Born off a Horse

What I have in store this time is not like in the previous essay which included some polemical elements. This is probably rather drab in comparison to it. Of course, what’s interesting and what’s not, what’s polemical and what’s not, etc. depends on people. I find this quite fascinating, but I also reckon that for many this is as boring as it gets. I was actually not even going to write on this, addressing the plateau titled ‘7000 B.C.: Apparatus of Capture’ in ‘A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia’, but I changed my mind while reading it, like you should, just reading it, not getting stuck on every little fine detail. What I do first is just read, then doing another reading, one that is a close reading or at least closer reading than the initial one. Anyway, I changed my mind because I was sort of familiar with what Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari are on about, not because I’m an expert in what they discuss, far from such, but because I happened to come across the same formulations in a grand strategy game, ‘Crusader Kings II’.

Anyway, not unlike at the beginning of other plateaus, Deleuze and Guattari (424) start abruptly, following Georges Dumézil in ‘Mitra-Varuna’, proposing that “[p]olitical sovereignty has two poles”, the first pole being occupied by:

“the fearsome magician-emperor, operating by capture, bonds, knots, and nets[.]”

They (424) also call the magician-emperorsOne-Eyed men” who “emit[] from their single eye signs that capture, tie knots at a distance.” If you are confused by this, look up Odin, who, indeed is known as one-eyed. Anyway, they (424) indicate that the second pole is occupied by:

“the jurist-priest-king, proceeding by treaties, pacts, contracts[.]”

They (424) also call the jurist-priest-kings the “One-Armed men who raise their single arm as an element of right and technology, the law and the tool.” If you are puzzled by this, look up Týr and you’ll notice that he is indeed often depicted as an amputee. As listed by the two (424), another one you can look up is Gaius Mucius Scaevola, known for thrusting his right hand into a fire.

They (424) add that outside or between the two poles of political sovereignty is war. They (425) clarify that this does not mean that neither statesmen, the one-eyed emperors and the one-armed jurist-kings, don’t get involved in or mixed up with war. They (425) elaborate that the emperor wages war by sending others, those who serve him, to battle and in the rare occasion that the emperor appears on the battlefield he doesn’t use weapons but rather captures and binds the battle with his eye. In contrast, they (425) add that the jurist-king organizes war, making it principled, regimented and subordinated in order for it to serve other purposes, turning the war machine into a state apparatus, what is generally known as an army. This was already mentioned on the plateau on segmentarity, how as part of a state the war machine becomes sedentary and its function is reduced to only to waging war. It’s worth noting that (425) Deleuze and Guattari are not saying that the war machine does not involve war and what comes with it, violence, on its own. It’s rather that, as they (425) argue, once appropriated by the state, by either having been made to serve the emperor or to enter an alliance with the jurist-king, the war machine is elevated to another level of death and destruction. They (425) link this back to being One-Eyed or One-Armed, that is to say mutilated, arguing that such is the consequence of war but also a necessary condition, a presupposition of state organization.

Deleuze and Guattari (426) state that if the two poles and what’s in the middle are considered together, they can presented as series of 1, 2 and 3. So, on one hand, sorry eye, one (1) is marked by, for example, Odin, known for lacking an eye, who wishes to hold Fenrir in a magic bond. Fenrir, the wolf of war, is two (2) in the series and not exactly keen on being bound. To appease Fenrir, the third (3) in the series, Týr offers his hand as a hostage and places his hand in Fenrir’s mouth. This is how Týr becomes one handed. They (426) offer another example in which Publius Horatius ‘Cocles’, also known for lacking an eye, hence the agnomen ‘Cocles’, defends a crucial bridge against the Etruscans, who then lay siege, only to be appeased by Gaius Mucius ‘Scaevola’ who burns his hand in order to persuade the Etruscans to abandon the siege and a sign a pact. They offer (426) yet another example through the works of Marcel Detienne (see notes, 564), explaining that the ancient Greeks had something similar going on as sovereigns had their war machines, their warriors, not originating with the sovereigns, the warriors having their own rules, yet being tied to the sovereigns, only to be reformed into hoplites, armies of citizen-soldiers. The function of the second in the series, the war machine, is thus, according to the two (426), to intervene, to “assur[e] and necessitat[e] the passage from one [pole] to the other [pole].” However, they (427) insist that this schema is not to be taken as having a causal meaning. To be more specific, they (427) clarify that the war machine is not prebaked into the system and while it is presented as in the middle, as in the milieu, it is actually exterior to it and thus in opposition of it. They (427) add that if it’s part of the system, then it has become part of it, either through a bond or a pact. So, as they (427) explain, even when the war machine intervenes in the affairs of either poles, it’s in conjunction with other factors, thus not simply the one and only factor in any passage from pole to pole, no matter which way it swings. Moreover, they (427) emphasize that if and when such swing occurs from one pole to the other pole, the opposite pole does not cease to exist by collapsing to the other. They (427) add that what’s in the middle, what’s interior, the milieu also subsists. Fitting the title of the plateau then, what appears in the middle, no matter whether it’s originally interior (e.g. money, property) or exterior (the war machine) to it, is what they (427) call capture, that is to say what is captured. What’s particularly important in this formulation is that it’s all already there and the series is not a linear progression in which what was, 1-2 or 2-3, cease to exist after the system evolves. Because of this, they (427) state that:

“We are always brought back to the idea of a State that comes into the world fully formed and rises up in a single stroke, the unconditioned Urstaat.”

I probably just spoiled the next part of the plateau by stating that the poles and what’s in the middle are not treated preferentially by the two. Anyway, to contextualize the first pole, they (427) refer to it as the imperial or despotic pole of capture. If you’ve read other plateaus, then you may be quite familiar with all things imperial and despotic, making this plateau easier to comprehend, even if the examples they use assume quite a bit of knowledge. The good thing is, of course, that unlike in the early 1980s or even the late 1980s when the translation came out, you can look up these examples in a matter of minutes, instead of having to take their word or spending time in libraries, hoping that they have such and such book. They (427-428) go all the way back to Neolithic and Paleolithic times, but getting stuck on the details here is not that important, well, unless you are into such, of course. What’s important here is that an emperor, a despot overcodes primitive communities, relegating everything into the sole possession of the emperor. In other words, everything is the property of the empire, ruled by the emperor. They (428) emphasize that this property is, in fact, public property, albeit under the sole ownership of the emperor. However, as they (428) clarify, everyone has stake in the public property. What this means is that as everything is public property of the emperor, what one has stake in is leased to them in exchange for fealty to the emperor. Now, if you’ve played Crusader Kings II, or its predecessor, this is very familiar to you. This is feudalism in a nutshell. The one on top, the emperor, for example the Byzantine Emperor, is the one to whom everyone else submits to. This makes the emperor their liege and those under him his vassals. The liege grants those who swear fealty to him (could also be her, but typically him, if you know your history) certain holdings in exchange of rent, typically levy and/or tax which may be produce or money. It is in this sense that it’s easy to understand how the emperor, one-eyed or not, makes use of soldiers not of his own. Everything in the empire is captured by the emperor. It’s important to understand that those who swear fealty to the emperor, for example dukes, have their own vassals, for example, counts, who in turn have their own vassals, for example barons and so on. At the bottom are the everyday people, the peasants, who work on the land in exchange for a certain share that goes to their liege. It’s worth emphasizing that none of these vassals own the land and the liege, the emperor in particular, may choose to revoke one’s stake in the public property if they fail to provide rent. It’s also worth noting that, as explained by the two (428), this bond to the one on top is not a contract between the parties, it’s not something that you opt in or out. Opting out is only an option if you are able to challenge the liege. Of course, this is already going a bit further here. How this works then depends on, of course, how centralized or decentralized the system is. The more centralized the system is, the more the one on top can exercise power over the functionaries. Conversely, the less centralized the system is, the less the one on top can exercise power over the functionaries. Anyway, in summary, this is what the two (428) call “the paradigm of the bond, the knot”, “regime of the nexum, the bond” and “the system of machinic enslavement[.]” It operates by what they (433) call intraconsistency, making everything within resonate with the center, by stratifying and hierarchizing, just as I’ve explained in some of the previous essays.

Jumping to the second pole, Deleuze and Guattari (432) argue that if the first pole is marked by the palace, involving a centralized and hierarchic state system with one on the top, the second pole is marked by the town, existing “only as a function of circulation, and of circuits” being created by the circuits but also creating circuits. So, as they explain (432), towns are points in a network of roads connecting towns. Moreover, as they (432) add, they are also often cut off from what lies outside the points in the network, the countryside. They (432) provide examples, including but not limited to the Pelasgians, the Phoenicians, the Greeks and the Carthagians. Now, they (432) emphasize roads as the correlates to the town, as the link between them, but it’s also worth noting that the towns are also connected to another by being located on the coast, having access to sea. For example, think of the maritime republics, such as Venice, Genoa, Pisa and Amalfi. Among others, we could add the Hanseatic League here as well, as indicated in the notes (565). Speaking of notes, it’s emphasized there (565) that the town does not work the same way as the state, resulting in a lack of functionaries (vassals), armies as well as legal status. In other words, it’s hard to describe the town or the republic in the terms of the state because it works very differently from the state. Again, if you’ve played Crusader Kings II, you’ll be quite familiar with this. Now, it’s worth noting here that as they (432-433) juxtapose the town with the palace, they inevitably cast the town in a positive light. However, they (432-433) do address this, noting that the town “has egalitarian pretensions”, yet they wonder, in contrast to the state, “where the greatest civil violence resides?” In other words, while the town may have plenty of potential, it may take all kinds of forms, “tyrannical, democratic, oligarchic, aristocratic”, as noted by the two (432). Once again, if you’ve played CK II, you’ll know that the republics are not exactly the embodiment of peace, love and understanding. Of course, if you juxtapose them with the feudal entities, then, well, yes, they do appear far more fair than, for example, a kingdom. You have to be at least a bit naive to think that any kind of monarchy is good for you, unless you happen to be an essential part of that monarchy that is, of course. In this sense a republic is way better to begin with, albeit that’s with emphasis on the to begin with part as there’s no telling how it’ll end up operating. In summary, this system is one of transconsistency, of the network, as explained by the two (432).

The system, or, well, rather the lack thereof, is what Deleuze and Guattari (428) call primitive hunter-gatherer societies. In the game this is tribalism, albeit this already includes agriculture, which Deleuze and Guattari (428) associate with the state. To be more specific, explaining this, unlike Marx, Deleuze and Guattari (428) argue that “[i]t is no longer the State that presupposes advanced agricultural communities and developed forces of production.” Instead, they (428-429) argue that “the State is established directly in a milieu of hunter-gatherers having no prior agriculture or metallurgy, and it is the State that creates agriculture, animal raising, and metallurgy[.]” They (429) then add that “it does so first on its own soil, then imposes them upon the surrounding world.” Similarly, on the other pole, they (429) state that country is progressively created by the town, not the other way around. In short, in both cases it’s exactly the other way around than what is typically understood as having occurred. Returning to address the primitive societies, they (429-430) state that state, as well as the town, exist simultaneously, and therefore stating that primitive societies existed prior to the two other “is an ethnological dream.” The two (430) elaborate what results from this is an impossibility of economic evolutionism, in which there’s a movement from hunter-gatherers to animal breeders, then to farmers-industrialists. Instead, they (431) argue that:

“These societies simultaneously have vectors moving in the direction of the State, mechanisms warding it off, and a point of convergence that is repelled, set outside, as fast it is approached. To ward off is also anticipate.”

That’s the gist of it, same with regards to the town, but we’ll get to that later. Anyway, they (431) continue:

“Of course, it is not at all in the same way that the State appears in existence, and that it preexists in the capacity of a warded-off limit; hence its irreducible contingency.”

I think it’s worth emphasizing that they are not stating that there is an actual state that the primitive societies are warding off, hence the anticipation of it. I guess you could say that the state is merely virtual, there, yet not actually there. In order to make sense of this, they (431) add:

“[I]t is necessary to demonstrate that what does not yet exist is already in action, in a different form than that of its existence.”

That said, they (431) then add:

“Once it has appeared, the State reacts back on the hunter-gatherers, imposing upon them agriculture, animal raising, an extensive division of labor, etc.; it acts, therefore, in the form of a centrifugal or divergent wave.”

The issue is, however, as they pointed out, that it has yet to appear in this scenario. Therefore they (431) add that:

“But before appearing, the State already acts in the form of the convergent or centripetal wave of the hunter-gatherers, a wave that cancels itself out precisely at the point of convergence marking the inversion of signs or the appearance of the State[.]”

They (431) then explain that it is precisely this that makes the primitive societies functionally and intrinsically unstable. What’s important here is to consider how this works, how the primitive societies become a state and how they ward off becoming a state. They (432) explain that there’s a threshold or degree for this, dictating whether there’s enough consistency for what is anticipated to take hold or not. Now, as I pointed out already, and the two (433) come to point out, this must be extended to the other pole, to the town. They (433) are clear on this, stating that primitive societies both anticipate and ward off “two presentations, one segmentary and egalitarian, the other encompassing and hierarchisized.” At this stage it shouldn’t take much to figure out which one is which. Simply put, as they (433) insist, primitive societies are nothing more than decentralized systems which have certain formations of power that are not consistent or, to be more specific, consistent enough for them to cross the threshold which would result in becoming either segmentary and egalitarian, the town, or encompassing and hierarchized, the state. So, simply put, in their (434) formulation, there is only simultaneity, one not being before the others. To explain it, they (434), once again, refer to how it is possible as necessitating reciprocal presupposition. You can’t have one without the other(s).

To make more sense of the process, how one crosses over, they (438) clarify this by differentiating limit and threshold, classifying the former as “designat[ing] the penultimate marking a necessary rebeginning” and the latter as designating “the ultimate marking an inevitable change.” Simply put, limit has to do with staying within one’s limits in order to keep going, hence the rebeginning, while the threshold is when one crosses one’s limits, hence changing into something else. They (438) go on to provide an everyday example, one that, I believe, Deleuze brings up in his televised interviews with Claire Parnet, originally known as ‘L’Abécédaire de Gilles Deleuze’. The example they (438) provide has to do with “what does an alcoholic call the last glass?” They (438) elaborate:

“The alcoholic makes a subjective evaluation of how much he or she can tolerate. What can be tolerated is precisely the limit at which, as the alcoholic sees it, he or she will be able to start over again (after a rest, a pause …).”

There, to be clear here, an alcoholic is not someone who obtains this and that much alcohol, only to drink it all down, at least not without having access to more thereafter. If access is essentially unrestricted, that is to say that you can buy it whenever, the alcoholic, of course, doesn’t have to stockpile alcohol. If you can buy it whenever, wherever, then you don’t need to do that. There’s always more around. That said, it makes little difference if that’s not the case. The alcoholic only buys more at one go and stashes enough of it to keep going. Now, unsurprisingly, one may run out, but that, one again, makes little difference. The alcoholic is bound to know someone who has a stockpile, thus effectively circumventing any sales restrictions. The access to alcohol is a non-issue.When you think of it, this explains why at times alcoholics are reported as having attacked one another, even killed one another over alcohol, as there must the penultimate drink to have and it’s a catastrophe if the one you just had ends up being the ultimate drink. Anyway, to make more sense of this, Deleuze and Guattari (438) continue:

“But beyond that limit there lies a threshold that would cause the alcoholic to change assemblage: it would change either the nature of the drinks or the customary places and hours of the drinking. Or worse yet, the alcoholic would enter a suicidal assemblage, or a medical, hospital assemblage, etc.”

In this case, drinking the last drink is exactly the problem, one that may push you to cross over to something that is no longer the assemblage, that of the alcoholic, shifting what is to what was, meaning that what now is is no longer that of what it used to be. The upside of having the last glass is, of course, that the person is no longer alcoholic, but something else instead. The downside is, as they clearly point out, that it may result in hospitalization, even death. Regardless of what it is that will result, in order not to cross over, the alcoholic anticipates what may come and wards it off by so that the last glass is never the ultimate glass but the penultimate glass. They (438) say that this is the same thing with having the last word in an argument. You always want the last word in an argument, but in order for whatever relationship you are in to continue it must always the penultimate word, not the ultimate word. If you cross the line, you’ve gone too far and then there’s no coming back.

To summarize things here, to keep this short, or relatively so, Deleuze and Guattari (435) summarize things themselves, stating that these four societies are defined by different mechanisms, in case you didn’t already figure that out already:

“[P]rimitive societies are defined by mechanisms of prevention-anticipation; State societies are defined by apparatuses of capture; urban societies, by instruments of polarization; nomadic societies, by war machines[.]”

In other words, the so called primitive societies both anticipate and ward off other sedentary societies, the state and the town, the state seeks to capture all other societies, that is to say subordinate everything, the town seeks to polarize, that is to say deterritorialize and coordinate everything to flow through a single point, and the nomads are in conflict with all of the others for being sedentary. What’s left out here is what Deleuze and Guattari (435) call international or ecumenical organizations which encompass all of these heterogeneously. They (435) define them as above and beyond the societies, hence the heterogeneity, but also not as relations between them, meaning that they are not entities that operate between them, by them. In other words, as they (435) point out, they are not, for example, supranational organizations, such as the UN. To be more specific, they (435) define it as “anything that has the capacity to move through diverse social formations simultaneously[.]” Moreover, they (436) stress that it’s not about homogeneity, hence, once again, the point made about heterogeneity. They (436) then note that people are bound to object to this, to ask that what about capitalism? To that they (436) answer that as capitalism constitutes an axiomatic, it’s not about homogeneity but about isomorphism, meaning that it has to do with convergence rather than homogeneity, thus permitting, if not inciting heterogeneity. They (436-437) go on to point out that it not only tolerates polymorphy, but even necessitates it in its periphery, hence the unequal development across the world. In other words, as I believe they (436-437) point out, the social formations across the world are heteromorphic because development under the capitalist axiomatic is not linear and homogeneous. To put it very bluntly, certain parts of the world are poor, or what some like to call under- or undeveloped, because that’s how it works. If it worked the same for everyone, in every social formation, everywhere, they would end up the same, not merely sort of, or in convergence to such. To put it even more bluntly, the axiomatic necessitates this kind of heterogeneity, or as they (436-437) put it:

“When international organization becomes the capitalist axiomatic, it continues to imply a heterogeneity of social formations, it gives rise to and organizes its ‘Third World.’”

How to put it more bluntly than that? Well, we like to think heterogeneity is generally good thing when it comes to societies. We like to think that everyone should be allowed to be like this or that, whatever it is that makes them the way they are and how they run things. In stark contrast, homogeneity is seen as everything being the same, lacking any character, anything that distinguishes anything from anything else. Here it works the other way around. Everyone and everything gets to be the way they are because it’s good for the market.

The thing is that when it comes to the capitalist axiomatic, it’s not exactly pro state. It’s well within in the interest of the state to be exactly that, a state. Not unlike with the other formations, every other formation must be resisted. It’s worth emphasizing that this is not, however, the hallmark of the state. What it does best, what its thing is, is the apparatus of capture, the power to appropriate everything, even if it doesn’t appropriate everything because it only makes sense to appropriate whatever is useful to the state. So, as summarized by Deleuze and Guattari (437), it’s well within the interest of the state to capture and appropriate the mechanisms of the other social formations, war machine, polarization and anticipation-prevention, because they can put into good use. For example, the war machine is turned into military institutions that can be used against others and defend against others. Similarly, polarization can be used to provide certain innovative advances. The anticipation-prevention mechanisms, while supposedly primitive, is also of great value because it makes it easier to resist changes detrimental to the state, including those that may result from the capitalist axiomatic. They (437) add that even capitalism needs it, just so that it “wards off and repels its own limits.” This is, however, going a bit further than what I wanted to investigate in this essay. Going beyond this, to examine how the capitalist axiomatic functions in relation to the state is worth an essay of its own because it’s in conflict with the state and also capable of subordinating it, as noted by the two (437).

To wrap things up, I want to connect this to what the game offers when you play it. Initially, the game was, essentially, a veritable ‘A Game of Thrones’ simulator, making it possible to simulate how it is to be at the helm of a feudal society. This is very much the charm of the game. It quickly teaches you that it’s really hard to be the one on top of everyone else. You really need to keep an eye out on others, which results in a certain paranoia, the very same paranoia that Deleuze and Guattari discuss throughout the book. If you are the one on top, or just above someone else, you must be vigilant, otherwise others will find ways how to set you aside, to put it nicely, for once. Before I address the next bit, it’s worth noting that some people actually made an overhaul modification that puts the game in the world created by George R.R. Martin. It is that intriguing. Anyway, with the popularity of the game, eventually the developer made it possible to play the maritime republics. It’s indeed very different from the feudal experience, yet it comes with its own perils. It’s also far from running a democracy. They also eventually added the possibility to play with the tribal societies. Once again, that proved quite different from the two others. It was and still is intentionally rigged against you. At first it’s easy to play this way, but keeping it all together is not easier than running a feudal society. It’s actually harder than that because your society is bound to splinter each time the ruler dies. Even if you persist, the feudal states and the republics will eventually manage to overpower you because they’ll have technological superiority and have less trouble with keeping it all together than you do. Your expected way out is to adopt feudalism or become a republic. You will likely perish otherwise. The developers then added the mechanisms required to play the nomads. I haven’t really played with them because, well, it’s so, so very different and would take quite a bit of time to get the hang of it. Maybe one day. Anyway, unlike the other social formations, they are radically different and, not unlike explained by Deleuze and Guattari, very much on a trajectory that is indifferent of the other social formations. If you play, say, a feudal lord, you’ll encounter the nomads, not giving a damn about your borders, often forcing you to really bolster your defenses. At least initially you struggle to raise enough levies to protect yourself and even later on they pose a substantial threat. This is, mind you, while you are supposed to simultaneously engage in some game of thrones, you against someone else and/or others against you. You think it’s all going just fine, then all the sudden thousands of nomads ride through your realm. They don’t even declare war on you! They just do whatever they want to do! Now, this is, I believe, simulated exactly this way because the concept of war is foreign to them, or so to speak. Unless you want your realm to become a smooth space, to describe it in Deleuzo-Guattarian terms, you need to stop them. The other option is to land them or bribe them, that is to say utilize the one-armed man. The game makes it hard to wage war, forcing you to have good relations with your vassals. Once you have enough technology, you can invest in retinues, having a standing army rather than relying on levies. The way I see this is essentially harnessing the war machine. Of course it hardly works the way as described by Deleuze and Guattari, but at least it sort of explains the absence of having an actual military organization prior to having to deal with the nomads who are the ones to invent the war machine, thus having an early advantage over others in this regard.

Anyway, this was yet another tangent for me, covering a bit of this and a bit of that, like the last time around, but with less contemporary relevance. Okay, fair enough, that of course depends how you view this and what comes with it, but that’s a bit beyond what I wanted to examine in this essay. All in due time and what not. Was there a lesson this, except for the usefulness of playing games, even if they are not 100 percent accurate? It’s hard to say, it all really depends what you take out of the plateau, what it makes you think, where it leads you, what becomes of it. Some things I find useful and interesting, others not so, except that in the future what I found as having little value may prove to be valuable and the other way around. I’m perfectly fine with this, even if it may appear to others as if I’m flip flopping. I’m with Michel Foucault (17) on this one, as stated by him in ‘The Archaeology of Knowledge’:

“Do not ask who I am and do not ask me to remain the same: leave it to our bureaucrats and our police to see that our papers are in order.”

Or, when in ‘Truth, Power, Self: An Interview with Michel Foucault’, as included in ‘The Technologies of the Self: A Seminar with Michel Foucault’, he (9) replies to the interviewer, Rux Martin, after being characterized as frequently termed as this and/or that and having a certain title:

“I don’t feel that it is necessary to know exactly what I am. The main interest in life and work is to become someone else that you were not in the beginning. If you knew when you began a book what you would say at the end, do you think that you would have the courage to write it? What is true for writing and for a love relationship is true also for life. The game is worthwhile insofar as we don’t know what will be the end.”

To be honest, I didn’t even plan on adding these bits, until they just sort of appeared to me, came to my mind or so to speak, when I added the then final bits, attempting to summarize what it is that I find useful here and on this plateau so far. The thing with ‘A Thousand Plateaus’ is that it is, to my understanding, supposed to work this way. You read it but you don’t know where it leads when you start reading it, even if you read the same parts again. It’s the same with writing. I wouldn’t be writing any of these essays if I knew from the start where they’d go.

What I write is always work in progress. I try not to edit these essays beyond fixing typos here and there. Some may still be there, but I hardly lose sleep over such. At times I fix this and that, like certain special markers, italicization and the like. Like with the other essays, what I’ve wanted to do to them, later on, years after, is to help the reader to find the original works, hence the added lists of references in 2022.

Of course letting myself change may render some of what I’ve written no longer valid, at least to myself that is, but that’s sort of the price I pay for it. I’m not bothered by it. I think others are more bothered by such. There’s this supposed necessity to remain the same, as if we somehow constantly are exactly the same as we just were. It’s just doesn’t work like that, at least not to me it doesn’t. I may well think otherwise from yesterday, not to mention last week, last month, last year, and so on. Thinking or doing anything would be pointless if that wasn’t the case. This is also why I’m not fond of any text being the final version of what it is supposed to be. If I am offered the chance to get comments from someone on some draft, it doesn’t really do much for me, not because I don’t find dialogue useful, but because the time I get comments, I tend to have already changed my mind on any number of things and changed things around in the text as well, thus rendering such comments more or less useless. It’s actually waste of their time, of those who comment or wish to comment because my reply will probably be that I already changed those bits or that’s no longer there, but this is there now instead. This also applies to peer review. It takes a ton of time and whatever is stated is at least to some extent already outdated by the time I get the comments. Also, I believe I commented this on the essay on authorship, but there’s just something odd when you read something you wrote in its supposed final form. It’s sort of … as if someone else wrote it, even though it was you, because, well, that’s the point exactly, was you, not is you. Who or what is the author anyway? Of course this must make me a pain to work with, that is to say if you work in the way that everything is supposed to be a finalized self-contained masterpiece, honed to the finest detail, with no typos, no quirks, no character. That’s of course not to say that I don’t work hard, put the hours in. On the contrary, rather the opposite, hence I’m always way ahead of things, already having worked on myself to the extent that I’ve changed my mind on any number of things when others take up on what once was. I find it only satisfactory when you don’t know what you’ll end up with, as pointed out by Foucault and advocated by Deleuze and Guattari. It’s the same with this blog. I for sure didn’t know where it was going to go when I started it and I still don’t. I only had a couple of ideas to start with, but then it all just snowballed into all kinds of things and still does. Sometimes the essays are long, super long. Other times they are short, just a couple of pages. There’s no template, no restrictions on style or format. I just start by writing something, on something that is of interest to me and then stop at some point. What’s my next essay going to be on? Maybe I’ll continue on this plateau, but then again, maybe I won’t, only to return to it later, to cover it better or to point out that I missed something that now really struck me. Maybe I’ll write on something altogether different or maybe I won’t. Anyway, where was I? Right, so, I think that the parts of the plateau covered thus far have more to offer than just making one wary of one-eyed and one-armed men. If not, well, then I reckon that people will at least find the bits on the last glass and the last word interesting.


  • Deleuze, G. ([1994–1995] 2011). Gilles Deleuze from A to Z (P-A. Boutang, Dir., C. J. Stivale, Trans.). Los Angeles, CA: Semiotext(e).
  • Deleuze, G., and F. Guattari ([1980] 1987). A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia (B. Massumi, Trans.). Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press.
  • Dumézil, G. ([1948] 1988). Mitra-Varuna (D. Coltman, Trans.). New York, NY: Zone Books.
  • Foucault, M. ([1969/1971] 1972). The Archaeology of Knowledge & The Discourse on Language (A. M. Sheridan Smith and R. Swyer, Trans.). New York, NY: Pantheon Books.
  • Foucault, M. (1988). Truth, Power, Self: An Interview with Michel Foucault. In L. H. Martin, H. Gutman and P. H. Hutton (Eds.), The Technologies of the Self: A Seminar with Michel Foucault (pp. 9–15). Amherst, MA: University of Massachusetts Press.
  • Martin, G. R. R. (1991–2011). A Song of Ice and Fire. New York, NY: Bantam Books / Harper Collins.
  • Paradox Development Studio (2012). Crusader Kings II (H. Fåhraeus, Dir., J. Andersson, Pr.). Stockholm, Sweden: Paradox Interactive.