The Quadruple Ecology: Is Guattari's Ecosophy Another Type of Interology?
"Poetry today might have more to teach us than economic science, the human sciences and psychoanalysis combined" (Guattari, 1995, p. 21). "'Being is relation': but Relation is safe from the idea of Being...The idea of relation does not preexist (Relation)......Relation contaminates, sweetens, as principle, or as flower dust...That which would preexist (Relation) is vacuity of Being-as-Being" (Glissant, 2010).
What is an assemblage in terms of interality?
What is an assemblage? The most famous example of the assemblage in the thought of Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari is the strange symbiosis between wasps and orchids, which offers a primordial model of their concept of Body without Organs. It is a double capture or dynamic interality (refrains as becoming space), where orchids afford nutrition for wasps while wasps operate as the genitals of orchids. A similar co-evolution is seen in the symbiosis between figs and wasps, in which wasps dig into figs and fecundate their eggs within. Originally, the word assemblage is translated from the French, agencement in Deleuze and Guattari's works. Although in the 1980's, it was often translated as arrangement. It is now common to adopt the term assemblage. It seems that this option was particularly inspired by art, design, and architecture and so on. Then, what is about the case in Japanese language? It has been thus far translated in several ways--arrangement ([phrase omitted]), criss-crossing composite ([phrase omitted] dynamic formation ([phrase omitted]) and operative arrangement ([phrase omitted]), etc. It is interesting to observe how the Japanese language and Chinese characters have been utilized expressively in efforts to understand Deleuze and Guattari thought, but the issue of translation is beyond a scope of this essay. This paper must grapple with the challenging question: do machinic assemblages suggest a certain relation(ality), connectivity, and interality? Or is ecosophy a form of interology?
In fact, Deleuze's definition of assemblage is concerned with a certain ecology through a varied series of symbioses, which does not derive from any biological lineage. "The assemblage is co-functioning, it is sympathy, symbiosis" (Deleuze, 2006, p. 39), which is never based on filiation but on alliance and alloy, because "these are not successions, lines of descent, but contagions, epidemics, the wind" (ibid, p. 52). Needless to say, the series of "contagions and epidemics" are not necessarily ascribed to the biological sphere but also deployed within the info-media sphere. All informational control and contagions are interpreted as the process of symbiosis among humans, businesses, organizations and terminal devices.
For Deleuze, his own co-writing with Guattari itself is also defined as a form of symbiosis. The philosophy of Deleuze and Guattari is a transversal process of "working between the two" rather than "working together" (ibid, p. 13). Moreover, some specific relationship with non-humans, including animals, plants, mineral, microbes and objects or machines, etc., can become ontological fields of assemblages in terms of the symbiosis and affective co-functioning. Surprisingly, Deleuze even calls this extended perspective a "strange ecology" or "unnatural participation (or nuptial)". "A strange ecology, tracing a line of writing, music or painting. These are ribbons stirred by the wind. A little air passes" (Deleuze, 2006, p. 56). In this sense, Deleuze had already supposed a sort of ecology with his philosophical and ontological dimension, much before Guattari engaged in the movement of ecology and elaborated his three ecologies (Guattari, 2008b). It is not difficult to conceive of inchoate discussions with Guattari in terms of ecology at that time, which might retroactively also be conceptual resources for Guattarian ecosophy. Even though some Deleuzian intellectuals would like to dismiss the political and social aspects drawn from Guattari, few can ignore the presupposition of an uncanny ecology. In other words, it is exactly in the "Guattarized Deleuze" disliked by Slavoj Zizek that an unknown ecology and unprecedented ecosophy can emerge (Zizek, 2004, p. 20).
Writing, performing, playing and expressing through texts, music and art are modes of mutual deterritorialization and becoming something other than their expressive agency. The interactions or dialectic between subjects and objects no longer make sense. Instead, in some cases, the subject of varied performances become its objects, while objects become proto-subjectivity as well (Guattari, 2013, p. 2): uncanny couplings evidenced between Hofmannsthal and mice, Woolf and snail, Ahab and the white whale, Lovecraft and uncanny creatures, users and devices in the everyday electronic communications, characters and viewers in video games or anime, for instance. In this context, symbiosis is considered to be an "unnatural participation" or "unnatural nuptial" (Deleuze & Guattari, 1987, p. 240, p. 258), and a "participation against nature" (Deleuze, 2006, p. 56). The term participation derives come from neither Platonism nor social movements theory, but might stem from Lucien Levy-Bruhl, a French philosopher and anthropologist. His "logic of participation" could explain the effect of spellbound dolls or shamanistic rituals modulating the weather and the physical condition of the human body. Guattari clearly raised the name of him in Chaosmosis: participation as a "collective subjectivity investing a certain type of object" (Guattari, 1995, p. 25). Nature as machinic assemblages operates against itself, as a dynamic interality of double capture, symbiosis, mutual inclusion or mutual deterritorialization and transversal disjunctions between heterogeneous moments. Becoming other than itself, becoming imperceptible and indiscernible with other beings mutually in deviant manner, enables an uncanny symbiosis. The consumers and users in techno-media cultures can be treated through quasi-biological perspectives, while all living and nonliving beings are envisioned in machinic processes. It seems me that this point is crucial for the quadruple ecology.
What is the quadruple ecology?
In the earlier phase of writing my book on Guattari (Ueno, 2016), I was thinking of the four ecologies as the title for my project and conceptualization by adding an info-media-sphere to the three ecologies given by Guattari. My motivation was quite simple. As Guattari's threefold ecology which consists of each specific ecosphere: nature, society and mind as is well known, I questioned if the field of information and electronic media could be imposed into Guattarian ecosophy. Now I am gradually more inclined to think that the term of Quadruple Ecology is more suitable for my overall project. The adjective quadruple reminds us of the Heideggerian Geviert, the fourfold ontological scheme of Gods (immortals), mortals, the sky and the earth, which is usually envisioned as the obscure mystical and poetic, perhaps. Guattari himself, in his Schizophrenic Cartographies, had compared or allegorized his fourfold categories with four mythological figures of the ancient Greek myth (Dike as [PHI], Moira as U, Ananke as T, Hubris as F in auto-enunciations), even though he did not address Heidegger at all in this context (Guattari, 2013, p. 175). In his last three works, the quadruple functors are crucial.
Flows (or flux, F as below), which indicates a stream of energy, materials, things, libido, desire, signs, electromagnetic signals, info-data and the capital....the notion which originally stems from the science of fluids (the theory of complexity or chaos science) and functions beyond binary oppositions or dualisms in the paradigm of structuralism. Phylum ([PHI]) is drawn from biology, in order to explain the lineage of machines, which are treated as having quasi-autopoietic evolution and transmutations like living organisms. Machinic phyla are actualized in certain technological breakthroughs or incidents. Incorporeal Universes (U) do not imply the mere idea of the cosmos or outer space. These are charged with incorporeal values linked to specific existences rather than to a universal truth. It is not world but always plural universes (or pluriverse) with all immaterial, inviable and incorporeal moments of the event. Territories (T) are fundamentally existential not only for human subjectivity or other living beings but also for objects, machines and their entangled assemblages considered as partial enunciators. Territories take place when retaining expressive moments by making a certain repetitive rhythms or grooves (refrain/ritornello). In turn, refrains emerge from mutual superposition of plural environments and existential territories.
These four functors for Guattari are considered to intersect, transverse, crisscross, comprehend and are set in permutation with each other. It might be called a quadruple dynamic interality. Its transversal relationship reminds us of the "prehension" (or "grasping") in the speculative philosophy of Alfred Whitehead. Indeed, Guattari himself addressed Whitehead and his conception sometimes in his late works (Guattari, 1995, pp. 113-114; 2013, p. 58). But they are not merely built within interconnections or correlations, because they are beyond the semiological duality and linguistic binary oppositions and are dependent on plural transversal momentum.
Let me give an example from the Japanese archipelago. Tuna fish, for instance, is no longer a natural material. Although its fatty parts are nowadays an expensive resource, such parts were quickly disposed of as garbage hundreds of years ago. The fatty parts of tuna never belonged to Nature but exist as the product of plural functors; desires and demands of tuna, logistic circulations and distributions of resources for (F), all entanglement of various technologies such as the fishing-radar or freezing system on the sea, and artificial farming in the land for ([PHI]), the influential publicity of aquatic resource or just fishing aqua sites for fishermen for (T), and qualitative, incorporeal and affective values which cannot be reduced to prices or quantitative values for (U).
Guattari had several other examples of quadruple intersection. Why was the service and project of the supersonic aircraft Concorde ended? Certainly technologies and economy were ready for its feasibility but the collective imagination or desires, and even political or economical perspectives were yet not set up (Guattari, 1995, p. 48). The same goes for the invention of the steam engine in the past of China. Certainly, a steam engine had already been invented as a kind of toy, but was not actualized for daily pragmatic usages. In the case, machinic phyla ([PHI]) were prepared but did not yet acquire the incorporeal universe of values (U) (ibid, p. 40). It is also possible to find the paradoxical or uneven deployment of technologies in our everyday life. The invention of new kinds of media technology in each era makes the previous technological conditions obsolete. After CD players or net streaming became widely available, the 1970s type of radio-tape recorders (radio-cassette, Rajikase in Japanese) were seen as outmoded and disappeared from the subcultural scene. However, with the advent of Hip Hop culture, it returned to the streets as the so-called "ghetto blaster." There is a paradoxical and non-progressive development of technology as such, which constitutes a machinic phylum ([PHI]) beyond the conventional or mainstream needs (F) of consumer markets. The streets as existential territories (T) could provide new assemblages for media, devices, tools, and technology, so as to enable, and be enabled by, incorporeal universes of values (U).
In fact, some elements of the explanation above might appear to be cultural or media studies oriented. But I have no intention to appropriate Guattarian ecosophy for quasi-sociological discourses. These are as yet insufficient to be named media ecology. Generally both sociology and media studies have quite often been familiar to, or cling on to, a banal modelization frequently depicted by quadrant schemes. From a Guattarian perspective, however, a modelization (positing the model as conceptualization) is always seen as incomplete in its foundation. This constitutive lack of modelization is never completed. In his late works, Guattari emphasized the significance of a "metamodelization" (Guattari, 2000, 2013). This suggests that any models invented for a specific initiative must be erased. Put differently, a metamodelization implies both inventing and decomposing models. In the notion of metamodelization of which Guattari thought, a model is invented for its own elimination. A metamodelization actualizes itself in-between models which fold invented models on one another infinitely.
Now it is easier to explain the reason why I remain uncomfortable with some type of media ecology which applies Guattarian concepts to media technologies in the style of media studies and cultural studies. At least, let us recall how Guattari critically detached himself from the boom of "mini-Tel" in 1980s France, while at the same time, enthused about both the technology and activism of free-radio (pirates radio) (his interest was partially inspired by his son, Bruno). Of course, Guattari was not overly optimistic about the mini-Tel and worried about its inherent limited nature much before the spread of the internet. However, with the notion of media ecology, I do not intend to propose an unthinking celebration of alternative or the grassroots usage of media technologies. The gesture of Guattarian ecosophy towards the post-media era should be ontological and speculative as well, while deploying or inventing their practical and tactical options. Even with a critical or radical perspective, this cannot be limited to simply catching up with the new currents of media and techno-gadgets.
Nature as machinic assemblages: How do machines relate to each other?
In recent philosophical discussions such as Speculative Realism and Object-Oriented Ontology a flat ontology is articulated in which all beings and entities are located on the same footing. Guattari's thought might look quite anti-realist one as a type of relationalism along with semiology as a contemporary mode of nominalism, at a first glance, despite his stark wish to escape from a closure of the linguistic or discursive centrism (Guattari, 2011, p. 23). Or, is the "interology" or thinking on "interality" anti-realist in essence?
At least, it can be suggested that the interality or the relational is considered in Nature as machinic assemblages, which enables the flat ontology of the world. Guattarian ecosophy is not only aimed at sustaining the environment or preserving of species but equally for the potential future conviviality of all living or non-living, human or non-human, and incorporeal agencies such as arts, images, refrains of music, love and compassion (Guattari, 1995, pp. 119-120). Moreover, assemblages are the crystalized form of all machines including not only artificial or technological devices but also humans themselves and all non-human organisms or things. They lock, mesh, affect and take the shape of prehension with each other. But the substantial effect of assemblages as "doing doing itself" (Massumi, 2015, p. 157) is invisible and unrecognizable for the everyday consciousness. Usually one can use a tool without grasping or apprehending its very meaning or position in the whole articulation with other tools, objects and things. Only when the tool is broken or in malfunctions, the real position of the tool in an articulation of objects is manifested and noticed. The broken tool or its futile presence can posit the real object, as Graham Harman has succinctly demonstrated. The broken hammer has frequently been argued by Harman (Harman,2010, 2013, 2018) of course is the famous case drawn from Heidegger's Being and Time. Actually Guattari also takes a broken hammer as an example in his conception of machinic heterogenesis. A broken hammer cannot be utilized while its head and its handle are separated. But these parts can be also comprehended through imaginary and metaphorical levels in some cases; the hammer and sickle in the socialist iconology (Guattari, 1995, p. 35). Broken tools and technologies suggest to us the whereabouts of invisible or inaccessible (for humans) structures which consist of articulated relations of things, objects, tools, and equipment. Guattari writes: "human action remains adjacent to their gestation, waiting for the breakdown which will require its intervention: the residue of a direct act" (Guattari, 1995, p. 36). More crucially, machines are essentially constituted by a "desire for abolition" so that "its emergence is doubled with breakdown, catastrophe--the menace of death" (ibid, p. 37). It seems to retain a conceptual link with Paul Virilio's perspective as well (Virilio was the editor of the series in which Guattari's two late works were to appear).
In both the ecosophy of assemblages and flat ontology, human and non-human, living and non-living, organic and machinic, all are treated on the same platform of complexity. If so, to what extent are non-human objects, machines and agencies significant or indispensable for Guattari's perspective of ecosophy? What is crucial in this context is not the question of how the subject is related to the world but rather that of how machines relate to other machines. Of course, machines cannot relate to, and communicate with all machines, whose relations are always optional and partial, while assemblages are infinitely segmented and fragmented in their very compositions. In any case, human being here is not the central agency at all. Instead, partial enunciators are always latent in everything. "The machine speaks to the machine before speaking to man and the ontological domains that it reveals and secrets are, on each occasion, singular and precarious" (Guattari, 1995, p. 47).
In this sense, Guattari does not negate the "participation of human thought in the essence of machinist" (Guattari, 1995, p. 36). Here, it is possible to think the unnatural participation (or nuptial) between humans and machines in our contemporary media-sphere. Not only with animals, plants and such non-humans, but also with varied technological gadgets and devices, the production of subjectivity can take place through "unnatural participation". In this case, Guattari emphasizes the importance of non-human and a-signifying semiotics exemplified as equations and plans which expresses the machine and makes its diagrammatic or cartographic capacity in-act or in-form. This is because mathematical equations or computer applications as the mode of cartography can produce their objects for themselves. We need, and are determined through, non-human machinic assemblages with their a-signifying potential of semiotic productions. In other words, curves and diagrams embedded within all machines (including living organisms as machinic assemblages) are integrative moments of non-human enunciations in the process of partial subjectivity and enunciator.
In this vein, the notion of transference is not restricted to psychoanalysis but is envisioned as a practice of ecosophy. This is because both Guattari and his elder colleague Jean Oury admitted all kind of transferences to things, objects and machines. "(T)he analysis of the Unconsciousness should be recentred on the non-human process of subjectivation that I call machinic, but which are than human--superhuman in a Nietzschean sense" (Guattari, 1995, pp. 71-72). Humans recognize themselves and are open to unknown alterity and materiality by accessing non-humans, machines and things. Certainly, myriads of electronic devices or gadgets, and applications or programs, can be envisioned as existential territories for such machinic and non-oedipal (family romance-non-oriented) transferences. Both Guattari and Oury contended that for clients and patients, to begin or prime something new as an incipient momentum is always significant: for example, a wish to get a driver's license or to learn how to use computer applications (Guattari, 1995, pp. 17-18). This appro ach is antipodal to conventional psychoanalysis, because what is crucial there is to have clients notice the significance of ending something or the analytic process as such. If the notion of transference in psychoanalysis tends to present the repressed in unconsciousness by tracing it back to past experiences with some specific (usually oedipal) persons, then the transference to things and machines assumes a more open-end posture toward the future by unfolding the potential layer of experiences in the present. The transference extended to environment, Nature and ambience could install itself as a virtual ecology, because this ecology would address the singular event "immaterial, incorporeal and unlivable: pure reserve" (Deleuze & Guattari, 1994, p. 156). The event is not fully accessible for us and always withdraws some hidden layer of reservoir or reserve of potential, that is to say, as a virtual chaos or even chaosmosis it acts as a dynamic sieve cast on the material reality (ibid, p. 42). It can happen as a psychotic crisis or pathic and chaosmic experiences in "a signed and dated event" (Guattari, 1995, p. 81).
For Guattari, human beings are also treated as a kind of objects or partial moment within machinic assemblages. Guattari dares to extend the operation of autopoiesis even to machines and social organizations, unlike Francisco Valera's original view in his autopoietic theory. Now it can be clarified that both notions of mutual inclusion and unnatural participation (unnatural nuptial) are helpful for the elaboration of machinic animism. Eduardo Viveiros Castro's multi-naturalism (Castro, 2014)--itself inspired by the concept of unnatural participation is dependent on the difference of perspective between humans and non-humans (animals, plants, etc.), whereas the machinic animism Guattari might conceive envisions a rudimental form of sentience through all non-human things and objects, living or nonliving existences and machines. The machinic animism is not intended to the regression towards a premodern, primitive and archaic mode of thinking but rather the "virtual ecology" (Guattari, 1995, p. 91), or an ecosophy which engages not only with sustaining endangered environments but also deploying unexpected formations of subjectivity. This is the very meaning of the aesthetic in Guattarian ecosophy. With its primordial intention, this is to elaborate or construct 1) the tactics of surpassing or overcoming what is given and 2) the ecology of practice as a politics and pragmatics of in-between.
Machinic animism and the subjectivity as ambience
"A heap of stones is not a machine, whereas a wall is already a static proto-machine...." (Guattari, 1995, p. 42). But, of course, stones neither have intelligence nor sentience but they can become machines or proto-subjectivity potentially in a diagrammatic and cartographic quadruple. It is clear that Guattari was not thinking of panpsychism but his ecosophy could be considered a precursor of the current mode of panpsychism. Guattari's pro-animist posture is therefore apparent and particularly evident in his reference to the notion of participation by Levy-Bruhl in Chaosmosis.
As is well known, Guattari was seduced by Japan and its culture. He found a "machinic eros" there (Genosko, 2015). Although he never idealized or romanticized Japan, for him Japan was the utopia of emancipative politics. Japan was not singular in this respect as Guattari was also fascinated with Brazil. Despite many differences between Brazil and Japan, both cultures and societies are envisioned as a certain revolutionary or emancipated place. Put simply, he had been attracted and inspired by both cultures and societies through finding what was somehow lacking in Europe or France. One of the reasons why he loved both societies stems from the presence or remainder of animism or archaic spirits in the hyper-modernized condition.
To repeat, Guattari never simply celebrated the pre-modern aspect of animism, but rather he thought that animism operated even in contemporary life. In explaining the new aesthetic paradigm in Chaosmosis, he pointed to a certain periodization of assemblages: the polyphonic, the deterritorialized and the new aesthetic (Guattari, 1995, pp. 102-107), which is somehow overlapped with the triad of the premodern, the modern and the hyper-modern (or postmodern, post-media condition). The description of the first stage is most intriguing, where "objects constitute themselves in a transversal, vibratory position, conferring on them a soul, a becoming ancestral, animal, vegetal, cosmic" (ibid, p. 102). This polyphonic strata, or half-soul, half-man, half beast, and machinic stage, is not only ascribed to the archaic era but also to be re-invoked in the new aesthetic of assemblages.
The point is that the absorbent or pathic subjectivity is always partial, although it may sound comprehensive, atmospheric or holistic. Just as a complete or total encounter with objects could never be realized but only series of partial objects could be afforded in a psychoanalysis, the production of subjectivity is always partial in Guattarian ecosophy. Inspired by Michael Bakhtin, Guattari thought that the subject of the consumer or the audience for any expressive works could somehow become a co-creator by itself (Guattari, 1995, pp. 13-14) by isolating and separating its creative potential from objectivities as proto-subjectivities within. The content of art or narrative is withdrawn and detached from the cognitive appearance of objects and works into pre-personal, polyphonic, collective and trans-individual processes of existence. The series of partial enunciator, partial observer and partial subjectivity are integrative moments for machinic animism. Writers, artists and creators are detaching the real from their products or works while invented objects take the role of the partial enunciator (Guattari, 1995, p. 131). The work of art or writing causes the quasi-animistic enunciation or speech act. If animism finds souls and spirits in everything, then (Guattarian) machinic animism is defined as the posture of recognizing machinic assemblages of enunciations in everything, where mechanism and vitalism are no longer located in a conventional opposition. To have recourse to a pun (in Japanese), somehow a kind of machinic vitalism ([phrase omitted]) can be supposed to explain the possibility of machinic animism (In fact, such an experimental or weird combination of Chinese characters is also operative of the parts of assemblages).
In What Is Philosophy?, Deleuze and Guattari suggest a certain affinity between animism and science.
"Even animism, when it multiplies little immanent souls in organs and functions, is not so far removed from biological science as it is said to be, on condition that these immanent souls are withdrawn from any active or efficient role so as to become solely sources of molecular perception and affection" (Deleuze & Guattari, 1994, p. 130).
In this manner, partial subjectivity, enunciators and observer are always working beyond a mere interaction between subjects and objects. But it is embraced as the subjectivity of ambience which is both pathic and absorbent.
Looking at everyday life in Japan, the slang expression "reading air" (a direct translation from Japanese kuki o yomu), can be expressed in English as "reading the atmosphere". It indicates a capability of interpreting the context or situation of communication as an atmosphere or vibe, more simply it means "feeling the mood", by which varied tacit agreements or habits in this society cause the pressure to conform. At first glance, Japan as a disciplinary society retains a premodern or even feudal character on the one hand, yet Japan also displays the symptoms of control societies on the other. Simply speaking, Japan can be located in a blurred zone between two different types of society, which Deleuze had articulated (Deleuze, 1995, pp. 179-180). This weird characteristic seems to come from habits or tacit agreements as the (bad) ecology of mind and practice. The following are a series of concrete examples to explain the point. First, there is a strange regulation in kindergartens in Nagoya, according to which women caretakers do not have the right to decide their agenda of pregnancy! It is not written but imposed as an invisible pressure to follow. Herein the power resides in the "air" (or atmosphere). Another case is drawn from the campus of many universities in Japan, where redundant care is so dominant. For instance, it is hard to understand for myself that professors help to make the weekly course schedule for each freshman student. It is definitely a case of bio-politics in everyday life, which is linked with the starting point of "frightful continual training, or continual monitoring" (Deleuze, 1995, p. 175). Moreover, the top roofs in many universities are often locked or banned from entering, because of the risk that many mentally unstable students might be tempted to commit suicide. The tragic-comic treatment is envisioned as a sort of play of domestication forces (Deleuze, 1995, p. 131). Under the such bio-power formation, humans are trained as kinds of domestic animals. The reality of bio-politics in such modes of redundant care is operative through affective politics. The atmospheric power operates in the ontological level of affections. Usually these aspects in Japan are explained by the underdeveloped condition of modern individuality. The reason why I raised these examples is not to reduce the interpretation of Japan as something culturally particular or special. What is challenging is that Guattari seemed to have found something different, radical or even affirmative in Japanese modes of subjectivity.
We do not have affection in our conscious awareness but instead affects speaks us inversely. The passage below is excellent and akin to Genet's prose. Guattari's conception of affect is far beyond from the humanistic understanding of emotion as found in Sartre's legendary piece. The subjective of affects is not only human but also speaks of objects, things and perhaps, machines.
"The somber red color of my curtain enters into an existential constellation with nightfall, with twilight, in order to engender uncanny effect that devalues the self evidences and urgencies which were impressing themselves on me only a few moments ago by letting the world sink into an apparently irremediable void" (Guattari, 2013, p. 205).
The affect, for human beings, is a gravitational field into which human's decision or desire for freedom can constantly flip (Massumi, 2015, p.17). It functions like certain power relations so that the field of potential informs us, not the other way around (ibid, p. 19). Our society is no longer based on ideology but rather the materialization or actualization of social currents always passes through the process of affects (ibid, p. 34). Rather than persuading or convincing, some contagion always operates through affects, and this can be exemplified in choices in the market or voting. Affect is crucial for a functional delusion or necessary illusion to maintain society or community. It also invents relational fields enabled by mutual inclusion, that is mutual deterritorialization, mutual disjunction and double becoming. What is a mutual inclusion? It can be defined as a kind of mediator for interality. It invokes the included middle, opposed to the excluded third, in which A posits itself as A, while at the same time A can be nonA, and also becoming itself a threshold or interstices zone between A and non-A. The opposition between mental pole and physical pole is also a version of it, in which contrasting different moments in the same horizon and foot implies an intensification of the relational field.
This unfolding of a new field is defined as the "absorbent subjectivity" or "pathic subjectivity" by Guattari, which "one actively meets" (Guattari, 1995, p. 25). But who is the "one" in this phrase? How can "one" wish to encounter its own subjectivity? A certain de-centering effect is posed, but not in the mode of psychoanalysis. However this might sound nonsense, it is the very logic of the subjectivity as ambience. Guattari raises his experience of watching TV and then delineates the self at the intersection and diversion. In fact, his quasi-phenomenological description seems to deal with a usual consumption of TV. But the point is not a mere description of how we are perceiving media environments.
Certainly Guattarian ecosophy intends to set a post-media practice, which, however, does not merely mean an alternative or tactical usage of media, but suggests an attempt to interpret constantly "atmospheric alterities that haunt affective horizons of the living world and its cosmic becoming" (Guattari, 2013, p. 186). Even in banal TV watching, there can be an intersection or dynamic interality of mutual inclusion consisted of luminous hypnotic effects, personal indulging in the specific type of narrative, active participation as its character as the partial enunciator, and all surroundings of noise and imagery (Guattari, 1995, p. 16). It must be suggested again that a self or ego of this kind of participative consumption, by it self and in itself, emerges as a relational field or ambience.
Pathic and absorbent subjectivity as "becoming environment"
Why did Guattari stick to the notion of the "pathic" in Chosmosis (Guattari, 1995, p. 25, p. 61, p. 70, p. 79, p. 81)? It should be noted that it is different from the mere "passive". Obviously it is also not just the antonym of the active. It neither implies something pathologic in both the psychiatric and Kantian/Sadian sense of a certain mental status. Seemingly Guattari has accepted this notion from Victor von Weizsacker, a German psychiatrist and philosopher to whom both Jean Oury and Guattari were very much indebted in their conceptual or psychiatric inspiration (Weizsacker, 1997). Certainly Daniel Stern might be also a crucial reference for Guattari in this context, but this essay is more concerned with an intertextuality with Weizsacker, for the notion of pathic seems to derive from his works. The pathic is located in-between or beyond the opposition between subjects and objects, or the self and the other, but cannot be reduced to a mere between-ness or correlation. The pathic is a dynamic mesh-work between these two natures of boundary and limit, which is already a very fringe of assemblages, not simply a border or threshold considered in relationalism. Human subjectivity holds two different kinds of relation (or interality). For subjectivity has a boundary between the self and others, while it assumes also the relation between the self and its environment (milieu). The notion of pathic is demanded for this twofold nature of relation and threshold. This is articulated as a Koharenz (coherence) by Weizsacker in his conception of Gestaltkreis, which seems to give a great inspiration to Guattarian ecosophy. Here a pathic subjectivity presupposes existential absorption as a throbbing or vibrant continuum, which is always pre-individual, pre-egoic, pre-identifications (Guattari, 1995, p. 79) and trans-individual. It exists also non-discursively before the subject-object relation or correlation (Guattari, 1995, p. 25). In Deleuzian terms, it can be restated as an individuation without personification: "a draft, a wind, a day, a time of day, stream, a place, a battle, an illness all have a nonpersonal individuality" (Deleuze, 1995, p. 141). Also for Guattari, what is crucial is the question of how to live "hecceities" (as a singular event) of a "signed and dated event" (Guattari, 1995, p. 81). Deleuze underscored the significance of a singular event against grain of control societies, "if you believe in the world you precipitate events, however inconspicuous, that elude control, you engender new space-times, however small their surface or volume" (Deleuze, 1995, p. 176).
From this perspective, the absorbent subjectivity or pathic subjectivity can be re-defined as "becoming-environment", a posture presented in Guattari's conversations in Brazil. There he said, "a becoming-environment, a becoming-raised-consciousness about the faces of Brazil, its landscape, its plant and animal realities" (Guattari, 2008a, p. 241). Guattari believed and contended that this notion could radically transform modes of subjectivity. He envisioned such moments in both Brazil and Japan. In fact, in my terminology, this can be called the "subjectivity as ambience". The ambience in this understanding is not equated with the environment or Nature in some sense outside humans, but rather is related to a milieu in French words (or in Simondon, "associated milieu"). In other words, the ambience is not so much a mere copy or replication of surroundings or circumstances as the clone or superposition of Nature and environment. There is neither a symmetric nor dialectical relationship between an original and a copy, nor holds any optical reflection and inversion. Instead, the pathic and absorbent subjectivity as an ambience or becoming-environment is to elaborate the subjectivity without any stable identification or its representation in conventional coordinates of universes.
The subjectivity as ambience is envisioned as the I/self as the third person through/within Nature, society, mind and info-sphere. Both humans and non-humans, living beings and machines or things stop being an existence or entities but mutually become "vibrant resonant existences" ([phrase omitted], kyo-zon). That is why the "pathic access to the chaosmic thing" is so important (Guattari, 1995, p. 79, p. 86). The gesture of diving into chaos or the black hole as suggested in his Chaosmosis has an echo with the conception about the crisis as a turning point (Kreis) by Weizsacker. In other words, a pathic is the zero degree of activity as an incipient or priming moment of in-act. It is somehow located between desire and obligation, wish and duty, being and ought to, action and inertia, etc., by modulating itself as I/field.
The subjectivity as ambience is possibly called a certain relational field as well. But it cannot be grasped as, or reduced to, an interality (ma [phrase omitted] as becoming space/time or aidagara [phrase omitted] as a social and ethical relationship of humans for the Kyoto School in Japan). The subjectivity in Guattarian sense is not simply that of a speaking subject. This subjectivity of I/Self as the third person is determined by atmosphere, surroundings and environment which includes and subsumes it, while it can also produce itself by deviating or deterritorializing conditions and surroundings. I am thus not suggesting some interaction or correlation. But the subjectivity constructs the environment while the environment affects it. "So it's a kind of double becoming, where you as an individual are being modulated by collective field, as much as the field is being modulated by your gestures" (Massumi, 2015, p. 124). Such a perspective by Guattari or Massumi is surely inspired by Valera's auto-poietic theory of mutual perturbation or changes between environment and its unity (Maturana & Varela, 1998, p. 99).
Interestingly Deleuze utilized the metaphor of the animal to grasp the shift from discipline societies (the Fordist formation of economy) to control societies (the Post-Fordist formation of economy). Deleuze contends that discipline societies are engaged with a capacity of "molding" individuals into certain forms. This formation is figured by a mole, if the model is drawn from animals (Deleuze, 1990, p. 180). By contrast, control societies are dependent on a capability of "modulating" dividuals according to flexible and precarious conjunctures. This is represented by the snake. In the latter, the modulation is not about just a process of adaptation, adjustment, regulation, management, negotiation, conditioning... but rather decisively reminds us of a nuance of controlling vibrant, groove and tonality of electronic music or sonic expression. Rather than merely understanding or interpreting the modulation as a musical change of tonality, we can recall how Deleuze and Guattari exemplify the synthesizer to clarify what it means to think through refrains, events and becomings in their ontological manner. Obviously they utilized the synthesizer specifically as a metaphor to deploy the notion of assemblages and becomings, instead of the idea of dialectical synthesis (Deleuze & Guattari, 1987, p. 343).
If we think of Japanese society, we can suppose some overlapping zone between discipline societies and control societies. Because of the lingering elements of pre-modern or feudal parts, it seems that Japan is still driven by the former, despite it holding characteristics of the latter. It is too banal or sociological to quickly decide to which pole of social formations Japanese society actually belongs to. The same is true for the figuration of animals to explain the weird character of Japanese society (maybe Brazil as well, for Guattari). Here, it is worth recalling the figure of the spider or Arachnean of which Deleuze and Guattari derive from Fernand Deligny (Deligny, 2015). A spider never comprehends nor memorizes anything. Only trembling or vibrant wave momentums in its nest (a spider's web) become a sign with which it is attracted through its allusions, so that a spider can encounter its prey. Deleuze and Guattari grasp the writings of letters and novels in Kafka and Proust as an attempt of weaving spider webs. This is not merely an effect of metaphor, but rather a driving force of machinic assemblages. Both spider webs and writing proceed just as a vampire can seduce humans so that both the self and milieu (or environment) produce one another. What is at stake for the notion of Arachnean (networks or spider webs) is not to constitute the social (to produce the spatial sites or locations), but rather to constantly reanimate the aleatory and provisional web of undertakings that persist, extinguished by language. In our contemporary society such as the case of Japan, sometimes we have to travel back and forth between discipline and control, mole and snake, molding and modulation, so as to become "Arachnean ambience".
In the ending of the book Chaosmosis, Guattari writes,
Among the fogs and miasmas which obscure our fin de milenaire, the question of subjectivity is now returning as a leitmotiv. It is not a natural given any more than air or water. How do we produce it, capture it, enrich it, and permanently reinvent it in a way that renders it compatible with Universes of mutant value? How do we work for its liberation, that is, for its resingularization? Psychoanalysis, institutional analysis, film, literature, poetry, innovative pedagogies, town planning and architecture--all the disciplines will have to combine their creativity to ward off the ordeals of barbarism, the mental implosion and chaosmic spasms looming on the horizon, and transform them into riches and unforeseen pleasures, the promises of which, for all that, are all too tangible (Guattari, 1995, p. 135).
In these lines, the way of utilizing terms such as "miasma and fog" is intriguing. Some kind of air invents our subjectivity or subjectivity emerges as an aeriform atmosphere. Deleuze has also suggested that business and enterprises are made from, and maintained by, "a soul, a gas" (Deleuze, 1990, p. 179).
The desert as assemblages/substances
The ecological thinking in Deleuze and Guattari is not just about the discourse of climate, Nature and endangered environment. Instead, even some figure in the intellectual scene is described through metaphors of ambience or natural vibes. No one can neglect the figuration of Sartre by Deleuze: "the breath of fresh air from the backyard" (Deleuze, 2006, p. 9). Deleuze even compared his co-writing style to the desert as an environment. "We are deserts, but populated by tribes, flora and fauna" (ibid). Deleuze envisioned a desert flowing through Guattari himself in terms of his thoughts and gestures. Certainly the desert is a full but formless movement of sands organizing itself with multiple conjunctures of different forms and situations. The desert for Deleuze and Guattari, by itself, is a conceptual (meta-) model of a-signifying significant communication, which traverses the dynamics of both aspects of form and matter in signs. It affords us the notion of non-relation or the contact with a distance as its meta-modelization. Sands do not know other grains of sands, and they do not communicate each other. But they can affect each other, although the way of affections might be quite different from humans. They can assume a vestige of certain sentience, if not intelligence or emotion.
Herein certain sign-particles have been invoked by Guattari in a conceptual crossing between semiology and natural science, or between language and materiality, since the current of the late 1970s (Guattatri, 2011, pp. 210-220). Sign-particles pertain to an abstract zone of machinic potentiality that can supply the "purport" for the abstract machines that a-signify, deform and deterritorialize established assemblages. Danish linguist Louis Hjelmslev, to whom Deleuze and Guattari are very much indebted, has adopted a figuration of sands to explain his concept of "purport", there is a diagram or mapping on the virtual. The duality between expression and content in Hjelmslev is not equated with that of signifier and signified in Saussure, for there is a reversibility between them (Guattari, 1995, p. 22). Beyond a conventional duality of the series between signifier/signified, or expression/content, and form and matter, the substance in Hjelmslevian linguistic, which is not raw materials but already articulated or gridded for a potential signification, is also peculiar type of machinic phylum. "From casting itself 'like a net' over matter", Guattari says, "thereby engendering the substance of Expression and Content" (Guattari, 1995, p. 19). Here the concept of substance plays the task of mediator or intercessor as an "abstract machine" (ibid, p. 23) moving freaky between these binary terms. The substance is an objectivity of becoming.
In his molecular thought since the 1970s, Guattari confirmed an association of his argument with quantum physics in terms of the flexibility and plasticity of sands flow actualized through both waves and particles. A language enabled by its structural articulation functions as a sort of net (or a sieve) casting or imposing on unformed matters by filling holes of signification through redundancies. The sands of the desert as the plane of immanence (and consistency) operate in a-signifying significations as a fragmentary piece of chaos in-form of the depth of all languages. The figuration of the desert modulates the very nature of languages, that is a wilderness embedded in a language with own potential of a-signifiance. In the Guattarian view, the machinic purport is never merely an amorphous mass, for it is infinitely differentiated and articulated in the very instance of unarticulated or non-discursive aspects of language, otherwise an alternation through chaosmosis between significance and a-signifiance in a daily communication can never take place. The "purport" is emerged from a tripartite articulation: substance, form and matter (ibid, p. 23). Unlike structuralism or correlationalism, Guattarian machinic assemblages produced by "substance" transversally operate between phonetic or syntagmatic discursivity of expression and quasi-semantic perfomativity of contents (in colors, tonality, music or gestural behaviors). A Japanese youth who cannot speak English, nevertheless, can deliver the vibe and atmosphere of an original track by mimicking to sing it without knowing the grammar and meanings at all, precisely because substance plays the role of mediator as "an abstract machine" (Guattari, 1995, p. 23) moving freakily between these binary terms (Some linguists contend that Hjelmslev got the idea of reversibility between form and matter, expression and content from the logic of participation raised by Levy-Bruhl).
But Guattari proclaimed that even the concept of substance itself should be swept away and decomposed. Because, for Guattari, even content can express itself as a partial enunciator in-act and in-form. This is the dimension of the fourth ecology for the info-sphere, and the ontological kernel of quadruple ecology.
Certainly the relation is not entities or thing. The relation precedes and preexists things and is exterior to things. But to be merely content with this statement is too euphorically irresponsible. Guattari's ecosophy is not just about confirming a precedence of relation or interality but rather raising dynamic interality or assemblages of performative acts and collective enunciations through the notion of unnatural participation (or nuptial). It can be said that assemblages are neither things nor composites which things intend to weave and invent. Put differently, all machinic assemblages as such are certain substances which existed as if they were treated as things. The machine is in the very form of substantial relations, while the relation or interality can install itself as substances. By this interpretive perspective, the incipient basis of comparing Guattarian ecosophy of machinic assemblages with the interology as theory of interality seems to be set up.
Toshiya Ueno [phrase omitted]
Department of Transcultural Studies
2160 Kanai-cho, Machida, Tokyo, 195-8585, Japan
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Toshiya Ueno, Wako University, Japan
[Please note: Some non-Latin characters were omitted from this article]
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|Publication:||China Media Research|
|Date:||Oct 1, 2019|
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