- ALIEN THEORY:CHAPTER III –
DELEUZE AND GUATTARI'S ABSOLUTE HYLETICS (PART I)
Transcendental syntheses which are not representational: that is the task set forth since Difference and Repetition and The Logic of Sense: “The error of all efforts to determine the transcendental as consciousness is that they think of the transcendental in the image of, and in the resemblance to, that which it is supposed to ground.” (Deleuze, 1990, p.105) This is precisely set to avoid the transcendent circularity whereby the transcendental is finally modeled on the basis of some transcendent empirical content which was supposed to be in turn grounded by the transcendental. The four kernels of the representational conscious-centered versions of the transcendental are:
1) Identity in the concept
2) Opposition in the predicate
3) Analogy in judgment
4) Resemblance in intuition
But the problem is that these conditions form a grid which channels the philosophical thinking of difference impossible outside of conceptual identity, external to opposition, independent of analogy in judgment, and unrecognizable by intuition. These four collars are paradigmatically modeled after the apperception of the cogito or conscious intuiting. However, the form of the Self is not a pre-given ground for speculation, but something that needs to be grounded itself. To deposit philosophical faith onto subjective consciousness is just a (correlationist) variant of the metaphysical appeal to God as transcendent principle; one which is furthermore made explicitly circular by furnishing the constituting act of subjectivity modeled after the ‘empirical’ realm it seeks to ground. Thus for example we can remember Heidegger’s famous analysis of the Zuhandenheit and the pre-representational sphere of being's disclosure within Dasein’s comportments (as opposed to apophantic Vorhandenheit) ultimately relying on ocular metaphoric appeals to the tacit non-reflexive sensitivity of functional categories (the blacksmith's functional integration to his environment...)
Suspending the first person phenomenological locus and its constriction of the transcendental to subjective individuation is thus Deleuze’s first critical task. To describe a non-subjective set of conditions for material and ideal individuation, which do not presuppose the circularity implicit in the doublet of the empirico-transcendental representational cogito at its centre: “the vicious circle which makes the condition refer to the conditioned as it reproduces its image.” (Deleuze, 1990, p.105) In this it resists even Henry’s purported materialization, by denouncing the form of the Self as paradigm of individuation. There must be incommensurability between a) the individuated realm of intentional consciousness or sub-representational enstasis and b) the pre-individual domain of subjectless singularities. Deleuze wants to go beyond a merely negative characterization of transcendental immanence as sub-representational, un-conscious and non-intentional; while moving towards defining an anorganic, impersonal realm of intensive virtual multiplicities:
“If it remains strictly incommensurable with the categories of representation it is because, pace Kant, it teems with a-categorial determinations and anomalous differentiations; if it remains rigorously irreducible to the dimensions of consciousness it is because, pace Freud, it is cosmic, anonymous, and anorganic; finally, if it remains utterly heteromorphic vis a vis the form of the Self it is because, pace Henry, it is comprised of impersonal individuations and pre-personal singularities. This pre-individual, impersonal transcendental field sought for by Deleuze, constitutes the empirically inexhaustible realm of virtual singularities, ‘real without being actual, ideal without being abstract’, nomadically distributed via the limitlessly productive, perpetually dynamic disequilibrium of an auto-differentiating, ontological ‘heterogenesis” (AT: Pg. 57)
Without the self to safeguard consciousness, singularities occur over an immanent deterritorialized unconscious surface or field, held together in dynamic auto-evoling processing which Deleuze calls 'nomadic distributions'. The form of the Self is produced in the actualization of these singularities, but these singular actualizations are different from the actualized intensities of personal consciousness. We only attain the transcendental’s dignity when we team up the world and this realm of nomadic impersonal singularities. This project consists of enacting, in the two volumes of Capitalism and Schizophrenia, the threefold destitution of the Oedipal edifice: subjectification, signification and interpretation. Also, we obtain the self-assembling virtual singularities or multiplicities nomadically distributed in the plane of immanence in which they are rendered consistent and in which the actual empirical realm is produced as actual. This is the ‘machinic construction of the realm via connective/conjunctive/disjunctive syntheses of desiring production’ (AT: Pg. 58). Subjective individuation is to be shown as derivative with respect to the ontogenesis of differentiated singularities and impersonal multiplicities; the philosophical method becomes subject of the real and a function of the machinic construction and inscription on the unconscious plane of immanence: the real singularizes itself impersonally as an event of thought. This means immanence is realized as the realm becomes subject, enacts thought itself, rather than thought representing it, which Laruelle labels the 'technico-ontological / hyletic continuum'. This complicity of substance-subject is nevertheless anti-Hegelian since it does not submit to the figure of subjectivity or Geist as self-relating negativity in which externalization of nature is reintegrated as a moment in the history of the subject’s mediation:
“The self-knowing Spirit knows not only itself but also the negative of itself, or its limit: to know one’s limit is to know how to sacrifice oneself. This sacrifice is the externalisation in which Spirit displays the process of its becoming Spirit in the form of its free contingent happening, intuiting its pure Self as Time outside of it, and equally its Being as Space. This last becoming of Spirit, Nature, is its living immediate Becoming; Nature, the externalised Spirit, is in its existence nothing but this eternal externalisation of its continuing existence and the movement which reinstates the Subject.”(Hegel, 1977, p.492).
On the other hand, Deleuze’s hyletics supports a becoming-substance of the philosophical subject and method, one in which the equivocal representational doublets (subject/object, thinking/being, noesis/noema) are subverted so that the philosophical Concept becomes a material category which maps the un-representable virtual real in a univocally determined field of immanence. This is relative to an intensively rather than extensively defined concept of materiality, in the active auto-production of the real rather than passive representation. From here we can advance towards an understanding of what Laruelle means by accusing Deleuze of ‘absolute hyletic idealism’. As auto-productive synthesis, intensive materiality is defined through ‘inclusive disjunction’ of difference in kind and degree, intensity and extensity, virtual and actual. And in this space outside analogical and categorical representational mediation, on the basis of negation and exclusion, logos/matter coincide in the infinite hyletic continuum or chaotic immanence. But this being the case, the materialism D&G envisage requires the reduction of the phenomenological/representational, an idealizing transcendental reduction, synthesis becoming only relative to itself or absolute, one which is univocally ontologically guaranteed through the plane of immanence and in which the Concept operates.
- The Plane of Immanence and Philosophical Decision -
The plane of immanence is at once what remains after the reduction of the empirico-transcendental doublet and the already-presupposed in place for the Concept to take place; it is both the result of a philosophical operation and the always already which grounds or institutes it. And this institution, broken off the shackles off representational mediation and the form of the World as our sense-giving background, will resemble a cognitive experimentation designed to subvert the stillness of epistemic guarantors with nomadic distributive dynamisms and epistemological enquiry with ontological auto-effectivity. But why would such an exercise count as idealizing? This concerns the self-positing aspect of the philosophical Concept which both pre-supposes the plane of immanence (relative) and which is constitutes through its self-positing, through its positing as limit through philosophical Conceptualization, in a strikingly similar way in which Hegelian logic constructs the future-anterior:
“The plane has to be philosophically constructed; yet it is also that which constructs itself through philosophy; it is at once ‘always already there’ or pre-supposed; and something that has to be laid out or constructed; which is to say, posed. In other words, the plane is pre-supposed only insofar as it ‘will have been’ posed; but posed only insofar has it ‘will have been’ pre-supposed.” (Pg. 63)
Just like the philosophical Concept, the plane of immanence must also be self-positing and self-instituting which renders indiscernible the pre-philosophical immanence and the crystallization through the concept which constitutes it. Since immanence is self-presupposing or causa sui in its indiscernibility from the Concept, the inclusive disjunction of positing and pre-positing, thinkable and unthinkable, most internal corner of thought and its unreachable external presupposition: “Within an immanent realm of this sort, the phenomenological and the materio-logical remain exactly coextensive.” (Laruelle, 1981, p.79). The plane of immanence thus subsists only tied to the experimental creation of the Concept as presupposition. The triadic structure of Decision thereby repeats itself here:
1) Immanence as deterritorialization, full Earthly body, pure unthinkable externality, inclusive disjunction of non/internal inside and non-external outside (non-mediation).
2) The philosophical Concept as indiscerning of presupposition (plane, non-relation) and supposition (conceptual, relation).
It is the philosophical Concept wherein the transcendental is synthesized bilaterally. The plane of immanence functions as real as it is presupposed in the Concept’s position. This ensures the co-extensiveness of the philosophical phenomeno-logos and materio-logos, as the plane transects the hyletic continuum, and slices the chaotic matter of intensivity. We will now focus on the aparallelism between virtual/actual, smooth/striated
-Parallelism and Asymmetry –
Attacking Heidegger’s equivocal ontico-transcendental ascription of Dasein as being-in-the-world and fundamental ontology’s attempt at reducing the ontic to the fundamental; Deleuze strips the ontic of categorical/phenomenological mediation in unified horizon of sense. Instead, he posits unidentifiable self-dissimilar dispersions shorn of all identity neither relative to another identity nor to themselves in a purely differential realm. The Being of simulacra is this sheer differing called Disparate or Unequal-in-itself, and through which virtual multiplicities actualize themselves. This presupposes another triadic distinction in Deleuze’s thought:
1) Intensive Differentiation – Virtual problematic Ideas which are determinate.
2) Extensive Differenciation – Actual extensive magnitudes which are determinable.
3) Different/ciation – Individuation as the determination of the determinable by the determinate where virtual intensities are explicated in actual extensity and the latter is enveloped by the former; reciprocal explication/implication in the circuit of problematic virtual ideas in the intensive spatium. This is the self-sufficient reason for intensive individuation, it is a hybrid structure which produces a circular feedback loop whereby the virtual becomes explicated in the actual and the actual enveloped by the virtual, reincorporated into the ever differentiating virtual anew in an infinite ontogenetic circuit producing new multiplicities.
“Individuation is the act by which intensity determines differential relations to become actualised, along the lines of differenciation and within the qualities and extensities it creates. The total notion is therefore that of: indi-different/ciation” (Deleuze, 1994, p.246).
As a consequence, Brassier finds in individuation a distinctive reversible asymmetry: the virtual distinguishes itself from the actual in the same process whereby the latter becomes distinguished from the former. This does away with bi-lateral reciprocity, and the symmetrical reversibility between condition and conditioned, since both realms are clearly separated but reversibly so in indifferent/ciating individuation. However, this forces Deleuze into accepting the coincidence of virtual production and actual product; since the latter explicates the former and the former envelops the latter. Thus there subsists, says Brassier, a parallelism between the two in the ontogenetic circuit which directly leads from virtual to actual and back to the virtual. However, it seems deeply unclear at this point how this institutes a parallelism, given that no operation of identity or similarity is given between the virtual Ideal intensity and the actual extensity. One can only guess Brassier finds explication/envelopment to constitute relations which somehow imply a parallel between the two registers, since the fundamental reversibility of the two registers must entail their co-belonging (they can be mutually reinscribed into the other). It thereby retains a differential disjunction as a relation in the ‘between’ between condition and conditioned, one which must be invariably subject the transcendent empirical product or given term: the actualized individual is the hybrid structure in which the difference between the actual/virtual can be mapped, and the rhizome-branching of indifferent/ciation dubbed as presupposed in the Concept.
It seems unclear, however, why Brassier constructs this presumed parallelism on the necessary prioritization of the given actualized extensity rather than the virtual Ideal intensity; as the reversible asymmetry supposes. Why is it said to rely on an empirically given term to model the ontogenetic cycle? Perhaps it is because the dynamic process of indifferent/ciation can only be made constructed as the actualized extensity becomes conceptually available as implying a presupposed intensive envelopment, which reintegrates the actual into the circuit of differentiating virtual multiplicities. That is to say, without the actualized individual as given, the intensive envelopment which completes the catalyzing process of indifferent/ciation would remain impossible to construct conceptually; it is only through the lens of the actual that the extensity can be retroactively presupposed as an explicated intensity. It is this middle ground as hybrid structure which allows the communication between the virtual/actual to insist and repeat itself ad infinitum. This cyclic parallelism or co-implication becomes clarified in the relation between smooth and striated space in A Thousand Plateaus:
“[W]e must remind ourselves that the two spaces in fact exist only in mixture: smooth space is constantly being translated, traversed into a striated space; striated space is constantly being reversed, returned to a smooth space[...]But the de facto mixes do not preclude a de jure, or abstract, distinction between the two spaces. That there is such a distinction is what accounts for the fact that the spaces do not communicate with each other in the same way: it is the de jure distinction that determines the forms assumed by a given de facto mix and the direction or meaning of the mix [...]” (Deleuze & Guattari, 1988, p.475)
But since D&G cannot appeal to be simply tracing the instances of de facto instances from the de jure asymmetry, the latter must already be implicated in the former a priori. To abide to the notion of a ‘tracing’ movement would be nothing but to reinstate representational transcendent ideality. As such, both sedentary striation and smooth nomadism must remain co-implicated as it is reversible. In the end this reversibility remains habilitated to a descriptive register which is transcendent to the terms themselves, the distance of the survey and overview which marks the empirico-transcendental doublet in D&G’s edifice. Additionally, Brassier accuses Deleuze’s appeal of immanence-to-itself as instantiating an unobjectifiable transcendental immanence in which the synthesis of intuition/concept, presupposition/position in the plane of immanence is embedded. This is a form of transcendental objectivation, which Laruelle would think reinserts the plane of immanence into idealizing transcendence, or once again confuses radical immanence with transcendence immanence. It thereby re-envelops immanence in transcendence, one that nevertheless constructs the immanence as instituted presupposition through and in thought in the form of immanence-to-itself. This ‘to’ then targets the infinite folding of the plane in the reversible movements between actualization and virtualization, since without this infinite folding immanence ceases to be to itself: transcendence enters once the movement of the infinite stops.
The Concept is thus co-present in surveying the field with no distance to it, at an infinite speed, and becomes inseparable from the ‘fractalisation’ through which the plane folds and enfolds thoughts in the Concept (AT: Pg. 73). The infinite is finitely explicated in the concept, and the finite is infinitely enveloped in the plane, the concept of constitutive and comprised in the plane’s fractal curvature and standing for that indiscernible point of indifferent/ciation whereby finite/infinite become possible in and through the concept’s co-presence in its infinite self survey and constitution. This is because the concept at once expresses the infinite’s fold as actual/virtual dynamic movement, intensity enveloping the actual extensity, and extensity explicating implied intensity. It posits and presupposes the plane, constructs and expresses it. It is finally as such that the concept is part of immanence’s folding to itself: and transcendental inscription. This unobjectifiable but objectivating role of transcendental immanence is expressed by Laruelle powerfully, and symptomatic of D&G’s final reintroduction of immanence within Decision:
“The injunction to itself rather than to something else is certainly imperative, but it conceals an indetermination, an ultimate ambiguity. An amphiboly resides within the ‘to’ of ‘to itself’, one which reintroduces the pure form of transcendence itself as distance or relation, as surface or universal plane, in the absence of reified instances of transcendence. The philosophically normal but theoretically amphibological concept of a plane of immanence signifies that the latter still orbits around the plane and as plane; still orbits around the to (to itself) as axis of transcendence. Immanence thereby remains objective even if it is without an object; it remains an appearance of objectivity and gives rise to a new image of the Real and of thought. Instead of being absolutely faceless, unenvisageable, it takes on the facial aspect of a plane, of a topology, of survey and contemplation.” (Laruelle, 1995b, pp. 63-65)
Because it requires objectivation in and through the Concept rather than being given-without-givenness or being already-given, D&G cannot isolate the immanence from the idealizing gesture of Decision. Immanence is only construed as an instance of objectivising transcendence, which renders immanence subject to ideal ontological instantiation and results in yet another materiological register. Of course we must only anticipate the non-Decisional construal of immanence outside of Decision, even as unobjectifiable, which is yet to come in the next chapter.