July 11, 2005

Research Notes: Singularity/continuum, a multiplicitous event

Follow-up to Overman, creativity and beyond transcendental recognition from Transversality - Robert O'Toole

The second chapter of Germinal Life contains some brief commentary on Badiou`s critique of the concept of event in Deleuze and Guattari. I've not succeeded in reading Badiou yet, but can understand the need for a clarification, as the concept of 'singularity', Deleuze and Guattari's event, can be misleading.

Keith writes that for Badiou:

the event does not come into being from the world, whether ideally or materially, but from not being attached to it. The event is an 'interruption' that is always separate from the world. Instead of a world defined by 'creative continuity` there is the 'founding break'.

I had, at one point, a confused concept of singularity that privileged the 'interruption' or 'coupure' (Foucault's cut/break). It worked like this:

  1. The break has an irreversibility. In fact it is the irreversible – about as real as real time can be.
  2. A break can be repaired, but only with the addition of something to the closed system of that which is repaired.
  3. The loss of the originary state is therefore irreversible.
  4. But the break also originates the new individuation, which may be the synthesis of the broken and the repaired.
  5. It then acts as the singular fact of the event of that individuation.

In this model, the break is the singularity around which an individual is oriented. It is the missing, the irrecoverable, the inaccessible that prevents the individual from becoming other. We can then say that the individual is a response to the break, its activity copes with the break, with its history, its singular specificity. That coping is its function, its telos. And its tendency to either simulation or creation, simulacra or originary form, defines its authenticity. The break is the singular first and final cause.

But as Keith states, this:

fails to understand the work being done with Deleuze's conception of the event, namely that, it seeks to provide an account of how rupture and discontinuity are explicable and possible.

This is the very meaning of "schizoanalysis": looking into the specific conditions for each schizm or discontinuity, and considering how those conditions form a continuum with that which is broken, carrying it across the break.

In this way, Deleuze and Guattari run counter to phenomenology and its bracketing-out. In schizoanalysis, as for Nietzsche, everything is implicated in the event. Nothing can be bracketed out, only moved in and out of focus (or folded and un-folded). They say: look at chaos, death and by implication life, right in the eyes, get to know each individual chaos, each death and each life on its own terms…

…to look into the break is in fact to look towards a horizon in which detail disappears into confusion, into chaos. It is to look into a Body without Organs, through which one may deterritorialize by relative degrees, moving around to gain further clarity and to provoke a response, to feel its unique texture and possibilities.

This is not to deny irreversibility or real time. Or indeed that individual A may never become individual B because in doing so individual B is destroyed (which amounts to saying that there is no possible world in which A = B, the difference being absolute). Rather, we can say that there are different kinds of irreversibility. Each exchange with the Body without Organs, the horizon, is itself a different recipe of irreversibility. There are as many such recipes as there are events. In some cases they tend towards entropy. In other cases they provoke outbursts of creativity. Even the individual that seeks never to enter into the exchange, that seeks isolation in the safety of its refrain and turns chaos away with large blocks of redundancy, in fact engages in a brutal interchange with the Body without Organs and provokes a response. In all cases, whether convoluted or relatively direct, the interchange between individual and Body without Organs operates an eventual non-linear effect throughout, resulting in complex but irreversible involutions specific to each unique assemblage. Singular and multiplicitous continua of disappearance.

Importantly, we shouldn't deny the possibility of the kind of 'foundational break' described above as a confused concept of singularity. Rather, consider that such behaviour may occur in certain types of system, such as those in which large blocks of redundancy create highly isolated individuals. This is not however typical, merely one specific type of event. It is interesting to speculate about why philosophy, and so many other aspects of modern Capitalism should raise such a rare case to the level of a universal. We seem obsessed with apocalyptic events, with foundational breaks.

In what sense is the notion that philosophical concepts perform an absolute deterritorialization (D&G What is Philosophy?) also an expression of this fascination with destruction?

And in what sense does the statement "we never deterritorialize alone" (D&G ATP) – provide a model for passing into the BwO with concepts and artworks (monuments) as catalysts and helpers?


If you have something interesting to contribute to this, please contact me

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  1. Steve

    "horizon" = "time"???

    "Absolute deterritorialization"...Deleuze says, is a "line of flight." In order to constitute a "line of flight" you need a break in the molarity…an explosion, intensity, on the molecular level…two faces turned away from each other…I lose my firmament…I lose my presence… link

    You said, "…to look into the break is in fact to look towards a horizon in which detail disappears into confusion, into chaos. It is to look into a Body without Organs,..."

    Call me stupid…but I have a different take on BwO…like link …it is not horizon…unless we think of horizon as being "out of joint."

    Maybe this will explain why I think it is different than "horizon"...
    From link :

    "Since the Renaissance, almost all painting had obeyed a convention, that of one-point perspective. In a nutshell, one-point perspective means that objects appear to diminish in size as they move away from us. Using the horizon line as a point of reference, artists constructed a single point, a "vanishing point" on the horizon toward which all objects extended. If you think of train tracks running into the distance, you have the conception of one-point perspective…

    A geometrical system for arranging reality, one-point perspective offers a way of seeing things that does not always represent the way we actually see, although it has controlled the way we see since the Renaissance. For example, if you look at any object in the room around you, you will notice that your eye is never still: you blink, your head moves slightly, the wind blows a piece of paper on the table. With each of these movements, the object changes its position.

    In developing Cubism, Pablo Picasso and his friend, the sculptor Georges Braque, wanted to represent how people actually see and know the world around them. Our knowledge of objects comes from being able to see all possible angles of that object: top, sides, front, back. As Hughes says, "any sight is a sum of different glimpses." Cubism collapses these angles of vision into one simultaneous view. Picasso and Braque argues that their view was reality."

    In other words, a virtuality…is a sum of different glimpses…where time is "out of joint" (Aion)...or where Flow (i.e., qualitative difference, rather than measurable by the time on the clock) becomes memory, or "Gestalt" (the fluxuating differences in what constitutes foreground and background)...in contrast to thinking of a horizon, or one-point perspective. Like, with my BwO, I experience a cinema film to be "long" or "short" regardless of what the stopwatch says…Deleuze talks about my BwO moving at changing speeds…faster and slower, even "rest."

    In my less than foolproof estimation, BwO is more about flows across a body of desire, i.e., productivity – rather than an 'interruption' or a pleasureful state of tension release (like orgasm)...interruption is really about "lack"...about "a splitting of the subject"... link

    "Introducing Heidegger", pg 76, says…

    ""Flow" is resistant to calculation and objective measurement, mingling very particular sensations and memories."

    Also, flow is about assemblages…like the infant's mouth and the mother's teat…
    And assemblages has to do BwO, and it's territories of…and the fact that we are not alone in establishing these connections…it always involves another.

    15 Jul 2005, 06:41

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