Burn Completely

Posted: April 30, 2009 in Becoming, Bergson, Clinamen, Deleuze, Ecology of Sensation, Perception, Race, Swarms

media ecologies resonate

The semester is over. I’m burnt out, but not completely. I’ve tried to present to my students this semester a pragmatics of media assemblages (in an undergrad and grad course called Introduction to Media Assemblage Theory). Not what it means, but what one can do in and through media. What we are becoming through media, what we could become. This is both scary and full of potential. This is also not a dialectic, nor a metaphor for something else.

Such a pedagogy necessitates that both student and teacher enter into a process of ontologizing media flows. This focus on processes–pedagogical, methodological, intensive, affective, diagrammatic–has been the aim of the course. To think the movement and duration specific to sets of singularities. Resonant non-coinciding unicities, oscillating around basins of attraction on a plane of consistency. Coded and overcoded, regimes of passage are institutional capture machines for these processes, they feedback into them and also potentialize connectivities. Value is generating through these feedbacks, and itself becomes a material vector, self-organizing and over-coded. A moving bedrock of valuation.

The aim was to get at these processes through the production of sensation. I argued—in my reading of Sterne and Crary—that the senses are organized hierarchically and each sense is habituated through specific sensory grids. Cartesian perspectivalism vs. haptic, synaesthetic vision; tactility as visual vs. tactility as amodal, multimodal sensation.

We looked closely at the definition of neoliberalism in Foucault, and its connection to Deleuzian control societies. We brought the theory of entropy into relations of deterritorialization by historicizing and refunctioning its concept and diagram. But we have not been obsessed about words. They are important, but they should find their assemblage, their media assemblage.

I have created a set of media, that discursively does not share the same plane, and yet they can also be grasped by a discourse that traverses them. Nonlinear dynamics and affective capital. We have attempted to think pure duration. Yes duration before the grid of intelligibility that accompanies the spatialization of representation. I’m sitting in a dentist’s office. CNN is on. There is no internet. There is no internet.

So we have tried to deploy a method of morphogenesis in media. How do perceptual forms emerge in media assemblages? Through ecologies of sensation. What are ecologies of sensation? Noncoinciding resonant unicities. We should pause for a moment and consider what the nature of this unity is. Deleuze and Guattari write in A Thousand Plateaus,

To begin with, a stratum does indeed have a unity of composition, which is what allows it to be called a stratum: molecular materials, substantial elements, and formal relations or traits. Materials are not the same as the unformed matter of the plane of consistency; they are already stratified, and come from “substrata.” But of course substrata should not be thought of only as substrata: in particular, their organization is no less complex than, nor is it inferior to, that of the strata; we should be on our guard against any kind of ridiculous cosmic evolutionism. The materials furnished by a substratum are no doubt simpler than the compounds of a stratum, but their level of organization in the substratum is no lower than that of the stratum itself. The difference between materials and substantial elements is one of organization; there is a change in organization, not an augmentation. The materials furnished by the substratum constitute an for the elements and compounds of the stratum under consideration, but they are not exterior the stratum. The elements and compounds constitute an interior of the stratum, just as the materials constitute an exterior of the stratum; both belong to the stratum, the latter because they are materials that have been furnished to the stratum and selected for it, the former because they are formed from the materials. Once again, this exterior and interior are relative; they exist only through their exchanges and therefore only by virtue of the stratum responsible for the relation between them. For example, on a crystalline stratum, the amorphous milieu, or medium, is exterior to the seed before the crystal has formed; the crystal forms by interiorizing and incorporating masses of amorphous material. Conversely, the interiority of the seed of the crystal must move out to the system’s exterior, where the amorphous medium can crystallize (the aptitude to switch over to the other form of organization). To the point that the seed itself comes from the outside. In short, both exterior and interior are interior to the stratum.

What then is a unity? A machine for folding inside and outside topologically. Outside forces of futurity are active potentially, nascent, producing patterns of morphogenetic mutation.

Then there was the system of the strata. On the intensive continuum, the strata fashion forms and form matters into substances. In combined emissions, they make the distinction between expressions and contents, units of expression and units of content, for example, signs and particles. In conjunctions they separate flows, assigning them relative movements and diverse territorialities, relative deterritorializations and complementary reterritorializations. Thus the strata set up everywhere double articulations animated by movements: forms and substances of content and forms and substances of expression constituting segmentary multiplicities with relations that are determinable in every case. Such are thestrata. Each stratum is a double articulation of content and expression, both of which are really distinct and in a state of reciprocal presupposition. Content and expression intermingle, and it is two-headed machinic assemblages that place their segments in relation. What varies from stratum to stratum is the nature ofthe real distinction between content and expression, the nature of the substances as formed matters, and the nature of the relative movements. We may make a summary distinction between three major types of real distinction: the real-formal distinction between orders of magnitude, with the establishment of a resonance of expression (induction); the realreal distinction between different subjects, with the establishment of a linearity of expression (transduction); and the real-essential distinction between different attributes or categories, with the establishment of a superlinearity of expression (translation)..Each stratum serves as the substratum for another stratum. Each stratum has a unity of composition defined by its milieu, substantial elements, and formal traits (Ecumenon). (A Thousand Plateaus, 72)

Consider this passage from Whitehead’s Process and Reality:

That whatever is a datum for a feeling has a unity as felt. Thus the many components of a complex datum have a unity: this unity is a ‘contrast’ of entities. In a sense this means that there are an endless number of categories of existence, since the synthesis of entities into a contrast in general produces a new existential type. For example, a proposition is, in a sense, a ‘contrast.’ For the practical purposes of ‘human understanding,’ it is sufficient to consider a few basic types of existence, and to lump the more derivative types together under the heading of ‘contrasts.’ The most important of such ‘contrasts’ is the ‘affirmation-negation’ contrast in which a proposition and a nexus obtain synthesis in one datum, the members of the nexus being the ‘logical subjects’ of the proposition. (24)

As David Hall put it in “Process and Anarchy,”

The process of self-creativity involves the coming together of all available things into a felt synthesis constituting the aesthetic unity of a drop of ex- perience: The many become one. The act of creativity is an act of concrescence, an act of becoming one…Being is characterized in terms of its potentiality for novel synthesis. The “many things” of the world, in accordance with which the growing together of experience (the aesthetic event) becomes, constitute beings. The aesthetic event itself is becoming. This view of existence, therefore, requires two kinds of process: the process of self-creativity, which is concrescence, and the transi- tion of being into data for acts of concrescence. Creativity explains both con- crescence and transition. “Creativity” and “process” as general concepts are the primary terms which interpret the reality of things as creative passage. The reality of things is comprised by aesthetic events. These events are free, novel, and transitory. Creativity, as the spontaneous realization of novelty, requires that there be freedom to produce the novel. (272-73)

Hall goes onto argue that “For the locus of freedom is the self. But, as nature is basically incomplete and as acts of creativity require some form of organic wholeness or completion to qualify as aesthetic, self-actualization, which is the paradigm of creation, must entail the consequence that the self is momentary, transitory, and in process. Aesthetic events are momentary acts of creativity which come into being and at the point of full actualization cease to be in the fullest sense. Process, therefore, is atomic in character. Otherwise there could be no full realization of novelty through aesthetic action. Creativity is the self-creative activity of finite events in process of becoming. Each such event, at full realization, loses its uniqueness. Reality, as an interweaving of freedom and novelty, therefore, must be seen as process. (273) Hall notes that Tao is said to be an “Uncarved Block,” meaning that it is capable of infinite characterization. It is the source from which all things come, though it is in no way separate from that of which it is the source. One cannot avoid a kind of deism here, but one that is not transcendent but immanent to matter. (274). What is the relation between sense perception and intuition? For an event-particle to have a unity as felt there is an irreducible element of intuition involved. We are considering here affect as a felt or effective unity. There is a suspension of time-space concepts that is necessary in order to occupy your very own body without organs, it is not only space that must be thought topologically, but time durationally in a pragmatics of relationality, action, change, and function: “anarchy and unity are one and the same thing, not the unity of the One, but a much stranger unity that applies only to the multiple” (TP 158). The duration of things create a variety of flows, which sometimes finds strange resonances. Examples of hybridity are not what I mean here. Rather, these flows are material and representational at once, as long as we understand by the word “representation” a disposition constituted by a subtractive perception oscillating between action and dream (Bergson, Massumi, Deleuze). So let us return to a diagram of this morphogensis as a unity. We should take D/G’s mention of yoga very seriously. Beyond merely the representational verisimilitude, or death sentence of Orientalism.

I aim to provide a reading of B. K. S. Iyengar’s Light on Yoga in the time ahead. I want to consider yoga as a way of creating your own BwO as an experience of love and change immanent to each body, below the family but feedbacked into it, an ecology of sensation that is preindividual in the sense Simondon, Masumi, and Hansen describe it.

So heterochronic evolution–we will define this again using Deleuze and Delanda–will give us patterns of morphogenesis. How?

That is, morphogenetic rules…are inherited properties of lineages that determine limits on how ontogenies can respond to gene mutations in a given environment. While the mutations, and the repeated morphogenetic tendencies expressed as parallel phenotypic novelties in a given clade, are random in the sense that they are independent of what natural selection might prefer, they can nevertheless impart a coherent pattern to what can and does evolve in that clade. I argue below that particular kinds of heterochrony that appear repeatedly in parallel in particular clades reflect shared, inherited morphogenetic responses to common environmental causes. Third, there are limits on the ways in which speciation can occur in general and even narrower limits in the case of any particular monophyletic group of species that share aspects of population structure and ecology and that evolved under the same basic conditions of physical change. Finally, natural selection can act in similar ways across species faced by similar climatic changes, especially when those species share commonly inherited aspects of genomes, morphogenetic rules, and population structure.

Climate, Heterochrony, and Human Evolution Author(s): Elisabeth S. Vrba Source: Journal of Anthropological Research, Vol. 52, No. 1 (Spring, 1996), pp. 1-28; Accessed: 21/02/2009 17:21.

Life moves in clades, as Bruce Sterling has it in Schixmatrix. Vrba defines “Heterochrony” as including “all evolutionary changes in the timing of appearance of characters during ontogeny and in the rates of shape and size development. From one to most descendant characters may be affected.”

We know that heterochrony is important to Deleuze for reasons that help us to grasp what kinds of modalities we need to give materiality to a definition of ecologies of sensation. Heterochrony is a theory of “vacuoles of noncommunication.”

“You ask whether control or communication societies will lead to forms of resistance that might reopen the way for a communism understood as the “transversal organization of free individuals.” Maybe, I don’t know. But it would be nothing to do with minorities speaking out. Maybe speech and communication have been corrupted. They’re thoroughly permeated by money–and not by accident but by their very nature. We’ve got to hijack speech. Creating has always been something different from communicating. The key thing may be to create vacuoles of noncommunication, circuit breakers, so we can elude control.”
–G. Deleuze to A. Negri, “Control and Becoming”

(Jonathan at Cultural Studies took exception to my quoting this, because of what he felt to be a kind of silly opposition between money and noncommunication. I don’t really see these things in opposition as much as in mutual determination given a field of intensitiies, with their own durations and force. But the key here is that there is something “before” and “after” money: and that substance is pure relation or pure immanence. The purity here is like the unity in the above definition. We are back at the same problem because the aim in this is to break with concepts of timespace, to break with conceptualization as such and enter bodily into the flow of durations. Becoming as continuous variation. To take a song as a field of potentiality. Consider this song: It’s gonna rain. It’s by Steven Riech, and you can listen to it and hear Reich’s brilliant commentary on it here:

I’ve remixed some of the audio on Garage Band a number of times:

It\’s gonna rain again and again

The method of diagramming duration ontologically is to follow the relations it enters into. Deleuze suggested that there are definite properties of duration. “Pulsed time and non-pulsed time are completely musical, but they are something else as well. The question would be to know what makes up this non-pulsed time. This kind of floating time that more or less corresponds to what Proust called “a bit of pure time.” The most obvious, the most immediate feature of…non-pulsed time is duration, time freed from measure, be it a regular or irregular, simple or complex measure. Non-pulsed time puts us first and foremost in the presence of a multiplicity of heterochronous, qualitative, non-coincident, non-communicating durations. The problem therefore is clear: how will these heterochronous, heterogeneous, multiple, non-coincident durations join together…” –G. Deleuze, “Making Inaudible Forces Audible”

Thinking about the temporality involved in individuation processes as embodying the parallel operation of many different sequential processes throws new light on the question of the emergence of novelty. If embryological processes followed a strictly sequential order, that is, if a unique linear sequence of events defined the production of an organism, then any novel structures would be constrained to be added at the end of the sequence….On the contrary, if embryonic development occurs in parallel, if bundles of relatively independent processes occur simultaneously, then new designs may arise from disengaging bundles, or more precisely, from altering the duration of one process relative to another, or the relative timing of the start or end of a process. This evolutionary design strategy is known as heterochrony.

For some time the association of the animal with the savage defined the ideology of colonialism. A system of finance and affective labor were deployed and potentialized by the flows that gave movement and becoming to eugenic racism and territorial expansion. The change in the ratios of perception brought on by new media (the hand and the lithograph) and communication technologies (the ear and the phone) helped to monumentalize and quotidianize the ideology. This paper is interested in diagramming this latter process as a continuous multiplicity of flows, each having gradients of intensities, each having a pattern of interactions (functional capacities, capacious functions), each with strata and becoming. Correlated processes with specific speeds, rates, coefficients, and differential relations.”

How have contagions of race, perception, matter, and sensation contributed to a new understanding of the human as human? At what point does such an analysis become a conduit for proliferating ecologies of sensation? Durations organize themselves along functional connectivities, noncommunicating differential relations, where all becoming is in the middle of things. We will consider an array of morphogenetic processes—new habituations, new contagions, new becomings—across the remains and mutations of empire…


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