Id is what id is

This time I’ll be dealing with machines as that’s all there is, as Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari (2) argue in ‘Anti-Oedipus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia’. I could explain this by using the term they use in ‘A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia’, that is to say assemblages, as all they (22) know are assemblages, but I think it’s worth it to explain how they explain it in ‘Anti-Oedipus’. I intended to write something else, definitely not this, but, somehow, I ended up on a tangent where this ended up relevant.

Right, they (2) sure don’t ease you in, considering that they just flat-out state that:

“Everywhere it is machines—real ones, not figurative ones: machines driving other machines, machines being driven by other machines, with all the necessary couplings and connections.”

The ‘it’ here is desiring-production, but let’s not get tangled up on that. What I want to emphasize here is that we have machines that are connected or coupled with other machines. In the sentence before this, they (2) state that:

“What a mistake to have ever said the [‘I’].”

Now, in the original French version what I’ve changed is ‘ça’ and in English version it is translated as ‘id’.  If I understood this correctly, the translation misses the point, because ‘ça’ is a contraction of ‘cela’, which would be ‘it’ or, alternative, ‘this’ or ‘that’ if it is used instead of ‘ceci’, as opposed to ‘id’ or, what I’ve gone with here, the ‘I’. It is, however, also ‘id’ in the psychoanalytic sense, so it is fine to translate it as the ‘id’. Then again, apparently that’s from Sigmund Freud, as translated from German ‘es’, which is ‘it’. I went with ‘I’ here to keep things simple.

For Freud the id is a primitive self or ‘I’, as explained by him in the ‘New Introductory Lectures on Psycho-Analysis’. To be more accurate, he (103) states that id:

“It is the obscure inaccessible part of our personality[.]”

To be contrasted with ego, as he (103) goes on to add:

“[It] can only be described as being all that ego is not.”

He (103-104) adds to this that id is something more basic, something instinctual, something impulsive, and driven by what he refers to as the pleasure-principle. It has the cathexes, which I take to be energy, that seeks to be discharged, as he (105) points out. That said, he (106) reckons that id is not neatly separable from ego:

“One can hardly go wrong in regarding the ego as that part of the id which has been modified by its proximity to the external world and the influence that the latter has had on it[.]”

In short, ego is the part of id that has been modified by what else is there, which, in turn, has been, in part, modified by id. Okay. He (106) continues with ego:

“[It] serves the purpose of receiving stimuli and protecting the organism from them, like the cortical layer with which a particle of a living substance surrounds itself.”

In other words, ego here is what sets the id apart from what else is there, for reasons that he (106) goes on to clarify:

“The ego has taken over the task of representing the external world for the id, and so of saving it; for the id, blindly striving to gratify its instincts in complete disregard of the superior strength of outside forces, could not otherwise annihilation.”

So, to paraphrase this, ego is what prevents id from taking the shortest route to pleasure. He (106) explains this more concisely by stating that:

“In this way [the ego] dethrones the pleasure-principle … and substitutes for it the reality-principle.”

Why? Well, because taking the shortest route to pleasure is riddled with peril, whereas taking a moment to assess the situation, to weigh one’s options, may help one to avoid those perils, as he (106) points out. So, yeah, I’d say that it’s like a filter. He (108) likens ego to a rider and id to the horse that one rides, in the sense that it is id that takes you somewhere, driving you, and that it is ego that seeks to guide you there, safe and sound, as opposed to galloping there, taking the shortest route.

What is super-ego then? Well, for him (102) super-ego, ego and id are how the individual is divided mentally. Id is, for sure, unconscious, whereas super-ego and ego are partially unconscious, as he (105) points out. Now, of course, in contrast to id, super-ego and ego are conscious, but, well, only in the sense that id is fully unconscious. As he (99) specifies this, what’s unconscious about super-ego and ego can be made conscious, with plenty of effort, but that rarely happens, due to the effort involved.

To explain what super-ego is, he (92) states that it is a structural entity. More specifically, it is what he (92-93) calls the ego-ideal, what I guess he means to be an idealized ego, what one thinks of oneself, what one ought to be according to some ideal. He (93) exemplifies with role models, how, for example, children tend to look up to their parents. For him (93), the problem with it is how it may result in a sense of inferiority, when one’s ego does not match one’s super-ego, which is a fancy way of saying that one is unable to live to the expectations that one sets for oneself. The great difficulty of dealing with such is that it’s not that one is comparing oneself to others, as imperfect in comparison to their supposed state of perfection, but to oneself, to one’s own imaginary idea of oneself, as acknowledged by him (93).

He (95) exemplifies how this mismatch between ego and super-ego is cross-generational. In summary, the super-egos of the children are not based on their parents or, I guess, in their absence, their guardians, but on their super-egos, as he (95) points out. To give you a contemporary example, think of the children whose parents want them to become famous athletes, because it is what the parents wanted to become. Now, of course, we can replace those athletes with whatever. Another example would be how prestigious occupations, such as being a doctor, end up becoming a thing in the family, so that the children end up following in the footsteps of their parents, who, in turn, followed in the footsteps of their parents, and so on and so forth.

What’s worth adding here is, perhaps, how he (99-100) defines what’s unconscious and conscious. In summary, something that’s unconscious is not accessible to us. We are not directly aware of such. We can only infer such from something else, which that we are, at best, indirectly aware of such. Consciousness is then the exact opposite of that. That’s not, however, entirely accurate.

He (100) retains his definition of what’s unconscious, but further specifies it by stating that anything that takes place unconsciously means that we simply weren’t aware of it taking place at that time. So, something happens, but we aren’t aware of it happening. It’s that simple. He (100) then further specifies what’s considered conscious. For him (100), consciousness is rather rare, in the sense that we are conscious of something, whatever it is that takes place, but only for a moment and then it’s gone, until it reappears for whatever reason. In other words, consciousness is rather fleeting.

To be clear, I don’t work with these concepts, id, ego, and super-ego. I can, however, see how these have been picked up by others and how I could use them to explain how people end up repressing themselves by thinking that they have to be like this and/or that, only to fail at that. Anyway, this tangent has been long enough. I’ll see I can further discuss this in some other essay.

Right, so, why do Deleuze and Guattari (2) object to id? My answer is that it takes the subject as a starting point, because, according to Freud (103-104), it’s id what drives a person. So, my take is that, for Deleuze and Guattari, what’s interesting is not id, what it/id drives, but what drives it/id, to invoke that wordplay again. To further comment this, though rather briefly, I think there is something like this already in Freud, like an undoing of himself, considering that he (95) does indicate that the super-ego, that ideal sense of self, is typically not one’s own, but of others.

Let’s exemplify what Deleuze and Guattari refer to as machines. Because of the situation in Ukraine, I think it’s only apt to bring a war specific example. So, lets take a closer look at an assault rifle.

An assault rifle appears to be one, but it consists of many, many parts. The number of parts depends on the design. I’m thinking of a common AK design as that’s what I have handled in the past. It’s not just the rifle and the added magazine, even though, at a glance, that’s how it works. You don’t need to know much more than that and it works, hence it’s ubiquity in armed forces. But that’s not what I’m after.

When a soldier squeezes the trigger, a hammer is released and it hits a pin that, in turn, hits a round that has been lifted to a certain position from the magazine by the soldier by pulling the cocking handle that is part of the bolt carrier. As the pin hits the primer at the back of the cartridge, igniting it, which, in turn, ignites the propellant in the cartridge casing. The bullet, that is to say the projectile in front of the casing, partially embedded in it, is propelled forward by expanding high-pressure gas. This gas forces a gas piston backwards, which, in turn, pushes the bolt carrier backwards, which, in turn, pulls the casing backwards until it reaches its limits, unable to travel backwards, which results in its ejection from a side opening. While this happens, the bolt carrier pushes the hammer back, aligning it with the trigger, locking it in place.  Once the bolt carrier reaches its limit, it moves back to its initial position. While this takes place, there is a little sear that locks the hammer in place, locking it with the trigger, so that the bolt carrier has enough room to move back to its initial position. Once the bolt carrier has travelled past the trigger and the hammer, the bolt carrier pushes the sear, which, in turn, moves just enough to allow the hammer to move back to its initial position. As it moves forward, the bolt that it is connected to hits back of the topmost round in the magazine, pushing it forward, lifting it to position and aligning it with the barrel.

Is that all? Well, no. The trigger and the hammer move about, the way they do, because they are connected to a spring. Similarly, the sear functions the way it does, in relation to the other parts, because it is connected to a spring. Similarly, the magazine has a spring, so that the rounds move up as they are fired, so that they are set in a position for the bolt to push them in place to be fired. The bolt carrier, which is this rod with a handle, really, is also depends on a spring. The bolt carrier slides backwards, wrapping around another rod that guides the movement. There’s a spring on that rod, which is why the bolt carrier is able to return to its initial position. Oh, and even the trigger has a spring. Then there’s the selector, which is manipulated by the soldier by moving a lever up and down. By setting it in one position, in the case in the upmost position, the selector prevents the trigger from releasing the hammer. By setting it in another position, in this case the lowermost position, the selector is set in place in a way that the trigger must be pulled again and again to fire more rounds. By setting the selector in yet another position, in this case in the middle position, the selector locks the trigger in place, so that rounds will be fired one after another as long as the trigger is pulled back by the soldier.

Of course, we’d still need to pull apart the different parts as many of them consist of a number of parts. But that’s beside the point here. In addition, it’s crucial to understand that even the parts that cannot be disassembled into smaller parts actually consists of parts. How so? Well, even what appears to be a solid block, like a milled receiver or a frame, is made out of something, which isn’t one homogeneous blob of something. So even though it appears to be one, it is, in fact many.

But how does that work then? Why do the parts that make a whole, whatever that may be, which, in turn, could be a part of some whole, whatever that may? In other words, why does a whole stay whole and not just fragment into its parts, which would then, as wholes, fragment into its parts, and so on and so forth?

Well, I think Baruch Spinoza explains this in his ‘Ethics’ particularly well. I’ve covered this in previous essays, but I won’t mind reiterating it here and then fleshing it out. I think it’s only apt here. So, for Spinoza (45) there’s substance and then there are the modes, which are modifications of this substance. The former exists on its own, on its own terms, like it is what it is, whereas the latter do not exist in themselves, as he (45) points out. Then there are the attributes of the substance, two which we are aware of, thought (incorporeality) and extension (corporeality), so that you have two kinds of modes, thoughts (thinking things) and bodies (extended things), as he goes on to add (45, 55-56).

Without getting too hung up on how, for him (88), substance is the primary cause to everything, the point I want to make here is that the modes exist in relation to another, immanently, which is a fancy way of saying that one mode does not cause another mode, because that would result in an infinite regress of causes. Or, well, the do affect one another, that’s for sure, but it all happens at the same time, hence the immanence. It’s like a relational way of looking at the world. As I’m focusing on material things, I’m going to limit the discussion of modes or particular things, as he (83) also refers to them, to bodies.

So, what we also need to take into consideration is how the bodies can compound, as he (95) points out. By this he (95) means that particular wholes consist of particular parts:

“When any given bodies of the same or different magnitude are compelled by other bodies to remain in contact, or if they be moved at the same or different rates of speed, so that their mutual movements should preserve among themselves a certain fixed relation, we say that such bodies are in union, and that together they compose one body or individual, which is distinguished from other bodies by this fact of union.”

In other words, a particular body can compound into another particular body or, to put that the other way, a particular body can be compounded of particular bodies, as he (95) goes on to clarify. In addition, and this is highly, highly important, a particular body can, as a whole, as a compound, or as a composite, lose some of its parts and remain the same (or, I’d say, at least virtually or effectively the same), inasmuch those parts it has lost are replaced by other parts, as explained by him (95):

If from a body or individual, compounded of several bodies, certain bodies be separated, and if, at the same time, an equal number of other bodies of the same nature take their place, the individual will preserve its nature as before, without any change in, its actuality (forma).”

To go back to that assault rifle example, if we replace any of its parts with other parts that are virtually the same, so, close enough, the whole should remain the virtually the same. It’s not actually the same as its parts have been changed, but it functions as it were the same. To give you another example, think of skin, how it appears to be the same, at all times, but, well, it isn’t. Instead, it is constantly being replaced, with the rate of replacement depending on various physiological factors that aren’t worth getting into detail here. The point here is that the body maintains a sense of being the same, inasmuch the parts of the whole are replaced by other parts that do the job. It’s not, strictly speaking the same, but it is as if were, hence being virtually the same and not actually the same. Another way of expressing that would be to indicate that it’s functionally the same.

But why does a body stay the same then? Why doesn’t it just disintegrate? I still haven’t answered those questions. Well, Spinoza (136) has this thought out as well:

Nothing can be destroyed, except by a cause external to itself.”

This makes sense as, for him (45), a body owe its existence not to itself, as that would make it substance, but to what’s outside them, so, in relation to everything else. Here he (136) explains this by noting that a body can only affirm itself as only other bodies can destroy it. So, in other words, instead of looking at this or that body, pondering why it is the way it is, we should look elsewhere for answers. In short, a body is a body because it wouldn’t be a body if it wasn’t a body.

He (136) expands on this, noting that a body, as a whole, cannot consist of other bodies as its parts that negate that body as a whole. Otherwise it’d be just absurd, as he (136) points out. In his (136) words:

Everything, in so far as it is in itself, endeavors to persist in its own being.”

And (136):

“The endeavour, wherewith everything endeavour to persist in its own being, is nothing else but the actual essence of the thing in question.”

Like I pointed out, that body wouldn’t be that body or, rather, it wouldn’t be considered to be that body if it were some other body. A thing is a thing because it is that thing and not some other thing.

This is why things don’t just fall apart on their own. Can they fall apart then? Yes, but not on their own. This is why must look what else is there, what else is at play. He (136) is very clear on this:

“[N]o thing contains in itself anything whereby it can be destroyed, or which can take away its existence[.] … [C]ontrariwise it is opposed to all that could take away its existence[.] … Therefore, in so far as it can, and in so far as it is in itself, it endeavours to persist in its own being.”

So, to get the point across, not only is it impossible for a body to destroy itself, as you need other bodies for that, but it is also seeking to persist, to make sure that other bodies won’t destroy it. In fact, a body must do that in order to be that body, as he (136-137) goes on to emphasize.

To exemplify that, think of the human body. It can fall apart. No one is questioning that. In fact, it will eventually fall apart. I don’t anyone questions that either. But when it does fall apart, it is not the body or the bodies it contains that make it fall apart. Think of something like a flu. It’s caused by an external body, an influenza virus. Your body is affected by that external body. Your body will seek to do its best to persist. Cancer is a trickier one to explain, because, by definition, it is bodies within a body that end up destroying the body. Now, I’m no expert when it comes to cancer and, apparently, no one can really pinpoint what causes it in each case, but, again, by definition, it is caused by changes in the genetic code, which results in the bodies that constitute the body ending up destroying the body, unless something is done about it. In most cases those changes to the genetic code are caused by various external factors. It is difficult to say, for example, whether a lifetime habit of smoking caused the cancer, the various air pollutants the radiation that one was exposed to or a combination of these factors. In some cases, you can, apparently, inherit mutated genes, but even then I’d say that Spinoza would maintain that the mutation that you have inherited was caused by some other body acting on some previous body, somewhere down the line.

What else should I add to this? Well, as a body seeks to persist, that is to stay functionally the same, it must act against some other bodies. A body must therefore defend itself from losing parts that it needs to function the way it does. So, if you encounter a body that could diminish your capacity to function, you must act accordingly. That sounds doable, eh? The thing is, however, that you must eat and drink as well, as acknowledged by Spinoza (215). This means that you can’t just keep running away from other bodies. Your body needs to sustenance to stay functional. Simply put, as your body depends on that, you have not other choice but to destroy other bodies. So, if you thought that Spinoza’s ethics is all peace and happiness, you were wrong. This is what, in my view, makes his ethics superior to any other ethics. You don’t get an easy answer. Instead, it is you who has to take responsibility of your actions.

I guess I wouldn’t need to bring up Deleuze here, to explain this point, as you do find it in Spinoza’s work, just put read it, but I think does a much better job at explaining the ingenuity of Spinoza’s ‘Ethics’ as ethics. Deleuze explains this, why I like Spinoza’s ‘Ethics’ so much, particularly well in a session of his Spinoza Seminars, dated January 24, 1978:

“There’s a fundamental difference between Ethics and Morality. Spinoza doesn’t make up a morality, for a very simply reason: he never asks what we must do, he always asks what we are capable of, what’s in our power, ethics is a problem of power, never a problem of duty.”

This is how I view things these days and I get really annoyed when someone like that reviewer in the last round tells me that I am, somehow, telling people what to do. No, I don’t. I’m presenting my takes of the world, as based on what I’ve read and, in some cases, experienced.

I like how Marcel Proust explains this in ‘Time Regained’, when he (265-66) likens the text to a lens that allows the reader to see the world in a certain way, which may or may not be of use to the reader, depending on the reader’s background of course. In his (266):

“[L]eave the reader the greatest liberty and say to [the reader]: ‘Try whether you see better with this, with that, or with another glass.’”

In other words, if you like it, you like it. If it works for you, it works for you. Good for you. If you don’t like it, you don’t like it. If it doesn’t work for you, then it doesn’t work for you. No problem. I guess you need to find something else to read then.

My way of doing things has more to do with providing the reader the conceptual tools that I use to make sense of the world. It’s that “optical instrument” that Proust (266) refers to. The reader can then do what I do if the reader chooses to do so. Note that there is no necessity, no must. You are free to whatever with my text. For example, if you have printed version of my text, feel free to use it to stabilize a piece of furniture or to dry something that you’ve spilled on the floor.

Anyway, this is exactly the difference between morality, what you ought to do, and ethics, what you could do. It’s not about how you must live, for whatever reason, but how you might live. I might say this is what I’d do, but it doesn’t mean that you have to do it. I’m just offering you a glimpse of how to live in certain way, which you can, of course, reject. That’s your prerogative. But don’t tell me I’m telling you how to live. I am not.

Like in that text, the whole point of being candid about my views, being in favor of non-representationalism, against representationalism, i.e., difference and not identity, as Deleuze (xv) explains it in ‘Difference and Repetition’ and as Guattari (51-52) elaborates it in the ‘Machinic Unconscious: Essays in Schizoanalysis’, is that it is impossible to give primacy to any views, this and/or that identity, as opposed to some other views, this and/or that identity, because my goal is to explain why representationalism is problematic, what comes with it, regardless of the views or identities involved. Both of these, non-representationalism and representationalism, are lenses. I like to show what the world looks like through the lens of representationalism and why you might not want to keep looking through that lens, as you do, unless you happen to be one of the odd people like me who tries on different lenses. I’d go with the non-representational lens, but hey, that’s just me. You are free to choose.

I’m not interested in subjectivity, this and/or that view, but in its collective production, so it’s pretty bananas to get criticized for, supposedly, telling how things are, followed by, supposedly, telling how they ought to be. In that text I clearly pointed this out, what my goal is and it is therefore, first and foremost, educational, by which I mean that I prefer providing access to my collection of lenses, as opposed to academic, in the sense that I would tell how things are, currently, and then indicate what should be done about it, according to my preferences, while keeping the lenses to myself.

Anyway, Deleuze has more to say about this:

“In this sense Spinoza is profoundly immoral. Regarding the moral problem, good and evil, he has a happy nature because he doesn’t even comprehend what this means.”

Exactly! When you think in terms of difference, there is no preferred identity as there are no identities, except what you’ve become, at any given moment. So, what you get instead of good and evil, or, as I pointed out in that text, preferred or standard identities and non-preferred or non-standard identities, is good and bad. That may seem like the same thing, but it isn’t, as Deleuze goes on to explain this in the seminar session:

“What he comprehends are good encounters, bad encounters, increases and diminutions of power. Thus he makes an ethics and not at all a morality. This is why he so struck Nietzsche.”

Friedrich Nietzsche, ‘Beyond Good and Evil’, ring any bells? Well, even if it doesn’t, you should be able to get the point. Deleuze returns to this point a couple of years later, in his seminar session on December 9, 1980. I’ve covered this in a previous essay, but it’s relevant here, so it’s worth explaining it again in this context. He starts with a question:

“What is human essence in power within humans from that viewpoint of a morality?”

Only to answer his own question by noting that, ever since Aristotle, human essence has been rationality as that’s what, supposedly, separates humans from other animals. He then reminds those attending his seminar that, as you may have also noticed if you’ve, like, lived at all, humans are hardly rational. In his words:

“Aristotle is like everyone, and all the moralists know it well: although man can have as essence being a reasonable animal, [man] isn’t all that reasonable; he … never stops behaving in an unreasonable manner.”

Now, to be clear, I retained the sexism here, because I assume that it was intentional, noting that is, indeed, man who thinks he is being rational, not, strictly speaking, human. I think you get the point. Anyway, he then worders how that can be, only to, once more, answer his own question:

“It’s because human essence, as such, is not necessarily realized[.]”

Only to ponder this and then provide answer to why this might be:

“Because man is not pure reason, so there are accidents; humans never stop getting detoured.”

So, in summary, rationality defines humanity, yet, somehow, there’s a consistent lack of rationality when you deal with actual humans. Convenient, eh? He explains what the deal is:

“The entire classical conception of man consists in inviting him to come back to his essence because this essence is like a potentiality that is not necessarily realized, and morality is the process of realizing human essence.”

Get it? Humans are rational or, rather, they should be rational, and because they keep not being rational, they must be made to act according to their rationally. Well, ain’t that just clever!

Now, the trick of this is to presuppose what humans are by their very essence and then gently or not so gently remind them that they are expected to realize their essence. For Aristotle, that’s rationality. We could, of course, swap that with just about anything, with any identity. We could also do the same with just about anything. We could, for example, presuppose that man is strong and that woman is fragile and then make sure that they act according to their essences.

That’s morality for you, telling what you should and, conversely, what you shouldn’t be like. That’s like representationalism 101, that the real-world appearances should faithfully represent the otherworldly ideas or forms, as Plato puts it, or realize their essences, as Aristotle puts it. That’s how the system works. So, yeah, it’s bizarre to get criticized for pointing that out. I mean I concluded that it’s beside the point what position one takes as it’s not the positions that matter, as such, as the identities are all made up, really, but rather how it all works, as in how representationalism functions, how it’s all bullshit.

Of course, I get it that such a view may offend people, because all identities, as we know them, are then deprivileged or, rather, simply erased. The only identity that you are left with is what you’ve become. That’s it. No judgment. You get to come as you are, as you’ve become, without any labels. If you think otherwise, it’s that morality in you, the priest, that desire to judge people according to some supposed otherworldly criteria that you think exists because you’ve been taught that it exists.

What about ethics then? Hold on, hold on, hold on tightly. I’ll let Deleuze explain it:

“[T]here is no general idea within an ethics. There’s you, this one, that one; there are singularities.”

He does mention that we could speak of those singularities as essences, but then they’d pertain to essences that are singular, like me, you, this table, this room, whatever, hence the lack of generality. He continues to explain how this works for Spinoza:

“On one hand, that’s what ethical discourse is: between different existents, there’s a quantitative scale, there’s a quantitative distinction of more and less, and on the other hand, the same discourse is pursued by saying that there is also … a qualitative opposition between modes of existence.”

If we want to condense this, the quantitative differences between the existents, let’s say you and me, and qualitative oppositions between modes of existence, let’s say me and my uncle’s dog, it’s all about what a body can do. What matters in Spinoza’s ‘Ethics’ is not what something is or what it should be, in accordance with its essence that is tied to its kind, but what it is capable of. Deleuze exemplifies this with a number of … things:

“So, there are things that can do extraordinarily little. The table… An inanimate thing as well, what can it do? The diamond, what can it do? Gold, what can it do? That is, what feats is it capable of? What can it stand? What can i[t] stand and what can it do? Any given animal, what does it stand and what does it do? Hey, a camel, it cannot drink for a long while. Oh good, not drinking for a long while, this is a camel’s passion, it’s a camel’s power. Abstaining from drinking, fine. Being thirsty all the time, that’s something else, it’s another world of existence, good, fine.”

As those are just examples of things, Deleuze summarizes this:

“Things are defined by what they can do.”

He adds to this that, in quantitative terms, this has to do with the differences of, let’s say, me and you, in terms of power or what we might call our capacity to act. It could be less or more, as he points out. It depends. He also wants to emphasize that it’s not about our will to act that matters as it’s rather the opposite. It’s our capacity to act that defines our will, what it is that we want.

That power or capacity actually works both ways for Spinoza, albeit it does boil down to the capacity to act. What do I mean? Well, Spinoza (215) explains this in his ‘Ethics’:

Whatsoever disposes the human body, so as to render it capable of being affected in an increased number of ways, or of affecting external bodies in an increased number of ways, is useful[.]

So, capacity to act works both ways, affecting others and being affected by others. We can also think of this the other way around, as he (215) goes on to add:

“[C]ontrariwise, whatsoever renders the body less capable in this respect is hurtful[.]”

This only makes sense. So, what’s good for you is increase your capacity to act and be acted upon, so that you can do whatever, and, conversely, what diminishes your capacity to act and be acted upon is bad for you, as he (215-216) on to rephrase that. While the capacity to be acted upon might seem odd, at first, it makes sense. If you can’t eat and drink, for whatever reason, let’s say you can’t afford it, you can hardly be said to be to living your life to the fullest. Similarly, if you can’t read, because no one taught you that, your everyday life will be much more difficult to you, at least in comparison to the people who can read. Deleuze (45) provides a formulation of this in his second book on Spinoza that bears the title ‘Spinoza: Practical Philosophy’:

“[B]eings will be defined by their capacity for being affected, by the affections of which they are capable, the excitations to which they react, those by which they are unaffected, and those which exceed their capacity and make them ill or cause them to die.”

To return to those examples, for a moment, it’s also worth keeping in mind that we can think of them in terms of the capacity to act. What I mean is that having too much to eat and drink can be bad for you as it can reduce your physical fitness, which then diminishes your capacity to act.

Then there’s the qualitative side that pertains to modes of existence, as Deleuze goes on to add during the lecture. What are modes of existence then? So, what I gather from his elaboration during this seminar session, it’s not, no longer about whether this or that can do more or less in contrast to one another, but about how you something. In his words:

“When you do something, doing something or enduring something, it’s existing in a certain fashion.”

He then elaborates this, what I guess one could call a way of life, in terms of doing it over and over again. So, this time you are not comparing different existents, but rather how an existent does what it does. Anyway, the point here is, according to him, that if you are willing to do it over and over again, as if there was no end to it, that mode of existence is good and, conversely, if you aren’t willing to do it over and over again, that mode of existence is bad.

The consumption of alcohol is a good example for him. In summary, if you want to do it, you do it in a way that you’d want to drink again. I realize that someone might object to this, thinking that isn’t that the definition of alcoholism, but that’s not the case. Why is that? Well, the point he makes with this example is that for it to be good must also remain to be good, so that you’d do it an infinite number of times. It’s about drinking at your own leisure, in agreement with yourself. It’s you who sets the rhythm. That mode of existence is good.

What is an alcoholic then, if not the person who is willing to go on, albeit at one’s own leisure, as one sees fit? Firstly, he isn’t saying that you must keep on drinking, going from drink to drink, nor that you should quit, that you must have the last drink. He explains this by how alcoholics is not in agreement with themselves, by how they tell you that this is the last drink they’ll have when prompted by someone else about their drinking habits. No, no, I don’t drink, I’m just having this one drink and then that’s it, only to say the same thing with the next drink. They keep lying, not only to other people, who may or may not see through that, but to themselves. The problem of the alcoholic is that the person is out of tune with that mode of existence. The person likes to drink, but hasn’t come to terms with that, which results in a mode of existence that is bad.

What is the secret sauce to a good way of life then? He states to those attending his seminar that it’s either that you do something, like you mean it, like you mean to do it from here to eternity, if that was possible that is, or you don’t. There’s no middle ground.

I realize that you might object that drinking is bad for your health, regardless. Deleuze’s take on Spinoza, as well as Nietzsche, may seem off if you only take into account the qualitative side, the mode of existence issue, but also need to take into account the quantitative side, existent’s capacity to act. If drinking affects your health negatively, as in you drink so much that your body is unable to recover from it, hindering your capacity to act, then, of course, it’s bad for you.

Now, this applies to everything, not just drinking, as he points out. So, in summary, quantitively something is good for you inasmuch your capacity to act ends up being higher than previously and bad for you inasmuch your capacity to act ends up being lower than previously. I guess we could say that it’s about potency and impotency, to riff on his definitions a bit. At the same time, it’s good for you if feel like doing it and bad for you if you don’t feel like doing it, but still do it. Again, to riff a bit, he mentions instruments as having a tone, but, related to this qualitative side, I’d say it’s about being in tune, as in being in tune with oneself.

Deleuze (71) also explains this in ‘Spinoza: Practical Philosophy’:

“Good and bad are doubly relative, and are said in relation to one another, and both in relation to an existing mode.”

I wanted to have this bit here because it reminds that what’s good and what’s bad is not only defined in terms of capacity to act, good being about having more capacity to act and bad being about having less capacity to act, but it is always also about for someone, for some existent. In other words, nothing is good or bad, in itself, like it is with good and evil, but it is always good or bad for someone. It’s like when you say ‘well, that’s good/bad for you’. It’s good/bad for that person, not for someone else. Okay, it could also be good/bad for someone else, but that’s beside the point. It’s also when someone says something like ‘that’s good/bad’, to which you could then ask ‘good/bad? for whom?’

To further exemplify that, the good and the bad, how it depends, let’s go back a bit, to the point about having too much to eat and drink (in general, not alcohol), each body is different. A larger body will require more to sustain itself than a smaller body and therefore what’s good for a larger body, let’s say a larger meal, is not necessarily good for a smaller body. In fact, it’s very likely that the portion of food will be bad for the smaller body, because having too much to eat will be detrimental to the body’s capacity to act. Now, of course, the smaller body might be more active than the larger body, so it might actually be good for the smaller body to have that larger meal and bad for the larger body to have that larger meal, which is something that Spinoza (216) acknowledges. For him (216) the body is not just out there, in place, what he calls rest, but also in motion. One also needs to take the context into account. I mean it’s not like someone eats, in general. Having a bit of extra weight is bad if you have continuous access to food, but it might actually be good if you don’t as that fat will then function as your energy reserve.

Okay, I know, I know, those food and drink examples are very simplistic. One would also need to take into account the nutritional value. You need energy. That’s for sure, so carbs are great, but you need all kinds of fats, proteins, minerals, and vitamins.

Then there are the social aspects, which Spinoza (216-217) does take into account, but that’s beside the point. What I think is still worth covering here is that what’s good, let’s say for me, is marked by the experience of pleasure, and what’s bad, again, let’s say for me, is marked by the experience of pain, as he (217) points out. Deleuze (71) agrees, noting that we know this, what’s good and what’s bad for us, in my case what’s good or bad for me, “through the feeling of joy or sadness of which we are conscious”.

But, can you overdo pleasure and pain? Well, Spinoza’s (217) answer is yes and no. Any excessive pain, what he (217) refers to as melancholy, is always bad, whereas there is no such thing as excessive pleasure, what he (217) refers to as mirth, so that’s always good. But here it’s important to understand that by this he (217) means pleasure or pain that affects the entire body. However, if the pleasure or pain is local, affecting only a part of the body, then it’s not that clear. So, there is, in fact, such a thing as excessive stimulation, by which he means that a part of our body may experience excessive pleasure, which is then bad, inasmuch it prevents the body from acting as a whole, as he (217) goes on to specify. For example, if you enjoy alcohol, excessively, it results in excessive pleasure, which, is good, locally, but it can impair parts of your body to the extent that you might end up injuring yourself, which then makes it bad. Similarly, excessive pain can be good, as odd as that may seem, inasmuch as it’s grief over the fact that you were helpless in the situation, your body being overpowered by another more powerful body, as he (217-218) goes on to add. As that’s, perhaps, more difficult to comprehend, think of it as more like learning experience. That’s how he (218) sees it, considering that the bad turns into good if it will prevent excessive stimulation in the future. To return to that alcohol example, it’s like when you have a terrible hangover or realize that you’ve manage to injure yourself, the pain that you experience, while bad, in itself, turns into something good, inasmuch it prevents you from experiencing such pain in the future. I was tempted to state that it’s like Eric Idle sings ‘Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life’, but, wait, no, that’s definitely not it. I mean, how many times you get crucified in life, except, well, metaphorically (like that reviewer did to me, haha!)?

Okay, there’s even more to that, layers and layers of complexity, but it’s really about good and bad, pleasure and pain. It’s well worth the read and I should really get on with, to cover part four of Spinoza’s ‘Ethics’. I mean he’s just that fantastic. Take his (232) definition of definition of freedom as example:

A free [person] thinks of nothing less than of death; and his wisdom is a mediation not of death but of life.”

I don’t know about you, but this makes me think of Nietzsche. It’s like, okay, no need to panic, no need to fear, because we are all going to die, sooner or later. So, instead of focusing on death, which, in itself, you cannot prevent, only postpone, why not focus on life instead. As he (233) goes to point out, as soon as you start fearing it, fussing over your mortality, your desire to live takes a major hit.

So, for him (232-233), inasmuch as one is free, i.e., desires the good and doesn’t fear the bad, one has no need for morality, that is to say a conception of good and evil. In more contemporary parlance, if you can take things as they come, without judgment, like, it is what it is, both the good and the bad, going for the good and learning from the bad, you have no need for morality.

It’s in this context that Deleuze mentions Nietzsche, how his conception of will to power is very similar, albeit not the same as Spinoza’s conception of capacity to act and be acted upon, what Deleuze refers to as the power of action. In Deleuze’s words:

“Will to power … means that you will define things, beings, animals not by essence, but by the effective power of action they have.”

So, when you encounter someone or something, that is to say a body, the definition of what it is does not involve having recourse to some idea, form or essence. Why? I’ll let Deleuze explain that:

“[T]he moral question [is]: what should you do by virtue of your essence?”

Note how the body is doubled here. There’s the essence of the body, the true body, if you will, and the appearance of the body, whatever it is that you encounter or, perhaps, it’s your own body, to make things even worse. When you have that body double, the body you are dealing with, whatever that may be, it is to judged according to whether or not it realizes its essence, what it is supposed to be, as explained by Deleuze a number of times during that seminar session.

This can also be explained another way, as done by Deleuze in that seminar. I’ll quickly summarize it. So, as he points out, there’s that what Spinoza (45) calls substance. It’s “absolutely infinite and unique” as Deleuze goes on to emphasize. That’s the only thing that is. That’s the only Being. Nothing else is a being but rather a manner of being. Spinoza (45) calls them modes, which are modifications of substance. That means that their existence is tied to the existence of the substance. So, whatever happens really only ever happens to the substance, so that what we think happens to beings, like to subjects and objects, to this and/or that, is rather a further modification of the substance. I like how Deleuze explains this:

“And a mode is what? It’s not a being; it’s a manner of being, a manner of being. So, be-ings, existents are not beings; only the absolutely infinite occurs as Being.”

This also clarifies the terminology here, in case you were wondering what existents are (albeit Being and beings make me think of Martin Heidegger, but it does not appear to be in reference to that here). They are the modes, the modifications of substance. Anyway, I’ll let his finish that:

“Henceforth, those of us who are be-ings, who are existents, we will not be beings; we will be manners of being of this substance.”

Again, for Spinoza (45), your existence is a mode, a modification of substance. This means that whatever you do is not really happening to you, but to the substance as it is being modified.

What’s interesting about explaining it this way, through substance and modes, because even though it’s based on a couple of definitions provided by Spinoza (45), it already prevents us from lapsing into morality. I’ll let Deleuze explain the beauty of this:

“[M]orality always implies something above Being; what exists above Being is something that plays the role of the One, of the Good …, as the One above Being.”

In other words, when you add should or must to the equation, you create another level above the level of existence, that Being, what Spinoza (45) refers to as substance. That other level is a transcendent plane because it is above the level that we are dealing with.

To help us understand that move, let’s look at some dictionary definitions of transcendence, as listed in the Oxford English Dictionary (OED, s.v. “transcendence”, n.):

“The action or fact of transcending, surmounting, or rising above[.]

And, to clearly distinguish it from Spinoza’s take (OED, s.v. “transcendence”, n.):

 “Of the Deity: The attribute of being above and independent of the universe; distinguished from immanence[.]”

To make more sense of that, what Spinoza is after, it’s worth taking a look at the dictionary definitions of immanence (OED, s.v. “immanence”, n.):

“Esp. of God: the fact, condition, or quality of being immanent; presence or dwelling in or within a person or thing.”

To contrast these two, transcendence and immanence, the former involves two levels, whereas the latter involves only one level. The former is transcendent because one level transcends the other. It’s also worth adding that the higher plane is not only higher in the sense that it is above it the lower plane, but also because it is considered to be superior to it, as indicated by the dictionary definitions (OED, s.v. “transcendent”, adj.):

“[P]re-eminent; superior or supreme; extraordinary. Also, loosely, Eminently great or good; cf. ‘excellent’.”

This is why Deleuze notes that the higher level is considered to be good. In contrast, the latter is immanent (OED, s.v. “immanent”, adj.), because it’s all there, at that level:

“Existing or operating within; inherent; spec. (of God) permanently pervading and sustaining the universe.”

To get back to how morality works, it’s about having a higher plane, according to which the lower plane is judged. I think Deleuze explains this particularly well when he states in that seminar session that:

“In fact, morality is the enterprise of judging not only all that is, but also Being itself. And we can only judge Being in the name of an agency above Being.”

Simply put, you need that two-level configuration in order to judge. You can’t have morality if you only have one level. In case you were wondering, you can find Deleuze and Guattari mentioning this a number of times in ‘Anti-Oedipus’ and in ‘A Thousand Plateaus’, whenever they mention a plane. In ‘Anti-Oedipus’, they (205) first mention planes in the context of representation:

“If we call the order of representation in a social system a plane of consistency …, it is evident that this plane has changed, that it has become a plane of subordination and no longer one of connotation.”

To cut through their jargon here, there is a plane of consistency, which, under representationalism, is turned into something a plane of subordination. So, like with Spinoza, they present a configuration that only has one level or plane, as they call it, contrasted with a configuration that has two levels or planes. In the former configuration, you have what they refer to as the plane of consistency. That’s it. In the latter configuration it is referred to as the plane of subordination, because it is the lower level or plane, being subordinate to that higher level or plane that is then its superordinate. They also (206, 309) refer to the plane of consistency as the plane of immanent connotation, in which everything operates in a network, as opposed to a hierarchy, as well as the plane of structuration.

They refer more to it in ‘A Thousand Plateaus’, in which it is mainly referred to either as the plane of consistency or as the plane of immanence. In relation to these terms, they (9, 155) also specify it is as the plane of consistency of multiplicities and as the plane of consistency of desire. They (9) refer to it as the plane of exteriority, in which everything is simply there. You’ll also find them (506-507) referring to it as the plane of composition (think of how it is all composed/decomposed), juxtaposed with the plane of organization and development.

What takes plane on this plane, regardless of whatever we call it, is continuous stratification and destratification, as they (40) point out. To be clear, when something is stratified or, conversely, destratified, it’s not separate from that plane. It is still that plane.

There is a certain issue with their use of the term plane. It’s not a major thing, but it’s worth mentioning. So, when they (45, 108-109, 141) note that Louis Hjelmslev refers to two planes in his ‘Prolegomena to a Theory of Language’, to the content plane and the expression plane, it may come across as there being two planes. But that’s not the case. If we focus only on one kind of stratum, how that plane is stratified inorganically, organically or semiotically, it would make more sense to explain it as there being content, that which is the given, at any given moment (no pun intended), and the expression, the giving, which, will, at a later moment, be understood as the given, as subsequently done by Guattari (59-60) in ‘Schizoanalytic Cartographies’. Going that way would make sense, considering that, if we are to trust his notes, he (205) did find the choice of words irritating, as noted in ‘Hjelmslev and Immanence’:

“But what’s annoying, as far as I’m concerned, is that there are planes, not a plane, a pure plane of consistency[.]”

If we focus on material content, contrasted with semiotic expression, as Deleuze and Guattari frequently do in ‘A Thousand Plateaus’, then it would make more sense to think of them as Spinoza’s attributes, as content pertains to extension and expression to though. Similarly, Spinoza’s understanding of there being this substance, so that everything what we consider to be this and/or that, me and you included, are its modes, its modifications, is what they think of as constant stratification and destratification of unformed matter, how it is being constantly formed and deformed.

I think some of the difficulty of that, how you maintain that there’s only one plane, has to do with how they explain things through stratification in ‘A Thousand Plateaus’. It’s like there is this level, what we could also call a layer, that plane, which, in itself, consists of a number of levels or layers, what they call the strata. This is in line with Spinoza’s take on bodies consisting of bodies, so that each body is a compound or a composite. So, yeah, that’s fine, no problem, as such. It’s more that explaining it all as layered may result in thinking that there’s more than level or plane involved, as, minimally, one layer always has to be at the bottom and the other layer above it, on top of it.

It’s more like there are two states of one plane, one being the destratified or unformed one and the other being the stratified or formed one, as they (57, 63) point out. When it’s stratified or formed, it would be apt to refer to it as the plane of organization and development, as they (507) do. Then there are these processes of stratification and destratification, which results in numerous intermediate states, as they (44, 50, 53, 58) call them. I think it’s worth emphasizing the importance of those intermediate states. I mean, it’s not like matter is simply either formed or unformed, like now it’s formed and then, poof, it’s unformed. The general point here is that the plane is never fixed, as such, but rather fluctuating between these two states, never ending up unified or totalized, which is why they (507) present it as a matter of consistency or consolidation of matter, which would be Spinoza’s (45) substance.

In my view, this would fit the constant modification of substance for Spinoza. I mean, Spinoza (136) insists that bodies seek to persists, what in terms used by Deleuze and Guattari we could call maintaining its forms, persisting as formed matter. At the same time, Spinoza (45) maintains that bodies can and do change, as that’s their very definition, being modifications of substance, which in Deleuze and Guattari’s parlance would be about formed matter losing its form and thus becoming unformed matter, i.e., Spinoza’s substance, only to become some other formed matter.

For example, if you persist, that is to say that you maintain your body, the matter that your body consists of, those bodies that compound into your body, that is to say compose it, maintain their form. If you fail at that and, to be clear, you eventually will, not because you will it, but because other bodies will eventually overpower your body, your body will, quite literally, decompose, so that your body will lose its distinct form, turning into something else, existing in numerous intermediate states, and then, eventually, will take some other distinct form.

Now, I explained that, perhaps, too rigidly, as, it’s not like those intermediate states aren’t states. I just went with that, referring to distinct form and to another distinct form, to emphasize how we think of things, as either like this or like that, even though the changes they undergo are often imperceptible. For example, one’s body is, in a sense, a constant process that could be understood as a series of intermediate states.

I think it’s also worth emphasizing that Deleuze and Guattari (159-161) also warn their readers not to think of one or the other state as inherently good or bad. If we just think of the body, if you seek to change yourself, it can be dangerous. In other words, if your body loses its form, its no longer that body. This can be good, inasmuch we think of the body as shifting from one intermediate state to another. But if the body loses all its form, that’ll be the end of it. That’s certainly bad.

Their (159-161) warning has to do with the human body, firstly as an organism, then, secondly, what is attributed to it, in terms of signification, and, thirdly, in terms of subjectification, as in what kind of subjectivity you have as the product of the production of subjectivity. In summary, if you wildly experiment your body, that can be bad for the body, especially if they have irreversible effects on it. It will be bad, inasmuch as it diminishes the body’s capacity to act and be acted upon.

So, first on the list is the organism. They (150, 159-160) are blunt about that, noting that experimenting is about “the art of dosages”, so, yeah, if you are not careful, “overdose is a danger.” Taking things to the extreme is not the point. Oh, and even though that’s clearly about drugs, as mentioned by them (152), that applies to other things as well. So, if you want to spice things up, it’s not like you need go for BASE jumping. Experimenting should be more like an everyday thing, as they (160) point out. To give you another example that pertains to the organism, I can point out that I’m somewhat ambidextrous. I sure wasn’t born that way. It’s just that I’ve put in the effort to be able to use my both hands for all kinds of things. I typically handle the keys with my left hand, despite being right-handed. Not a problem.

Second on the list is signification? They (160) characterize the difficulty with it as clinging to your soul, similarly as organism clings to your body. Third on the list is subjectification, which about the production of subjectivity. They (160) characterize this as being hooked to points of subjectification, which is about being fixated on something, so that it comes to define who we are. I listed these two together as they have the effect of reinforcing one another, as they (138) point out in another context.

There are some examples that they provide when it comes to dealing with these two. Related to signification, they (151) recommend stopping any search for meaning, i.e., interpretation (which could, of course, be defined in another way) and replacing it with experimentation. To give you an everyday example, it’s about thinking outside the box, if you will. You have all these preconceptions, how things should be. I once put apples into a curry because I didn’t have onions. I had no idea if that’d work. I didn’t care to look up the definition of curry, what it means. I had no respect for such in that moment. I was just like, hmmm, what if, what if I substitute this with that. I wonder if it’ll work. It did. It was just fine. No, not the best shit ever, but yeah, it worked out just fine. That’s your everyday experimentation.

I realize that my example is hilariously trivial (albeit that’s kind of the point, to keep it real), so I’ll cover what they have to say about this (not my curry). They (154) invoke what they like to call the priest, which is, by the way, something that they take from Nietzsche without ever mentioning that it is from him (which is a sort of plagiarism, yet it isn’t, because it’s hard to say whether it’s too generic, whether it is attributable just to Nietzsche). The closest they (111) come to that is mentioning it ‘Anti-Oedipus’ as coming from him, but that’s a bit of a stretch when it comes to citations (I mean it’s in another book!). I’m sure that misguided reviewer would be furious about that, like how dare Deleuze and Guattari use that concept that is unambiguously from Nietzsche (then again, when does something become part of you, so that you cannot, no longer, not hold that view?). Even though in this case the reviewer would actually have a point, given that they don’t indicate that it is from someone else (you can, however, find Deleuze discussing it in other words, in reference to Nietzsche, which would suggest that it has become part of his or their parlance), unlike in my case where I pointed out what’s from where, page numbers and all, they probably just laugh at that, like, seriously, fuck off, stop being a priest.

I know I just explained what a priest is (wink wink, nudge nudge, my dear reviewer), but I’ll have them (154) explain it (without acknowledging that it is from Nietzsche, of course, because, just in case that reviewer happens to read this) as it is presented in ‘A Thousand Plateaus’:

“The priest cast[s] the triple curse on desire: the negative law, the extrinsic rule, and the transcendent ideal.”

Note there how I indicated that there’s an added ‘s’ there, like you do when you alter someone else’s work, turning that from the past to present, because I know how this shit works (wink wink, nudge nudge, my dear reviewer). Anyway, they (154) go on to clarify the first part:

“Facing north, the priest sa[ys], Desire is lack (how could it not lack what it desires?).”

To connect to the earlier point about bodies and their essences, this is exactly the same point. You are this and/or that by essence, but keep failing at realizing that essence or those essences. So, what you need to do is to realize that essence, to fulfill that lack. They (154) then clarify the second part:

“Then, facing south, the priest link[s] desire to pleasure. For there are hedonistic, even orgiastic, priests. Desire will be assuaged by pleasure; and not only will the pleasure obtained silence desire for a moment but the process of obtaining it is already a way of interrupting it, of instantly discharging it and unburdening oneself of it.”

To comment on this, briefly, as I’ll return to this shortly, note how there’s first a lack that’s invoked, that essence that must be realized, and now it is stated that realizing it results in pleasure. Grand. They (154) move on to clarify the third part:

“Then, facing east, he exclaimed: Jouissance is impossible, but impossible jouissance is inscribed in desire. For that, in its very impossibility, is the Ideal, the ‘manque-a-jouir that is life.’”

To explain that without all the fancy terms, there’s that pleasure, that jouissance, Freud’s pleasure-principle, but, ha-ha, gotcha, it can’t be reached. So, as elaborated in the notes (532), you are left to enjoy the lack, as opposed to the pleasure that would fulfill it. It’s like attempting to fulfil the lack, desiring something, whatever it is, only to fulfil it with something else, thus never fulfilling the lack.

To further comment on that, first part pertains to what to the so-called castration complex, as they (154) point out. It’s an initial binary that is established between men and women. In short, men have dicks and women don’t, so women are deemed to be inferior to women, and therefore men are afraid of having the dicks being cut off. That’s also why men are such dicks, especially if they are beaten by women. Now, obviously, this is not true. It’s rather what you’ve been lead to believe, which is why men act like dicks. Anyway, to be serious again, this pertains, more broadly speaking, to the idea that men need women and women need men. You just have to get some! Pleasure! The second part pertains to that substitute pleasure, which they (154) refer to as masturbation. The point here is that you get pleasure from masturbation, but you aren’t considered to be truly fulfilling that lack. You wanker! The third part pertains to phantasy, to images of pleasure that cannot be attained, so that if even if you aren’t wanker, you are never going to be satisfied by any actual fucking, as they (154) point out.

Now, obviously, that’s all shit. You can replace the object of desire and what it takes to not reach it by just about anything. It’s not just about sex, as they (154-155) go on to point out. That’s just an example of what a priest wants you to go through, to keep you on a leash.

When it comes to subjectification, they (151) recommend forgetting, as opposed to remembering. What’s that all about? Well, if you keep tabs with everything, fuss over how things should be, you keep comparing the present with the past. If you forget about it, you can’t even do that. There’s a fitting idiom for that: letting bygones be bygones.

Now, I realize that I may have used this example in the past, but, anyway, I was a conference like four years ago or so. Me and some Danes went for a dinner. It wasn’t that eventful. Not that there was anything wrong with the company, but it was just a dinner. So, long story short, we talked about a bit of this and a bit of that. Those conversations included this very issue, like what it is to cling on to the past. I pointed out that it doesn’t do you any good. I stated that I don’t really have any things that I wouldn’t be willing to let go. The Danes seemed to be keener about their things, which is fine, I get it. It’s not like I want to get rid of my things. Nah, that’s not it. It’s just that I’d get new things, whatever it is that I need for something, if it came to that. No problem. I also pointed out that this also applies to people. Again, the Danes seemed to keener about the people they mingle with, which is fine, I get it. I mean, it’s not like I want to get rid of people. It’s not like I want to replace friends or the like. No, no. It’s more like if it came to that, life would go on. I would have to move on, and I would move on. That’s what forgetting the past is, at least for me. It’s the art of letting go.

They (156) also exemplify subjectification with courtly love. If you don’t know what that is, think of it as what we’d call courting, to use a more contemporary term. The point with that it’s like a game that goes on and on. There’s no lack of that must be fulfilled, as they (156) point out. Instead thinking of it as having to jump through all those hoops, to go through all that courting, just to get to the fucking, it’s the courting that is desirable, as noted by them (156), albeit in less crude terms. They (156) go on to note that it’s not about the one or the other, while further commenting pleasure:

“Pleasure is an affection of a person or a subject[.]”

To explain this in Spinozist terms, that affection is about that capacity to act and be acted upon. Anyway they (156) continue:

“[I]t is the only way for persons to ‘find themselves’ in the process of desire that exceeds them[.]”

In other words, it is through affection, as in acting and being acted upon, that one comes to figure out who one is. They (156) do, however, add to this that:

“But the question is precisely whether it is necessary to find oneself.”

Indeed. I’d say that it is not, at least not in the sense who you are, as in what one is, as this and/or that. The problem with ‘finding oneself’ is that it presupposes that one is not what one is until one finds out what one is. There’s some hidden essence that you are expected to find and then realize it. This is why they (156) juxtapose that kind of view with courtly love:

“Courtly love does not love the self … It is a question of making a body without organs upon which intensities pass, self and other—not in the name of a higher level of generality or a broader extension, but by virtue of singularities that can no longer be said to be personal, and intensities that can no longer be said to be extensive.”

That’s a lot to take in, but that body without organs is another word they use for the plane of consistency / immanence in certain contexts, especially when discussing the self / subject / individual. To explain intensities, very briefly, in my own terms, think of anything that can be intense, like heat or, in this context, love. Sure, we can talk of fire being extensive, like a spreading wildfire that wipes out whole forests, or someone having a lot of love, but they that’s not all there is. Something can burn really intensively, or only so and so. Similarly, love can be really intense, which is why some say there’s this heat to it, or only so and so. They (156) comment what immanence means for us, in an everyday sense:

“The field of immanence is not internal to the self, but neither does it come from an external self or a nonself.”

That has to be so, to stay to how, for Spinoza (45), there is only one substance, so that everything is a modification of that substance. Immanence is not within you, but it’s not external to you. That’s the point here. They (156) continue:

“Rather, it is like the absolute Outside that knows no Selves because interior and exterior are equally a part of the immanence in which they have fused.”

The thing here to keep in mind is that they are after a different kind of subjectivity, one in which you don’t have predetermined subjects and objects. Instead, it’s all in the making, at all times. Anyway, to return to the courtly love example, they (156) add:

“‘Joy’ in courtly love, the exchange of hearts, the test or ‘assay’: everything is allowed, as long as it is not external to desire or transcendent to its plane, or else internal to persons.”

To reiterate my earlier point, it’s the courting, that wooing, that is, in itself, desirable. You get pleasure out of that. Does this mean that love is now just this, never-ending flirting? Well, no. They (156) are not saying that it can’t involve fucking or that you can’t have a wank, for that matter. Note how they (156) point out that “everything is allowed”, inasmuch you aren’t fixated on it, inasmuch you aren’t making it something that you should or must do or achieve. Why? Well, to break that down, there is a danger of transcendence, creating a higher plane according to which you should live, which is the Plato reference here, or of essentialism, viewing humans as having an essence that they are expected to realize, which is the Aristotle reference here. So, in practical terms, anything goes, really, as they (156) go on to emphasize:

“Everything is allowed: all that counts is for pleasure to be the flow of desire itself[.]”

Oh, and what I mean by that, that anything goes, really, is that desire isn’t picky. If it were picky, then it wouldn’t be immanent. It’d be transcendent. They (156) also exemplify this:

“The slightest caress may be as strong as an orgasm; orgasm is a mere fact, a rather deplorable one, in relation to desire in pursuit of its principle.”

If only this was desirable, in this case an orgasm, but not that, in this case a caress, it would involve a presupposition that orgasms are what counts, not caresses, which would equate desire with pleasure, i.e., the production with the product. To be clear, this is not to say that there’s anything wrong with pleasure. It’s rather that what’s pleasurable is not a given. The issue they (156) take with orgasms is that reducing pleasure to it relegates everything else and that it is seen as end, something that one must reach, which then posits desire as a lack, something one must fulfill, only to never to be able to do that, once and for all, as orgasm is something that you can reach, but not maintain. To be clear, I don’t think that (156) are against orgasms, as such. It’s rather that they are a particularly good example of how desire can be presented as a lack.

To summarize this, as they (157) do, desire can be presented as a lack, sure, so that, sex, for example, is about procreation, which, in turn, is how the priests want to view it or, rather contemporary state functionaries want to view it. For priests or functionaries, whatever word you want to use, fine by me, there’s no fucking around with fucking. There’s nothing frivolous about it. It’s serious business. We simply cannot have people finding pleasure in just whatever it is that they come to desire, now can we? No, we cannot. People need to be told how to live their lives, says each and every priest.

But how should people live then? Well, as they (157) out, that’s a question we shouldn’t even be asking. Instead, what’s interesting about desire and, I guess, pleasure, at least by extension, is that how we are drawn to this and/or that, whatever it may be. In their (157) words:

“The field of immanence or plane of consistency must be constructed. This can take place in very different social formations through very different assemblages (perverse, artistic, scientific, mystical, political) with different types of bodies without organs.”

Indeed. It all depends. On what? Well, on those bodies without organs, how they are organized, this and/or that way, to this and/or that extent. They (157) continue:

“It is constructed piece by piece, and the places, conditions, and techniques are irreducible to one another. The question, rather, is whether the pieces can fit together, and at what price.”

Now, you might be confused by the last point, price. Well, let’s say that everything has its price. Things can be organized in certain ways, which means that they are not all the same. So, we come to experience the world accordingly. You can’t have it all. You can, however, mix things up, as they (157) point out:

“Inevitably, there will be monstrous crossbreeds. The plane of consistency would be the totality of all BwO’s, a pure multiplicity of immanence, one piece of which may be Chinese, another American, another medieval, another petty perverse[.]”

In fact, things get mixed up, like it or not, as they (157) point out here. This is how subjectivity is produced, as they (157) go on to acknowledge. The thing to note here as well is that they prefer referring to refer to Spinoza’s (45) substance as the plane of consistency / immanence and use the body without organs, here the BwO, when it’s relevant to the production of subjectivity. They (157) aren’t too strict on that though and you can encounter them using the terms interchangeably. Even in this context they (157-158) mention that the bodies without organs potentially make up the plane of consistency, only to add that it’s sometimes called the body without organs. They (507) also ponder this themselves:

“Does the plane of consistency constitute the body without organs, or does the body without organs compose the plane? Are the Body without Organs and the Plane the same thing?”

Their (507) to this is rather cryptic:

“In any event, composer and composed have the same power[.]”

Now, I can’t be sure about this, as this is pretty cryptic, but, as I’ve pointed out in a previous essay, my take is that the plane of consistency, or immanence, is the one that constitutes the body without organs if we think of this from the perspective of Spinoza’s (45) substance, but from the perspective of the bodies, me and you included, the body without organs is the one to compose the plane as that’s what the plane is composed of. Then again it appears to be the same. I can’t be sure.

Anyway, be that as it may, same or not the same, I think you can think of Spinoza’s (45) substance as a body that, in itself, cannot be said to be organized in a certain way. It’s rather the modes that are organized in a certain way or, rather, the substance appears to us the way it does as modified in a certain way, considering that the modes are modifications of substance for Spinoza (45).

Where was I? Right, organism, signification, and subjectification. They (159) briefly comment on this, noting that each of us is an organism, which probably doesn’t surprise anyone, but what they mean by that is that our bodies are organized in a certain, let’s say, habitual way. In addition, they (114, 159) reckon that each of us has to play the game of signifier and signified, well, only signifier really, as there’s no such thing as the signified, only signifiers playing the role of the signified. On top of that, each us has to deal with subjectification and the doubling of the subject, so that you think of yourself as the one who says something and as that which says something in what you say, as they (159) point out. If you refuse to have to behave in a certain way, i.e., to have a body that is organized in a certain way, ignore your role as an interpreter and as interpreted, and/or refuse to the doubling of the subject, you’ll be treated as someone who is “depraved”, i.e., indecent, corrupt, or immoral, “deviant”, i.e., strayed from norms or standards, and/or “tramp”, i.e., vagrant, not knowing one’s place, as they (159) go on to add.

We can, however, give that a positive spin, to look all that from a different perspective, as they (159) do. So, someone who refuses organization and signification is doing experimentation. Like I should be right-handed, yet, I’ve experimented with my left hand, so that it can do many things like the right hand. Similarly, if you opt for the pragmatics route, you no longer think what something means, but what you can do with language and what kind of sense emerges from that. When it comes to avoiding subjectification, it’s about being nomadic, a nomadic subject, so that you just are what you are, at any given time, without any labels to it. There are no essences that you should realize. Okay, you can add labels, for the sake of convenience, but that’s beside the point. Such won’t define you as you already are what you are.

When it comes to me, I don’t I experiment a lot with my body. I try to learn to do things though. With language, I’m all about the sense and dialogue. I don’t wonder what something means. It just is what it is. I get it or I don’t. It’s that simple. As a subject, I’d say I’m nomadic. I’m happily all over the place. I couldn’t care less what I should or shouldn’t be. It’s probably what makes me appear like I don’t give a fuck, which is true, but only in the sense that I don’t think I am this and/or that, nor that I should be this and/or that. I just am what I am and that’s it. Something tells me that this pissed off that reviewer as well. I think that was misguided though. It was really bizarre to get criticized for (mis)representing or (mis)constituting an identity, considering that such nomadic subjectivity is not about identity, like at all. It’s the exact opposite. The only identity or, rather, essence that you have is singular, so it can’t be put into words. It just is. A part of me thinks it was also about jealousy. I mean when you become a nomadic subject, you eliminate all of your mental problems that are linked to signification, namely those connected to paranoia, as you no longer seek the meaning of whatever it is that you encounter, and subjectification, namely those connected to passionality, as none of it is, no longer, about you. Who wouldn’t want that? I mean, it is pretty great, I have to admit, as smug as that may seem.

Deleuze and Guattari (352-353) explain this issue of identity particularly well by comparing the two board games: chess and Go. In the former, you have a number of pieces that have preset identity: pawn, rook, knight, bishop, queen and king. You can only move those pieces on the board accordingly. In the latter, you have a number of pieces, also known as stones, that do not move. Instead, they are placed on the board and what they are, i.e., what their identity is, is defined situationally, in relation to the other pieces that have been placed on the board.

If you didn’t the get the point of that, how that analogy works, that’s also how things work in real life. We can certainly think that there are preset identities, aka ideas, forms or essences, and let ourselves be defined accordingly, that is to say representationally, but there’s no need for that. I mean you can go that route, fair enough, but I certainly wouldn’t. I’d go with the situational identity instead. Why? Well, because then you are not tied to some, supposedly, transcendent idea, form or essence that, supposedly, defines not only who you are but also who you should be, nor to some arbitrary equivalent that someone else or, even worse, you yourself have come up with for the same purpose. Like I pointed out and have pointed out in the past, you still have an identity. It’s just that it’s situational, as stated by them (353). ‘It’ is always an ‘it’, as they (353) point out. So, you are what you’ve become. You can assess it, synchronically, i.e., at any given moment, as acknowledged by them (353), but even then, it’s simply about what you’ve become. So, substituting the Go pieces here us, in what they (353) express, we could simply say:

“[We] are elements of a nonsubjectified machine assemblage with no intrinsic properties, only situational ones.”

How about that for a definition of identity? I don’t know about you, but I love it! Feel free to hate it though. That’s your prerogative. Then again, you know what they say: haters gonna hate.

Anyway, what that reviewer failed to understand, quite miserably, is that academic writing functions in this way, so that you present your views, whatever they may be, as having their source in someone else’s views. When you assert something, that citation, regardless of its form, functions as a support to your argument, which is then to be read as based on someone else’s arguments, as indicated by that citation. You can, of course, distance yourself from others, like you do when you state … according to …, but that is a matter of style. There’s no right or wrong way of doing it, really, as long as you indicate that you didn’t come up with it yourself, but in dialogue with someone else’s work.

I want to emphasize that you do not represent anyone. Any views are always your views that you present by making others speak for you. It’s ventriloquism. I actually thought that over and I reckon it’s actually the other way around. It’s not that you speak through the voice of others, but rather that they speak through you. How so? Well, once you engage with people or, in their absence, with their works, you engage in dialogue with them. Whatever it is that you learn from them or, better yet, with them, to add a bit of creative flair to it, is bound to crop up later on. So, when I say or write something, it is not, strictly speaking, just me who says or writes something. In my view, it’s more accurate to say that they speak through me.

Don’t believe me? Well, consider what Deleuze and Guattari have to say about this when they state that (84):

“Language in its entirety is indirect discourse. Indirect discourse in no way supposes direct discourse; rather, the latter is extracted from the former, to the extent that the operations of signifiance and proceedings of subjectification in an assemblage are distributed, attributed, and assigned, or that the variables of the assemblage enter into constant relations, however temporarily.”

To make more sense of that, there’s indirect discourse, which is the mass of statements, and direct discourse is what’s extracted from it when we state something, as they (84) go on to add:

“Direct discourse is a detached fragment of a mass and is born of the dismemberment of the collective assemblage; but the collective assemblage is always like the murmur from which I take my proper name, the constellation of voices, concordant or not, from which I draw my voice.”

There is indeed that murmur, a constellation of voices that is channeled through us. Anyway, they (84) continue:

“I always depend on a molecular assemblage of enunciation that is not given in my conscious mind, any more than it depends solely on my apparent social determinations, which combine many heterogeneous regimes of signs.”

Note how it does not happen consciously. So, oddly enough, what I say or write, what I express, does not originate in me, but in others. They speak through me. That’s why they (84) argue that we are engaged in glossolalia:

“Speaking in tongues.”

Oh, and this is no religious rapture, no, no. That’s the unconscious that we are dealing with. They (84) continue:

“To write is perhaps to bring this assemblage of the unconscious to the light of day, to select the whispering voices, to gather the tribes and secret idioms from which I extract something I call my Self[.]”

Indeed, there are all these whispers, that murmur. We hear things that we then express ourselves, while thinking that it’s all us. I think Spinoza (135) explains this particularly well in his ‘Ethics’:

“[T]hose who believe, that they speak or keep silence or act in any way from the free decision of their mind, do but dream with their eyes open.”

He (134) does also exemplify that, first by making note of children’s behavior:

“Thus an infant believes that of its own free will it desires milk, an angry child believes that it freely desires vengeance, a timid child believes that it freely desiers to run away[.]”

Followed by his (134) take on adult behavior:

“[A] drunken man believes that he utters from the free decision of his mind words which, when he is sober, he would willingly have withheld.[.]”

As a side note, I kept the sexism of this example here, because I think it’s only apt. I mean we’ve all met this guy. Anyway, he (134) continues:

“[A] delirious man, a garrulous woman, a child, and others of like complexion, believe that they speak from the free decision of their mind, when they are in reality unable to restrain their impulse to talk.”

Now, why might that be, what he (134-135) explains? Well, he (134) reckons that:

“[People] believe themselves to be free, simply because they are conscious of their actions[.]”

In other words, they err to think that they are free to do as they see fit just because they are conscious. This is why it’s important to include what else he (134) has to say, what I just excluded there:

“…and unconscious of the causes whereby those actions are determined[.]”

Ah, yes, people do forget the second part. This is exactly why I like to emphasize and as I keep repeating in my essays, what someone says or does is not as interesting as why that someone comes to say or do whatever it is that someone ends up saying or doing. In other words, there’s the appearance, for example what something looks like, and then there’s the apparition of it, how it comes to look the way it does. It’s a little thing, that comes to, but it changes everything. To be even more specific, it’s actually about how something might come to appear to us, just so that one isn’t insisting that there is only one path to a certain appearance.

To put it bluntly, what we like to think of as free will is an illusion. In Spinoza’s (119) words:

In the mind there is no absolute or free will; but the mind is determined to wish this or that by a cause, which has also been determined by another cause, and this last by another cause, and so on to infinity.”

Now, this makes him a determinist, but it’s actually not that simple. Long story short, as his (45) substance is all that is, as is, in itself, and we, like everything else, are only modes of it, existing only in relation to everything else, as affected by what else is there, while simultaneously affecting what else is there, to the extent that we are, of course affected and affecting what else is there, it is simply impossible for us to be free in the sense we like to think we are free. Instead, we can only affect things, like say or do something, on that basis. So, yes, we are free to do as we choose, at any given moment, but only on the basis of what we’ve become. When you get that, it’s actually pretty easy to predict what people are going to say or do. If you know what might have led them to be the way they are, at that moment, it’s not that difficult.

Deleuze (20) explains this quite neatly in ‘Spinoza: Practical Philosophy’, noting that we are in the habit of thinking that something affects another thing and that’s it. He (20) calls this the triple illusion. Firstly, it involves an illusion pertaining final cause, this caused that, which in turn caused that and so on and so forth, until one reaches the final cause of that (which is, of course, impossible to get to, but we forget that). You’ll find Spinoza ranting about that in his ‘Ethics’. Secondly, there’s the illusion pertaining to first cause, this causing that, having the freedom to do so. Thirdly, there’s the ace up one’s sleeve, the illusion of attributing whatever it is that we can’t explain to the will of God. This is why he (20) states that:

“Consciousness is only a dream with one’s eyes open.”

But what then causes consciousness? Again, long story short, it is the striving to perservere, what we can also refer to as the conatus, combined with the encounter of what else is there, as what else is there is what makes us what we are, at any given moment, as explained by him (21). To be more specific, he (21) states that:

These determinative affections are necessarily the cause of the consciousness of the conatus.”

As that’s quite the tightly packed definition, it is worth opening it up a bit, like he (21) goes on to do:

“[T]he affections are not separable from a movement by which they cause us to go to a greater or lesser perfection (joy and sadness), depending on whether the thing encountered enters into composition with us, or on the contrary tends to decompose us, consciousness appears as the continual awareness of this passage from greater or lesser, or from lesser to greater, as a witness of the variations and determinations of the conatus functioning in relation to other bodies or other ideas.”

Yeah, I’d say that’s about right, if you’ve read Spinoza’s ‘Ethics’. So, simply put, consciousness is just about being aware of how our bodies compose and decompose or, rather, enter into different compositions with what else is there. That happens, all the time, regardless of our awareness of it, i.e., unconsciously. Consciousness is then about dreaming with our eyes open, just like he (20) points out.

Right, back to Deleuze and Guattari (3) who also deal with this matter of composition in the introduction of ‘A Thousand Plateaus’:

“Since each of us was several, there was already quite a crowd.”

What they mean by this is that they both were one, on their own, yet, oddly enough, many as well. They (3) add to this:

“To reach, not the point where one no longer says I, but the point where it is no longer of any importance whether one says I. We are no longer ourselves. Each will know his own. We have been aided, inspired, multiplied.”

If you don’t get it, as you might not if you just picked up the book and started with the introduction, what they are saying is that one is always many. A speaker is always many speakers. A writer is always many writers. You don’t really notice it, consciously, unless you pay attention to it and even then it’s difficult to notice. I don’t notice it that often. It’s tough to notice. There are, however, times where I’m like, woah, did I just say that? It’s not that I’m not in control of what I say, no, not really, but rather that it’s like I know who had said it and now I said it, as if that person spoke through me. It’s more obvious when you deal with people who have been “aided, inspired, multiplied” by people who you can clearly recognize as having “aided, inspired, multiplied” them, as they (3) put it. For me, that’s when I read or listen to someone who, like me, has read a lot of French philosophy. That style is there. You can’t hide it. It’s like those philosophers spoke through them. It’s the same with priests. They can’t hide it. Like when I think of it, that reviewer couldn’t have been more Platonist about it, with all the talk about (mis)representations and (mis)constitutions, so it’s like, wait, don’t I know this? Haven’t I run into this person before? And no, I don’t mean the person commonly known among academics as reviewer #2. No, that’s not it, even though superficially it was, because, like I pointed out in a previous essay, it didn’t seem to be in bad faith. Anyway, then I realized that, woah, is that you, Aristotle? Are you speaking through this person? So, it’s like Deleuze (127) explains it in ‘To Have Done with Judgment’:

“I want to judge, I have to judge[.]”

Note how it’s not just a job. It’s not just about being a judge, a referee, or a reviewer. Instead, it’s like he (127) puts it, so that “judgment merges with the psychology of the priest”. Yes, that’s it! It’s not about the position itself, but about a desire to judge.

To go back a bit, representationalism is necessary for this to work, which would explain why that reviewer got so upset by my text. I mean, I do admit that it is a crushing take on representationalism and I totally get it that a priest wouldn’t like that. You can’t judge without having recourse to a higher plane, as Deleuze (127) goes on to explain:

“[T]he judgment of knowledge in this sense implies a prior moral and theological form[.]”

Yes, you need those forms in order to judge whether something represents the form and how faithfully it represents the form. Similarly, if we think in terms of essences, to use Aristotle’s terms instead of the Plato’s terms, you need those essences in order to judge whether something realizes its essence and to what extent it realizes that essence.

Deleuze and Guattari (64) also comment this in ‘Anti-Oedipus’, noting that when one internalizes this, that psychology of the priest, it involves a “pseudoindividual fantasy”. By this they (64) they mean that, on one hand, one seeks to understand the other, like my reviewer did, noting that there was much to like about it, but, on the other hand, there’s always that psychology of the priest that kicks in, so that in that role of a judge, in this case of a reviewer, the person ends up condemning.

This is brough up again in ‘A Thousand Plateaus’, where they (107) note that judgment, as a system, requires order-words, which, is the term they (77-79) use for speech acts, as defined by J. L. Austin in ‘How to Do Things with Words’. In their (79) words:

“The only possible definition of language is the set of all order-words, implicit presuppositions, or speech acts current in a language at a given moment.”

Now, to link this to judgment, they (107) state that:

“Order-words bring immediate death to those who receive the order, or potential death if they do not obey, or a death they must themselves inflict, take elsewhere.”

Now, obviously, these days we aren’t put to death by order-words, nor is there a threat of such, but that’s beside the point. This is about the fear of death that Spinoza (232-233) considers to prevent us from living our lives freely. In other words, order-words are judgments that seek to limit people’s freedom, i.e. their capacity to act and be acted upon. In their (107) words:

“Death, death; it is the only judgment, and it is what makes judgment a system. The verdict.”

If you ask me, this is what constitutes the psychology of the priest. There’s always that desire to put people down, in the sense that it’s about criticizing and disapproving them, as well as about doing away with them, which is why it’s sort of apt to refer to it as death, as they (107) do. They (107) summarize the centrality of death in this:

“In effect, death is everywhere, as that ideal, uncrossable boundary separating bodies, their forms, and states, and as the condition, even initiatory, even symbolic, through which a subject must pass in order to change its form or state.”

Indeed, the priest sees it as its privilege to be the authority that one must consult. It’s like that in academic reviews as well. Nothing is worse to a priest than people doing their own thing, the way they see fit. They (107) go on to summarize how this works as a system:

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

The point here is that you are either this or that and you are to judged accordingly, as conforming or deviating from that form. It’s that simple. Don’t you dare to cross that boundary! Not on my watch! To explain how this works in practice, they (107) note that:

“It is always by means of something incorporeal that a body separates and distinguishes itself from another. The figure, insofar as it is the extremity of a body, is the noncorporeal attribute that limits and completes that body: death is the Figure.”

In other words, without getting lost in the weeds, this is how language functions. As a body, you are designated as something, as this and/or that signifier, and judged accordingly. That’s signification for you. Oh, and you are expected to toe the line, as it is considered to be the law, as they (88, 113) point out. That’s subjectification for you.

But why do people want to judge? Why does someone want to be a priest? That’s a good question. My answer is that it is a sweet gig, as I’ve mentioned in some of my previous essays. I’ll try to see if I can provide a better answer, but I’ll leave that for another essay. There is also the opposite of judgment, which they (343) call a synthesizer, but that’s also something that I want to take a closer look, later on, not now.

In conclusion, this was quite the romp, with a bit of this and a bit of that in the mix. But, well, that’s how I like it, happily all over the place.


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