Leaky Pipes

I opted to split my investigation of segmentarity midway through the relevant plateau in ‘A Thousand Plateaus:Capitalism and Schizophrenia’ by Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari. I covered only part of the plateau titled ‘1933: Micropolitics and Segmentarity’ and this time I’ll continue where I left off. Much of this plateau on segmentarity has to do with fascism and how it’s molecular, not molar, how it’s something that crops up in people instead of being a state level entity. It’s not to be confused with totalitarianism of any kind, even if fascist masses may end up setting up a totalitarian state which may even be against their own interest. The date in the title should tell you enough of how things can go if that happens. After that brief summary, there’s more to the plateau than a discussion of how people may end up desiring order, so I’ll just jump right into where I was before diverting to their previous book, the ‘Anti-Oedipus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia’. Many of the concepts discussed in this essay are explained in the previous essay, so it may be wise to read it before this one, unless you are already familiar with the concepts otherwise. I’m not exactly sure why you would read this if you are already well familiar with the book though. As they say, there’s no substitute for the original.

Deleuze and Guattari (215) move on to further clarify the molecular and the molar, this time stating that the more molar the organization, the more it becomes molecularized in terms of “its own elements, relations and elementary apparatuses.” They (215-216) state that now that the world is globalized under capitalism, everything is more or less molecularized and therefore about micromanaging the individual and its petty fears and insecurities. You don’t need to think that much to realize that they are right, how people spend their time worrying about their looks or status, buying this or that just to fix things, until they start worrying over something else. Of course there’s always that fix for the worry, the market will make sure of that, be it the latest gizmo or the service provided by an ever so considerate mental health care professional, but you just move from one proceeding to another, never actually reaching anything. Of course you are not even supposed to get anywhere, otherwise there wouldn’t be a constant need for this and that for this and that insecurity. Stress is great in that sense for the market. It’s reliable, bound to come back eventually. Remember, after all, this is about segmentarity. We just can’t have you go on a non-segmented line now can we? They (216) note that is not, however, how things tend to be presented as. They (216) point out that focusing solely on the macropolitical level largely ignores underlying issues, making them seem imperceptible. They (216) exemplify this with the civil unrest of May 1968 and mock those in politics as blind:

“It happens that people who are very limited in outlook or are very old grasp the event better than the most advanced politicians, or politicians who consider themselves advanced from the viewpoint of organization.”

Now, I’m not at all surprised that very old people have a good grasp of reality, having the wealth of experience in life. The first one though, which I take it as referring to non-educated people, might surprise some readers. For me, however, I find it highly ignorant to think that people who aren’t formally highly educated aren’t perceptive. I could have used another word there, but I think ignorant is only fitting, considering it is supposed to imply a lack of knowledge. I was going to give you an example of this, but Deleuze and Guattari (216) actually provide the same example:

“As Gabriel Tarde said, what one needs to know is which peasants, in which areas of the south of France, stopped greeting the local landowners. A very old, outdated landowner can in this case judge things better than a modernist.”

I think this is still only fitting as it relates to the urban-rural divide. People may think that people living in countryside are bunch of rednecks, but at least in my experience this is not the case. Okay, fair enough, for example, a farmer may lack in formal education, that is to say not have a prestigious college degree, yet, oddly enough, be very perceptive and have a good grasp of things work in everyday life, which, well, concerns just about everyone. They may see things coming way before others do, yet it’s easy, not to mention convenient, to ignore them as backwards and uneducated. Of course this is not limited to people living in the countryside. It’s not really about where you happen to live. It’s a false dichotomy anyway. Not unlike in the countryside, there’s plenty of people living in urban environments who aren’t highly formally educated. The same applies to them. Just because you don’t work in a fancy office doesn’t mean that you aren’t perceptive and/or have a good grasp life in general. The point Deleuze and Guattari (216) make about those in politics when something supposedly surprising happens is particularly fitting:

“It was as though they had been temporarily deprived of the entire dualism machine that made them valid spokespeople.”

I think this still applies. Oh the horror when people turn out to have voted wrong and no one saw it coming. As Deleuze and Guattari (216) point out, many people actually do see these things coming. Only those who consider themselves valid spokespeople of the people, for the people, find themselves “utterly vexed” as they didn’t see it coming because the “’conditions’ were not ripe” for such and such, as they (216) point out. Right, staying on the topic, but moving on to capitalism more directly, Deleuze and Guattari (217) address the flow of money and its segmentation:

“These segments can be defined from several points of view, for example, from the viewpoint of a corporate budget (real wages, net profit, management salaries, interest on assets, reserves, investments, etc.).”

I’m segmenting (haha, I’m going to retain this for the humor of it) this for the sake of clarity. Anyway, they (217) label this payment-money and link it to another aspect:

“[It] is linked to another aspect, namely, the flow of financing-money, which has, not segments, but rather poles, singularities, and quanta (the poles of the flow are the creation of money and its destruction; the singularities are nominal liquid assets; the quanta are inflation, deflation, stagflation, etc.)”

Here I need to stop to clarify a bit. They (217) point out just before this example that not only are there segmented lines, but also quantum flows that continue from the line. They (217) add that at the border of these two are “power centers”, “defined not by an absolute exercise of power within its domain but by the relative adaptations and conversions it effects between the line and the flow.” Continuing with the example, they (217) add:

“This has led some to speak of a ‘mutant, convulsive, creative and circulatory flow’ tied to desire andalways subjacent to the solid line and its segments determining interest rates and supply and demand.”

To be honest, at this stage, I do not know what to think of this, so I’ll let them (217) explain instead:

“But movements of capital do not allow themselves to be segmented in this way; because they are ‘the most thoroughly broken down, according to their nature, duration, and the personality of the creditor or debtor,’ one ‘no longer has any idea where to draw the line when dealing with these flows.’”

So, right, okay, there’s ‘real money’ the one that we deal with when balancing a budget and then there’s credit, the made-up-money, the money that comes out of nowhere, then disappears (or does it?). My knowledge is honestly woefully inadequate when it comes to explaining economics. Anyway, in the last bit they at least point out that it’s nowadays hard to differentiate between the two. Therefore they (217) continue:

“When we talk about banking power, concentrated most notably in the central banks, it is indeed a question of the relative power to regulate ‘as much as’ possible the communication, conversion, and coadaptation of the two parts of the circuit.”

Yet, they (217) add:

“That is why power centers are defined much more by what escapes them or by their impotence than by their zone of power.”

So, right, power is defined by the impotence of anyone to grasp on to it? In other words, going back to money and banking, you can try to regulate the flow of money, but it only works on molar level? At least they (217) state that:

“In short, the molecular, or microeconomics, micropolitics, is defined not by the smallness of its elements but by the nature of its ‘mass’ – the quantum flow as opposed to the molar segmented line.”

Returning to the key concept on this plateau, the molecular is defined by the mass of all the small things rather than the smallness of the elements. This is something that Deleuze brings up again in ‘Postscript on the Societies of Control’ while discussing how the world is evolving towards societies of control from societies of discipline. I have brought this up before, but in a nutshell, he (5) is stating that:

“The disciplinary societies have two poles: the signature that designates the individual, and the number or administrative numeration that indicates his or her position within a mass.”

So, indeed, you have these two poles or levels. Here individual is understood as separate from others but at the same time making up a mass alongside others. Deleuze and Guattari (217) make of this in the notes section (536-537) in reference to Michel Foucault’s work, namely ‘Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison’. I think this is just explained better in the article by Deleuze. He (5) continues:

“This is because the disciplines never say any incompatibility between these two, and because at the same time power individualizes and masses together, that is, constitutes those over whom it exercises power into a body and molds the individuality of each member of that body.”

He (5) further clarifies this by tracing its origins:

“Foucault saw the origin of this double charge in the pastoral power of the priest – the flock and each of its animals[.]”

That’s a not very contemporary, so he (5) continues:

“[B]ut civil power moves in turn and by other means to make itself lay ‘priest’.”

After clarifying the individual/mass pair, he (5) defines the societies of control, in which we live now according to him, stating that individual is not an apt word to call people now. Instead, he (5) argues that people are now dividuals, making up “masses, samples, data, markets, or ‘banks.’” I think this is best to understand that he is not saying that people no longer function considering themselves separate from other people nor that they do not make a mass. Instead, the individual now also makes a mass, not only being segmented to this and/or that segment by someone higher up, but also actively engaging in this themselves. If you think of it, it’s amazing how Deleuze actually manages to predict how things pan out in the next couple decades, considering that this was originally published in 1990, when computers weren’t even a thing yet, not to mention that the ones which existed weren’t connected to the internet, at least in numbers that would make a difference. Going back to the insecurities of people, dividuality only amplifies them. Now people actively define themselves as this and/or that, creating a mass of data about themselves for the market to make use of in order to provide you the fix you crave. The people on top, those who make bank, now don’t even have to guestimate what to sell the masses and attempt to push them to this and/or that box, when people do that for them.

Anyway, back to the plateau. They (218) go on to provide more examples of exercising power alongside the flow and segmentation of capitalism. The first one is Church, which, I take to be the Catholic Church, albeit I guess you could extend it to other forms of Christianity and other religions as well. In summary, they state that it builds on sin, which is segmented accordingly as vices and measured by the number. It’s regulated by equivalence and atonement, such as confession and penance. They add that sin is not only molar but also complementarily molecular with its poles and quanta. In the notes (537) this is clarified in reference to the theology of Søren Kierkegaard. They (218) explain the poles as “original sin-redemption” and the quanta as:

“‘[T]hat sin which is the default of consciousness of sin’; the sin of having a consciousness of sin; the sin of the consequence of having a consciousness of sin.”

I tried to to block this with each … segment on a different line for emphasis, but the platform didn’t let me do it properly. I already had troubles reading it and writing it here, so I thought it might help you to grasp it better in parts, but whatever. Anyway, I think I get it, but I’m not certain as I’m hardly expert on all things Kierkegaard. They (218) move on to provide other examples, including criminality with its molar legal code and its divisions. The next one they (218) exemplify in detail is military, generally referred to as the army. They (218) state that on the molar level it’s about states waging war against one another, either as limited or total war. However, paying homage to Carl von Clausewitz, they (218) add that it has its poles, the offensive and defensive poles, and its quanta, “the psychic and material forces that are like the nominal liquid assets of war[.]”

I’m not sure the examples are clear enough, nor that I did a good job explaining them. Anyway, after providing a handful of examples, they (218) provide a general summary:

“We may say of the pure flow that it is abstract yet real; ideal yet effective; absolute yet ‘differentiated.’ It is true that the flow and its quanta can be grasped only by virtue of indexes on the segmented line, but conversely, that line and those indexes exist only by virtue of the flow suffusing them.”

Only to put it in another words (218):

“In every case, it is evident that the segmented line (macropolitics) is immersed in and prolonged by quantum flows (micropolitics) that continually reshuffle and stir up its segments.”

So, in summary, we have the molar macropolitics that we tend to pay attention to, but we also have molecular micropolitics that bubble under the level that we tend to pay attention to. I’m not making up the tendency to favor the molar over the molecular. They (218) exemplify this by referring to Émile Durkheim’s opposition of Gabriel Tarde:

“Durkheim’s preferred objects of study were the great collective representations, which are generally binary, resonant, and overcoded. Tarde countered that collective representations presuppose exactly what needs explaining, namely, ‘the similarity of millions of people.’”

It doesn’t take much insight to see who’s who here in sociology, Durkheim being the one operating on the molar level and Tarde being the one operating on the molecular level. They (219) summarize that Durkheim and those following him did not consider Tarde as a sociologist, thus relegating him as a wrong thinker operating outside the field or discipline. It’s always way more convenient to posit someone outside the scope of things than actually have to re-evaluate things. It’s for sure a massive time saver. Deleuze and Guattari (218-219) are not, however, convinced by such arguments, not that I was actually taking sides:

“Tarde was interested instead in the world of detail, or of the infinitesimal: the little imitations, oppositions, and inventions constituting an entire realm of subrepresentative matter. … [A] microimitation does seem to occur between two individuals. But at the same time, and at a deeper level, it has to do not with an individual but with a flow or a wave.”

If you are wondering what imitation is, they (219) do clarify it:

Imitation is the propagation of a flow; opposition is binarization, the making binary of flows; invention is a conjugation or connection of different flows.”

More relevantly, however, they (219) address what Tarde means by flow:

“It is belief or desire (the two aspects of every assemblage).”

Here it is assumed that you have familiarized yourself with assemblages. In summary, as I have pointed out in a previous essay, they are these intermediaries, having two aspects and two sides, being both enunciative and machinic, on one side facing the plane of consistency and on the other side facing the strata. Anyway, they (219) they continue their depiction of Tarde’s understanding of flow:

“Beliefs and desires are the basis of every society, because they are flows and as such are ‘quantifiable’; they are veritable social Quantities, whereas sensations are qualitative and representations are simple resultants.”

Therefore, they (219) add that:

“Infinitesimal imitation, opposition, and invention are … like flow quanta marking a propagation, binarization, or conjugation of beliefs and desires. Hence the importance of statistics, providing it concerns itself with the cutting edges and not only with the ‘stationary’ zone of representations.”

They (219) then move to summarize this as not having to do with differences between people, but between “the molar realm of representations” and “the molecular realm of beliefs and desires” because “flows are neither attributable to individuals nor overcodable by collective signifiers.” They (219) then put this in other words, emphasizing the differences between the molar segmented line, marked by reterritorialization, substitution and overcoding, and the molecular quantum flow, marked by the quanta that “are precisely signs or degrees of deterritorialization in the decoded flow.”

It may seem like Deleuze and Guattari are raving about all things molecular, yet it’s worth remembering that not that many pages back in the plateau they assign fascism to micropolitics, which can then lead to totalitarianism on the macropolitical level. In other words, it’s hardly that one is better than the other and/or that one should be eliminated from the equation. Instead, they (220) note that they are, in fact, “strictly complementary and coexistent” as their existence relies on one another, one being the function of the other and vice versa.

Following the examination of Tarde, Deleuze and Guattari (220) move on to explain how masses are decoded and deterritorialized throughout history. They (220) speak of masses of invaders in the fourteenth century, moving in from all directions except from the west. They (220) add that they turn from the military masses into pillaging bands. They (220) continue, adding that, among other movements, ecclesiastical masses confront infidels and heretics, peasants move away from the countryside in droves, urban populations no longer segmented by territory but by class, women break away from the conventional conjugal codes and money becomes something much more than just something that can be grasped. I reckon we could add plenty to that list, but that’d be beside the point. Now, as I’ve pointed out in other essays, decoding and deterritorialization tends to be followed by overcoding and reterritorialization. They (220) are quick to remind the reader that this is the case here as well. They (220) exemplify this with the Crusades. That should suffice as an example, considering that people quite literally flowed in masses. However, they (220) add that they also had their overcodings and reterritorializations, being “overcoded by the Pope and assigned territorial objectives.”

To make things more complex, Deleuze and Guattari (220) add that flows can have connections and conjugations. The former is a decoded and deterritorialized flow that functions as a booster, an accelerator or an augmenter to other flows. The latter has to do with the opposite, stopping down, plugging, sealing or controlling the flow, performing reterritorialization. They (220-221) are, however, quick to add that reterritorialization is always determined by the flow that is most deterritorialized. Therefore they (221) emphasize that “it is always on the most deterritorialized element that reterritorialization takes place[.]” They (221) exemplify this with the merchant bourgeoisie who conjugated a domain of knowledge, what they also call “a technology, assemblages and circuits into whose dependency the nobility, Church, artisans, and even peasants would enter.” Simply put, as they (221) clarify, the most deterritorialized functioned as an accelerator which resulted in a general reterritorialization, not affecting only themselves, the bourgeoisie, but others as well. Well, that is if I understood their example correctly. It’s not exactly the clearest of passages in the book. They (221) then note that it is for the historians to come up with periods marked by the “coexistence or simultaneity of these two movements”, the movements being, as explained, decoding-deterritorialization and overcoding-reterritorialization.

After explaining how segmentarity works in relation to territorialization and coding, they (221) reiterate that the molecular has to do with masses or flows, the molar has to do with classes or segments and they are not mutually exclusive, one doesn’t stop the other. They (221) exemplify this by pointing out that mass and class are not the one and the same thing, even if they are used interchangeably by others. They (221) note that, for example, the bourgeoisie can be classified as a mass, as well as a class, yet they are not the same thing, nor do their relations to other masses and classes correspond neatly on both levels, the molecular and the molar. That’s why they (221) go on to state that while classes seem to reproduce themselves, they may undergo changes due to the changes that occur under the hood in masses. We could replace class here with another molar classification as well. It’s not specifically limited to class. That’s just an example, one that probably was particularly pertinent when they wrote the book. I’m no expert in this regard, but I’d say that at least in Finland the matter of class is less and less a thing than, I assume, it was decades ago. I’d say, following the line of reasoning by Deleuze and Guattari here, that the mass of the class has shifted more from the working class towards the middle class, albeit not exactly eliminating it either. That said, of course, there have also been other shifts in the masses, flowing from one mass to another. You could also say that the working class has mutated. It’s hard to say where the border between the working class and the middle class is. Now, someone is bound to object and point out that that’s incorrect. Yes, I’d say there are right. I reckon it’s more that the people traditionally considered working class have shifted to middle class, be it through a mutation of the class, or through a shift in mass. At the same time then, others have shifted to the working class as a mass. The image of a working class person has shifted from someone working in a factory or being a craftsman, say a welder (because ship industry is a big deal here), to someone working in the service industry, often part time. Are they working class though? It’s hard to say really. It’s a mixed bag. Perhaps it’s now just the upper class, middle class and the lower class. Those at the bottom are a mixed mass of people who try to make ends meet, be they unemployed, part time or full time, educated or non-educated. Maybe I’m mislabeling here, but what’s common is that they wish they’d have a steady job.

Back to Deleuze and Guattari (221-222) supplement the discussion of the molecular and the molar, micropolitics and macropolitics, in reference to French historian Jules Michelet who, apparently, held that the protestant reformation was mishandled by Francis I, the King of France 1515-1547, who did not understand how the mass could have been treated differently to the benefit of France. Therefore, following that example, Deleuze and Guattari (222) add that:

“Problems are always like this. Good or bad, politics and its judgments are always molar, but it is the molecular and its assessment that makes it or breaks it.”

Something tells me that this is not limited to Francis I. Something also tells me that this is something that is not only limited to absolute monarchs. Anyway, this is not the end of it, and I don’t mean the end of not taking the molecular into account in politics, but the end the of the plateau. You may have been wondering what is the difference between coding and territorialization. This is discussed on the plateau on strata, but they bring it up here as well. They (222) state that there are three kinds of lines related to segmentarity. The first one is the (supposedly) supple and non-centralized primitive tribe, the second is the rigid and concentric empire and third one, hardly discussed so far, is the one or rather many, “marked by quanta and defined by decoding and deterritorialization[.]” I haven’t really discussed the third, almost at all in any of my essays and this will be the case here as well. They (222) note that it’s marked by a war machine. I hope to return to this some day, but it’s just way too much of a tangent to go on here. Anyway, while bringing these up they (222) note that the primitive one is not something that came first, nor is it inferior to others. They (222) emphasize that overcoding does not mean that one code is stronger than another code and the same applies to reterritorialization as it doesn’t mean that there’s just more territory (even if that may be true) but an overcoding of geometrical space. If you are familiar with how geometry became a big thing during the Renaissance, this should require little further explanation. This is actually highly relevant to landscape as it’s not about delineating land, but about changing how it is perceived. Anyway, to make things a bit clearer, as well as interesting, they (222) exemplify the three lines while noting their coexistence, intermingling and transformation:

“On one side, we have the rigid segmentarity of the Roman Empire, with its center of resonance and periphery, its State, its pax romana, its geometry, its camps, its limes (boundary lines).”

It’s all well established, that’s the point. They (222) continue:

“Then, on the horizon, there is an entirely different kind of line, the line of the nomads who come in off the steppes, venture a fluid and active escape, sow deterritorialization everywhere, launch flows whose quanta heat up and are swept along by a Stateless war machine.”

Note that by no means do Deleuze and Guattari characterize them as inferior to the Romans. Anyway, to complete the picture, they (222) add that:

“The migrant barbarians are indeed between the two: they come and go, cross and recross frontiers, pillage and ransom, but also integrate themselves and reterritorialize. At times they will subside into the empire, assigning themselves a segment of it, becoming mercenaries or confederates, settling down, occupying land or carving out their own State (the wise Visigoths). At other times, they will go over to the nomads, allying with them, becoming indiscernible (the brilliant Ostrogoths).”

Here as well, by no means are the supposedly primitive people characterized by the two as inferior savages. Note how they actually refer to some of them as wise and brilliant. They (223) also speak of a third group of supposed primitives, the Vandals. It’s worth reminding that the most deterritorialized will end up reterritorializing. In their (223) words:

“Perhaps because they were constantly being defeated by the Huns and Visigoths, the Vandals … drew a line of flight that made them as strong as their masters; they were the only band or mass to cross the Mediterranean. But they were also the ones who produced the most startling reterritorialization: an empire in Africa.”

These are, of course, only the examples they happen to provide. It doesn’t take a lot of knowledge about movements of masses to think of other examples. We could add, for example, the Magyars and the Turkmen, as well as the people who were pushed forward by them by being in their way. At this stage Deleuze and Guattari (223) refer to overcoding that results in all things molar as defined by an abstract machine. It’s worth reiterating that an abstract machine is not a fixed structure, nor a transcendental idea, but something that functions in a piloting role, as they (142) explain:

“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.”

Now, back to this specific abstract machine which they (223) state as:

“[D]ef[ining] a rigid segmentarity, a macrosegmentarity, because it produces or rather reproduces segments, opposing them two by two, making all centers resonate, and by laying out out a divisible, homogeneous space striated in all directions.”

If you haven’t read the plateau on strata, this might not open up to you. I recommend reading it in order to understand striation. Anyway, this is the abstract machine that they (223) link to the state and its apparatuses. As a word of warning, they (223) emphasize that it is only linked to such. Relevant to what was covered in the previous essay on segmentarity, they (223) emphasize that because it is only in a totalitarian state that the abstract machine of overcoding is identified with the state. In the notes (537) totalitarianism is clarified as not having to do with size of the public sector. As they (223) point out, it’s rather these conditions the state economy exists for itself, as an autarky. They (223) emphasize that, unlike what people might think of it, it’s “never an ideological operation, but rather an economic and political one[.]” I guess, simply put, it’s when the state exists only for itself, kind of like how, well, a dictator exists only for the sake of it. It’s not like a dictator is there for anything else besides that.

Following the elaboration of the abstract machine of overcoding, Deleuze and Guattari (223) juxtapose it with another abstract machine, the abstract machine of mutation “which operates by decoding and deterritorialization.” So, it’s pretty much the opposite of the other abstract machine because, in their (223) words, it “draws the lines of flight: it steers the quantum flows, assures the connection-creation of flows and emits new quanta” and by being in a state of flight itself it “erects war machines on its lines.” They (223) add that if it ends up constituting another pole, it’s “because molar or rigid segments always seal, plug, block the lines of flight, whereas this machine is always making them flow, ‘between’ the rigid segments[.]” At the same time, however, they (223-224) note that this machine may undermine the molar rigidity by creating fissures or cracks caused by “molecular negotiation, translation, and transduction.” Here it’s worth jumping to the plateau on the strata, to point out that in their (72) vocabulary induction has to do with distinctions of orders of magnitude and establishing resonance of expression. In simple terms, as explained by Brent Adkins (47-48) in ‘Deleuze and Guattari’s A Thousand Plateaus: A Critical Introduction and Guide’, it means movement from one state to another, be it water reaching the temperature threshold of it becoming ice or steam, or an athlete being inducted to a hall of fame. As Adkins (48) notes, induction is not limited to these examples, so feel free to think of other examples. Transduction is defined by Deleuze and Guattari (72) as having to do with the distinction between different subjects and establishing linearity of expression. They (60) also classify it as more complex in contrast to simple inductions:

“[It] account[s] for the amplification of the resonance between the molecular and the molar, independently of order of magnitude; for the functional efficacy of the interior substances, independently of distance; and for the possibility of a proliferation and even interlacing of forms, independently of codes (surplus values of code or phenomena of transcoding or a parallel evolution).”

To make sense of this, Deleuze and Guattari (60) state that in induction only surface is affected. This is easier to understand if you think an example that has to do with rocks which can only increase or decrease in size on the surface. The example comes from the geological stratum. In their (60) words, by being subjugated to a three dimensional form “the structure is incapable of formally reproducing and expressing itself” and thus “only the accessible surface can reproduce itself, since it is the only deterritorializable part.” When it comes to transduction then, they (60) point towards towards the organic stratum. The point is that unlike rocks or minerals organism can actually reproduce and, as they (60) point out, they thus have “a much higher threshold of deterritorialization.” Adkins (52) exemplifies this with how genetic material is transferred from organism to organism by viruses. The point here is, as the example should make it evident, that, unlike induction, transduction is not limited to the surface. Instead it bypasses it. Obviously transduction is a broader concept than mere transfer of genetic material by viruses. It has to do with all genetic reproduction on the organic strata. The last process mentioned by Deleuze and Guattari (223-224) is translation. It is tied to the alloplastic stratum, the one marked by humans and language. They (62) characterize it as unlike induction and transduction and warn not to think of it as how it is generally understood as limited to representing something in one language in another language. They (62) use translation as going beyond language itself, extending from the alloplastic stratum to the other strata, resulting in “a scientific conception of the world.”

Now where was I? Right, the point was that the abstract machine of mutation is constrained by molar or rigid segments, yet it can break through once fissures and cracks are large enough. Molecular negotiation, translation and transduction are at play between the poles, as they (223-224) point out. They (224) then complicate matters by stating that simultaneously lines of flight that are “already drawn toward black holes, flow connections are replaced by limitative conjuctions, and quanta emissions are already converted into center-points.” So, simply put, there is a constant (albeit variable) tension between flow and stasis, between what the two kind of abstract machines affectuate.

It was my plan to cover the rest of the plateau in this essay, perhaps with some detours here and there, but as I turned my attention to the elaboration of center or focal point of power I noticed a shift in the text. Not that it’s surprising that such occurs, considering the way the book is written as a collaboration that isn’t a synthesis. As I read the last pages, not only do they reiterate lot of what has already been covered on this plateau, but the writing is markedly more lucid than the rest of the plateau so far. It’s actually very straight forward from here on out, albeit I reckon it might be tough to understand if you aren’t familiar with it already. Anyway, I’ll stop here and perhaps return to the final pages in another short essay.


  • Adkins, B. (2015). Deleuze and Guattari’s A Thousand Plateaus: A Critical Introduction and Guide. Edinburgh, UK: Edinburgh University Press.
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