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The question of community in Deleuze and Guattari (I): anti-community.

Introducing Anti-Community

What this paper seeks to do is to begin tracing the concept of community in Deleuze and Guattari. The question of community is an apparent gap in Deleuze and/or Deleuze-Guattari scholarship. Yet that gap is not surprising, if not understandable, for the question of community is after all barely inscribed as an emphatic foreground in their works, individual and collective, unlike those of Nancy's, Agamben's, Blanchot's, Bataille's, or Derrida's. (1) One could oppose this and cite Deleuze and Guattari's introduction to their What is Philosophy?, in which community, alongside friendship, is claimed to be the as if imperative thought of any philosophical inquiry. No doubt, the question of community is clearly articulated in that introduction. (The question of community, in fact, as this study will eventually elucidate, is there in Deleuze and Guattari. It is without doubt always already there.) But, in an exemplary unconceal-withdraw movement of the question of community in Deleuze and Guattari, the question of community quickly fades away like a forgettable shadow once Deleuze and Guattari proceed with the discussion of philosophy's artifactual task of concept-construction as the main theme of What is Philosophy? The shadow of community will only fleetingly reappear at the end of that text with the announcement of a "shadow of a people to come." Like the silence of a shadow then, the question of community is a silent problematic in Deleuze and Guattari, making it almost strange, if not estranging, to think the possibility of a future thought of community, or the possibility of a thought of the future of community, in relation to their philosophy. That, however, does not mean that we should henceforth commit to forgetfulness the concept of community in Deleuze and Guattari. What this paper is committed to do therefore is to unfold that silent problematic of community, singularly in Deleuze and Guattari, and also to unfold what that silent problematic reserves for the (future) thought of community. (Friendship, which undoubtedly supplements as another problematic for the thinking of community in Deleuze and Guattari, certainly calls for equal analysis. But I would like to reserve that task as a second paper to this study of community in Deleuze and Guattari.)

Here, I would like to take up the question of community, or perhaps the question of the apparent absence of community, in Deleuze and Guattari's A Thousand Plateaus, the second book that follows Anti-Oedipus. In A Thousand Plateaus, as in Anti-Oedipus, there is a movement of what I will call "anti-community." The word "community" is hardly articulated in both texts. And when Deleuze and Guattari do so, it hinges on the negative, as something that is anti-thought, something that thought should not regress to (hence my use of the term "anti-community"). For example, in A Thousand Plateaus, where what is argued for is unrestricted or non-striated movement, "community" is the form in which there is the danger of "run[ning] the risk of reproducing ... the rigid" (228). Yet what remains as the critical concept in and to A Thousand Plateaus--the concept of nomadology--is undeniably already communitarian, for nomads, from which nomadology takes its image, are irreducibly tribal or of the pack, and hence already manifesting itself as of a certain communitarian force. And Deleuze and Guattari's apparent reservation to give nomadology's communitarian expression its full force can never erase that communitarian trace. How then does one approach the thought of community in Deleuze and Guattari's philosophy of nomadology? In other words, how does one think the idea of community in Deleuze and Guattari when there is an apparent absence if not resistance of it in their writing?

But let me interrupt those questions and speak first of the phrase "anti-community," situating it in a more general context before attaching it to the question of community in Deleuze and Guattari. Why anti-community? Why a phrase that suggests a violence against something or some term that has at least put into place in this world some form of harmonious living between humans? Perhaps one could begin with less radicality by saying anti-"community" first, and from which one is able to subsequently discern why there should be a call for the obviation of community today. In anti-"community," the quotation marks around the word community would signal linguistic markers, indexing community as a mark of verbal speech. To be more precise, they would mark community as an excess of speech, fallen from any act of thought, rendering community and/or "community" as a meretricious speech act. This is not simply a pessimism on paper. It is very much a contemporaneous actuality. As Zygmunt Bauman has observed, the word "community" as how we have been treating it has been "so loud and vociferous" (11). We, Bauman continues, have invoked "community" only to uncritically sing its praises, "telling the others to admire them or shut up," so much so that "community is no more (or not yet, as the case may be)" (12). To every existing community, there is to be no disagreement to the practices, codes, and norms that are already in place. Communities and their practices would be impervious to critique and to any suggestion of future betterment via altogether different strategies. One may witness such a philosophical let-down of thinking about community by turning to contemporary affairs of the world. There can be no doubt that there is so much talk about community today, particularly about an "international community," in global political discourse. But one is often left thinking what or where such a community is, if not its veracity. The term "international community" after all has been invoked most oftentimes only as an alibi for the justification of the violent decimation of a state-entity by another of global politico-economic-military leverage when the former insists on a path contrary to the political and economic interests of the latter. Otherwise, when the "international community" has been called for so that the cosmopolitan collectivity of sovereign states may be an effective force to end humanitarian violence, poverty, tyranny, etc., in some place of the world (one remembers, of late, the names Darfur and Sudan), the response unfortunately has been less than desirable, which henceforth seriously weakens the idea of the existence of any such "international community." And in almost the same vein as Bauman, Nancy in The Inoperative Community has also suggested that community is like the word "love," which we say too much without finally saying it, without touching the heart of the matter. Should we then not reserve a breath for community and not articulate it for a moment, but take that moment to think what remains for us to think about community today?

But anti-"community" will not be about rejecting communities absolutely. It will not be about dismantling or destroying absolutely the idea or notion we call "community," though it will indeed put forth a certain necessary violence against that codified convention the world presently calls "community." To think a future (of) community, a verbal anti-"community" is not enough. It will also be necessary to undo if not strike out at the myths and false idealisms of community. That is the necessary violence of anti-community--this time without quotation marks around the word "community." But it is a violence that will only ultimately return "community" to an active process of thought. This paper (despite its title) is therefore not anti-community per se, in the sense that it is looking towards an absolutely nihilistic horizon for community. And neither is Deleuze and Guattari's philosophy of nomadology. The "anti" of negation in anti-community that this discussion is engaged with operates not so much on community as idea or thought as on the linguistic articulation of that idea. To say it again, it is really the verbal reiteration of "community"--articulated endlessly without submitting it to critical thought, enunciated as if it could ever if not already adequately give us that thing called "community"--that has so far contaminated any future possibility of thinking about community. We will have to begin to refrain from uttering "community." We will be anti-community just so to create a clearing for a free space of thought for another thinking of community. We will have to be anti-community not so that we will stop thinking about community but to return community to a proper thinking, a thinking that is always open to its futures, a thinking without horizon. That is my hypothesis for a future thought for community, for a future of community, or for a future community. That is also my hypothesis with regard to the question of (the absence of) community in Deleuze and Guattari. Anti-community for a future (of) community is what I believe the apparent absence of community in Deleuze and Guattari helps us to do. What I am arguing therefore is that there is a force of anti-community at work in Deleuze and Guattari, which only returns community to a whole new movement of thought, even though this movement is undeniably one that will be of a "chaoid" (to use their term from What is Philosophy?) trajectory. This is the reading that I will give to Deleuze and Guattari's A Thousand Plateaus, with particular focus on that "plateau"--the "nomadology" plateau--in A Thousand Plateaus that speaks precisely of a certain sense of community, which at the same time is veiled by an ironic reservation of what we call "community."

The State of Community/Bunkers/Violence

Deleuze and Guattari's concept of nomadology, or to be more comprehensive, their concept of the nomadological war machine, reads irresistibly as very much individual or singular rather than communitarian. After all, according to Deleuze and Guattari themselves, it "attests to an absolute solitude" (1987, 377). The nomadological war machine seeks to hold space--only to increase the desert of that space and not to saturate it with accretions of properties or possessions--but it has no similar insistence on holding on to its nomadic tribe, its community. Within the nomadic tribe, the sense of the singular nomadic war machine betraying its community, by disavowing it or by deviating from it, is always already imminent. (2) But that betrayal function of the nomadological war machine goes into operation only when it sees its tribe enclosing itself and all else that it receives into and as a structural totality. "We betray the fixed powers which try to hold us back, the established powers of the earth" (Deleuze and Parnet 1987, 40). In the face of a striating structuration, nomadology projects its combative force as a war machine in its fullest intensity so as to dismantle or undo such an arrangement, not excluding close-knit social arrangements such as communities. That is the task if not the raison d'etre of the nomadological war machine, which gives it a sense of an anti-community force, beside its "social clandestinity," beside its rather glaring anti-social "anti-dialogue" and "non-communicating force," (Deleuze and Guattari 1987, 405, 378, 380) contra Habermas.

But to be more precise, or to give Deleuze and Guattari a more proper reading, the word "community" is hardly articulated as the primary target of nomadology. Instead, it is the State that the nomadological war machine inclines towards with an angle of attack. And the nomadological war machine conducts war with the State only because the State has delimited ways of movement and thought that the nomadological war machine has taken to be (its) freedom. The State imposes a homogeneity of thought. It discourages, represses, and sometimes suppresses deviations. The State captures thought as its rationalizing interiority, and through which "thought is [thereby] capable of inventing the fiction of a State that is universal by right, of elevating the State to the level of de jure universality" (1987, 375). It appropriates thought so that it can lay claim to be a force of an enlightened institution, an institution that none can disagree with. And to maintain that, along with its will to establish spatial integrity, sovereignty, or security, the State also limits the freedom of movement of people within its territory. This can be seen perhaps quite clearly in State globalization, where the transnational or trans-border movement of information, capital, and goods are almost without restriction, but the similar free movement of people in and out of national or economic communities is still delimited by citizenship criteria. In all, the State is the capture of space, movement, thought, and people into a striated space. And that is why nomadology projects its force of a war machine primarily against it.

Now, if communities become swept up by the projection and projectile of the nomadic war machine, it is because they have become State-like in their outlook. Communities have become overcodified by their linguistic idioms, customs, economic practices, political inclinations, etc. Membership into the community is predicated only by the knowledge, acceptance, observance, adherence, and communication of these codes. Community has taken on a politics and an economy, and it has come to signify a circuitous flow. Everything has to circle back onto itself. Everything is rooted onto a closed arborescent structure. And everything has to be organized. Every face of every body within the community becomes reduced to a signifying articulation of the community, becomes subjected to a totalizing representation only of the community. In other words, the face becomes an over-conscious investment of community. According to Deleuze and Guattari, the body in such an economy of community becomes reduced to a mere denigrating faciality. And faciality is that process in which the face is reduced to be a site of signs pointing towards what it invests in or what invests in it, and whereby the body as the cartography of signs of singularity is no longer regarded at. And with this process of faciality, the operation of numbering begins. Everything counts in this space. Not just bodies count because of the number that their faces will add to the progressive facade of the community, but even ethics begins to be quantitatively measured. I cite the example Bauman uses in elucidating some of the myths of community. Within communities that are mythologized by us, we take it as natural or given that once we have helped someone in the community, "our right, purely and simply, is to expect that the help we need will be forthcoming" (2). Even the friend will be counted. It will be a matter of my friend, someone I can count (on) to add quantitative measure to the community. It will not be that estranging friend, the friend that is the other, the friend that brings to the structure of community a difference or even rivalry, so that community is never a rigid or closed structure. (3) At this point, we are reminded by Deleuze and Guattari that "the number has always served to gain mastery over matter, to control its variations and movements, in other words, to submit them to the spatiotemporal framework of the State" (1987, 389). One is approaching a s/State of community when everything counts.

There are "never strangers," to quote Bauman (2) again, in a community, when everything is counted or numbered, or when every body is subjected to a faciality. No doubt, in a close-knit community, it is a nice sheltering architecture that community provides. But because it is not open to any relation with an exteriority, not open to an invitation to a friend who brings with it a question of rivalry to the beliefs of the community, not open to any deviation in other words, the architecture of community can become familiarly strange or estranging too, becoming an estranged familiarity. Its architecture will be "like a besieged fortress" as Bauman (15) would say. Or to follow Paul Virilio and Deleuze and Guattari, it takes on a bunker architecture. Community becomes bunker community. The deathly architecture of a bunker is what one enters at the limit of anything that seeks its own absoluteness, its totality, its enclosure that cuts itself off with the outside. In other words, with a fortress or bunker architecture of community, the thinking of community--the future thinking of community, the thinking of another future of community--no longer has a (horizonless) horizon. There is no longer a free space of thought, a space of freedom of thought for community. Community as such, as State-like, as State-community, or community-State (Bauman reminds us that a homogeneous community may be a parallel construction of the State in its project of nationalistic nation-building too; and Deleuze and Guattari will also say that "the modern State defines itself in principle as 'the rational and reasonable organization of a community'" [1987, 375]), is more anti-community than communitarian, more anti-community--in the sense of the negation of a true thinking of community, than the nomadological war machine.

It is this state of community, this State-community or community-State, that has put into place a totalitarian micropolitics of itself, that the nomadological war machine seeks to disarticulate. From within the striated space of State-community, it seeks to reterritorialize a smooth space, a space where tangential trajectories are possible, a space where heterogeneous elements are free to come together by desire, and are equally free to break away without causing any spatial anxiety. Again, it is a comforting thought, no doubt, that being a member of a community grants one almost automatic hospitality within the community. But within hospitality, within a practical ethics of hospitality, there should not only be reserved the right of the host to reject hospitality, as Derrida (2000) has already observed, but there should be cases where the receiver of hospitality reserves also the freedom to refuse hospitality, the freedom to break away from the enclosures of "hostpitality," the freedom to deviate. And smooth space "is precisely the space of the smallest deviation" because it "has no homogeneity" (Deleuze and Guattari 1987, 371). It is precisely in this sense, the creation of a heterogeneous space of deviation or smooth space that does not view an absence of organization as a lack, by the disarticulation or smashing of the structures of homogenization like the codes of communities, that the nomadological war machine render itself anti-" community" / anti-community.

N-1 Community

Now, I have said, and Deleuze and Guattari themselves have also said, that the nomadic war machine reads more as a solitary force than a communitarian one. But that is not to say that it is not open to a space in which the space is constituted by a situation of more-than-itself. Smooth space is after all a space of more-than-itself. Smooth spaces "are not without people" (1987, 506). But these people, these other experimental people, are those who have left behind the striated spaces of State-communities. They do not bind or delimit themselves with a defined territorial organization. "They have a local construction excluding the prior determination of a base domain.... They have extrinsic and situational properties, or relations irreducible to intrinsic properties of a structure," as Deleuze and Guattari write (209). These people are multiplicities as Deleuze and Guattari also call them, and they affirm and exercise the freedom to come together or break away. Multiplicities enjoy "a certain leeway, between the two extreme poles of fusion and scission" (209).

And there is always a relation between multiplicities and smooth space. According to Deleuze and Guattari, "a heterogeneous smooth space ... is wedded to a very particular multiplicity: non-metric, acentered, rhizomatic multiplicities which occupy space without 'counting' it and can 'only be explored by legwork'" (371). The bodies of multiplicity may be "non-metric," but as multiplicity, there is inevitably the notion of number, if not of the numerous, though there is nothing numerically definitive about it. (Here, one may even say, in the conventional understanding of what makes a community, that there is already a sense of community with multiplicities, since community always already involves some gathering of some numerous.) Except the number here is no longer that which is of a quantitative measure: "The number is no longer a means of counting or measuring, but of moving" (387). It constitutes a geography, a mapping out of a gathering, a gathering whose cartography is constantly changing as the experiment goes along. This number, or this "numbering number" as Deleuze and Guattari call it, does not function as an index of formal or structural growth, or of historical progress as in State-communities or community-states. According to Deleuze and Guattari, "the numbering number is no longer subordinated to metric determinations or geometrical dimensions, but has only a dynamic relation with geographical directions" (390). The number of multiplicity of smooth space hence speaks of a mass that is always moving, always breaking away, if not always disappearing, from striated social arrangements--"masses are constantly flowing or leaking from classes" (213), and neither countable strictly as a singular or combinative crowd. The geographic "numbering number" is more a question of n-1 as Deleuze and Guattari would have it, the fragmenting -1 projectile acting to resist any form of quantitative and formal totality. It is like the supernumerary in Ranciere's (2004) terms: that which is not only uncounted (especially by State), but also more critically, that which refuses to enter into an economy of the counted of homogenizing structures such as communities. (We will also note that for Deleuze and Guattari, the mass is not insistently or necessarily a numerous assemblage. It may be a "'mass' individual" (215). Whatever this flow of this mass, it is "neither attributable to individuals nor overcoded by collective signifiers" (219). Individual or a multitude, the multiplicity of smooth space is already, in a word, communitarian.)

In the smooth space cleared by the nomadological war machine, it is not what counts that matters. Rather, matter--the matter of bodies, the matter of thought--matters. In this smooth space, it is a question of the freedom of trajectory of bodies and thoughts, a question of the variation of the matter of bodies and thoughts, a question of "materiality instead of imposing a form upon a matter" (408). It is a question of the expressive materiality of whatever gathering or deviation that is taking place, rather than imposing upon it the enclosing form called "community." In nomadology, "what one addresses is less a matter submitted to laws than a materiality possessing a nomos. One addresses less a form capable of imposing properties upon a matter than material traits of expression" (408). And as such, any striating grasp of community cannot contain the nomadological war machine. The latter appears anti-community in this sense because while the former tries to hold (on to) everything together compactly, the latter gives place to the risk of accident of things breaking down, since "an entire energetic materiality in movement" also "combine[s] with processes of deformation" (408). That "deformation," along with other "discontinuities" (406) the nomadological war machine brings about, is necessary to nomadology so as to prevent the smooth space of multiplicity becoming like the circuitous flow of the striated community.

When numbers do not matter only because they are accumulative supplements to previous quantified constructions, then there is also the possibility of opening up to the outside. The "numbering number" makes it necessary also "to take into account arithmetic relations that are external" (391). What the smooth space of the nomadological war machine articulates is therefore difference or alterity, and exteriority. In Deleuze and Guattari's words, the nomadological war machine "produces its effect of immensity by its fine articulation, in other words by its distribution of heterogeneity in free space" (391). The rhythmics of the nomadological war machine is therefore also, to wit, "not harmonic" (390), contra the myth of harmonious relations within conventional communities. With the nomadic war machine, there is always the possibility or the freedom of a dissonant line irrupting the stability of a melodious line of conventional communities, or else to break away with its own other trajectory. Attaching itself to at times threateningly and possibly fragmenting elements of heterogeneity or alterity, the architecture of smooth space of multiplicity created by the nomadic war machine is not a bunker architecture. Instead, it is more a bridge architecture, an architecture of moving bridges, or "movable bridges" in Deleuze and Guattari's words in What is Philosophy? It is a question of bridges that are always constructing towards a future community. If there is any architecture of community that the nomadological war machine projects, it will only be an undefined architecture. It will not be a finished, enclosed architecture, but an architecture-to-come, an architecture-in-progress, an architecture-on-the-way. As Deleuze and Guattari themselves say, "It is not a question of this or that place on earth.... It is a question of a model that is perpetually in construction or collapsing, and of a process that is perpetually prolonging itself, breaking off and starting up again" (20). With the nomadological war machine, the architecture of community is always a question of "relaying" these architectures-on-the-way: "only relays, intermezzos, resurgences" (377).

It is with such an architecture that Deleuze and Guattari's nomadological war machine is always maintaining a thought of community, maintaining the free space of thought of community, maintaining the freedom of another thought of community, the thought of another future community to come. At the end, it is more of community rather than anti-community in the nihilistic sense. After all, the nomadic war machine clears a smooth space only for a "movement of people in that space" and in which "it is a very special kind of distribution, one without division into shares, in a space without borders or enclosure" (422, 380). In other words, it smashes present communities from within only to seek another future communitarian arrangement such that within that space, thought is free, that there is a freedom of movement of coming and leaving, that there is no politics or economics of counting, and the possibilities of and to the outside are always open. After all too, the nomadological war machine conducts war against striated spaces like the State and overcodified communities only "on the condition that [it] simultaneously create[s] something else, if only new nonorganic social relations" (423). This other social relation, this new communitarian assemblage, may be "nonorganic" perhaps because it will be an inhuman community, inhuman because freed from the anxieties of subjectivity, representational drive, and consciousness of the metaphysical human Being--Being that thinks limitedly and inclusively only in the image of itself, and Being that only looks towards a One of totality of community or a community of a quantitatively accumulative One. Once again, the nomadological war machine reads fascinatingly as an "absolute solitude." But Deleuze and Guattari will also always reaffirm that "it is an extremely populous solitude, like the desert itself, a solitude already interlaced with a people to come, one that invokes and awaits that people, existing only through it, though it is not yet here" (377). The nomadic war machine is always already singularly plural, to use Nancy's term. And it is therefore always already a question of a community-to-come, a community-to-come that renders any signifying articulation of it as finally a "community" a belatedness, a community-to-come that renders any representation of it as a cutting-off of itself from the flow or passage of the community-to-come. It is "an ambulant people of relayers" that the nomadological war machine awaits and clears a path for, "rather than a model society" (377), rather than a model (of) community.

To recapitulate, the anti-community force of the nomadological war machine projects both a "disarticulation" of "community" and a violent combative projectile against it. The latter is a necessary combat, necessary only because communities have become target communities for the formation and maintenance of the State, or else its own striating totalitarian micropolitics. But the nomadological war machine is anti-community only because it maintains the future of community, maintains the possibility of a future, radical, and other community to come. It is never nihilistic with regard to community. Instead, what it does, for community, is to allow the chance of the future event of a community-to-come to take place. With Deleuze and Guattari then, and at least in A Thousand Plateaus and particularly with the image of nomadology of A Thousand Plateaus as I have tried to show, philosophy is always a question of community. For Deleuze and Guattari, we are always arriving at or moving towards a community with philosophy, but a community that is as indefinite as its linguistic article not because it is not able to decide itself (as community), and not because it is not sure of itself, but because it is always open to something new, always forms itself anew, which as such guarantees its future, and even promises a radical future unrestricted to its present form. It is a community that is decisively (an) undecidability, an indecision that is properly in-decision, as Nancy would put it. It decides on its openness to futures and not closures. It decides itself as always a work-in-progress, a project without end.

Conclusion: Deterritorializing (from) the Real/Becoming-Animal

At this point, one may ask what is this communitarian nomadic war machine in real terms, and where and how could one locate it in the real world today, if not, for tomorrow? What and where can there be an empirical trace of such a "mass" or "people" that is communitarian precisely because of its anti-community force? One could be tempted to think of the subterranean or rather hyperreal community of digital hackers. This community after all has been described in no less Deleuzian terms by McKenzie Wark in his A Hacker Manifesto as such: "Whether we come to represent ourselves as researchers or authors, artists or biologists, chemists or musicians, philosophers or programmers, each of these subjectivities [of the hacker community] is but a fragment of a class still becoming, bit by bit, aware of itself as such" (002). It is a community of a "collective hack that realizes a class interest based on an alignment of differences rather than a coercive unity" (006), a community that is always reinventing technics that will go round, if not smash from within, legal limits of the State that try to restrain the sharing of digital information via peer-to-peer technology. One could indeed pursue such a thread and give a nomadological contour to such a community. But I would like to resist doing so. That would, perhaps, be too easy. And that would also somewhat amount to ignoring some of the dangers in (thinking of) locating the nomadic war machine in the real. "We lack resistance to the present" (Deleuze and Guattari 1994, 108).

To locate the nomadic war machine in the real is firstly to presuppose that it already presently exists. And if it is already visible in some way or other, it surely would already be subject to the State's monitoring of its deviation from a State-managed and State-controlled community. The State would not allow any minimal deviation of its people to extend beyond a certain duration. In no time, the policing forces of striation would have swarmed in on this deviation. And in any case, even before the declension of the striating forces falls on the deviating elements, the latter collective would have lost its constitution as a nomadological war machine, for to be perceptible as part of the existing community implies that it is in some ways part of the existing status quo of life. But the nomadological war machine is always that which departs from the normalized conditions of living. It does not want any part of it. It does not want to be part of it. And because it departs, it would belong not to the order of the perceptible but the order of the disappeared or disappearing. And in that sense, there can be no way of locating this nomadological war machine in the real such that one could hypostasize it as a subject of analysis. There is no doubt that the nomadic war machine is real and exists within the horizons of the real, but it dislocates itself in the perceptible way of things. It has departed only by its disappearance, its rendering itself in-visible. It occupies space but only by making a desert of that space, a space of a desert so empty and so minimal in contrast to the excess of the global metropolis that surrounds contemporary communities, such that no one else sees it. It is dis-location par excellence. And it is the nomadic war machine as dislocation that renders it difficult to be located in the real.

Deleuze and Guattari themselves are also careful not to identify any empirical social group, contemporaneous to the context of the writing of A Thousand Plateaus, as possible communitarian nomadological war machines. They understand the limits and dangers of the visible real. And so in A Thousand Plateaus, they do not look to the present or rather to what is present to seek out the potential nomadic war machine. The only reserve that is left in A Thousand Plateaus for thinking the nomadic war machine in the real is that problematic real of which they will call becoming-animal. Becoming-animal, which is not the anthropomorphic mimesis of animals, is about the adjacent space between the human and the animal. It is a "phenomenon of bordering" (Deleuze and Guattari 1987, 345) between the human and the animal, in which a molecular anti-anthropomorphism at the edges of the human departs and communicates with the molecular particles of the animal that have likewise left the frays of its form. This is the communitarian "transversal communications between heterogeneous populations" of becoming-animal by "unnatural participation" (345). On the communitarian horizon of becoming-animal, Deleuze and Guattari will also say, "A becoming-animal always involves a pack, a band, a population, a peopling, in short, a multiplicity" (239). Like the "people to come" that the nomadic war machine looks forward to, the pack, the band, or the multiplicity involved with a becoming-animal is nothing structured. There is no conscious investment to build up such a community. Its future is not determined by any methodical calculation or rationality. And like the unquantifiable n-1 future community of the nomadic war machine, the elements within this multiplicity are uncounted, uncountable. "A multiplicity is defined not by its elements, nor by a center of unification or comprehension" (249).

And again like the nomadic war machine, the communitarian event of becoming-animal proceeds with anti-community gestures. It begins with what Deleuze and Guattari call the "anomic." This "anomic" is an "exceptional individual" (243), but it is not exceptional in the sense that it is absolutely outside the law of the group or existing community.

Instead, it traverses the border between being with the law and being outside the law. It is like a shadow at this border, and one can never be sure if this shadow is going to incline towards the outside or back within acceptable boundaries. And yet this is enough to render it a figure of uncertainty or potential chaos in the eyes of power. It does not violate the law but its being at the border just disturbs the stability or equilibrium of the law (and is therefore something of an anti-community potentiality). And it is through an intuitive affinity with this (anti-community) "anomic" that a becoming-animal is put into effect. As Deleuze and Guattari say, "you will ... find an exceptional individual, and it is with that individual that an alliance must be made in order to become-animal" (243). It is with the "anomic" that an event of becoming-animal "arrives and passes at the edge" (245) of the human. And from then on, like the anti-community/communitarian nomadic war machine, becoming-animal is a potential violence against any force that structures for all within its grasp a rigidity of belonging, for example, conventionally codified communities. Becoming-animal "is accompanied, at its origin as in its undertaking, by a rupture with the central institutions that have established themselves or seek to become established" (247), and "we should not confuse these dark assemblages ... with organizations such as the institutions of the family and the State apparatus" (242).

The affinity between becoming-animal and the nomadic war machine is undeniable. Deleuze and Guattari will even say that there are "becomings-animal in the war machine" (247). One then is not surprised to find the echo of the betrayal function of the nomadic war machine in becoming-animal too. The advance of a becoming-animal will also see to the undoing of the alliance with the "anomic." This is its other anti-community gesture. Becoming-animal will betray the "anomic": "I have to strike him to get at the pack as a whole, to reach the pack as a whole and pass beyond it" (245). In a becoming-animal, one will strike at the "exceptional individual" who is not only critical for the constituting of a friendship that will lead one to become-animal, but who will also lead one to the pack, the band, a peopling, the communitarian multiplicity. And one will certainly not rest with the communitarian outcome ("to reach the pack") of the betrayal. In fact, one will trace a further anti-community trajectory and "pass beyond" the pack, the band, the multiplicity, but surely for other "new nonorganic social relations."

Now, why becoming-animal is a problematic real, or why it is difficult if not impossible to locate in the real, is because it is a "zone of indiscernibility" (280). It proceeds by being "something more secret, more subterranean" (237) than what the real would like to spectacularly demonstrate to visibility. Becoming-animal puts forth "an objective zone of indetermination or uncertainty" (237), and presents at best a haziness before all technics of rational perception. A line of disappearance, and not visibility, is what a becoming-animal follows after all: "A fiber stretches from a human to an animal, from a human or an animal to molecules, from molecules to particles, and so on to the imperceptible" (249). Becoming-animal is in-visible, dislocating the perception of the real, disrupting the real. But its being in-visible does not render it any less real than anything else that exists in the real. It remains very real, only real without being definable or identifiable. "There is a reality of becoming-animal, even though one does not in reality become animal" (273). Its dislocation from or of the perception of the real constitutes its existence as a problematic real. And this is why it will always escape or resist any teleologic analytic striation, and therefore also always remaining a desirable space of reserve for (thinking) the anti-community/communitarian nomadic war machine for Deleuze and Guattari.

Finally, to suggest that the nomadological war machine is already existing in some nascent formation at present would also, philosophically, reduce the concept to a delimited historical or temporal condition. It would entail limiting its existence to only a certain timeframe. But this takes away the avant-garde edge of the concept. The concept of the nomadological war machine, derivative of all the minor war-machines of history, remains a future-oriented project or projectile. It serves to be the front-guard that smashes the conditions and performatives that have constituted the thought of community, and thereby clears a path for the future thought of a future community. As Deleuze and Guattari write, it is always about casting a "shadow of a people to come." The nomadic war machine is always arriving, beyond our present knowledge, and exceeding the conditions of thought that has come before. It is only as such that it maintains the thought of itself not only towards the future, opening itself up to all possibilities of alterity to arrive to it, but also towards a future (of) community. The present real only conditions the thought of the nomadological war machine to think within the actualizable limits of the present. But the concept of itself is always virtual, just as any philosophical concept should be, according to the pedagogy of Deleuze and Guattari in What is Philosophy? It is always -1 from the real, and only the disappearing line of becoming-animal can always already be that n-1 real of the anti-community/communitarian nomadic war machine.



Bauman, Zygmunt. Community: Seeking Safety in an Insecure World. Cambridge: Polity P, 2001.

Deleuze, Gilles, and Fe1ix Guattari. A Thousand Plateaus. Trans. Brian Massumi. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P, 1987.

--. What is Philosophy? Trans. Hugh Tomlinson and Graham Burchell. New York: Columbia UP, 1994.

Deleuze, Gilles, and Claire Parnet. Dialogues. Trans. Hugh Tomlinson and Barbara Habberjam. New York: Columbia UP, 1987.

Derrida, Jacques. "On Cosmopolitanism." Trans. Mark Dooley. On Cosmopolitanism and Forgiveness. Trans. Mark Dooley and Michael Hughes. London and New York: Routledge, 2001. 3-24.

--. Of Hospitality: Anne Dufourmantelle Invites Jacques Derrida to Respond. Trans. Rachel Bowlby. Stanford: Stanford UP, 2000.

--. Politics of Friendship. Trans. George Collins. London and New York: Verso, 1997.

Ranciere, Jacques. "Introducing Disagreement." Trans. Steven Corcoran. Angelaki 9.3 (2004): 3-9.

Wark, McKenzie. A Hacker Manifesto. Cambridge, MA and London: Harvard UP, 2004.

(1) In the case of Derrida, his critique of present practices and understanding of communities, and his suggestion of community's possible future trajectory of alterity, may be elicited, for example, from his positing of a "city of refuge" (2001). But one would nonetheless sense in Derrida a similar reticent distance/proximity with the concept of community as in Deleuze and Guattari (which this paper will elucidate), when Derrida (1997) asks himself towards the end of his Politics of Friendship: "I was wondering why the word 'community' (avowable or unavowable, inoperative or not)--why I have never been able to write it, on lay own initiative and in my name, as it were. Why? Whence my reticence?" (304-5).

(2) "We certainly would not say that discipline is what defines a war machine: discipline is the characteristic required of armies after the State has appropriated them. The war machine answers to other rules. We are not saying that they are better, of course, only that they animate a fundamental indiscipline of the warrior, a questioning of hierarchy, perpetual blackmail by abandonment or betrayal, and a very volatile sense of honor, all of which, once again, impedes the formation of the State" (Deleuze and Guattari 1987, 358; my italics). Deleuze will return to this question of the betrayal in Dialogues (1987). Deleuze, on speaking of nomads "who have neither past nor future" will also reaffirm that in the trajectory of nomadic movement, "there is always betrayal in a line of flight" (38, 40). This betrayal is "not trickery like that of an orderly man ordering his future, but betrayal like that of a simple man who no longer has any past or future" (40).

(3) The friend as rival is derivative of Deleuze and Guattari's take on friendship in their introduction to What is Philosophy?, which I have referred to at the beginning of this paper.
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Author:Goh, Irving
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Date:Jan 1, 2006
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