Notes on: Deleuze, G and Guattari, F. ( 2004) A Thousand Plateaus.London: Continuum. Chapter five.  587 BC - AD70: On Several Regimes of Signs

Dave Harris

[A theoretical and political critique of various notions of linguistics, principally Saussurian.  We're going to bring in referents and pragmatics, and also various kinds of asignifying and post signifying systems.  The political critique winds its way through a number of obscure and largely unhelpful examples, including hefty delirious digressions on the Jewish religion {the dates refer to the destruction of the Temple}, and an intervention in various disputes about psychoanalysis, to show how sign regimes tend to produce particular political regimes - for example highly centralised and codified regimes produce despotic government.  Various resisting or fleeing possibilities are examined via the usual terms de/reterritorialization.  The theme of faciality is referred to, although rather half heartedly and unhelpfully.  The paradox of the subject appears in its familiar form {Althusser is actually mentioned}.  The answer, ultimately, is to consider the machinic possibilities that these different regimes indicate.]

[NB I have used my own working definition of signifiance to mean the potential to signify, but this chapter introduces an additional property, mentioned in the glossary at the front of this volume: it means signification in the syntagmatic  dimension, over time, building on horizontal chains of signifiers.  Interpretance is the corresponding apparatus of making sense in the paradigmatic dimension, working with leaps across systems of meaning in the form of metaphor, for example.]

Expressions can be formalized into a regime of signs or a semiotic system.  But there is also content, which is to some extent independent of expression.  Together, expression and content form assemblages 'that are not principally linguistic' (123).  Even if we attempt to explore expressions alone, we encounter an awful lot of diversity, since there are signs that are not particularly linguistic [as we saw in chapter four].  Better to base everything on pragmatics as it works in signifying regimes.

In conventional [structural, Saussurian] linguistics, signs gain meaning only by referring to other signs.  In a way, specific signs disappear in favour of the signifying chain.  And signifiance is limitless.  Denotation becomes simply a part of a wider process of connotation.  Indexes and icons [still Saussure?]  have little significance - they territorialize signs.  The sign bit in the conventional linguistic approach is deterritorialized.  Signifiers dominate the sign, and what is signified is relatively neglected - indeed, it is the continuum of signs in chains which is really the signified.  The specifics of content 'dissolve' (124).  Chains of signification  precede actual human being for Levi Strauss and this is going to show up in certain pathologies, like paranoia, where signs assail the person from every direction - although paranoids still think they can detect a master signifier behind it all [and this is going to be the model of the despotic regime].

In this endless chain, nothing is ever resolved, there is 'infinite debt'.  The network of signs can be circular [in the sense of producing eternals], where the statement survives its object, escapes to take its place once more in the chain, to be used later to be attached to a new signified.  'There is a whole regime of roving, floating statements, suspended names, signs lying in wait to return' (125).  Signifiers therefore offer 'a funereal world of terror'.

Signs refer to other signs not in one circle but in a series of them, sometimes spirals [with a weird example from a group of American Indians where personal marital betrayal is seen as a sign of the failure of the entire community, in a kind of escalation].  Sometimes such escalations are regulated by religious rituals or a bureaucracy deciding on their legitimacy.  Some are forbidden, especially at the outer and inner limits.  They are a 'centre of signifiance'(126), but signs have different capacities ['speeds'] to deterritorialize.  Nevertheless, in some cases, it's possible to transgress the limits and to jump from one circle of signs to another.  Paranoids orient themselves to the despot at the centre, whereas hysterics are always jumping from one circle to another.  'Deception is fundamental to the system'[presumably referring to the attempts to legitimize particular uses of signs? Also the ambiguities missed by insisting on using old signs?].  A signifying regime does the organizing.

Signifying regimes also have to expand the circles constantly, providing the centre with newer examples, to fight off its redundancy.  To do this, requires 'interpretance', where signifiers are attached to new kinds of signified, which therefore becomes knowable [that is via metaphor or analogy in the paradigmatic dimension].  Despotic regimes require priests to interpret, and deceive by endlessly applying approved signs, building chains of interpretation.  Signifiers become [collapse into?] signifieds, or rather the signified constantly recharges the signifier.  This quality of excess means that it is 'futile' to attempt to break out by just working on signifiers, since they are always involved in systems of reproduction of themselves.  The priestly function applies to psychoanalysts, where the interpretation was always subordinated to dominant signifiance, to such an extent, that for some [especially the later Lacan] there was no need to actually say anything, encouraging the patient themselves to jump 'from one circle of hell to the next' (127) [I wonder if this tendency to reproduce and reinforce dominance applies to signifiers as in other fields as well, such as philosophy - this is implied by the critiques of Kant and Husserl who use the contaminated term 'transcendental' without realizing that it will introduce notions of the normal individual?  So only avant-garde language will break out?] This combination of signifiance and interpretance produces 'humankind's fundamental neurosis'.

At the centre of signifiance, lies nothing [and because they have just said that signs are excessive] 'Lack or excess, it hardly matters'.  However, the sign does have a substance of expression - 'faciality'.  Language is always accompanied by faciality traits.  The faces 'crystallizes all redundancies', by associating signs together.  In this way and acts as 'a body' [after all!] at the centre of signifiance.  Signifiers reterritorialize on the face. Voices emanate from faces, and this gives a priority to the oral.  The face is the substance of the signifier, and it 'fuels interpretation'[changing expressions provide a kind of model?].  Despots rely on the power of the visible face.  Priests reveal the face of god.  When faces cease to be important, 'we can be sure that we have entered another regime', where all sorts of deterritorializations, and various kinds of becoming expose the limits of the signifying system.

In despotic regimes, the face of the despot or god can be linked to the body of the tortured or excluded [with a quote from Foucault about a tortured assassin as the inverted figure of the King].  Torture removes the face, and introduces [nasty kinds of] becoming-animal, becoming-molecular.  There are other kinds of exclusion as well - exile [both are illustrated by Oedipus who tortures himself and then exiles himself].  The scapegoat has the same function, as a way of removing all the bad aspects of the despotic regime, everything that resists the main signs, all that refuses interpretation.  The threat of a [liberating] line of flight is met with a literal line of forced flight, 'a tangent to the circles of signifiance'.  [Typically picturesquely] 'the goat's anus stands opposite the face of the despot or god' (129).  The line of flight completes the system: the centre which signifies, circles of interpretation, a crowd of hysterics, a depressive scapegoat forced into 'headlong flight into the desert'.  This system applies to all subjected groups, all hierarchies and arborescent systems, 'political parties, literary movements, psychoanalytic associations, families, conjugal units, etc.', although this is an 'excessively hasty overview'[!].  They all illustrate the deception and power of the regime of the signifier.

[There is almost a summary, 129-30].  This semiotic system is not the only one, nor was it the first one.  There was an earlier 'presignifying semiotic', operating with '"natural"' codings without signs.  Content is not regulated or reduced by signification or faciality, and there are a number of expressive forms 'particular to content', including dance and rites.  Elements are joined in segments across several dimensions, but there is no circularity.  Signs deterritorialize when they meet other territories [peoples?] with other segments.  [With a reference to some French anthropology], signifiers can be used up not recirculated, and this is 'the meaning of cannibalism' for example (130).  We can see in attempts to preserve this semiotic an awareness of the dangers that are to come 'universalising abstraction, erection of the signifier, circularity of statements' and a whole state apparatus with despotism [echoing some of the themes of Anti Oedipus].

There is a countersignifying semiotic, represented by nomads [but not hunters who do presignifying semiotic].  This is organized not so much by segmentation but by 'arithmetic and numeration', and not the nasty use that we find in bureaucracies which represent or signify something else, but 'the numerical sign that is not produced by something outside the system of marking', which therefore offers a 'more mobile and plural distribution' (131).  It is a matter of arrangements, distributions, accumulations, displayed in breaks and migrations.  This is the semiotics of the war machine directed against the state.  State armies were also organized numerically, but so were the 'nomads of the steppes'.  We can also see the importance of numbers in the Bible as an organizational principle for the migration and subsequent battles.  In systems like this we have lines of flight which turn against despotism [more on this below] and the great empires, eventually conquering them or integrating with them.

There is also the postsignifying regime, where signifiance is closely connected, uniquely, to subjectification [more below].  What this list of regimes of signs shows that there are many options.  They are often found mixed in particular cases or at particular times.  'Perhaps all semiotics are mixed' both in terms of content and with different regimes of signs - thus presignifying systems can be found in signifying ones, and [thrillingly for activists] 'countersignifying elements are always present…  [but] postsignifying elements are already there'(132).  Mixing of peoples can bring this mixture, so can different functions required of a language: we find mixtures in psychiatric hospitals, where different syndromes are found in a single patient, or even in ordinary conversations where 'all of a sudden a fragment of an unexpected semiotic surfaces'.  There is no evolution.  Everything depends on assemblages, and these can produce social formations, delusions, or historical events, and they underpin 'very diverse domains simultaneously'.

[Then a diversion into controversies in psychiatry in France].  Particular interest was given to those who seem to be delusional even though they were perfectly sane in other respects.  These conditions were described variously as monomania, for example.  There was also 'passional delusion' driven by a grievance and a desire for redress, or 'erotomania'.  These distinctions can be used to contrast a 'paranoid - interpretive ideal regime of signifiance' with a 'passional, postsignifying subjective regime'.  The first one features radiating circles expanding in all directions, with individuals jumping from one circle to another.  The second one features a particularly 'decisive external occurrence', (133) 'expressed more as an emotion than an idea', and carried into action, producing a succession of 'finite proceedings' rather than a set of simultaneous circles.  The debate had great importance in the emergence of psychiatry and the struggle for adequate theory.  There was a particular problem presented by diagnosing madness in the first place, where some people seem to be mad in some ways but normal in others, and some risk of misdiagnosis.  Psychiatrists proposed opposing treatments correspondingly. 

Again there are general implications: paranoids are normally bourgeois and do not need locking up, 'passional redress seekers are most often from the working and rural classes, or are marginal, as in the case of political assassins' (134).  When psychiatrists judge between these two types, they are preserving 'even in [cases of] delusion, the class based social order', and are helping to identify [and treat] 'those who sow disorder'.

The paranoid type is associated with despotism, and the passional with authoritarianism.  Lines of flight are different as well, since authoritarian regimes are vulnerable to 'a packet of signs' detaching itself from the circles and forming its own straight line.  Here, the line receives a positive value, and can be seen as identified with a people, who can effectuate the assemblage that normally insurers dominance in particular conditions.  [Even more of a weasel] 'the map of a delusion...may coincide with the map of a people' (135), as in the case of the 'paranoid pharaoh and the passional Hebrew'.  The exodus was energized by an authoritarian subjectivity, and the most immediate kinds of delusion, taking a linear form against the network.  The 'line of Passion' produced a series of proceedings.

[While we are here], we can consider the history of the Jewish people between the two dates for the destruction of the temple.  The ark of the Covenant itself was only 'a little portable packet of signs'.  The negative line of flights, the expulsion of the Jewish people was made into the role of scapegoat as a passion, something associated with their subjectivity,  a lamb, a sacrifice, something specific to Jewishness.  It combined with nomadic counter signification, but there was still a nostalgia for the signifying semiotic, producing a new form of monarchy and imperial society, the rebuilding of the temple.  For this development, god had averted his face, and the corresponding Jewish subject did the same, and 'double turning away' led to the positive line of flight.  The prophet played a major role, guaranteeing the word of god as still extending to those who had turned away - this is why 'Cain is the true man' (136), under reprieve, but only by placing people in the debt of god.  It is a regime of betrayal [and forgiveness?], where true men must always betray, and thus 'fulfill god's orders better than anyone who remained faithful'.  Jonah is another example, running away, but in doing so fulfilling god's purpose, first as a scapegoat, and then as a way of renewing the covenant.  Jesus 'universalizes' betrayal, and is betrayed.  It is a common trope for prophets to first refuse the dangerous mission and then carry out a particular delusional active passional form.  Personal passional relations characterise obedience.  Faciality traits no longer discipline signifiance, but actually produce a line of flight [I'm not at all sure why, except it might have something to do with the averted faces of god on the one hand and of human beings on the other, the one canceling out the other, betrayal becoming the main way of relating]

What about Oedipus?  He represents a transition from the imperial despotism to a line of flight, a double turning away of his face and god's, a 'subjective linear proceeding', of deterritorialization, a classic example of modern tragedy, surviving as a form of postponement.  Freud saw in Oedipus the classic figure, enabling him to combine despotic and authoritarian regimes, again with a turning away from faces [literally as well in the diagnostic encounter].  The mixture of regimes was particularly sinister - 'the worst, most underhanded of powers are founded on it'.

Christianity is also a mixed semiotic, with added postsignifying elements.  'It invents a new assemblage', still with a notion of heresy, with orthodoxy as a part of signifiance, but with new kinds of heresies as total treason [the example is the Bulgars or buggers!  Supported by a reference explaining that Bulgarians were originally a sect of buggering heretics for the French].  [Then a strange delirious section about figures in England, including Cromwell, and characters in Shakespeare plays, especially Richard III, 139].  Colonial expansion by Christians can also be seen as deterritorialization implicated with betrayal.  So is the Reformation.  [Obscure stuff referring to 'the strange case of Maurice Sachs, unreferenced of course]. 

The Book plays a different parts in the different regimes.  It emits despotic signifiers and various interpretations of them, but it also implies deterritorialization, circulation, movement.  There are attempts to counter this by stressing the oral character of the book.  For passional regimes, the book replaces the face of god, and has 'become the body of passion'.  It has deterritorialized characteristics but it also restabilises by recording things like specific events and genealogies.  Interpretation tends to get replaced by 'literal recitation', with no interpretations permitted outside the book [the Koran is one example, while Christianity manages to incorporate change in a Bookish way by relating the two testaments].  Since the book is passional, it subjectifies [especially after the Reformation].  The book can be fetishised, and even avant-garde versions or radical ones are 'still Bibles' (141).

Thus the relation with the subject becomes crucial, and the subject is able to enunciate or issue statements.  In Jewish thought, god was interpreted as a subject permitting lines of flight, while Moses was the 'subject of enunciation', and the Jewish people were the 'subject of the statement' [exploiting the ambiguity of the term 'subject'], having to overcome their betrayal by renewing their covenant, in a linear rather than circular series of relations with god.  For Christianity, the infinite itself becomes the 'absolutely necessary point of subjectification' with the cogito as the subject of enunciation and the notion of the human being as the unity of body and soul as the subject.  Thinking also needs to be constantly renewed.  A mind - body dualism arises from Descartes. 

For 19th century psychiatry, various kinds of madnesses were being distinguished as before, with passional delusion offering a form of subjectification - puzzling things out as 'a veritable cogito'.  Monomaniacs have to follow particular linear sequences, frequently interrupted by catastrophies.  Subjectification originates in the 'double turning away' together with betrayal and reprieve as above.  At the individual level, the point of subjectification can be any episode or instance as in fetishism, and faces now have this capacity as well, to serve as a point of departure for a passional line, as in the irresistible beauty of the female face[as in Proust again].  Several such points can coexist in an individual or a group.  Education offers an attempt to normalise the directions pursued by points of subjectification 'always moving towards a higher, nobler one in closer conformity with the supposed ideal' (143).  The subject of enunciation emerges from points of subjectification, but it is a subject always 'bound to statements in conformity with a dominant reality', including a psychiatric reality.

However, postsignifying can arise from a recognition of the gaps between the [originating] subject and the subject of the statement.  This introduces a new sense of individuality, newer subjects of enunciation.  However, the legitimacy of new enunciations still depends on agreement to be the subject of the statement [maybe], just as mental reality has to relate to dominant reality.  Reality itself assumes a kind of immanent power.  There is still an oddity to this, a 'doubled subject', where subjects cause statements, but also are part of them. You only have the power to enunciate by obeying the statements of the dominant reality, which you yourself have produced - this gives an illusion that 'you are the one in command', but is really a kind of slavery to an ideal self, or to pure reason.  Reason itself is therefore self interested, and has a passional dimension. 

'Althusser clearly brings out this constitution of social individuals as subjects' (144), and Beneviste explores the ambiguity of the 'you' as both object and subject.  However the real point is that there are no subjects, 'only collective assemblages of enunciation', one of which is subjectification, offering a particular regime of signs.  This also helps us think of it as something other than ideology, because this assemblage already functions in the economy rather than having to superimpose itself: 'Capital is a point of subjectification par excellence'[again this limiting of the term ideology to mean ideas, culture --not at all Althusserian].  The psychoanalyst can be a point of subjectification.

The patient has to [assume the sick role] as a subject of enunciation, but is also the source of statements [of their own symptoms], 'growing increasingly submissive to the normalization of the dominant reality'.  Patients become better subjects if they anticipate some of the analysis.

Passional regimes have syntagmatic and paradigmatic dimensions as well.  Consciousness as a passion is the first dimension, producing  a doubled subject as we saw.  The second dimension also produces a doubling, however, producing two subjects, concealing their faces as much as revealing them, connected in a line of deterritorialization that both unites and divides them.  Passion connects these two, but there is 'a celibate [cognitive?] side' as well.  With love, the two subjects swap between enunciating and the subject of enunciation, but betrayal is ever present.  When it really takes off, the two people involved become double, constructed both in consciousness and in substance [something to do with the connections between the opposite sexes].  When we look at the interactions of couples, we can see some of these possibilities, including developing 'a war cogito', or 'despotic conjugality' (146).  They can even become bureaucratized.  These figures are characteristic of the particularities of doubles, and they can be traced back to the original line of passion following semiotic analysis.

Passional redundancy is not just a matter of frequency or repetition, but the emergence of a particular signifier for each sign.  The regime constructs 'a kind of "wall" on which signs are inscribed'.  The form of redundancy for postsignification involves a more subjective resonance, producing a black hole, where personal pronouns and proper names attracted and collapsed the signifiers [maybe], as an ironic consequence of developing self consciousness.  The two forms of resonance are often combined.

Signifying regimes and subjective regimes deterritorialize through different movements.  In the first case, the collection of signs into a system produces a kind of deterritorialization through frequency, and any lines of flight are seen as negative.  In the subjective regime, signs break with other signs [because of passion] and achieves absolute deterritorialization [something beyond a line of flight, heading into a black hole?].  The one can link with the other.  However, subjectification can also limit itself, without returning to the old regime.  This happens because it is essentially finite and linear, leading to a repetition of the passion, love or grievance.  This is a segmentarity that blocks absolute deterritorialization. 

It is still limited by the strata,  especially 'the organism, signifiance and interpretation, and subjectification and subjection'[just reasserting what's gone before really].  These prevent us from attaining the plane of consistency, or the machinic level, which offers full positivity and deterritorialization.  We have to try to use a favourable assemblage to orient away from the strata and towards the plane of consistency 'or the body without organs'(148) [welcome, old friend!].  We have to destratify, by opening ourselves to the diagrammatic, breaking the existing bonds of the doubles, and experimenting more, making our lives and passions 'the field of continuous intensities, an emission of particles - signs'[more of these in Machinic Unconsciousness].  We can abolish subjectification, becoming animal, or becoming woman, heading for the BWO.  We must see existing forms of subjectification as diagrammatic redundancies, and swap trees for rhizomes, stammer in our own language and so on. It seems there are three types of deterritorialization [as before].  One is relative compared to the strata  and produces signifiance; another is absolute but still negative and appears in subjectification; there is an absolute one on the plane of consistency or the BWO.

[there is an example of a stammering poem by Luca, who we have mentioned earlier, page 149…

Do domi not passi do not dominate
Do not dominate your passive passions not]

Content still seems to be important, however, sometimes taking the form of the dominant reality, but we can still distinguish different semiotics [and we're going to do this again -if ever there was a need for an editor!  It is pretty much the same as before.  Scratchy diagrams on 150 and 151 are not terribly helpful].  The semiotics often take a concrete form as mixed.  Every semiotic is mixed and contains fragments of others.  There is no reason to privilege standard signifying semiotic - 'There is no general semiology'.  Terms can even be translated from one semiotic to another, because of the excess of the sign, 'overcoding'.  There can be analogical transformations, important with presignifying regimes, operating through symbols; polemical or strategic transformations with post signification involving memesis or other aspects of consciousness; diagrammatic, which have the effect of absolutely deterritorializing regimes of signs [which only transcendental philosophers can do?].  Transformational statements explicitly reuse statements from elsewhere, but this often leaves 'untransformable residues'.

Other transformations can take place through creative translation.  We need to focus on this general 'transsemiotic'(151).

Analogical transformations often involves sleep, drugs or 'amorous rapture', and these translate signifying regimes into presignifying ones.  This can be resisted through 'unexpected segmentarity and polyvocality' [what others might call the limits and ambiguity of gestures and expressions].  Creative translation can include the attempt to transmit Christian meanings to 'barbarians', or monetary systems into African commerce.  Again there are signs of modification, as when the music of black Americans translate English signifiers.  It is also possible to detect in the songs the beginning of [European] subjectification and individuation.  Faciality emerges as when white people black up to perform the music, while black people darken their faces to take back their songs.  Reverse transformations are also revealing, as when African dances become white dances through mimesis, retaining cultural power [with a weird bit about how African dance is really impersonal and collective -- citing Henry Miller!].

It is difficult to see whether we are adapting old semiotics or producing mixtures, or even new varieties.  It is not easy to break with regimes - so refusing to use 'I' does not break with subjectification [advocates of impersonal styles take note] .  People sometimes denounce interpretation, while imposing it [I think this is a criticism of psychoanalysis, and experiments in antipsychiatry, 153--the patient is asked to do the interpretation] .There is a constant tendency to form 'knots of coincidence' which easily turn into 'centres of signifiance and points of subjectification'.  Castenada [again!] shows how the Indian resists easy interpretation and introduces presignifying semiotic, 'or even an asignifying diagram'[with a quote about having to stop the world in order to see].

This shows that pragmatics has two components.  First, it is generative, drawing upon mixed semiotics; second it is transformational translating one regime of signs into another.  The first can be described as tracing, the second making a map [I must say I never really got this distinction, unless it just means working within the system or redrawing it.  It might be the difference between following learning objectives and having a concept map].  Whereas the first can offer the limited creativity of the combinatory, the second is more profoundly original.  [Another example is how Leninism was transformative, even though it fell back later into Stalinist mixed semiotic.  They also cite a study of Nazism, which raises the issue of how widespread the Nazi regime of signs actually was].  The point is that there are no invariants that cannot be transformed, showing that 'language is a political affair before it is an affair for linguistics' (154).

Regimes of signs are not just language.  Language as a whole is superlinear when we consider possibilities, but individual languages are defined by constants and relations.  No regime of signs is identical with the possibilities, and nor does it simply  consist of constants.  Foucault is mentioned (155) [maybe meaning this] to show that regimes of signs can span a number of languages, or offer a variety within one - they are 'assemblages of enunciation', and enunciation is not a linguistic category.  Instead, statements involve 'implicit presuppositions that cannot be made explicit', but which activate pragmatic variables, as in 'incorporeal transformations' discussed above.  It follows that we can't explain an assemblage in terms of signifiers or subjects, because both relate to variables of enunciation.  Instead, signifiance and subjectification 'presuppose the assemblage, not the reverse'.  Nor is there a simple evolution between regimes of signs, since they offer 'heterogeneous functions or varieties'.  Regimes of signs are defined by variables internal to enunciation, but external to the constants of language.

On the other hand, regimes of signs also exceed language, because it 'formalizes contents', acting as a machine.  These contents are not just signifieds, nor object that cause subjects to do things.  There is something more profound, an 'abstract machine' at work which produces a deterritorialization.  This abstract machine is not just language based, like the models of Chomsky, but something even more abstract - it does not distinguish expression and content, for example [and ignore the latter], because it operates on a plane of consistency which formalizes both, according to relations with strata and attempted reterritorializations.  The abstract machine itself has no form or substance, but distributes the distinction between content and expression.  It is not semiotic but diagrammatic.  It operates 'by matter, not by substance [where the former is virtual]; by function not by form' (156).  Substances and forms come later, as expressions or [or of] content.  Functions are not yet semiotically formed, nor are contents are turned into something physical.  Only matter and functions remain [and we learn here that, as suspected, 'matter is a substance that is unformed either physically or semiotically', operated upon by intensive forces, including 'resistance, conductivity, heating, stretching, speed', while the functions operated as tensors].  Writing operates at this virtual level [their sort of writing does].

At the diagrammatic level, content and expression are fully deterritorialized and can be conjugated.  Either content or expression can produce a 'maximum deterritorialization', affecting the others because it gets to the diagrammatic state first.  When this happens, all the other elements cross the threshold into the diagrammatic and can be conjugated themselves, 'a shared acceleration' (157).  Diagrams are therefore much more abstract than indexes, 'territorial signs' and icons and symbols, both of which offer only relative reterritorialization.

Abstract machines are not infrastructures nor are they transcendental Ideas.  They represent something real in the usual sense, but also construct 'a real that is yet to come, a new type of reality'.  In this way, they are prior to history, and everything is produced through abstract machines with 'continuums of intensity', and conjunctions of effects, including expressions and contents.  This is the 'Real - Abstract'.  It is not undifferentiated nor is it transcendent.  It can be specified with the use of the proper name or date, which refer to 'matters and functions', even though occasionally the name of a person can be used to designate particular conjunctions, as in the 'Riemann abstract machine' [other examples include the 'Wagner abstract machine'].  What happens here is that an arbitrary line, 'the adjunctive line' conjugates with a body.  Abstract machines produce diagrams whenever they are 'function directly in a matter'.

At the diagrammatic level, all the plane of consistency, there are no specific regimes of signs, but only 'traits and cutting edges', which are both content and expression, acting as a relay and producing 'a shared deterritorialization: particles-signs'.  [Intended to be both content and expression, before the strata differentiate them, articulate them {actually 'double articulation'}, 158, and formalize them].  Matter becomes substance, functions become forms of expression or content, expression then produces indexes and icons, and content turns into bodies, things and objects.  The deeper conjugation processes appear only as respective deterritorialization and reterritorialization.  The language stratum itself produces a more limited abstract machine for expression, and this works to offer abstract [linguistic] terms for content.  So strata 'substantialize' diagrammatic matters and produce their own plane of content and plane of expression.  These are doubly articulated, by 'pincers', in the form of an organising dualism 'that endlessly reproduces and redivides'.  Intensive continuums are broken, deterritorialization prevented, reterritorialization turned into merely relative movement.  Particular lines of flight are assigned a negative value, are segmented, blocked or plugged, or made to lead into a black hole.

Diagrams are not axiomatic [implications for Badiou?] .  Axiomatic systems also block lines of flight and subordinate everything to a system [the example is when particular kinds of indeterminism in physics were made to conform with physical determinism after all.  Maths as well, it seems].  Again this shows the political constraints even on science.  Making systems axiomatic, semiotic or physical strengthens strata against the diagram, but the potential of the diagram remains, to produce new 'singular abstract machines' [that is more specific ones].  This is also apparent in the history of science and maths: 'madness is as intrinsic to [science] as reorderings' (159).  Scientists can often operate with both, as in the usual discussion of the politics of science, meaning disputes and so on operating internally.  Science has its own 'internal war machine'.  Axiomatics is a deliberately attempt to discipline it by producing 'a level of coagulated abstraction too large for the concrete but too small for the real'.  This is 'the "capitalist" level', too.

It is not just a simple dualism between diagrams and abstract machines rooted in strata.  Virtual abstract machines also have a relation to the strata and can even be located on strata.  In this way, a language based abstract machine can be seen as internal to the stratum of language itself [I think the argument says it actually then is responsible for the Chomsky type abstract machines of language].  We can understand this is a constant movement between capture by the strata and escape.  Strata have to 'harness diagrammatic matters or functions' (160) to formalize them into expression and content.  Similarly, every regime of signs can be seen as a diagrammatic affect.  However, abstract machines also have the power to 'extract and accelerate destratified particles - signs (the passage to the absolute)'.  Consistency is not total but involves reterritorialization, as when biological strata evolve through deterritorialization.  Stability of the strata are is never guaranteed.  There are lines of flight at work and these can be prolonged: through signifiance, interpretation, consciousness and passion. 

The machinic assemblage contains all these possible states or modes.  One of its vectors faces the strata, while another faces the plane of consistency.  Forms appear from the first vector, and forms of content are articulated with forms of expression.  With the other vector, however these differentiations disappear and what remains are 'traits of expression and content'.  These can be combined in different ways producing degrees of deterritorialization and cutting edges [the latter are now seen specifically to conjugate].

[While we are pursuing our obsessive classifications], regimes of signs also have components relating to pragmatics. The generative component produces, for example, mixtures of semiotics, and this can produce abstract forms of content, as long as we see them as arising from mixed expressions.  The transformational component works as above.  All mixed regimes presuppose such transformations.  Again we can abstract content as long as we see it as arising from metamorphosis, and not as entirely adequate to any particular form of expression.  Then we can refer to diagrammatic components, where we take the particles-signs and combine them to produce 'unformed traits'.  This appears as a high level of abstraction, but we also access the real [at the virtual level].  There is no suitable language to describe abstract activities like this, since we could not separate content from forms of expression.  [They might be saying instead that unformed traits which can be produced as possibilities show the distance between an abstract machine and language - but I think the sentence just before this applies as well].  The diagram produces the more familiar kinds of specific abstract machines.  Finally, there is the machinic component, showing how abstract machines appear in concrete assemblages.  Together the components describe 'pragmatics (or schizoanalysis)…  four circular components that bud and form rhizomes'(161).  [Rhizomes are combinatories here?]

So when we study pragmatics we should study first of all making a trace of mixed semiotics and their generative components; making a map of the transformation of regimes, producing 'budding along the lines of the tracings'; making the diagram of the abstract machines that operate in each case, 'either as potentialities or as effective emergences'; outlining the 'program' of the assemblages that actually distribute everything.  [Uninformative scratchy circular diagram on page 162].

For example, we can take a given proposition, or verbal aggregate serving as the expression of an individual or group.  We then trace this is proposition to a state which it corresponds to, that is identifying the regime of signs to which the proposition belongs and which provides it with its 'syntactic, semantic and logical elements'(162).  We then have to identify the nonlinguistic element, 'or variable of enunciation' which makes it consistent [with accepted practice?  - There is an example from Miller again, where individual utterances are saying 'I love you' have to reflect the collective notion of love, which has a much broader set of implications.  In other cases, saying 'I love you' would express manly obligations and relate to war and force; there are presignifying and signifying variants, even passional forms].  We then identify any possible mixtures, translations or transformations in a proposition, and what might remain as untranslatable.  We can even attempt at that stage 'new, as yet unknown statements for that proposition', possibly producing 'a patois of sensual delight'[some poetic playing with language?].  We can push this to the limits at which we produce signs which are without signifiance, and which are nonsensical [non-logical,non-syntactical etc]   We can include in such language metaphors, various kinds of becoming, 'real transexualities, continuums of intensity, constitutions of bodies without organs'(163).

By experimenting like this we will discover abstract machines and diagrams, machinic assemblages and how they work, by producing relations with reciprocal presuppositions.  We have discovered that there is nothing that transcends statements, no linguistic universals which operate at the wrong level of abstraction.  Regimes of signs are not based on language, and abstract machines contain more than language.  Indeed, language is based on regimes of signs which in turn depend on abstract machines and machine assemblages.  '"Behind" statements and semiotizations there are only machines, assemblages, and movements of deterritorialization that cut across…  stratification' (163 - 4).  Thus pragmatics is the fundamental element upon which linguistic analysis depends.

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