Mille Plateaux: 7, 8, 9
1. Faciality Faciality is not an easily concept to grasp. I think a good place to start is by contrasting it to a dialectical conception of identity and identity formation. In other words, I would propose as a backdrop to D&G faciality, Sartre's and Fanon's conceptions of race and racial identity as dialectical. The Sartre/Fanon dialectic runs like this. First the dominant subject (the white European) creates the dominated subject as a coherent identity. As Sartre says, it's the anti-semite who creates the Jew. Or in Fanon, it is the European colonizer who creates the African "native" as a fixed identity. And Said's work on Orientalism proceeds roughly along the same line: the "oriental" is created in European scholarship, European art, travel logs, etc. None of this is to claim that the subalterns in question (Jew, Africans, Orientals) did not exist before their creation by the dominant European imaginary; the claim is rather that this identity, which overdetermines the existing subjectivities, was created and imposed by the colonial power. Jews existed but the anti-semite created "the jew"; Africans existed but the colonizing power created "the native" as it did "the oriental." The colonizer and racist created these negative identities, and pushed alterity to its extreme, inventing the Other, posing a rigid boundary of exclusion through the middle of the world. As Fanon says, the colonial city is a world cut in two, between European Self and Native Other. The dialectical conception doesn't stop, however, with this first act of creation -- and this is the brilliance, I think, of Sartre and Fanon. The White European Self does not actually exist before this creative encounter, this invention of the Other. The European Self is rather the final result of the process. The White European Self is only arrived at through its opposition to the Other, its difference from the Jew, the Native, the Oriental. After the creation of the negative identity, the Other, the Self arises as a negation of that negation, and hence the dialectical structure. The White European Self depends on its negative Other because only through negation of that Other can it invent and maintain its own identity. Now, I think this dialectical theory of identity is a good starting point for understanding D&G's notion of faciality because it is first of all decidedly nondialectical. In other words, faciality is a theory of racism (among other things), but it is not a theory of racial Others. "If the face is in fact Christ, in other words, your average ordinary White Man, then the first deviances, the first divergence-types, are racial: yellow man, black man, men in the second or third category. They are also inscribed on the wall, distributed by the hole. the white man's claim has never operated by exclusion, or by the designation of someone as Other (...). Racism operates by the determination of degrees of deviance in relation to the White-Man face, which endeavors to integrate nonconforming traits into increasingly eccentric and backward waves (...). From the viewpoint of racism, there is no exterior, there are no people on the outside" (p. 178). So, in this nondialectical conception of racism, there are no Others, no one on the outside. In other words, racial difference or alterity is not configured in terms of the Other, of polar difference, but rather in terms of degrees of deviance from the standard of White-Man face. Really there is no exclusion properly speaking. On the contrary, European racism functions precisely by including everyone on the white screen and in the black holes -- including them and arranging them in a hierarchy defined by degrees of deviance from the dominant standard. That's the first thing to understand about faciality, then, that it is based not on a negative dialectic of identities but degrees of deviance, and that although it does not function through exclusion it nonetheless establishes a hierarchy of types. (Does faciality have to do with identity? Is a face an identity?) What, then, is faciality? So far we have only that it is a nondialectical machine of hierarchy or domination. "This machine is called the faciality machine because it is the social production of face, because it performs the facialization of the entire body and all its surroundings and objects, and the landscapification of all worlds and milieus" (p. 181). The machine imposes a face on a body or a landscape on a world. One might assume at first that a face or a landscape is an identity that is stamped onto the body or the world, and that notion of facialization as an identity-producing machine might end up being pretty accurate, but D&G take a different tack. The face that is created by this machine is a combination of a white wall or screen with black holes. The white screen is the surface on which meanings appear; it is a system of signification. The black holes, on the other hand, are the points of passion and subjectification. One should remember at this point that a few chapters back, On Several Regimes of Signs, D&G described four regimes that all centered around signification: the primitive pre-signifying regime, the counter- signifying, the signifying, and the post-signifying regime, which is also the subjective and passional regime. A face, then, is a coordinated arrangement of these last two regimes, signification and subjectification. Specifically, they told back in that chapter that faciality is the substance of expression. It is the material locus for signification and subjectification. "Faciality reigns materially over that whole constellation of signifiances and interpretations (psychologists have written extensively on the baby's relations to the mother's face, and sociologists on the role of the face in mass media and advertising). The despot-god has never hidden his face, far from it; he makes himself one or even several" (115). The face is thus a field or a milieu on which signification or subjectification can take place, but it is not a neutral field or milieu. It is constructed so as to make certain meanings and subjectivities appear. The baby's relation to the mother's face is an interesting example, and maybe gives us a reason for calling this face. But clearly this doesn't just have to do with what we normally call faces. This face in general is a constructed field or milieu that determines the possible signification and subjectification. We might be better off, then, understand the face as close to what Debord called a spectacle. Like the spectacle the face determines what can appear, what meanings and what subjectivities. And like the spectacle, the face corresponds to or determines a form of rule. "The face is a politics" (181). The despotic facial machine gives priority to the white wall and signification; while the authoritarian facial machine gives priority to the black holes and subjectification. The two, of course, mix and function together. Every face is a mixture of a despotic regime and an authoritarian regime, signification and subjectification. The revolutionary politics to counter or contest this, then, is not to return to any primitive, pre-facial regime -- nor is it to create any identity (which I assume would be to create a new face). The course D&G propose instead is to unmake the face. "If the face is a politics, dismantling the face is also a politics involving real becomings, an entire becoming-clandestine. Dismantling the face is the same as breaking through the wall of the signifier and getting out of the black hole of subjectivity. Here, the program, the slogan, of schizoanalysis is: Find your black holes and white walls, know them, know your faces; it is the only way you will be able to dismantle them and draw your lines of flight" (188). Here I think the difference between the face and the spectacle becomes more clear. Spectacles in Debord are always something external on us, projected for us, maybe at the limit on us. The faces, on the other hand, are us. They constitute us, our black holes and white walls. Dismantling our faces will be to a large extent dismantling ourselves. We have no choice but to start out from our faces on our lines of flight.
2. Love This question of dismantling the face and the lines of flight involved in it brings up once again the problem that this flight might be misconceived as purely negative (and the term dismantling certainly doesn't help that). D&G insist that this dismantling involves real becoming, and more important it is a positive and creative flight, what I tried to call last week constituent flight. But that positive aspect is not always the easiest to recognize. I do see a way in which this positive aspect, this creative flight is working in this part of the book, particularly in the Three Novellas plateau, but I have to shift gears from the politics of the face to love. D&G do presents several description of love here that I find quite beautiful. Love, it seems to me, is precisely a constituent flight. Let me try to derive this from what D&G are saying. Here D&G are talking about dismantling the face and saying we have to begin with the face we have (its white wall and black holes) and move from there. "Only in the black hole of subjective consciousness and passion do you discover the transformed, heated, captured particles you must relaunch for a nonsubjective, living love in which each party connects with unknown tracts in the other without entering or conquering them, in which the lines are composed together like broken lines" (p. 188). Living love here is opposed to the dead love of the couple I imagine, or maybe it's a reference to living labor. And it arrives only in the process of dismantling the face, breaking through its white wall and escaping from its black holes. That's the first step of this love, flight from the face, or really abandon. "I have become capable of loving (...) by abandoning love and self" (199). The lines of flight that operate the dismantling the face are here the abandonment of the self, evacuating the self and the love associated with it. This evacuation of the self is what I would call exposure. But this exposure is not somehow revealing the hidden secret, the real me that no one sees, it is revelation in which there is no identity left, no secret to reveal. "It's because we no longer have anything to hide that we can no longer be apprehended. To become imperceptible oneself, to have dismantled love in order to become capable of loving. To have dismantled one's self ..." (197). Becoming imperceptible, dismantling the face, evacuating the self, exposure -- these are the conditions of loving. There is no longer a secret to reveal and no longer a Self to love. That, however, is only the first step, the pre-condition. The first step of loving is flight, abandoning the Self, but the second is composition or constitution -- the lines or spaces are composed together, or in the quote I read earlier, "each party connects with unknown tracts in the other without entering or conquering them, in which the lines are composed together like broken lines." So in love the elements that escaped the organization of the face come into contact. There is no longer a Self here to love, or Selves, or Self and Other. Rather this encounter of lines and spaces that have escaped the face and the Self have the potential to give rise to new compositions, new relationships. This new relationship, this new composition of the elements escaped from the face, from the Self, is love. The question in love is about compatability of these elements, as D&G say of compossibility -- that is how they can make a new composition, a new constitution. This new composition is the creativity, the positivity of the lines of flight. (Here is where D&G have to make good on the claim that lines of flight, dismantling, abandonment is not merely negative.) Here, as always, there are dangers or risks, but I think that the dangers help clarify what the process itself is. "It can happen in love that one person's creative line is the other's imprisonment. The composition of the line, of one line with another, is a problem, even of two lines of the same type. There is no assurance that two lines of flight will prove compatible, compossible. there is no assurance that the body without organs will be easy to compose. There is no assurance that a love, or a political approach, will withstand it" (205). Lines of flight have to meet and in the encounter have to compose together a new relationship. This encounter and this composition are not given (there is no assurance); this is rather the task of love. Discover compatible, compossible lines. Finally, just as it is with love so it is with politics. It seems that the positive, creative political approach that comes with or after the lines of flight operates through love, or rather through the same logic of encounter and composition defined by love. That's obviously a leap that has to be worked out further (from love to politics) but that path is the strategy I see D&G taking in the Three Novellas plateaux.
State The State is a necessarily abstract concept, first of all because it refers to the coalescence or coincidence of a series of different bodies or functions: traditionally, at least the police, the military, the legislature, the court, and the executive. The concept of the State imagines the unity of these bodies or functions. Marx & Engels, who actually wrote very little about the State, characterized it in the famous passage from the Manifesto as the executive committee that sees to the interests of the bourgeoisie, or Engels called the State the ideal collective capitalist. The State is the weapon of the ruling class, and most important it is a unitary weapon. The State is an ideal point that abstracts from and brings together a diverse array of ruling functions. It is the virtual point of political power. Because of this unity and this relation to serving the ruling class, revolution could be conceived in the Marxist framework simply as the abolition of the State. The primary concerns and debates of Marxist State theory in the 20th century have centered around two questions: first the question of the relation of the State to the ruling class (in what sense or by what mechanisms does the bourgeoisie really control the State or do the actions of the State necessarily correspond to the interests of the ruling class) and second the question of the unity or centrality of the State and State power. The second one of these is what I consider the necessary background for D&G's concept of the State, and I think they are addressing a line of argument that is moves from Althusser to Foucault. Like I said, conceiving of the State as a unitary source or locus of power is obviously an abstraction. There is no one person or office that commands directly all the actions of the State: the center of the State is not really in the office of the President or the Congress or the Police Chief or the General. I see Althusser's conception of State apparatusses as a step to address this question. In effect, Althusser doesn't want to talk about the State as such, the central point, but rather he wants to focus only on the various State apparatusses. These multiple apparatusses are the adequate objects of analysis as locuses of power rather than the unitary abstract point that might lay behind or above them. In other words, look not to the State as the unitary locus of power but to State apparatusses as multiple locuses. And these multiple sites, the apparatusses, are both public and private, repressive and ideological, from the army to the school and the church. Foucault takes this move one step further claiming that there is no locus, no center of power, "no headquarters of rationality that presides over its rationality" (HS 95), not even the multiple centers of the institutions; the centers of power in Foucault are its every point of application, spread throughout the social field. Whether or not Foucault would say that the State exists, he does claim that it is not the appropriate object for the study of power. In this context, D&G's notion of the State represents a return back to the Marx/Engels problematic, in that once again the State is the object of the analysis of power as a virtual unitary point. In order to understand the centralized power of the State in D&G we have to start first with their analysis of power in primitive State-less societies. D&G start by challenging the anthropological notion by which primitive societies are composed of several de-centralized segments of authority whereas modern society has no such segments but in their stead one centralized authority in the State. They claim instead that there is no opposition between the segmentary and the centralized; the segmentary and the centralized both exist and work together in the modern State. The difference between power in primitive and modern societies is not only or not primarily the question of centralization but rather the suppleness or rigidity of these segmentations. So, according to D&G's conception, the modern State is characterized by rigid segmentation and centralization. (And this centralization is what I'm posing as a return to Marx/Engels from the trend of Althusser/Foucault.) Now the State may be a centralized power but that does not mean that it commands directly over the various segments of power throughout society, that does not mean that it is "the headquarters that presides over the rationality of power" as Foucault said. But I would insist that already in Marx/Engels the State was already conceived as virtual. They always formulate the centralized power of the State acting "as if" -- the State acts as if it were the ideal collective capitalist; or better, power functions in society as if there were an ideal collective capitalist orchestrating it. D&G have a way of conceiving the simultaneous reality and virtuality of the State. The State, they say, is a kind of resonance chamber in which the various social powers reverberate. "The segmentarity becomes rigid, to the extent that all centers resonate in, and all the black holes fall on, a single point of accumulation that is like a point of intersection somewhere behind the eyes. The face of the father, teacher, colonel, boss, enter into redundancy, refer back to a center of signifiance that moves across the various circles and passes back over all of the segments" (211). The State itself is constituted as this virtual point of redundancy or resonance. Now really this is not so different from Foucault. You might remember a line from Discipline and Punish that I cited a few weeks ago in which Foucault writes, is it any surprise that the school resembles the barracks which resembles the factory which all resemble the prison? There is a redundancy or resonance among all the institutions of disciplinary society and this virtual centrality is what D&G are calling the State. And D&G claim that there is no contradiction between the segmentary parts (the church, the school, the army) and the centralized apparatus. "The State is not a point taking all the others upon itself, but a resonance chamber for them all" (224). The next step to explain is the difference between the State and the war machine, and between the totalitarian State and the fascist State.