Mille Plateaux: 1, 2, 3 The central problem for MP is the question of aggregation, principally I think (but this might only be my prejudice) social aggregation. How does society exist? What is logic of social aggregation? How can we explain power formations? Such questions were certainly present in AO, but I think they took a back seat to the primacy of desire, flight, and deterritorialization. These are Foucault's questions, and whether they did or not, one can imagine D&G learning them from him. D&G always proceed by making distinctions or even posing preliminary oppositions, so here they will pose distinctions between different kinds of manners of social aggregation, or as they say between different multiplicities. Already I think in the notion of multiplicity we can detect a shift between its usage in AO and its usage here. In AO multiplicity was invoked to contest ordered totalities that brought everything together in a transcendent unity; multiplicity, in contrast, was seen as moving out in all directions, to the four winds. Here the point is to make distinctions among multiplicities and within each multiplicity the constitutive aspect is highlighted much more clearly. None of these multiplicities are random or even anarchic. They are each organized but organized differently. The rhizome vs the tree and the pack vs the mass are two ways of posing different multiplicities, or different logics of aggregation. Or really, what is different about each multiplicity is its constitution. The difference between a rhizome and a tree (or a pack and a mass) is a different constitution. Even though it isn't used here, I would argue that the concept constitution could be conceived as central here. These first two chapters are relatively straightforward in posing these distinctions and I think present a logic of argument we are quite familiar with. When I arrive at chapter 3, however, I'm not so sure what to do. Let me take a minute to explore the differences of the arguments here. In the first three chapters we have two different kinds of argument. Chapters 1 and 2 present an ethical alternative: we prefer rhizomatic to arborescent structures and systems; we prefer packs to masses. Chapter 3, however, even though its title indicates it is about morals, does not seem to present such an ethical alternative. It describes what is not what ought to be. That chapter tells us simply how life is articulated, structured, formed, etc. This is perhaps the correlate to the very first point they made in AO, that we should make distinction between the human, the natural, and the machinic. How are we supposed to read this chapter? This distinction between two different kinds of chapters makes we wonder about the relation between what is and what ought to be in D&G's argument. (I'm stuck in a Kant/Hegel framework of Sein and Sollen.) How else should we relate biology to politics? Is there in fact a discourse of authenticity behind this, according to which the biological or the natural indirectly becomes an ethical or political mandate--we should strive to relate to each other like the wasp and the orchid, or create organizations like the organization of the earth. Is that what they mean by a geology of morals? Become like the earth? Translate what ought to be to what is? Maybe I'm on the wrong track here. Maybe I'm too distracted by Professor Challenger and the biological issues that D&G engage. Maybe it's better to read chapter 3 beginning at the end with the polemics that D&G make explicit there. Let me try this tack and see if it answers or diverts this first question. Chapter 3 is aimed at disqualifying several postulates or paradigms of social thought, none of which bear directly on questions of biology. First of all, through the second half of the chapter in their discussion of signs and signification, they attack the imperialism of language, that is, the interpretative paradigm by which all regimes of signs are structured like language and thus should be understood through reference to language. Or as they construct this position: "Every semiology of a nonlinguistic system must use the medium of language .... Language is the interpreter of all the other sign systems, linguistic or nonlinguistic" (62-63). D&G do not cite any particular thinker who claims this proposition, but such ideas were common among a variety of structuralist thinkers. In fact, in The Prisonhouse of Language, Fred Jameson characterizes structuralism in general as the proposition of language being the universal model for the organization of all structures. On the contrary, D&G claim, language is not the universal model, but merely one regime of signs among many, one example of the relation between content and expression that holds no privilege above others. This is a discussion they will continue in more depth in Chap 4 on linguistic and Chap 5 on sign systems. In this chapter, however, they make three correlate attacks, which might be seen as three specific challenges to structuralism: the correspondence between words and things; the relation between base and superstructure; and the division between matter and mind. To elaborate the first of these challenges (on the relation between words and things) they turn to Foucault and his analysis of the prison in Discipline and Punish. The thing prison does not refer primarily to the word "prison" as if the word "prison" were the expression of the content, that is, the thing. The thing prison is what D&G call a form of content that exists on a stratum with other forms of content, such as the school, the barracks, the hospital, etc. The appropriate form of expression that this form of content might relate to, according to Foucault's analysis, is not "prison" but "delinquent." "'Delinquency' is the form of expression in reciprocal presupposition with the form of content 'prison'" (66). So here a thing does not correspond to a word, but a form of content relates to a form of expression. The prison is not a thing but a state of things, an architecture, a set of carceral practices, a formation of power, etc. And "delinquency" is not really well designated as a word or a signifier, but better understood as embedded in a set of statements arising from the social field, a regime of signs. Mixing Foucault and D&G, then, we could say that there are two multiplicities that intersect here, a nondiscursive multiplicity of content (a formation of power) and a discursive multiplicity of expression (a regime of signs). Now, these two multiplicities intersect but they do not correspond. They both equally participate in an abstract machine or diagram. D&G write more precisely: "they imply a shared state of the abstract Machine acting ... as a kind of diagram" (67). The diagram in Discipline and Punish, as you might remember was the Panopticon, which described not only the prison but all the institutions of disciplinary society. Foucault asked "Is it surprising that prisons resemble factories, schools, barracks, hospitals, which all resemble prisons?" (DP 228). It's not a surprise because they all imply or participate in the same diagram or abstract machine, the panopticon. In short, words don't correspond to things. Rather forms of expression and forms of content intersect through their equal participation in an abstract machine. Actually, D&G insist it's still more complicated that this, because both content and expression have not only form but also substance. Let's try to put this back in the Foucauldian example. The nondiscursive multiplicity of the prison and the discursive multiplicity of the discourse of delinquency each have both form and substance. I understand easily how the prison, the nondiscursive content, can have both form and substance: it has walls, an architecture, a routine, etc. It is less clear to me, however, how the discursive, the expression, the discourse of delinquency has both form and substance. What is the substance of expression? Is this something like the materiality of language? I think it's more than that because I understand expression here to refer to more than language. Delinquency, is really more than a discourse; it is also a set of practices and thus it's equally corporeal and noncorporeal. Perhaps the bodies of these practices as well as the materiality of this discourse are the substance of expression. One more element to explain: I said that content and expression intersect in and imply the shared state of the abstract machine; or, specifically, the prison and delinquency intersect in the panopticon. But what makes content and expression intersect, or what is the logic of this intersection? Is it just random, accidental? No, this is the role of the machinic assemblages. The machinic assemblages operate at the intersections of content and expression in each stratum. As D&G say, they "perform the coadaptations of content and expression, ensure biunivocal relationships between segments of content and segments of expression" (71). The machinic assemblages put content and expression together to lead them toward the abstract machine to which they belong. The machinic assemblage is the constitutive go-between that moves from the strata of content and expression to the abstract machines. What then would be a machinic assemblage in the Foucauldian example where the prison is the content, delinquency expression, and the panopticon the abstract machine. It seems to me that the trial might be a machinic assemblage here in that it brings together segments of content (segments of prison, prison architecture, routines, etc) with segments of expression (segments of delinquency) and lifts them up toward the abstract machine (the panopticon). This whole apparatus together (content-expression-assemblage) is the double articulation. I wanted to bring together all these elements to clarify this definition. "Each stratum is a double articulation of content and expression, both of which are really distinct and in a state of reciprocal presupposition. Content and expression intermingle, and it is two-headed machinic assemblages that place their segments in relation" (72). Translated into Foucault's work: prison and delinquency are really distinct but they intermingle due to the functioning of machinic assembles such as the trial that put their segments in relation. I went through all this Foucauldian example partly to try to explain some of these concepts but really I was laying out the first challenge to structuralism at the end of chapter 3, bu which D&G say that words and things do not correspond, but rather contents and expressions are assembled through a double articulation toward an abstract machine. The second challenge to structuralism is directed at the division of society between base and superstructural elements (which takes fundamentally the same form as the signified-signifier relationship). According to D&G the base-superstructure framework would pose content in the place of the economy with a certain priority over and final determination of expression or superstructure. Or really they see three levels: an economic base of content; a first level of the superstructure occupied by assemblages (which might be thought of as Althusser's RSAs); and an upper level of the superstructure that poses expression as what Althusser calls ISAs. This structuralist social metaphor has it all wrong, D&G claim, because as in other strata here too content and expression are parallel parts of a double articulation, which are assembled toward an abstract machine. Economics has elements of both content and expression as do social institutions characterized as superstructural such as the Church or the school. The problem with the base/superstructure framework and with any conception of ideology is that things simply don't work that way, society doesn't work that way. The problem is that this is a misrecognition: "one misconstrues the nature of language ... miscontrues the nature of regimes of signs, which express organization of power or assemblages and have nothing to do with ideology as the suppossed expression of a content .... It misconstrues the nature of organizations of power ... it misconstrues the nature of content" (68-69). The problem with structuralism is that it misrecognizes how things are. This is a strictly scientific question about the nature of reality--not a question of what ought to be but a question of what is. There is no primacy nor determination between the economic and the social nor between content and expression. That does not mean, however, that there is no primacy and determination. In fact, the primacy seems to reside in the abstract machine. "Form of content and form of expression involve two parallel formalizations in presupposition: it is obvious that their segments constantly intertwine, embed themselves in one another; but this is accomplished by the abstract machine from which the two forms derive, and by machinic assemblages that regulate their relations. If this parallelism is replaced by a pyramidal image, then content (including its form) becomes an economic base of production displaying all of the characteristics of the Abstract" (68). The two forms derive from the abstract machine and the pyramidal image gives the economic base the characteristics of the Astract (that is, I assume, its determinant role in the last instance). This is something I think D&G wouldn't have said in AO. The abstract machine is given a certain priority over content and expression; they in fact derive from it. I want to highlight this claim because it shows D&G might be closer to Foucault's framework of last week that they were before. From Foucault's perspective it is power that is productive and primary. I think that saying that content and expression derive from the abstract machine is very close to this Foucauldian claim. And this is part of what I see as D&G's effort in this book (in contrast to AO) to think society, to think how it is that society exists, how is there social order? What remains for me an open question at this point is the kind of question I posed last week: what is the priority of desiring-machines and abstract machines, who is producing whom? (I would question this notion of derivation that I quoted just a minute ago. I don't think really that content and expression derive from abstract machines, and the issue becomes even more difficult if we pose desiring machines in this context. I think this is the kind of question, however, that has to be answered when confronting a theory of social aggregation as we are here.) So those were the first two challenges to structuralism presented at the end of chapter 3: the correspondence between words and things and the determination of social superstructure by economic base. They offer a third challenge having to do with the distinction between mind and matter, but I don't want to go into that. I want rather to look back now at the first half of the chapter given the framework of these challenges to structuralism. If these challenges to structuralism were the point then what was the first half of the chapter doing? How was it supporting these challenges? From this perspective it seems to me the argument would go like this. In the first part D&G establish within a framework of biological discourse that life is organized through a double articulation on all levels from cell chemistry to geological formations. If we then accept the claim from AO that there is no difference of nature between the human and the nonhuman, between the biological and the social, that all life (mineral, animal, vegetable) functions along the same lines, then human society too must be organized according to the double articulation. What authority does it give the argument to pose the double articulation in biological before claiming it in sociological terms? That brings me back to my question about Sein and Sollen, what is and what ought to be. Chapter 3 is about what is not what ought to be, or rather it brings what ought to be back to what is. How should we understand the title, "The Geology of Morals" (as a play on Nietzsche's Genealogy of Morals). Geology instead of genealogy and dated 10,000 BC because this is not so much about a process of change, a genealogy, as it is about a fixed and permanent framework, the double articulation, which existed everywhere and always. Double articulation is the logic of life, equally of the earth and society. And then what does this have to do with morals? Perhaps morals are being brought back to the earth, perhaps Sollen what ought to be is being brought back to Sein what is.