Active/reactive body in Deleuze and Foucault.
1. Deleuze's Reading of Nietzsche's Theory of Active and Reactive Forces
Active and reactive forces are the basic functions of Nietzsche's calculus where one force is necessarily viewed in relation to its opposite. According to Nietzsche's hierarchy of forces, active forces are those of domination and form-giving; while reactive ones are those of obedience and form-receiving. In reality, however, the interpretation of what kinds of forces are involved in the formation of the body is complicated by the fact that reactive forces prevail over active ones and thereby shape a reactive body. In history, the original hierarchy of forces is therefore inverted: reactive forces are dominant, while active ones are dominated.
To illuminate the dynamic of force struggles, Deleuze-Nietzsche introduces the concept of the will to power, an inner motive force whose more primordial qualities of affirmation and negation determine the qualities of forces in a given relation. The affirming will to power expresses itself through active forces (by affirming itself); while the negating will to power, or the will to nothingness, through reactive forces (by negating the other). Furthermore, "affirmation and negation extend beyond action and reaction because they are the immediate qualities of becoming itself. Affirmation is ... the power of becoming active ... Negation is ... a becoming reactive." (1) Therefore, depending on what quality constitutes the nature of the will to power (which, in turn, determines the qualities of forces), the becoming of forces can be either reactive or active: through the will to nothingness, all forces become reactive; through the affirmative will to power, all forces become active. However, the becoming-reactive of all forces is, according to Deleuze-Nietzsche, the only becoming of forces we know; and it is this becoming that constitutes the essence of man and universal history.
How do reactive forces triumph over active ones? As Deleuze emphasizes, reactive forces do not triumph by forming a superior force; they always remain inferior in quantity and reactive in quality. The root of their triumph lies in the inversion of the differential genetic element, from which both active and reactive forces emerge. The differential origin of forces is seen differently from both sides of active and reactive forces: for active forces, the difference at the origin is the source of affirmation and enjoyment; for reactive forces, it is that of negation and frustration. For the former, it is a difference in itself to be expressed regardless of the other; for the latter, it is an opposition, or contradiction, to be repressed/neutralized. Therefore, in the mirror of reactive forces, the genealogical element of forces (i.e. difference as such) appears upside down; the affirmation of the self is inverted as the negation of the other. The career of reactive forces depends on the development of this reactive image, or fiction, of the origin, which is projected onto active forces and thereby separate them from what they can do. As a result, active force is turned back against itself and thereby deprived of its manifestation; separated from what it can do, active force becomes reactive. In this ultimate inversion of force relations, reactive force ceases to be acted and becomes only felt (i.e. re-acted); i.e. everything takes place between reactive forces, which results in the formation of reactive psychology that constitutes the essence of reactive man.
It is not that Nietzsche is against reactive forces altogether, he is against their triumph over active ones. Reactive forces are indispensable in species activity known as culture that originally aims at creating the sovereign individual who will be autonomous in future, an individual whose active forces eventually triumph over reactive ones. Yet such a promising design of culture is by origin pre-historic (Greek), while its final outcome is itself post-historic. History as the intermediary stage of the project of the emancipation of man turns out to be the incessant process of man's domestication and enslavement. According to Deleuze-Nietzsche, under the appearance of species activity, laws and social institutions exercise exclusively reactive forces controlled by the will to nothingness, "which forms a universal becoming-reactive." (2) And yet there is an affirmative will to power which we do not know but can only think of through the 'abysmal' thought of the eternal return which makes it possible to imagine the unknown body of excessive enjoyment and perpetual activity.
Therefore, Deleuze's reading of Nietzsche presupposes two potential developments of the Nietzschean thought: one of them would be the genealogical critique of history, i.e. of becoming-reactive of all forces, while the other the suprahistorical project of the affirmation of active forces, a project grounded in what is yet to come. The former would focus on the processes of the subject formation in the past as well as the consequences of that reactive formation in the present, while the latter, guided by the doctrine of the eternal return, would argue for the destruction of that subject altogether and promote the advent of the overman. Precisely these two projects constitute the point of divergence between Foucault and Deleuze: the former is taken by Foucault, the latter by Deleuze.
Both projects are structurally complimentary (as they are in Nietzsche's work itself), for the Foucauldian genealogy of the European subject provides the empirical ground for its destruction and thereby opens the way to the Deleuzean program of becoming-active. To exemplify the methodological interlocking between Foucault and Deleuze on the basis of Nietzsche's theory of forces, I will now focus on their theorizations of the body constituted by either active or reactive forces: the reactive body in Foucault and the active body in Deleuze.
2. Reactive Body in Foucault
Most commentators read Foucault's "Nietzsche, Genealogy, History" against the negative background of the traditional history based on "the metaphysics of origins;" yet the positive, although explicitly unacknowledged, background of his innovative formulation of the genealogical method appears to be Deleuze's reading of Nietzsche, for history and the body are discussed in terms of the dynamic of forces. History, writes Foucault, "should become a differential knowledge of energies." (3) The emergence of ideals and values "is always produced through a particular stage of forces." (4) Despite the diversity of the stages of forces (forces splinter, divide themselves, weaken, struggle, etc.), all of them are reduced to one single drama of domination, which is endlessly repeated throughout history: humanity "proceeds from domination to domination." (5) Although Foucault never qualifies what forces predominate in history viewed as the "hazardous play of dominations," their qualities can be inferred from his description of the effects that history produces on a body. "Genealogy," writes Foucault, "is situated within the articulation of the body and history. Its task is to expose a body totally imprinted by history and the process of history's destruction of the body." (6) The body is thus viewed as the direct effect of history, "the inscribed surface of events," "the stigmata of past experiences;" while the history's effect on it is that of destruction. Under the pressure of history, the body is seen as "a volume of perpetual disintegration:" "it is broken down by the rhythms of work, rest, and holidays; it is poisoned by food or values, through eating habits or moral laws; it constructs resistances." (7) For Foucault, the historical body is thus reactive per se, which confirms the Deleuzian-Nietzschean thesis that human history is characterized by the triumph of reactive forces.
However, it would be a mistake to consider Foucault as being neglectful of active forces in his genealogical analysis of the productive aspects of reactive ones. The dynamic of reactive forces is necessarily predicated on their relationship to active ones that by no means disappear but become reactive (while simultaneously resisting that becoming). Therefore, it is important to keep in mind the condition of both types of forces involved in Foucault's genealogies, precisely because the question of resistance often raised in relation to Foucault can only be positively answered unless we lose the track of active forces. What is the nature of the active for Foucault? Despite the seemingly active characteristics of Foucault's power (i.e. power produces, induces, imposes, incites, etc.), the final objective of that power is but to reproduce and multiply reactive forces throughout the entire social body. It appears that for Foucault the source of the true activity is to be sought in that which escapes power relations. Consider, for instance, what Foucault says about the plebs:
The plebs is no doubt a real sociological entity. But there is indeed always something in the social body, in classes, groups and individuals themselves which in some sense escapes relations of power, something which is by no means a more less docile or reactive primal matter, but rather a centrifugal movement, an inverse energy, a discharge. There is certainly no such thing as 'the' plebs; rather there is, as it were, a certain plebeian quality or aspect... There is plebs in bodies, in souls, in individuals, in the proletariat, in the bourgeoisie, but everywhere in a diversity of forms and extensions, of energies and irreducibilities. This measure of plebs is not so much what stands outside relations of power as their limit, their underside, their counter-stroke, which responds to every advance of power by every new movement of disengagement. Hence it forms the motivation for every new development of networks of power.... (8)
In this rather enigmatic passage Foucault identifies in his own terms the nature of the active force, which is the limit of the power relations. It is enigmatic because here he argues that it is this inverse energy that is the starting point for the analysis of power apparatuses, because it is this activity that motivates "every new developments of power." From the perspective of the plebs as an active force, the deployments of power are thus to be viewed as a reactive force that seeks to arrest/neutralize that "centrifugal movement."
In Discipline and Punish, Foucault examines the historical developments of the three types of power: sovereign, penal, and disciplinary. From the perspective of the plebs as the motive force for new developments of power, these three types of power should be seen as the successive stages of the triumph of reactive forces over active ones. Conversely, the momentary failure or crisis of reactive forces is to be explained by the uprising of active ones, which in turn posit before power the task of a new, more effective reconfiguration of reactive forces. It is precisely the spontaneous and carnivalesque revolt of the people, or the plebs, as centrifugal movement untouched by the sovereign's power during the spectacle of public execution that occasions the demise of sovereign power and its transition to disciplinary one with a new object of its application: it is no longer a
single body of the offender that undergoes the vengeance of the prince that might provoke the festival affirmation of solidarity among people, but the social body as a whole, the multiplicity itself, that both undergoes and exercises power relations in a diffused manner. If previously sovereign power reacted to a crime after it had been acted, now disciplinary power reacts to a crime even before it has been committed. This transition was mediated by the functioning of penal power whose purpose was to rob the very idea of crime of any attraction through the circulation via publicity of the "obstacle-signs" that would immediately link the desire for crime (active force) with the fear of penalty (reactive force). But this kind of power operating through representation appeared to be unreliable, since the object of its application was the mind; in order for the individual to be ultimately incapable of committing a crime, the whole body was to be involved into the operation of power.
While discussing the development of disciplinary power, it is important to keep in mind against what force this power reacts and from what institution its techniques have originally come. That is, it's important to underline its negating character before we start talking about its positive/productive aspect, for the positivity of disciplinary power, as Foucault shows, results from the triumph of its originally negating forces; this is why its development proceeds from exclusion (leprosy model) to inclusion (plague model), from confinement to observation, from prevention to investment. The spontaneity of active forces is the constant background against which power reacts. "Behind the disciplinary mechanisms," writes Foucault, "can be read the haunting memory of contagions, of the plague, of rebellions, crimes, vagabondage, desertions, people who appear and disappear, live and die in disorder." (9) Discipline primarily deals with confused multiplicities; its major function is anti-nomadic. It "fixes; it arrests or regulates movements; it clears up confusion; it dissipates compact groupings of individuals wandering about in unpredictable ways; it establishes calculated distributions." (10) It is quite noteworthy that Foucault connects the emergence of disciplinary power with "the large demographic thrust of the eighteenth century." (11)
Given the originally monastic (i.e. ascetic or negating) nature of the disciplinary model of power, how then has it become positive/productive? As we have seen in Deleuze's reading of Nietzsche, reactive forces do not triumph over active ones by forming a superior force, but rather by separating the latter from what they can do, i.e. by converting them into reactive. As Foucault shows, disciplinary power becomes productive through the internal rearrangement/reorganization of forces. In the monastic disciplinary practices, the body was subjected without any concern of utility involved, while in the new economy of power disciplinary technologies impose on the body's forces "a relation of docility-utility" (12) (i.e. the body becomes "more obedient as it becomes more useful, and conversely" (13)). On the one hand, "discipline increases the forces of the body by turning them into an 'aptitude', a 'capacity'." (14) On the other, it "diminishes these same forces" and "dissociates power from the body by reversing the course of the energy, the power that might result from it, and [turning] it into a relation of strict subjection." Through this twofold operation (subjection via training, training via subjection), discipline "establishes in the body the constricting link between an increased aptitude and an increased domination." (15) The very process of the bodily activity is broken down into elements, reconfigured and instrumentally codified by disciplinary mechanisms: "to each movement are assigned a direction, an aptitude, a duration; the order of succession is prescribed." (16) Reactive forces penetrate the body to such an extent that it reacts to the signal-injunction of the master automatically, not by the individual's understanding it, but by the body's responding to it immediately "according to a more or less artificial, prearranged code." (17) Yet, as Foucault points out, there is nothing artificial in the subtly coerced operation of the body, for the entire succession of its movements is controlled and sustained from the inside according to "the conditions of functioning proper to an organism." (18) The disciplined, or docile, body is 'natural' and 'organic' precisely because all its forces have become organized and imprisoned in the "organism" imposed from the outside by reactive forces.
In a number of works, Foucault repeatedly elaborates one and the same thesis that modern power is productive rather than negative. Yet it first negates before it produces. Or rather, the modern power's negation of active forces is the production and intensification of reactive ones. As Foucault argues in Discipline and Punish, prison does not aim to eliminate criminality; it purposely fails to do so by discursively producing delinquents out of occasional offenders in order to keep them under control. Through the negation of 'bad characters' of all kinds "submissive characters are produced and a dependable body of knowledge built up about them." (19) The centrifugal force of the plebs is thereby domesticated by power-knowledge apparatuses. Surrounded by the experts of knowledge, prison becomes the industry of delinquents, a sort of rehabilitated monsters with a clearly defined individuality. Subjected to power, the convict automatically becomes the locus of objectification/individualization. Foucault goes as far as to claim that such a fabrication of individuality initially practiced in prison and later diffused throughout many other social institutions "has made the human sciences historically possible. Knowable man (soul, individuality, consciousness, whatever it is called) is the object-effect of this analytical investment, this domination-observation." (20) But if the European subject is the object-effect of domination, if his/her soul/consciousness is the instrument of the subjection of the body, is there any liberation for that subject, since subjection serves as the very condition of existence?
The issue of liberation turns out to be highly problematic in the state of the complete triumph of reactive forces, where everything becomes object-effects of reactive forces: society, work, family, sexuality, transgression, desire, etc. Even the idea of social/sexual revolution becomes the product of reactive forces. The very hypothesis that power represses sexuality would be itself repressive, since it uncritically represses the fact that sexuality is produced rather than repressed in a society massively permeated by power relations. If in Discipline and Punish Foucault argues that the modern subject's body cannot be liberated by his/her 'soul', since this 'soul' itself is the introjected agency of subjection, in History of Sexuality, Vol. I the same argument applies to the category of 'sex': the docile body programmed to work until exhaustion cannot be liberated by its counterpart, sexual body, since sexuality, along with subjectivity, is equally constituted and reproduced by the knowledge-power apparatuses that take the desiring body (or flesh) as the object of scientific observation. In fact, such a leap from the docile body to the sexual one as the site of possible liberation is insidiously instigated by power itself, since not only does it lack any potential of resistance, it fuels and multiplies the networks of power relations. Throughout his History of Sexuality, Vol. I, Foucault makes it clear that sexual pleasure as supposedly active force of the body does not oppose power; on the contrary, "they seek out, overlap, and reinforce one another." (21) Power "did not exclude sexuality, but included it in the body as a mode of specification of individuals." (22) Sexual body is not outside power relations; it is the body which is sexed and perpetually sexualized by them so that the subject would recognize itself as that of sex/sexuality.
Even if the triumph of reactive forces depicted by Foucault appears to be compellingly complete, the question of resistance is by no means off the table. The relation between resistance and power is inscribed into some sort of pre-established pattern of dynamic coexistence: the existence of power relations "depends on a multiplicity of points of resistance;" (23) the latter are inscribed in the former as its "irreducible opposite." (24) Although Foucault never specifies the qualities of forces while defining power as the relation of force to force, in his discussion of resistance it is evident that his notion of power actualizes itself as the relation of domination of reactive force over active one, where the latter cannot be entirely eliminated for the relations of power to be exercised. Within the economy of modern power, active forces, however, cannot manifest themselves in their pure form but only by way of the inversion of that historically discursive form which has been imposed on them by reactive forces. For Foucault, discursive inscriptions that "are not once and for all subservient to power" can also be "a point of resistance and a starting point for an opposing strategy." (25) As an example of the tactical reversal of a discourse, Foucault refers to homosexuality as the effect of the institutionalized discourse on perversion that now speaks on its own behalf using the same vocabulary by which it was previously disqualified.
However, Foucault's proposal of the tactical reversal of discourses as an immanent strategy of resistance can hardly be effective enough to reverse the very logic of the development of reactive power that governs human history. For Foucault's discussion of biopower, a power which embraces all the forms of modern power directed toward people as living beings subjected to standards of biological normality, appears to suggest no possibility of escape except death. At this point, life as such becomes invested by biopower through and though by multiple regulations of the modes of subsistence and habitation. Yet Foucault points out that "it is not that life has been totally integrated onto techniques that govern and administer it; it constantly escapes them. Outside Western world, famine exists on a greater scale than ever; and the biological risks confronting the species are perhaps greater ... than before the birth of microbiology." (26) The only escape of life from power is therefore that toward death: "death is power's limit, the moment that escapes it." (27)
Given that life integrated into human historicity attempts to escape into purely biological environment devoid of the presence of "man," in the new mode of the relation between life and history the "modern man" appears to be an obsolete agency of resistance. Rather, it is life itself that should be liberated from man and resist power. As Deleuze reads Foucault, "[w]hen power becomes biopower, resistance becomes the power of life, a vital power that cannot be confided within species environment or the paths of a particular diagram." (28) Foucault, however, does not propose any explicit project of bio-resistance to biopower, yet he, by the progression of his argumentation, inevitably points to the urgency of it by showing the destructive consequences of the power over life. Although there is no such thing for Foucault as the outside of power relations, in his genealogies there is always the inverse energy that sets up the insurmountable limit to them, an energy which figures in Deleuze's writings in its own terms.
3. Active Body in Deleuze
If Foucault takes up Nietzsche in order to write the history of the body as the "inscribed surface of events," Deleuze approaches Nietzsche in order to conjure up a body that would defy any kind of inscription and surpass the limits of history. For Deleuze, Nietzsche's task is "beyond all the codes of past, present, and future, to transmit something that does not and will not allow itself to be codified. To transmit it to a new body, to invent a new body that can receive it and spill it forth; a body that would be our own, the earth's, or even something written ..." (29)
Deleuze's construction of a new active body is by no means that of a human one, it is a virtual body imagined outside historical time, space, and humanity and traversed by the movement of life as such. Although Deleuze emphasizes that his body-without-organs as the prototype of any active body "is not at all a notion or a concept but a practice, a set of practices," (30) this body has a strong metaphysical background, it is constructed in such a way as if it was totally untouched by history, as if it comes from the Outside. That is, Deleuze's body is the body produced by the thought of the Outside; it is the body of the eternal return.
It is rather hard to say what exactly Nietzsche meant by his most 'prodigious' idea, which is the eternal return, for, as Deleuze admits, "Nietzsche gave no [philosophical] exposition of the eternal return" (31) for poetic reasons. And yet, Deleuze manages to extract out of Zarathustra's rather obscure exclamations a cosmological as well as ethical theory of time and being. For Deleuze, the eternal return is by no means the return of the same; it is the return of the different, while returning itself is always the same. The eternal return of the different is a cosmological conception posited against moral laws, laws of nature, habit, memory, historical time, identity, representation. The eternal return presupposes time that has neither beginning, nor end. Time is what is always becoming; it was/is/will be becoming: the present moment simultaneously coexists with itself as past and yet-to-come in order for it to pass. Therefore, the eternal return is "a synthesis of time, a synthesis of diversity and its reproduction." (32)
The repetition in the eternal return is the vertiginous movement endowed with a centrifugal force that generates difference. Given that the eternal return is the ultimate manifestation of the will to power (the latter is the motor of the former), it operates as a test that selects superior forms; those forms that cannot pass the test will not return. According to Nietzsche, the test of the eternal return is as follows: "whatever you will, will it in such a way that you will its eternal return." (33) The presupposed outcome of this test is that only active forces will return, while all reactive forces controlled by the negating will to power will destroy themselves. Outside the eternal return, the will to nihilism is incomplete, it does not go to the limit of its own negation. Within the eternal return, the will to nihilism becomes whole and complete: willing its own return, the will to nothingness wills its own negation. Thus, in the eternal return propelled by the affirmative will to power, all forces become active, while nihilism is vanquished by itself. In the test of the eternal return, affirmation is thus preceded by negation, the coherence of the same expelled by the higher coherence of the different, the ground superceded by the more solid groundlessness, the reactive man overcome by the overman. As Deleuze describes this event of the transformation of man, "the I which is fractured according to the order of time and the Self which is divided according to the temporal series correspond and find a common descendant in the man without name, without family, without qualities, without self or I, the plebeian guardian of a secret, the already-Overman...." (34)
Therefore, for both Deleuze and Foucault, the plebs as centrifugal force affirming itself through perpetual self-differentiation occupies the central position in their projects: in Foucault, it is the focal point of the application of reactive forces; in Deleuze, it is the source of active forces that need to be liberated through the test of the eternal return. There is no project of such liberation in Foucault, yet he does point to the transitory nature of the concept of 'man', to his future disappearance from our thinking. (35) In Deleuze, on the other hand, that 'man' appears to have been virtually squeezed out by the excessive proliferations of multiple becomings, flows, speeds, intensities, and geological shifts, which is precisely the cosmological context of the eternal return driven by the will to power.
The idea of the eternal return is, however, a utopian gesture; for, in terms of its practical application, Nietzsche appears to propose nothing except that Zarathustra himself must perish in order for the overman to come. In Nietzsche's writings, there is an urgency of becoming active, yet there is no systematic program of it except the very destruction of everything reactive: all active forces are simply presumed to survive the test of the eternal return and then return. Repetition of the past by default does not require much skill, while the promised repetition of the yet-to-come still lacks an initial practical key. Thus, in order to practically illuminate the internal dynamic of active forces, Deleuze turns to Spinoza.
Spinoza's philosophy appeals to Deleuze because it takes a body, rather than a mind, as the primary model of practice. As Deleuze puts it: "In order to really think in terms of power, one must first pose the question in relation to the body." (36) The question of power is therefore that of the body's capacity to act and to be acted upon, of "what a body can do." Since, according to Spinoza's metaphysics, a body entertains a modal status, its power to act, or affect, is to be explained by its power to be affected; that is, before we start talking about "what a body can do," we need to know of what affections we are capable. For Spinoza, the body's activity is predicated on its affective receptivity; i.e. the body, unlike the substance, is not a cause of itself; its internal structure is to be explained through the extrinsic determinations by other bodies. Spinoza's theory of ontological practice is thus grounded on the empirical investigation, or physics, of the laws of the dynamic interaction of bodies, of their mutual compatibility/incompatibility and composition/decomposition, where the body itself is viewed as a temporally stable assemblage.
Given that the body's internal structure is inseparable from its relation to other bodies, our power to be affected is filled with either sad or joyful passive affections, where affection itself is the idea of the effect the other body has on our body. To the extent that our power to be affected is filled with sad passive affections, our power to act is reduced to its minimum (i.e. sadness leads to suffering or reaction). Conversely, to the extent we are filled with joyful passive affections, our power to act is increased to its maximum (i.e. joy leads to action). Sad passive affections block our capacity to act, they separate our body from what it can do; while joyful passive affections pass into active joy, which provides our body with the power to act. Just like in Nietzsche, according to Spinoza's realistic account, human encounters are mostly incompatible and conflictual, they perpetually reproduce sad passive affections that keep us cut off from the intrinsic potential of our body (that's why we don't even know what a body can do). And yet, since we do experience joyful passions that increase our power to act/exist (and that power alone constitutes our essence), Spinoza's ethical project is to explore the conditions by which we can select and generate active affections and thereby combat sadness.
In the relationship between two bodies, the compatibility/composability of their parts is the first condition for the production of joyful passions for each body in a given assemblage. Joyful passion, such as love, is the direct effect of a compatible encounter between two bodies. Yet, it's not enough to merely experience joyful passive affections; in order to increase our power to act, it's necessary to convert them into active affections. At this point, Deleuze emphasizes the difference in nature between passive joy, which is affection, and active joy, which is affect proper. Affections are all passive, their existence is determined by external cause. Affects, on the other hand, are internally caused; they are produced by my own body. The crucial question would thus be how to make a transition from the affection to the affect, from affective receptivity to affective activity. According to Spinoza, the lived passage from passive joy to active joy is mediated by reason: i.e. reason discovers an internal logic of the compatible relationships among bodies and thereby forms a common notion that envelops or expresses the cause of the composition of bodies. Affections filtered, or explained, by common notions reappear as affects that directly increase our power to act, since now it is our, not the other, body that produces them. As Deleuze points out, this transition is essentially biological (not mechanical or intellectual): "it is your body which makes this transition." (37)
Therefore, Spinoza's common notions that introduce a common cause for the related bodies in a given assemblage constitute a turning point for the entire ethical project of becoming actively joyful, the next step of which will be the third intuitive kind of knowledge characterized by the experience of higher and subtler affects. But what is crucially important here is that the starting point in that long and difficult process of becoming active, which is supposed to culminate in the blissful experience of eternal essences, is precisely the passive joy, which is the basic operation of our power to be affected. That is, it is through the affective agreement with other bodies that we exercise our capacity to be affected and thereby internally reproduce active affects that exponentially increase our power to act. The more the body is affected with joyful passions, the more active affects it can produce and, consequently, the more powerful and actively joyful we become. Therefore, Spinoza's physics that studies the relations of bodies, on the one hand, in terms of the composability of their extended parts in movement and at rest and, on the other, in terms of their intensive quality (i.e. increase-diminution of a degree of power) is the foundation of the ethical project of becoming active. As Deleuze points out, Spinoza's Ethics is, in fact, ethology, a "study of the relations of speed and slowness, of the capacities for affecting and being affected that characterize each thing." (38)
Spinozian ethology becomes the prime metaphysical groundwork of Deleuze's collaborative work with Guattari. There, the body is defined on the plane of consistency, or immanence (i.e. in terms of the Spinozian Nature or the Nietzschean eternal return). The plane of consistency is what exceeds, rather than merely opposes, the plane of organization/stratification/development/transcendence (just as the Nietzschean eternal return exceeds history). It is the field of pre-subjective intensities, particles and flows that are always already present within the field of social stratification, for the latter is the effect of the arresting and formalizing fixation of the former. And yet, even though the plane of consistency consists in destratifying the regimes of forms/substances and content/expression (i.e. the regimes of double articulation that constitute strata), "there is no hint in all of this of a chaotic white night or undifferentiated black night. There are rules, rules of "plan(n)ing," of diagramming ..." (39) According to Deleuze and Guattari, three kinds of processes that characterize the plane of consistency (continuities of intensities, emissions of particles, conjunctions of deterritorialized flows) do not occur randomly but are effectuated by a certain set of practices constricted by precautions and reservations.
Unlike in Anti-Oedipus, in A Thousand Plateaus there is no call for the absolute destruction of the plane of stratification (40); the minimum of strata is necessary to retain, since its ultimate abolition would result in death. It is important to unfold the plane of consistency within the strata by following the laws of the constitution of the former, the laws of longitude (i.e. of speed and slowness) and latitude (i.e. of intensive affects) that genealogically refer to Spinoza's physics and characterize the activity of formless anonymous matter and pre-subjective life enveloped by the plane of stratification. Having reduced the body's existence to the axes of movement and rest and of intensities, one enters the path of perpetual change and becoming, i.e. the chain of endless affective individuations resulting from encounters with other bodies. Becomings as affects are potentially innumerable, for the other body that would transmit its forces to our body within an established machinic assemblage can be any body whatsoever: animal, air, wind, rain, words, things, people, our own body of different age. Unlike the individuation of the subject exercised under the pressure of reactive forces, singular individuations (haecceities) on the plane of consistency depend on nothing but affects and local movements.
How to make a body that would maximize its power to be affected to the fullest? Such a body should be defined not by its anatomical organs organized from the outside, but exclusively by the affects coming from the body itself before it is stratified into the organism: the body-without-organs "is what remains when you take everything away". (41) And yet, the BwO is not the total negation of the organism or the suicidal collapse. It is a matter of the re-organization of the relations of organs com/im-posed and fixed in/by the organism in such a way that it would open the body to new connections that would form new assemblages. The organism is only one assemblage among many others dismissed on the plane of stratification in order to keep our body separated from what it can do. Being imprisoned by the organism, the BwO is therefore always already there waiting to come out, for it is on the BwO as unformed and intense matter that the organism stratifies itself. The BwO is the starting point of the unlimited experimentation, it is a degree zero of intensity from which the production and distribution of all other intensities begins, it is "the full egg before the extension of the organism and the organization of the organs." (42) It is by no means a regression but rather always contemporaneous to the organism and always under construction (just as the child is contemporaneous to the adult and the plebs to the society). The BwO is the basic principle of desiring production and fusionability as infinite zero, it is a sheer openness to all potential intensities and affective becomings. There are many BwOs in A Thousand Plateaus: children, drug users, masochists, schizophrenics, lovers. All of them have their specific set, or program, of practices. And all of them "pay homage to Spinoza." (43)
4. From Reactive to Active: Toward the Foucauldian-Deleuzean Diagram of Resistance
In this paper I thus attempted to exemplify the structural complementarity between the projects of Foucault and Deleuze in terms of their conceptualizations of the body, both of which genealogically derive from Nietzsche's theory of forces. It is therefore not enough to merely observe that Foucault and Deleuze are both Nietzscheans, as most commentators do; they are Nietzscheans in consistently divergent yet complimentary ways within the Nietzschean philosophy itself, which presupposes both the genealogical critique of history and the project of the eternal return that exceeds history and promotes the affirmation of active forces. Both Deleuze and Foucault are complimentary to each other just as active force compliments reactive one in the Nietzschean calculus: one is the "irreducible opposite," or limit, of the other, one cannot exist without relation to the other. Both active and reactive types of forces are present in Foucault and Deleuze: in Foucault, the plebs may be said to stand for the Deleuzean BwO; in Deleuze, the plane of stratification for the Foucauldian power-knowledge dispositif . And yet, the former deals primarily with reactive forces, the latter with actives ones. Therefore, the structural complementarity of both projects implies that the question of resistance cannot be raised without consideration of each of these thinkers taken together. In terms of the political program of resistance, Foucault's suggestions on the issue would be incomplete and abortive unless they are extended and supported by Deleuze's train of argumentation. Deleuze's theory of the active body is therefore the only theoretically consistent/immanent answer to Foucault's question of resistance to reactive power. Furthermore, to consider the issue of resistance exclusively in terms of power relations confined within the context of the Foucauldian genealogical critique would be even detrimental to Foucault's overall Nietzschean project, for Foucault's genealogy with its focus on the becoming-reactive alone provides only the systematic study of reactive power (while active forces are somewhat abstractly posited as its "irreducible opposite" and therefore not theorized systematically). By proposing the project of resistance on the basis of the Foucaudian pouvoir alone (i.e. without its extension to the Deleuzian puissance), one would risk merely reproducing the dynamic of exclusively reactive forces, which is precisely what is going on in Butler's work, who shamelessly smuggles the Hegelian rhetoric onto the Nietzschean terrain. (44) The case of Butler clearly testifies to the danger of viewing Foucault as a theorist of reactive forces alone unless we put him within a larger Nietzschean context that would inevitably wed him to Deleuze.
(1) Gilles Deleuze, Nietzsche and Philosophy, trans. Hugh Tomlinson (New York: Columbia University Press, 1983), p. 41. Hereafter, NP.
(2) Ibid., p. 169.
(3) Michel Foucault, "Nietzsche, Genealogy, History" in Language, Counter-Memory, Practice : selected essays and interviews, Ed. Donald F. Bouchard (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1977, pp. 139-164), p. 156.
(4) Ibid., pp. 148-9.
(5) Ibid., p. 150.
(6) Ibid., p. 148.
(7) Ibid., p. 148.
(8) Michel Foucault, Power/Knowledge: Selected Interviews and Other Writings, 1972-1977, Ed. Colin Gordon Brighton (Sussex: Harvester Press, 1980), pp. 137-8.
(9) Michel Foucault, Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison, trans. Alan Sheridan (New York: Pantheon Books, 1977), p. 198.
(10) Ibid., p. 219.
(11) Ibid., p. 218.
(12) Ibid., p. 137.
(13) Ibid., p. 138.
(14) Ibid., p. 138.
(15) Ibid., p. 138.
(16) Ibid., p. 152.
(17) Ibid., p. 166.
(18) Ibid., p. 156.
(19) Ibid., p. 295.
(20) Ibid., p. 305.
(21) Michel Foucault, The History of Sexuality, Vol. 1: An Introduction, trans. Robert Hurley (New York: Pantheon Books, 1978), p. 48.
(22) Ibid., p. 47.
(23) Ibid., p. 95.
(24) Ibid., p. 96.
(25) Ibid., p. 101.
(26) Ibid., p. 141.
(27) Ibid., p. 138.
(28) Gilles Deleuze, Foucault, trans. Sean Hand (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1988), p. 92.
(29) Gilles Deleuze, "Nomad Thought" in The New Nietzsche: Contemporary Styles of Interpretation, Ed. David B. Allison (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1985, pp. 142-50), p. 142 (emphasis added).
(30) Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia, trans. Brian Massumi (London: Athlone Press, 1988), pp. 149-150. Hereafter, ATP.
(31) Gilles Deleuze, Difference and Repetition, trans. Paul Patton (New York: Columbia University Press, 1994), p. 297. Hereafter, DR
(32) NP, p. 48.
(33) Ibid., p. 68 (Deleuze's emphasis).
(34) DR, p. 91 (emphasis added).
(35) Michel Foucault, The Order of Things: An Archaeology of the Human Sciences (New York, Vintage Books, 1973), p. 384.
(36) Gilles Deleuze, Expressionism in Philosophy: Spinoza, trans. Martin Joughin (New York: Zone Books, 1990), p. 257.
(37) Deleuze, "Lecture Transcripts on Spinoza's Concept of Affect," Cours Vincennes 24/01/1978: http://www.goldsmiths.ac.uk/csisp/papers/deleuze_spinoza_affect.pdf.
(38) Deleuze, Spinoza: Practical Philosophy, trans. Robert Hurley (San Francisco: City Lights Publishers, 1988), p. 125.
(39) ATP, p. 70.
(40) Deleuze and Guattari, Anti-Oedipus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia, trans. Robert Hurley, Mark Seem, and Helen Lane (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1983), p. 311.
(41) ATP, p. 151.
(42) Ibid., p. 153.
(43) Ibid., p. 154.
(44) See Judith Butler, Bodies That Matter: On the Discursive Limits of Sex (London: Routledge, 1993).
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|Title Annotation:||Gilles Deleuze and Michel Foucault|
|Publication:||Journal of Philosophy: A Cross Disciplinary Inquiry|
|Date:||Jan 1, 2010|
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