thigein & conatus

21 June 2019: Akasaka – Komaba Campus Tokyo University – first day of Deleuze/Guattari Studies in Asia 7th International Conference

Today is the first day of the conference. The camp ended. J. arrived. I moved from staying at Yoyogi Memorial Olympic Youth Hostel to Akasaka, land of many reasonably priced eatingplaces and the old red light district, and Hotel Felice.

I reckoned on taking the Chiyoda line, since it seemed the more direct route than changing the local line at Shibuya, and arriving, albeit directly, at Komaba Campus Tokyo University. Together we planned my walking route from Yoyogi-Koen to Komaba. On the right would be a Doutor coffeeshop. I would walk 50 metres. At the end of the road, I would turn left, and, after 145 metres, I would turn right. At the twolane expressway, after 85 metres, turn left, for 25 metres, then right. Another 145 metress—left onto Yamate-Dori Ave. 515 metres down the avenue. Right at Tokyo University. 20 metres, then left, back onto Yamate-Dori—are you kidding? After 70 metres, right: there it is, see? University of Tokyo, Komaba Campus.

I saw no Doutor coffeeshop. Leaving the station, I headed into Shibuya, grazing the side of the area I’d been in when first I arrived. This meant I knew to turn right. Straight, let’s say is South. Komaba, is West. Is it?

I asked at a Family Mart. There is always a Family Mart. The people who work there are very helpful and friendly. They never know where you are going or how to get there.

I headed west. Young people, couples, I asked one. They looked studenty. He knew the way. And gestured vaguely nor-west. I entered an interior of two-bedroom dwellings, a residential zone. These always have curving narrow streets. They rarely have streetsigns. One remembers Barthes’s Empire of Signs.

I reach a park. There is a well-dressed young businessman—in a thin dark suit—with a tablet, not even smoking, which would have been more usual. He is standing under a tree. Is he watching TV?

He has little English, but understands my pronunciation of Komaba and Tokyo University. He searches in the browser of the tablet, without any luck. He opens a new window. Perhaps it is Google Earth, because on the screen I see, thanks to him allowing me to, the earth. With two fingers splaying on the screen he zooms in: there is Japan. Zooming in closer, we both see Tokyo. We share the joke that we can’t find out where we are without visiting the planet as extraterrestrials might, from space—to Shoto Park, Shibuya. You might even expect to see us both under this tree, if we zoom in close enough. But of course, there are many steps to go.

There is Shibuya. Far to the left of the screen is greenery, the New Zealand embassy, strangely, and appearing now, below it, to the south, one might say, is Komaba Campus. It looks to be several hours walk away. I have half an hour. As for the route, it is perfectly incomprehensible. At most I can see to reach the tip of Shoto Park and to head off in this orientation. (What is orientation if its westward? Occidentation?)

I thank him doomo arigato! Soon I reach a wide expressway with tall chimneys from the median strip, providing ventilation for the underground. A fence along the road seems to be a construction site but behind it there are trees, and where it ends a lane leads to a metal gate held ajar like a turnstile to stop vehicular access and warning signs, from which I infer only those on legitimate business should enter. Behind the gate there are areas going to weed and wide concrete paths. A young woman approaches and I ask her if this is Komaba. She extracts her cordless earphones and looks surprised I know where I am.

I have a campus map and it shows the building I should find, Bldg 18. This back entrance leads past an athletic field and a baseball park. The grounds in general, around the modernist blocks, look like they are left to grow wants to grow; and there is a central pedestrian avenue lined with northern-hemisphere trees. They could be plane trees, and must turn in the autumn. There are cyclists but no throng of students.

Finding myself in the back in an unkempt area of wild grasses and weeds a block behind the avenue, I hear in the distance a HEY! And Over here! I can’t see anyone and turn completely around. In the distance a small figure in the shadow of an entrance waves its hands. I look around to see whether I am the intended recipient of this signaling. HEY! Rings out again. Seems like it.

The figure disappears indoors. I reach the entrance to building 18, so it must be. The distances collapse—like that I saw on the map in Shoto Park intervening between there and here—and soon I am in crowded foyer. Alphonso Lingis is standing in the middle of it talking to a dancer and theorist I recognise from the camp. I hang around, but am rather swept up in the registration process, receiving a bag branded with Deleuze and Guattari’s names in Japanese, and in it a reprint of the programme, another journal, white with silver graphics, matching a T-shirt, also white and silver.

We filter through into the hall where Koichiro-san will deliver Opening Remarks. Al Lingis has come into the hall. I approach and introduce myself and we end up sitting together, the Australian dancer theorist on his left. I say, You are surrounded by antipodeans.

Koichiro-san talks on the theme of the conference: war machine conflict coexistence.

In the name of the field in which we gather the most famous conflict is that over the Continental Analytic divide. But then there is also that of Deleuze and Guattari studies with the Derrideans: “I do not like to avert my eyes from these conflicts,” says Koichiro-san. (I almost wrote ‘bravely.’)

He notes during the recent Deleuze|Guattari Studies conference in Brazil the protests against Deleuzian studies.

Here we are, speaking in English about a very French philosopher, in Japan.

This itself speaks to the third theme coexistence—over representation exists a complete injunction.

Ian Buchanan’s opening address is entitled “Society of Control (Revisited)” and of course he trespasses on that injunction I have just name making representative application of the philosophy we are set here to discuss. Perhaps we were better to conclude this no conference but an inference?

Deleuze/Guattari Studies Asia began 7 years ago in Taiwan. I forget the context, but Buchanan quotes Twain—perhaps it is an orthographical association with Taiwan?—“I didn’t have time to write you a short letter so I wrote a long letter instead.”

“Many young people,” he says, “have a strange craving to be motivated.”

(In light of the storming of Hong Kong’s Legislative Chambers today, this is more or less ironic?)

Buchanan cites the book, The Tyranny of Metrics, then Deleuze: “We are in the middle of a general breakdown of sites of confinement.” That is the prisons, schools, houses of legislation and government, places—this is really an architectural theme—where disciplinarity is demonstrated and its authority is now being contested, or, rather deposed.

The theme of the talk is open capture—in the global algorithmic field of data. So Surveillance Capitalism is also cited—one of my ‘lolly-scramble’ of capitalisms in the appendix to the presentation I will give later today.

David Harvey: “The best way to get rich is to sell something you didn’t pay for.”

Frederic Jameson: culture can be sold like nature—to exploit culture in the way we exploited nature.

(This too may be more or less ironic given the deforestation of the Amazon, that proceeds today at the rate of one ‘football field’—the source is BBC—a minute, under Bolsanaro.)

Compared to Google the surveillance of the Stasi in now nonexistent East Germany, where one in five were reputed to be informers, is “child’s play.”

On average, every time you agree, ticking the ‘agree to terms and conditions’ box to gain access to some digital and online service, you are agreeing on average to 1000 contracts: you data is being shared with, on average, 1000 services-businesses, other than the one for which you are signing up.

I successfully recall the term agnotology: the willful, not to say strategic, production of ignorance—in the consumer population.

A change is noted from central out circulation of ‘news’ to point to point distribution.

“In the open air, fake news can be debated and exposed,” but not on Facebook, where you are the product.

What Deleuze is doing in talking about score-cards in the “Postscript on Control Society” is evoking the situation we have today, for example, in education, with outcomes and metrics designed to represent them, and autoveillance designed to self-assess one’s efficacy in securing, or producing, them: score-cards are the best way of turning education into a business.

Services are sold now; and the general field of activities bought.

Deleuze says, machines don’t explain anything by themselves.

Cybernetics connects, as Adam Curtis maintains, to Control Society.

In Anti-Oedipus, Deleuze and Guattari write that the flow of capital is always accompanied by an equal flow of stupidity.

In knowledge workers and service-information, or informatics, labour stupidity is axiomatised, meaning the self-authorising, the law-making, of axiomatics. (If the law don’t fit the rule, change it to make it, or make a new law.)

The media machine no longer needs us for it to function. (But doesn’t this already hold and isn’t this already entailed in cinema? And there theorised? Not to speak of the machines of the unconscious: they don’t need us, or what we call ‘us,’ to function.)

Facebook—here the new form of capitalism is being adduced—has approximately 4000 workers. But it makes USD500 billion.

This is because 2 billion people work for Facebook for free.

Our response? We should be looking for new weapons.

Question: how do we respond to the speed of modulation?

Buchanan: “We have lost the aesthetic capacity to respond to our times.”

This last well-rehearsed phrase warrants discussion. It does so not over the question Have we? Have we lost blahblahblah… There have been, and there will be more, too many grandstanding WE HAVE’s and WE ARE’s. As Greg and Anne pointed out earlier: this is exactly the eternal return of ontology, of the ontological: this is how we are now; I am justified in my observation for its timeliness—it is after all, after all, NOW we are talking about and now we are talking. Or, as I supposed, now about which we confer at this conference.

Does ‘conference’ always presuppose the inference of the now of the timeliness of our participation in discussion? … From which various diverse positions can be elaborated, before, in fact, they elaborate themselves in whatever consensus or dissensus is at stake.

The young man from the Philippines with the elaborate name, Elijah Joshua Benjamin D.F. Aban, was the most politically radical speaker—for which I admired him. We shared the next session, because the third presenter, Mikkel Astrup, didn’t show.

He read at breakneck speed volumethreeofCapitalisusedbyDeleuze&Guattari lack&desireaddressedinthatbook CapitaltheonlybookpublishedduringMarx’slifetime …

Revolution is still being conducted in the Philippines in the form of a protracted people’s war. It is mentioned in The Communist Necessity. Negri also cites Philippino radical movements.

I deliver my paper. (This is the link to the paper I presented.)

More—I deliver my presentation; and, strangely, although it is written, lineated, to fit as a reading within the 25 minute limit we would have if there were three presenters, it sits nicely in the allocated 35 or so.

Joff P.N. Bradley, one of the convener’s and running this session, asks the first question: Why this form? (You will see, if you follow the link, what he means.) Is it a collage?

It is written as a presentation, to be presented—and the time for these presentations is short. It is not a representation. It is not written to represent themes, ideas, concepts or illustrate them, with examples, but to present them.

Deleuze—and I have in mind his lack of good will, his being, as Joe Hughes has it, a surly interlocutor, a phrase I already used in my question to Jae a few days ago—is nonpropositional. He does not represent, or, in philosophical exposition, offer a one to one correspondence between terms and concepts: he is nonrepresentational. Multiplying voices presents another way in which his books do not represent, say, the views of their author—or of an author.

This idea is in Deleuze as indirect discourse. It takes the place here of any kind of literary criticism or interpretative approach or hermeneutics.

Rather than a collage, there were three themes I wanted to present. So there are three bins. I was tempted, upon hearing Kuniichi Uno’s presentation at the Camp, where he spoke about the figure, to rename them figures for the damage they do—a damage Deleuze ascribes to the movement of thought: fig. 1, fig. 2, and so on. But… As the writing progressed, relations among the themes developed in a reciprocal contagion, forging connections in mutual imbrication.

Why Cixin Liu’s Three-Body Problem? I am asked.

Because I like it, I say. …and because of its insolubility. The three-body problem is not, cannot be, solved in the novel. It is insoluble. The movement of three celestial bodies, three suns in this case, cannot be predicted.

In the novel the attempt is made in a virtual reality game, played by characters on earth. So it sets up a plane of the problematic—where the three themes can each consist in a nonpredetermined way.

There is a special poignancy about this, since, given the insolubility of the problem, earth is subsequently threatened by invasion, an invasion which it is unlikely humanity will survive. There is this movement from virtual reality to reality—from a game to the reality of the end of humans.

Also, I found echoes for neoliberal tactics—of autoveillance, of constant controls, reductive metrics, outcome-based, where price is the only organ of sense the thought collective offers to perceive the problem and in its determinations of the individual, social, the political, as well as the economic—in the depiction, at the beginning of the novel, of conditions at the height of the Cultural Revolution in China, 50 years ago. These echoes amount to a technology of the self—of selves—governed by technocracy and presided over, in China by the Party, and, for us today, by corpocracy. (I recalled that Elijah Joshua Benjamin D.F. Aban in his presentation used the name Mark Fisher, saying Rest in peace, Brother.)

Before I began I saw a figure I recognised from Stockholm, the Deleuze|Guattari Conference there: Dan W. Smith, the superb commentator and translator of Deleuze, currently working on his lectures. He approaches and says, That was really great.

If anyone was going to pull me up on points of contention, I thought it’s going to be you, I say.

Why would I? He says. It all worked together and was great.

Al Lingis attended this session, sitting next to Ruth Irwin, who liked it. Al is also all smiles. We have lunch together.

Al maintains a curiosity about people, asking each one he meets their name and what they do.

At lunch, he speaks of his birds, his aviaries, the two acres he has at home—and how Muhammad Ali used to look after rooftop pigeonhouses for dimes when a kid.

A boy he knew once went up there and killed the pigeons. Ali confronted him and, although he was bigger, took him on, and severely beat him. After this is when Ali began to train as a boxer: he knew he could not control his anger; and this was the only time, he said, he ever lost control.

Muhammad Ali kept and cared for pigeons all his life. He had several thousand pigeons.

Felicity Coleman is the next keynote speaker: “Becoming Algorithmic: Modalities of “collective interactivity” in the post-media era.”

Coleman maps the modal onto the physical where it engages an ethics. From the modal and modality I hear something of Spinoza, the mode being individual, or individuating—an individual, sufficiently individuated to interact in the post-media era.

Guattari’s notion of ‘post-media’ points forward to an algorithmic becoming of the world.

The relation of code to what it encrypts is entirely arbitrary. Guattari’s molecular revolution indicates a modal ethics, as both a future condition and a hope—for post-media.

Guattari starts to worry about International World Capitalism on the threshold of its integration through algorithms. He asks, How can the singularity of mediatic expression be recovered? When there is a paradox: it is mediatic, not singular. Yet it is necessary that it is at once mediatic and singular.

Modal logics belong to philosophical logics. Karen Barad is cited for the materialism that distinguishes matter from materialisation—that is how it comes to be and is used. Here are apparent epistemological and discursive interests: an interest in the users.

70.8 million people today are displaced—the highest number of displaced since WWII.

Coleman shows a slide of the refugee boat installed at this year’s Venice Biennale. 1000 people lost their lives on it. It had sunk and the artist salvaged it to be a monument to refugees.

Helen Storey’s work at the camp Za’atari is representative of algorithmic becoming.

Camp registration shows the number of people in the camp and their status. These are “Human Capital Data.”

Za’atari is about to achieve city status. Humans here are the assets.

The UN funds (what I note at the time under the acronyms GIS and ICT) the self-mapping of refugees for the sake of camp administrators and ‘stake-holders.’ This is a measurement of “axes of value” (Guattari).

In how the suffering mode (of “human data points”) is lived and played out, one must guard against all mechanistic automatic thought.

Coleman asks, What is the point of the human species?

What is the point of the human species—as it undergoes an algorithmic revolution that is equal to the industrial revolution.

This question consists in asking after the modes of life—of an algorithmic humanity.

“Becoming algorithmic” is “to be completely subsumed in the dataset.”

For Coleman, Guattari’s notion of minor is over. The minor is over.

The molecular revolution didn’t happen.

“I think desire has been completely obliterated in this global moment.”

Asked about AI, she respond, “I don’t think AI is what the media would have us believe it is.”

code is neutral (should this have a question mark?) – algorithm is not.

The minor is over, therefore a new scale of organisation of subjectivities is called for (Coleman makes clear she does not see this happening at the scale it would need to—to produce results).

Elijah Joshua Benjamin D.F. Aban asks, What can be done to recapture the potentialities for revolution, given that algorithm is in utero? (That is, the totalisation of the field of humanity as data assets or data points is not yet fully effected.) He invokes a “capitalist mindset” and it is unclear whether Coleman’s presentation is part of it.

“I can’t possibly answer that question because it’s 2019 and I’m a feminist,” she says.

She namechecks at the end Barad, Claire Colebrook, and another whose name I don’t get, whom she calls—although I might have misheard—an abolitionist. This is a thinker, or these are thinkers, whose belief is that the earth should be and presumably will be better off without humans. It’s not a nihilism. Then again presumably it is a feminism adequate to 2019.

I am reminded of The Three-Body Problem. Once it is established the Trisolarans are on their way to earth, there are those who work with the master species to hasten the demise of humanity.

Is a feminist thought adequate to 2019 one that works with the earth to abolish humanity? Of necessity?

I also think about Deleuze’s “open a window, to let in a little air.”

As I’m leaving the hall, I say to Elijah Joshua Benjamin D.F. Aban that I liked his presentation and that I thought he should be asking about possibility in the light of algorithmic becoming.

Torsten Jenkel is presenting in the next session—three are running concurrently.

Torsten’s work is on Macunaíma, a novel written in 1938 by Mario de Andrade. He is writing his PhD on it. On the way to the National Noh Theatre we talked about it. He is unnecessarily self-deprecating.

Mario de Andrade is also the author of the Anthropophagic Manifesto, in which we read: “Only cannibalism unites us! Socially Economically Philosophically.”

The specific cannibalism in question is that of the Tupi tribes, in Brazil. “Tupi or not tupi, that is the question,” he also writes.

Torsten’s presentation is a philological excavation of bibliographical sources.

He speaks of the St. Thomas legend—which is how the Portuguese on their arrival interpreted the legend of the indigenes about a white man who preached peace many years before their arrival. He left footprints in the rock and had a cross as his emblem.

Theodor Koch-Grünberg illustrates the telling of this tale by an indigene. In it the white man is well-dressed and placed above the indigenous informant, who is silent, semi-nude, and listens to the white man rather than telling his story. Koch-Grünberg’s written description completely belies this pictorial depiction. The indigenous informant is well-dressed, the white man listens.

I think of Cabeza de Vaca, his journey, how it mirrors that of this St. Thomas.

Torsten talks of the whitening policy—through intermarriage, an active policy to whiten the indigenous population through miscegenation.

In Macunaíma the capitalist is a mythological cannibal giant.

Torsten talks of Macunaíma as a schizo movement, a picaresque, its logic “not being logical” as Mario de Andrade says.

James Martell’s presentation deals with Beckett as diagnostician of these Trumpian clown-times.

Trump: “I know words. I have the best words.”

Beckett’s diagnosis gives us a war machine—“absolute mindlessness” as the ground of thinking or where thinking cannot quite be, yet be or any longer be—this definition of the virtual—distinguished from the ground, Schelling’s Ungrund. … “bottom of thought rises to the surface where an individuation cannot give it form.”

“Wreck it, like Beckett”—sing Scottish band Therapy.

… “the sound of the surface being broken”—Beckett.

Deleuze: Beckett’s l’épuissé—being the emblem of the exhaustion of possibilities. (But this is quite unlike Coleman’s absence of possibilities and foreclosure. Again the problem and therefore the distinction devolves on this (or that) being the case, on a grounding, as is the focus of Christian Kerslake’s book, Immanence and the Vertigo of Philosophy, taken from the title of an early series of lectures (1956?) delivered by Deleuze, “What is Grounding,” itself recalling of course Heidegger. That is this distinction between knowledge and being, or the problem of sense, as Deleuze puts it, after Hyppolite.)

Tingting Hui speaks on Lewis Carroll’s Alice. (What is it about Logic of Sense that has so captured attention at this time?)

Or, as Tingting puts it, “what is more serious, to eat or to speak a word?”

All three presentations deal with different kinds of mirrors:

– Torsten: the mirror of history or mythology that is literalised in history.

– James: mirror of Fallon and Trump; again something literal here in the repetitions of Trump, in portraits on the walls, and the interview of Trump in a dressing-room mirror by Fallon as Trump.

– Tingting: mirror of the looking-glass.

Logic of Sense comprises 34 series of paradoxes.

Question of oral regress, regression intrinsic to the mouth where what is said and the edible switch places, ingestion and expression.

Agamben et al. pair language and silence, and depth.

Louis Wolfson called himself a schizophrenic working in language—he feels as guilty after eating as after hearing his mother’s voice. He is unprepared for the division of interiority and exteriority.

Again, it is interesting to note that Wolfson, Carroll and Artaud all appear together in Logic of Sense, where literal language is that of surface and schizophrenic language is that of depth, speaking food, devouring words, by Artaud, leaving only skeletons.

The questions for this session, for each of the presenters, are taken together.

I am interested in the idea that it is the indigenous and mythological component of Macunaíma for Torsten that perverts its logic. There seems to be here an impulse that wants to ground the transgression of logic, the trans-sense, of indigenous mythology, as it is taken up in Macunaíma,in a kind of ‘indigenism’ diagnosed by Mexican philosopher Emilio Uranga as being a cultural nostalgia for an historically ‘more native’ understanding that never was, was never absolute, but could only appear relative to a later cultural formation.

Tropicalísmo by contrast works by way of the smallest difference, by calculating a cultural differential, a shift in rhythm, that is all the more disruptive (although this word has been cheapened).

Esposito might also read cannibalism into immunity? A morsel of the other is taken into oneself.

Macunaíma‘s transgressive force is the rupture of laughter? That is to say, its immanence?

Coffee. Then it’s all happening again: I choose the session with Dan Smith, not just because he said nice things about my presentation.

Janell Watson is with Kenneth Surin. Were they both then in Stockholm?

Michel Serres, reports Watson, attributes his work to the problem of violence: all his writing is about Hiroshima.

Were Deleuze and Guattari, as Badiou says, just a couple of desiring anarchists?

Is axiomatic commodification more cruel, as they say, in Anti-Oedipus, than acts of barbarism and savagery? Really? (I hear Watson’s singular intonation on that emphasis.)

There is a fathomless abyss between the flow of capital and wages and purchasing power. Capital increases exponentially, while money in the pocket is a trickle.

Capitalism is “no longer the age of cruelty or the age of terror but of cynicism, accompanied by a strange piety.” Piety spiritualises capital extraction of surplus value.

The state is always barbarism … capitalism requires reterritorialisation.

Jason Read—must be the same as the would-be translator of Simondon—writes on the capitalist split subject—split over: a cynical capitalist intention; with a pious state requiring the subject’s belief.

There are two pieties:

1) Obama—metropolitan globalist piety

2) Trump—ethno-majoritarian piety

Despotic residues haunt the capitalist state.

Deleuze and Guattari: “the state desire, the most fantastic machine for repressing is still desire.”

This fantastic desiring machine is Lacan’s objet petit a—a little machine driving all desire.

Tauel Harper works his Habermas virtuous communication bubble sociological positivist nice guy schtick. (All the good will Deleuze’s surly interlocution abjures, for all its affirmation.)

He sounds like High Performance through High Engagement—the course the PSA has foisted on council employees… that nods to Interest-based Problem-solving, only because it is a repackaged course bought some five years ago: all that Habermas virtuous communication bubble sociologically positivistic view of society schtick, that ended when Thatcher said “There is no such thing as society.”

Tauel Harper says, “Brexit is the biggest thumbing of the nose to international capitalism I have seen in my lifetime.” Trump with Brexit he coins as Truxit, not Trumpit or Brexump.

In his presentation I hear this word repeated “represent” again and again.

Dan Smith takes the desk, presenting.

Deleuze says explicitly, “powers of the false—come from time”…

  1. form of the true contrasts with the power of the false—the universal and necessary universality of right
  2. form of time—what could possibly undermine the form of the true? Deleuze’s answer is time. Truth changes in time, but – this is just a change in contention – it doesn’t change the form of the truth Error is only an effect of the true. The form of time is independent of its contents, puts the form of truth in question. The form of time is nonchronological.
  3. What is it that the primary form of time is is coexistence – if it is true that a naval battle may take place tomorrow: then, two paradoxes. The paradox of possible propositions, each become necessary. 2nd logically impossible cannot be derived from the possible. This is the paradox of contingent futures.
  4. The falsifier—his master argument allows Deleuze to paint a picture of the falsifier, as he who “imposes a power of the false adequate to time.” (Deleuze) – allows falsifier to give direct appearance of time: incompossible present. – Borges’s “Garden of Forking Paths” in which all possibilities occur at once. Pure form of time frees form of false from subordination to time: False is no longer not true – but raises the false to the power of metamorphosis – stands opposed to the eternal and the true.

Philosophy – creates concepts in time

– concepts don’t have an identity but a becoming in time;

put time into concept—intensity changes AND so the form of time is introduced into Deleuze’s concepts.

False no longer means not true because form of the false has been freed by the form

of

time.

One still requires immanence.

The truthful person is the first falsifier.

The concept is an invention.

Art: 3 great texts

– Melville’s The Confidence Man

– Fourth Book of Zarathustra

F for Fake, Welles

… “The forger does know how to change. The forger relies on the expert who recognises the true Vermeer.” All the forger has to do is to study the criteria of the expert. The expert always has a forger in him. Both forger and expert engage judgement.”

Science: is not dogmatic, willfully fallible—a theological notion

– asymptotic progress towards the form of the true.

Kant – God expresses the ideal of absolute knowledge that is the goal of science.

Mononaturalism: precisely because of its fallibility most of the propositions of science will be shown in the future to be false

– progress of science equals that of falsity to falsity

– the movement of science embodies the power of the false as a power of metamorphosis—and of the multiple.

Through Popper’s falsifiability science becomes a patchwork of ceteras parabas—all things being equal

from Deleuze we have an autonomous power of the false freed as the not untrue

Nietzsche’s critique must be borne in mind: “What if we want untruth?”

– Deleuze shows true is in fact secondary to the truth subject to the pure form of time.

Questions:

Anne: where time is no longer eternity, the form of time is also metamorphic. The form of time is itself not ontological.

Dan: Deleuze says reality, time—it’s all a problem. That problem is a pure variability. It is continuous variation.

Greg: You are looking for a true form of the false.

Greg (to Janell Watson): the reference to piety is also a reference to Nietzsche.

Dan: belief is the relationship to a proposition. This is most readily seen in the question, Do you believe in God? – as where we are asked about a relation, our relation, to the proposition.

3 modes of time—

succession

coexistence

simultaneity

—get rid of a developmental idea of evolution

coexistence in Anti-Oedipus of capitalist state form with barbarism and savage states (or nonstates): between them there is neither evolution nor progress; not a succession but they are coexistent.

– static genesis

– dynamic genesis

pure form of what is not eternal (a Platonic and non-Platonic form): the pure form of things that change.

Language of dynamic genesis is within the static genesis. It is dynamic because of a mobility of language. (And appears, again, in The Logic of Sense.)

Kenneth Surin: Does the power of the false operate on the conditions of the proposition?

– the proposition requires representation.

Deleuze means to have done with judgement—of Kant: so Deleuze will have done with propositions. Because of the truth and the false. Heidegger says we need to take questions as the model for propositions. We should have done with propositions as the model for thinking.

Dan: We need to get to a nonpropositional level of sense. Carroll on surface. Artaud’s screams and breaths can’t even … too hard … to get to sense.

Underneath sense lie the depths of bodies.

Logic of sense comes from the depths of bodies.

The question is How do you get sense out of that?

Gregory Flaxman’s keynote: “The Screen is a Brain: On the Techno-Genetic Evolution of Images”

This rests on the problem of the monolith in Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey.

3 million years in the past a clan of hominids scavenge at the tail end of a drought that has been going on for tens of thousands of years.

An alignment of the planets always accompanies the appearance of the monolith.

Organisms constantly instrumentalise their bodies but nothing prepares the relationship of the hand with the hammer. A secondary technicity is required.

3 million years of technogenesis in a single cut: the bone-hammer leaves the hand of the human ancestor. A space station floats in orbit around the earth.

Artificial life was always going to be the most likely way extraterrestrial makes contact with terrestrial life—given cosmogeological timeframes.

1. obelisk manifests intelligence and intention

2. radio signal suggests the monolith was hidden to be found. Its planned discovery indicates the triggering is by evolution

3. sign of evolution—Kubrick precedes the triggering, from the moonbased monolith, its second appearance, of the radio signal, with the appearance of a camera. This triggers the sign.

There is no more profound sign of the evolution of our development than the capability of envisioning technosemiotic awakening in moving images.

The point is made that in 2001 there is reflexivity and a self-consciousness—of a film positing the development of this capability of the technosemiotic. The film-making knows itself to be about and stages itself upon and as this technical, genetic—because evolutionary, although not necessarily human, because technical—and semiotic threshold.

If you look at the scene in 2001set in the excavation in which the monolith stands centrally, you witness what seems to be an insignificant moment in which the scientists are lined up, are making smalltalk, that the camera is there to record: the camera operator turning it, as if resetting it—is it clear that it is a moving-image in question? It is at least clear that this specifically unmomentous moment triggers the monolith to emit a highpitched signal, which the headsets in the suits worn by the scientists pick up—initiating the chain of events that the rest of the film will follow: the long journey of the long ship with HAL, the AI, onboard to the next giant monolith, the one to which that on the moon was sending its signal—in a chain of technosemiotic events.

Of this threshold being reached, the idea of conspiracy, of faking in film, attests to the same one.

What does it mean to have conceived a film as history of the universe? To have reimagined the cosmos as a moving image?

Greg mentions once again Matter and Memory.

Cinema creates a cosmology with which we go can go beyond nature and the human—the immanent plane extending to unfolding of the cosmos itself.

Deleuze understands cinema as cosmogenetic or cosmocinematographic.

As in 2001 so too in Terence Malick’s Tree of Life.

The power of cinema is to provide an automatic movement and nonhuman perception.

Husserl: all consciousness is consciousness of something.

Bergson want to (condemns) cinema to mimicking (mimicry). Deleuze celebrates it because it does. (Cinema gains a power of the false as well as that of a spiritual automaticity.) (This is also the reason Deleuze takes Bergson to the movies—in Cinema 1 and 2.)

Cinema is capable of “going up the paths that natural perception goes down.”

There is the absence of anchorage and postural level.

Bergson: the image is a road by which we pass in every direction … modification … and uncover the universal undulation of matter: the movement image dwells on chaos.

– through to axes

– subjective centres

to—in Cinema 2—the body without organs.

Matter coagulates into molar aggregates, refers to a living being.

Each image is afforded a double image by its registration.

…another system, in which all the images vary. Plane of immanence. Plane of light. From a system of anchorage and relative deterritorialisation—the passage of the evolution of cinema becomes the instrument of envisioning evolution itself—autonomous, automated evolution—and a new kind of brain.

Here, once more, as in Greg and Anne’s keynote at Chiyoda, Spinoza’s spiritual automaton enters. And Leroi-Gourhan’s Speech and Gesture: “the symbol and its contents are merged into one.”

That the spectator cannot intervene entails a new stage of human development—of reflective thought, before which the human is powerless, in which “individual interpretation is drastically reduced.”

“Cinema puts movement inside of thinking.”

Each stage of evolution, for Leroi-Gourhan, “creates a brain on top of the brain.”

– the potentially revelatory nature of a brain on the brain.

Questioned as to what the monolith means, Greg: we need to resist, he thinks, allegorising it. Far from being answered within the film, this is answered by the film itself. (The film is this thought.) It creates its own conditions of possibility.

Leroi-Gourhan: the body can be instrumentalised but it is not (yet) a tool (note the echo of Heidegger’s not yet thinking). Asked what is a tool? Leroi-Gourhan hesistates.

Question: Does agency in VR take away from the spiritual automaton?

The face of a frame and thereby an off-frame, this is what interests me about cinema.

I think about the regression of the brainscreen that Damasio repeats as the image of what is called thinking, and the essence of human cognition, of the neuroscientific understanding of cognition—this regression states the impossibility of an interior spectator on thought looking at the screen—the perceptual field—while this spectator is in turn observed by another… so there is a succession of little subjects, each one looking on what the brainscreen shows of the one before. But it states the view as necessary of a series of two—which is all the sense regression needs to gain its impetus, its direction—it is still going inside… This off-frame Greg Flaxman mentions as being what interests him about cinema, it seems to be is the possible direction, sense and movement of thought: to an outside.

Let me give you an example of this outside—off-frame, I am sitting at a table in a house on Waiheke Island, writing this. Another example is presented in the snaps above: the students with plywood flats belong to a music department; the sounds of applause, and stabs of music from a jazz orchestra, as well as the unison chanting of an audience, reach us through the windows over the three days of the conference. These sounds and the cawing of crows—are neither in the text or the snaps. The windows are open.

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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.

It entails the PATTERN OF ITS INDIVIDUATION. – Anne.

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

automated

autonomous

animation.

(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.

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end of dreaming

I don’t want to be the one who lives here
     but the alien
I want to visit your beautiful country

I don’t want to speak this tongue
     but the alien
I want to hear your beautiful language

I don’t want to share the words used
     to be the one who understands
     but the alien

I don’t want to be able to explain
     who we are
     what is said
     how we do things here

I don’t want to be the one who asks what you think
     of our beautiful country
     but the alien
I want to understand nothing but your laughter

I don’t want to be the one who knows
     who we are
     and who they are
     but the alien

I don’t want to be the one who knows
     what we are
     and what they are

I don’t want to give them the words
     to take out the words they use
     to share the words in their mouths

I want to share in your beautiful laughter
     and to understand in your smiles
     your good will to strangers

I don’t want to be the one with dreams of leaving
     anymore
     but the alien

I don’t want to be the one who hears
     from your beautiful mouth
     you are leaving
     but the alien
who leaves who just leaves who lies down
     and leaves

I don’t want to feel this grief on anyone’s behalf
I don’t want to feel this shame on anyone’s behalf

but I want this grief
but I want this shame

     and the shame of grief
     and the shame of shame

 

 

[written on the occasion of the shooting

Christchurch 15 March 2019]

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dear reader, I am writing a book. Below a tiny excerpt. If you would like to support this work, please contact me by way of the contact form, top, left hand margin.

The brain remains a symbol, with all that is entailed under this symbolic existence, nailed at some extremity—perhaps the highest plank—of the vast carpentry we have been calling the symbolic framework of reference, so long as its cognitive functions are identified with representation and so long as these higher functions are so called. Except that it express itself symbolically we should therefore show no small amazement that we cannot trust it.

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while there’s still coffee in my cup

The last day of this year’s calendar, the year does not so much need summing up–although I would like the time and space to mark events that have moved events, as events inevitably do–as it seems to want a few words said in a valedictory tone or register. We would want it to fare well as we farewell it; and so we would wish to those who can still be bothered to speak and to listen. Because it’s difficult, it seems increasingly, to parse meanings in a mobile world that has never been more immobilised and to listen with an ear for meanings, to speak with meaning. So many symbolic acts have been recorded to have occurred this past year, we grow sick of them.

I have been writing the continuation of work on Minus Theatre into what we did with the negotiation of that particular time and space which arises between speaker and listener, an experiment that ended in July 2017. I have been writing on the indifference of that intersubjective place where subjects symbolise and gesture, speak and listen to one another, and on how, although indifferent to what is said, to what is written, it is seldom acknowledged in its own right. Rather, the space of symbols and the time of gestures is singled out, speech and writing are singled out, and the symbolic is singled out as being of the utmost significance. That is the act of signification is more significant than the theatres and foyers of its conduct–let alone communication and the solidarity sought through it.

Were it to be considered in its own right, this place where humans engage in negotiating exchange, we might encounter better and more open questions and meanings. We might think about what we need for there to exist any place of signification and symbolic exchange and drop the needless stress on what is exchanged. We might cease as well to need to speak as if we mattered more than the indifference of the place, the global place, the local place, and the elements and terrestrial forces to which both are subject. Instead I hear we ought to make a difference, and I suppose we ought, but to the human. Nothing is achieved by standing alongside the human and negotiating the indifference of the place where we make our stand and state our standpoint. Nothing to be gained by punctuality.

We have lost this year from this place the great dance and theatre director and writer Douglas Wright. That’s a shame and shamefully unmarked, enragingly unmarked. His dark rage–part and parcel of what is most intensely NZ–should be missed. I will miss it.

Are we provisioned for the next year? Hardly. So much of the wrong kind of disappointment. In the doco made about Douglas, Haunting Douglas, he acknowledges how revelatory was the question put to him by a former lover: Is there something in your life you would like to do? He had never considered the possibility he could, that he might declare for something in his life; he had never considered the possibility one was able to, to make an answer, even to declaring for it as a responsibility and commitment, using the words: In my life I would like to …

Farewell 2018. For the new year, I can think of no better wish to make than that in 2019 you speak those words and listen to your answer.


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untitled 1: including an in memoriam for Douglas Wright, 14 October 1956 – 14 November 2018

The great Spanish writer—not an opinion, a fact, my friend

He would or he might begin with something suitably self-deprecating—

a reference to another writer, an artist who, perhaps, was more far-sighted,

in not worrying so much about his place in things, worrying at her hems,

edges and scabs, at the places where the body—of work, obviously—comes

undone, as it inevitably does, Douglas Wright died this week, I say this

not to be topical, but in respect of an image and its necessary resonance, or,

let us say, vibration with another—necessary, because the only reason ever

for an image, to initiate one, is to set it up in such a way that it ping

off another, calling everyone, at this overflowing table, to attention with the edge

of a knife, how sharp we will never know, tap against an empty glass—a

game of golf, Douglas in a liminal state induced by drugs of a medical nature,

purportedly, hearing the news, on the radio, a voice: it says, this

this will really really put New Zealand at last put New Zealand New Zealand

on the world the world on the world stage; and voices from a stand of

macrocarpa, adjacent to the golf course, echoing up over the balcony, in

through an open window, to where Douglas lies, on a couch, in a state

between waking and dreaming, hearing the voices commingle, those

from the stand of macrocarpa, adjacent to the golf course, where golf

balls often end up being hit by accident, voices of the searchers for the lost

golf balls, calling out, WHERE IS IT? HERE and IT’S OVER HERE,

WHERE? I FOUND IT! and that voice

on the radio, so that … but here I become confused, because the next

image enters, not prematurely, I hope, but soon enough that it sets off

the former image, so that we almost trip over it—HERE

New Zealand on the world stage IT’S OVER HERE

at last—and I would like to champion, at this point, Ghost Dance, the source

of this former image, having its source in its author, Douglas Wright, who

is also, sadly, former, as the greatest artistic autobiography ever written by

a by by a by a New Zealander by a New Zealander … OVER HERE … Lost …

from the world stage, forever. Vila-Matas was the famous Spanish author.

The next image is—can it in all truth be called an image? when it is

a matter of voices?—and Douglas’s voice, I hear his cadences, pronouncing

on the, what was it we had lost? the sense of the strength of movement

coming from the pelvis, that we had lost, in our young dancers—the next

a voice says please

return to your seat

it sweeps the aisle

clear at the same

time David Byrne

is singing another

voice and another

close, Stay in your

lines.

You are being

You are out

of control, Sonny

or is it Girlie?

I have the strange

unwonted accompanying sensations,

not entirely unpleasant, of arms, not entirely unpleasant, only

unwonted, of arms holding me and the hands attempting

to take hold

of the left arm in the classic armlock we know from films, and twist it

behind my back, movies about forced removal

of potentially disruptive and violent—and again

the fit of the words is false, without falsifying, since this is

indeed what we do with miscreants: the bodyguard, no, he is

a security guard, with a beautiful word emblazoned—the most

exaggerated form of embroidery or printing—emblazoned on his back, VENUE

SECURITY all one word, like a gang patch.

Douglas Wright and David Byrne. Douglas was just 62. What is

an age, when you do not grow old?

 

David Byrne David David Byrne amazing fantastic and beautifully

deconstructed in the concert version of American Utopia two

words

venuesecurity at the Spark telco arena, although this makes it sound like

they built it, they did not—do brands maintain their psychosexual overtone?

of having been inflicted in a hot moment of contact—let us say, “the lie

of the land

she meant yes

she meant yes”

 

It was a white and middleclass and quite fat night on the metaphorical bleachers

at the David Byrne concert tonight,

the second encore ended with a rollcall of names of murdered

African-Americans (two words?)

whose killings in racially charged circumstances have elevated them into the hall of martyrs” says Variety

There is an insupportable irony in the fact that my assailants were all brown

because I wanted to dance

 

Dance

is it a health and safety issue that so few serious modern composers who

are accepted as such

commit themselves to music to dance to?

 

Dance

I cannot imagine Douglas Wright dying

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now i’m listening to kip hanrahan’s beautiful scars and i realise there is no other music for grownups so full of joy sex & politics 3 of my fav things but art too art music art life art rotting with life decomposing on the street sweating in the room shroom is how i am

thanks gareth

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you know when you can’t find that quote you’re looking for so you have to make up your own: on NOTHING

In some cultures–not ours, not yet–nothing and space are so closely related, rather than as a negative instance, rather than as void or absence, nothing comes as welcome relief (from the relentless compulsion to something), where it is like a window on the inside, or a door, opening onto nothing, welcoming you in, to rest there, or bidding you to go on, for nothing.

— see also here

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are there any answers?

Dear Visitor,

Let us engage with the questions:

  1. anthropogenic climate change–is the question of the present, not the future.
  2. ownership of elements: air earth water warmth–China has awoken to Capital, whatever the corporate brandname on it: another question of the present.
  3. health: obesity is a mental illness; mental health is a cultural illness. A question of the present.
  4. the future will be? A question of human cultural regeneration–perhaps the only question of the future?

In our small way we are addressing ourselves to these questions with a view to an answer that is local and directed towards the future.

The means to cultural regeneration are within reach of a modernity that believes in itself–has not lost that belief. This we have found in Benesse Foundation’s Public Capitalist undertakings in Naoshima and Teshima, the ‘art islands’ of the Seto Inland Sea in Japan.

We would like you, dear visitor, to share with Benesse this vision for an answer that is local and directed towards the future:

 

I am writing to you from Waiheke Island.

Waiheke has a similar status in the Hauraki Gulf to Naoshima in the Seto Inland Sea. It is a popular tourist destination: however it attracts visitors more for reasons of its natural beauty than for cultural tourism.

Waiheke is 35 minutes by ferry from the centre of New Zealand’s biggest city, Auckland. It currently boasts a resident population of @9,000.

A large proportion of this population is artistically active–this is owing to heritage settlement: it was originally a cheap place to buy and rent, with advantages of a healthy natural lifestyle.

In terms of built infrastructure it is poorly served, with one exception: the Stony Batter site, https://www.doc.govt.nz/parks-and-recreation/places-to-go/auckland/places/waiheke-island/stony-batter-historic-reserve/

Built to defend New Zealand in the event of the war in the Pacific extending into the Hauraki Gulf, Stony Batter is largely built underground, with approximately 7km of tunnels.

It has recently been proposed that Stony Batter be developed as a Heritage Site. Submissions are being solicited by Auckland City Council to this end. However, it is our opinion that Stony Batter, on Waiheke Island would be a missed opportunity of giant proportions if it is only developed with a view to low level heritage tourism–which tends to be internal and nationally based.

Stony Batter, Waiheke, commends itself as a site for Global Cultural Tourism.

The as-built aspects of it, the island location, underground and above, the natural surrounding context, are ripe for such development.

Ando, we think, would be impressed with this structure: although built for utilitarian purposes, its aesthetic qualities are evident.

The underground would suit gallery development, with installations taking advantage of the light and sound qualities of the tunnels. The textural and architectural uniqueness of the site would attract and inspire international and local artists to exhibit and install here.

The exterior would suit installations to make the most of the dramatic scenic beauty of Hauraki Gulf and islands.

We humbly bring this to Benesse’s attention on the basis of our recent visits to Naoshima and the sites of cultural tourism–and cultural pilgrimage–located there. Stony Batter Waiheke Island could be such a place with the vision and thinking and good-being/good-doing that is characteristic of Benesse’s Public Capitalist approach. It could be a Southern counterpart to Naoshima and Teshima.

We would add that Benesse’s sensitivity, shown in the development of globally recognised sites for cultural tourism in Naoshima and Teshima, is to the forefront of our considerations in making this recommendation. Waiheke has a long colonial and precolonial history, as well as the heritage to which Stony Batter is a material attestation: the respect we know to inform Benesse’s approach is essential to this project.

We suggest that Benesse follow up with a submission to highlight the advantages of Stony Batter as a site for global cultural tourism (with a smaller heritage element incorporated into the plan). Submissions are currently open until 27 September 2018. Please make your submission here: https://www.doc.govt.nz/get-involved/have-your-say/all-consultations/2018/applications/fort-stony-batter-heritage-park-limited/

Please be aware that we present this proposition in good faith and feel free to cite our support for this submission.

 

Yours Sincerely,

Dr Simon Taylor

 

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01.08.2018 Kyomizudera to Dottonbori Osaka

Last night in Kyoto, after Ramen, on the recommendation of algorithm, we went to a bar. Atlantis, with a terrace on the river, more underwater than underworld, however, invoking the Gion, like its nursery school, with barmen in bowties, white shirt, black waistcoat, Japanese enthusiasm for service, impressed in Western mold, and without any reserve or selfconsciousness—our barman happily informed us, as we waited at the lower airconditioned bar for space on the terrace, in English, he was learning French, in the hope of working in Paris? I ask. Yes, I hear they have some culture, he answers. Some, yes, we agree. … as for bar culture, the glassware cheap, even for beer, and Suntory overpriced. J. ordered a mojito, after we’d asked what was in a Tom Collins. Our happy barman showed us a bottle of gin with a Tom label. … request referred to head barman, who consulted a plastic-leaved book of bar magic. Mojito came with muddled mint, a garden of it, in ice shards, the flavour of cordial, not a whiff of alcohol. Space available, we took our places at the bar on the terrace, a fit so tight we could not turn for the view. The young barman here palmed a ball of ice, like a baseball, while chipping it into a perfect sphere, then deposited it into a ‘whiskey’ tumbler—and called it a hai-ball. … a female trainee essayed the pour of a tap Suntory, spoon in hand, ready to remove the froth.

Atlantis—proud of an adopted culture, which being American, is Japanese-like in its friendliness, but without the reserve that might grace it, which is to be had at even at the pokiest local bar.

Kyomizudera temple above—extraordinary—even if a religious Disneyland full of Chinese. (See how the cross beams have tiled roofs on them to protect from rainwater settling. And the outside scaffolding is bamboo and cedar in the main, but obscures a lot of the Hodo; whereas in Byodoin, the interior of the Hodo was under renovation, here the exterior.) We made the ascent early, before the crush, and the descent.

Returning to Resol, we reclaimed our bags and took the local trains to Osaka. (Osaka snaps start at the one of the man with fans in the back of his jacket to keep him cool.)

Dottonbori is not far from our windowless ryokan room—albeit with fresh tatami, overwhelmingly fruity in the night. Thronged with people, the Dot, and floors of bars and restaurants, fronted with oversized hoardings—and literalisations of logos, like the Dragon who smashes in and out of the wall: the mercantile culture of Osaka invented this kind of display while Europe was precommercial, otherwise know as the Dark or Middle Ages. Before financialisation. (And as a result, Japan is welcome relief from the global economic ethos—at least at ground level, but one suspects at a political level too, there prevail values which are not simply prices.)

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