Back to Deleuze and Guattari and on to the final postulate. As in the previous three essays, I’ll be looking into the fourth chapter or plateau in ‘A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia’. In the previous postulate it was established that there are no universals or constants in language and that language is not a homogeneous system. Instead, the two proposed a chromatic linguistics with emphasis on the variation of variables and deterritorialization caused by atypical expressions that function as tensors, not attracting, but subtracting the value of the constant, not the n, but as the n – 1. It’s perhaps worth elaborating this a bit more. Deleuze and Guattari (21) characterize multiplicities (rhizome) and dimensions:

“The rhizome is reducible neither to the One nor the multiple. It is not the One that becomes Two or even directly three, four, five, etc. It is not a multiple derived from the One, or to which One is added (n + 1).”

In other words, you never actually start from one, nor from two, three, four, that is one plus one plus or one times one plus one plus etc. Not from one, not from multiple as multiple is just a number of ones. Instead, they (21) argue:

“It is composed not of units but of dimensions, or rather directions in motion. t has neither beginning nor end, but always a middle (milieu) from which it grows and which it overspills.”

The no beginning and no end, always in the middle is a recurring theme in the book, and elsewhere in their work as well. Anyway, they (21) continue:

“It constitutes linear multiplicities with n dimensions having neither subject nor object, which can be laid out on a plane of consistency, and from which the One is always subtracted (n – 1).”

Indeed, what the one always is is a subtraction rather than an existing entity itself as that’d be a presupposition that it is. In this sense, while I may be just wrong, mathematics as generally understood, in everyday use that is, starts from one and moves on from there, but Deleuze and Guattari challenge this notion, pointing out that before making that move to, for example, point at things in order to indicate the number of things, there is no one until it is subtracted from the plane of consistency. I might be getting my concepts wrong here, but this hints at a movement from the virtual to actual in recognition of the one and the multiple.

Anyway, after that detour, it’s worth noting that the third postulate ended at a point which left the reader yearning for more, teasing with a discussion of standards and major languages. The title of the fourth postulate does cover these aspects (100):

“IV. ‘Language Can Be Scientifically Studied Only under the Conditions of a Standard or Major Language’”

I bet I know their reply to this postulate already, but for once, let’s let the two do the work first. So, Deleuze and Guattari (100-101) begin by pondering the point of linguistics as they know it:

“[Knowing] that language is a heterogeneous, variable reality, what is the meaning of the linguists’ insistence on carving out a homogeneous system in order to make a scientific study possible?”

Seeking to answer their own question, they (101) continue:

“It is a question of extracting a set of constants from the variables, or of determining constant relations between variables[.]”

They (101) provide the example of commutativity, referring to, for example, commutative series in phonology. Objecting to such, they (101) argue:

“But the scientific model taking language as an object of study is one with the political model by which language is homogenized, centralized, standardized, becoming a language of power, a major or dominant language.”

More emphatically, they (101) continue the argument:

“Linguistics can claim all it wants to be science, nothing but pure science – it wouldn’t be the first time that the order of pure science was used to secure the requirements of another order.”

The way I see it is not that there has been, necessarily, research conducted in bad faith, in order to secure a certain standard or major language. I mean that I don’t think the researchers, the linguists themselves have pushed for it, at least not in bad faith. That said, in my interpretation they could be seen as complacent and complicit. For example, conjuring a contemporary situation, research conducted at universities (and other research institutions) rely on funding, typically in the form of grants. At times the research is conducted by people on payroll. Fair enough. However, all that money comes from somewhere. Universities are funded by public and private money. It gets emphasized that science is free, meaning, or at least I take it to mean, that it’s value free, no strings attached. I believe I’ve mentioned it before, but there is this writing on the wall at my university, loosely translating as ‘gift from the free people to free science’ (feel free to replace people with nation, free with liberal). I don’t question the intentions of this university motto, but it does assume that scientists and scholars are at liberty to study just about anything. It may have been the case in the 1920s when the university was founded, but I doubt that. This may seem all conspiratory, but that’s not it. I don’t think it works that way. If it does, then, well, fine, the idea of that is so amusing that I’d give it a pass. In all seriousness, my money is on that while the researcher may have significant freedom in research, but once the research gets funded. While it’s possible to conduct research on the side, making your money elsewhere, doing research more like a side hustle, which is exactly my case, it’s not for everybody, hardly for anybody. People on university payroll get hired for their talents, bringing in their knowledge and expertise in a certain area. I think that’s fine, no biggie. I don’t mind that all, but if only it was like that. The positions available, that is if and when available, are, for example, linked to certain projects, which then mandate certain knowledge and expertise. Once again, that’s all well and good. The issue to be taken is more at what gets funded, which then depends on who gets to decide that. In my own experience, albeit limited experience, it is never clarified who make the decisions. It’s just some panel of experts, people consulted for their expertise in the field. To my knowledge this applies to university positions and foundations alike. I’d like to think it’s about competence, who gets work done and all that jazz, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the experts are the very same people involved in research themselves and/or connected to people who are. How else would they be able to judge what research gets funded? If that is the case, then, well, it’s tough to claim that science is free, free from values and influences, lacking a great deal in transparency. It’s actually quite convenient. You get to decide what gets funded and no one can question the choices. Of course, I might be completely wrong and Deleuze and Guattari might be completely wrong as well. As Deleuze and Guattari (101) put it, why would anyone ever use “the order of pure science … to secure the requirements of another order”? Surely science is objective and scientists wouldn’t compromise that. Surely such has never happened and never will. End of discussion. Returning to Deleuze and Guattari, they (101) argue their case:

“What is grammaticality, and the sign S, the categorical symbol that dominates statements? It is a power marker before it is a syntactical marker, and [Noam] Chomsky’s trees establish constant relations between power variables.”

Oooh, naughty, bringing power into the discussion of science. Anyway, do go on (101):

“Forming grammatically correct sentences is for the normal individual the prerequisite for any submission to social laws.”

Okay, how so? They (101) exemplify this:

“No one is supposed to be ignorant of grammaticality; those who are belong in special institutions.”

As a side note, just anecdotally, I remember in school that someone, I think a class mate, used to point out that only monarchs, dictators and supercriminals speak of themselves in the third person. Anyway, Deleuze and Guattari (101) argue that “the unity of language is fundamentally political” and assert that:

“There is no mother tongue, only a power takeover by a dominant language that at times advances along a broad front, and at times swoops down on diverse centers simultaneously.”

They (101) then add that how that happens is not a linear, one size fits all process:

“We can conceive of several ways for a language to homogenize, centralize: the republican way is not necessarily the same as the royal way, and is not the least harsh.”

The notes section (527) contains a number of works and authors for those who are interested. Summarizing the additional notes (527), it is pointed out that the homogenization or standardization of language is not uniform across time and space, so the results are different, for example in English and French. In the French case, which is most relevant to the authors, considering the French context, French is the “centralized language par excellence” (527) as you might know without having to even state that. It is pointed out (527) that, at least in the French case, the process of homogenizing language had to do with interests of the nation, that is to say the centralized state. As I pointed out, ironically, in the previous essay, standardization has its benefits. It makes everything easier to manage, resulting in more productivity and efficiency. It’s very convenient, to say the least. Back to the plateau itself, Deleuze and Guattari (101) elaborate the role of science in all this:

“The scientific enterprise of extracting constants and constant relations is always coupled with the political enterprise of imposing them on speakers and transmitting order-words.”

They (101) then move on to ponder the distinction between the kinds of languages or varieties: major and minor, high and low. They (101) link the first, the major or the high, with the power of constants and the second, the minor or the low, with the power of variation. The distinction here seems a bit fuzzy as the word power, as noted in the text (101), is pouvoir and puissance in French. In the translator’s notes, the translator, Brian Massumi (xvii), clarifies that in the first usage, as in the text (101), pouvoir has to do with the actual, so in this how language is actualized and thus linked to power relations, as Foucault would put it, whereas puissance has to do with the virtual, a range of potential for variation. I think the passage in the text (101), as translated by Massumi, is actually clear enough, but this just in case that is fuzzy to the reader. Going deeper into the distinction, Deleuze and Guattari (101) note that:

“We do not simply wish to make an opposition between the unity of a major language and the multiplicity of dialects.”

In other words, in their view making such an opposition would retain the major language in the center and everything else would remain relative to it, as mere variants. So, instead, they (101) argue that:

“Rather, each dialect has a zone of transition and variation; or better, each minor language has a properly dialectical zone of variation.”

They (101) move on to point out what I pointed out on my earlier essay on what’s language or a language, following Bertil Malmberg in ‘Nya vägar inom språkforskningen’, that “it is rare to find clear boundaries on dialects maps” as the boundaries tend to be fuzzy, resulting “zones of indiscernibility.” It is also available in English as ‘New Trends in Linguistics: An Orientation’. They (101-102) also point out Quebecois as an example, as, I take it, it didn’t undergo the process homogenization of French due to belonging a different political entity. Moving forward with the argument, they (102) now challenge not only the major, but also the minor, inasmuch as it is considered as a distinct entity in opposition of the major:

“The very notion of dialect is quite questionable. Moreover, it is relative because one needs to know in relation to what major language it exercises its function[.]”

That doesn’t mean that for them that minor language is questionable. They (102) clarify this:

“[T]he notion of dialect does not elucidate that of minor language, but the other way around; it is the minor language that defines dialects through its own possibilities for variation.”

They (102) use the examples of various dialects, which, as minor languages, are not only in relation to a major language, but to other major languages as well. So, for example, with regards to Quebecois French, or Quebecois language as they designate it, it is not to be understood as a dialect of French because it is not only in relation to French but also to English. Well, whether it is or not, I think that’s irrelevant for the two.

Deleuze and Guattari (102) ponder if all this means that major and minor languages should be identified on the basis of the presence of geographical bilingualism or multilingualism, along the lines of a dominant and a dominated language, including the view that the dominant language can also be a world language like English which, while lacking a local de jure status, has a major de facto influence over local languages. It may seem sufficient, but they (102) aren’t content with this formulation. They (102) point out that designating languages as dominant or dominated ignores the homogenization of minor languages. They (102) exemplify this:

“When French lost its worldwide major function it lost nothing of its constancy and homogeneity, its centralization. Conversely, Afrikaans attained homogeneity when it was a locally minor language struggling against English.”

Therefore, when it comes to minor languages, they (102) argue that:

“[I]t is difficult to see how the upholders of a minor language can operate if not by giving it (if only by writing in it) a constancy and homogeneity making it a locally major language capable of forcing official recognition (hence the political role of writers who assert the rights of a minor language).”

This might upset those who seek to protect minor languages, especially by doing what Deleuze and Guattari elaborate, but the world isn’t that simple. Instead, they (102) argue in going the other way:

“[T]he opposite argument seems more compelling: the more a language has or acquires the characteristics of a major language, the more it is affected by continuous variations that transpose it into a ‘minor’ language.”

In other words, exposing a language to another language, be it major or minor but here major is exactly what minorizes it. Therefore they (102) argue:

“It is futile to criticize the worldwide imperialism of a language by denouncing the corruptions it introduces into other languages (for example, the purists’ criticisms of English influences in French, the petit-bourgeois or academic denunciation of ‘Franglais’).”

I remember this purism of language quite well. In school I remember this was particularly the case with the teaching of Finnish, which, actually was and still is referred to in Finnish, in direct translation here, as ‘mother tongue’. I’m not sure how it is these days, but the use of Sveticisms and Anglicisms for sure led to plenty of red ink markings on Finnish essays. Finnish was to be Finnish, proper Finnish, not something bastardized. Back to Deleuze and Guattari, they (102-103) point out the obvious: if you ignore all the minor languages, you also ignore how the major language came to be in the first place. In other words, you can’t have a major without a minor. Even the major was once a minor and in a way still is as major is just some minor erected to the position of a major. Therefore Deleuze and Guattari (102) argue against Chomsky:

You will never find a homogeneous system that is not still or already affected by a regulated, continuous, immanent process of variation[.]”

In a way this is, or at least ought to be, very obvious. I think it actually links back to the question of identity. How can you define something as this or that, when you are, in fact, already passed on from what once was. Okay, fair enough, the change, from this moment to another, is likely minuscule and thus indiscernible. Then again that doesn’t mean that change hasn’t occurred, which undermines the stability of identity, in this case the homogeneity, universality and constancy of language. You are always two-thousand and late when you do that. So, if that’s not the case, then what is there? Deleuze and Guattari (103) elaborate:

“There are not, therefore, two kinds of languages but two possible treatments of the same language. Either the variables are treated in such a way as to extract from them constants and constant relations or in such a way as to place them in continuous variation.”

Therefore they (103) lament:

“We were wrong to give the impression at times that constants existed alongside variables, linguistic constants alongside variables of enunciation: that was only for convenience of presentation.”

The last part hits home with me. Indeed, as I’ve pointed out, namely in the previous essay, standards have to do with convenience. Something unpresentable or hard to present is hardly convenient as it has little use value for the requirements of another order. They (103) then point out the obvious:

“For it is obvious that the constants are drawn from the variables themselves; universals in linguistics have no more existence in themselves than they do in economics and are always concluded from a universalization or a rendering-uniform involving variables.”

In other words, the abstract invariants have been abstracted from the continuum that is variation. They (103) clarify this:

Constant is not opposed to variable; it is a treatment of the variable opposed to the other kind of treatment, or continuous variation. So-called obligatory rules correspond to the first kind of treatment, whereas optional rules concern the construction of a continuum of variation.”

They (103) counter the possible arguments to be made against their … treatment of language as being subordinated in the first treatment of language. So, they (103) reject, among other things:

“[L]anguage as opposed to speech; synchrony as opposed to diachrony; competence as opposed to performance; distinctive features as opposed to nondistinctive (or secondarily distinctive) features … whether prosodic, stylistic, or pragmatic[.]”

Simply put, they (104) argue in favor of the other kind of treatment in which “[t]hese are not secondary features but another treatment of language that no longer operates according to the preceding categories.” They (104) rephrase their position, stating that major and minor are not “two different languages but rather two usages or functions of language.” What does minor language do then? They (104) characterize it and its function:

“Minor languages are characterized not by overload and poverty in relation to a standard or major language, but by a sobriety and variation that are like a minor treatment of the standard language, a becoming-minor of the major language.”

They (104) give plenty of examples not worth going through here in great detail. Instead, summarizing their (104) examples, it is worth emphasizing that minor is not the same as minority, even if it is in the context of language used by a minority. They (105) are very clear on that it’s not simply about quantity, but rather an assumed standard measure, a yardstick, that, strictly speaking, represents no one, only the abstract standard itself. As they (105) point out, the major has to do with a variable appearing twice, once as a variable, as any variable, and as the constant. Why? Well, because the constant is extracted from the variable, not the other way around, hence it appears twice. Anyway, as they (104) note, Czech was a minor language in the Austrian Empire, but German, used in places such as Prague, was also a minor language, not in relation to Czech, but to the German of German major territories, despite being the major language in the realm. Therefore, they (104) state that:

“The problem is not the distinction between major and minor language; it is one of a becoming. It is a question not of reterritorializing oneself on a dialect or a patois but of deterritorializing the major language.”

So, in the case of German in Prague, it’s not about establishing it as a dialect, as Prague German, that’d be a move to designate a major, but to deterritorialize the major into minor. It’s not about setting up regional variants and mapping them as distinct from one another, but to place them in a continuum that can then be understood as consisting of varieties. So, in this sense, as they (105) put it, [i]t is in one’s own language that one is bilingual or multilingual.” Clarifying the terms, they (105-106) distinguish “the majoritarian as a constant and homogeneous system”, “minorities as subsystems” and “the minoritarian as a potential, creative and created, becoming.” As I pointed out by using the word designate, they (106) argue that there is no becoming major as the major is considered a matter of fact, something that is, instead “[a]ll becoming is minor.” There is an overlap between minorities and minoritarian but they are nevertheless not the same, as they (106) argue:

“Minorities … are … definable states, states of language, ethnicity, or sex with their own ghetto territorialities, but they must also be thought of as seeds, crystals of becoming whose value is to trigger uncontrollable movements and deterritorializations of the mean or majority.”

What matters for them (106) then is that:

“There is a universal figure of minoritarian consciousness as the becoming of everybody, and that becoming is creation. One does not attain it by acquiring the majority.”

So, as opposed to the majoritarian nobody, the minoritarian is everybody. Here they also reiterated that it’s not a numbers game, far from it. It’s not about being something, this or that, but becoming something, something not majoritarian. They (106) clarify the aforementioned figure:

“The figure to which we are referring is continuous variation, as an amplitude that continually over steps the representative threshold of the majoritarian standard, by excess or default.”

Of course that doesn’t mean that becoming eradicates being, as one always is, whatever one happens to be at any given moment. They (106) further clarify the issue:

“Becoming-minoritarian as the universal figure of consciousness is called autonomy. It is certainly not by using a minor language as a dialect, by regionalizing or ghettoizing, that one becomes revolutionary; rather, by using a number of minority elements, by connecting, conjugating them, one invents a specific, unforeseen, autonomous becoming.”

So for the umpteenth time now, it is reiterated that for Deleuze and Guattari positing language as a matter of majority vs. minority is not important, or rather, not as important as becoming-minoritarian, regardless of whether one is in the majority or the minority.

Moving on, as the fourth postulate is the final postulate in the plateau, it’s perhaps somewhat unsurprising that Deleuze and Guattari return to the concepts introduced in the previous postulates. They (106) address the double treatment, the major and the minor mode, alongside the order-word, as presented in the first postulate:

“The order-word is the variable of enunciation that effectuates the condition of possibility of language and defines the usage of its elements according to one of the two treatments; we must therefore return to it as the only ‘metalanguage’ capable of accounting for this double direction, this double treatment of variables.”

In other words, the order-word explains the modes resulting in constant variable or just variable on a meta level. They (106-107) argue that language functions are poorly understood because as the variable that “subsumes all possible functions”, the order-word, tends to be ignored. As noted in the first of these essays on the postulates, following Elias Canetti, it is established in the notes to the first postulate that the order-word stings (525). Deleuze and Guattari (107) reiterate the harmful aspect, it functioning as a death sentence. I think the stinging is probably still more apt depiction of its effect, but this or that is beside the point here. Following Canetti, they (107) add that there’s more to the order-word than just judgment or verdict and the resulting incorporeal transformation:

“[It is] inseparably connected: it is like a warning cry or a message to flee.”

They (107) clarify that it’s not, however, a mere reaction to the order-word, this after that:

“It would be oversimplifying to say that flight is a reaction against the order-word; rather, it is included in it, as its other face in a complex assemblage, its other component.”

They (107) exemplify how it functions, having the two tones:

“Canetti is right to invoke the lion’s roar, which enunciates flight and death simultaneously.”

They (107) further elaborate it’s harmful or deadly aspect in quite the detail, but it’s not worth covering all of it here, considering that the point is still the same. Summarizing it (107), reiterating it from the first postulate to some extent, the enunciation of death via the order-word functions as a threat of a punishment, do not cross this or that boundary or else. They (107) characterize what Canetti calls enantiomorphosis:

“[A] regime that involves a hieratic and immutable Master who at every moment legislates by constants, prohibiting or strictly limiting metamorphoses, giving figures clear and stable contours, setting forms in opposition two by two and requiring subjects to die in order to pass from one form to the other.”

So, as I summarized, it limits the options to this or that, do as I, the master, says, whatever that may entail, or die. They (107-108) clarify that death is not the only form of punishment, but it is the most extreme, and arguably the most daunting, so they use it to point out how the order-word results in sharp boundaries, sharp enough to kill you. In ‘A User’s Guide to Capitalism and Schizophrenia’, Massumi (41) makes note of the deadliness of the order-word, stating that it contains “an implicit presupposition of funereal normativity, the echoed refrain of the walking dead … the zombied murmur of social acceptability.” Still on Canetti on this one, Deleuze and Guattari (108) note that “death is [also] the general incorporeal transformation attributed to all bodies[.]” As a more contemporary example they (108) use “the body of the [p]arty” which “cannot come into its own without an operation of enantiomorphosis[.]” In other words, you can’t be this without something else being designated as that, hence the imposition of those stable contours, i.e. borders. “[D]iscontinuity has the final word” as Massumi (40) puts it.

Moving on to the second aspect of the order-word, flight, skipping the discussion on how it functions in relation to assemblages in between, They (108) characterize it:

“This movement pushes language to its own limits, while bodies are simultaneously caught up in a movement of metamorphosis of their contents or a process of exhaustion causing them to reach or overstep the limit of their figures.”

They (109) then follow it with some elaboration, first opposing it to the first aspect:

“The smallest interval is always diabolical: the master of metamorphoses is opposed to the invariant hieratic king.”

In other words, there is always an opening. Even if manage to secure the system, there will always be these very tiny, infinitesimal, holes or gaps in it. Clarifying it in its own terms, they (109) add:

“It is as though an intense matter or a continuum of variation were freed, here in the internal tensors of language, there in the internal tensions of content. … We witness a transformation of substances and a dissolution of forms, a passage to the limit or flight from contours in favor of fluid forces, flows, air, light, and matter, such that a body or a word does not end at a precise point. We witness the incorporeal power of that intense matter, the material power of that language. A matter more immediate, more fluid, and more ardent than bodies or words.”

The keyword here is intensity, which, in ‘Difference and Repetition’, Deleuze (222) distinguishes from extensity as the condition of the apparition of extensities, i.e. how we perceive things by their dimensions. This is still probably quite esoteric, so, for example, as listed by Deleuze (222), temperature, pressure and tension are all intensities. Returning to the second postulate, as also included in the bits I skipped in the examination of the first aspect (108), they (109) address the form of expression and form of content:

“In continuous variation the relevant distinction is no longer between a form of expression and a form of content but between two inseparable planes in reciprocal presupposition.”

They (109) add that what results from this is the absolute, yet not undifferentiated deterritorialization of the assemblage, meaning that all differences are not infinitely small, “constituted in a single matter serving both for expression as incorporeal power and for content as limitless corporeality.” The expression and content are retained, but only in “those cutting edges, tensors, tensions”, as they (109) clarify. So, in other words, they (109) note it as a shift, from forms of expression and content to just expression and content, reaching “the abstract machine, or the diagram of the assemblage.” From there on, at that point, they (109) add, the parameters, or variables, are placed in continuous variation, synthesizing the heterogeneous elements in infinite ways. They (109-110) characterize the shift:

“The multiplicity of systems of intensities conjugates or forms a rhizome throughout the entire assemblage the moment the assemblage is swept up by these vectors or tensions of flight.”

In the final page, which is still part of a rather lengthy paragraph, they summarize their intentions on this plateau:

“[T]he question was not how to elude the order-word but how to elude the death sentence it envelops, how to develop its power of escape, how to prevent escape from veering into the imaginary or falling into a black hole, how to maintain or draw out the revolutionary potentiality of the order-word.”

Summarizing, on one hand, what is and, on the other hand, what could be, Massumi (40) offers an opt characterization for what Deleuze and Guattari are up to in this plateau and in general in ‘A Thousand Plateaus’:

“Bleak it is at first glance. But it is ultimately joyous.”

That kind of reminds me of a horseman character, BoJack, but that’s not highly relevant here. Just something that popped to my mind when writing this essay. There are always ways out of the system. Nothing is fixed. Things can be rigid and, in that sense, quite bleak, but once you realize that things don’t have to be that way, that things can change, and that they also do change, no matter how hard people try to prevent that, you realize that it’s all quite joyous really, or can be, anyway. To be more specific, Massumi (41) states:

“The order-word of Deleuze and Guattari’s philosophy is the anti-order-word of the call of the outside[.]”

What struck me in his summary of their thought, referring back to their (108) point about contours that function as borders, is Massumi’s (41) proposal:

“Don’t toe the line – be superlinear. Don’t plod the straight and narrow path down the aisle – marry the void. … [D]are to become all that you cannot be.”

I think it’s worth clarifying that Deleuze and Guattari do not advocate for staying in what Massumi calls the void here. There is a whole plateau on this, with emphasis on the individual, addressing the “plane of consistency specific to desire” (154), titled ‘November 28, 1947: How Do you Make Yourself a Body without Organs?’. They (161) are very clear on that:

“If you free it with too violent an action, if you blow apart the strata without taking precautions, then instead of drawing the plane you will be killed, plunged into a black hole, or even dragged toward catastrophe.”

They (161) are actually quite cautious about this, conceding that:

“Staying stratified – organized, signified, subjected – is not the worst that can happen; the worst that can happen is if you throw the strata into demented or suicidal collapse, which brings them back down on us heavier than ever.”

Things, as they are, are not, as they concede, not the worst thing that can happen to an individual. Far from it, as they point out. You do not want to end up dead. You do not want to end up an empty husk, stuck in the void. Instead, they (161) suggest:

“Lodge yourself on a stratum, experiment with the opportunities it offers, find an advantageous place on it, find potential movements of deterritorialization, possible lines of flight, experience them, produce flow conjunctions here and there, try out continuums of intensities segment by segment, have a small plot of new land at all times.”

So, what you want to do is to experiment. What they mean by that is to try different things. Don’t lock yourself to this or that, whatever that may be. You might not like it, okay, but, who knows, you might like it. Also, experimenting is just that, anything really, not just the most far out stuff. They aren’t saying that you should go skydiving or the like. It could be like, let’s say, knitting. Now, that doesn’t mean that skydiving then out of the question. No. The point is that it could be anything. You just have to try and see what happens. What does it mean in practice then? They (161) point out:

“We are in a social formation; first see how it is stratified for us and in us and at the place where we are; then descend from the strata to the deeper assemblage within which we are held; gently tip the assemblage, making it pass over to the side of the plane of consistency.”

Again, no need to try to go for all kinds of extreme activities. Something thought of as mundane or basic might do it for you. As a result, they (161) clarify:

“You have constructed your own little machine, ready when needed to be plugged into other collective machines.”

I guess I went on a bit of tangent there, moving from language and linguistics to becoming on an individual level. However, as random as it may seem, I think it is helpful to the reader. As Massumi (41) points out, Deleuze and Guattari are all about the outside and how to get there, pushing the boundaries. They way I see it, it’s not about abolishing everything that is, but rather deprivileging constants. Overall the plateau, consisting of addressing four postulates, is very anti-structuralist, if you somehow managed to miss it reading my essays, or, even better, the actual plateau. It’s not that they are anti-structure though. It’s more that as language does not exist outside people, whatever structure there is, whatever links the expression and the content, the inside and the outside, isn’t fixed but contingent. So, it’s anti-structuralist in the sense that there is no fixed, correct order of things to be uncovered scientifically as language is constantly renegotiated, well, inasmuch as it is. That said, it doesn’t mean that it’s all over the place, otherwise there’d be nothing to it but a blur. For those who want a concise and formal treatment of what I’ve discussed in these for essays, and more, can, aside looking up Massumi’s book on the two, look up ‘From Structure to Machine: Deleuze and Guattari’s Philosophy of Linguistics’ by Simone Aurora. It’s very good reading, but I’d say, once you’ve familiarized yourself with Deleuze and Guattari. There’s also Therese Grisham’s ‘Linguistics as an Indiscipline: Deleuze and Guattari’s Pragmatics’. I didn’t want to make much use of Massumi, Aurora or Grisham, or anyone else for that matter, because I think it’s sort of antithetical, especially with Deleuze and Guattari, to search for easy answers rather than think for yourself. However, as this is the final part of this essay or these essays, I think it’s just okay to voice others. While delving into ‘A Thousand Plateaus’ is arguably quite the daunting task and likely to cause some sort of disagreement and/or discomfort, it has certain upsides to linguists. Aurora (423-424) points out that it is actually consistent with certain major trends in linguistics, namely “functionalism, sociolinguistics, dialectology and gender linguistics”, bearing relevance, in particular, to functionalist, sociolinguistic and pragmatic points of view. What is it closest to then? Aurora (413) points out that they, reportedly, characterized themselves as functionalists, which I’d argue as well based on the plateau in question. To be specific, as noted by Aurora (413), Guattari (21-22) stated in ‘On Anti-Oedipus’, as included in ‘Negotiations’, that: “We’re strict functionalists: what we’re interested in is how something works, functions – finding the machine.” That said Aurora (413) also points out that unlike many functionalists, they reject the notions of language as informative and communicational. I guess you could call them critical functionalists if labels are of utmost importance. Is this all? Well, there’s always more to things and, joking aside, the following plateau titled ‘587 B.c.-A.D. 70: On Several Regimes of Signs’ is, in part, related to this plateau, but I’ve covered it already, at least in parts. Maybe I’ll return to it another time.


  • Aurora, S. (2017). From Structure to Machine: Deleuze and Guattari’s Philosophy of Linguistics. Deleuze Studies, 11 (3), 405428.
  • Canetti, E. ([1960] 1963). Crowds and Power (C. Stewart, Trans.). New York, NY: Viking Press.
  • Deleuze, G. ([1968] 1994). Difference and Repetition (P. Patton, Trans.). New York, NY: Columbia University Press.
  • Deleuze, G. ([1990] 1995). Negotiations (M. Joughin, Trans.).New York, NY: Columbia University Press.
  • Deleuze, G., and F. Guattari ([1972] 1977). Anti-Oedipus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia. Paris, France: Les Éditions de Minuit.
  • Deleuze, G., and F. Guattari ([1980] 1987). A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia (B. Massumi, Trans.). Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press.
  • Grisham, T. (1991). Linguistics as an Indiscipline: Deleuze and Guattari’s Pragmatics. SubStance, 20 (3), 3654.
  • Malmberg, B. (1959). Nya vägar inom språkforskningen. Stockholm, Sweden: Språkförlaget.
  • Malmberg, B. (1964). New Trends in Linguistics: An Orientation (E. Carney, Trans.). Stockholm, Sweden: Naturmetodens Språkinstitut.
  • Massumi, B. (1992). A User’s Guide to Capitalism and Schizophrenia: Deviations from Deleuze and Guattari. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.