19 June 2019: Anne Sauvagnargues & Gregory Flaxman, Kondo Kazunori, Uno Kuniichi at Chiyoda – Akasaka, Hotel Felice

Anne Sauvagnargues and Gregory Flaxman (two whose separately written books I greatly admire, and now get to meet, now working together) present “Techno-Genetic Semiotics”:

…which concerns the status of images, no longer seen as representation, but a new form of individuation.

In 1989’s Schizoanalytic Cartographies Guattari shows production of subjectivity is with machinic assemblages (agencements—but as here the emphasis is on the machinic assemblages is not entirely misleading).

Guattari’s 1969 “Machine et Structure” review of Deleuze: structure is not only an ideal structure in the mind but it has an affectivity in machinic systems, involving technical social agents and human agents (i.e. assemblage-agencements), for example—the smartphone.

In Deleuze’s Cinema 1 sensory-motoric image involves technical and biological production of subjectivity—to achieve a “geology of morals” as the plateau of that name in A Thousand Plateaus puts it.

Leroi-Gourhan’s Gesture and Speech is read closely by Deleuze and Guattari in A Thousand Plateaus.

—tools made by hand feedback to the human:

moving forward into dimensions of images—cinemas is a threshold for technology.

Cinema no longer produces an image we can call human.

In cinema a spiritual agent or mind (Anne uses the English “spiritual” when I think she means d’esprit which rather means of mind than the French spirituel. In fact, Massumi makes this mistranslation in A Thousand Plateaus where he translates Plato’s republic of free minds as republic of free spirits.) … in cinema, spiritual [I just left the ‘p’ out of that word and got siri-tual, is this the source of virtual spirit, Siri?] or mind is not trying to master an agency in the film camera.

The scandal of cinema is that it is no longer possible to attribute to the human the film-making: film/camera has its own agency/agencement.

Image of thought is how thought represents itself to itself.

Cinematic image is not related or relatable by way of representation. It has no image or model. The cinematic image appears as an apparition in itself. It is itself the actualisation of a perception (the camera’s/film’s). It therefore involves an individuation. (The image is not part of representation because it itself individuates.)

The cinematic image, the image in cinema, shows that it is possible for the image to have perception and motoricity. So the cellphone has agency.

Signs are no longer just to be understood under human language.

Semiology passes—outside of human language—to semiotics.

Image or sign does not have a specificity to the cinema because of the same feedback loop of tool and hand.

Technik—in Greek—does not separate out literature from technology and science.

A Western metaphysics is needed to perform this split between higher ‘spiritual’ (mental) production and the applied arts of the technical or technical arts (that is any art that has a technical aspect which can then be separated from it, and separated from it have its own pedagogy). This split does not obtain in Japan at all.

There are symbioses between living agencies and technical agencies.

Noo – image of thought in cinema as in la noologie.

Mechanism + software:

Greg: we do not see the camera in the image. Its agency is invisible.

(Again I was taken to the thought of Merleau-Ponty, because of this distinction between visible and invisible and flesh: so that in a certain way, in a sense, the camera, the mechanism, is visible in the flesh. … like code and computerthere is a self-consciousness of agency and to separate the viewer in this way is to play into the notion of a separable perceptual field, which presupposes an abstract and disembodied viewpoint that can that partition some of itself off, and say this to you is the portion we call perceptible and visible. In fact, Greg and Anne’s argument is towards the relative viewpoint of the film and camera as a subject distinct from the human subject—a technical subject. But then there are technical, biotic and symbiotic subjects—and are they not anorganic?)

… breaking out of this parenthesis, it is not a subjectivity of image, the image not subjective, if this is thought only as being human subjectivity.

What is an image in Deleuze?

Deleuze says, It is time.

The subjective production of science is cited as one “no longer reserved to human subjectivity.”

Cinema is neither a [human] language nor language system. Semiotics refers then to a “system of images independent of language in general.”

aesthetic – system of sensibility

Image and perception (and perhaps even the entire perceptual field) are the same thing. This is speaking from the point of view of Cinema 1 and 2.

Subtractive model of subjectivity: whole field of perceptual images—as immanent—is that, a whole field or plane of immanence—without “everything that does not interest my perception.”

Anne: “Subjectivity comes to be the problem of the earth. … Culture is something that happens to our planet earth.”

It is not simply an ecology of subjectivity, but an ecotechnological transformation, or in ecotechnological transformation.

Geology of morals—again in A Thousand Plateaus—means the elision of culture and nature. The problem of the earth understands or comprehends as problematic this elision.

Deleuze does not turn to Bergson’s Creative Evolution but rather to his 1896 book Matter and Memory, particularly in view of taking Bergson to the cinema in the two cinema books.

For evolution, for evolution following this subtractive model of subjectivity, all phenomena are included except that which does not interest the perceiving, as the thinking, the conscious subject.

Greg spoke of an “acentred universe” (quite a good phrase, I think) meaning the “englobing or an image around a particular centre of indetermination.”

Centring on “indetermination” ours is a provisional centring that obscures the subjective field rather than revealing it—obscuring this other dimension of images.

What does the concept allow us to do?

Provisional acentring—englobing an image of indetermination …

“There are no other aesthetics not pragmatic” – Anne.

Habit – is both habituation and habitation. Habit is the only way to exist as a subject. (This is Deleuze’s first synthesis, in Difference and Repetition.)

No longer ego cogito but ego habitus—the habitus of rhythmicity and periodicity defines the subject, or its subject.


Matter-life-spirit: if we don’t want ontology so split, we need to open up subjectivity. (This also resonates strongly with the work I have been doing independently—this and the acentring of the subject of and by indetermination. For me, this means the torroidal space of the durational event of subjectivity.)

The sign is both nonsyntactic and asygnifying, writes Deleuze: “even human language has always been asignifying.”

Anne on Deleuze citing Jacobson and Sausurrean structuralist (formalist) linguistics: “There is no inner signification.” (The division between signifier and signified is nonspatial, nontemporal—nondimensional.)

Anne also cites—as a beautiful book—Howard Cohen’s How Does the Forest Think.

Greg: What is a sign?

What makes a sign?

The cut is arbitrary—if we think about it—as to where we say a sign begins and ends. Is it phonemic? Orthographical?

The image in cinema makes explicit this implicit practical problem of what is a sign.

Benveniste’s 5 pages on Saussure are some of the most revealing.

Greg: the “relationship of sign, signifier and signified, AND the real therefore cannot be simply parsed.”

Irony is that of Derrida’s favourite trope of catachresis—meaning a misuse, of the sign, that becomes habitual, creating a new meaning, from misuse—when deconstruction itself is subject to catachresis. That is deconstruction is rolled out as a sign for everything from the demolition of a building to the most banal of interpretative strategies of analysis.

Anne—in somewhat pedagogical mode—and here we can see she is a very good teacher, but perhaps does not need to make everything polemical: So, 2 series, continua, one signifying, and one signified (easier to imagine in French, in the gerundive form of signifiant). The sign comprises these two continua. But it is not a meeting point and inside the sign there is no signification. We cannot plumb its depths or uncover its secrets. It is bare of depth, empty, because purely formally differential.

Anne: for Lacan the question of signifier and signified leads to a new theory of subjectivity. — to endure symbolic means to endure the cut. (Cf. castration as it is presented by Deleuze in Difference and Repetition.)

flows of series – cut between – where one ends another begins

“Language is a virtual system existing in each of our heads simultaneously,” says Saussure. – says Greg.

Language is an automatism (a MACHINE IN THE ESPRIT or GHOST – says I).

Bergson’s – line on language and signs – language is a structure that is not given by my own invention. It is a mode of subjectivation that is unconscious and productive of subjectivity.

Phenomenology is not produced by an act of consciousness. Phenomenology relies on the vécu.

But I cannot access language in self-consciousness.

The Sartrean ego cannot any longer obtain when you are interested in collective modes of subjectivation.

(Deely’s Poinsot—I want to add to the genealogy of semiotics being unfolded.)

I am informed, intelligenced. Consciousness results from a social and political construction.

Saussure—Beneniste—Jacobson— the shifter, the deictic I you he she one …

You have to have a consciousness outside of consciousness to say I.

Discourse is language in action.

Anne overstates her non-hospitality to human language.

What is the tense of the moving image?

It is an existential dimension, the clause “there is …” (Cf. Blanchot and Bataille and Levinas, I think, all three concerned with the there is.)

Cinema is not privileged because its subjectivity is avowable: say, this is me again, in Dziga Vertov’s I am camera.

Marxist analysis of Deleuze and Guattari: the person comes after the Middle Ages at the entry of the capitalist subject.

Simondon’s metaphysics mean also differenciation of sytheses of time:

1. – habituation, actualisation, territorialisation;

2. – territorialisation as deterritorialisation – “a machinic assemblage, a collective assemblage of enunciation and assemblage of machinic bodies. Deterritorialisation and reterritorialisation. So in Simondon, deindividuation and individuation.

These, de- and re- are in mutual presupposition.

Territory is an act, a gesture.

Every territorialisation begins with a deterritorialisation.

Greg: territory begins in a hunting ground. But now, in societies of control, we live in an open field in which we are being surveilled and tracked. (We are no longer the hunter, but hunted within a specific dispositif.)

Decoding in this open field is difficult.

The relationship between presignifying image and prelinguistic signs is difficulted – vantage, POV.

Greg: Bonitzar [?]: “every image is a moral” – a valence. Every sign is a perspective. (Now we are getting close to semiotics again.)

A sign presupposes a valence, a vantage, an evaluation. The object it creates is but an evaluative disposition. (And we are leaving the perceptual field.)

Deleuze writes that cinema is not a universal or primitive language system.

Rancière “stupidly” says Anne says Deleuze uses cinema to provide theological insight into matter itself. This is because cinema is more capable than human consciousness to delve into matter itself. You cannot distinguish degrees – for cinema, matter equals acentred images. There is no ontological hierarchy of the three levels, only the relationship between uncentred and centred.

Cinema presents a type of image that is not humanly produced.

Nietzsche gives a metabolic as well as symbolic interpretation. (Metabolic is a good way of addressing the symbolic against the physical framework of bodies and proxemics.)

Anne: Habit – external relationship.

Greg: Whitehead says “life is robbery.” All life lives off other living forms.

Greg: psychomechanics and Spinoza’s “spiritual automaton.” Spinoza uses the spiritual automaton in The Treatise on the Intellect. Leibniz takes up this term.

Cinema is a material automaton: the image, says Greg, exists as




(Is this, I asked later, not the definition of the neoliberal market? (i.e. its vantagepoint, exactly, as the conceptual mechanism giving rise to it.)

– the brain on top of the previous brain,

an animation and autonomous, an automatism in thinking.

What brings together mots and choses is the spiritual automaton (singularity) – a little divine thing.

Deleuze: the cinema is a cinema of the world—is a meta-cinema.

Thinking in relationship to an image.

Anne: Conception of world – Spinoza and Descartes – “removed a closed world to an infinite existence.” This means infinite extension – the problem of the spiritual automaton connects matter and mind.

The modal idea is then where there is thought, where there is body.

Anne: “when you read Spinoza under God you can understand necessity and you can understand chance.”

God? Anne: it is writing. (This again links to the work I have been doing on writing and AI, as the late working-out of a dispositif present in writing from the first: the Word, God, the Law.)

God today is automatic automatism.

I ask my question, thinking also, why Norbert Wiener and cybernetics in the feedback from the tool to the hand? Isn’t the automatism of the marketplace as conceived and promoted by the neoliberal thought collective here in play? Like a projection of the projection transferred to the projector—cinema.

Greg asks for clarification. He doesn’t get the leap to market neoliberalism. But we talk later … and tend to agree. Particularly when it comes to cinema’s intrication in the market. That is that the market does not exist.

After this, Koichiro-san announces that the sponsors of the event will be presenting their product for trial and for sale: JT.

JT is of course Japanese Tobacco.

The product is e-cigarettes, using small capsules, englobing the drug / flavour of choice.

Christoff comes up and says, I like that your last question was followed by the introduction of … the market.

That there is nothing ironic and not even critical in the Japanese attitude to an academic event being sponsored by a tobacco company seems to me to be quintessentially Japanese. It acts as a reflector to all those oddly proxy attitudes of censure built on ressentiment—an American later declared, on finding out that the sponsor was JT, that maybe he oughta leave right now.

The catering as usual was great for lunch. Was it bento today? I think it was Katsu chicken bento. If it was, it came from a nearby restaurant that Koichiro-san had approached. Again, this opposing movement to abstraction of localising and terroir—eating from the territory. It is opposed in its intention.

Kondo Kazunori:

It is 1300km to Kondo … Kazunori-san has written on Cavaillès—mathematician and Victor Delbos—his two books on Spinoza.

He offers a textual survey, which he calls an archeology, of Deleuze’s notion of immanence. It’s difficult and unrelenting stuff, and he quotes extensively in French and then subsequently in English from his sources. It’s also admirable, but sometimes seems to suffer from the presumption of scientism that comes from the accumulation of proofs, as well as an accent that is reading rather than speaking from a pre-prepared text in English.

Léon Brunschvig 1869-1944 – the first pairing cited, immanence and transcendence distinguished between as the difference between the “directions of the two beliefs towards God.”

André Laland 1867-1964 – Kant’s “transcendent principle” distinguished from the “immanent principle” in Kant.

Deleuze uses ‘immanence’ on its own in regard to Spinoza’s “immanent cause” in the Ethics.

‘Univocity’ is retained throughout Deleuze’s oeuvre. But the first time it is in regard to Spinoza that Deleuze brings univocity thought together with immanence. It is his invention, because univocity is a concept of Duns Scotus.

In Logic of Sense there is immanence of the ‘quasi-cause.’

Deleuze does not originate use of immanence in relation to transcendence (and Kant). But what is original in Deleuze is linking univocity to Spinoza and immanence with univocity.

In Anti-Oedipus “champ d’immanence” appears in association with capitalism.

According to Kazunori-san the second major threshold in the use of ‘immanence’ is its association with Hjemslev.

“Champ d’immanence” is entirely original to Deleuze and Guattari.

Relative immanence is distinguished from pure immanence: relative immanence occurs in relation to transcendence.

1977 marks another threshold in the definition of immanence.

– “Désir et Plaisir” in Two Regimes of Madness;

Spinoza and Us: Spinoza’s Practical Philosophy;

Dialogues with Claire Parnet.

Here “champ d’immanence” changes to “plan d’immanence” (usually translated as plane of immanence. But as you can see, there is elision in the French between plan and plane with important consequences.)

In Dialogues with Parnet, there appears the optional clause: either plane of consistency or plane of immanence. They may not be the same thing but they are presented together.

It is ‘plane of consistency’ again in Spinoza and Us. Here it could also be a ‘plane of immanence’ as well.

Anne asks whether the cut of a threshold in the use of these notions begins a new continuity, as in a rhizome, where the cut of a threshold is a new beginning.

Kazonori-san answers that the plane is folded with the singularity. He draws a picture of a wavy line on the curve crossed by a straight line, which is the singularity of a threshold cutting across the wave but also at the fold.

I ask whether Deleuze gives reliable or adequate representation of his concepts. Is there a correspondence between terms and concepts in Deleuze? Joe Hughes calls Deleuze a “surly interlocutor.” Perhaps he is an unreliable narrator, unreliably narrating, and initiating a mobility of terms, which do not necessarily cleave—at least not at all rigorously, as has been presented—to their concepts?

Kondo Kazonori-san’s answer is that there are patterns. There are in fact three.

Uno Kuniichi-sensei has arrived at lunch. He is wellknown to many of the professors, including Anne, who introduces him to Greg.

The theme of his presentation is that Deleuze and Guattari—either unfortunately or fortunately—contrast the Eastern sagesse of thinking with figures with the Western philosophy of thinking with concepts. The figure is inadequate to the concept; Eastern wisdom does not arrive at philosophy, identified with the creation of concepts—autochthonous in Greece, @5th century BCE.

Western ego is contrasted with Eastern figure. Do they hold a notion of the soul in common?

The soul sees war as struggle in combat. While the East flows.

Figure in East and concept in West: a rhizome of flow.

Hegel provides an image of the sensible, that is a symbol: only spirit can grasp the concept.

Kuniichi-sensei makes the point of Hegel’s symbol being almost like a figure.

He cites the translation by Andrew Cole of vorstellen as “picture-thinking.”

For some reason I note: first there is externalisation of relation, then internalisation of relation, in subjectivation(production of a subject).

And: making a thought in the encounter with cinema’s non-feedback in non-cybernetic imagery. (The inclusion of Norbert Wiener in Greg’s presentation is still worrying me, thanks to Adam Curtis’s All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace.)

The figure is a disaster.

“We see the damage the figure has done.”

“What is the figure of the Orient? And then the figure of the Orient in relation to the immanence of Deleuze and Guattari?”

The sense here is that the figure does not and perhaps cannot reach immanence.

Izutsu’s book [sic?] on Eastern religions is cited.

Zen immaculates beings from the all. (Compare this with the obscenity of the tree root in Sartre’s novel Nausea.) Zen launches the all into chaos.

“The concept belongs to the philosophy of the West and the figure to the wisdom of the East.”

Perhaps, from excessive use or misuse of the figure, a singular translation has been elaborated in the East.

For Hegel the Figure blocks the East from forming concepts.

However, there is another type of the figure in Deleuze’s Logic of Sensation, which differs from that of Deleuze and Guattari in What is Philosophy?

The figure found in Francis Bacon’s painting bears no relation to the wisdom of the East invoked by Deleuze and Guattari.

Kuniichi-sensei elaborates Bacon’s disfigurement and distortion and damage to the figure in his figuration on a coloured plane.

Isolation deformation dispersion modulation – captured: to make visible the invisible forces in a

matter of fact

all that is on the plane of sensation

Bacon’s figure has the same name as what is observed as the opposite of the concept.

The haptic, the manual or tactile aspects of Bacon’s painting, is distinct from the optical or purely optical.

“In the spatial zone of closeness, the sense of sight behaves just like the sense of touch, experiencing the presence of the form and ground at the same place.” – Maldiney.

Deleuze discovers his own East and deterritorialises the figure—it has become a sign of the outside.

Bergson: the figure is like fabulation. Its sensory surplus enters into the supersensory.

Figure appears in the encounter of the finite with the infinite.

In Difference and Repetition thought without image is figured by Antonin Artaud.

Artaud says to himself, I cannot think. His is a thought that constantly turns about a point of pain and impossibility.

The Artaudian thinking machine seems to lose all image.

Figures appear in Artaud’s poems (the poems are articulated in and by figures): 1921 stones become figures.

Artaud lost the image but he did not lose the figure—not reserved to the theatrical figure and to a theatre of cruelty.

The thinking body and the theatre of a body in crisis defines the theatre of cruelty.

Artaud, in being done with the judgement of God, puts an end to the institution of thought. (The institution of thought might be identified with the concept.)

The “figure works the thought—more real than an image; less abstract than a form.” And: “less visible than an image.”

The immanent and intensive use of the figure of Artaud’s invention does not contradict that of Bacon. It is another figure than that invoked in relation to the wisdom of the East.

He suffers from the transcendence.

– there is certainly a transcendence of the figure;

– from the beginning of Buddhism there has been a strong immanentism in combat with Hindu transcendentalism: a place of immanence of oneself—emptiness and nothingness;

– a betrayal of immanence.

Nietzsche and Spinoza arrive at immanence by introducing an intense seduction of life. In Artaud, it is by thinking the unthinkable, by figures, that a singular body, a body without organs puts an end to the judgement of God.

Matter, genesis, sincerity, haptics, fragile, fluctuating, harmony of sorts …

… it is possible the figure is crucial for immanence.

Kuniichi-sensei’s presents a poetics—could it be anything else?—of the figure, reticulated around the physical and mental alienation to thought suffered by the body in pain, the mind in pain of Artaud.

I try to form a question: I start by saying that I am a fan of the damage done by the figure. Although without the context of Minus Theatre, and its method of decomposition, this statement on its own does nothing.

Immanence seems to be articulated as an agonism in Artaud.

Is immanence which can be said of the immanentist aspects of (Zen) Buddhism, equally agonistic?

Before Kuniichi-sensei can answer, Anne, who is now sitting opposite me, repeats agonism? Qu’est-que ça veut dire? Agonisme?

Oui, ç’est agonisme. Someone confirms.

She does not seem happy with the question.

Kuniichi-sensei’s translator, assisting him, repeats the question in Japanese to him. It is the same person who translated for the students presenting their work in the exhibition associated with the Camp and Conference.

I back up the question with the background of Western agonism—the tradition of trials and struggle—supposed to fit the spiritual hero for enlightenment. This also extends to the mortification of the flesh and austerities of all sorts which are still visited on Western peoples. (I am aware of a variation of this tradition in so-called Eastern wisdom: and I am thinking also of Zhuang-zi and traditions of rupture through laughter, through dancing, which is again Nietzschean, music and trance—all of which Japan participates in.)

Kuniichi-sensei answers that there are also trials in Buddhism.

I ask more generally about Hijikata Tatsumi, inventor of Ankoku Butoh.

Kuniichi-sensei answers he spoke many times and at length with Hijikata about Artaud. Neither one of them shared the almost religious mythologised view of Artaud that was common in Japan at the time. Hijikata’s book is an exploration of immanence, Kuniichi-sensei said.

Immanence can change into transcendence.

“I have to see exactly what happens: when something happens to reverse”… immanence to transcendence, transcendence to immanence.

Two associated questions arise: is enlightenment—in the only sense of reaching a plane of consistency or immanence—singularity, a threshold at which the plane is folded? Or, rhizomatic, a cut commencing a new series?

Is immanence—moreover, in this sense—“spiritual” or in thought? i.e. might not the whole confusion over spirituel and d’esprit, between mind and spirit, devolve on this point?

I made a note here on Ainu being the indigenous people of North Japan. There is a picture in the park fronting Chiyoda Arts Centre of the aristocrat whose residence it had been. He is wearing a long atavistic kind of necklace, threaded with stones.

Koichiro-san asks, By what do we receive the figure?

Form, answers Kuniichi-sensei, by the intellectual eye. By the image of sensation.

The haptic is key for understanding the figure. So, I noted, a proxemics is in play, an imperceptible relation between that which was seen… a relational perception.

The link of misosophy, about which Jae asks, with violence: we can only think with some sort of violence. That is in the encounter.

Violence on a more physical dimension detects some undetectable perception—a relation between violence and impossibility.

For Artaud it is the impossibility of thinking, this violence. The unthinkable became some sort of figure very concretely—the stone, the Stone.

A background appears on the screen where Kuniichi-sensei has been showing quotations. Anne: Dürer’s mother. No, says Koichiro-san: Spinoza, the hypotenuse.

I approach Kuniichi-sensei after the presentation. I tell him of our friend in common. He says, You are from Brazil? No, I say. Not a good time for Brazil, he says.

After this Koichiro-san addresses me as Simon-sensei. I treasure this moment.

I leave for Akasaka, to which Chiyoda Line provides a direct route. J. flies in today. We meet at Hotel Felice, the corridor above. And pictured also is our first meal two doors down from the hotel.