Moving Day!

A sign of the times: Fractal Ontology is moving to Wordpress. I'll have the redirection back up as soon as we've finalized the new page. (We'll probably keep this space around for a while, but might not back-update, so you'll want to update your bookmarks.)


Philosophy of the Forenoon

Born out of the mysteries of the dawn, they ponder how the day can have such a pure, transparent, transfigured and cheerful face between the hours of ten and twelve--they seek the philosophy of the forenoon.

(Friedrich Nietzsche, 638 Human All Too Human)

As Nietzsche dramatically presents it, the ‘philosophy of the forenoon’ is that sharpest and most beautiful diamond of the intellect, born of a brave and curiously wandering temperament. To seek it is to seek a clear and sublime equilibrium of soul and of heart which makes one impervious to paradox and tragedy. Contradiction is no longer a defect. For such a philosophy, the ability to ‘bear’ contradictions within one’s mind and within one’s spirit-- become a virtue, perhaps even the essential virtue of such a thinker.

But we ought not to be fooled when Nietzsche presents himself in his work as a wanderer. Though Nietzsche himself hints towards playing the indecisive, Zarathustra-style prophet, he’s certainly not playing a priest! On the contrary, he plays the role of saving us from our bad consciences -- and on that account, it’s almost equally tempting to read him in the precisely opposite (and equally problematic) way: as a playful (but harmless) nomad, awake amidst the sedentary herd.

In fact both these contradicting impulses (to prophecy, to heresy) are shamelessly and ceaselessly at work in Nietzsche’s texts, in all their blatant subjectivity, their sublime incompossibility. These very qualities constitute the lightning-intensity of his prose. Before anything else, Nietzsche is shaper of forces, always first the “immaculate” poet -- which is not shameful, or even a criticism! It is rather to say we must bear in mind that the text for Nietzsche is a delicate instrument, one inevitably turned towards a higher goal.

Now, insofar as contradictions are an active force, Nietzsche’s writing is pregnancy, mysteriously containing the novel origin and the secret responsibilities of caring for a new life, even a new world. Indeed, Nietzsche inaugurates many modern ontological themes in his appreciation for difference, for an infinite difference which goes deeper than any contradiction -- a tenderly-imparted distinction. Yet his style is such that even sensitivity and tenderness become weapons and traps. To be blunt, his style is force, born of a secret and arcane will.

Thus the central philosophical fixation in Nietzsche’s work is precisely the obscurity of the will, not our problem with violence -- but our problem with weakness. Only when we perceive this does the deeper meaning of nomadism reveal itself. Nietzsche is a wanderer of secret and forbidden places; he is a subtle and tender revealer of precious novelty. His texts are themselves designed to ‘wander,’ to provoke stronger, healthier, more powerful kinds of lives -- precisely by complicating our undisputed theories of what life ‘should’ be.

Incidentally, the methodical search for truth itself results from those times when convictions were feuding among themselves. (Friedrich Nietzsche, 634)


Ortega y Gasset and the Origin of Philosophy

The Origin of Philosophy, tr. Tony Talbot, U of Illinois P, Chicago 2000, 1967, 1943.

Ortega starts by saying that elegance would be a better term for ethics; since ethics is the “science of what has to be done,” and the elegant man is the best example of the practitioner of this science (14). It seems that Ortega’s goal in this book is to render Hegelian dialectics as elegant as possible by crossbreeding it with existentialism (not the only attempt this century, one thinks of Sartre’s later Critiques).

With this in mind, Ortega argues that there are two ways for thoughts to progress: one thought may imply another, or a thought may complicate the other. The latter Ortega calls “synthetic or dialectic thought” (16). For Ortega, a thought is synthetic or dialectic if it is irresistibly imposed on us, and if the first thought cannot be complete without the second. In this sense, the dialectic stresses continuity and necessary totality because it has to be taken further, through yet another synthesis. He writes, “The dialectic is the obligation to continue thinking, and this is not merely a manner of speaking, but an actual reality. It is the very fact of the human condition” (17).

Ortega makes no mistake about his Hegelian project, for he predicts that after World War II, “man will probably engage in assimilating the past with unparalleled zeal and urgency, and display astounding scope, vigor, and accuracy. I call this phenomenon, which I have anticipated for years, the dawn of historical reason” (31). He then goes on to propose a distinction between self-perpetuation, which he finds to be exhausting since it implies spanning all time, and self-eternalization, which implies that the future and past are attained in the present. This relies on the importance of remembering and foreseeing, a truly dialectical method of synthesizing events throughout history (31).

Ortega defines the aspect as “the response of the thing to being looked at” (41). He goes on to define knowledge as an interpretation of the thing itself, and he stresses that it takes the thing from the “silent language of being” to the “articulate language of knowledge” (44). I think Badiou would argue that there is no linguistic aspect of being and thus no silence—to me silence implies that being can speak to man, and for Ortega, the aspect is a response. But I do not think he means to stress the object or thing speaking or reaching out to man himself, for it is man that has a point of view—and thus it is silence to his point of view, which really means—an absence of significance. But for Ortega, this is a translation of languages, from being to knowledge, as though being had a script in and of itself. This is a key point to unravel. We could consider the fact that silence is both on the extreme negative and positive side of communication and signification, insofar as we keeps silent around those that we despise and around the truest of friends for whom no words are necessary to express a genuine thought.

Ortega says that the thing is the sum or integral of its aspects, implying a perspectivism that integrates a little differential calculus (47). He proposes a theory: 1. pause before each aspect, 2. continue thinking or move on to a contiguous aspect, 3. preserve the aspects previously viewed, 4. integrate them sufficiently in a “total” [his quotes] view (48). And no one would have ever told me that early twentieth-century Spanish philosophy would offer me a simplified and ‘elegant’ version of the dialectic!

An example of this dialectic goes as follows: every historical thinker has a soil, a subsoil, and an adversary. The subsoil is the cultural background, the collective unconscious of his region.. The soil is the newly founded ideas accepted by the thinker. And finally, an adversary is needed for differentiation. (73-74) Thus, for Heraclitus and Parmenides, the subsoil was mythology, the soil was natural science and the skepticism that allowed the thinkers to distance themselves from the religion prevailed. Finally, the adversary and the anxiety of influence prods the thinkers to assert radical hypotheses--Being is real, becoming false, and vice versa—that allow for the clearest of distinctions to be made between the two.

Ortega argues that with the modern way of living, there are so many choices that it becomes difficult to make a choice. He argues, “Man is stranded amid the various opinions, none of which is able to sustain him firmly—hence he slips about amid the many possible “knowledges” and finds himself failing, falling into a strange liquid medium . . . he falls into a sea of doubts” (102). Heraclitus and Parmenides were completely aware that in confronting and opposing the doxa, their opinion was constitutively paradoxa (110). Therefore, it is my ‘opinion’ that all revision is inherently paradoxical.

Bachelard and the Psychoanalysis of Affective Stereotypes

A word will suddenly reverberate in us and find too lingering an echo in cherished, old ideas; an image will light up and persuade us outright, abruptly, and all at once. In reality, a serious, weighty word, a key word, only carries everyday conviction, conviction that stems more from the linguistic past or from the naivety of primary images than from objective truth...All description nucleates in this way and collects about centres that are too bright. Unconscious thought gathers around these centres--these nuclei--and thus the mind is introverted and immobilised. --Gaston Bachelard, Formation of the Scientific Mind

In this work Bachelard theorizes a pedagogical psychoanalysis that will attempt to reinstate the sense of the problem in science and remove any unconscious valorizations that occur through the development of scientific knowledge. The sense of the problem is at the forefront of Bachelard’s project because he believes that all knowledge must be an answer to a question (24-25). Moreover, the conservative instinct takes a stunting grip on science insofar as it becomes self-satisfied with the solutions it has already established. These solutions are the same platitudes that teachers and textbooks command us to memorize. A psychoanalysis of the scientific mind is called upon when epistemological obstacles encrust knowledge that is not questioned.

In fact, this is Bachleard’s main thesis: knowledge becomes overcoded with affective images that reduce the efficacy of thought by burdening it with so many coefficients of values. This instructs us on a difference between the historian of science and the epistemologist: the former considers the errors of a previous mode of thought to still constitute facts insofar as they entail real investments and beliefs. The latter, however, proceeds to link facts to a system of ideas that can show how these errors harbor a specific power of the problematic insofar as they represent counter-thoughts. Thus Bachelard believes that truly scientific knowledge always mobilizes its forces against previous knowledge.

We recognize this pseudo-knowledge in the guise of the pre-scientific mind. It has a tendency to valorize immediate satisfaction in the curiosity that its simple experiments evoke. In fact, Bachelard criticizes seventeenth-century empiricists for constantly erasing the theoretical connections that lead them to the productive experiments that they construct. The pre-scientific mind does this in order to highlight the astonishment that accompanies the advancement of science in general. This leads it to substitute and emphasize images to the detriment of ideas thereby removing the sense of the problem from science. Moreover, pre-scientific thought seeks variety and not variation—the former hinders concepts from being adequately employed in a systematic nature, while the latter enriches the comprehension of the concept through mathematical experimentation.

Deleuze definitely inherits a philosophical impulse from Bachelard. This can be observed most clearly in the dissertation Difference and Repetition that he wrote under Bachelard in 1968. They both stress the importance of the sense of the problem and the fact that questions deserve the answers that follow due to the clarity and comprehensibility of the question itself (52). They also both fight tirelessly against the images, analogies and metaphors that only serve to obscure the thoughts with which they are associated. And it is insofar that unconscious thought gravitates around these images and lodges itself there that we need a psychoanalysis of reason that can exorcise this unconscious by reviving the ability to pose adequate problems. Bachelard calls the coefficients that superimpose values on thought affective stereotypy. Thus, the unconscious values that impede the function of thought are affective stereotypes because they constitute a pretension to knowledge that has not reached the stage of self-criticism. It is up to this different breed of psychoanalysis to disrupt the 'values in themselves' that inevitably intermix themselves in the energy that is transformed into scientific endeavors (for we should remember that science is never fully removed from the culture through which investments of desire flow).


A Question for Institutions

The word ‘institution’ indicates a change in the level of analysis. An institution is just a summarization of ecosystemic coordinations. To ‘study institutions’ means to study that conceptual, or even political, operation whereby a new layer of coordinated activity is established. To think or act institutionally is to shift the discourse neither ‘left’ nor ‘right,’ but rather up, to a higher layer or perspective. By raising the question of institutions, the speaker immediately forces a dimensional shift in the geometry of the local conceptual-political field. Such an institutionally ‘corrupted’ discourse inevitably devolves into a sort of summary-machine: the consequence is a shift not only in our collection of ideas, but necessarily even their inter-relations, that is, even the essence of the ideas themselves.

The problem of institutions, like that of violence, is very obscure. It is currently situated at what amounts to an ‘inertial point’ with respect to dominant traditions. Raising the problem of institutions accelerates the convergence of critical discourses. Disciplines compel each another to merge together, in order to explain. Yet a single voice may be able to express what an entire chorus may not.

For when the question of establishment itself is reached, specialists suddenly surrender their confidence in method, precisely that which would enable them to distinguish clearly what about this question would otherwise be essentially obscure. For at the point where the proper question of institutionalization is finally able to be posed as such, then disciplines suddenly seem to have an incredible difficulty in maintaining their idiosyncratic approach, their distinct identities. They merge into a single goal and question. A discipline re-organized. Indeed, when an overly specialized approach breaches the critical zone, it swiftly becomes de-organized by dint of the hyper-organization of the object.

Institutions combine the ‘eternal memory’ of science, mathematics and religion, with the ‘momentary experience’ of phenomenology, sociopsychology, and critical theory. The problem of institutions is the problem of slavery and aristocracy, the problem of freedom and envy. Approached through the lens of objective science, the subject simply imitates the multiplicity of the institution. Even science becomes an institution only when its sets about to study them as a subject (‘subject to law’) -- and, in a real sense, to control them by this study. The universal simulation produced by the institution is the central problematic of hyper-mechanization; it is the dream of establishment -- a paradise. All institutions secretly want to become utopias; this desire distorted, become obscene, is capital. Social thought has become almost completely functionalized, embodied as exchange within an open community. The closure of society to the universe is almost irreversible; the functionalization of the universe for society is almost complete. But we are not yet machines, and still have time to postpone the moment of inhumanity.

Let us begin by saying institutionalization is a becoming-machine, the establishment of a universalizable operation cycle. The institution is a machine which as such has no authority to impose rules and laws, is impotent as such -- and so rather subjects the entire universe to its cycle of operations, utilizing whatever forces are available to it to ensure its survival.

Institutions provoke a cosmic functionalization which is necessarily ambiguous: to open new spaces for coordinated vitality, some others must be closed forever. Society is a machine which unfolds itself more than it folds back in: it is a super-institution, which miraculously donates a positive function to all that which benefits its self-organization.

Thus machinic subjects understand intimately the role of science, even if they can no longer conceive of the scientific as such. Does the institution destroy the possibility of pure science? It is perhaps too much to assert that science can only becomes ‘innovative’ when at a distance from machinic organizations of subjectivity; doubtless they require one another. Yet this very need seems somewhat contrived, something of a fiction. Yet what would such a ‘pure’ science be, in isolation from any predictable processes? And what would such an institution produce, devoid of order, synchrony or goal?

Culture is an institution in the past tense: what was or has been established. But the dynamics of coordination do not necessarily proceed along indicated cultural paths. To all goals, identities, desires, layers, pathways, endpoints, institutions are indifferent.

In short, institutes are organizations which transform energy; speed is the only important difference. Establishment invests energy directly into a circular process of self-renewal. Consider a cube replaced by infinitely many differently-sized spheres: the fact of difference (in size) precludes any question of alternative distributions, and the position of the largest determine the necessary arrangement of the smaller...

The geometry of social order is invested by divisions of life-space, while the intensity of social desire seeks to overcome divisions by reunification, streamlining the separation which produces cultural objects... Eventually the process ends where it had begun: we find our culture has become automatic, our thoughts and actions reflexive, our intensity subdivided until it has become harmless.

Institutions neutralize desire. There is no escaping the fact that the massive coordination of activity has as its necessary consequence the 'automatization' of almost every aspect of life, to the extent we are shocked when the world doesn't correspond to our institutionalized cognition. So my question is this: is it possible to truly think post-institutionally, given that our cultural mode of thought has been irrevocably shaped by institutions?


The Hero and the Kingly Function: Starkadr in Dumezil's Stakes of the Warrior

There are two versions of the story of Starkadr (Starcatherus), one Latin, the other Old Icelandic. Starkadr is forced into a precarious position, caught between Odin and Thor. Here I will follow the Icelandic tale for concision, only referring to the Latin to offset some details.

In the Icelandic tale there are two Starkadrs—the hero’s grandfather is of the same name. The first Starkadr is a powerful giant and is slain by Thor because the king’s daughter has run away with him. In fact, Thor is upset because she prefers the giant Starkadr to Thor and had consented to leaving. Before the giant is slain, though, the king’s daughter has a child who will be the father of Starkadr.

This will lead to a future conflict, because Thor in general has always been depicted as the lone-warrior god in opposition to the race of the giants (like Zeus, sworn enemy of the titans). The second Starkadr is born with jotunkuml, which might best be translated as “wounds of the giant.” For our purposes we should envision Starkadr as being human while having super-human strength, and since his grandfather was a giant (with six to eight arms no less), his jotunkuml are like large stumps where extra limbs should be. So when the conflict begins in this story, Thor is already set against Starkadr because of the enmity he feels toward his grandfather and for the fact that he bears the mark of giants in physical prowess and deformity.

Odin, on the other hand, has always been on the side of the giants. In fact, he is descended from Ymir, the first giant. Odin and Thor are like two aspects of the war machine: Odin is the sovereign, Thor the warrior; Odin the god of the giants, Thor the god sent to keep the giants in check; Odin the god of large armies of commoners, Thor the god of errant, lone heroes. So the fact that Starkadr is a giant and by upbringing a defender of kings makes all the factors come into play here to set the hero up for his destiny.

Odin decides his fate by granting Starkadr privileges mixed with an evil demand. Odin requires that Starkadr give up his friend and king Vikar. He can get away with this because he has (in other human forms) raised Starkadr and helped train him. Before this account is settled, Odin and Thor cross words as to Starkadr’s fate. Thor decrees he will have no children (to end the line of giants started by his grandfather), so Odin grants him three life spans to make up for it. Then Thor says he will commit a crime for each lifespan. Odin says he will have the best weapons and armor, but Thor says he will have no land or property. Odin gives fine furnishings, but Thor says he will never feel he has enough. Odin decrees victory in every combat, but Thor foresees that he will be gravely wounded in each battle. Odin gives him the gift of poetry and improvisation, while Thor says he will forget everything he composes. Finally, Odin says he will appeal to the well-born and the great, but Thor says he will be despised by the common folk.

The first crime to be committed is the only one that is required of him: he is to offer his friend, king Vikar, in a sacrifice to Odin. In fact, Odin makes sure to remind Starkadr that he is indebted to him for all the help. We can only imagine that Odin, being the sovereign-god, wants Vikar to join him in Valhalla in order to strengthen the number of kings that have already amassed in Odin's domain. Thus, Starkadr does what is asked of him, and hates himself for it—so do all his company men. He is forced to leave and becomes nomadic, fighting for other kings in dozens of lands. This is the first crime that starts his progress towards two other crimes, both of which are committed towards kings. The second crime is fleeing on the battlefield when the Swedish king he is serving has been killed. The last is for murdering his king in Denmark for gold. After this he uses the money he earns to buy himself the executioner of his choice.

A few things are significant about this story (later I will connect it to the narrative of Sisupala and Krisna). For example, Starkadr’s threefold life is spent serving kings. Many of the feats that are accounted in the stories tell of Starkadr acting as a regal educator, of punishing lower class men who attempt to mate with noble women, and one story even where he upbraids a dissolute king in order to revive the virtuous nature and responsibility that is befitting a sovereign. In short, he functions as an expositor of regal morals and a defender of the kingly function. His role is to protect the symbolic authority of the sovereign.

It is all the more surprising that his three crimes are directly against kings and the function of the king. Now, despite the three crimes Starkadr traveled all throughout the world performing heroic deeds and serving and aiding many different kings. So the fact that he fails these other kings is crucial. Sacrificing his friend Vikar is not directly his fault, though he feels great shame in the act. Fleeing on the battlefield is cowardice only insofar as Starkadr is a giant among men endowed with great powers and so should not so easily fear for his life. Nevertheless for Starkadr, hero and general to kings, this is a degradation of the honor befitting a warrior. Finally, even though Starkadr murders a king who is a bad one, he does it for money, and so that factor overrides any sort of interpretation in which Starkadr might have removed the king in order to defend the kingly function. This is why his last crime spells his death and the loss of his power; symbolically, having forfeited all responsibility for the kingly function, he loses his gifts as a warrior.

This story will set up a further discussion about the function of the sovereign and the warrior. The dux (leader) and the rex (king) do not always correspond or oppose in simple ways. The rex must subordinate the dux or else the war machine will never become installed in the functions of the state. The function of the king has to be able to structure (and give direction to) the molar formations of the army that are composed of the selection of molecular forces under the power of the warrior. The warrior, having sworn loyalty or fealty to a king, takes on the function of binding alliances to the state. I think this discussion can especially help illuminate the difficult passages (pg. 145-166) in Anti-Oedipus where the despot as BwO, alliances and filiations all get conceptually networked at blinding speed. [And this may include even the seemingly insoluble question concerning how the hero effectuates an exogamous incest that marries him to the mother and the sister of the clan, thereby causing himself to be the unengendered--all filiation results from him insofar as he obtains the maternal bond, and all alliances are secured in his name via the sister that is bound to him as well.] This is the beginnings of an outline of the struggle in myth and epic to articulate a distinct representation of sovereignty and nomadic heroism that will further enlighten us on the operations of the war machine and the state’s apparatus of capture.

One last glance at the abstract machine behind the gods and Starkadr's fate: the one thing about his fate that is only implicit is the fact that he will remain a warrior, faithful to the codes of kings. He is fated to commit three crimes, but there is no specification that they must be against kings. Now, we could argue that because his first crime is determined to be against a king (his friend no less) he will inevitably repeat the crimes against other kings. But we should risk more provocative hypotheses. It's tempting to reiterate the fact that Starkadr's grandfather of the same name commits an offense against a king, and it is Thor that aids the king against the giant. So, in a strange twist of fate, Thor will undermine Starkadr's ability to fulfill his loyal function as a warrior by cursing him to betray kings. But this doesn't work either because Odin requires the first crime and determines it. I suggest that Odin and Thor here both work negatively against Starkadr's many different gifts in order to limit him, or better yet to mold him into a nobler form. Bearing the scars of a monstrous breed, he will perform the tasks of the warrior with such intensity and for so long that he comes to highlight the inevitable dangers at stake in such a position. Precluding sacrificing your king under duress, fleeing the battle--when you are left second in charge by the death of your king--and murdering your king for money must be seen as the two most despicable acts for which a warrior can be responsible. Therefore, Starkadr upholds the ideals of the kingly function, and correspondingly, he educates us on the sins of the warrior.


Politics beyond Ontology

Hypothesis in Process Philosophy


It seems that we experience the world: but beyond this, what more can be said? Can we hypothesize the abyssal and incorporeal depths of the origin of social desire, and could description perhaps reach even farther? In this paper, my goal is to provide a reading of the work of Alain Badiou and Gilles Deleuze in light of present sociopolitical conditions. I stress that we should see conventional ontology as a social machine which functions by division, and in this it operates in a precisely opposite way from a political logic of (just) distribution. If universalism would actually imply a transcendent origin of social order, we must learn to do without the hypothesis. I argue that the future must be sought immanently, as a process of utopian restoration. Tomorrow’s truth is to be constructed by our hands or not at all.

Ontology has a new goal and new project in the twenty-first century. How do we think the relation of subjects to events without transcendence? How do we organize the field of social intensities without division and repressing desire? How can we accelerate distribution, and intensify healthy and potent forces of social change? This paper aims to provide a new kind of mapping of the social field, pointing towards a space for thought where ontology can be seen as secondary to metaphysics. Deleuze writes that “politics precedes being,” so metaphysics must clarify what to ontology is indiscernible -- the lack produced by social and conceptual division -- and recognize this divisive operation not as productive of an immanent equality, but in fact a transcendent subjugation.


This is truly the epoch of absolute relativity. Morality and reason no longer appear sufficient for justice; truth and faith no longer appear sufficient for belief; and courage no longer seems necessary for action! Plato is dead: only a fool today would admit he considers truth to found knowledge.

But his ghost haunts us yet. Have we almost lapsed into a too-precisely opposing view, such that only doubt and paranoia could found ‘true’ knowledge (like Descartes, or his postmodern revenant, Jacques Lacan)? And should we accept this, then we certainly must consider the further hypothesis of Alain Badiou’s that knowledge is always subtracted from the indiscernible truth of an event1, accomplished by an engaged generic process of becoming-subject through which the unrecognized truth is supported (2). According to Badiou, truths invest subjects (ontologically speaking) by a rigorous subtraction or subdivision, an act not of will, but of faith. Underlying the relation between subject and event is the connection of confidence or fidelity which constitutes us, as subjects to a truth we carry.

It must already be recognized that this ontologically ‘alternate’ hypothesis is not altogether different in spirit to that of Alfred North Whitehead’s3 (with his theory of event-particles, his assertion of transcendence, and his advocacy for a universal algebra -- of sets, no less,) and even perhaps that of Gilles Deleuze’s (who is also a rigorous thinker of multiplicity, has a conception of a ‘plane of immanence,’ and even deals extensively with “pure events” in the series of the same name in his Logic of Sense.) All these voices are congruent, even polyphonous, and not antagonistically opposed -- a reading which Badiou would sometimes seem to encourage.

We should read these each of these singular threads of thought as mysteriously but fundamentally univocal (4). Indeed, it is one of the goals of this paper to assert that all of us are flag-bearers of the same singular epistemological involution, one which is lucidly in process for each of these thinkers. What is not my goal is to explain the unique historical forces which have so radically compromised our faith in the power of reason to discern. Of much more urgency is a therapeutic critique of the contemporary theoretical and sociopolitical terrain.

For epistemology, insofar as it remains apolitical, degenerates into an apologetics for the horror of the real. It seems much more relevant and important to me to rather develop a map of potential fields of social intensity -- zones where it becomes possible to create open spaces beyond institutionalized forms of justice, thought and conviviality. I am not here concerned with advocating some new and exotic theory of knowledge, but rather with identifying and intensifying unrecognized zones of micro-revolutionary resistance.

For as reality becomes obscure, so does revolutionary potential: it is certainly not clear that we can collectively will the struggle against authoritarian systems of power without reinvigorating precisely those very ‘fascisizing’ elements of political thought and behavior we would seek to eradicate. “Philosophy has to expose the possibility of a true life.”5 The path I shall take I hope will be an original and not merely a reactionary one. Today we must venture to describe the conditions within which a liberating, utopian hope would become a resonant impulse to overcome, a fresh will towards becoming conscious. For a veritable becoming is beginning to make itself appear possible historically once more, and we would be well-advised to listen closely to the voice of history-- to ensure we have not misheard the call of the future.

Experience and Identity

We experience the world: but beyond this, what more can be said? What indeed would suffice to describe the encounter with what is ‘beyond’ any experience? Can language indicate the abyssal and incorporeal depths of its own origin, and could it perhaps reach even farther? And finally: must we silence our questioning out of ignorance, even as our investigation has just begun upon its journey to peer through the shattered lattices of universal order -- or is this already where our knowledge meets it limits of certainty?

But before we engage these questions further, let us introduce some of our terms. As I will use it (in a somewhat Deleuzoguattarian sense) the word description names the process whereby enunciations delimit observational spaces, by deploying pre-signifying elements onto a mapping of functions in a particular social field. Descriptions stratify intensities: they invest regiments of distinctions which encapsulate and coordinate observed singularities. Observation will be seen to function as the production of distinctions or divisions between contrasting zones of value and intensity. Finally, thinking begins with an unrecognized distinction.

Now we are in a position to provide a certain narrow kind of answer to the questions we opened with. We shall begin with an exposition of the nature of the relationship between identity and. First, let’s consider why a purely logical account of identity could not fully describe our experience of self-identity.

Descriptions logically subdivide spaces into zones or territories of equivalence. The ontological question regards the division of the zones, but not the separation of spaces, for this is its operation of division. But even the panoramic ontological view would grasp only the most formal aspects of identity. For in an ontological account of identity, identity thinks itself as collections of distinct experiences. Even if we suppose identity to be some species of ‘pure’ cognitive event, this would again demonstrate only the indirect-tautological function of identity6 (“agent A is that entity which experiences ‘being-agent-A’.”) Like the tangled hierarchies implicit in the cogito, the ontological perspective aims to resolve at a higher position than it began: it seeks passionately to explain based on a total comprehension, which is to be accomplished by a rigorous division. I say that logic studies this same schism, but algebraically rather than differentially. Yet the profound question has remained silent: why is the subject missing from our experiential space? Where has identity gone?

Event and Becoming

It is partly to Alain Badiou’s credit that we now think the relation of being to events as essentially multiple7. But this same principle undermines the very mathematical principle of continuity upon which he seeks to found this relation. Mathematics is presupposed in his ontological analysis of being as constituting a complex and heterogeneous assemblage of events (collections) and spaces (voids) nut ultimately founded upon the void.

The paradox glimpsed here can be seen most clearly if we approach identity naively, as meaning a “belonging in a certain way to a certain state of affairs.” This doesn’t explain what we’re interested in, which is its actual continuity, the unique and surprising symmetry of identity. A subject maintains its identity despite, and sometimes even because of the discontinuity it has experienced. So belonging already entails a multiply-complex balance of coordinating transformations. Thus, without actually discerning or explaining any particulalr identity, we can generically suppose it is made up of disjoint, discontinuous zones of varying degrees of belonging (to some situation of events.) There is no participation between non-equivalent classes, the ontological break is ‘clean’: “There are only bodies and language.”[8]

We find that we have need for a more complicated algebraic structure, one which at least allows for division of bodies and words into partial membership classes. The very nature of equivalence depends fundamentally on this division into ‘similar’ sets. Not to mention the fact that inclusion itself is already an ontological division demands further explanation. After all, an identity cannot be ‘induced’ from the situation by the simple observation (or negotiation) which decides that such-and-such belongs to the event (considering the state of affairs,) or does not. In reality, we cannot rigorously establish the existence of the void or the multiple from a pure induction.

Rather, even induction depends on a rigorous subdivision of the One until this operation approaches its ‘vulgar’ limit (of non-accuracy, of meaning ‘nothing’.) So when we say this ‘limit’ (zero) belongs to every set, even to itself, we mean that induction (the operation-as-limit) has meaning only when the situation its observes is already understood as meaning ‘nothing.’ Hence the infallibility of the inductive process: it is already a “transductive” tautology! The void undermines identity insofar as the void is divided; whereas a truly pure induction on the basis of the multiplicity of events would affirm that multiplicity doesn’t end in the void.

Multiplicity goes all the way down: as soon as we make a single distinction, an infinite number of tautologically equivalent distinctions follow. Faith denotes reality. Identity, then, cannot refer only to the void’s self-belonging (even as we have shown by infinite subdivision of the void into n classes of varying degrees of belonging.) Rather, after Deleuze, a becoming, a process of actualizing a virtual multiplicity, occurs as an unfolding series of never-endingly complex and self-referential patterns, flows emanating from power sources. Thought occurs on the void, not outside distinctions but requiring them to be made without statist negativity[9].

The void is never self-identical, never unicity but always the purest, or ‘least’ unit of division. For if it is split, it is then split eternally, split infinitely, and so it never belongs to or contains itself or anything else. In fact, the power of the void is not activated simply by its pure, abstract emptiness but rather the mathematical intuition of the operator, the one who utilizes the void in order to reconstruct a fractured ontology. The ‘smoothness’ of a new cognitive space is no index for its fertility. Even Badiou recognizes that thought finds its full expression beyond a statist or constructed conception of reality[10].

Mathematics is a thought sublimely broken, purified of violence, cured of resistance, ‘bent to heel,’ stripped of its subjectivity and made absolutely disinterested. Yet its accomplishments, however breathtakingly elegant and beautiful, always and only reconstitute a shrinking remainder of experience. The technological evolution of human society originates not only on our learning to calculate, but our being made calculable [11]. Nietzsche has identified this process with the very origin of morality, but it is enough to say here that a mathematical philosophy founded on the void accomplishes its aims by a sort of violent self-discipline which thus locks itself into only one situation: provocation.

Even more importantly, such a conception of ontology appears to focus its attention upon an inconsistent layer of being. This logical inversion just traps being in a paradox, and isn’t ‘capturing’ it in its multiplicity but rather surgically inscribing transcendent and radical distinctions upon it as pure events [12]-- much less accomplishing some sort of transcendental ‘logic’ of events!

To perceive in reality only the paradox of becoming is to introduce transcendence by the back door, as a desperate escape from an immanent reality (which is therefore all we can ‘speak’ about -- without lapsing into hypocrisy.) It is to understand being as a cage, only as a challenge, consigning to the undiscerned and the invisible anything marginal, transparent, or secret. We finally capture only a shrinking portion of living experience which crumbles, continually self-dividing into an abyss of silence.

Hence, we claim that ontology, understood as this operation of a primary division (instead of, say, a distribution) thus cannot in fact account for the reciprocal yet asymmterical relation between reality and time -- that is, it can pose precisely but never resolve the question of experience and identity. Instead, we need political logic to follow logically from a truly immanent ontology, which is psychologically astute enough to recognize its prejudices (of identity, experience, etc) and reorganize itself, even diagnose and heal itself. For the ontological principle (that being becomes) has no goal written upon its surface, and even ontology must take care of what it becomes.


Immanence is, upon its surface, just a word which indicates that amongst the present relationships we observe, we perceive them as interlocking. It means reality is ‘inner’ space. Another way of saying this would be to say that we do not believe there to exist a deepest space. Thus when we make a claim of ‘pure’ immanence, we assert that there are no extra layers of being above or beyond the situation, and that nothing spontaneously intervenes from another order of time. Immanence implies something special about the initial conditions of any space it is applied to: namely, that they open onto multiplicity, and fold in upon themselves without reference to an exterior. That there is no ‘outside’ of Being: this is pure immanence.

Nothing encapsulates an anti-immanent perspective more closely than the delicate epistemological framework inaugurated by Plato (but exemplified best, perhaps, by the cogito) which asserts that knowing and experiencing are but modalities of a fundamental distinction. Life is essentially separate: both within and without, split between thinking and acting.

But is it really so clear and distinct that such separated spaces would not communicate? Whatever the case may be, in every theory advancing a transcendent distinction as primary, there emerges the necessity for an enduring interface produced by a geometric projection between the distinguished spaces. In the ontology of Alain Badiou, ‘fidelity’ names the connective operation between elements of an enumerated network of forces. In the clarity of this fidelity, the distinctions between subject and event, process and underlying ‘reality’ become critically blurred and radically ambiguous. The void can no longer be absolutely distinguished from the situation. The originary reflection which discerns the indiscernible becomes autonomous -- a faithful machine -- by this same maneuver.


In Badiou’s somewhat classical conception, the subject-space is divided between art, science, politics and love (not so curiously, he deliberately excludes psychoanalysis13.) Each of these has its subjects in terms of goals, identities, procedures and structures. They are implicit division algorithms which ensure success to the faithful. But we should not judge from this that these spaces are indeed so absolutely separate (in reality or in Badiou’s ontology,) nor should we conclude from his idiosyncratic treatment of the ontological question that his project is without certain precedents.

For example, when Deleuze and Guattari say that “love is not reactionary or revolutionary, but love is an index of the reactionary or revolutionary investments of the libido in the socius,”14 they are indicating a requirement not only for political thought, but for creative activity in general: when we participate in sociality, if we do not do ‘it’ with love, the engagement becomes reactive, psychoanalytic, capitalistic, even neurotic or self-destructive15. Badiou's sort of fidelity16 has a similar requirement: you belong to the event only when you have made it what it is--and by this process of subtraction, we by chance and faith become whatever we are. Either notion supposes only a single portal to the event: you either enter with love in your heart and hands open in passivity and generosity -- or you do not really enter at all, or only to critically misjudge the nature of your relationship to the event. For without love there is no distinguishing revolutionary necessity.

Love is most enlightening, most important when it is immediately political, when it is immediately ethical. When it is so intense that it resonates, when it is totally without jealousy, this is when love unfolds its mysterious potential: its capacity to inspire, to dominate, to intensify a flow of desire. Love is reality: it’s affect is most closely claimed by the word ‘infusion.’ An unasked-for or obscure love17 is indiscernible but essential, if only for its unanticipated transversality, its radical inclusivity -- which is why love is an ethical intercourse, or else a tragic ignorance: faith without love is dogmatic, impotent, incomplete and unsatisfied.

We say love is perhaps the revolutionary impulse, for it is that emotion which first reminds us, with piercing clarity, of our real condition. Though we are driven to self-affliction, suffering is not guilt, nor a guilty desire. Pain relates to situations which are not eternal, to arrangements which evolve and change by their nature. To love just means we could not stand the shame of another’s degradation. To love is to precisely understand the shame of the situation -- and not to accept it.

Hope can only be inspired for a universal social truth which is actually wagered upon, where love engages and focuses our intensity. Love provokes us to create new kinds of spaces for living-together. To wager on an event is to become infected with patience, belief and confidence, and it is (for better or worse) to become an intense potential for social difference. We wager our singularities, and we have faith; only then can we create a new kind of situation. Faith has to be propelled; it doesn’t exist in rest. Transitory ontology is the science of trajectories: it perhaps provokes the deepest revelations, but never the deepest joys. That there is still a non-ontological space for thought today we perhaps owe to the stout-hearted endurance of joy.

Politics through the Abyss

We no longer need to be reminded that politics, and more generally ontology, are no longer concerned solely with concepts. We can even now question whether they have ever been. Ontology serenely and passionately desires to explain the primordial origin of all conceptual and actual order; whereas politics, slightly more modest, seeks to divine, explain and control the source of value, or ‘final’ motive towards social order. Political ontology is therefore not primarily concerned with concepts, but rather with social functions whose specific operation is division, or ideological concept whose essential modality is exclusion, separation. We should be alert for when a thinker is actually deploying ontological or political concepts, rather than simply dividing in an ontological or political way. For the consistency of a political axiom rests fundamentally on the actual effectiveness of the virtual distinctions it draws.

Our experience of political reality is intimately shaped by an careful community ‘surgery’ which conditions potential expressions of value. In practice, only a delicate subdivision accomplishes the total vision of faith, or ontology. A numerical theory of the event aims at continuity through becoming, where a genetic theory of society aims at becoming through intensity. The essence of the political is the abstract; the question of politics is first that of clarity. Accordingly, the truly political desire is a progression: from the will to transparency, to the will to distinction, and finally, the will to loyalty -- or the will to power.

Both ontology and politics are in effect a careful study of the potential varieties (and strata within varieties) of groups, masses, and milieus. More precisely, ontology presents the geometry of plausible inter-relations: mapping logical trajectories between evolving surfaces. Then ‘division’ is the ontological term, because whereas masses are indiscernible depths of correlation, surfaces present explicitly calculable interfaces. Surfaces are transversal for this reason, too: they skillfully restrain their powerful depths, maintain smooth boundaries even as they transcend, divide and encompass the inner abyss with a sublime act of distinction. For even (social and scientific) classes have to do, morphologically and genealogically, with an inclusion/exclusion apparatus, an integral divisibility of property and reality.

Ontological inferences are not simply mathematical distinctions; and political thought precisely remembers the reasons not to give into comfortable abstraction, or to yield to transcendence-claims distinguishing degrees of belonging. For if masses of any kind can be said have an interest in this sense, then the idea of justice even as disinterestedness should invite us to inquire whether and how they are cared for. Thus we can say that materialism (and even, in an ironic sense, its modern subversion) contains an important kernel of ethical truth, namely, that counting is not comprehending. Consider the different investments of intensity from a cursory scientific experiment which merely takes account of a sequence of events, to a mature scientific project which investigates interconnections between and within a variety of processes.

Similarly, framing social justice as an ontological distinction already begs the question of participation: for masses always have interests, even when ignored by those who ‘count.’ Counting can be seen as ‘disinterested’ only through a sublimation of inherited violence, a violence which imitates thought in its procedure of desire: to become invisible, to become shadow, to become ingrained even into the very geometry of the universe... finally even into the clarity of light itself.

Beyond the Count, Outside the Distinction

The territory of the count is not absolute: there are wanderers roaming about the edges, brave adventurers tracing paths into the void beyond the state. Of course, many break down-- but some inevitably break through. Those who escape the territory of the count are those in whom real thinking can occur. For Alain Badiou, political thought must take place at a distance from the state in a militant subject. Justice is pure disinterestedness, and the revolutionary’s ethic would have no substance if it were not for his unselfish confidence in the face of the event, his potential to become equal to the events of life.

For Gilles Deleuze, the question of political thought is enacted by mapping fields of differential intensity, offering the possibility of a process of healing social desire18. Deleuze believes we need a radical kind of post-institutional analysis which is forward-thinking and energetic, both critical and clinical, in order to produce results. This analysis is distinguished not by its specialized knowledge, but its ability to rearrange the blockage, misdirection and appropriation of desire by the machine. It is not a political project, but a new disciple whereby we can learn to create more healthy ecosystems -- mental, physical and social.

But what ties them together is not faith in the future, but rather a faith in an originary vision of society which has become possible from our modern perspective. We could not have gotten this far without bringing a past along with us; history has indispensable lessons for those even with the most humble or sweeping of goals. Above all, history teaches us that this moment is the event, a rare break in the linear flow of time where we still have the oppourtunity to intervene: but the mysteries held by the future are as dangerous as they are likely to be curative. Becomings of any sort should not be taken lightly.

The question is not: how are we to judge ontologies? For they already contain eschatologies, and dictate potential utopias. Ontology is mathematics only in that its goal is to become wholly symbolic. Logic lives in ontology’s dreamworld of an unbroken text. But utopia is not just a self-contained truth lodged within its own marking. Any particular ontology already has its entire future sewn within itself – and even its prehistory. Yet it is in the form of the intuition that prehistory shapes the present that we find a curious and golden thread running through Marx, Nietzsche and Freud. Their modern counterparts – Deleuze, Badiou and Whitehead – have taken a similar inspiration towards a new kind of metaphysics.

The Power of Fidelity

What does it mean to say we are faithful to a process? Do we affect the series of experiences in the same way the event affects us? Even if we are faithful observers, we are mirrors for the world, but we are still not in the picture. Authentic belief is a becoming-void and a becoming-full at once, a dangerous becoming-neither, indeed by an act of pure symmetry: turning something into nothing, turning nothing into something. Topologically, such a faithful subject could only be considered as the miraculous origin of the situation, the distinguishing void-point around which the entire symbolic coordination is achieved. Yet what is most interesting about this kind of conceptual apparatus is not its transitory stability but the implicit potential for evolution, counter-coordination, for provocation and mediation, in fact for the whole complex balance of authentic conviviality. Public space is ontology’s Being: the subject as void-origin just the inauguration of a new kind of public space, which is able to dispense with the hypocritical historical divisions between private ‘self’ and public ‘person.’ This division is the radical core of ontology, its danger and saving power – it is the dream of an ontology.

We should now consider what the power of fidelity means in terms of its construction of social divisions. Fidelity empowers a transitory subject as an event occupying a place between spaces, accomplishing their inter-involution. The topology glimpsed here is characteristic of the field of intensities which invest social drives. Fidelity invests prearranged divisions of space with asymmetrical value; it is the counter-part to a distinction. Badiou even claims fidelity is the operation of distinction[19].

Thus ontology, understood as a primary separation, would divide its own operation by faith alone. What indeed is theory, and what practice to such a subtractive, non-distributive ontology? For it is certainly not merely counting! If the object of ontology is Being, then practically our consideration is not political (at least primarily) -- but ethical and aesthetic. Transitory ontology proceeds from a passion to make being good, to make it beautiful, to make it make sense... and only secondarily recounts to make the first count just, to actually make the game fair.

But for the moment accepting the hypothesis, let’s suppose the question of the political is governed by a logic of interests. We would only be able to ask the historical, or genealogical question: how does the apparent order of political categories arise in the first place? Thus we have abandoned a total vision to attain the power of multiple distinctions; but these sublime clarities become blurred when re-cognized as heterogeneous but communicating spaces. Univocity becomes the mysteriously infinite power of division, singularization, disjunction. Jurisprudence is then stillborn as merely the power of distinction, the transient bifurcation of a wandering void.

In other words, if disinterestedness remains our criteria for justice, then the logic of politics collapses into a pseudo-logic of public and private spaces. The field of the political is introduced by a divisional logic. And if politics is the logic of interest, then thinking politically is only about fidelity, or loyalty – distinctly discerning within from without. My point is that finally this amounts to a violent surgical incision, an uncertain split which is claimed to found knowledge. Ontology understood thus deliberately provokes a suffering which reharmonizes our body into new rhythms, making of our bodies, our faces, and our minds a single goal: an object-lesson.

Transversality is something we do

A distinction serves a new axis of freedom for it allows access to new spaces of the machine, implies new trajectories of social movement. But insofar as distinction is a compressed sort of division, distinction also wounds us even as we ultimately escape its grasp. Though we remain but ghostly traces, the passion for division (almost!) fulfills our desire to be whole. In order to explain this, we must borrow the use of the term transversality from Felix Guattari.

Transversality is a group phenomena. It is the unconscious dynamic which propels the crowd forward. This aspect of transversal mappings is already the snare which prevents them as such from being politicized: that those who 'transversalize' their group become subject-groups, with definite desires, aims, goals, in short, identities. Then they have already created virtual subjugated groups, and in fact risk decaying themselves into dependency upon a reified transversality, which is already an outdated and neurotic fetish.

Guattari writes that transversality means the unconscious source of action in the group. There are no objective limits it cannot exceed, no ontological ruptures which a transversal mapping cannot reconstitute. Transversality carries the groups' desire. We cannot separate this from a political or ethical sense to transversality as well:

"It is my hypothesis that there is nothing inevitable about the bureaucratic self-multilation of a subject group, or its unconscious report to mechanisms that militate against its potential transversality. They depend, from the first moment, on an acceptance of the risk -- which accompanies the emergence of any phenomena of real meaning -- of having to confront irrationality, death, and the otherness of the other." (Guattari, Molecular Revolution 23)

Transversality, as I see it, is an involution of social desire which transfigures reality by scrambling and reordering all of the infinite segments of experience – maximizing their potential. To speak of the pure transversal is in a sense dishonest, because it isn’t, it becomes, it’s already speaking. It is the flowing of speech and even of comprehension itself. Transversality should be thought immanently, not transcendently. For the pure transversal would be the very source of order, in fact the opposite of its aim which is to draw lines of flight towards potential sites of resistance or escape. Thus thought becomes poetry if we describe it figuratively; after all, the transversal is not a point, but the flowing and endless remapping and self-organizing of singularities. Just as with distinction, the transversal ought to be thought of as more a function than a concept, a process than a singularized event. Transversality is not something you think; it’s something we do!

The transversal aspect of distinction allows us to describe what underlies the investments of social intensity in the political field. Deleuze is undoubtedly correct on this point: desiring-machines invest unconscious and even preconscious interests. These are either repressed or transversalized, in any case, no matter how deep the division, we are always reterritorialized into subject groups with identities and desires. Our desires, political or otherwise, seem to express themselves as though formed and even enunciated by complex machine of coordinating energy, force and power. Ontology is a symptom of the social deflection of transversality -- in this case inevitably into transcendence, beyond the social. Thus the will to power is identical to the will to truth only if society is to be abandoned.

But, above all, society must be defended. Love names the most disinterested emotion and thus also the most dangerous, the most radical of passions, whose evocation already demands a new becoming, a transversalization of hope into eternity. Certainly faith is never far from love, nor hope from good works: this simple paradox by which abundant organic health invests the whole field of social desire with its intensity is the essential mystery and goodness of love. Faith is involution itself, a counter-revolution which is yet ever more radical, demanding ever different intensities to be deployed: successively, in parallel, and finally even in transversal couplings, fractally self-dividing until it finally submerges itself purely in itself, whole, immanent and sublime. But to demand even more of love, to demand that it explicitly accomplish a transcendent self-reunification of being is too much. Being is a fractal machine, not a perfect circle: to replace ontology by mathematics is to abandon the field of social intensities at the very moment when it is the most ripe for revolution -- that is, when it is in the most danger of annihilation.


Over the last century, an epistemological inversion engulfed and splintered our experience of the world like a tidal wave. We have been shaken by a tremendous earthquake of uncertainty -- until we have reached the point scholars and scientists alike have actually become afraid of hard judgments and decisive evaluations. Psychologically speaking, this is a symptom of a withering envy, amidst weakening decadence; and at the very least, many thinkers have betray their social function by losing the confidence they once possessed of the power of the concept to approach, and to change, the real.

After phenomenology, ontology is the only science which really asks: does it make sense any longer to follow rules, to make copies of models, to mold ourselves in the images of icons, to become obedient before a sovereign truth? Ontology is the dream of inventing, invigorating and commanding an army of truths, and in turn to humbly ‘obey’ them; and thus to exhaust the potential geometries of sense: this is a more apt description of the goal of the conventional ontological process than as a second-order phenomenology. For there is no outside of being studied by ontology, the other is subsumed completely within the same. That I am another is already a poet’s fancy; indeed it would be much more incisive to say: there is an other within me, between myself and myself. Thus the fractured tautology could at least postpone its inevitable collapse.

My aim here has been to suggest that ontology be reformulated as an immanent science of harmonics, a materialist dynamics of social intensities in time and space. Division is not sufficient, and already betrays the nature of the metaphysical relation to the other. We have to be extremely careful here: the other is a purely immanent transcendence -- as the extreme cusp at the apex of a range of mountains. The other is a primary investment of the world prior to my own separate journey. The leap between us is infinite; any path across would also fly between the irreducibly separated spaces. No distance could traverse it; our separation is absolute. This division is atheism, and it is already the ontological situation, that is: an irreducible separation is the foundation of faith. For events are communities, even entire ecosystems: an ontology without ethics would become an ontology without reason. Thought becomes real when it involves itself in the situation, through complex assemblages of spaces delicately cloven by rigorous distinctions-- but seems to shutter and shake when confronted with the void of non-reason, the abyss of nonsense or the primary experience of multiple disjunctions.

The present, this convergence of heterogeneous series, is a primary experience which is ontologically non-describable. The truth of reality is an indiscernible which is quickly becoming-imperceptible. A transcendent relation to the infinite is implicit in any divisional algorithm which would claim to predict the future, even if it claimed to found order upon the void by infinitely subjecting yet another new assemblage of forces to its sovereign ownership and control. The grasp of ontology seems boundless, but it is not infinite, and despite Cantor not yet having been made capable of approaching the infinite. For ontology itself has not yet been made calculable, it is still its own indiscernible, and is incapable of recognizing itself as being an artifact of the arrangement of power sources in the social field, from whom its light and energy and sense emanate. Even transitory ontology only provokes the projective geometry of situations towards revolution, unable to conceive of a purely immanent involution other than as a pure act of faith.

Faith in separation alone is nothing but a desperate escape from a dangerous or inconsistent situation, precisely when we should be on the lookout for novelty (or at least a weapon!) Furthermore, by evoking a primary interface to a ‘transcendent’ plane of immanence, we imprudently (and quite impotently) presume a relation with the absolutely Other. Politically speaking, we need to forget the subject and transcendence. We should focus on redistributing intensities across the immanent social field of desires. “In a word, the social as well as biological surroundings are the object of unconscious investments that are necessarily desiring or libidinal, in contrast with the preconscious investments of need or of interest. The libido as sexual energy is the direct investment of the masses, of large aggregates, and of social and organic fields.”20


1 cf. Being and Event, especially Meditation 35 (‘Theory of the Subject’) in which we see that “the subject is literally separated from knowledge by chance. The subject is chance, vanquished term by term, but this victory, subtracted from language, is accomplished solely as truth.” (Being and Event 397)

2 “The singular relation of a subject to the truth whose procedure it supports is the following: the subject believes there is a truth, and this belief occurs in the form of a knowledge.” (ibid) 

3 “In an intellectual feeling the datum is the generic contrast between a nexus of actual entities and a proposition with its logical subjects’ members of the nexus.” (Process and Reality 407, Whitehead 1929)

4 In Deleuze’s sense, “there has only ever been one ontological proposition: Being is univocal... A single voice raises the clamour of being... What is important is that we can conceive of several formally distinct senses which none the less refer to being as if to a single designated entity, ontologically one.” (Difference and Repeition, Deleuze 35)

5 Alain Badiou, Bodies, Language, Truths (article, 2006)

6 “Thus ultimately all science depends upon direct observation of homology of status within a system. Also the observed system is the complex of geometrical relations within some presented locus... a loci of entities in ‘unison of becoming’ obviously depends on the actual entities... The factor of temporal endurance selected for any one actuality will depend upon its initial ‘subjective aim.’” Alfred North Whitehead (Process and Reality, 195)

7 “For if being is one, then one must posit that what is not one, the multiple, is not. But this is unacceptable for thought, because what is presented is multiple and one cannot see how there be an access to being outside all phenomena.” (Being and Event 23, Badiou 2006)

8 Alain Badiou. Bodies, Language, Truth (2006)

9 As Ellrich observes regarding Difference and Repetition, “Deleuze argues that the construction of distinctions without negation is not just possible, but absolutely necessary, if we wish to break the spell of representational thought and dialectics” (Lutz Ellrich 2003, “Negativity and Difference: On Gilles Deleuze’s Criticism of Dialectics”)

10 “It is better to do nothing than to contribute to the invention of formal ways of rendering visible that which Empire already recognizes as existent.” (Fifteen Theses on Contemporary Art, Badiou 2003)

11 Genealogy of Morals (Nietzsche 58, tr. Kauffman1969)

12 “The one-truth, which assembles to infinity the terms positively investigated by the faithful procedure, is indiscernible in the language of the situation... It is a generic part of the situation insofar as it is an immutable excresence [something not represented in the situation, but present as operation] whose entire being resides in regrouping presented terms.” (396 Being and Event, Badiou 2006)

13 “With respect to the doctrine of the subject, the individual examination of each of the generic truth procedures will open up to an aesthetics, to a theory of science, to a philosophy of politics, and, finally, to the arcana of love; to an intersection without fusion with psychoanalysis. All modern art, all the incertitudes of science, everything ruined Marxism prescribes as a militant task, everything, finally, which the name fo Lacan designates will be met with, reworked, and traversed by a philosophy restored to its time by clarified categories.” (Being and Event 435, Badiou 2006)

14 Anti-Oedipus 374. Also cf. John Protevi from Between Derrida and Deleuze (London 2002): “Love is the call to enter that virtual and open up the actual, to install inclusive disjunction so that roads not taken are still accessible, so that we might experiment and produce new bodies.”

15 cf. Deleuze and Guattari in Anti-Oedipus (380-381): “...desiring-production produces the real, and... desire has little to do with fantasy and dream... Schizoanalysis merely asks what are the machinic, social and technical indices on a socius that open to desiring-machines, that enter into the parts, wheels and motors of these machines, as much as they cause them to enter into their own parts, wheels, and motors.”

16 “...[Fidelity is] the procedure by means of which one discerns, in a situation, the multiples whose existence is linked to the name of the event that been put into circulation by an intervention.” (Badiou 2006, Being and Event 507)

17 cf. Anti-Oedipus 367, where Deleuze writes: “Nonfigurative loves, indices of a revolutionary investment of the social field, and which are neither Oedipal nor pre-Oedipal since it all amounts to the same thing, but innocently anoedipal, and which give the revolutionary the right to say: ‘Oedipus? Never heard of it.’”

18 “The task of schizoanalysis is ultimately that of discovering for every case the nature of the libidinal investments of the social field, their possible internal conflicts, their relationships with the preconscious investments of the same field, their possible conflicts with these--in short, the entire interplay of the desiring-machines and the repression of desire.” (Deleuze, Anti-Oedipus 382)

19 “I call fidelity the set of procedures which discern, within a situation, those multiples whose existence depends upon the introduction into circulation... of an evental multiple.” (Badiou 2006, Being and Event 233)

20 Deleuze 1977, Anti-Oedipus 292

Works Cited

Badiou, Alain. Being and Event. Continuum Press, London: 2006. Trans. of L’etre et L’evenement. Editions du Seuil, 1988 by Oliver Feltham.
Felix Guattari. Molecular Revolution: Psychiatry and Politics (1984). Trans. Rosemary Sheed. Selected essays from Psychanalyse et transversalité (1972) and La révolution moléculaire (1977).
Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, Anti-Oedipus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia. Viking Press, New York: 1977. Trans. of Anti-Oedipe. Les Editions de Minuit, Paris: 1972, by Hurley, Seem, and Lane.
Gilles Deleuze. Logic of Sense. Columbia University Press: 1990. Original from Les Editions de Minuit, Paris 1969, by Mark Lester and Charles Stivale.
Freidrich Nietzsche. Genealogy of Morals (1887). Oxford University Press: 1996. Translated by David Smith.
Alfred North Whitehead. Process and Reality: An Essay in Cosmology. MacMillan Company, New York: 1929.
Lutz Ellrich. “Negativity and Difference: On Gilles Deleuze’s Criticism of Dialectics” Modern Language Notes 111 no. 3 (1996), 463-487

Wandering Fidelity: the State of the Political in Badiou and Deleuze-Guattari

“Our quarrel can be formulated in a number of ways. We could approach it by way of some novel questions such as, for example: how is it that, for Deleuze, politics is not an autonomous form of thought, a singular section of chaos, one that differs from art, science and philosophy? This point alone bears witness to our divergence, and there is a sense in which everything can be said to follow from it.” --Alain Badiou[1]

“Freedom, and by the way, what Freedom? ‘Subject-group,’ Freedom as Subject. Deleuze and Guattari don’t hide this much: return to Kant, here’s what they came up with to exorcise the Hegelian ghost.” --Alain Badiou[2]

“It definitely makes sense to look at the various ways individuals and groups constitute themselves as subjects through processes of subject-ification: what counts in such processes is the extent to which, as they take shape, they elude both established forms of knowledge and the dominant forms of power. Even if they in turn engender new forms of power or become assimilated into new forms of knowledge. For a while, though, they have a real rebellious spontaneity. This is nothing to do with going back to ‘the subject,’ that is, to something invested with duties, power, and knowledge. One might equally well speak of new kinds of event, rather than processes of subjectification: events that can’t be explained by the situations that give rise to them, or into which they lead.” --Gilles Deleuze[3]

With Being and Event recently translated, Alain Badiou has now enjoyed over a decade of philosophical clamor in English. His contentions with Deleuze over multiplicity, ontology, truth and the event (among other things) have already sparked numerous responses in various forms. The continued explosion of material onto the academic scene comparing these thinkers could be due to Badiou’s energetic polemical nature and the fact that he continues to produce boldly precise criticisms of Deleuze. One of those criticisms involves pointing out that Deleuze does not consider politics to be an autonomous form of thought. For Badiou, this exemplifies the reasons for their divergence and everything can be said to follow. This paper is an attempt to answer this provocative thought with a conjunctive analysis of the various political concepts that we find in these thinkers in order to imagine how the situation might proceed otherwise than divergence. The problem concerns a different current of thought that creates a space of affirmation for the coexistence and hybridization of the assemblages that populate the theoretical worlds of Badiou and Deleuze-Guattari.

Fidelity and Nomadic Thought

Jumping straight to the heart of Being and Event we find in Meditation 23 the introduction to the concept of fidelity. I say concept, but we find within the notion of fidelity a complex network enveloping not only the event and the subject, but also the State and possible counter-states involved with an other legitimate count. The most straightforward definition of fidelity begins the meditation: “I call fidelity the set of procedures which discern, within a situation, those multiples whose existence depends upon the introduction into circulation (under the supernumerary name conferred by an intervention) of an evental multiple” (232). Therefore, fidelity is three things: (1) a functional relation to the event, (2) an operation of the count-as-one of the regulated effects of an event by marking multiples as to their (non)-inclusion the groupings of multiples related to the event, and (3) a process that includes these group-multiples in the situation by operating on the terrain of the state of the situation, effectuating another count that legitimates a new space of political representation (233).

A process of fidelity must always make enquiries into situations because of its finite nature with respect to the infinity of situations themselves. An enquiry is a term that Badiou gives to any “finite series of atoms of connection for a fidelity” (234). Fidelity requires faithfulness “to the event that we are” because it is “an almost-nothing of the state, or…a quasi-everything of the situation” (235). Here Badiou highlights the statist aspect of fidelity clearly: fidelity, as another count, oscillates between a break with the old state of affairs in which presented multiples are unrepresented, to the establishment of a new, legitimate count in which hitherto excluded multiples can be said to be included and represented. These two moves are coextensive, but there are two negative forms in which fidelity can present itself, and philosophy must safeguard itself from falling into these traps.

The two illegitimate claims of fidelity can be reduced to a statist or spontaneist thesis on the one hand and the dogmatic thesis on the other. On the side of the former, a multiple is said to be connected to the event only under the condition that it belongs to it. Badiou equates this with the view that “the only ones who can take part in an event are those who made it such” (237). On the other hand, a dogmatic fidelity would claim to be coextensive with the presentation of the situation: this amounts to positing that “every multiple depends on the event” (237). Either a limited number of representatives belong according to the statist thesis, or a maximum number of presented multiples are in fact represented in the guise of the state of the situation’s goal to make sure all multiples are accounted for. Between these two operations that are linked to statist functions, Badiou proposes a generic fidelity. This typology of fidelities allows for Badiou to claim that the generic type is “definitively distinct from the state if, in some manner, it is unassignable to a defined function of the state; if, from the standpoint of the state, its result is a particularly nonsensical part” (237). In fact, this nonsensical part constitutes a real fidelity because it “establishes dependencies which for the state are without concept, and it splits—via successive finite states—the situation in two, because it also discerns a mass of multiples which are indifferent to the event” (237). Fidelity, in its truly legitimate power, must sever itself from the state and begin an arduous journey that I can only describe as a becoming-nomadic. If the fidelity is to perform legitimately both its role as count and as operator of connection, then it must effectively de-center its procedure through a nomadic escape route from the state—it must become-imperceptible in rendering itself unassignable and nonsensical to the dominant state of affairs.

But now we are back to where we began with fidelity: linked to the state in its role as operator of connection and inclusion, fidelity can be nothing less than a “counter-state,” otherwise known as “within the situation, another legitimacy of inclusions.” (238). Here is where the genuine role of the subject shines forth. In fact, the subject is split in a definitive way in Badiou’s theory: between subjectivization and subjective process. The former is linked to the concepts attached to intervention—the circulation of the name of the event—and the latter is linked to the concepts attached to fidelity—the operator of connection grouping multiples related to the event. Since Badiou holds that “A non-institutional fidelity is a fidelity which is capable of discerning the marks of the event at the furthest point from the event,” it becomes imperative for Badiou to split the event in two and argue for an additional supplement in order to assure fidelity’s legitimate actualization (237).

This is the fabulous moment in Badiou’s edifice, where, like the event, the subject disappears as it appears. This occurs only insofar as Badiou is careful to mention: “I will call subject the process itself of liaison between the event (thus the intervention) and the procedure of fidelity (thus its operator of connection)” (239). Yet in the next paragraph, Badiou proposes a radical hypothesis: “If, however, we suppose that there is no relation between intervention and fidelity, we will have to admit that the operator of connection in fact emerges as a second event. If there is indeed a complete hiatus between…the intervention and the faithful discernment…then we must acknowledge that, apart from the event itself, there is another supplement to the situation which is the operator of fidelity. And this will be all the more true the more real the fidelity is, thus the less close it is to the state, the less institutional” (239). Not only will this fidelity be more legitimate because it is less institutional, but it will also be legitimate insofar as the subject’s two halves never join to constitute it. Like Descartes and Lacan, Badiou divides the subject, except along other boundaries: the subject of fidelity and the subject of connection. Since Badiou defines the subject as the corresponding link between these two halves, the true faithful process requires us to think of processes of subjectivity without a subject.

Badiou writes with this same thought in mind in his Metapolitics: “(Bourgeois) ideology is characterized by the notion of subject, whose matrix is legal and which subjects the individual to the ideological State apparatuses: this is the theme of ‘subjective interpellation.’ It is crucial to note that ideology, whose materiality is provided by the apparatuses, is a statist notion, and not a political notion. The subject, in Althusser’s sense, is a function of the State. Thus, there will be no political subject, because revolutionary politics cannot be a function of the State” (63). So Badiou’s convoluted remarks about the subject become clearer with these statements, especially the subject of politics: not only is there no subject in so far as fidelity and intervention must be split to render a counter-state (or counter-count) legitimate, but also there is no political subject in so far as this subject is merely understood in terms of ideological state apparatuses that pre-establish socio-symbolic coordinates through which we must then come to occupy through a sort of becoming-accountable via the state. For Badiou, ontology has nothing to say about the event, but it also has no consistent stance toward those subjects that are presumably faithful to the events that inspire truth procedures, procedures that remain vital insofar as they articulate concrete divisions between the subjects that arise through disparate conditions, such as love, politics, science, and art. This is the first indication that there is a crack in Badiou’s theory of the autonomy of these conditions and their respectively singular subjects.

It almost seems ironic that two terms that Badiou utterly despises come to take on a fuller and broader significance when brought to bear upon this theoretical slippage. I’m referring to nomadic multiplicities and the lines of flight that constitute the speed of their deterritorialization. As early as Anti-Oedipus, Deleuze and Guattari formulate some sketches for what seem to be two powerful concepts in light of this impasse. For example, how is the operator of connection supposed to be evaluated in terms of its proximity to the state (or the count of a projected new one)? Fidelity must become nomadic in order to develop the group-multiplicities that depend on the event. A sedentary fidelity will ultimately lapse back into resurrecting the old body of the former count and will never be able to develop the consistency and rigor of a new subjective space for the representation of the excluded. Even Badiou’s rendition of St. Paul can be read in this way—the apostolic discourse spread through a nomadic, epistolary intervention that steadily worked through a universalism for the construction of an egalitarian count (otherwise known as the Church). Fidelity must become nomadic, and this means that it has to be able to map out the lines of flight escaping and leaking from major power centers. A nomadic enquiry and fidelity is necessary insofar as the state is hostile to the wandering void and indifferent towards events and the truths they inspire.

The minor mode of a nomadic fidelity enquires into different molecular flows, invents and sustains lines of flight that are not mere metaphors as Badiou assumes them to be. In A Thousand Plateaus, Deleuze and Guattari give a good example of a refined understanding of Badiou’s project: “The law of the State is not the law of All or Nothing (State societies or counter-State societies) but that of interior and exterior. The State is sovereignty. But sovereignty only reigns over what it is capable of internalizing, or appropriating locally” (360). Here the question of the operator of connection in a fidelity is transposed onto a problematic relating the 'internalizing' function of the state's count and the externality of the multiples presumed to be illegal according to the state-of-the situation. Deleuze and Guattari are unequivocal when it comes to this principle of leakage or drift from the state's power to assure its own count: "Every central power has three aspects or zones: (1) its zone of power, relating to the segments of a solid rigid line; (2) its zone of indiscernibility, relating to its diffusion throughout a microphysical fabric; (3) its zone of impotence, relating to the flows and quanta it can only convert without being able to control or define. It is always from the depths of its impotence that each power center draws its power, hence their extreme maliciousness, and vanity” (226). These three zones correspond to Badiou’s state-of-the-situation, the alternate space opened up through another count, and the zone of impotence that relates to the multiples that escape the state’s capacity for representation. Fidelity must be able to seize upon and alter the terrain of this impotence. By locating these weak zones, a successful nomadic count attains the potential for destabilizing the official state of the situation. But the power that is unlocked by the event has to organize itself in such a way that the new count is a truly revolutionary investment; otherwise, the state can always contort its surface in order to axiomatize revolutionary desire back into preconscious class interests.

The Reactionary and the Revolutionary

This leads us into a deeper discussion of fidelity insofar as Badiou comments on a fault in the construction of his system in his Ethics. In the “Preface to the English Edition” written 12 years after his main work, Badiou writes: “The subject cannot be conceived exclusively as the subject faithful to the event. This point in particular has significant ethical implications. For I was previously unable to explain the appearance of reactionary innovations. My whole theory of the new confined it to the truth-procedures…I was then obliged to admit that the event opens a subjective space in which not only the progressive and truthful subjective figure of fidelity but also other figures every bit as innovative, albeit negative—such as the reactive figure, or the figure I call the ‘obscure subject’—take their place” (lvii). Badiou’s concept gains extra clarity in relation to what Deleuze and Guattari analyze in terms of the revolutionary and the reactionary poles of a social body. They theorize these terms through a synthesis of two concepts: the split between subject-groups and subjugated-groups and the division between pre-conscious interests and unconscious libidinal investments. Through developing the interactions between these two concepts we will be able to understand how Deleuze and Guattari thoroughly provide a theory that is subtle enough to see the dangers in a simple opposition between the reactionary and the revolutionary.

In Anti-Oedipus Deleuze and Guattari stress that the duality of revolutionary/reactionary does not function in the same way on the preconscious and unconscious levels: “The preconscious revolutionary break is sufficiently well defined by the promotion of a socius as a full body carrying new aims, as a form of power or a formation of sovereignty that subordinates desiring-production under new conditions. But even though the unconscious libido is charged with investing this socius, its investment is not necessarily revolutionary in the same sense as the preconscious investment. In fact, the unconscious revolutionary break implies for its part the body without organs as the limit of the socius that desiring-production subordinates in its turn, under the condition of an overthrown power, an overthrown subordination” (347). What becomes clear in the pages that follow this is the fact that these are two ways of looking at desire: on the one hand, desire refers to a break “between two forms of socius, the second of which is measured according to its capacity to introduce the flows of desire into a new code or a new axiomatic of interest (348). But this is to still invest the new socius with values that subordinate desiring-production to the criteria of possibility that are pre-established with the former socius. On the other hand, the unconscious revolutionary break “is within the socius itself, in that it has the capacity for causing the flows of desire to circulate following their positive lines of escape, and for breaking them again following breaks of productive breaks “(348). Again, Deleuze and Guattari are unequivocal when they write, “Truly revolutionary preconscious interests do not necessarily imply unconscious investments of the same nature; an apparatus of interest never takes the place of a machine of desire” (348). The task of the unconscious libidinal investments, then, is linked to the making possible of the logic whereby the intervention and the procedure of fidelity—undeniably dislocated due to the criterion of legitimacy—are able to function by “subjugat[ing] the large aggregate to the functional multiplicities that it itself forms on the molecular scale” (348). Could it be possible that the finite enquiries of a fidelity are molecular in the sense that they subordinate the state of affairs to a network of alternative legitimate inclusions, thereby creating novel processes of selection of the counting operations that effectuate positive political representation?

This reading is a tempting path to follow. However, at another level the corresponding conceptualization of the subjugated-group and subject-group brings to light just how mistaken Badiou was when he argued in his early essay that Deleuze and Guattari are merely returning to the Kantian subject. For unlike Badiou’s conception of the ‘good’ subject faithful to the event and the ‘obscure’ subject that is vaguely irrational yet innovative, Deleuze and Guattari argue for a more supple theory that allows for us to understand why and how subjugated groups and subject-groups continually spin off and turn into each other. Instead of invoking the fullness or emptiness of the void, these two groups have to be related to indices of the revolutionary or reactionary potential in preconscious and unconscious investments. And unlike the subjugated group that enslaves desiring-production to a pre-formed state, “the subject-group invents always mortal formations that exorcise the effusion in it of a death instinct: it opposes real coefficients of transversality to the symbolic determinations of subjugation, coefficients without a hierarchy or a group super-ego” (348-349). Another question comes to mind with these lines: is it possible to think of every count, including fidelity’s counter-count insofar as it still remains a statist notion, as supporting the formation of subject-groups if the former is suffused with an inherent, transitory mortality? This makes sense with the definition of enquiry that Badiou gives: the finitude of representation versus the infinity of situations—in other words, because enquiries are by their nature recursive, can we think of mortal fidelities as a concept that can help theorize not only the reduction of the power of the state, but also the exploitation of its weaknesses and blindspots in relation to the events and truths that escape them?

These mortal formations embody the infinity of the organizations of new legitimate subject spaces through mortal counter-states that continually undermine the preconscious interests of exclusive classes. In fact, Badiou has come close to arguing this sort of duality, though with different terms and concepts. For example, his essay “Philosophy and Politics” begins to make more sense in light of the subjugated/subject-group dichotomy: “Any definitional and programmatic approach to justice turns it into a dimension of the action of the State. But the State has nothing to do with justice, for the State is not a subjective and axiomatic figure…The modern State aims solely at fulfilling certain functions, or at crafting a consensus of opinion. Its sole subjective dimension is that of transforming economic necessity—that is, the objective logic of Capital—into resignation or resentment. This is why any programmatic or State definition of justice changes the latter into its contrary: justice becomes the harmonization of the interplay of interests. But justice, which is the theoretical name for an axiom of equality, necessarily refers to an entirely disinterested subjectivity” (55). This dualism between the interests of political non-thought and disinterest as the true subjectivity of political thought finds a similar articulation in Deleuze and Guattari, for they write: “In the subjugated groups, desire is still defined by an order of causes and aims, and itself weaves a whole system of macroscopic relation that determine the large aggregates under a formation of sovereignty. Subject-groups on the other hand have as their sole cause a rupture with causality, a revolutionary line of escape” (377). This revolutionary line of escape is justice (in Badiouian terms) insofar as it cuts a diagonal of thought transversal to both the State and its promotions of interests (including preconscious interest groups and their respective subsets). Distinguishing subject-groups and subjugated groups should involve asking about the nature of justice and whether or not these concerns are disinterested in terms of the State.

Conclusion: Masses, Classes and Moles

I learned that [Deleuze and Guattari] had spoken approvingly of my little book De l’ideologie for the way in which I put into play, at the core of political processes, the distinction between ‘class’ and ‘mass.’ –Alain Badiou[4]

Love, for Badiou, takes off where politics ends (Metapolitics 151). For Deleuze and Guattari, love is the index of the reactionary or revolutionary character of the social investments of the libido (Anti-Oedipus 352). Moreover, politics for Deleuze and Guattari pervades the social whole—it precedes being (A Thousand Plateaus 203). This can be considered one of the axioms of schizoanalysis because the latter is the “analysis of desire” and is “immediately practical and political whether it is a question of an individual, group, or society. For politics precedes being. Practice does not come after the emplacement of the terms and their relationships, but actively participates in the drawing of the lines; it confronts the same dangers and the same variations as the emplacement does. Schizoanalysis is like the art of the new” (203). Schizoanalysis should be understood to include the self-recursive observer space that the construction of a new political subjective space entails. It analyzes the ways in which different groups in relation to their desire are already stratified through the segments that divide them. Furthermore, schizoanalysis argues that desire is always contorted by these divisions. This torsion entails an affirmation of the ways that political spaces are consequently segmented by this deterritorialization. This analysis can reveal effective ways of changing our methods of inclusion that must involve a decision that wagers on the becoming-legal of a subject through the process of fidelity.

We will wager against Badiou that there is no strict division of the conditions of philosophy into four sutures—instead the social field is overflowing with a blossoming of subjects that are segmented in different ways, and these types are not reducible to static categories like love, science, art, and politics. In fact, Deleuze and Guattari make this clear by arguing that “art and science have a revolutionary potential, and nothing more, and that this potential appears all the more as one is less and less concerned with what art and science mean…but that art and science cause increasingly decoded and deterritorialized flows to circulate in the socius, flows that are perceptible to everyone, which force the social axiomatic to grow ever more complicated, to become more saturated, to the point where the scientist and the artist may be determined to rejoin an objective revolutionary situation in reaction against authoritarian designs of a State that is incompetent and above all castrating” (Anti-Oedipus 379). This can occur when the scientists and artists become unbound from the state and therefore become-nomadic. This will allow them more freedom from the sedentary domain of the state and cause the flows of their productivity to enhance the depth and energy that has to suffuse fidelity in order to force it to get up, move about and enquire into the situation.

But doesn’t the social axiomatic relate to the functionality of the state’s accountability? In other words, when Badiou stresses that, in forming a counter-state, “fidelity operates on the terrain [my emphasis] of the state of the situation,” we should understand fidelity to subordinate the “conditions” of philosophy to the deterritorializations that unlock molecular flows on the terrain or topography of a new representative subjective space. This should hold for all four of the conditions, and once we understand that desire creates real effects in the terrain of fidelity, we should be able to theorize more abstractly about the operations under which collective statements are formed.

This brings me to Deleuze’s seminar “Dualism, Monism and Multiplicities (Desire-Pleasure-Jouissance).” Deleuze refers to a book called the Sexual Life in Ancient China, and in it we find descriptions of “manuals of love and manuals of military strategy are indiscinerible” (92). Through the torsion of deterritorializations, what seem to be unrelated discursive areas somehow become twisted in a parallel genesis. In other words, Deleuze theorizes that there are social transformations at work that produce a co-development of seemingly autonomous cultural spheres. Deleuze follows this thread up by trying to find a conceptual gateway to these phenomena without the concepts of structuralism or Marxism. In fact, Deleuze goes so far as to invoke an abstract machine and a machinic point, the latter designating, for a given collectivity and at a given moment “the maximum of deterritorialization as well as, and at the same time, its power of innovation” (93). Another paper topic would be able to analyze Badiou’s conditions in terms of abstract machines that cover a social space and refer to machinic points that indicate the speeds at which machinic assemblages of love, war, science, and art can be deterritorialized and reterritorialized according to—what Guattari would have called—existential refrains and incorporeal universes of value (93).

The social axiomatic is being challenged in other ways as well. For the terrain of a fidelity is crisscrossed by flows and segments: “one distinguishes between the molecular aspect and the molar aspect: on the one hand, masses or flows, with their mutations, quanta of deterritorialization, connections, and accelerations; on the other hand, classes or segments, with their binary organization, resonance, conjunction or accumulation, and line of overcoding favoring one line over the others” (221). Masses and classes? Sounds familiar—let’s see if we can detect the slightest hint of admiration in the footnote attached the section I just quoted: “Alain Badiou and Francois Balmes advance a more objective hypothesis: masses are ‘invariants’ that oppose the State-form in general and exploitation, whereas classes are the historical variables that determine the concrete State, and in the case of the proletariat, the possibility of its effective dissolution; De l’ideologie [Paris: Maspero, 1976]. But it is difficult to see, first of all, why masses are not themselves historical variables, and second, why the word is applied only to the exploited (the ‘peasant-plebeian’ mass), when it is also suitable for seigneurial, bourgeois masses-or even monetary masses” (A Thousand Plateaus fn. 20, p. 537).

This small footnote can allow us to see a much broader picture concerning fidelity. There are a vast multiplicity of fidelities that spread throughout the social body with preconscious interests and unconscious investments. These multiplicities are also variable in their typology and are constructed and revised, divided and revisioned through singular processes. Each ‘mass’ has to be analyzed along with the abstract machines to which the process of creating a new subjective space endows itself with actuality. Different masses, too, are striated and segmented by the hierachization of class interests that tie the former to promoting their interests back into the given state of the situation. A transversal of thought must be crafted in order to render these interests indifferent by light of the truths that chance to infuse the social body with enough energy to transform—for better or worse.

[1] Badiou, Alain. “One, Multiple, Multiplicities.” Theoretical Writings. Trans. Ray Brassier and Alberto Toscano. Continuum, London: (2006). p.69.

[2] Badiou, Alain. “The Flux and the Party: In the Margins of Anti-Oedipus.” Trans. Alberto Toscano. Polygraph 15/16: (2004). p. 79.

[3] Deleuze, Gilles with Antonio Negri. “Control and Becoming.” Trans. Martin Joughin. Futur Anterieur 1 (Sptring 1990).

[4] Badiou, Alain. Deleuze: The Clamor of Being. Trans. Louis Burchill. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P, 2000. p.2.