Word-Waves: Manuel de Landa's Deleuze

Reviews

Word-Waves

Manuel de Landa’s Deleuze

Manuel de Landa, A Thousand Years of Non-linear History. New York: Zone Books, 1997.

I suppose the main way I coped with it at the time was to see the history of philosophy as a sort of buggery or (it comes to the same thing) immaculate conception. I saw myself as taking an author from behind and giving him a child that would be his own offspring, yet monstrous. But the child was bound to be monstrous too, because it resulted from all sorts of shifting, slipping, dislocations, and hidden emissions that I really enjoyed.
Letter to a Harsh Critic, Gilles Deleuze

In general, as we have seen, a singularity may be grasped in two ways: in its existence and distribution, but also in its nature, in conformity with which it extends and spreads itself out in a determined direction over a line of ordinary points. This second aspect already represents a certain stabilization and a beginning of the actualization of the singularities. A singular point is extended analytically over a series of ordinary points up to the vacinity of another singularity, etc. A world is constituted on the condition that the series converge. (“Another” world would begin in the vicinity of those points at which the resulting series would diverge.)
– “Sixteenth Series of the Static Ontological Genesis,” The Logic Of Sense, Gilles Deleuze

I don’t like points. I think it’s stupid summing things up. Lines aren’t things running between two points; points are where several lines intersect. Lines never run uniformly, and points are nothing but inflections of lines. More generally, it’s not beginnings and ends that count, but middles. Things and thoughts advance or grow out from the middle, and that’s where you have to get to work, that’s where everything unfolds.
On Leibniz, Gilles Deleuze

…what is to be the intellectual content of life, now that we have built the city, and it is no longer necessary to extend the frontiers?
The Latin Spirit In Literature, Charles Norris Cochrane

AND we are turned to stone, mineralized, molecularized, codified, segmented, walled, skinned, organized, sexed, planted, and uprooted. As I read A Thousand Years of Non-Linear History by Manuel de Landa I could not help but think, if the Biblical reference is excused, of Lot’s wife suddenly turning with eyes-widening, and in an instant becoming a pillar of salt. She caught a glimpse of a catastrophe. She perceived the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. It lasted only an instant in a time shorter than thinkable time (What speed! It was God’s movement…). She was crystallized – a flash between human and non-human – perhaps in a burst of light. And as punishment for witnessing the end of this non-human ‘history’ (Sodomites were never thought to be human), she was “stoned”, and after Lot had flown from her side the burnt sandy plane remained to glisten salt-white as a memory-offering of her passing and then the blackened beaded rain began sluggishly unstaining the grains of sand and carried her salt-body back to the murmuring sea. Lot was long gone with his darling daughters to found a new people in an incestuous drunken ecstasy. As I read A Thousand Years of Non-Linear History, published by Zone Books in a ‘Swerve Edition’ (appropriately named) in the United States, I too began to turn to stone, “pillarized,” “rocked” as if I were somewhere on a city’s periphery gazing through gases, liquids, and even through the walls of the city, or peering into the structure of DNA awaiting mutations, or watching genetic isolations: the birth of new species. I looked from a distance and saw a land of non-humans with metallic exoskeletons pushing against the skies. Cities disappearing from a plane, vanishing in smoke like the smoke which escapes the fury of the heat of a furnace, came to my mind as I read de Landa’s text. Everything began to crystallize and solidify and then melt away again. Everywhere I was told by de Landa to “see” stable states, territorializations, followed by processes of deterritorialization, only to find reterritorializations elsewhere. Everywhere I was told to “see” hierarchies, meshworks, and mixtures of the two. Everywhere there were two extreme poles and a space to mark the distance that created their territorial divides (bifurcations and attractors, sorting and consolidation, sedimentation – cementation and cyclic sedimentary rock accumulation – folding into mountain.)

De Landa has refashioned Deleuze and Guattari’s triadic-movement- concept into a concept of hierarchies and meshworks to demonstrate self-organizing processes, stratifying or destratifying, which occur in both organic and non-organic life (“one within reach” or about as far away as that street light” 1). These concepts are the analytic cornerstones of his text (although they are in themselves synthetic). In short, de Landa’s non-linear dynamic theory brings to the foreground the “point” at which matter and energy reach a threshold and spontaneously produce stabilized states (bifurcation). Minor fluctuations which are introduced – become involved – during these states alter the outcome of this process (there is no optimality, no ‘best’ solution). At the ‘centre’ of his non-linear history are “attractors” (the ‘centre’ of a field of forces) which, like whirlpools or hurricanes, draw things to themselves (passion and joy) or are swept up in another field of force (swept up by another “attractor”).

AND what a strange approach for me to begin with, this tale of two cities, Sodom and Gomorrah, and what an odd point of departure to review de Landa’s text. It is a text that is neither particularly religious in tone nor particularly Christian in content, nor Jewish, nor traditionally Greek (Platonic ideals). De Landa’s text is most certainly distant to any narrative of a Transcendental God that would destroy cities and turn people into stone. Although American “Science” oozes the Christian and Jewish God and reinforces many poor Ideals of the Greeks (Has Science ever escaped from the Greeks and Romans?). De Landa’s text slips perhaps too timidly between concepts derived from the Arts and those derived from Science. Unfortunately, de Landa, like any “good” American scholar today, sides with the gods of Science: this new American Fortress, the Spirit of Science. In de Landa’a new science, however, no telos can be found, no divine direction: only various routes and numerous senses are to be uncovered in his transporting text. Explosive cities, planes, biology, catastrophes, language, culture: these are some of the many themes woven in his book. It is a new tale of the City, its tendrils, its inhabitants and its catastrophes. It is a tale of a thousand cities capturing the world. It is a tale of City-Builders and City-Killers moving across multiple planes.

As I read, I consistently felt uneasy that de Landa’s stated intent to “infiltrate history with physics” 2 brought with it all-too-human, all-too-phallic, all-too-militaristic, all-too-American, all-too-little conceptual concern for the effects and affects of Power (to name a conceptual framework that pervades modern thought like a fungi). The usage of his “major” language on occasion betrayed his desire to talk about non-human history. He insists that “man” is nowhere at the centre of his discussion, but his “major” language (“never strayed far from historical realities”, “minimum of strange-sounding jargon” 3, etc), I believe, denied him a much needed delirious access to the sodomitical, the Monstrous Folding Earth, the indeterminate materials of Life that intermingle with Consciousness (and are assembled in an Unconscious Factory) and produce the minor languages of the cosmos. What tame language he uses for such wonders! AND with his major language he lamentingly returns to the humans, the American Ideal, the Couple (two probe-heads), the Book, and perhaps a Manifest Destiny which appears in a slightly perverted form (the computer shall aid your visions, he cries! A computer shall show you the complexity of your madness in an ordered form). One should recall that there is no distribution of a technics without desire and desire seems too far in the background in de Landa’s book. The text is not revolutionary. It is rather a petition that the reader accept a particular type of infiltration and contamination: Physics. (Do we need Physics to teach molecular perception?) There are no Monsters in de Landa’s history and nowhere does he speak of the long history of non-human involutions producing radically different forms of consciousness, a multiplicity of expressions, perspectival histories. There is a sense in de Landa’s text that the world’s “intensity” has been steadily increasing (lists of famines giving way to booming cities giving way to a mad dash to “create” the human to attach its genitals to the Machines). But this intensity is measured with, by, and against the human (even if at times only implicitly). Nowhere does he speak of those who were never typed as “human” but were nonetheless oppressed for their failure, for not quite fitting into this figure of history. The many non-human humans and human non-humans that stand on the periphery of “Man’s” history (reproductive Memory: the Tyranny of the Heterosexist Dyad) are left untracked and the familiar landmarks of human-time hide monstrous creatures behind cold stones, unthought, uncovered, or left ill-formed, ill-placed, ill-timed, left out of time, unactualized. The figures of history are perceived and assessed by the vicinity of their parts, their easy composability. His writing flows in all-too-familiar figures and forms. How do you feed a City? What wisdom can be found in feeding the Rocks? What Language can be used to express the inexpressible: the “stuff” caught in-between the Masters of Discourse, the overlords of the Word?

IF well-described (or de-scribed in more academic terms), de Landa’s text falls into the tradition of a materialist philosophy, a philosophy entwined in the thoughts of Lucretius, Ovid, Proust, Braudel, Kafka, and Deleuze and Guattari. It is a philosophy of imminence, shape-shifting, and miraculations. But his text is also a story, like the tale of two cursed cities, a story of catastrophes, movements, speeds, contagions, planes, minerals, codes, and new lands for the deserving. Lots in life and life in lots: a geophilosophy.

OR we may begin again. In reading de Landa’s text I could not help but become a little girl. Each of his words evoked such physical wonders that I could not help myself but fall into a Proustian world, a world in which my face became a thousand surfaces folding into lines, becoming-letters, marked by his words. A land in which I thought of Albertine’s face becoming my own: a thousand microperceptions sedimenting into a face: a new expression. A land where everything was illusion, things missed, things glimpsed from the corner of an eye, passed in-between each of his words (an affirmation). De Landa’s text is a face of wonder in its multiple transformations: vegetal, biological, mineral. It was an entire cosmos unfolding before my eyes. Fragment connecting with fragment. In reading each chapter, section, paragraph, word, letter, I sensed ceaseless flows of energy, swerves, and speeds. The ink from the pages crawled into my veins; his imagination, his turn of phrase, captured my every thought. It is a text in which everything is at once both molar and molecular and everything happens in-between. I was enmeshed in his words and traveled through his text as he pushed ahead. On occasion reading front-to-back and on other occasions reading back-to-front, but mostly, like a game of hop-scotch, I jumped here and there to make sense of the diagrams that govern the text’s form and create its figures. And on still other occasions, as if tapping in symphony with the sound of the gears of a clock, I moved back and forth, tick-tock, tick-tock, tracing a singular word (e.g., bifurcation) on different planes. I listened attentively to the rhythms and tones his text produced as each word resonated with other conceptual domains (although it is perhaps his tone of “contagion” that can also disturb, as opposed to his contagious tone which works with a seductive force). In fact, de Landa has not written a book and “it” should not be read as one, and the reader must realize this to actually bring “together” de Landa’s text. The reader must be dynamic to face de Landa’s materials, concepts, and portmanteau, and must adopt the compound eyes of a Kafkian insect to sight his multiple movements.

OR we may look at de Landa’s text from a different angle to make sure we have not missed the mark. Structures, segments, bifurcations, singularities, markets and antimarkets, hierarchies and meshworks, monopolies and oligarchies, species and ecosystems, major languages and minor languages, memes and norms, hardenings and loosenings…. Life and the folds it makes through time. Everywhere there is an AND.

…let us begin again.

De Landa’s text is divided into three chapters, each of which is divided into three subchapters, and each of these subchapters is split at the year 1700 which “divides” the chapter into two parts by a conjunctive, disjunctive, connective subchapter that sits snugly in the middle (his “middle” subchapter titles: sandstone AND granite, species AND ecosystems, arguments AND operators). The font size used in each section (large-medium-small) equally highlights transitions and triads, beginning-middle-end chapters, top-middle-bottom subchapters. Read up, read down, read across, or read only the conjunctions, or disjunctions, or connectives. And always watch for the mixtures that emerge, unfold, involve. Even table of contents is an experiment in reading – it begs to be misread and re-read in different senses. It operates as a diagram.

…let us begin again and here also quickly end this review by re-viewing the middle of his text. A short passage (that is most certainly parenthetical to de Landa’s project) is what I find most disturbing. It is nothing central and absolutely beside the point. There is no time or space to discuss what comes before or after this passage and nor do I wish to delineate de Landa’s argument in any detail (curiosity killed the smiling cat). I refuse to categorize his text, his arguments, in a linearized list (it would miss the spirit of his writing). His text is an experiment. And, of course, I strongly encourage the reader to buy de Landa’s A Thousand Years of Non-Linear History to fill in everything that I am here missing, everything that has here been left out, suspended, and I can only hope that my own words tease you to move in this direction.

The middle…

(OR an unfortunate center?)

Species and Ecosystems

…a rhizome, a meshwork, a replicator, and further complexification as a probe head moves from attractor to attractor in the process of evolving…

This subchapter is perhaps the most uninvolved/unevolved and the most disappointing subdivision of the book and what made me think of lost cities and non-human creatures. Given de Landa’s background in Deleuzian scholarship and the notable influence of Deleuze and Guattari’s thought on his work generally, one would have thought that de Landa’s analysis of a non-linear history of the biological world would have been far more astute and far more progressive in an age in which gay, lesbian, feminist and, most notably, queer theories have been forcefully contaminating the Sciences from numerous domains. All of these fields have placed the “Body” and the “Human” into question. De Landa’s text is here often a less-than-imaginative selection and interpretation of the Events of History. De Landa cites the work of Franz Boas, Margaret Mead, and Ruth Benedict in a brief discussion of “cultural relativism” and ends the paragraph with a quick dismissal of social constructionism, suggesting that cultural relativism degenerated into social constructionism and passed on into a “dogma” of empty cliches, e.g. “everything is socially constructed”. 4

One gets the feeling from his text that the American essentialist/ social constructionist debates haunt each of his words. De Landa reduces the social constructionist argument to a footnote in a somewhat flippant discussion of the Eskimos’ ability to ‘perceive’ different forms of snow (varied states) and asserts that ‘categories’ (stable states) are already in nature and independent of language. But did not the Inuit learn to perceive these states and bring them forth in language in at least one sense as perhaps many Canadians have become more aware that the name “Eskimo” was itself a social construction of a particular group of native peoples in our society? Somewhere there was a change. What difference is there in the state of being an Eskimo or an Inuit, for instance? Or is suggesting that People (human and non-human) also bring forth a world in language just nonsense? Did they not learn how to see the ‘imperceptible,’ to express a world, to find a world that needs expressing? How many stable states do we see? Describe? Look for? Avoid? And is it not important to ask de Landa if Science now claims the right to adjudicate “stability” and determine what can be recognized as “attractors,” determine what are “self-consistent” entities? We may also ask that Science not be fooled by simple changes on the surface, and forewarn it that it will always be dumbfounded by the complexity of depths (which fold to form ever-newer surfaces).

De Landa’s ‘scientific’ approach (or at least his emphasis in this direction) is somewhat shocking given that the work of Deleuze and Guattari is unequivocally constructionist (something that de Landa apparently does not quite see and something that he does not quite see about his own work: ‘she blinded me with science’ as Thomas Dolby’s delirious song goes). Deleuze and Guattari’s work, which operates as the engine of de Landa’s text, is entirely composed of assemblages and constructions of concepts (A Thousand Plateaus, the text which de Landa most heavily draws upon, begins with this very concept: assemblages and constructing planes of consistency). And, without doubt, the social constructionists of today are interested not in what is said in language per se but what concepts can and cannot be expressed by language (a different twist) and the ability and freedom to bring to language “difference” (Should we not already be tired of the social constructionist/essentialist debate. Will the terms ever differentiate?) Are we not able to call forth a new People?

If one also considers that many modern social constuctionist theorists have been deeply influenced by the work of Michel Foucault, who was himself an influence on Deleuze and Guattari’s work (de Landa dis-misses Foucault in a footnote), and that few theorists have thus far attempted to assemble the Deleuze-Guattari-Foucault machine (or understand the ways in which their works interrelate and function: as building techniques), de Landa’s quick dismissal via his poor and unfortunate critique of the work of Margaret Mead only leaves the reader dissatisfied. He says nothing of Boas and Benedict and fails to address the vast amount of social constructionist theory that has emerged in recent years; he also does not address writers who are particularly influenced by the Deleuze-Guattari-Foucault machine.

Social constructionism is set against essentialist theory (flesh vs. genes). In fact, at this point, it is de Landa who sounds a bit too cliche and who has constructed a straw man version of social constructionist theories and models. If de Landa wishes to enter into the essentialist/ social constructionist debates, it would seem that he must first attempt to understand what is the sense of “everything” in this, yes, over-used, but still effective phrase. Science and its objects of study are never divorced from, or outside of, various systems of Power. This is a fundamental concept that appears at the roots of numerous social constructionist arguments.

De Landa, later in this same section, appears to be responding to a particular form of social constructionist thought and he suggests that a society might not have the “power” to impose certain cultural values on its citizens and eliminate all personal choices. He writes (in parentheses):

Herein lies another weakness of cultural relativism: not only does it emphasize the exotic at the expense of the unremarkable, which is where human universals are to be found, but it tends to focus on the norms of a society while ignoring the actual behaviour of individual agents, who may or may not always adhere to those norms. Perfect obedience cannot be taken for granted.5

De Landa collapses the social constructionist vs. essentialist debate into a voluntarism vs. determinism scenario. This is a mistake. Social constructionists do not deny “natural states.” (Although they are perhaps more skeptical about what constitutes a “state” or a self-consistent aggregate, e.g., what role does duration play in determining if something is stable? The strength of social constructionism is to ask whether or not we may even continue to speak about “human” universals.) What de Landa does not recognize is that it does not necessarily follow that all social constructionists are voluntarists and that all essentialists are determinists or vice versa. De Landa’s remark that social constructionists usually look for the “exotic,” the “remarkable,” or what is different is, in at least one sense, correct (Foucault, for example, traces the genealogy of the homosexual and other ‘pathologized’ identities, which, in Deleuze’s language, were “miraculated” on a Body without Organs (BwO), sometime in the last century). But these things-remarkable are juxtaposed with societal norms, the “unremarkable,” the repeated, and not, as de Landa would have it, used against the individual in an attempt to deny science or to deny an individual’s being-with-the-world.

Social constructionists are not asking why individuals are obedient but rather they wonder why they are so obedient and so forgetful: pure repetition with no difference (is this a sign of corruption? Misused Power? A move toward fascism?). De Landa well knows that things are constructed over time (folded). AND he should not forget that freedom can slowly leak out of a system (which was, for instance, one of the greatest fears of Deleuze, Guattari, and Foucault). Not all choices are always available at all times and not all times permit the same choices. AND some choices may disappear, be forgotten. Freedom is not easily won nor is it easily kept, nor is freedom of choice easily built, assembled, or constructed. Science can never make any conclusions as to what constitutes stability even if it is overcome with the razzle-dazzle of its own discipline. What is thought to be “stable” is always an ethical question and should be treated as such. Even what constitutes a human remains an unanswered question and it is arrogance for scientists to suggest that they can break the “secret codes” of Life. Even things that “look” stable (e.g., heterosexism) may in fact be a symptom of a dis-ease (reproduction is a sick debt to the future and an insidious form of paranoia: all life dies as the human pumps out biomass/bioshit to glimpse a reflection in the empty eyes of a child) and it takes Wisdom (if I may be forgiven for using this out-of-date term) not science to see or attempt to express what could possibly be understood as a cherished form or structure.

De Landa, concluding this section, observes that not all social institutions can be understood simply in terms of replicators and their catalytic effects (facilitating or inhibiting self-organizing processes). AND notably, and reminiscent of Foucault’s Discipline and Punish, de Landa closes this middle chapter and this middle section with the following observation:

The history of Western society in the last few centuries evidences an increasing dependency on disciplinary force to secure obedience. Therefore, we cannot be content with a description of society expressed exclusively in terms of replicators and their catalytic effects, but must always include the material and energetic processes that define the possible stable states available to a given social dynamic. 6

Although de Landa recognizes that cultural relativism/social constructionism “opened” many of these debates (“a welcome antidote to the racist ideas and policies of the Social Darwinists and eugenicists” 7) to more progressive and liberal attitudes, he unfortunately does not pick up in his final analysis Deleuze and Guattari’s concept of a State form of thought (an abstract machine) which captures and defines particular modes of thinking, and disallows various alternatives: silence is also a form of discourse and discourse is not reducible to language. De Landa’s text, I feel, is a bit too conservative in an age which desperately needs a few more radical thinkers.

Deleuze, Guattari and Foucault’s works permit a form of perspectivism which licenses the coexistence of a multiplicity of “truths,” and various tracings, both discursive and nondiscursive. Deleuzianism, without doubt, is a form of relativism as well as a form of constructionism. Rhizomatics is an art of life (both an ars erotica in Foucault’s language AND a techne (desiring-machines) in somewhat different terms in Deleuze and Guattari’s Anti-Oedipus) and cannot be understood in any strict scientific terms (Laws). Art and Philosophy fold back into Physics conceptually constructing/ reconstructing/deconstructing Physics in a variable invariable world: differentiation/Event. (Deleuze: “The special perceptions and affections of science or philosophy connect up with the percepts and affects of art, those of science just as much as those of philosophy”. 8) It is far more difficult to “decide” what is stable, what is consistent, and what functions than de Landa may imagine! It is for this reason that at the heart of Deleuze, Guattari and Foucault’s works they attempt to seduce the reader to experiment (to attempt to make a new fold). AND I am more interested in experimenting with the waste that is left “behind” flashy changes in chemical reactions (like a chemical clock) than in being satisfied that this “flash” has more value than the waste it “involves” (or perhaps it is the waste that “flashes”). It is in our waste that everything happens. Structures are not important, events are, as are the new creations they engender! As Brain Massumi, the translator of A Thousand Plateaus, remarked in a recent article: “For structure is the place where nothing ever happens, that explanatory heaven in which all eventual permutations are prefigured in a self-consistent set of invariant generative rules. Nothing is prefigured in the event. It is the collapse of structured distinction into intensity, of rules of paradox.” 9

…we started in the middle AND only queried a single point… a tiny fragment… AND said nothing about the whole text… nothing about the many arguments of de Landa’s multi-faceted thesis. Nothing was decided by rekindling the debate between essentialists and constuctionists and no point was made. It was simply a wearying combination. But it is a debate that rages across America and one the world should most certainly fear. In fact, I looked hard at each of de Landa’s chapters, each of his words, at each of his letters, but each time I looked more closely I only understood his argument by glancing at the paragraph next below (trompe-l’oeil), attempting to avoid the combinatorial constraints of his language.

I cannot help but be uneasy with the “history” that de Landa narrates in his text and perhaps it is more akin to Engels’ history of the family and may well come to serve the same purpose. On many levels I am quite certain that the reader will be fascinated and thoroughly engaged with his analysis of economic, biological, and linguistic hierarchies and meshworks and the mixing of these fields of forces. De Landa certainly produces a “plane of consistency.” Many transdiscplinarians will be captivated by the text’s nomadic wanderings and admire de Landa’s skill at weaving textures. His style produces a meshing of conceptual frameworks and conceptual personae from what are considered to be, in the modern academic institution, distinct disciplines and distinct schools. De Landa should be praised for his work. Yet I cannot help but be disturbed. The word “history” in his title already shakes my willingness to follow de Landa’s flows and his lack of sensitivity to non-human beings’ claims to their own history (even women, who are on some occasions included under the rubric of human, are often nonhuman in Man’s history) makes me wince and look away from his words so I may see things a bit more clearly. It is a text that is both rich and poor.

To my greatest dismay I find that the text is asexualized, and it is a text that should be everywhere about desire (desiring-machines: De Landa tends to ignore Deleuze and Guattari’s earlier configuration of the machinic phylum and BwO found in Anti-Oedipus). This is a bit of a disappointment as de Landa nowhere becomes monstrous, and few non-human becomings “miraculate” on his BwO. At times I love the folds and turns he makes and at other times, in this Age that truly demands a new Ethics of the nonhuman creatures we have all become, I only wish to re-view the entire history he describes (Are finding the “objects” of his history an example of a new edge between a strangely false human consciousness (he declares that we should not be “organic chauvinists” 10) and a falsely humanized machinic consciousness? He is, without doubt, and to his credit, a hallucinogenic writer ). I see only the monstrous in history, an entire Bacchanal dance, constant ooze and flows of shit pumping from the nonhuman Worms of this planet until they were enslaved and forced into producing biomass and bioshit for the Human (most certainly a recent invention).

Although he is speaking of flows and bifurcations, I only see saddened structures (the “problem” of writing history) and I think that in at least some sense he misses all of creation, all of “history.” Is his text just an unfortunate or accidental way of viewing a materialist philosophy? (This should be read in the most positive terms.) Does he make me feel antagonistic because of his unfortunate choice of the material, the matter, the segments, the absence of Spirit? He, himself, apologizes on numerous occasions for the choices he made. He may pulverize the world if he wishes, and he may suspend everything between one stable state and the next, and he may even mix them in good faith just to show how they go through their transitory states, but I shall place all my cards in giving a Spirit, a Consciousness, back to the dust of the plane, the waste. (Wizards and Shaman have always used dust in the practice of their magic and the casting of spells. They know that dust always can be changed by words of Magic or Enchantment). He sees only things with speed and has no sense that something that sits very still, that moves very slowly, can also have the ‘affect’ of changing everything in-between walls and structures: veritable microcellular and molecular revolutions that change the world with an intense whispering dream, a singular Word or Tone caught up in a slow moving breeze which in turn becomes a mist and in turn an ocean wave… Word-Waves.

De Landa never quite “morphs” as he did in his last text, War in the Age of Intelligent Machines, and at times I see him as an unconscious- Phallic-probe-head in an elevator moving from stratum to stratum, rather than caught between two floors in a factory which assembles Life (already a multiplicity beyond the grasp of any Scientist). His non-linear history seems so human for my taste. Strangely, everything seems so determined that I yearn for the poetry of Lucretius’s atomic swerve once again… not quite ecstatic… not quite orgiastic… not quite so sure….

Is it not time that we infiltrate Physics with Poetry, to teach new ways of seeing? Have we not grown tired of those who always wish to ground universals and give them great Value? Is it not time to recognize that we must rebuild Sodom and Gomorrah (the greatest Virtual cities of our Age)? Are these two cities not the finest examples of cities which were never inhabited by the “human”? Is it not time to end the grand illusions that plague Thought with the noise of human chatter, and begin to express things anew? Everything happens in an instant and in that instant all time unfolds. End the chatter about two sexes, their statistics, their languages, their concepts of natural states, their Science and their Nature. Silence the chatter of the humans and listen to the murmurs that swell from ahistoric lands. Begin again in the middle and open Thought again to new wonders. The challenge is to re-view de Landa’s world and to give to it at each reading a new sense, a new direction, with which to sodomize history. Where are the lines of flight? What other stories can be told? But, alas, I have only scratched the surface and I here must end by simply encouraging all to read this text. The last words I give to the great ‘experimenter’ Jean Genet:

The adventure into which I plunge them does not astonish them, but they live it out through acts, through gestures, not through thinking about it. In that way I can escape the danger of putting together a realistic narrative according to the usual methods by which each character knows what he’s expressing at the very moment he expresses it, and knows the overtones that his expression should have on his protagonist and us… 11

Notes

1. Brusseau, James. “Distance Without Measure” in Isolated Experiences: Gilles Deleuze And The Solitudes Of Reversed Platonism. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1998, 149.

2. Manuel de Landa, A Thousand Years Of Non-linear History (New York: Zone Books, 1997, 15.

3. ibid., 261.

4. ibid., 141.

5. ibid., 145.

6. ibid., 147.

7. ibid., 141.

8. Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, What Is Philosophy?, Trans. Hugh Tomlinson and Graham Burchell. New York: Columbia University Press, 1994, 132.

9. Brian Massumi,, “The Autonomy of Affect” in Deleuze: A Critical Reader, Paul Patton, ed. Cambridge: Blackwell Publishers, 1996, 220-221.

10. Manuel de Landa, op. cit., 103.

11. Jean Genet, from The Selected Writings Of Jean Genet, ed. E. White. New Jersey: The Ecco Press, 1993, 333.

Bibliography

Brusseau, James. Isolated Experiences: Gilles Deleuze And The Solitudes Of Reversed Platonism. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1998.

Cochrane, Charles Norris. “The Latin Spirit in Literature.” University Of Toronto Quarterly, Vol 12, No. 1, 1942-43.

de Landa, Manuel. War In The Age Of Intelligent Machines. New York: Zone Books, MIT Press, 1991.

de Landa. Manuel. A Thousand Years Of Non-linear History. New York: Zone Books, 1997.

Deleuze, Gilles. Difference And Repetition. Trans. Paul Patton. New York: Columbia University Press, 1994.

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Jeff Lord is a Queer theorist in the Humanities Doctoral Programme at Concordia University, Montreal. He is the founder of The Humanities Project, which seeks to promote interdisciplinary scholarship by fusing traditional academic methodologies with emerging media technologies. Jeff has a background in gay, lesbian, and feminist theory.