The Fold, explained

Graham asked about the fold. Here is a simple non-explanation that perhaps helps more than an immanent description of the term.

The fold follows from Deleuze’s general development of a materialist metaphysics that holds the potential to differ as the original and ongoing movement of the cosmos. One term Deleuzians are perhaps more familiar with is actualization, which occurs when a single potential (singularity) is selected from the virtual and made concrete. To give an example, Darwinian natural selection is this type of selection, as it picks a genetic mutation but neither exhausts that particular potential nor prevents other potentials from being selected in the future. As Steven Jay Gould says, rewind and replay the evolutionary history of a species 100 times and you will get 100 different results.

In summary, Deleuze tends to make concepts: 1) open-ended and inexhaustive, e.g. always have the potential to differ and grow despite a certain consistency of operation (Holland calls this the “underdetermination of concepts”); 2) non-exclusive and unlimited, e.g. every application is creative, generative, and an ongoing process and therefore always allows alternate routes to be taken, as in every actualization enables counter-actualizations (cf. Deleuze’s preference of potential to the possible); 3) exist in exteriority to one another and are therefore infinite, e.g. a general rule of Deleuze’s metaphysics is that the relation between two terms itself is a third term, so there is nothing “necessary” or “intrinsic,” only determinants within differing sizes of infinitely.

The fold is Deleuze’s form of connection. Continue reading “The Fold, explained”

A Subject Without Identity

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Foucault says “an art of oneself that’s the exact opposite of oneself…” If there’s a subject, it’s a subject without any identity. Subjectification as a process is personal or collective individuation, individuation one by one or group by group. Now, there are many types of individuation. There are subject-type individ­uations ( “that’s you…,” “that’s me…”) , but there are also event­-type individuations where there’s no subject: a wind, an atmosphere, a time of day, a battle… One can’t assume that a life, or a work of art, is individuated as a subject; quite the reverse. Take Foucault himself: you weren’t aware of him as a person exactly. Even in trivial situations, say when he came into a room, it was more like a changed atmosphere, a sort of event, an electric or magnetic field or something. That didn’t in the least rule out warmth or make you feel uncomfortable, but it wasn’t like a person. It was a set of intensities.

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A Culture of Silence

friendshipChloe Taylor write that: [Foucault] speaks of a friendship which developed between himself and the filmmaker Daniel Schmidt:

[W]e discovered after a few minutes that we really had nothing to say to each other. So we stayed together from about three o’clock in the afternoon to midnight. We drank, we smoked hash, we had dinner. And I don’t think we spoke more than twenty minutes during those ten hours. From that moment a rather long friendship started. It was for me the first time that a friendship originated in strictly silent behavior.7

Such a friendship is surely unusual, even for Foucault, who notes that our society is remarkable in that silence has “unfortunately been dropped from our culture.” 8 Unlike Japanese, Greek, Roman, and Native North American societies, he remarks, “We don’t have a culture of silence.” Foucault goes on to say that he is “in favor of developing silence as a cultural ethos,” and that “Silence may be a much more interesting way of having a relationship with people” than the confessional exchanges which we currently engage in.9

Forget the Greeks

subjectivationAs many of you may know, there has been a trend in Foucault Studies to ponder over his late work on the Ancients. Some liberal Foucault scholars looked to him as a guru that offered an ethical system for a new form of life washed of the worries of power. While us radicals scoff at the so-called ‘ethical’ reading of Foucault, it is perhaps Deleuze who best dismisses such a reading.

Gilles Deleuze writes in his book Foucault, that:

If power is constitutive of truth, how can we conceive of a ‘power of truth’ which would no longer be the truth of power, a truth that would release transversal lines of resistance and not integral lines of power? How can we ‘cross the line’? And, if we must attain a life that is the power of the outside, what tells us that this outside is not a terrifying void and that this life, which seems to put up a resistance, is not just the simple distribution within the void of ‘slow, partial and progressive’ deaths?

….

What remains, then, except an anonymous life that shows up only when it clashes with power, argues with it, exchanges ‘brief and stridence words’, and then fades back into the night, what Foucault called ‘the life of infamous men’, whom he asked us to admire by virtue of ‘their misfortune, rage or uncertain madness’? … This culminated in The Use of Pleasure’s searing phrase: ‘to get free of oneself’. (94-95)

….

The redistribution or reorganization [found in the Greeks] takes place all on its own, or at least over a long period. For the relation to oneself will not remain the withdrawn and reserved zone of the free man, a zone independent of any ‘institutions and social system’. The relation to oneself will be understood int rems of power-relations and relations of knowledge. It will be reintegrated into these systems from which it was originally derived. The individual is coded or recorded within a ‘moral’ knowledge, and above all he becomes the stake in a power struggle and is diagrammatized.

The fold therefore seems unfolded, and the subjectivation of the free man is transformed into subjection: on the one hand it involved being ‘subject to someone else by control and dependence’, with all the processes of individuation and modulation which power installs, acts on the daily life and the interiority of those it calls its subjects; on the other it makes the subject ‘tied to his own identity by a conscience or self-knowledge’, through all the the techniques of moral and human science that go to make up a knowledge of the subject.n24 Simultaneously, sexuality becomes organized around certain focal points of power, gives rise to a ‘scientia sexualis’, and is integrated into an agency of ‘power-knowledge’, namely Sex (here [in The Uses of Pleasure,] Foucault returns to the analysis given in The History of Sexuality).

Must we conclude from this that the new dimension hollowed out by the Greeks disappears, an falls back on the two axes of knowledge and power? In that case we could go back to the Greeks and find a relation to oneself based on free individuality. but this is obviously not the case. There will always be a relation to oneself which resists codes and power; the relation to oneself is even one of the origins of these points of resistance which we have already discussed. For example, it would be wrong to reduce Christian moralities to their attempts at codification, and the pastoral power which they invoke, without also taking into account the ‘spiritual and ascetic movements’ or subjectivation that continued to develop before the Reformation (there are collective subjectivations).n25 It is not even enough to say that the latter resists the former; for there is a perpetuation communcatio between them, whether in terms of struggle or of composition. What must be stated, then, is that subjection, the relation to oneself, continues to create itself, but by transforming itself and changing its nature to the point where the Greek mode is a distant memory. Recuperated by power-relations and relations of knowledge, the relation to oneself is continually reborn, elsewhere and otherwise. (102-104)

Continue reading “Forget the Greeks”