File spoon-archives/lyotard.archive/lyotard_2001/lyotard.0108, message 55

Date: Wed, 08 Aug 2001 22:48:57 -0500
Subject: Re: Lyotard and Empire


No problem if you are over the top. Keep in mind, my own agenda is the
following. Keep open a different reception of Lyotard from the cliches
found in the lit-crit anthologies.  From my POV, Lyotard never lapses
into nostalgia, and therefore, it isn't fair to call him a pessimist. 
IMHO he always pushed for resistance, refusal and passive rebellion even
when there seemed no other way out. The keynote in late LyoTARD is
ambiguity, not despair. 

The question remains, how does Empire complexify Lyotard's own
conception of complexity, as this is found in his later works. N&H don't
seem to be denying  the condition as much as saying it allows for
certain unforeseen transformations. Perhaps.  

You asked me for my take on multitudes.  I see it as deriving both from
Deleuze and Guattari and Spinoza.

Here is some background from 1,000 plateaus - as you will see, it is
central to the main conceptions of this book!

These words are concepts, but concepts are lines, which is to say,
number systems attached to a particular dimension of the multiplicities
(strata, molecular chains, lines of flight or rupture, circles of
convergence, etc.)  

All we know are assemblages.  And the only assemblages are machinic
assemblages of desire and collective assemblages of enunciation... 
An assemblage, in its multiplicity, necessarily acts on semiotic flows,
material flows and social flows simultaneously.

A body without organs is not an empty body stripped of organs, but a
body upon which that which serves as organs (wolves, wolf eyes, wolf
jaw?) is distributed according to crowd phenomena, in Brownian motion,
in the form of molecular multiciplicities.  The desert is populous.

People say, After all, schizophrenics have a mother and a father, don't
they?  Sorry, no none as such. They only have a desert with tribes
inhabiting it, a full body clinging with multiplicities.  

This brings us to the second factor, the nature of these multiplicities
and their elements, RHIZOME.

Lines of flight or deterritorialization, becoming wolf, becoming
inhuman, deterritorialized intensities: that is what multiplicity is. 

Thus we find in the work of the mathematician and physicist Riemann a
distinction between discreet multiplicities and continuous

We are doing approximately the same thing when we distinguish between
arborescent multiplicities and rhizomatic multiplicities.  Between
macro- and micromultiplicities.

The elements of this second kind of multiplicity are particles: their
relations are distances, their movements are Brownian: the quantities
are intensities, difference in intensity.

Among the characteristics of a pack are small or restricted numbers,
dispersion, noncomposable variable distances, qualitative metamorphoses,
inequalities as remainders or crossings, impossibility of a fixed
totalization or hierarchization, a Brownian variability in direction,
lines of deterritorialization, and projection of particles.

In a pack each member is alone even in the company of others...each
takes care of himself at the same time as participating in the band...he
may be in the center, and then immediately afterwards, at the edge
again; at the edge and then back in the center.

Now here is how Negri sees multiplicity is Spinoza:

This new quality of the subject, that is, opens up to the sense of the
multiplicity of subjects and to the constructive power that emanates
from their dignity, understood as totality.  

Spinoza republican thought contains three elements: 

1. A conception of the State that radically denies its transcendence -
that is, a demystification of politics;
2. A determination of Power (potestas) as a function subordinated to the
social power (potentia) of the multitudo and, therefore,
constitutionally organized; 
3. A conception of constitution, in other words, of constitutional
organization, which necessarily starts from the antagonism of subjects.

In Empire, N&H are simply extrapolating from these previous conceptions.



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