Tuesday, January 15, 2008

1914: One or Several Wolves


Definitions (Luke)

Patronymic - A component of a personal name based on the name of one's father as a means of conveying lineage.

Neurosis and Psychosis - According to psychoanalytic theory, neuroses are rooted in ego defense mechanisms which are a normal way of developing and maintaining a consistent sense of self (i.e., an ego). Neurosis is a normal human experience which should not be mistaken for psychosis (which refers to loss of touch with reality).[1] “The comparisons and identifications of the neurotic are guided by representations of things [as a tool to separate themselves from their surroundings], whereas all a psychotic has left are representations of words [which is merely a name with no connection to its original reference].”[2]

Body without Organs (BwO) – The conventional understanding of a body is as stable entities or collections which contain a set of traits. BwO introduce the idea that these collections more importantly contain unexpressed connections, potentials, and forces which actively reject an identity based on the organization of its parts in favour of one understood through the activation of its host of virtual potentials and forces. These connective forces may not be apparent but actively produce the world that is apparent.

Rhizome – “One of the essential characteristics of the dream of multiplicity is that each element ceaselessly varies and alters its distance in relation to the others… they cannot increase or diminish without their elements changing in nature.”[3] Despite the strong criticisms of dualities and of posing oppositions, rhizomes are introduced as a social aggregation concerned with dynamic connections as opposed to arborescent structures which are hierarchical and static. Rhizomes are one type of dynamically organized system or multiplicity which is invoked in opposition to ordered totalities or unities (eg. the rhizome vs the tree and the pack vs the mass). The difference between these systems is not their content but their constitution and as such one system can become or contain the other. Multiplicities can be both arborescent or rhizomatic: “On the one hand, multiplicities that are extensive, divisible, and molar; unifiable, totalizable, organizable; conscious or preconscious – an on the other hand, libidinal, unconscious, molecular, intensive multiplicities composed of particles that do not divide without changing in nature, and distances that do not vary without entering another multiplicity and that constantly construct and dismantle themselves in the course of their communications, as they cross over into each other at, beyond, or before a certain threshold.”[4]

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neurotic

[2] A Thousand Plateaus, p. 27

[3] Ibid. at 30-31

[4] Ibid. at 33

Extensive and Intensive - An intensive variable is one that can be defined locally within a system; its magnitude does not depend on whether we select a system or a part of a system (eg colour or density). An extensive variable is one that is defined for the system as a whole; its magnitude does depend on how much of the system we choose to select (eg mass or size).

Packs and Crowds – These terms are another way to categorize multiplicities. Crowds (or Masses) are “large [in] quantity, divisibility, and equality of members, concentration, and sociability of the aggregate as a whole, one-way hierarchy, organization of territoriality or territorialization, and emission of signs.”[1] While packs are characterized by “ small or restricted numbers, dispersion, non-decomposable variable distances, qualitative metamorphoses, inequalities as remainders or crossings, impossibility for a fixed totalization or hierarchy, a Brownian variability in directions, lines of deterritorialization, and projection of particles.”[2] Through the prose of chapters 1 and 2, the reader is presented with an ethical alternative: it is suggested that rhizomatic structures and systems are preferable to arborescent and that packs are preferable to crowds. “The leader of the pack or band plays move by move, must wager everything every hand, whereas the group or mass leader consolidates or capitalizes on past gains. The pack, even on its own turf, is constituted by a line of flight or deterritorialization that is component part of it, and to which it accredits a high value, whereas masses only integrate these lines in order to segment them, obstruct them, ascribe them a negative sign.”[3]

Assemblages – “For the moment, we will note that assemblages have elements (or multiplicities) of several kinds: human, social, and technical machines, organized molar machines; molecular machines with their particles of becoming-inhuman; Oedipal apparatuses; and counter Oedipal apparatuses, variable in aspect and functioning.”[4] We are warned not to reduce the idea of an assemblage to the combination of the external groups an entity belongs to as well as those internal collections which combine to constitute it. Instead, assemblages should be thought of as relations between differing multiplicities which “coexist, interpenetrate, and change places.”[5]

[1] A Thousand Plateaus, p. 33

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid. at 36

[5] Ibid.


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