Thursday, October 11, 2007

Machining a Difference

I peruse the comments posted by the other participants in the desiring machine, and rather than reacting to them, I seek a way to act with them.

In this, there is no spirit of acquiescence or agreeing in order to be pleasant or to maintain an appearance of tolerance. I also do not think that this is a matter of taking the easy way out – I think that finding this way to act with them is extremely difficult. I don’t think we’ve yet to catch on to it in our year and a half of blogging agencement.

I choose this recent comment by Orla,

“Humans, as speaking beings, are no longer the sites for desire.”

I don’t know if this is an example which interests anyone else. The specific example may not matter much. I am not planning to use this example to begin a thematization on the nature of language or to start moving in a new direction on the nature of desire.

I happen to disagree with this statement. I think that in other circumstances and with intentions other than making a desiring machine, I would express this disagreement and then try to find a way to bare the truth value, or the lack thereof. This might or might not help me to learn something, spark a lively discussion here at the blog (which would be better than what we’ve had for the most part, so far), perhaps help us to generate a bit of enthusiasm for the inquiries we’re dribbling away at so far, we might come to understand each other better, etc. -- but though these would be positive developments, this is not what I want to do.

It’s not that true statements and clear thinking or reasoning are worthless, and that spouting nonsense is the way to go. I really do think, though, that there is some sense in which moving toward a clarification of “the truth” in a statement such as the one above is a way of shutting down the making of a desiring machine, and must be avoided. I hope to become more clear about how and why this is so, if it is so. That’s one of my goals for here in the Underground.

I think that what I want to do – and this is very tentatively expressed at this point, in a way I don’t “have a clue”—is to push back and push onward unto its finest, most extreme and intense form whatever it is in Orla which has prompted this from him.

Do the following questions help or hurt?

What must be true about speaking beings that they can’t be sites of desire? How does representation thwart desire? Why are desire and representation opposed? If representation thwarted desire but in some cases one had to choose between the two, how would one make that choice? (In other words, is representation ever necessary and not merely optional, more desirable than desire itself?) Can there be a desire for representation? What does a representation of desire do?

14 Comments:

Blogger Orla Schantz said...

Thanks for your reaction, Yusef.

In my earlier post I was trying to give the Deleuzian worldview of the role of desire (which I read as an equivalent to the Nietzschean will-to-power in all its vitalistic universality). In that all-inclusive sense, humans are not the primary site for the production of desire, although one of the many media it flows through. As I tried to phrase it,

Desire is not a process whose goal is dissolution in pleasure. It is the construction of a plane of immanence in which desire is continuous in a process in which everything is permissible and possible.

This, in my reading (which may be off target, admittedly) elevates it dangerously to a metaphysical level which I don't feel is very helpful.

Be that as it may! Humans naturally also are or can be desiring machines in an infinite variety of waand acitivities (blogging, as you suggested, might even be one of them).

When you write,

I think that what I want to do – and this is very tentatively expressed at this point, in a way I don’t “have a clue”—is to push back and push onward unto its finest, most extreme and intense form whatever it is in Orla which has prompted this from him.

I (as you) don't "have a clue" ;-).

Apart from the desiring machine aspect of blogging (I certainly derive a lot of pleasure from reading you and responding) I suspect blogging is also fundamentally rhizomatic in nature, connecting, opening, infolding, creating, entangling, being circular, late, too soon, misunderstood, provocative, non-linear, and feeding upon and/or terminating itself. - And yet it (blogging) might also provide the plane for the meeting of creative streams in a delta of desire production - or come to rest as a stagnant pond.

Thanks again for the conversation, Yusef.

I'll try to think some more about the questions you posed in the last paragraph of your post, although I fear I can't answer them fully only react in an impressionistic manner.

Orla

5:34 PM  
Anonymous Yusef said...

"Desire is not a process whose goal is dissolution in pleasure. It is the construction of a plane of immanence in which desire is continuous in a process in which everything is permissible and possible.

This, in my reading (which may be off target, admittedly) elevates it dangerously to a metaphysical level which I don't feel is very helpful."

I completely and totally missed what you were saying in that post. Before your clarifications, I thought you were merely reiterating and agreeing with Deleuze. Now, I kind of see your point. However, I agree with Deleuze because I think that desire is making desire, not having desire. Pleasure is a way of having desire. It is a kind of end point, a conclusion. The plane of immanence isn't a metaphysical concept ( although, because it is such a difficult concept to understand, I think it is very likely that my understanding of PoI continues to be metaphysical - but that's my problem, not Deleuze's, as far as I know.) There's a complex reason why we even associate desire with pleasure, and surprisingly, it has to do with our repression. What if every time we made (produced) we made multitudes of further production feasible? This would be my idea of nonrepressive production. But this kind of production doesn't dissolve into "pleasure." Of course, I like my pleasures and I wouldn't want to see them taken away. Taking away pleasure really isn't the point. Freeing desire is the point.

3:39 PM  
Blogger Orla Schantz said...

Yes, YES, Yusef! Now we seem to be on the same page. As you write,

Pleasure is a way of having desire. It is a kind of end point, a conclusion.

- that's a precise way of differentiating it from the production of desire. This makes a lot of sense in my head. In Deleuze's political critique he would then define capitalism as the endless production of pleasure or end points that would create constant needs for more pleasure - ad nauseam.

You then write,

There's a complex reason why we even associate desire with pleasure, and surprisingly, it has to do with our repression. What if every time we made (produced) we made multitudes of further production feasible? This would be my idea of nonrepressive production. But this kind of production doesn't dissolve into "pleasure."

This is an interesting observation. Aren't we then coming closer to an understanding of "desiring our own suppression" = as the product of massive, pervasive indoctrination by capitalism? I know this is orthodox Marxist thinking (which also infected Deleuze's political theorizing in the heyday of the 1970's) but better that than lame Freudianism.

The sheer human and political potentialities of infinite productions of desire are indeed awe-inspiring and genuinely revolutionary.

Our pleasures are indeed small ripples. Desire production is a tsunami.

If we can just create waves we can move and blog forward.

But first we need to learn to swim. How do we do that?

What do you make of the following (from Difference and Repetition, p. 23)

The movement of the swimmer does not resemble that of the wave, in particular, the movements of swimming instructor which we reproduce on the sand bear no relation to the movements of the wave, which we learn to deal with only by grasping the former in practice as signs. That is why it is so difficult to say how someone learns: there is an innate or acquired practical familiarity with signs, which means that there is something amorous– but also something fatal –about all education. We learn nothing from those who say: ‘Do as I do’. Our only teachers are those who tell us to ‘do with me’, and are able to emit signs to be developed in heterogeneity rather than propose gestures for us to reproduce. In other words, there is no ideo-motivity, only sensory-motivity. When a body combines some of its own distinctive points with those of a wave, it espouses the principle of a repetition which is no longer that of the Same, but involves the Other– it involves difference, from one wave and one gesture to another, and carries that difference through the repetitive space thereby constituted. To learn is indeed to constitute this space of an encounter with signs, in which the distinctive points renew themselves in each other, and takes shape while disguising itself.

Orla

4:33 PM  
Anonymous Yusef said...

That's a beautiful quotation, Orla, and one from which I continue to steal riches.

I have difficulty understanding the use of "sign" in it, however. "To learn is indeed to constitute this space of an encounter with signs, in which the distinctive points renew themselves in each other, and takes shape while disguising itself." I don't know what is being said in this.

12:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, it is an image of mellow beauty and soft transformation. It attests to the wonderful fluidity of Deleuze's creative thinking.

The way I read it - and flow with it - is as the process of actualization and individuation. No being can be thought as independent from its world, but rather all beings are always becoming-Other, producing new multiplicities and organizations. In learning to swim I become-Wave, forming a new body than the one I previously possessed. This, too, is what takes place in an encounter. In an encounter we become-Other such that a weaving of language and thought takes place, not producing the same, but rather creating a difference for all those involved.

Does that make any sense?

Orla

5:35 PM  
Anonymous Yusef said...

Yes, however I do not understand how signs work in all of this; I don't understand their specific role. For example, what's a sign got to do with an encounter, or a becoming-Other?

9:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Greetings

You two seem to have a thing or
two going! Actually I am impressed by the creative and critical discourse
found here and there on this blog.
I been surfing it all day, to find
inspiration to write a text that
is required of me. I am not so
much interested in re-affirming
this or that philosophy, or putting
it under scrutiny, but rather see
how it can be put to an actual use
in an examination of history and
culture.

EVEN FLOW

1:51 PM  
Anonymous Yusef said...

Hey,

Thanks, there, Anonymous.

When you say this,

"I am not so much interested in re-affirming this or that philosophy, or putting it under scrutiny, but rather see how it can be put to an actual use in an examination of history and culture."

I think our interests are similar. However, I do want to affirm this or that philosophy - I want to affirm it in order to make it different, use it in order to change history and culture. (Forgive me if that last sounds too grand. It may be--and probably is--a very subtle thing I am looking for.

3:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the reply !

Certainly, one should never eat
history raw (unless it is very
tasty) .. It also seems to me,
that history is more a thing
to be written (or digested) by
the living in a present, more so
than the past itself (which would
be absurd).

EF

3:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Does Carl Sachs still post here,
and is he using the alias of
"Dr. Spinoza"? I found some of
his writings here, on Kants transcendentals and their possible
modification in modernity, in
Marx, Nietzsche and Freud, extremely interesting (!!)

It is a point of departure I would
like to take, and maybe just stick with, in an essay I hope
to write this semester.

EF

7:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

EF,

Click on "Carl Sachs" on the upper right corner of the main page, and then click on email - you'll be able to reach him that way. I suspect he'll be good about getting back to you.

Yusef

2:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I like this ALOT:

".. to say that something is material (hyle) is to say that there is
a relation of forces, from which a provisional but real form (morphe) emerges."


EF

12:37 PM  
Blogger Orla Schantz said...

Hi EF,

That's certainly an interesting quote. Could you please elaborate. It would be helpful to get some context in order for us to think further on this.

Looking forward to hearing more,

Orla

4:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well met Orla,

The quote is from a comment Dr. Spinoza (Carl Sachs?) made somwhere else on this blog.

I rephrased the quote, but original
text was ..

"The distinction between "formal" and "material" is one of the big but unstated faultlines of the critical
philosophy. What is transcendental is formal, not material. This trades on an Aristotelian set of
assumptions about "matter" (hyle) and "form" (morphe). In rejecting these assumptions, I want to develop
a very different, un-Aristotelian theory of what matter is -- of what it means to say that something is
"material."

On the competing picture which I favor, to say that something is "material" is to say that is a relation
of forces from which a provisional (but real!) form emerges.
Form is not extrinsic to matter or alien to it. And once form is regarded as immanent to matter,
the entire Aristotelian (and also neo-Platonic) metaphysics grinds to a halt.

If form is immanent to matter, then the transcendental (the form which structures experience) is material. "


EF

3:29 AM  

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