All 4 entries tagged Expression

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March 08, 2005

Expression, content, assymetrical synthesis of the sensible

Expression is the operation of a programme of deterritorialization and reterritorialization. Repeatedly carrying elements formed in context or territory A into a new relation with elements formed in context B. The deterritorialized elements being the content or payload carried by the expression.

The effect of the delivery may be entirely disruptive when reterritorialization occurs. But more productively, it could trigger a response in the second context B that dissipates the effect, but at the same time releases further elements that may be deterritorialized and reterritorialized within the first context A.

Furthermore, if the deterritorialization from A into B is effectively handled by B, without the immediate destruction of B, and the transmission of released elements from B back to A (feedback) is beneficial to A, then A will tend towards repeating the exchange. Having responded to A effectively in the first instance, B will is more likely to be prepared for the second instance, and in fact has started to stabilise around the expectation. And in turn A is stabilising around the sensation of the return delivery of content.

In this way each context has its exposed surfaces or senses repetitively disrupted. In isolation this interference could only ever be noise, but when part of such a mutually beneficial relationship, the exchanges are sensible. This is the case even though the payload exchanged and the programmatic form by which it is carried in each direction may have no necessary relation. In fact it can be said that the meaning only exists in the overall process, between the lines carved out by each seperate context, combining both contexts and the movements between them in an asymmetrical synthesis of the sensible.

January 20, 2005


Follow-up to Opinion from Transversality - Robert O'Toole

Deleuze and Guattari do sometimes refer to freedom and freeing up, but it is a kind of diagrammatic freedom.

A particular activity may be constrained in several ways. The material of its expression may impose a limit, and as Guattari argues in Chaosmosis, a change in the material may act to free it up, to give it a chance of escape. Conversely, material of expression may be constrained to the point of starvation by a language, concept, artistic practice, scientific experiment (all of the aparatus of capture). Loosening the dependence between the material and the aparatus may bring life back to the material. This need to do this may be the source of transcendence. Again Guattari employs this as a psychotherapeautic practice, but guards against transcendence.

Regarding literature (Kafka, Lawrence), they say:

It is always a case of freeing life wherever it is imprisoned. p.171


Follow-up to Free expression – a misconception from Transversality - Robert O'Toole

Opinion, against philosophy.

The three disciplines advance by crises or shocks in different ways, and in each case it is their sucession that makes it possible to speak of "progress." It as if the struggle against chaos does not take place without an affinity with the enemy, because another struggle develops and takes on more importance - the struggle against opinion, which claims to protect us from chaos itself. WiP p.203

Opinion: a negative term used by Deleuze and Guattari in What Is Philosophy?

Opinion does refer to a specific machinic phylum, but one that invades and parasitises those of art, science and philosophy. The three disciplines, each with their own machinic phyla (creative engine), pass through chaos (change) in their own ways. This relation to chaos defines each discipline. But opinion offers a quick and easy solution to each, a stereotypical creativity – perhaps implying a departure from the appropriate form of creativity, and more contentiously, freedom of expression (see previous entry).

Perhaps it does this by making too immediate and ill-considered a transversal move between phyla: for example, conceptual art. In philosophy it appears as transcendence. In art as the figurative or symbolic. Sophistry.

This also relates to the debate between Klee and Kandinsky concerning the relationship between forms in painting and music.

But opinion is a machinic phylum in itself – is it a phylum of the viral? Of the retrovirus? – as I said in Deleuze and Philosophy.

July 15, 2004

The Four Ontological Functions Diagram

Warning! This won't make any sense to you if you haven't read a substantial amount of work by the philosophers Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari. That's why it's in the 'philosophy' category. I've posted it because for a few months now i've been trying to understand the diagram in Guattari's Chaosmosis, which is clearly an attempt to summarize his work with Deleuze such that he can use it in his work in psychiatry, education, and cultural practices. I post it as public as I know there are many D&G experts out there who might want to comment and say "you've just got it entirely wrong".

  • The whole diagram represents the connective synthesis. Present within it at all points is both the body without organs and the plane of consistency, the composer and the composed of desiring-production. (1)
  • The actual column is the always present, active disjunctive synthesis of striated space. (2)
  • The virtual column is the always presupposed, passive conjunctive synthesis of smooth space. (3)
  • The possible row is formed by organisational strategies that make the repetition of an organisation more likely, projecting the past into the future, a composing force tending towards the body without organs, towards an absolute difference. (4)
  • The real row is formed by the absolute difference between past and future states, the composed fact tending towards the plane of consistency. The possible drives this absolute difference.

Every activity involves all four ontological functions. The critical project of Deleuze and Guattari is to demonstrate that separate activities, such as art and science, have mistakenly been placed in relations of subservience to each other. This has been done by associating an activity with a single ontological function, locating it in just one sector of the matrix, whilst another activity is placed in a complementary sector. Instead, we need to recognize that each activity itself involves all four ontological functions simultaneously. Both art and science, for example, are independently operational connective syntheses, and neither is ontologically dependent upon the other. Similarly, the ‘models’ described in A Thousand Plateaus (technological, musical, mathematical, maritime, aesthetic) are all different instantiations of the connective synthesis.


  1. The Connective Synthesis of Production. (Anti-Oedipus p.68).
  2. The Disjunctive Synthesis of Recording. (Anti-Oedipus p.75).
  3. The Conjunctive Synthesis of Consumption and Consummation. (Anti-Oedipus p.84).
  4. For Deleuze and Guattari, signification is distributed across the disjunctive synthesis (the movement to expressive dissipation) and the conjunctive synthesis (the movement to enunciative concentration): the sign does not produce fantasies, it is a production of the real and a position of desire within reality. (Anti-Oedipus p.111). Lack does not figure in this as both the possible and the real already presuppose all three syntheses: the concentration, the dissipation and the connection. The restriction of an activity to one sector of the diagram introduces lack. The positioning of a complementary activity in another sector of the diagram offers a solution to that lack, hence the relationship of subservience between the activities (e.g. art and science).