Archive for January, 2010

According to Deleuze, Nietzsche’s favorite method is to consider a thing’s plurality of senses depending on the many forces that can take possession of it (N+P 143). Thus there are many types of religions depending on the forces dominant and minor in it. This method is particularly useful in considering media today. There are many forces that can take possession of various kinds of media, giving it a multiplicity of senses; many forces struggle for dominance, to lay claim to the sense of a given media. I am thinking right now specifically of the cellphone: what are the forces that have taken possession of mobile culture? These forces aim to change the direction of the media itself, more or less controlling or affecting its various processes (N+P 154).

Let’s recall a crucial dimension of Deleuze’s argument regarding sense, value, force taken from my last post: The dialectic misinterprets force (that which appropriates phenomena), affect (relational capacities, emergent properties), and becoming (phase transitions of nonlinear systems far from equilibrium). More, the dialectic, as Deleuze notes in his conclusion, is defined by three great ideas: 1. the idea of a power of the negative as a theoretical principle manifested in opposition and contradiction; 2. the idea of suffering and sadness have value, the valorization of the “sad passions”, as a practical principle manifested in splitting and tearing apart; 3. the idea of positivity as a theoretical and practical product of negation itself (195). What organizes these three great ideas? A false conception of difference, according to Deleuze, a conception of difference which substitutes the negation of the other for the affirmation of self (196); a negative, binary difference that is inextricably tied to representation, bad conscience, and ressentiment. Slave morality and dialectical difference are of a piece.

What would be the correct interpretation of force, affect and becoming? A diagram that would itself take thinking to its n-th power, reconnect and push thought to the fullest of what its affect can do, and thereby engage in unpredictable processes of becoming. In short, this leads to a new way of feeling or sensing through an intensive imbrication in ecologies of sensation; a new way of thinking, with “predicates other than divine ones; for the divine is still a way of preserving man and of preserving the essential characteristic of God, God as attribute” (163); and a new way of evaluating, “not an abstract transposition nor a dialectical reversal, but a change and reversal in the element from which the value of values derives, a ‘transvaluation’” (163).

Diagramming ecologies of sensation that lead to a transvaluation: the aim of media assemblage critique. For Indian mobile culture one key dimension is global consumerism—its vector is partly captured by the phrase “Global Access.”

Mobile phone store, Marathahalli, Bangaluru, Jan. 2010

Read on: “To accede to a global image one consumes certain objects…”

The will to power: will does not want power. Power is “the one that wills in the will. Power is the genetic and differential element in the will. This is why the will is essentially creative” (85). Power is the elemental condition of mutation. So let’s say that power is a characteristic of a will, a set of affectivities, sensations (nonanthropomorphic concept of bodily events), or capacities of that will. In this sense creativity constitutes a kind of giving up of or on human will, and to enter hapharzardly upon a process of selecting connectivity and thus affirming the dice throw as chance, a will that has no space, only topology, that has no time, only becoming. Now what we know (that is, experimentally and experientially engage in a process of becoming), and can feel–but never with total coincidence–is that these capacities are themselves involved in a set of divergent and at times resonant processes, or multiplicities. The causal and differentiated patterns that form at various scales of these multiplicities will bring a quantum of chance. Now chance has no determinate quanta, it is the measure of fluctuating unpredictability in a given system. This intimation of chaos—entropy—has always been defined against equilibrium in an ideology which Deleuze calls the dialectic of ressentiment (even, or perhaps especially in the form of negentropy), that is an ideology whose will moves with a certain bitter heaviness—which is not at all a very enabling way to understand the power of affect. This is why will does not want power, power wills, power affects, its creativity is something genetic, in the sense of the why and wherefores of phase transitions. You see then that to grasp this notion of becoming through a will to power the concept of non-coinciding but resonant time scales is also necessary. What happens in the time-scale of bacterial strains, and the time scale of river erosion does not coincide totally, and yet they can embed themselves one in the other. What sense does movement make? What patterns is a given movement involved in? Determined and determining, the will to power has a multiplicious malleability to it.

Grant Road Station, Mumbai

There is something immeasurably sad in all this, but then sadness is no longer heavy (Philosophy should sadden, and trouble stupidity, says Deleuze). Here we escape the heaviness of movement in the dialectic or ressentiment, here thought and life dance with risk (chance as distributive difference). Woody Allen in Stardust Memories talks about the authenticity of death through all these forces of life that stream memories through what remains a monologue, especially for the women in his films. But why is it that we give finality, or a certain end, a type of ending the aura of the authentic? There are many kinds of endings? Death is a phase transition, that is all. The aura attaches through a hatred of life. Deleuze has some wonderful passages on the quality of hatred that burns in ressentiment, isn’t that too in Allen? And yet one cannot deny the wildly funny nature of Allen’s films. But these things are not incompatible, in Allen a style has fused them.

Returning: I am struck again and again at how central the notion of creativity is to Deleuze’s thought. Creativity is an affirmation of life, it is to take life and thought to the limit of what it is capable of doing.

The will to power is determined and determining, it is both cause and effect, it is quasi-causal. “The genetic element (power) determines the relation of force with force and qualifies related forces. As plastic element it simultaneously determines and is determined, simultaneously qualifies and is qualified. What the will to power wills is a particular relation of forces, a particular quality of forces. And also a particular quality of power: affirming or denying” (85).

Here we come back to the theme of the virtual as determined and determining that I marked earlier. It suggests that there is no virtual (will to power) without being actualized in particular relations of forces, particular emergent capacities (qualities that arise from the interactions of a multiplicity); but also that there is no actual without the genetic and differential element of the virtual. Read on: “All phenomena express relations of forces, qualities of force and power…”