nostalgic: reestablish an imperial society and integrate with it, enthrone a king like everybody else (Samuel), rebuild a temple that would finally be solid (David and Solomon, Zachariah), erect the spiral of the Tower of Babel and find the face of God again; not just bring the wandering to a halt, but overcome the diaspora, which itself exists only as a function of an ideal regathering.”
So, indeed, it’s all messier than simply pitting Moses against the Pharaoh, people against an Emperor. It’s just easier to provide examples when they aren’t very convoluted. It’s how reduction works anyway. It’s actually surprising that they go down this road on this plateau, offering simple examples first and then point out to the complexity, rather than the other way around. Then again, the book is not exactly consistent in its presentation, so what can I say. It is what it is. After discussing the mixing of semiotics, they turn to discussing what this means in terms of faciliaty and we get to examine how it relates to turning one’s head. Deleuze and Guattari (123) state that “[f]aciality undergoes a profound transformation” which results in the aversion of God’s face. More importantly, however, they (123) note that this aversion of face extends from God to people who also end up averting their face “gripped by a veritable fear of the [G]od.” So, to put it simply, the signifying regime is marked by “the frontal view of the radiant face” whereas the postsignifying regime is marked by the face in profile, as characterized by the two (123).
When it comes to characterizing the postsignifying regime further, the two (123) define it as “the regime of betrayal, universal betrayal” of God, turning one’s face away from the face. This is for the two (123) the hallmark of prophetism, not doing the same old, same old, whatever is expected of a person, but turning away, fleeing from the face of God. It’s not as simple as that as that’s actually not necessarily what God is after, blind loyalty to clergy, as they (123) explain. If this seems a bit off, going against God in order to do what God wants, it’s probably better let the two (123) explain it, using their Jonah example, in which Jonah does not do what he is told to do, go and put certain betrayers in order, but rather just sets sail elsewhere, incurring the wrath of God himself and taking it upon himself, thus actually doing what he was set to accomplish (not to do, but to accomplish). As they (123-124) put it in other words, Jonah anticipated God. By doing so Jonah betrays God, who then betrays Jonah, hence there is not only one face but two faces that are averted, hence, I believe, what they (125) call the double turning away. Their (124) Jesus example is probably a bit easier to follow:
“[Jesus] betrays the God of the Jews, he betrays the Jews, he is betrayed by God (‘Why hast thou forsaken me?’), he is betrayed by Judas, the true man. He took evil upon himself, but the Jews who kill him also take it upon themselves.”
They (123-124) also use Cain and Abel as an example, but it’s not worth going through all of them, especially when Deleuze and Guattari themselves point out that there are many others besides “Cain, Jonah, and Jesus [who] constitute three great linear proceedings along which signs rush and form relays. … Everywhere a double turning a way on a line of flight.” Anyway, the point about Jesus is that, in their (124) words, he “universalizes the system of betrayal.” They (124) then reiterate the point made about how prophets actually do exactly what they are to accomplish but by disobeying God. They (124) add, however, that it’s not that the prophet, or that is to say the to-be-prophet, finds the task or mission too much of a burden to bear, unlike an oracle, a seer or a priest who refuses such out of fear of danger. They (124) also characterize the prophet as fueled by the passion of God that gives the prophet authority. In contrast to the priest then, they (124) add, the prophet does not interpret, nor does the prophet have any capability or competence to do so as “God puts the words in his mouth” instead. It’s this anticipation, doing what is to be accomplished rather than what one is told to do, that makes the prophet a future oriented figure in their (124) books whereas the priests rely on applying the past and the present, doing what one is expected to do on the basis of what one knows.
If the Biblical examples are too much to handle, too theological or something, they (124-125)also use Oedipus as an example, similar to that of Cain. Now, that’s also, perhaps, a bit too mythical and dusty to the taste of some people, so how about something more contemporary instead. Well, their (125) last example is psychoanalysis, which they summarize as:
“Psychoanalysis is a definite case of a mixed semiotic: a despotic regime of signifiance and interpretation, with irradiation of the face, but also an authoritarian regime of subjectification and prophetism, with a turning away of the face[.]”
You might now be wondering how the first part seems about right, it being an analysis of sorts after all, but what about the second part? Well, the silly billy that I am, I cut the final segment from the cited passage. That’s actually just to provide emphasis on it. Anyway, they (125) continue:
“[T]he positioning of the psychoanalyst behind the patient suddenly assumes its full significance[.]”
Ah, see, you can’t see, hence the averted faces. I’ll let them (125) finish, to point out that they are not exactly keen on psychoanalysis, at all:
“Two absolutely different regimes of signs in a mix. But the worst, most underhanded of powers are founded on it.”
How so? Well, they (125) characterize the mixture as involving “a linear proceeding of subjectivity along with a circular development of the signifier and interpretation.” They (131-132) return to address psychoanalysis again later on, this time emphasizing how in it the patient becomes the subject of statement, essentially just speaking to him- or herself, perpetually in a loop, from one linear proceeding to the next one, from one segment to another, never actually reaching anything, except “growing submissive to the normalization of a dominant reality.” While it’s not directly linked in their discussion of this, they (125) also classify Christianity as a mixed semiotic, making use of Roman imperialism and Jewish subjectivity, involving certain orthodoxy of thought and the pesky heresies that crop up here and there, every now and then. Something tells me that Foucault would see a connection here, that of pastoral power, of confession, that is also present in psychoanalysis which takes it to a next level. That’s why I thought it’s convenient that they follow psychoanalysis with a short discussion of Christianity. Of course, I might be seeing into things too much here. Anyway, you could throw in a number of heresies of, for example, Catholicism and Orthodoxy, say, Bogomilism, Catharism, Fraticellianism, Hussitism, Iconoclasm, Lollardism, Messalianism, Nestorianism, Paulicianism, Waldensianism, on top of the ones you’ve probably actually heard of, the ones nested in protestantism. The reason for listing some here and indicating that people probably haven’t heard of them is to point out how effectively they were stamped out, with appropriately heavy hand, of course. Getting back on track, shifting to the one that people might actually know of, protestantism, Deleuze and Guattari (126) state that:
“Luther …. [the] traitor to all things and all people; his personal relation with the Devil resulting in betrayal, through good deeds as well as bad.”
Now, of course, Martin Luther is not the only traitor, even if he is the best known traitor, but, as I pointed out, it has to do with how well heresies were put to an end before his time. I can’t remember for sure, but I think this is something that got and probably still gets glossed over in school. You learn about Catholicism, Orthodoxy and Protestantism, at least in the form of Lutheranism, as well as, I guess, Calvinism, but that’s about it. It tends to come across as if everything was uniform all the way to Luther, but that’s hardly the case. There were plenty of traitors warranting murder way before him. It’s not like there’s ever been a shortage of wrong thinkers. Deleuze and Guattari (126) clarify that in Christianity it’s no longer about betraying God, accomplishing the will of God by disobeying, but instead about betraying the followers of God, so now it’s a human matter. For example, Luther hardly qualifies as a prophet. He gets denounced and excommunicated as a deceiver, while, as Deleuze and Guattari (126) put it, he is actually a traitor among deceivers working against the deceivers and the imperial deception. Deleuze (44-45) aptly summarizes this in ‘On the Superiority of Anglo-American Literature’:
“Many people dream of being traitors. They believe in it, they believe they are. But they are petty tricksters. … For it is difficult to be a traitor, it is to create. One has to lose one’s identity, one’s face, in it. One has to disappear, to become unknown.”
I think one could use other terms as well, posit sorcerers against priests, heretics against the orthodoxy, etc. So, as they point out, it’s far easier to do more of the same, do what you are told, play by the rules, not rock the boat (feel free to come up with more of these) than it is to challenge the orthodoxy of the priests who’ll never do anything of the sort because it’s a rocky road and they like the comfort they already enjoy. Now, if only it was that simple, there’s that, hence issue taken with heretics. Deleuze and Guattari (126) ponder the underlying problem with heretics, noting that “every deceiver is mixed”, that is to say not only of the signifying kind but also that the postsignifying kind, which makes it possible for any deceiver to consider him- or herself to be a betrayer, after all, it’s entirely possible. They (126) then reverse this, pointing out that as every betrayer is mixed, which results in self-doubt whether one is actually a betrayer or a mere deceiver. In other words, how do we know which supposed prophet or reformer is the real deal and not a mere fraud? That’s probably besides the point already, but surely something worth returning at another time.
So far, I, and they, have ignored how God remains important if the faces are averted. They (127) state that in the postsignifying or passional regime the face, God, becomes verbalized and inscribed into writing. They (127) note that in this regime books are understood as recited literally, without any interpretation or commentary, not to mention changes. I’d add possibly even forbidding translation, considering that it results in change by necessity. They (127) add that this is the hard line of passionalism, the one that they attribute to Islam. If you think of it, that might sort of explain the Islamic aniconism, sorry for the pun, the aversion to depicting faces. Albeit it’s not exactly the same thing, but you sort of get this with Iconoclasm as well, albeit in a more strikingly violent way of condemning idolatry. Anyway, they (127) state that alternatively, I guess in the less strict end of passionalism but not in the signifying regime, there is interpretation but it is confined to the book itself. In addition, they (127) add, the interpretation may become unmediated, that is to say not the task of experts who base it on the book itself, but directly open to anyone who has the heart for it, or so to speak. For Deleuze and Guattari (127) the last one is even worse than it would be if only read by self-interested clergymen or pious scholars who attempt to grasp its meaning as self-contained because it’s then the beginning and the end of everything, all there for you to access without any connection to anything outside side it, well, besides the reader that is. That’s why for them (127) this results in books of canonized authors such as Marx and Freud, among others, becoming Bibles. I think that’s well put, how something not the Bible, and in this case someone, can be the Bible of something. It’s worth realizing that this applies to Deleuze and Guattari as well, just as it does to Foucault who I am in the habit of citing every now and then. However, I’d say that I’m under no illusion that they know it all or that they are infallible. It’s much better to learn from them, and others, not to simply take their word for it. That’s sort of the point of ‘A Thousand Plateaus’ anyway.
How does one become a here… manages to take a passional line? Deleuze and Guattari (128-129) explain that the necessary point of subjectification needed to draw a line of flight or deterritorialize, say, like Moses or Descartes, “can be anything.” They (129) clarify that all that is needed is certain characteristics:
“[T]he double turning away, betrayal, and existence under reprieve.”
The last one I did not explain, yet, but this they (123), following Franz Kafka in ‘The Trial’, also refer to as indefinite postponement, as in the story of Cain who becomes marked by God, severely punishment but not killed. So, in other words, the betrayer remains alive and, actually, must remain so. In the other example, Jonah must survive in order to achieve what God wanted, otherwise it’s not accomplished. To use a contemporary example of a point of subjectification, they (129) speak of anorexics, to whom food becomes the point of subjectification and pushing them to indefinite postponement as they do not end up starving to death, yet at the same time are pushed to betraying food, which, incidentally, betrays the anorexic by being a suspect, possibly intending to harm the body by “containing larvae, worms, and microbes.” They (129) go on to provide a host of alternatives, hence the point made about the potential of the point being anything. I’m not exactly sure about this, well, to be honest, I rarely am but I keep going regardless, but among the examples they (129) make a point about how the face can crop up again, as in the case of lovers, but not in the sense used before. Anyway, the point they (129) make, I think, I mean the wording is a bit hard to follow, which sentence is part of the same example, but they go on to indicate that “[t]here are cogitos on everything”, just having a face or something seems like a face, anything that has a pair of eyes. This is a bit off topic now, but this links to an earlier essay I wrote where the status of animals and plants was discussed. It’s easy to consider animals, namely the fuzzy ones with a pair of eyes, as worthy of life due to this, but leave out the ones that don’t have a face or don’t match the criteria set for the face. So, for example, creepy crawlers don’t count, too many eyes, not a pretty face, or the like. Moreover, the completely, or, well, at least seemingly completely, unindividual forms of life, namely trees and fungi just simply do not count. They don’t have face, hence they are not subjects, thinking or not, so they are fair game. Timber!
I went on a tangent there, so, getting back on track, Deleuze and Guattari (129) argue that not only can the point of subjectification be almost anything, there are multiple points that operate simultaneously:
“[S]everal points coexist in a given individual or group, which are always engaged in several distinct and not always compatible linear proceedings. The various forms of education or ‘normalization’ imposed upon an individual consist in making him or her change points of subjectification, always moving toward a higher, nobler one in closer conformity with the supposed ideal.”
So, as I’ve argued in previous essays, individuality tends to get mixed with dividuality. Here Deleuze and Guattari are, to my understanding, explaining dividuality. We are pushed to think we are this or that, sometimes in competition, in mutual exclusion, in attempt to match an ideal. It’s sort of obvious that if you cleave, you end up with a division, this vs. that, if you are this, then you are not that and the other way around. If you manage to shake the ideals, say, with regards to sexuality, to follow Foucault, you only manage to create more division, end one proceeding, only to end up on another, creating another point of subjectification with its own ideal, one that you or someone else is bound to fail to meet. Deleuze and Guattari (129) further elaborate this process:
“Then from the point of subjectification issues a subject of enunciation, as a function of a mental reality determined by that point. Then from the subject of enunciation issues a subject of the statement, in other words, a subject bound to statements in conformity with a dominant reality (of which the mental reality just mentioned is a part, even when it seems to oppose it).”
So, from the point, whatever that happens to be, to subject, the one that speaks, from that subject to another subject, the one that is spoken to, resulting in bounding the subject in statements. In other words, you end up defining reality through yourself, which ends up bounding you to the confines of that reality, well, assuming I got this right. I think I did, as they (129) further open this up:
“What is important, what makes the postsignifying passional line a line of subjectification or subjection, is the constitution, the doubling of the two subjects, and the recoiling of one into the other, of the subject of enunciation into the subject of the statement[.]”
Now, I think it’s worth mentioning, while it is rather obvious, we aren’t who we are in the absence of others. I don’t mean that we are only who we are in the presence of others, but we’ve become who we’ve become, in any given moment in time, regardless where we are, in relation to others. There’s always that social aspect to it. They (129) continue on this:
“The subject of the statement has become the “respondent” or guarantor of the subject of enunciation, through a kind of reductive echolalia, in a biunivocal relation.”
They (129) condense this to:
“There is always an appeal to a dominant reality that functions from within[.]”
In other words, what they (130) characterize as “[a] strange invention” involves a doubling of the subject which in one form seems to function as “the causeof the statements of which, in its other form, it itself is a part.”
It’s worth emphasizing that this, as they (129-130) explain, is highly important as it renders God and/or the Emperor unnecessary. You no longer require some external majestic entity to tell who you are or aren’t and where you are to be situated in the realm, hence they (130) define it as an immanent cause. I’ve discussed this before, but it’s worth reiterating, so, as they (130) exemplify this:
“This is the paradox of the legislator-subject replacing the signifying despot: the more you obey the statements of the dominant reality, the more in command you are as subject of enunciation in mental reality, for in the end you are only obeying yourself! You are the one in command, in your capacity as a rational being. A new form of slavery is invented, namely, being slave to oneself, or to pure ‘reason,’ the Cogito. Is there anything more passional than pure reason? Is there a colder, more extreme, more self-interested passion than the Cogito?”
It’s a strange invention indeed. You are your own worst enemy, evidently so, that is if you engage in dividuality, defining yourself as this and that, and you probably do, because you inherited this semiotic from others (hence the social aspect of it). Anyway, one way or another, it’s only highly ironic, to engage in obeying yourself, as if you are external to yourself, as if someone else, say the oppressive Emperor, was putting you down, persecuting you for failing to adhere to the ideals, the norms. The somber note is that it’s just unnecessary and arguably particularly harmful to individual, likely going against his or her own interests, hence my earlier point about addressing dividuality with further division.
I’m not going to elaborate much further on the doubling of the subject, as I remember doing that once already. I might have done a poor job at that, so I’ll cover this shortly anyway. I reckon people can look this up themselves if they want this in greater detail. Anyway, Deleuze and Guattari (130) make note of a linguistic phenomenon in which the subject of enunciation, the one speaking refers to him- or herself, arguably in a rather redundant manner, doubling oneself by using the ‘I’, for example when stating something like “’I believe, I assume, I think…’” This might be going a bit off topic, but why is it that I have to state ‘I’ when, well, it’s sort of obvious that it’s you who is stating something. When I talk to someone, why do I refer to myself, as if it wasn’t me otherwise? Why say something, such as, ‘I think that’s silly’ when you could just say ‘That’s silly’. Okay, someone might then object that it’s then clearer that it’s you who considers something silly, not just anyone or everyone. Then again, it’s possible to counter that with pointing out that why would you think that I speak for others? Perhaps this is more absurd in the verbal context than it is in writing in which it’s handy to differentiate or emphasize who’s who, to avoid putting words in to the mouths of others. In reverse then, I actually find not referring to oneself by using ‘I’ or otherwise indicating it also problematic. In academic writing, say, when it comes to articles, you are supposed to avoid it. It’s curious why that is, considering that it’s arguably deceptive to phrase something as objective or objectively stated as that potentially lends it credibility beyond you. Anyway, back to them as they (130) object to considering a mere linguistic matter:
“This is not, however, a question of a linguistic operation, for a subject is never the condition of possibility of language or the cause of the statement: there is no subject, only collective assemblages of enunciation. Subjectification is simply one such assemblage and designates a formalization of expression or a regime of signs rather than a condition internal to language.”
I opted to skip, well, not skip, but to relocate the bit the two provide on psychoanalysis next to an earlier point about it, so I’ll jump to the following bit, commenting on consciousness or the cogito. Relevant, if not summarizing nearly everything that has to do with the passional or postsignifying regime, they (131) emphasize that “cogito is a passion for the self alone.” They are, sort of, stating that the cogito is about loving yourself, in the sense that one is passionate about oneself, perhaps even obsessed about it, doomed to perpetually betraying oneself. That may seem like going a bit too far with the obsessiveness of it, but it has to do with their (131) characterization of love between two people as the cogito for two, the doubled consciousness, a perpetual switcheroo of the subjects, the subject of enunciation and the subject of statement, going back and forth, back and forth, eventually resulting in betrayal. I can hardly do justice by not being elaborate with this, but in short they (132) exemplify the betrayal of cogito for two with domestic or conjugal squabbles and the betrayal of the cogito with an office squabbles, in which one legislates oneself like a bureaucrat.
The next bit I probably wouldn’t cover unless it was relevant to another plateau I wish to have a look at. Anyway, they make note of redundancies, both in the signifying and the postsignifying regimes. It was already established that the signifying regime involves redundancy that has to do with signs. The important bit here is to point out how they (133) refer to this regime developing “a kind of ‘wall’ on which signs are inscribed, in relation to one another and in relation to the signifier.” They (133) then characterize the redundancy of the postsignifying regime as having to do with “shifters, personal pronouns and proper names” and refer to it as “a black hole attracting consciousness and passion and in which they resonate.” They (133) state that what these entail then is deterritorialization, but that’s only relative even if highly so in the signifying regime as signs only refer to others signs, “and the set of all signs to the signifier itself[.]” They (133) remind us that in this regime the line of flight is negative, as in the case of the scapegoat, whereas in the postsignifying regime it’s positive, making it possible to “attain an absolute deterritorialization expressed in the black hole of consciousness and passion.” Now, this made me wonder for a moment, considering that absolute deterritorialization means the dissolution or combustion of something. How does that work, at all? They (133) argue that it wouldn’t, unless it wouldn’t manage to repudiate, to relativize the absoluteness by going from one finite proceeding to another, bit by bit that is, never really leading anywhere, thus always recapitulating the passions and grievances, giving them new forms. They (134) summarize this quite neatly:
“Thus subjectification imposes on the line of flight a segmentarity that is forever repudiating that line, and upon absolute deterritorialization a point of abolition that is forever blocking that deterritorialization or diverting it.”
They (134) provide a reason for this, why this happens, by pointing out that “forms of expression and regimes of signs are still strata … subjectification is no less a stratum than signifiance.” Now, unless you haven’t read the plateau addressing strata, this probably won’t convince you. They just leave you hanging if you haven’t read that part of the book. If you have read it, what they (134) specify, that “[t]he principal strata binding human beings are the organism, signifiance and interpretation, and subjectification and subjection” will make a lot more sense, not that you need to get too tangled up on this. Anyway, the point is that the line ends up segmented before it would actually reach the plane of consistency, or as they (134) put it:
“Subjectification carries desire to such a point of excess and unloosening that it must either annihilate itself in a black hole or change planes.”
Something tells me that while evidently critical of the postsignifying regime, they are not exactly advocating for the annihilation of oneself in a black hole. The discussion veers into a talk on the body without organs, but that will be a topic for another essay or other essays, so I won’t venture further up that alley here. In summary though, that’s their solution, if you can call it that, to the issues caused by the cogito and the cogito for two.
It’s worth it to point out that while the two go on and on about the different semiotics or regimes, they are not saying that they exists by themselves, in some pure form. They (135) specifically state this, indicating that what they’ve done is to isolate them artificially, to explain them better. Moreover, as they point out already, and reiterate the point (136), none of them are totally unique in their characteristics as they are mixed to some degree. What they (136) wish to emphasize is that none of the four are privileged, considered better than the others, nor more general than the others. How one becomes another they (136) call transformations: analogical (into presignifying), symbolic (into signifying), polemical or strategic (into countersignifying), conscious-related or mimetic (into postsignifying) and diagrammatic (when absolute deterritorialization is reached). They (136) add that this list of transformations is not complete as transformations may turn them into something completely new. For them (136), transformations are not the same as translations but rather involve them. It’s worth remembering here that translation is not understood simply as from one language to another, but more broadly, in this case from semiotic to another. It’s also worth remembering that as explained by the translator Brian Massumi (16) in his 1992 publication ‘A User’s Guide to Capitalism and Schizophrenia’: “Translation is repetition with a difference.” They (137) go on to provide examples which are too numerous to cover here, but I assume people can look them up themselves.
What I find particularly important about this plateau is their (138) reminder that it is particularly hard to shake off the semiotics, especially the signifying and postsignifying ones, and it’s also hard to judge whether you’ve managed it or not. Earlier on I found their elaboration of the ‘I’ particularly interesting and here they (138) return to it, pointing out:
“[I]t is relatively easy to stop saying “I,” but that does not mean that you have gotten away from the regime of subjectification[.]”
I thought of this myself. What if I just start avoiding it, but that makes little sense as the issue is not actually the use of it, but rather how it is used,as they (138) also point this out:
“[C]onversely, you can keep on saying ‘I,’ just for kicks, and already be in another regime in which personal pronouns function only as fictions.”
I reckon I’m doing exactly that. I don’t mind using I, accompanied by various verbs, including the ones they used in their discussion of this. I know it’s a bold, if not outlandish claim to make, to have managed to slip outside subjectification, but I reckon I’m outside of it. At least I keep repeating how my views on how an individual is exactly that, an individual, not a dividual, which I find particularly important in this discussion. I think I’m future oriented, always in the process of becoming. It doesn’t obliterate who I am, as I constantly am and cannot be nothing but what I am, at all times, but what that is is subject to change, regardless of my own volition to change. I can claim all I want that I’m this or that, say physically fit, but that’s just an observation of what actually just was, not what is. That’s further apparent when I write about it in a linear fashion. It’s not like I’m describing myself in real time here and even if I am, I actually change while I am explaining it. Obviously what I am, regardless of what I am, will have certain impact on what I can become, there’s that, granted. You have to work with what you got. That’s just baked in. I can imagine that I have wings or that I can somehow grow them but that’s not going to lead to me taking aerial shortcuts to places all the sudden. Becoming, the way I understand it, is about working on yourself, in the positive sense. In the negative sense, if you want to dread on that for some reason, it’s about not staying the same. Unless I’m getting it wrong, if you opt not to improve yourself, say by working out, your fitness will take a hit. You’ll have to work on things just to maintain certain fitness. Imagine if that was not the case. You could skip all training and return to it some weeks later, or, well, whenever really, as if nothing happened. Same with injuries. This example might be trivial to people, but it’s worth noting that, again, unless I get things wrong, we all age and that itself leads to various changes in us. I find it kind of pointless to fuss about who I am, when it’s clearly not up to me to decide. I understand that people may find it demoralizing that they cannot cling to a fixed identity, one that anchors them, but I think it’s simply better not be stuck in what was rather than to think what can be. Things don’t stay the same, why should you? The world, that is to say the society, other people in general, doesn’t actually help with this though. Going your own way is hardly rewarded, rather the opposite, so you’ll find yourself tempted to do as others do, play by the rules, stick with the program, not question the priests as it involves the least resistance. This is actually already veering to getting outside the signifying regime though, which is up next.
Deleuze and Guattari (139-140) elaborate how it is that one could escape the signifying regime. As I pointed out, it’s not something that can be achieved easily as most people don’t see any issue with it. That’s why they (139) indicate that “the most profound transformations and translations of our time are not occurring in Europe.” The context closest to them, France, is as good an example you can find in this regard. This issue is better addressed on the plateau on the postulates of linguistics, one before this plateau, but, in summary, the point is that there is very little opportunity to change anything when language is seen as fixed, i.e. standardized and everything that deviates from it is, well, just substandard. I’d say there is more plurality these days, but even the variants end up being fixed. So, for example, as I believe I explained in the postulates essay, when I’m told that people around where I live speak in a certain way, that is in a certain dialect, I find it hard to buy into it. It’s sounds like someone gathered some data on how people speak, or used to speak, in a certain geographical area, as if there were sharp boundaries marking that area, and then synthesized it, arguing that this is it, this is how people here speak. Well, maybe they did, but my experience, using language and being surrounded by people who do the same, they do not. So, it’s as if even the variants end up standardized. As Deleuze and Guattari (139-140) explain this:
“Pragmatics should reject the idea of an invariant immune from transformation, even if it is the in-variant of a dominant ‘grammaticality.’ For language is a political affair before it is an affair for linguistics; even the evaluation of degrees of grammaticality is a political matter.”
In other words, they are arguing in favor of understanding language as dynamic, constantly negotiated and evolving, not centered around a constant, according to which everything judged upon. In fact, they find it problematic that grammaticality is set as a standard as one should pay attention to who gets to set the standards and what they are based on. Go somewhere else, outside Europe in the words, and you’ll find all kinds of naughtiness, people abusing your dear, dear language, not adhering to the rules and what not. I’m particularly amused when I read that something must be written in this or that standard. Says who? I reckon no one. Feel free to point me to the Emperor though. I’d love an audience. This is why you should leave a couple of typos in a text, (supposedly) mispronounce a word or, even better, go off-key abruptly, just to see if and how people are slaves to their own rationality. It’s particularly amusing when an academic snaps at you for such. The elitism of it is palpable. Anyway, do I manage to escape the signifying regime? I think I do, at least I find myself in agreement with Deleuze and Guattari on this. Is it easy living with that, like that? Well, no, regardless of the hilarity that ensues when, for example, you explain how discipline functions, only to be disciplined for it. It’s very tempting to just get with the program, slip back in, become just another deceiver. The priests don’t have to worry about such as deception is their trade anyway. Of course there’s always doing lip service, but I think I’ve grown weary of that.
After explaining each semiotic or regime of signs and pointing out that they’ve artificially purified them to what one could label as existing only in laboratory conditions, doing that for the sake of the clarity, they (140) return to what they started with, going full circle to define the concept once more, first by asking a question:
“What is a semiotic, in other words, a regime of signs or a formalization of expression?”
So, as you can see for yourself, a regime of signs is a semiotic or a formalization of expression. So if you struggle reading this plateau and/or elsewhere, you can clearly see that they speak of them interchangeably. Anyway, they (140) answer their own question:
“They are simultaneously more and less than language. Language as a whole is defined by ‘superlinearity,’ its condition of possibility[.]”
Okay, this is well in line with their previous statements and reminds me of how Foucault defines discourse. Anyway, what might surprise you, they (140):
“[I]ndividual languages are defined by constants, elements, and relations of a phonological, syntactical, and semantic nature.”
Right, so, this may come as a bit surprise for them to state, but then again, if one pays attention to the first two words, they actually point out how what we consider this or that language, as a distinct entity, is defined by the invariants. They (140) do not disagree with this, indicating that:
“Doubtless, every regime of signs effectuates the condition of possibility of language and utilizes language elements, but that is all.”
In other words, just as with the arbitrariness of language, they point out that this is, actually, obvious. So, it’s not like language doesn’t have the elements it makes use of. Anyway, they (140) continue:
“No regime can be identical to that condition of possibility, and no regime has the property of constants. As Foucault clearly shows, regimes of signs are only functions of existence of language that sometimes span a number of languages and are sometimes distributed within a single language; they coincide neither with a structure nor with units of a given order, but rather intersect them and cause them to appear in space and time.”
It’s worth remembering that a regime of signs, semiotic or a formalization of signs is not the same as language, instead of effectuating them. So, just as it with discourse, as defined by Foucault, it has a lot to do with language but it is not synonymous with language or reducible to it. Further defining the concept, Deleuze and Guattari (140) add:
“This is the sense in which regimes of signs are assemblages of enunciation[.]”
This, assemblages of enunciation, is something that crops up quite a bit in the book, so it’s definitely something worth keeping in mind. I have discussed it before in previous essays, here and there, so I won’t go elaborating it more than what is presented by the two here. In other words, I won’t search for it elsewhere in the book. Anyway, they (140) clarify the concept:
“[It] cannot be adequately accounted for by any linguistic category: what makes a proposition or even a single word a ‘statement’ pertains to implicit presuppositions that cannot be made explicit, that mobilize pragmatic variables proper to enunciation (incorporeal transformations).”
From here, it’s worth paying attention to the last bit, incorporeal transformations. It’s something that I’ve covered in the past, but anyway, I’ll let them (140) continue:
“This precludes explaining an assemblage in terms of the signifier or the subject, because both pertain to variables of enunciation within the assemblage. It is signifiance and subjectification that presuppose the assemblage, not the reverse.”
So, as they (22) point out in the introduction, all they know are assemblages, the assemblages come first. Having read, that is if you have read, the plateau on strata will help you to understand why that is, but let’s not get stuck with that. While they have already argued that there is something artificial in examining the regimes as distinct from one another, as completely unique (with no overlap), and they note that the regimes are capable of being transformed into other regimes or totally new regimes, they (140) do note that the regimes are, nevertheless, distinct in the sense that they are not simply evolutionary as they vary quite considerably, namely in terms of their “functions or varieties of assemblages” that “correspond to them (segmentarization, signifiance and interpretation, numeration, subjectification).” It would be rather counterproductive of the two to explain page after page about certain regimes of signs and their features, only to collapse them into an unformed continuum. Of course that doesn’t, in my view, eliminate how they contain certain features from one another and how they can be mixed or coexist, which, is evidently the case. So, in summary of how regimes of signs are to be understood, they (140) state:
“Regimes of signs are … defined by variables that are internal to enunciation but remain external to the constants of language and irreducible to linguistic categories.”
In other words, language does not define the regimes of signs but the other way around, as they are more-than-language. They are not ignoring language, but saying that there is more to all of this. However, that said, going back a bit, to an earlier statement, they (140) counter their own statement, pointing out that a regime of signs is not only more-than-language but also less-than-language, which, for them, explains why it is also more-than-language:
“Only one side of the assemblage has to do with enunciation or formalizes expression; on its other side, inseparable from the first, it formalizes contents, it is a machinic assemblage or an assemblage of bodies.”
Now, highly importantly, we get another crucial concept that is worth keeping in mind: machinic assemblage. They (140) go on defining the concept, but they warn the reader first not to confuse or conflate contents for signifieds in any shape or form, the same with objects having to do with bearing causality in relation to the subject. If you’ve read the plateaus on strata and/or linguistics, this shouldn’t seem at all odd. That said, it’s not a given that you have, maybe you opted to read this plateau first, so this warning is necessary. Anyway, they (140) further explain this:
“[Contents] have their own formalization and have no relation of symbolic correspondence or linear causality with the form of expression[.]”
Instead, they (140) argue:
“[T]he two forms are in reciprocal presupposition, and they can be abstracted from each other only in a very relative way because they are two sides of a single assemblage.”
If something is worth keeping in mind, to be taken from this in particular, it’s the bit on reciprocal presupposition, not relegating one as subordinate to the other. To clarify “the forms in presupposition”, if you are not familiar with the terms from other parts of the book, they (141) state that they are “forms of expression or regimes of signs (semiotic systems) and forms of content or regimes of bodies (physical systems).” On a following page, they (143) clarify that “[e]xpression then constitutes indexes, icons, or symbols that enter regimes or semiotic systems” and that “[c]ontent … constitutes bodies, things, or objects that enter physical systems, organisms, and organizations.” If you don’t want to dig deeper, read the other related plateaus like I did, there you have them, probably in as plain form as you can find them explained in the book. However, linked to the assemblages or assemblage that has two sides, to be more specific, is something what they (140-141) call “still more profound” than the assemblage:
“This is what we call the abstract machine, which constitutes and conjugates all of the assemblage’s cutting edges of deterritorialization.”
Again, if something is to be taken from this, in case you haven’t read the stuff I keep recommending, it’s the concept of the abstract machine. What follows, their (141) critique of Chomskyan linguistics, should not come as a surprise, considering that Deleuze and Guattari reject relegating the abstract machine to be based only on language. To be more specific, they (141) see such as ignoring the form of contents, the regimes of bodies, the physical systems, which results in a crippled abstract machine, an abstract machine that “is not abstract enough because it is limited to the form of expression and to alleged universals that presuppose language.” Therefore, as explained in greater detail on other plateaus, they (141) argue that:
“A true abstract machine has no way of making a distinction within itself between a plane of expression and a plane of content because it draws a single plane of consistency, which in turn formalizes contents and expressions according to strata and reterritorializations.”
Here it’s worth noting that, as explained elsewhere in much greater detail, on the plane of consistency the content and expression are not formalized, whereas outside it they are once they are stratified. In other words, pay attention to distinction made here, content and expression are not the same as form of content and form of expression. Anyway, back to the abstract machine, which they (141) further elaborate:
“The abstract machine in itself is destratified, deterritorialized; it has no form of its own (much less substance) and makes no distinction within itself between content and expression, even though outside itself it presides over that distinction and distributes it in strata, domains, and territories.”
Moreover, they (141) add that unlike what it formalizes, contents and expressions, it “is not physical or corporeal, any more than it is semiotic[.]” Instead, they (141) define it as diagrammatic, “know[ing] nothing of the distinction between artificial and the natural either”, “operat[ing] by matter, not substance; by function, not by form.” They (141) are keen to clarify that:
“Substances and forms are of expression ‘or’ of content. But functions are not yet ‘semiotically’ formed, and matters are not yet ‘physically’ formed.”
Therefore, for them (141):
“The abstract machine is pure Matter-Function – a diagram independent of the forms and substances, expressions and contents it will distribute.”
In other words, it’s worth emphasizing that the abstract machine is highly functional, highly operational. If you are confused by what they mean by substance and matter, which aren’t covered in much detail on this plateau, they (141) provide a clarification:
“Substance is a formed matter, and matter is a substance that is unformed either physically or semiotically.”
I know it’s redundant to state this, but for laughs you could say that matter is unformed matter, whereas substance is formed matter. They (141) add that a matter-content has to do with intensities, such as “intensity, resistance, conductivity, heating, stretching, speed, or tardiness.” They (141) further define function, as distinct from content and expression:
“[F]unction has only ‘traits,’ of content and of expression, between which it establishes a connection[.]”
In other words, they (141) add that a function-expression has to do with tensors, “as in a system of mathematical, or musical, writing.” They (142) further elaborate this on the following, reiterating that there is no distinction of content and expression on the plane of consistency, so:“The diagram knows only traits and cutting edges that are still elements of content insofar as they are material and of expression insofar as they are functional[.]”
More on the diagram then, to provide a better definition, they (141) state:
“The diagram retains the most deterritorialized content and the most deterritorialized expression, in order to conjugate them.”
How this occurs, they (141-142) explain, is by one trait or element being maximally deterritorialized or deterritorializing, “caus[ing] the other element to cross a threshold enabling a conjunction of their respective deterritorializations, a shared acceleration.” Therefore, for them (142), the abstract machine involves an absolute, positive deterritorialization. Bearing relevance to the discussion on the plateau on the strata, contra Peirce (as explained in the notes, see page 531), they (142) then back up the separation of diagrams from icons:
“That is why diagrams must be distinguished from indexes, which are territorial signs, but also from icons, which pertain to reterritorialization, and from symbols, which pertain to relative or negative deterritorialization.”
After distinguishing the abstract machine, or rather the diagram as the abstract machine is rather diagrammatic, from indexes, symbols and icons, they (142) clarify the function, the role of the abstract machine:
“[A]n abstract machine is neither an infrastructure that is determining in the last instance nor a transcendental Idea that is determining in the supreme instance. Rather, it plays a piloting role.”
They (142) quickly reiterate this in other words, arguably proving much needed clarity:
“The diagrammatic or abstract machine does not function to represent, even something real, but rather constructs a real that is yet to come, a new type of reality.”
So, to put it bluntly, it’s not a structure or a representation of reality. Instead, as the name indicates, it’s a machine, it constructs it. They (142) further emphasize that it is not something fixed, standing outside history, but always prior to it. Returning to the conjugation, they (143) elaborate that the further it goes, “the deeper the movement”, an absolute deterritorialization, which “appears only in the form of respective territorialities, negative or relative deterritorializations, and complementary reterritorializations.” Moreover, they (143) add that:
“All of this culminates in a language stratum that installs an abstract machine on the level of expression and takes the abstraction of content even further, tending to strip it of any form of its own.”
If this seems a bit hazy, they are putting their criticism of understanding the abstract machine as limited only to the form of expression, ignoring the form of content. This, also discussed on the other plateaus I’ve covered so far, they (143) speak of as “the imperialism of language, the pretensions to a general semiology”, how language has this (im)posture, extending from the alloplastic strata to the other strata. They (143) go on to explain this conversely, what happens to content and expression on the strata, using the same concepts as explained in borderline excruciating detail on the plateau on strata. The problem here is that the summary they provide is very loaded with concepts that you might be unfamiliar with, so I recommend reading the plateau on strata, even if it may be tedious to read about geology and biology. I won’t go citing it, because it is so jam-packed that explaining it would require delving back to the plateau on strata, going on and on, and on and on. Just gloss over it, get what you get out of it, but return to it once you’ve read the relevant plateau.
Deleuze and Guattari (143) move to juxtapose a diagram or diagrammaticism, with an axiom or axiomatization, pointing out that an axiom is the opposite of a diagram. Relevant to the concepts, they (143) bring up mathematics, indicating that it become axiomatized. This is, I believe, assuming that I remember correctly, something that Deleuze also brings up in ‘Difference and Repetition’, how, for example, differential calculus is open ended whereas what follows, set theory, is a closed system, the bastardized version of it, if you will. They (144) go on to elaborate how science is not unlike anything else, in the sense that it has its own internal politics, its own polemics, no matter how people keep telling you otherwise. I reckon it’s worth emphasizing that these are internal not external, as they (144) do:
“The phrase ‘the politics of science’ is a good designation for these currents, which are internal to science and not simply circumstances and State factors that act upon it from the outside[.]”
So, as I’ve pointed out a number of times in the past, yes, there are external actors that influence science, “leading it to make a[n] atomic bomb here and embark upon a space program there”, as they (144) put it. That said, it can’t all be explained by external meddling, be it by private or public. There are different interests, schools of thought and the like within science or academics. It also has “its own internal war machine” that Deleuze and Guattari (144) attribute as “thwart[ing], persecut[ing], or hinder[ing] scientists[.]” Making their way to axiomatics, they (144) add that it not only ignores invention and creation but “it [also] possesses a deliberate will to halt or stabilize the diagram, to take its place by lodging itself on a level of coagulate abstraction too large for the concrete but too small for the real.” Simply put, as I pointed out, and have pointed out in the past, closed ended systems are handy as they are self-contained, explained by their own internal logic. That said, as Deleuze and Guattari (144) state, such systems are fixed, having no room for novelty.
Moving on, skipping bits they (144-145) provide on how diagrammatics and stratification are linked (good summary, but I would need to explain the strata again…), I’ll jump to another point they make about assemblages. They point out that there are two assemblages or rather two sides of assemblages, the collective assemblages of enunciation and the machinic assemblages. Here they (145) add that they have two poles or vectors:
“[O]ne vector is oriented toward the strata, upon which it distributes territorialities, relative deterritorializations, and reterritorializations; the other is oriented toward the plane of consistency or destratification, upon which it conjugates processes of deterritorialization, carrying them to the absolute of the earth.”
It is pointed out on the plateau on strata (71) that assemblages are intermediaries and that is also implied here, orienting towards the strata as well as the plane of consistency. In more simple terms, they (145) clarify:
“It is along its stratic vector that the assemblage differentiates a form of expression (from the standpoint of which it appears as a collective assemblage of enunciation) from a form of content (from the standpoint of which it appears as a machinic assemblage of bodies); it fits one form to the other, one manifestation to the other, placing them in reciprocal presupposition.”
However, this is only half of the story, so they (145) add:
“But along its diagrammatic or destratified vector, it no longer has two sides; all it retains are traits of expression and content from which it extracts degrees of deterritorialization that add together and cutting edges that conjugate.”
After further clarifying assemblages, not only having two sides and two vectors, functioning on the plane of consistency, as well as the strata, Deleuze and Guattari (145-146) move back to the core concept of the plateau, regime of signs, summarizing that a regime of signs has four components: generative, transformational, diagrammatic and machinic. The first component, generative, has to do with how a form of expression, located on the alloplastic stratum (interestingly they speak of the language stratum here), appealing not only a to specific regime of signs but “to several combined regimes.” Simply put, this means that a regime of signs is mixed, being linked through language. They warn that this does not mean that one is above others or that one “constitutes a general semiology and unifying forms.” The second component, transformational, has to do with translations and transformations, how a regime “can be translated, transformed into another” or in its own right created from other regimes. The third component, diagrammatic, has to do with particles-signs are extracted from regimes of signs or forms of expression, a process of deformalization, resulting in unformed traits that are “capable of combining with one another.” They emphasize that not only is “[t]his … the height of abstraction, but also the moment at which abstraction becomes real.” In other words, it operates in both directions, it’s at that cusp. This is where the abstract machine comes in and operates, abstracting not not only forms of expression but also forms of content, unlike in language only abstract machines what they refer to as an absurdity. The fourth component, machinic, has to do with how the abstract machine effectuates, yields concrete assemblages, giving form to the unformed traits of expression and traits of content. They emphasize that, once again, unlike in the case of an abstract machine that is limited to language, that is to say the form of expression, it is necessary that both content and expression are taken into account as they are in reciprocal presupposition. In other words, you can’t one without the other. This is because at this stage the are, as they clearly point out, unformed, which prevents the form of expression functioning all by itself as self-sufficiently. Once again, it’s worth noting that reading the plateau on strata is particularly helpful in this regard as it provides a closer look at this process. That said, they way it’s explained here is more lucid though.
After summarizing their views on regimes of signs, they (146) turn to pragmatics, that is to say how they consider pragmatics. They (146) also use schizoanalysis as another label for pragmatics, but I won’t get caught in that. Perhaps I’ll address that at another date. Anyway, they (146) connect pragmatics to regimes of signs, indicating that the components just elaborated represent its four components. To add something, rather than just rewording things around, they (146) state that the purpose of pragmatics is to make tracings “of the mixed semiotics”, to make “transformational map[s] of the regimes, with their possibilities for translation and creation, for budding along the lines of tracings”, to make “the diagram[s] of abstract machines … either as potentialities or as effective emergences” and to outline “the program[s] of the assemblages that distribute everything and bring a circulation of movement with alternatives, jumps and mutations.” It’s worth noting that in each case what is introduced is linked to the aforementioned components, pairing tracing with the generative component, map with the transformational component, diagram with the diagrammatic component and program with the machinic component.
As the elaboration of the regimes of signs and pragmatics (or schizoanalysis) in the final pages of the plateau is rather condensed, albeit markedly easy to follow (unlike the book in general), it may seem rather … abstract. The final two pages (147-148) is dedicated to exemplifying this. Instead of reiterating their examples, I’m going to leave it at that. I trust people can read the examples themselves, to make more sense out of this. The crux of their (147) examples is first coming up with a proposition and then questioning it, to which regime of signs it belongs to based on its “syntactical, semantic and logical elements”, conditions that must be met for it to escape being empty. So, not what does this mean, but what does this mean under certain conditions. The examples they provide revolve around showing how they are understood differently under different regimes of signs. They (147) move on to point out that in the next component the purpose is to look for translations and transformations, followed by trying to come up with “new, as yet unknown statements for that proposition”, that is to say improvise, transgress the rules or, rather, bend them (as you would a diagram). The final part on assemblages they are a bit vague, but I reckon the point is to examine what assemblages emerge. They are rather elaborate on the first and second component, but the third and fourth component could use more explanation here.
Oh boy, this ended up being one long essay, the longest one so far. I considered writing about this plateau in parts, but that just didn’t work out. I intended to move on to this plateau after covering the one on the postulates of linguistics, but then I realized that I risked glossing over the non-linguistic or non-semiotic side of things. That’s why I felt it was necessary to cover the plateau on strata first, regardless of how it delves into topics that are clearly out of my comfort zone. Now, oddly enough, I’m actually doing the same here, examining this plateau, going from one concept to another, just so that the plateau I wish to address, ‘Year Zero: Faciality’, would make more sense. That plateau addresses landscape, so it’s highly important to my own research. The irony is that I make use of it and refer to those bits on that plateau in my own research, but it takes, what, about three plateaus, if not more, not to mention the other related texts, the various tangents that I have ended up on, for those bits to actually make sense to most readers. Okay, fair enough, if you are familiar with landscape research and work around the core concept, landscape, perhaps their discussion of it is not as obscure as I think it is. That said, it’s still damn obscure even with plenty of background knowledge. In my own research, article format is particularly problematic in this regard as you have to condense all that goes into it into one or two sentences. It will very likely come across as esoteric, but what can you do? It’s not like I can explain it properly, nor can I include ‘A Thousand Plateaus’ as an appendix. To be honest, I’m not particularly fond of the article format, nor the way it is conducted. It’s so archaic and takes forever for what it is, just some words on a paper or a screen mimicking paper. It’s not that I don’t see merit in it, so that people don’t blatantly falsify things or just make them up. I just find it highly impractical as it results in piecemeal knowledge, often containing plenty of redundancy which, while in a way necessary, takes away from the novelty. In other words, it just doesn’t scale well. A book can be almost anything beyond a booklet, so you can happily include everything you consider necessary to it, or not, if that’s how you want to operate, the point being that it’s not detrimental to the other parts. Now, if you scale it down to an article, at best a booklet, everything is condensed to a point that most things make little sense by themselves. What do you do? Axe the theory? Axe the materials and methods? Axe the analysis? No matter what you choose to do, someone will always find it lacking, no matter what you do.
Now, that was just the practical objection to articles. I don’t really get it why two or more unknown people, supposedly one’s peers (oddly implying that there is no hierarchy within academics, no politics internal to it) need to assess it. For what, typos, style, format? Those can be fixed in heartbeat. I could do the same thing here and I could let anyone have a go at it, even people outside the academic circles. Sounds only fair to me. I guess the problem really is what to do with the priests then? I mean surely someone has got to know it all better than others, so it only makes sense make seemingly random people (you don’t know who the priests are, unless the editors are included) tell others what’s right and what’s wrong. Can’t argue with that logic, can we now? This is even more of an issue when you operate like I do, when you can write page after page after page in a matter hours, not even days mind you, requiring supposed peers to assess your work makes little sense as it’s a matter of days or weeks for them to read it, not to mention comment on whatever you came up way back at some point in the past. I’m fast, they are slow. Okay, that’s cocky, acknowledged, but just look at this blog, this collection of essays. There’s so many pages, pushed out so rapidly that I’ve lost track of the total page count. So, to put it more mildly, it’s not only waste of my time, but it’s also waste of time for others who could be doing other things, say, writing their own texts or if that’s what they already do (supposedly), then, well, whatever people find worth doing, say, playing tennis (whatever they desire). I’m always on, there’s no this is work, now I’m at work, this is not work, I’m not at work binary for me. Sunday, Monday, makes little difference to me. I do what I desire, always in the process of becoming, not content on just being whatever it is that I’m supposed to be. Putting labels and time slots on it, how drab. I reckon I operate on a dizzying level of productivity that is hard to contain in an article. I tend to be way past what was once I wrote something, so just getting comments from others becomes useless. I tend to have fixed or changed things around at the time people point out something or suggest this or that. People just can’t keep up with me. Is it my fault? I think not. I’m sure some people will want to point out something along the lines of credibility and prestige, but I wonder, who’s credibility, who’s prestige, mine or the author’s? I think what I want to do, whatever it is in this regard, is to make things apparent to others to whom they are not apparent. I don’t need trophies or praise for that. I couldn’t care less for such. I have no intention to become a Bible, nor a priest whose interpretation of this or that is superior to those who of lesser prestige, credibility or status as a dead person, as an author. All that is highly irrelevant to me, yet I have to deal with it. Luckily that’s not on a daily basis though.
To be topical, and I kid you not, as I was writing these final bits, I get hit by an editorial response, notifying that a manuscript of mine was rejected. To be fair they were at least swift about it, taking less than two weeks to interpret it, to decide yea or nay. I’m well aware that people have other stuff to do, fair game, not read what I write. I don’t even mind being bluntly refused for that matter as that’s how the world works. Journals are owned by private entities and they are entitled to do what they will, publish this, but not that, just as some store can opt to only sell dark roast coffee even if people don’t like it. Fair game, whatever works for you, it’s not up to me to decide what you do with your property. The problem with publishing is, the economy side of it aside, that academics have set it up, surely for noble purposes, of course, but, as Deleuze and Guattari point out on this plateau, academics is not free of politics. For example, I don’t agree with this particular editorial decision, but it makes no difference if I do or don’t. I could argue against the decision, point out this or that, how the reader has glossed over this and/or that bit, how they are missing the point, not to mention how word limits pose limitations that have to do with the economy side of publishing, or well did when things were only on paper, which is only likely to result in certain omissions. I keep reading that there are concerns over rehashing one’s work, but the way things are done only lends support if not necessitates such practices. Anyway, I could do that, write polite yet critical emails to editors, but that would only be counterproductive. The thing is, the crux of it, that, for example, in this instance, I’m in a disadvantaged position in this power relation. I’m disciplined. I’m more or less told that I need to get with the program. It’s quite ironic to call other academics your peers, when, in fact, publishing is hardly marked by equal opportunity. Actually, now that I think of it, calling it peerage review would be more fitting that peer review, considering the elitism of what it entails. Therefore I don’t engage, go for counterarguments. It’s pointless and simply a waste of my own time to even consider such. I could be using that time to read, write or anything that I find desirable, so why even go there? The way it works has plenty to do with negative lines of flight. It has its own war machine, as Deleuze and Guattari (144) put it. I’m hardly axiomatic in my thought and in my practices and arguably pay a hefty price for it. I wish I could go against it all, it’s not that don’t fit the criteria, but I hardly have the resources to do. I’d just find myself strung up somewhere all the sudden. Okay, that’s hyperbolic, but I’d be at least anathematized. Sometimes you can’t do what’s right, only what’s left, which in this case does not mean abandoning wrong think though. This is why I write here, these long essays that go on and on, as long as I feel like it, containing all kinds of taint, profanity and plain wrong think. It may be that no one reads these, but I don’t mind, at least I don’t have to deal with any right think from the clergy.
Right, I went on quite a tangent there, but to wrap things up, all this, including this essay, as well as the other essays on the select plateaus, is only in preparation of another essay on another plateau pertaining to faciality, which also pertains to landscapity. This has been my grand plan all along, after deciding that my earlier essays didn’t really delve deep enough into ‘A Thousand Plateaus’. It may seem like an overkill, but that’s how I recommend spending one’s time, digging deep, doing a close reading of things that you are passionate about, unlike many (albeit not all) of my peers who are happy to rely on axiomatics, take things as they are and for sure not do anything outlandish. Anyway, to end on a positive note, to go forward rather than lean backward, next time I hope to actually get somewhere that is relevant to landscape, as well as discourse (how can you even separate these two?). There’s some good stuff in the horizon.