Archive for August, 2008

In chapter four of ATP, D&G encourage us to think about discourse as effectual and as enabled effect. They criticize the scientism that leads linguists to draw impermeable lines between ‘constants’ and ‘variables’ – the center of a language and its apparently external, non-linguistic elements (2005 p.85). Instead, they suggest that we look at statements, which are always already at work in, and worked upon by, the social:

A type of statement can be evaluated only as a function of its pragmatic implications, in other words, in relation to the implicit presuppositions, immanent acts, or incorporeal transformations it expresses and which introduce new configurations of bodies (2005 p.83).

D&G tell us that the expression of a statement is made possible by circumstances that are conditioned by elements that might mistakenly be excluded from analyses of language – “gestures and instruments” (2005 p.98). Language should not be treated as a matter of fixed invariants that may be mutated only upon becoming unfixed. Rather, language should be treated as an “indirect discourse” that never arrives at a moment of fixity, a “collective assemblage” or a “constellation of voices, concordant or not, from which [one] draws [one’s] voice” (2005 p.84).

When one draws one’s voice from the constellation, one also projects a singularity into the collective assemblage – actively engages in “a game in which each move changes the rules” (2005 p.100). Here is pragmatics as a politics of language. Again, as in their chapter on ‘Micropolitics and Segmentarity’, we find D&G mapping the co-extensivity of lines (2005 p.223) and thereby the pervasiveness of one’s potential to flee from relations that tend towards domination. Consider this on ‘capitalism’ – the name given to set of relations that are so often taken to act on subjects as an external coercive force:

Capitalists may be the masters of surplus value and its distribution, but they do not dominate the flows from which surplus value derives. Rather, power centers function at the points where flows are converted into segments: they are exchangers, converters, oscillators (2005 p.226).

Or consider this on the instability of what appears as ‘major language’:

There is a universal figure of minoritarian consciousness as the becoming of everybody, and that becoming is creation. One does not attain it by acquiring the majority. The figure to which we are referring is continuous variation, as an amplitude that continually oversteps the representative threshold of the majoritarian standard, by excess or default (2005 p.106).

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