Support your global + Swerve

In my previous essay, I covered the introduction of recently published ‘Reterritorializing Linguistic Landscapes: Questioning Boundaries and Opening Spaces’ edited by David Malinowski and Stefania Tufi. In summary, I both agreed and disagreed with their statements. I was happy to see the work Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari being discussed in the introduction, but I didn’t end up endorsing their take (not that they need my endorsement, of course). My main gripe was, in the end, that ‘landscape’ wasn’t discussed in their introduction, despite being discussed by Deleuze and Guattari in ‘A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia’ in plateau seven, ‘Year Zero: Faciality’, and being conceptually highly important to their take on how reality is constructed or assembled according to the abstract machine of faciality/landscapity that sets its parameters so that people come to see the world in a certain way and desire to identify through this way of seeing. In short, faciality (face) and landscapity (landscape) deal with how people’s identities come to be constructed. That said, I noted in the first paragraph of that essay that, perhaps, the editors, Malinowski and Tufi, left some of this to other contributors, so as to not to steal their thunder.

So, this time I’ll look at a couple of the book chapters, those indicated by the editors as building on the work of Deleuze and Guattari (albeit not exclusively so, of course). These include chapter nine, ‘F/Anfield: Banners, Tweets, and “Owning” Football’s Linguistic Landscape’ by Frank Monaghan and ‘The Semiotics of Spatial Turbulence: Re/Deterritorializing Israel-Palestine at a South African University’ by Natalija Cerimaj, Tommasso Milani and Dimitris Kitis. I won’t go into detail in this essay as I’m sure you can do yourself a favor and read the book chapters yourself, as you should, instead of simply taking my word for it. That’s what I’d do (as I’m exactly that type of a person who looks up some reference, only to end up reading that text instead, followed by looking up something referenced in that text, and so on, and so on, and, perhaps even writing about some seemingly random stuff).

Anyway, to summarize Monaghan’s book chapter, he deals with who gets to define the everyday encounters with football, wherever that may take place, for example at a stadium, at a fan shop or online. He (177) uses the Deleuzo-Guattarian concepts of de– and reterritorialization to explain this. The gist of this is that due to capitalism (that mixed regime of signs discussed in the previous essay) much of what used to be considered as ‘owned’ by the people who support football clubs, in the sense that they consider them their clubs, has now been commodified, turned into something that anyone can buy into, assuming that they have the capital to do so, you know kinda like the ‘oh-how-rebellious-of-you’ Che Guevara t-shirts that I alluded to in my previous essay. It turns the clubs that people consider(ed) theirs into something like global brand of soda. People are used to identifying themselves through these clubs by supporting them, but the trend is that supporting a club is treated like buying a globalized product. As he (182-183, 191-192) goes on to point out, the supporters are not keen on being treated as mere customers.

His book chapter is not about explaining how all that works, in general, that’s just the gist of it. He (178-179) turns his attention to how people seek to counter or subvert this trend that seeks to commodify their beloved clubs, in this case the Liverpool Football Club (LFC or just Liverpool). It’s rather obvious that this has to do with identify formation, should the supporters get to have a say what a club stands for or should the club owners and investors get to do that for the supporters. This is very much a question of ‘who’ gets to have a say, to exercise power, which leads us to ask the question of ‘why’ that might be the case.

When accounting for his own position in all this, he (179) refers to an assemblage as “‘A semiotic system, a regime of signs and content [that] becomes a pragmatic system, actions and passions’”. This is parsed from the conclusion of ‘A Thousand Plateaus’ and I say parsed because it’s a mere fragment of the original sentence, in which Deleuze and Guattari (504) state that:

“The reason that the assemblage is not confined to the strata is that expression in it becomes a semiotic system, a regime of signs, and content becomes a pragmatic system, actions and passions.”

The problem with Monaghan’s (179) use of this statement is that it conflates the two sides of assemblages. The original is very clear about distinguishing a semiotic system, a regime of signs (aka collective assemblages of enunciation or semiotization), and a pragmatic system, of actions and passions (aka regime of bodies and machinic assemblages of bodies or desire). The former has to do with forms of expression and the latter with forms of content to use the terms they use in the context of stratification. In Foucauldian terms, the former has to do with discursive formations (statements) and the latter with non-discursive formations (visibilities). This is becomes very clear when take into account the two previous sentences by Deleuze and Guattari (504):

“Inasmuch as they are territorial, assemblages still belong to the strata. At least they pertain to them in one of their aspects, and it is under this aspect that we distinguish in every assemblage content from expression. It is necessary to ascertain the content and the expression of each assemblage, to evaluate their real distinction, their reciprocal presupposition, their piecemeal insertions.”

Indeed, one should not reduce assemblages to only one side of the assemblages. They (504) add this in the following sentence:

“This is the double articulation face-hand, gesture-word, and the reciprocal presupposition between the two. This is the first division of every assemblage: it is simultaneously and inseparably a machinic assemblage and an assemblage of enunciation. In each case, it is necessary to ascertain both what is said and what is done.”

So, if you follow them, how they (504) define assemblages, you can’t just address one or the other. You have to do both. They (504) continue:

“There is a new relation between content and expression that was not yet present in the strata: the statements or expressions express incorporeal transformations that are ‘attributed’ as such (properties) to bodies or contents.”

In other words, on one side you have intermingling of bodies and on the other side surface effects, which, while distinct, cannot be neatly separated from one another, as I mentioned in the previous essay. You need this in-between the two (think of the Möbius strip). They (504) go on:

“In the strata, expressions do not form signs, nor contents pragmata, so this autonomous zone of incorporeal transformations expressed by the former and attributed to the latter does not appear.”

They (504) specify this by stating that “regimes of signs develop only in the alloplastic or anthropomorphic strata”. For them (504), this includes territorialized animals as markers of territory, such as territorial-pissings, because for that to make sense (yes, sense, like I discussed in the previous essay), there needs to be some system or a regime, otherwise it’s just random urination. Conversely, regimes of signs “do not permeate all of the strata, and overspill each of them”, as that’s an illusion, as they (63, 504) go on to point out. Elsewhere in the book, they (65) explain this:

“Should we say that there are signs on all the strata, under the pretext that every stratum includes territorialities and movements of deterritorialization and reterritorialization? This kind of expansive method is very dangerous, because it lays the groundwork for or reinforces the imperialism of language, if only by relying on its function as universal translator or interpreter. It is obvious that there is no system of signs common to all strata, not even in the form of a semiotic ‘chora theoretically prior to symbolization.”

At this stage, it’s worth making note of what they (65) call “the imperialism of language”. Anyway, they (65) further clarify this:

“It would appear that we may accurately speak of signs only when there is a distinction between forms of expression and forms of content that is not only real but also categorical. Under these conditions, there is a semiotic system on the corresponding stratum because the abstract machine has precisely that fully erect posture that permits it to ‘write,’ in other words, to treat language and extract a regime of signs from it.”

Make note of how they emphasize that signs only appear when there’s not only a real distinction between forms of expression (discursive formations) and forms of content (non-discursive formations) but also a categorical one. To use an example that they (41) use, when we are dealing with a geological stratum, the process of sedimentation, followed by the process of folding (or cementation, hardening and welding of sediment into rock), signs are not involved. Anyway, the latter sentence here (65) deals with the imperialism of language, how it appears to be the case that signs are on all strata, even though that’s not the case. They (65) further specify this problem by arguing that it’s not only that we have to confront the imperialism of language but, more importantly, the imperialism of the signifier which operates within language and thus threatens all (alternative) regimes of signs (hence their aim to go beyond signification, as exemplified by their use of different terminology, content, expression, substance and form). The (65) rephrase the whole issue:

“The question here is not whether there are signs on every stratum but whether all signs are signifiers, whether all signs are endowed with signifiance, whether the semiotic of signs is necessarily linked to a semiology of the signifier.”

They (65) add that if you go with semiology (mainstream linguistics), this may happen:

“Those who take this route may even be led to forgo the notion of the sign, for the primacy of the signifier over language guarantees the primacy of language over all of the strata even more effectively than the simple expansion of the sign in all directions.”

This results in all illusion that everything takes place within language, that all there is is language, to use the mangled version of the claim made by Jacques Derrida (to be clear, he never actually said such). This is what Deleuze and Guattari combat in ‘A Thousand Plateaus’ as they insist on addressing bodies (corporeality) in all analyses. Their (66) take on signifier can be summarized by this statement:

“There is only one thing that can be said about the signifier: it is Redundancy, it is the Redundant. Hence its incredible despotism, and its success.”

Here they (65) refer to what is known as the (infinite) chain of signification or deferral of meaning. This is also pertains to how the signifying regime of signs is said to have a central figure, a despot, as they (115) point out elsewhere in the book. They (65) also warn no to simply consider words as signifiers and things as signifieds.

Right, back to the conclusion where it is added by the two (504) that in addition to this first (horizontal) axis that pertains forms of expression (collective assemblages of enunciation or semiotization, regimes of signs) and forms of content (machinic assemblages of bodies, regimes of bodies), there is another axis (vertical) that pertains to their territoriality, de- and reterritorialization. As expressed elsewhere in the book by the two (41), one axis deals with forms, which “imply a code, modes of coding and decoding”, and the other axis deals with substances that “refer to territorialities and degrees of territorialization and deterritorialization.” Then there’s also the abstract machine (or diagram, if we use the Foucauldian term for it), double-articulation and plane of consistency, but I won’t explain these here. I just wanted to clarify things with regard to assemblages, how they are tetravalent, as expressed by the two (89). To make sense of tetravalence, imagine a horizontal line cut by a vertical line, which results in these four squares: substance of expression, form of expression, substance of content and form content.

Right, back to Monaghan (179) who relies on another definition of assemblages, as “‘complex constellation of objects, bodies, expressions, qualities, and territories that come together for varying periods of time to ideally create new ways of function’”, as defined by Graham Livesey (18) in the ‘Deleuze Dictionary’. I mean this is not a bad definition, in the sense that it does include both sides of assemblages and how it’s not static, but rather dynamic (or metastable). That said, I’m not really convinced. It’s hard to say whether Monaghan grasps the tetravalence of assemblages and how it is related to abstract machines, planes of consistency (or immanence) and double-articulation. Maybe. Maybe not.

To explain what he means by linguistic landscape, he (179-180) refers to an existing definition provided by Adam Jaworski and Crispin Thurlow in ‘Introducing Semiotic Landscapes’ as included as the introductory chapter to their edited book ‘Semiotic Landscapes: Language, Image, Space’. They (2) state that they “take semiotic landscape to mean, in the most general sense, any (public) space with visible inscription made through deliberate human intervention and meaning making.” Monaghan (179) opts to retain the moniker linguistic landscape but adopts this wider definition that is not exclusively concerned with language. What I find problematic with this definition is that it still echoes the frequently cited definition by Rodrigue Landry and Richard Bourhis, as included in their article ‘Linguistic Landscape and Ethnolinguistic Vitality: An Empirical Study’. Jaworski and Thurlow (2) just replace the area in question, “territory, region or urban agglomeration” as defined by Landry and Bourhis (25), with “(public) space” and visible linguistic elements with visible semiotic elements. While I think the definition is improved, it still ignores how landscape is not a bounded entity, as I discussed in the previous essay. Okay, space is not, in itself, a bounded entity, but I get the sense that in this use it is, considering that it’s not just space but public space, that is to say not private space, thus delineating it as this and/or that space that is open to the members of public, regardless of whether it is privately or publicly owned (that is to say, excluding areas not accessible to everyone, thus delineating it). In short, similarly to many other linguistic landscape studies, this is the weak point of Monaghan’s book chapter.

What I liked about this book chapter is how it makes use of de- and reterritorialization, to point out that people can deterritorialize the system, in this case a football club, in order to reterritorialize it, as Monaghan (192-193) goes on to point out. In other words, they can counter the deterritorialization of their club and its subsequent reterritorialization by deterritorializing it again in order to reterritorialize it into their club, instead of buying into a corporate vision of the club. He (189) also provides examples of how one subverts corporate presence by blocking it (covering it) and/or mocking it (mimicking the corporate look but with certain alterations). Maybe I would have wanted more examples of the corporate side and how that tends to get its way, perhaps a wide angle shot comparison of the stadium with and without a crowd of supporters. Then again, it’s his book chapter, he can do as he likes. I don’t expect writers to cater to me.

I also appreciate how he (193-194) is, nonetheless, suspicious of whether such acts of resistance will have an impact beyond what’s immediate, considering how capitalism tends to displace its limits, to accommodate for something which it only seeks to incorporate into itself. I think faciality/landscapity could have been used to explain how the various landscape elements (faces), such as advertisements and supporter banners, function to inform the stadium landscape, how they inform the preferred identity, what the people are expected to identify with and, conversely, what they are not expected to identify with though this biunivocal inclusion/exclusion mechanism, discussed by Deleuze and Guattari (176-177) in ‘A Thousand Plateaus’. This is, of course, implied by Monaghan (181-182). I’ll give him that.

I also liked how he (185) is explicit about his position, how he considers himself a long time fan, which puts him in the supporter camp and thus at odds with the ownership, inasmuch the ownership does not share the views of its supporters. I also like that he (185) points out that there is no such thing as impartiality, as everything is political and personal, one way or another. I reckon he is actually a bit unnecessary polite about this when he (185) adds that his readers are welcome to think otherwise. I mean he could have just stated that if this works for you then great, if it doesn’t then, well, too bad, read something else instead. I don’t agree with everything that’s stated in this book chapter, as I’ve discussed in this essay, but that doesn’t mean that I think that it’s all shit then. I don’t think one needs to buy into the views of someone else wholesale.

Moving on! So, what about the book chapter by Cerimaj, Milani and Kitis? Right, let me see. Firstly, they (117) introduce the concept of turbulence and suggest that it is particularly apt for addressing order and disorder. They (117) refer to an article ‘On Turbulence: Entanglements of Disorder and Order on a Devon Beach’ by Tim Cresswell and Craig Martin. Me being me, I could not help myself and so I had to take a look at this article myself. I’ll do that first and then return to Cerimaj, Milani and Kitis.

Cresswell and Martin (517) advocate for turbulence. They (517) acknowledge the value of what they call “assemblage theory” (I don’t think it’s a theory though) but prefer to go with turbulence instead, for two key reasons. Firstly (517):

“It foregrounds a set of decidedly mobile metaphors, with particular stimulus coming from fluid dynamics[.]”

Secondly (517):

“[T]he language of turbulence in the popular lexicon continues to foster an image of negativity: instead we want to dispel such representations and address the complex entanglements of creative, discordant events and eruptions of re-orderings which are fostered by theorisations of turbulence.”

They (517) go on to justify their choice:

“It is not simply the case that order (or disorder) prevails, rather turbulence produces new forms of complexity and thus, like assemblages, demands that we attend to the shifting interactions between the variegated forces of contemporary mobility.”

Okay, but what is turbulence? Based on this, I’d say that it’s, perhaps, virtually the same as metastability. Anyway, I dig the boldness of this. I mean they acknowledge Deleuze and Guattari, as well as number of others, in reference to assemblages, yet think that the concept of turbulence works better. Sure, okay. The thing is that based on this, I’m not buying it, no matter how much they speak of mobility and the mobile. I’m not really convinced by the introductory story either, where they (516) state that, for example, a ship wreck and what follows from it, such as clean-up, looting, investigations, insurance premiums going up for the shipping company, “are all testimony to the shifting registers of order and disorder, neither of which is permanently stable, always locked in disjunctive interplay”, in other words, turbulence. Okay, so turbulence is not order or disorder, nor is order or disorder stable. So, everything is … metastable? Haha! I told you it was about metastability! I mean, that’s what it is, if we go with what I wrote in the previous essay. So, we might consider order as stability (equilibrium) and disorder as instability (disequilibrium). Then again something is only as stable (or unstable) until it isn’t. In other words, it’s better conceive everything as metastable instead of stable or unstable. This is something that Deleuze and Guattari (19) address in ‘Anti-Oedipus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia’ when they state that:

“In a word, the opposition of the forces of attraction and repulsion produces an open series of intensive elements, all of them positive, that are never an expression of the final equilibrium of a system, but consist, rather, of an unlimited number of stationary, metastable states through which a subject passes.”

Boom! I told you! Now, of course, you need to understand how this relates to intensities, as well as extensities, but let’s not get tangled up in that here. Let’s see what else Cresswell and Martin have to say, before I return to Cerimaj, Milani and Kitis. Right, Cresswell and Martin (518) make a good point how turbulence is an apt word for what we are dealing with here, and, perhaps, sexier than metastability, considering that turbulence is often depicted as negative thing, in the sense that it’s out of control, you know, like turmoil. In short, it gets associated with disorder, which troubles most people, even if some may consider it an opportunity, as they (518) go on to point out.

To be serious, for a moment, they (518) refer to the work of Manuel DeLanda and Michel Serres, as well as Epicurus and Lucretius (I had a feeling ‘the swerve guy’, that’s how I know him, is going to make an appearance!). Anyway, as they (518-519) point out, the ‘proper’ name for this swerve is clinamen, “a small, almost unmeasurable deviation in movement that becomes the source of all turbulence and thus of all substance ad life”, which, for Lucretius “is the interaction of atoms as they fall through the void that is the wellspring of life” and “the deviation, or swerve, from the fall”. I shit you not, I’m writing this as I’m reading this text (and I love writing this way because it’s an encounter!), so the point about calling him ‘the swerve guy’ came right before Cresswell and Martin called the deviation, the clinamen, a swerve. Haha! Thank you cosmos! Anyway, as they (519) point out, if there was no swerve, there’d be no collision, even if there’s movement, because there’d be just fall, that is to say one direction. This is one of those things which makes you wonder if a line is ever straight or if it is actually curved.

They (519) move on to point out that while it may seem like this would mean that there is only disorder (cough, cough, chaos), that’s not exactly the case. What we get instead is, again, I shit you not, “a form of metastability, a temporary balance between them”, as they (519) point out. This is familiar to me because this is very issue is discussed by Deleuze and Guattari (361) in ‘A Thousand Plateaus’, in reference to Serres. This is also familiar to me through the work of Gilbert Simondon.

Cresswell and Martin make an important point (which, I’d say you can find in ‘A Thousand Plateaus’ as well), when they (519-520) state that this defies “the calculative logic of predictability” with its “instances of systemic self-organisation” (which makes me think of autopoiesis, as defined by Humberto Maturana and Francisco Varela in ‘Autopoiesis and Cognition: the Realization of the Living’ and as subsequently redefined by Guattari in ‘Chaosmosis: An Ethico-Aesthetic Paradigm’, but that’s another story), with its “dynamic possibility of things becoming different and distinguishable”, negating “the efficacy of all-encompassing and unilinear theory.” More importantly, as they (520) go on to clarify,“[t]he political power of this line of thought”, what I’d call a way of thinking or an image of thought, “is not to be underestimated” because the “emergence of singularities” (remember how I discussed haecceities, i.e. singularities, in the previous essay) “makes any single frame of reference redundant.” They (520) summarize this by stating that “turbulence produces singularities – localised objects and events that are not intelligible within generalising or universalising frameworks”, which means that “order is secondary to turbulence.” To explain this is Deleuzian terms, turbulence is difference and order is identity and thus difference is primary and identity is secondary. Moreover, whatever is considered order or identity is, in fact, always in the making and thus, at best, metastable. This is also the Heraclitian stance on this. And, it’s only fitting that it is, considering he’s the ‘flow guy’ or the ‘flux guy’ who steps into the river (or at least talks about it, I mean, at least supposedly talked about it).

I also have to admit that I must have forgotten how Deleuze and Guattari also talk of turbulence in ‘A Thousand Plateaus’ when they (353) discuss nomadism and it works contra state-ism, as Cresswell and Martin (520) go on to point out. I’d still use metastability though. I’ll have to give them credit for making this explicit thought (not that they need my endorsement though). They (520) summarize it well how we are in the habit of thinking mobility, what I’d call movement (because it also works well in the political sense), as secondary to being stationary. That makes people on the move, aka nomads, the deviation from the norm, being sedentary, while, frankly, there’s no reason to give primacy to being sedentary. They (520) warn us not to consider movement as something that happens between points, from one point of being sedentary to another point of being sedentary, because that’s exactly what treating movement as secondary to being sedentary looks like as an image of thought. They (520) argue in favor of mobility, what I’d call movement, or, more broadly speaking nomadism or transversality. This is also related to my gripe about calling linguistic landscape a field (or a discipline) in the previous essay, because setting up boundaries relies on that dominant image of thought that builds on on that illusion of sedentism, as Cresswell and Martin (520) characterize it.

Right, back to Cerimaj, Milani and Kitis. They (117) state that they work with the notion of turbulence (or metastability) to analyze “the complex dynamics of order and disorder, and how these two registers play out through forms of spatial semiotics.” To summarize this book chapter, as you can surely read it yourself in detail, they (117) deal with two groups of protesters at a South African university, one that is pro-Palestine and another that is pro-Israel. They (117-118) point out that what differentiates their work from prior work is that their take is on how the Israel-Palestine issue is “perceived, represented, and reimagined through language and other meaning-making resources”, whatever they may be, but, importantly, not in Israel or Palestine, but in a foreign context.

They (118) comment that, for them, on its own, turbulence is not enough to explain something like political protests that involve people taking over certain areas, typically built environments, and utilize various semiotic resources, including but not limited to “cardboards, slogans, t-shirts, and their own bodies”. Therefore they (118) opt to draw from the work of Deleuze and Guattari, namely ‘A Thousand Plateaus’, and Multimodal Critical Discourse Analysis (MCDA) because it offers “a readily available framework for scrutinizing linguistic and visual data”. Here they (118) refer to the work of Gunther Kress and Theo van Leeuwen, namely the ‘Reading Images: The Grammar of Visual Design’, and David Machin and Andrea Mayr, namely ‘How to Do Critical Discourse Analysis: A Multimodal Introduction’, of which I’m more familiar with the former than the latter.

From ‘A Thousand Plateaus’ they (118) pick up the conceptual pair of striated space and smooth space, or striation and smoothness. They (188) aptly summarize these, noting that striated space is easy to comprehend by thinking it in terms of sedentism, how people plough fields, turning soil over, cutting furrows, narrow grooves on the ground that, well, look like striations if you look at them from a distance. Of course, it doesn’t mean that striation is just about ploughed fields. It applies to any feature of sedentism, staying put, both material and semiotic, both sides of the assemblage, really. It’s about being static or state-ic, in the sense that one stays put, you know, like a state, always within its borders (even when it conquers territory, it’s within its borders, it just expands or, conversely, contracts, in relation to another state, which operates the same way). Another apt moniker for this is grid, hence the importance of geometry (which takes us back to the Greeks and, subsequently, to Renaissance Italy, which is highly relevant to landscape, but let’s not tangled up in that here).

In contrast, smooth space is directional, “like the wind-swept, grass vastness roamed by the nomad”, as they (118) summarize it. Whereas striation is about geometry and dimensions (closed space, closing space, fixing it), smoothness is about arithmetic, based on numbers (useful for organizing the war machine, aka the horde, as the sedentaries would call it, into functional units, which form the basis of modern military organization). Nomads roam in smooth space, traversing it, occupying it, staying on it, until they don’t. The nomads are marked by movement, so that, perhaps counter-intuitively, they are the ones who travel the least, because they never leave home, they never travel, they never go anywhere, as explained by Deleuze (‘V’) in ‘Gilles Deleuze from A to Z’. For Deleuze (‘V’) this is an important point because, conversely, from a sedentary point of view the nomads appear to be in constant movement, always on the move, always mobile (to use the term preferred by others), somewhere out there, haunting the fringes of civilization (what sedentaries think to be civilization, that is), yet, one could argue that, in fact, they are as immobile as anything can be as from the nomad perspective they are not going anywhere nor do they want to go anywhere. He (‘V’) also points out that we like to think of migrants (emigrants/immigrants, voluntary travel) and refugees/exiles (forced travel) as doing what the nomads do, but, as also noted by Cresswell and Martin (520), their movement is from one point to another, from home to a destination, directly or through other intermediary points, and a mere symptom of sedentism, being displaced by other sedentaries. That’s not mobility or movement, turbulence or metastability, as defined in this essay, because it’s subordinated to the illusory notions of stability (equilibrium, order) and instability (disequilibrium, disorder, chaos). In short, unlike the nomads, the migrants and the refugees/exiles engage in what Deleuze and Guattari (363) call constrained, restrained, disciplined or local movement, going from one specific point to another. They deterritorialize, voluntarily or involuntarily, but only to reterritorialize, whereas the nomads remain deterritorialized. They (381) clarify this:

“It is in this sense that nomads have no points, paths, or land, even though they do by all appearances. If the nomad can be called the Deterritorialized par excellence, it is precisely because there is no reterritorialization afterward as with the migrant, or upon something else as with the sedentary (the sedentary’s relation with the earth is mediatized by something else, a property regime, a State apparatus).”

Only to further specify the deterritorialization of nomads (381):

“With the nomad, on the contrary, it is deterritorialization that constitutes the relation to the earth, to such a degree that the nomad reterritorializes on deterritorialization itself.”

So, yes, one could argue that also the nomads reterritorialize, but not in the way that sedentaries do. In contrast to the sedentaries, they do not, as they (381) continue:

“It is the earth that deterritorializes itself, in a way that provides the nomad with a territory. The land ceases to be land, tending to become simply ground (sol) or support.”

Moreover, they (382) add that this can be thought as functioning both ways, the nomad deterritorializing the land and its forms, and vice versa:

“The nomads are there, on the land, wherever there forms a smooth space that gnaws, and tends to grow, in all directions. The nomads inhabit these places; they remain in them, and they themselves make them grow, for it has been established that the nomads make the desert no less than they are made by it. They are vectors of deterritorialization. They add desert to desert, steppe to steppe, by a series of local operations whose orientation and direction endlessly vary.”

Before I move on, to connect this to landscape, they (382) state that:

“[T]here is no intermediate distance, no perspective or contour; visibility is limited; and yet there is an extraordinarily fine topology that relies not on points or objects but rather on haecceities, on sets of relations (winds, undulations of snow or sand, the song of the sand or the creaking of ice, the tactile qualities of both).”

They (382) rephrase this as:

“It is a tactile space, or rather ‘haptic,’ a sonorous much more than a visual space.”

This does not, however, mean that smooth space is not conceived visually, but rather that it is not as important or central as it is in striated space. The problem with landscape is that, historically, it builds on geometry (dimensions, closed space) and utilizes vision to legitimate sedentism (plus much more within it).

Right, back to Cerimaj, Milani and Kitis (118) who note that, following Deleuze and Guattari (474-475), this distinction is, however, only conceptual (or virtual), and, in actuality, smooth and striated spaces exist only in mixture, one always shifting or morphing to the other, smooth space being captured and striated and striated space being dissolved into smooth space. Cerimaj, Milani and Kitis (118) add that striated space and (re)territorialization “produces spatial arrangements according to categorical markers such as nationhood, class, ethnicity, race, gender, sexuality, and so on”, whereas smooth space and deterritorialization “delink[s] space from identity categories.”

I would add here that, as already discussed in this essay, sedentaries can and do operate by deterritorializing, as exemplified by Monaghan in his book chapter, but this is always followed by a reterritorialization. So, in terms identity or identities, sedentaries may well change what counts as what, but they stay within the confines of the semiotic system, hence the point I made about how capitalism displaces its limits. Revolutions may take place but they fail because the mixed regime of signs always captures them and incorporates them into the system. In contrast, the nomads do not have this issue because, for them, revolution is not overturning this for that, a change understood in terms of identity, but a matter of becoming-revolutionary, being indifferent to such terms that have been “conceptualized in terms of past and future”, as explained by Deleuze and Guattari (292). The nomads are always in the middle of things. They do not conceive themselves by looking to the past, nor to the future. So, when I go against conceiving linguistic landscape studies as its own field, as discussed in the previous essay, it has to do with this, engaging in nomad thought, not sedentary thought that seeks to establish territories and hierarchical power structures within them, such as a system of disciplines in academics. Related to this, to amuse you for a moment, there’s (almost) nothing like discussing something like discipline and how power is exercised in contemporary societies, how that’s a major issue, only to be disciplined by your ‘peers’, for doing something ‘wrong’ or doing it the ‘wrong’ or ‘incorrect’ way, that is to say in some way that is not deemed ‘right’ or ‘correct’ by them, those who are in positions which allow them to exercise power over you. It’s so ironic that you can only laugh at it. It’s like are you for real?

Cerimaj, Milani and Kitis (118) move on to discuss multimodality, that is to say modes of semiotization, as Guattari calls it in ‘The Machinic Unconscious: Essays in Schizoanalysis’, noting “visual elements such as color, shapes, and images constitute a ‘pool’ of affordances with meaning potential, and text producers need choose among them every time they want to create a textual artifact.” They (118-119) add that it is of little consequence whether the producers intend something or not, as “such choices are never random but depend on a variety of factors which include inter alia the historical associations that, say, a cor has with a specific nation-state”, in this case blue being associated with Israel and red, green and black being associated with Palestine. They (119) also note how personal pronouns can be used inclusively/exclusive. This is what is also known as the Us vs. Them, Othering or Alterity. It creates a binary, a dichotomy or a biunivocal relation, how one term is explained according to the other term.

Cerimaj, Milani and Kitis (119) state their goal in the book chapter is to illustrate how the pro-Israel and pro-Palestine protesters use visual elements, semiotic modes and resources. They set out do that, in combination with the concepts of (re)territorialization and deterritorialization. It proves to be interesting reading with good examples, mainly posters. For example, they (121) indicate that a poster utilizes the colors associated with Israel and Palestine, accompanied by text and image, in short visual choices, “territorialize the image[,] making it uncontroversial that the walls and high towers in the picture represent the Israeli-West Bank barrier built by the state of Israel after the second Intifada in 2000, allegedly to work as a security barrier against terrorist attack on Israeli soil.” In summary, they (121) argue that the poster creates a dichotomy, a positive and rather innocent portrayal of Palestine and the Palestinians who long for freedom beyond the walls, accompanied by a negative portrayal of Israel and the Israeli who have set up the walls. They (121) add that there is an added element, the contemporary South African flag, which links the apartheid history of South Africa to contemporary Israel-Palestine, de- and reterritorializing it, working both ways, as they (122) go on to add.

I don’t have a lot to say about the analyses in this book chapter. I mean, yeah. What I would have done is to point out how Deleuze and Guattari (531) rework Charles Sanders Peirce’s index, icon and symbol, cutting them from their signifiersignified relations and pasting them into (re)territorialization-deterritorilazation relations. For them (65), there are thus “three kinds of signs: indexes (territorial signs), symbols (deterritorialized signs), and icons (signs of reterritorialization). I think discussing or even just mentioning this would have clarified the analyses. Then again, I have no trouble understanding the analyses of Cerimaj, Milani and Kitis. The same applies to Monaghan’s analyses. Some may think otherwise, but they make sense to me. That’s what matters to me.

What I find lacking in this book chapter by Cerimaj, Milani and Kitis is the talk of landscape. I mean parts of it clearly deal with it. For example some of the posters depict landscape, which relates to landscape studies that deal with paintings as a (supposedly) representational practice (depicting the world as like this and/or like that, assuming that people will buy into the depiction being a faithful rendition of reality, which, they never are, but that’s another story). Then there are other parts which, to me, don’t really deal with landscape because my understanding of landscape has to do with the absence (if not erasure) of people (which also has to do with painting, how there are typically no people in landscape paintings, hence the profound inhumanity of landscape, despite being, of course, a human invention). The point of this is that it’s like the world itself is telling who the people who look at it (or depiction of it) are. How could you challenge an identity that is based on the world itself? How do you argue against that? How do you argue against reality itself? Exactly! You don’t! Now, it should be obvious that the world and its depictions are, of course, made to look the way they do, which means that it is possible to manipulate people through them. For example, if you look at landscape paintings, they are typically rather sanitized, if you will, probably because they were typically commissioned by people who thought that the riffraff should not be seen (the irony being that they did need these people to maintain their premises/land that the paintings depicted). The depictions therefore functioned to legitimize their views, that they own the land, not the people who live and work on it, and the manipulation of actual surroundings (what is also known as landscaping), to match their views, which in turn reinforced the depictions (which we never faithful to the world to begin with, obviously). It’s becomes feedback loop that functions to reproduce certain identities (but not others, which is why it’s biunivocal), including but not limited to ethnic or national identities and economic identities. It’s relevant not only to the appropriation of property (namely land), as done by the Patricians (Bourgeoisie), but also to propriety, what is considered proper within a society, which, is typically defined by those who have most influence in a society. Surprise, surprise, those who have had most influence in societies have been wealthy people, for example the Patricians (Bourgeoisie), which means that the social is intertwined with the economic, according to the interests or desires of some people. Ain’t that convenient!

There are a couple of more texts that deal with Deleuze and Guattari, but I’ll have a closer look at them sometime in the future. So, in summary, I found these two book chapters to engage more deeply with the work of Deleuze and Guattari, namely ‘A Thousand Plateaus’, than the introduction. That said, similarly to the introduction, these two book chapters don’t really deal with landscape, which is a bit of a letdown (for me, others probably disagree). It’s not a big issue in the case of Cerimaj, Milani and Kitis as they bypass the issue and focus on something else, almost ignoring linguistic landscape, perhaps intentionally, perhaps because I don’t see why they’d need to connect their work to linguistic landscape studies. Their study works on its own, just fine by building on Deleuze and Guattari, as well as Serres (via Cresswell and Martin). I think Monaghan’s chapter would have benefited from that more. That said, interesting stuff nonetheless. These chapters also led me on a couple of fascinating tangential encounters, so, yeah, well worth reading.


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