Radicalist Motifs in Contemporary Political Philosophy



Radicalist Motifs in

Contemporary Political Philosophy





Be it by declaration or by function, there are still prominent motifs of what I will call ‘radicalism’ in contemporary political thought, involving otherwise as diverse writers as Nancy, Deleuze, Guattari, Agamben, Negri, Badiou, Rancière, Vattimo, Rorty, Habermas, and so many-many others. Here I will extract, by way of a mourceau, quoting-cutting teeth—without the slightest re-morse” as it is usually “under”stood—examples from texts of four prominent writers, frequently quoted and discussed, referred to and criticized, elaborated and celebrated: Rancière, Badiou, Deleuze and Guattari. However, I will focus Rancière and Deleuze and Guattari, and then, for economical reasons pertaining to the format of this study, just quite superficially indicate a similar problematic in the writings of Badiou. I will restrict myself to give examples of politico-radicalist themes surfacing the texts; I will, therefore, not render themes and thoughts of which would seem to fly the line of what I will call ‘irradicalism,’ the active taking-leave, politically or otherwise, of everything that bends back and down, behind and beneath, playing the seemingly eternally recurrent Nietzschean game of the eternal recurrence, a game where the label ‘immanentism’ could just as well work transcendentally as vice versa. To the question ‘Does it really matter if thought says it is immanent or transcendental?’ I will answer ‘radicalism.’ Through the examples quoted and analyzed I will then experiment with a conception of radicalism as grafted onto what it believes it is not: namely: a complete anachronism, even “radically” contributing to our most acute contemporary problems. The purpose here is therefore to develop a new conception of radicalism capable of letting us address contemporary problems in new ways—problems of today that are, strangely and not so strangely, addressed and published in minusculous ways compared to the problems addressed and published beforehand us here in this study, for example.

Let me start with Jacques Rancière. In his On the Shores of Politics, in the chapter ‘Democracy Corrected,’ he states:

There is politics, the art and science of politics, because there is democracy. Politics is encountered as already present in the factuality of democracy, in the very strangeness of the combination of words which joins the unassignable quantity of the demos to the indefinable action of kratein. […] Language bears witness to this: there can be no arche corresponding to the demos as subject, no way of ruling according to some inaugurating principle; there is only a –cracy—a manner of prevailing. Prevailing because one is the best, says Pericles’ admirers Thucydides and Callicles; prevailing because one prevails, retorts his detractor Plato.[1]

Democracy is what accounts for the fact of politics, the fact that is encountered, there, already present, factual, already in factuality, in the factuality of democracy, that is. Politics is in democracy, in fact in the word democracy, the word that is made of the combination of a demos whose quantity can never be assigned and a kratein whose action can never be defined, never so because of a certain inability. Inability: on the part of whom or what? One is certain, however, that one is able to combine words to make words like ‘unassignable’ and ‘indefinable.’ With the concept ‘indefinable’ one is able to define that there is something that one is not able to define, the ‘indefinable,’ in this case the kratein. One is so able to define that this or that manner of prevailing is not definable, and especially so, perhaps, as when assembled with a demos for whose subject there can be no corresponding arche, “no way of ruling according to some inaugurate principle.” No root, no radicalism, it seems. Democracy has no root, it says; it is just there, as manner of prevailing, of which some takes the risk to say that the one politics prevailing is prevailing because of it being the best, while others take the risk to say that it prevails because it prevails. It is, anyway, the definability of the indefinable action of the-there-is of a prevailing of an unassignable mass. And this would perhaps do work on radicalist principles, irradicalize them. Rancière then goes on to mock that view that says that:

The -cracy of the best—of the kreitton—is no quality, no definable expertise, but rather the sheer extra weight born by the one best able to submit to the dictates of his own desire, who prevails among the people.[2]

Here, he writes, “[t]he ‘one-too-many’ of democracy allows itself to be reduced to the ‘more, always more’ of unsatisfied desire, of the economic imperialism that turns democracy into the child of oligarchy and the mother of tyranny.”[3] But if kratein is defined as the indefinable action of a given prevailing that in itself gives force and meaning to the concept of politics, how can one then talk of ‘reductions’ and ‘turnings into’? Would not these just be prevailings just about to happen, at the threshold, a sheer extra, that makes, or “ducts,” one attractor forceless and anther forceful? How can politics thrive on such soils? We see therefore that Rancière’s conception of democracy is not as loose and anarchistic as we perhaps first thought, and that he reduces it: democracy is a thing, however indefinable its action, which can be reduced, to tyranny, or imperialism, for example. He needs to immediately reduce his own semantic play on demos-kratein to make room for a conception that allows for distinctions and reductions, definable and assignable, within democracy.

Critical distinctions! There will be a proper democracy, and a distorted one. It is clearly desirable to make such distinctions, and to spit out all forms of imperialisms or tyrannies. No doubt. But this is here not the point. The point is to see how Rancière soon will dig himself down to certain roots to justify this operation of distinction and evaluation and definition. In the chapters before the ‘Democracy Corrected’ Rancière has dealt with the difficult history of democracy, its very difficult birth, the hostile and misconceived receptions it has had, from Plato on, to contemporary events in French politics, and elsewhere, where the end—its telos—of politics is conceived to be the end—the death, the superfluousness—of politics: its shore, then, as if the old Athenian myth of the anti-political Maritimes, drunk and wild, always disturbing the soil of peace of the polis, finally had managed to drag politics back, away from the blue sea, back home, safe, at the shore.

Let us therefore return to the last chapter where he is about to correct this fatal circumstance. Rancière seeks to restore philosophy to politics, having it retain its original and necessary meaning, namely the harmonious organization of dissent with itself. How are we to understand this? Has a certain conception of politics been lost in the course of history and political history? And is it something we should try to restore? As I here have tried to outline ‘a new conception of radicalism,’ an operation that perhaps might be seen as exemplifying Rancière’s conception of the changing of the poetics of knowledge,[4] we would therefore ask: would this overall strategic move of a return to an original and necessary meaning of the political constitute an example of radicalism in Rancière, a certain poetics of knowledge on Rancière’s behalf that runs the radicalist machine into another twist?

The chapter “Democracy Corrected” opens thus, with a quotation of Thucydides: “So, in what was nominally a democracy, power was really in the hands of the first citizen.”[5] The chapter is explicitly devoted “[m]erely to give resonance to the singularity of Thucydides’ words in the faintly anxious satisfaction of our present time, which simultaneously rejoices in the triumph of democracies and wonders whether they are in fact governable. The presumably cynicism of the ancient historian, a friend of the Sophists, would doubtless prompt an amused reaction to the gravity of our queries.” (OSP, 93-4) Is Thucydides the root of politics properly understood? Do we have to dig down and stand under Thucydides to understand politics, to have it corrected? Now, immediately after quoting Thucydides he writes: “In politics, everything depends on certain founding utterances.” (OSP, 93) This utterance reflects Thucydides’. And it reflects his conception of the ‘poetics of knowledge.’ Now, if there are different poetics of knowledge, affecting not only historiography but also the art of politics, then we would perhaps be justified in reconstructing this Rancièrean argument: there are different poetics; different poetics institute different politics; poetics institute different politics by way of utterances; these utterances are capable of founding; there are misconceived politico-poetics; misconceived politico-poetics may be corrected; there may be less misconceived politico-poetics in the past, locatable in historical documents—we could fill this argument with various other premises, construct an architectonically impressive edifice, but I think the ones stated solid enough to see, for our purposes here, some of the most decisive implications involved in the somewhat tight and quick reconstruction of this little argument. For instance, I think it would be difficult not to acknowledge that Rancière a) believes in a type of applicability of past poetics, past models, that is efficient enough to the purpose of correcting an existing politico-poetics with a past one; b) therefore that he thinks that past politico-poetics are sufficiently familiar to us, here, to make sense; c) that the very concept of ‘correction,’ at least in its ordinary use—and we see no qualifications to the concept from Rancière’s hand—necessarily implies an ideology of fall, of perversion, that what needs correction so is always the present; d) that Rancière’s overall strategy is conservatist in the sense that it strives to, thinks it necessary and possible to ensure the conservation of a certain past.





For example.

But let me not be too hasty. Let me read further, and try to locate other threads of embroidering that shows forth the same piece of weaving. And he goes on: “We still have to decide how such utterances are to be understood.” (OSP, 93) To understand how we are to read “Democracy Corrected” we will have to accept that there indeed are utterances capable of founding politics, founding utterances, utterances that form the web of poetics of this or that politics, or kratein, manner of previling, but that there are different ways of understanding such utterances, making it necessary to lay out an explication to properly understand what is meant by correcting democracy, and the corrected democracy, even if democracy is defined as it is by Rancière. He goes on, back to Thucydides: “Here, we shall proceed on the hypothesis that Thucydides’ famous characterization of the government of Pericles is not ‘political’ in the sense of reflecting the disillusioned wisdom of one who is used to commanding men and who observes the contradiction between showy phrases and solid realities. The gap between names and things, whose perversions Thucydides well knew, is precisely what defines the space of political rationality.” (OSP, 93) Again he states that Thucydides well knew a poetics of politics that since got lost, got substituted by a poetics of politics that whether it laments or enjoys the need of the commanding wise politician, refers to a poetics of knowledge where the gap between names and realities is understood as the condition of impossibility of a political rationality of democracy. And not as its condition of possibility, as Thucydides is said to have understood. Democracy lives on perversion, on “pervertability,” so to speak. And so it is said that democracy is not about serving communality, not “the management of the interests of the community.”





So what is it—how are we to understand the founding performance of founding utterances? “It [politics] is the apparatus whereby people are kept within the visible sphere that the people’s name rules over: as the subject that occupies the gap between the fiction of community on the one hand and the surfeit of reality of the populace on the other, the people serve both to link and to separate the two, themselves alternately taking on and losing definition as the features of the two intermingle.” (OSP, 93) The gap again, the perverse gain, the fruitful but perverted gap that defines the very space of the political, but this time not in simple forms of names/things, no: there is, as a defining characteristic of political space as such, a gap between fictions of communality and surfeit realities of populaces. This gap is populated by the people, and the people both links and separates the perverted two of fiction and reality. The political is a people, people as a subject, in living, visible tension, living in the gap. And as the intermingling swings back and forth according to this or that manner of prevailing, either the fictional or the real will take on or lose definition, alternately. As has been stated already, these alternating tensions of the people-subject are not governable, never were, and so no people-subject is—and so all worried concerns, whether in past, present, or future, are misconceived, founded on false presuppositions, and so not only with a view to names and utterances in general, but also with founding utterances in particular. Which makes the fears in modern politic so hollow. Now let us see what further use he makes of Thucydides: “Thucydides was well aware that the question of politics was indivisible from that of whether democracies were governable. But he also knew that this question is invariably already settled, that democracies are always both governed and governable—indeed governed inasmuch as they are ungovernable. There is politics, the art and science of politics, because there is democracy.” (OSP, 94)

We recognize the last sentence. But it must be read, also, up against those sentences that such culminates in the proposition that says that if there is democracy—and there is always a manner of prevailing and a demos qua “divergence from itself”—then there is politics. So there is always democracy, and always politics, then. Alternately, we could now say that if there is an ungovernable then there is a governed, always. And this governing is, as we now know, encountered as an already presence in the factuality of the ungovernable of democracy, the ungovernable of this or that manner of prevailing.

The concept of politics originated in a choice concerning democracy: whether to declare democracy unworkable as the regime of the dissimilar and entrust the welfare of the city to the philosophical use of speech and the mathematical use of numbers, or, alternatively, to run democracy on the basis of its very dissimilarities, its very ungovernability, using its constitutive self-division for and/or against it: to institute the constitutional rules and customs of government that would allow the people to enjoy the visibility of their power through the dispersal and even delegation of their qualities and prerogatives. The latter approach is exemplified practically in the arrangements (sophismata) that are Aristotle’s response to the Platonic denunciation of democratic sophistry.

This is the hypothesis of democracy corrected—democracy governed by the judicious use of its own ungovernability. […] It is a matter of accomplishing the goal of politics, of leading the community harmoniously through discord itself, of the impossibility of people being equal to themselves. The triumph of solid facts over showy phrases is also the triumph of the political logos over democratic factuality.[6]

Why would Rancière be interested in the origin of the concept of politics, for the sake of origin itself, for so as to help our understanding of certain politically founding utterances? There is first the Platonic choice, then the Aristotelian. “It is tempting to try and frame the encounter with factuality here in terms of a clearly defined dialectic in which the essence of politics is realized through its own negation.” First Plato, “a community founded on the specifically human power of the logos, the power of making manifest the expedient and the harmful, and hence the just and the unjust” second Aristotle, “the pure factuality of the city divided into rich and poor, split not just by fortune but also by the desire for power,” third the third and the end, “the system of forms and arrangements whereby the political logos is realized through its capacity to overcome the twofold division of the people—its difference from itself and its division into classes.” (OSP, 95)

Now, although it is “tempting,” this is not Rancière’s position; it is the position of the dialectical communitarian reason. And, so he writes, this reason “misses the core of politics—its true ‘origin’.” Already Aristotle knew that the manifestation of the expedient, the to sumpheron—that which converges, which brings together in a useful way, which serves to bring together—does not in itself “entail the manifestation of the just, of the justice as political principle.” “The fact is that the sun in sumpheron does not suffice to differentiate the human city from communities of ants and bees.” (OSP, 96) He takes off from Aristotle’s demonstration that Plato’s line from the expedient to the just necessarily must “go by way of opposites, by way of blaberon/adikon: ‘the harmful and the unjust,’ as the translators often phrase it. But this is to obliterate the very heart of the matter, which is the asymmetry of the sumpheron and the blaberon. The blaberon is not just the harmful or inexpedient: it is that which wrongs or injures.” When there therefore are useful convergences these will affect the political realm only insofar as it is part of that grievance, “that wrong needing righting,” that is antithetical to the useful but never symmetrical to it. It seems that the origin that the communitarian reason misses is that of the factuality of the blaberon. This blaberon is not something beyond which the political should establish itself; it is rather the “substance” of “the grievance thanks to which the register of the just becomes accessible to the register of the useful.”

Now we are approaching a grip on the quotation that starts the engine of the chapter, as well as on what he means by the expression “founding utterances.” Politics is defined as a “function of the fact of democracy,” and a function of, not that it is useful to assemble or communalize, but of the fact that a wrong exists, “an injustice that needs to be addressed.” (OSP, 97) And once more we see the gap: “The gap between people as community and the people as division is the site of fundamental grievance.” And this political wrong is “not a wrong […] like any other,” since 1) it is irreducible to what a court of law can manage to “address on the basis of laws or regulations,” this being linked to the fact that, according to Rancière, “the irreconcilability of the parties antedates any specific dispute,” and since 2) the irreconcilability is not that of “inexpiable war or infinite debt.” The evolution of the blaberon/adikon, which produces the difference between an ordered animal society and a human political community, “takes place against the backdrop of that radical otherness which Aristotle exemplified in the figure of the stranger to any city […], a monster committed to total war or a divinity beyond the reach of all reciprocity.” Somewhere between law and religion, he writes, there is a political grievance that because it is irreconcilable is and remains addressable. What here manifests ability remains bound to the ir- of irreconciliation, the total limit of ability, a limit that, as it is antithetical to the useful but never symmetrical, as it antedates any specificity, as it instantiates a factuality that is always beneath our apprehensive abilities, as it may take the figure of a radical otherness, a radical allergen, will function all fine as an absolutely antedating radix—in spatial as well as in temporal terms—out of which everything comes: omni-creation ex radix.[7] So, continuing his thesis of democracy corrected, targeting current correction of democracy, he claims that our ongoing “correction which thinks of itself as the end of politics” should rather be called “post-democracy.” (SOP, 98)

But would not, according to Rancière’s own conceptual tools, even this current correction—which he in the name of an ur-wrong is in the process of correcting—be just an instance of the fundamental pervertability of the relation between names and things that he otherwise speaks univocally affirmative about? In any case, Rancière does never speak of a distinction in perversion; the perversion (of the “radically other”) is the common out of reach resource. Anyway, post-democracy is characterized by a climate where the appearance of the people is christened exhibition, exhaustive counting is christened imparity, and grievance consensus. This makes irresistible that radicalist temptation which simply must discover false layers that betray the root of truth and the truth of the root. All exercises in keeping the root pure: protect it against all those kinds of irrelating weeds spreading all over the space of the political, sucking the life force out of the root, making necessary those heroic measures. This kind of Olympic Game is structurally bound to reinstall itself, anyspace, anytime, giving itself eternity and resurrection by way of saving the root from evils; grievances cannot be foreseen and regulated, however the growing pile of laws and articles introduces itself. They will only be ever more prone to be “stopped dead in its tracks by the sudden emergence of new avatars of the monster and of a merciless divinity.” At page 98, starting up the infolded chapter “Modern Metapolitics,” Rancière will reciprocally support On the Shores of Politics and The Names of History—one of those other books by Rancière we would need to read close here to make more plausible our hyper-thesis here—by giving this advice for a re-modeled politics, a refreshed, true politico-poetics: “So far as politics proper is concerned, however, it is reborn when the sphere of appearance of the people begins regaining ground from the prestige of royal majesty and the trappings of the divine vicarship; when the people reappear as the locus of a division and when this division once again demonstrates, at the heart of the legend of community, the asymmetry between the sumpheron and the blaberon.” First, notice all those radicalist modulations and phrases and tropes of Rancière’s language here in this bit. It is a bit, a bite, and a bit(e) bitten, teethed out, but still radicalism is there in all its weight, gravity. One is tempted to ask: for what reason is the thought of Rancière here and there—mouthfuls—branching roots? And: what would happen to the oeuvre of Rancière if those roots were irradicalized? He talks for all: “It is now that new names are proposed for the people and that new subjects come forward well fitted to exhibit and address the wrong that has been done the people: republicans, democrats and revolutionaries—but also workers or proletarians.” (OSP, 99)

How come that speaking in the name of the people, irrespective of people having this or that name, he instantiates a certain radicalism in addressing “the wrong that has been done people”? What would happen if his thought were irradicalized, then? It would try to irradicalized the wrongs not of what has been done, not of past and irreversible events, but what may, or may not, come into being, but also what by its very coming, or not coming, obstructs comings of other others. It would open allocracy, that manner of prevailing that strives to always become open, strange, alien, monstrous, because it acknowledges that openness is not an ontological category, but something that humans must try to create simply to stay alive and let also future generations have this choice. Righting a wrong done is necrophilosophy; it is never possible, never actual; what could one really do to a wrong did, no more existing, there? Nothing except constituting oneself as necrovorous. You would say that one does this in the memory and remembrance of the wronged? That one does something in the possible, actual, or virtual registers that rights this or that memory of a wrong? But the condition of any memory and any remembrance is surely not what is past; the condition is and only is future, or rather futurity, a multiplicity of futures. Radicalism can only make further radicalisms, further wrongs, since what one is eating, taking in, incorporating, etc.,  is not life but death; when one eats one surely must eat future, and never some alleged present or past—however much believed or tried so. But the radicalist praxis of being necrovorous (fecivorous) will only constitute its own autoimmunity, and cut off any exclamations of eating well in the name of restoring and addressing and healing this or that memory or remembrance. Memory is futurity, is of future, no matter how much we insist that it is of the past, as when we record things, for instance, by those teletechnologies—because these teletechnologies, too, lives through futurity given, granted, the very spacing and letting coming of what we so eagerly call present and past.[8]

Here, at least as I read them, I think I am approaching the writings of the speed-freaks Deleuze and Guattari, and that perhaps even those writings are approaching mines. But as I have delimited this study to a search for radicalist motifs in contemporary political thought, I will have to approach the writings of both Deleuze, which in Dialogues II could be him or Claire Parnet—one cannot know for sure—, and Deleuze and Guattari—where D could be G and/or G D, “the book as a rhizome,” “n – 1,” like “lines which would respond to each other like the subterranean shots of a rhizome,” “becomings without history”—with the same aggression.





But as always and also here promised, not a mordant aggression, so to speak, but an aggression that loves those texts, those daring experiments, that acknowledges those aspirations and desires, those suggestions and hopes, but that still wants to kill and uproot what I as a writer and reader reads as indefensible. I am sure that Deleuze and Guattari approves of such, in general, even if I would never know of such approval concerning this particular study. Who would know anyway? We know, perhaps, what they wrote about the rhizome, a most vigorous attack on roots—Deleuze loves Miller’s phrase: “The grass grows between . . . it is an overflowing, a lesson in morality . . .” And so it seems fruitless to search for roots or radicalist motifs in their thinking.

Still, I think there are things in their texts that operate radicalist functions. I will give a few examples. I also hope that my conception of radicalism will take on a richer meaning as we go on. Now, take their conception of the virtual, and so let us start read the succinct account given in “The Actual and the Virtual.”[9]

Philosophy is the theory of multiplicities, each of which is composed of actual and virtual elements.[10] Purely actual objects do not exist. Every actual surrounds itself with a cloud of virtual images. […] These virtuals […] are called virtual in so far as their emission and absorption, creation and destruction, occur in a period of time shorter than the shortest continuous period imaginable; it is this very brevity that keeps them subject to a principle of uncertainty or indetermination.[11]

Such virtual clouds “surrounding,” “encircling,” the actuals, the actuals never being pure, never being only actual, existing, is said to “perpetually renew” itself by emitting yet other clouds “with which they are in turn surrounded and which go on in turn to react upon the actual” (D, 148): an intricately and highly complicated nested set of virtual clouds encircling the actuals, then. As they quote from Michel Cassé’s Du vide et la création: “[I]n the heart of the cloud of the virtual there is a virtual of a yet higher order . . . every virtual particle surrounds itself with a virtual cosmos and each in its turn does likewise indefinitely.” It is the dramatic cosmos of multiplicities of unending becoming and destruction, of “making and unmaking.” “A perception resembles a particle,” it says. In “an actual perception” the act is “surrounded by virtual images.” Now this virtual images are defined such: “These [the virtual images, the cloud] are memories of different sorts, but they are still called virtual images in that their speed or brevity subjects them too to a principle of the unconsciousness.” (D, 148-9) As in physics, there is a principle of uncertainty; now the principle is called unconsciousness: the actual perceptions are memories of different sorts, but as they are surrounded by nests of virtual clouds of different orders in high-speed, they involve uncertainty as unconsciousness. These virtual clouds are said to be acting upon the actual by reason of being “mutually inextricable.” And so they constitute, actually “delimit,” a “continuum, whether one takes all of the circles together or each individually, a spatium determined in each case by the maximum of time imaginable. The varyingly dense layers of the actual object correspond to these, more or less extensive, circles of virtual images.” In this compact sentence, revealing of Deleuze’s reading of Spinoza, we will perhaps see traces of a certain totality—what Deleuze already in Expressionism in Philosophy: Spinoza, in 1968, on, calls “univocity”[12]—no matter how much, for instance, rhizomatics or multiplicities are incorporated to fragment this continuum as a spatium determined by a maximum of time.

So far we have not demonstrated radicalism properly in Deleuze, except for the reference made to memories, which will not suffice of course, even if we will have recourse to translator’s claim that the present article is opened up by Bergson’s Matiére et la memoire. We will have to unfold his thought further still. We see perhaps a cosmos marked as capsule, though; it could seem as if the subterranean bifurcations of the rhizome, however wild, would always already stick to the capsule, the continuum of the spatium. Perhaps, that is to say. Forth—never back (to)—the virtual. “The plane of immanence,” “upon which the dissolution of the actual object occurs,” is defined as constituted when both image and object are virtual. In this way it seems that even how actual it is, the actual object is, exists, and scatters itself being scattered, only insofar as such “upon the plane of immanence,” namely that plane where both image and object are virtual. Therefore immanence is virtual. The plane also seems as being a something upon which the dissolution of the actual object occurs, perceived, as different sorts of memory, or not. This is surely a mode of speaking—that of the “a B upon which C”—but it is still a mode of speaking.

Is this a lucky mode of speaking? For Deleuze’s aspirations, that is? Anyway, Deleuze is surely not one-way. For, the process of actualization, where the actual object is being “dissoluted” upon the plane of immanence, will have as great an effect on the image as on the object. And so the continuum of virtual images is “fragmented” and the spatium “cut up” according to “whether the temporal decompositions are regular or irregular.” The virtuals are cut up and divided out on the plane of immanence by reason of singularities, processes of actualizations, namely forces corresponding to a partial continuum and speeds traversing the cut-up spatium. “As Leibniz has shown, force is as much a virtual in the process of being actualized as the space through which it travels.” (D, 149) And now comes something that will be of crucial importance for our further reading. Deleuze goes on to say that the plane of immanence is “therefore divided into a multiplicity of planes,” by way of cuts in the continuum, and by way of divisions of force marking the actualization of the virtual. And then: “But all the planes merge into one following the path which leads to the actual.” (D, 149) First it seemed as if the plane of immanence was virtual and doubly so, by reference to both virtual images and actual objects, and that the object actualized itself upon that plane of immanence. This is still the case. Then he qualified by saying that the very process of actualization impacted the virtual image as much as the actual object. This is still the case, too. Now it seems that the rhizomatic multiplicity of the plane of immanence however split and divided it may be, here and there, merges into one plane, again. And they follow a certain path which leads to the actual. There is therefore a matter of following paths, those paths that leads to the actual; these paths are outlined and conditioned by singularities.

In itself D&G’s and Deleuze’s writings are intriguingly beautiful, all over, but here in this little study we just wanted, as good “radicalists,” to dig for roots. But, now, the following of paths to the actual, the actual dissimulated upon the plane of immanence, is again qualified: even if the actual is the product or rather the object of the process of actualization, it is also stated that its subject is simply the virtual—and these two happens simultaneously, and so “without there being any assignable limit between the two.” Singularity is defined as actualization of the virtual, whereas the actual is the constitution of individuality. He concludes his first sequence thus: The actual falls from the plane like a fruit, while the actualization relates it back to the plane as if to that which turns the object back into a subject.” (D, 150) One must smile at such humor. The fruit falls from a plane of immanence, not a tree—if you ever believed that. It falls from. But even if it falls—where? (besides from the plane)—it is the case that the process of the actualization of the virtual—metaphorically the falling of the fruit—also relates it back to the plane as if to that which turns the object back into a subject. Now, how are we to understand this relating back, this relating back that constitutes itself, or is constituted, as as “as if”? The plane here works like an as if of something—this is still not determined as anything else than a ‘that’—turning something—the object, the fruit—back into something—the line, but the plane as its ‘as if,’ the plane as an ‘as if’ that grabs its own falling fruit in its fall and eats it.


What would Deleuze’s conception of a delimited continuum and spatium condense to relative this fall? Deleuze will now go on to read-connect with Bergson. This will be of help to understand these dense, drafty sentences. But the further elucidation will draw a dense picture, and this perhaps so because Deleuze’s ontology is simply dense. The actuals is surrounded by increasingly extensive, remote and diverse virtuals: “a particle creates ephemera, a perception evokes memories.” (D, 150) And the “inverse”: circles contract, draws virtuals closer to actuals, and “both becomes less and less distinct.” This comprises an “inner circuit,” a concept that draws on Bergson’s thought, which says that the double of the virtual image “barely diverges” from the actual object: each perception has its own memory as “a sort of immediate, consecutive or even simultaneous double.” Memory, according to Bergson, is not an actual image forming after an object being perceived, but an image coexisting with the actual perception of the object. Bergson: “There is supposed to be a rectilinear progress, by which the mind goes further and further from the object, never to return from it. We maintain, on the contrary, that reflective perception is a circuit, in which all the elements, including the perceived object itself, hold each other in a state of mutual tension.”[13]

This way of thought is what Deleuze builds on. Remember that if he in the 1968 Différence et répétition said that the double of virtual and actual had no resemblance to each other (see note 18 above for quote), now, here, in this text written in 1977—and to which Deleuze in his foreword to the 1986 edition has nothing to add or subtract—it is through Bergson that the precaution of 1968 has, so to speak, fallen, somewhere, without ever being grabbed in its fall and eaten back into the subject again. The inner circuit consists of a double, of two elements that barely diverges. But still it seems he does not go as far as Bergson. For Deleuze, what are important are the motifs of a linking of a two that barely diverges, of “immediation,” consecution, even simultaneity, of contemporaneity and co-existence. It seems he will read Bergson somewhat milder than Bergson writes himself, though, at least right here: to Deleuze Bergson has shown that the two are “co-existing,” that the virtual is “contemporary with” the actual, is its “mirror image,” writes Deleuze, referring to another of Bergson’s, L’Énergie spirituelle, “memory of the present.” But the co-existence is so tight so close that they may perfectly engulf and eat each other, therefore an oscillation, perpetual exchange between image and object, each of them able to take the place of the other, as the image never ceases becoming actual, “absorbing all of a character’s actuality,” as the actual never ceases being “no more than a virtuality.” (D, 150) This perpetual exchange is claimed by Deleuze to be “what defines a crystal; and it is one the plane of immanence that crystals appear.” This is what is meant by a continually retracing from one to the other. And here we have left singularization, and entered individuation as process, no longer actualization, but crystallization—because: “Pure virtuality no longer has to actualize itself, since it is a strict correlative of the actual with which it forms the tightest circuit.” (D, 151)

Yes, this is Bergson, or Spinoza, or Deleuze, writing in another crystal—but not Anti-Christ, perhaps not even Deleuze’s Anti-Christ. Is it possible to write such tight as a crystal? How could the art of writing ever attain the super-speed, super-smooth, super-delimited, super-monadic, super-“varctual” pulsation of a crystal? How could it otherwise describe such a crystal? The actual here, as a process of individualization and crystallization, is “no more than a virtuality.” (D, 150) This is the virtual: the crystal. The translator refers us back to the admiration[14] Benjamin felt for Bergson, as such as thus expressed, in Benjamin’s Arcades Project: “the crystal of the total event.” We also know of Deleuze’s concept of ‘crystal time’ in Cinema 2: The Time-Image: a time splitting into “two dissymmetrical jets, one of which makes all the present pass on, while the other preserves all the past.”[15] We see therefore a conception of the virtual that draws heavily on Bergson in its extreme crystallized plane of immanence, one that completely aligns the virtual and the actual saying that the actual is already virtual: a certain reductionist virtualism? The crystal time is such conceptualized, further, that it seems that here too there is operated a reduction: the movement of the present is something passing on, while the movement of the past is that of preserving, period. Here, too, he draws on Bergson. And one must here ask if not this, too, constitutes a radicalist motif in Deleuze’s movement. There is a virtual crystal inside of which presence is passing to let past be conserved.

Before we go on to compare this little piece with other works, let us see how Deleuze ends it. He refers to the doings in elementary optics. And follows up saying that the split actual/virtual—that split one by now should have difficulty seeing as anything but split—“corresponds to the most fundamental split in time, the differentiation of its passage into two great jets: the passing of the present, and the preservation of the past.” Let us look closer what the correspondence mainly consists of. The present is a variable given, measurable in continuous time, passing up until its exhaustion: “The actual is defined by this passing of the present.” (D, 151) Do we here see actual paired with exhaustion of time in its present mode; and virtual with an ever increasing preserved past? A three character’s yes, yes. The virtual “preserves the past.” And the reason given is that the “ephemeral” character of the virtual is “continually making minute adjustments in response to changes of direction.” We can not get a hold on this explanation yet; too dense. But its ephemerality seems to be something that in the minutiae adjusts to changes. And so it is said the virtual’s ephemerality “appears in a smaller space of time than that which marks the minimum movement in a single direction.” Could he be taken to say that the virtual’s preserving of the past—and remember that this preserving function is still not qualified, so we must assume it does its preserving indefinitely—is taking up a lesser space of time than the mono-directionality of the actual’s passing, always to be exhausted present?

The period of time which is smaller than the smallest period of continuous time imaginable in one direction is also the longest time, longer than the longest unit of continuous time imaginable in all directions. The passing of the present, the preservation and self-preservation of the ephemeral each occur according to their own scale of measurement. Virtuals communicate directly over the top of the actuals which separate them.

So there is a virtual realm whose one of the most decisive traits is preservation of a past, making all actualities and actualizations only breaks in an absolute flow of a life.

Obviously, this study cannot in the least leave its mapping before diving into the beautiful madness of that enormously interesting A Thousand Plateaus: obsessed by the happiness of the fullest speed of the mechanics of rhizosphere. It is marvelous. Can I call it a book…? Yes, the book is in its physics already a rhizome—no matter its content. And it is simply fantastic; I love it, in its joy and trust and its affect but worry and mourn its enormous naivety.

Let us do it as the drunk sailor Ritornello would—‘ritournelle,’ a little local recurrence “within an overall harmonics of the grande ritournelle.”[16] He could—the would consists of n – 1 “coulds”—draw a rhizome as fast as he could, and accomplish “a little return.” And he could go like this (before he drowned):



It’s fast. The drawing, yes—as well, as the rhizome; its speeds are simply never too fast, never too slow, always at those “immetricals” securing its life at absolute speed: a life: of immanence: a plane of immanence.

In his latest full essay—except for the draft of “Actual and Virtual,” then—“Immanence: A Life,” Deleuze writes: “What is immanence? A life . . . No one has described what a life is better than Charles Dickens, if we take the indefinite article as an index of the transcendental.”[1] The last qualifying part-sentence will be of crucial importance to us: remember also it is one of the last organized thoughts of the philosopher Deleuze. Imperative: Take the indefinite article ‘a’ as an index of the transcendental, and connect your body to absolute speed. The immanence of speed is speedy, “speedicity,” what makes up “infinite speed”. Support:  “[A]s long as consciousness traverses the transcendental field at an infinite speed everywhere diffused, nothing is able to reveal it. […] The transcendent is not the transcendental. Were it not for consciousness, the transcendental field would be defined as a pure plane of immanence, because it eludes all transcendence of the subject and the object.” (PI, 26) In the drawing: ants devoid of any consciousness marching at a plane of immanence at an infinite speed, where both indefinite articles taken as index of the transcendental.

And somehow the drawing resembles an ant even how much I before I realized it had tried to indicate them as that column of marching a(u)nts—about to become the nutrition of that being? Now, the rhizome is never 1.[2] One is fake; it’s the root and the radicle, that “very old, the oldest, form of thought.” The rhizome “is-becomes-is” n. n – 1, just to make sure that it will never be one. One would be its limit-death. It is said that nature works not like roots or radicles (fascicular): “Nature doesn’t work that way: in nature, roots are taproots with a more multiple, lateral, and circular system of ramification, rather than a dichotomous one. Thought lags behind nature.” Nature has always worked rhizomatically; it is a rhizosphere—too. Now, thought seems therefore to lag behind in the degree it doesn’t work the same way, meaning: well, the brain and the nervous tissue actually works like nature, noumenally, but somehow that part of the brain we have become used to call ‘thought’ and wherefrom we calls the brain ‘brain,’ seems to deviate, so to speak. If everything works rhizomatically but the thought, then what suggest itself to this thought to think about itself—in this very framework laid out in A Thousand Plateaus? Why not the 1 to be subtracted? That always is to be subtracted to ensure the very best speed and joy of the rest?

Thesis R: perhaps it would be too easy this way, saying that the 1 meaning the thought is that thing whose subtraction is that by which everything else enjoys life, that this very 1-thought actually would constitute an inverted root: radicalism? Let us see how he did it, the drunk sailor singing his Ritornelli while drawning. Perhaps we will never know if this would be an ontological fact—always perhaps—or simply an accidentological fact—perhaps always—but we may so far try to throw this brick through that window saying that we may surely know that for D&G thesis R has to be the case at least for the time being, accidentally perhaps, or whatever you prefer to call it. What they call ‘the formula we all seek: monism=pluralism’ would thus entail all of us in the pursuit of withdrawing thought from rhizome. If 1 is not in/of nature and thought lags behind nature, which is everything else, then we are not very far from being good logicians saying the thought therefore is that 1. The sailogician thus writes, muzzy:

  1. if, nature is rhizomatic, not rootish, and
  2. if, thought (so far, perhaps) does not follow nature, and
  3. if, so, thought (so far, who knows?) is not rhizomatic, and
  4. if, a good formula for rhizomaticity is this: ‘n – 1,’ then
  5. thought is one, therefore
  6. thought is not belonging (so far, at the least) to the n for nature, but also, simultaneously
  7. thought is that by whose subtraction at all allows for the formula we all seek

I would also like to ask: where does the ‘1,’ the point, and the ‘,’ the subtraction, put itself into the rhizosphere, lines? Whence does it commence? How could it ever be felt? To be subtracted the ‘1’ must somehow integrate with the line. In that case it is a disturbing element from a “radical” outside. Or must we say that it is integrated by the line? If this is the case, then the line disturbs itself from itself by itself in itself. This would be more in line with D&G’s Spinozist immanent causality, more in line with, more in line with their generalized dismissal of everything that smells, for instance, of Kantian transcendental philosophy: there is no outside, no inside, only immanent workings of virtual becoming and virtuality becoming actualized. The Kantian transcendental ego is that virtual machine through which everything streams, processed, thinkable, existent: no outside, no inside, only a machine that knows its input only by way of reflecting its conditions of possibility. With Deleuze it seems that this transcendental reflection has been so well incorporated that it is no longer distinguishable from its contents: this is “immanentism,” all critique and krinein left, all a matter of becoming, and becoming the n, the indeterminate index of an indeterminate article ‘a,’ where precisely subtraction still subsists only to have life without contours, limits, borders, distinction. But this thought always runs the risk of being only a so much more dogmatic and despotic—radicalist—transcendentalism. Here the subtractive has become the hidden ethos, what everything revolves around, a negative phallus, not much better than the real thing, perhaps even more seductive than the real thing.    

Anyway, let’s quote those mad lovable wrhizomters: “The multiple must be made, not by always adding a higher dimension, but rather in the simplest of ways, by dint of sobriety, with the number of dimensions one already has available—always n – 1.” (ATP, 6) They immediately add—in parenthesis: “(the only way the one belongs to the multiple: always subtracted).” The parenthesis tells everything. By way of performance, being made, not talked or anything like that, as they just suggested, yes. In the simplest of ways, by dint of sobriety, they wrote; and here comes this grand gesture disguised in a sober little parent(-t?)hesis. Then: “Subtract the unique from the multiplicity to be constituted: write at n – 1 dimensions. A system of this kind could be called a rhizome.”

Dint a hint, I would say. The only way the one belongs to the multiple: always subtracted. One could say that to Deleuze and Guattari, ‘1’ has many names or equal operators: striated space, organism, God, the State, actuality, arborescent culture, psychiatrized schizophrenia, &c. That it even may be understood as integrated in a life as such, as inevitable formations, so that the politics, a good politics, would be to be on its other side, the smooth, the plateau, the virtual, the schizophrenic, &c. But still they make a rather big point of making thought a thing that lags behind being inclined, so far at least, to being arborescent. And as far as the ones that Deleuze and Guattari are talking to, us, the readers, those that can read and write and such, thought, this lagging thought will inevitably be the target, the target that is to be subtracted, pulled out in the sense of down under. Is this what happens to the drunken sailor? Anyway, still hypothesis R holds, for us readers in general, and readers of D&G in particular. To make R improbable I quote: “Thought is not arborescent, and the brain is not a rooted or ramified matter.” (ATP, 15) Why would they first say that thought lags behind nature—and here I refer you to the sailogician’s argument above—and then say that thought is not arborescent? How can we make sense of this? I continue the quote: “Thought is not arborescent, and the brain is not a rooted or ramified matter. What are wrongly called “dendrites” do not assure the connection of neurons in a continuous fabric. The discontinuity between cells, the role of the axons, the functioning of the synapses, the existence of synaptic microfissures, the leap each message makes across these fissures, make the brain a multiplicity immersed in its plane of consistency or neuroglia, a whole uncertain, probabilistic system (“the uncertain nervous system”).” What immediately takes over from the statement that ‘thought is not arborescent’ is neurophysiology, linked up to that statement. But perhaps they would say that when we talk about thought we talk materialistically, in terms of brains and such. Then it fits well, perhaps. But still they just wrote that thought lags behind rhizomatic nature. This is a problem.

Thought or brain or thought-brain or all of them together is so far both non-rhizomatic and non-arborescent: non-rhizomatic is arborescent and non-arborescent is rhizomatic here. Is it then a contradiction? Or could it be something else? They say further: “Many people have a tree growing in their heads, but the brain itself is much more a grass than a tree.” They profess their belief in not anymore believing in roots and trees: “We’re tired of trees. We should stop believing in trees, roots. […] They have made us suffer too much. […] Nothing is beautiful or loving or political aside from underground stems and aerial roots, adventitious growths and rhizomes.”

So, we will have to say that the human brain and its thought are capable of both. But still: the brain itself is mostly rhizomatic. But if that is so, why 1) is it that we have had this arborescent culture (mostly in West, but it is complicated now, as a result of the workings of the rhizomatic, as it is the case being that China, on of the preferred models of rhizomatic societies, is now virtually in America, etc. (in D: “why Anglo-American literature is superior to the European.”), and 2) why “we,” “them” (“the” “Westerns”), and and. There are questions to ask here. But we maintain that thought according to Deleuze & Guattari so far lags behind rhizomatic nature, being a thing that needs to be subtracted, that a remediable suffering springs from this thought being one and unity and radicalist, that the brain are mostly rhizomatic anyway, that n – 1 is applying to more than thought; difficult to maintain together, but this is what we got so far. Talking of thought as an n – 1, still this, then, means more or less this: “Transcendence: a specifically European disease.” (ATP, 18) And if the root and the radicle always function as transcendence, then we know that what has caused too much suffering by lagging behind natural rhizomes is the European thought specifically, exclusively it seems. And even that this lagging European thought—the old aunt, it is dauntingly and still very popularly claimed somewhere, from time to time—that needs to be subtracted because it is a disease causing suffering, and which can even be designated as “asocial intrusion,” as obstructing desire: “Once a rhizome has been obstructed, arborified, it’s all over, no desire stirs; for it is always by rhizome that desire moves and produces. Whenever desire climbs a tree, internal repercussions trip it up and it falls to its death; the rhizome, on the other hand, acts on desire by external, productive outgrowths.” (ATP, 14)  Besides of the fact that such utterances are radicalist to the bone, type “Europe is the root of suffering and root, and root of the killing of life and desire,” they do resemble certain, let us say, unbelievably naïve “Hitlerist” ideas—in a general way to be sure, but still: similar distributions.

The “plane of consistency” is rhizomatics freed from old European disease where we again can be collectively desiring and collective in the highest imaginable speed of the middle and the weed, the grass growing everywhere in between, between trees and in ones head, between ones brains. The structure remains a locatable evil to be . . . eradicated? . . . to the best for the good ones; where there is the old aunt of the killing disease Europe desire dies away arborified: pesticides killing rhizomes of grass and rats and neurons. If fascism according to D&G—and Virilio—is the total destruction—exogenous and endogenous—then what would prevent such an already fantastically crude identification of an evil to not generalize, even to the betweens of the rhizome?

This is harsh critique—perhaps—, but as Foucault himself says in the foreword to D&G’s Anti-Oedipus there is this fascism lurking inside our heads, and there is no way to simply exclude this possibility on part of the writers of A Thousand Plateaus, is it? Fascism partakes in radicalist thought. Here one would need to once more look at the formula n – 1. At once generally integrated, being a determining variable, and to be expelled, a killing disease. How can ‘1’ manage to live in that structure, one wonders? And: how can ‘n’ live in that structure, one wonders? Is this the eternal recurrence of the n multitude of the war machine against 1-State? Subtraction at/in the heart?

Sub-ject/tract the subject and object. It is sad. It is a bad idea. And completely unnecessary. It is sad because A Thousand Plateaus is such a wonderful work. It could have managed its work wonderfully without those badly disguised racist exclamations, of which I would not even care to talk of as being an instance of what often is named ‘European self-hatred.’ Worked wonderfully, yes, but one also needs, today, in the “year” of “2007,” to read it also for its self-indulgent celebration of naivism. Yesterday that was the most beautiful imaginable. But this rhizomatic thought came too late it seems. Today radicalism is in the making of mutilating macro-mesi-micro the very material conditions of life as we know it. This radicalism is indeed old, and it is not localized to a specific geographical area; there are so many different ways of experimenting with the root, all over the globe, according to a variety of variables all cooperating in making the root stay eternally root, self-assured of its own proper ways, be it of transcendental or immanent aspiration. Today one risk that an effective rhizomaticization would only make radicalism even more efficient. Rhizomatics would today risk working as more radicalist than any other radicalism. I am not convinced that it would not constitute a veritable machine of enhanced destruction—given the circumstances[3] today. Rhizomatics is generally radicalist given the circumstances, lagging behind, so to speak. And could it be said that it is old, already anachronistic? But it surely has a great future! But then we should try to criticize radicalist remains.

Let us again shoot off another rhizome to try to connect up to where I last left my rhizome. Let us see how the virtual works with the notion of the Body without Organs—determinately bespoken in terms of eggs—because I do think we can discern other residuals of radicalist motifs and motivations. As they are constructed there is a drive in those concepts to see the virtual as that from which you and I can become becoming, become BwO’s. The virtual is the reservoir of what not actualized: the expanding field of a reservoir of an ever vaster past. The actual is only the relative thickening of cosmic forces, be it planets, organs, or political parties——all subtractable ones—, and in comparison to which the virtual is the n-dimensional real, infinitely vaster, richer. Therefore philosophy is said to be the work of fleeing the actual and seeking the virtual: the source of becoming and becoming a BwO lies in the virtually of an ever vaster past. Now, would not this too be radicalist we ask?

One Thursday was written the following: at a point—or was it at a line—of reading A Thousand Plateaus—after I had, to repeat, had recognized the immense richness and boldness of the work—I heard my chair laughing well. They had written “Computer Einstein,” entitling a virtual image of Einstein opening up their chapter of conclusion “Conclusion: Concrete Rules and Abstract Machines.” One should become becoming-electronic, becoming-radio, becoming-mineral, becoming-metal, and becoming-metallurgic and compute Einstein. Nothing was perhaps said after all, in the end, except for a conspicuously void New Age of Machinicity. Not nothing, of course, but there was an unmistakably suspicion that one of the overall directions had went away in the direction of an incredibly sophisticated and complicated new New Age. In my love for that very work I feel I must say this; I really care about it and it has given me thoughts many of which affect me constructively and positively. I have really tried to read it to love it, to follow the authors.

But still I must write upon it, some few places. And as stated already: even if I easily could have written a fully dedicated love letter to it, the stakes in this study was to irradicalize radicalisms in some important contemporaneous writers—and I will still try to write according to the Deleuzoguattarian nomos of rhizomatics. I said a New Age attractor, then. The rhizomes of the brain electrified, quantumized, and the circle is completed: the subterranean metallurgy met with metallurgical virtual images of Einstein. In Two Regimes of Madness he says: “The brain is a screen,” and in Negotiations he says: “The brain is quantum mechanics.” “A mechanosphere,” A Thousand Plateaus ends. Is consciousness the one thing to be subtracted, the one thing that breaks into the otherwise absolute speed-flow of transcendental immanence described in “Immanence: A Life”?

The conclusive chapter says, subchapter-wise: “S-A-R-C-D-M.” One could, as always is in the powers of virtuality, speculate and associate to this ‘sarcdm.’ We could flee to ‘sarcasm,’ meaning ‘to tear flesh,’ or to ‘sarcoma,’ which often is a malignant tumor composed of embryonal lymphoid or connective tissue in which the cell elements predominate, or to ‘Sarcina,’ which are saprophytic clusters of individuals. Tear, destroy, and feed on flesh, then. This line of flight might be a bad one, but it also might show forth something still—even if it surely false and idiotic. Page 69 writes: “There is no biosphere or noosphere, but everywhere the same mechanosphere. […] The plane of consistency is the abolition of all metaphor; all that consists is the Real.” Page 514, at the conclusion of the conclusion, says in the last sentence, in one word, simply: “Mechanosphere.” That is the last word, sentence, act, breath, affect, flesh. One suspects that everything is metallo-rhizomatic as the Real. We need to put more flesh to this.

The immanence of the Real of the mechanosphere, which plays on the plane of consistency, runs the risk of already being a transcendental operator, something which D&G constantly denounces in various writings. The motif of n – 1, among numerous other motifs in D&G’s writings, is meant to avoid the transcendental and rather embrace the immanent. But still one might ask if not 1 is the transcendental per se, the thing that lags behind nature, or the Real, or the mechanosphere, or the BwO, &c., and that due to its lagging is lethal and therefore to be subtracted—to save desire and life and the real. So the 1 is the one thing that dictates all the other; the total unifying character of the formula n – 1 springs from the fact that unity comes in the backdoor of ‘– 1.’ The transcendental is negative, the constant operation of subtracting 1 from the n, but still transcendental. For such as their immanentism is constructed, nothing gets out, no risk, no danger, no real death, no possibility of annihilation: everything seems as if contained in itself, self-assured, going on in endless variations and fluctuations.

There is, then, perhaps an acute need of if not taking complete leave of Spinoza’s immanence then at least qualifying the concept of immanence. We must try to breach out of a belief and faith in a certain quasi-open immanentism. Future always says there might be no more future; this is the concept of the future, because if not so the concept of future would be something else than about future; more of the program, the radicalist way. Such a concept of the future seems absent in D&G. They play on an endless play of rhizomatic of affirmation—like rats: and … and … and &c—, but it is endless, and so future is always assured: one could say that the futurity invoked here is of etcetera. How could this ontology not be marked out in advance by a transcendental ghost, where n is played out again and again according to endless distributions but always within the same system 1? To deny or neglect that future involves the possibility of its own obliteration—that time is also possibly decisively anachronistic—amounts to the possibility of a general “humanocide.” As I see it, today, I do think that the generalized destruction against all, for us, relevant registers of conditions of life proves the possibility of this conception of future and time.

And to this very degree I do not hesitate to claim that D&G’s relevant concepts here are also radicalist: the root lives on and on, whether in its “etceterism” of rhizomatics and thousand plateaus, the abstract machine and the machinic phylum, etc., or what not. On the contrary, to repeat, it seems that this rhizomatics functions in acute radicalist ways. It is the eternal recurrence of the same, and whether it is in the name of the same or the different does not really matter much, since it is still eternal recurrence of an uncritical this or that: transcendentalism. One could say that there is a stress on continuity and immediacy, a stress that has always been cornerstones in haptology—and surely D&G chose haptic rather than tactile. One has to ask what the stakes really are in the thought of D&G: the therapeutic of the BwO?

Before I leave the radicalist motifs in D&G, and search through the thought of Badiou, just let me point to a few more examples, going further with the fleshy in D&G.

In the conclusion, ‘S’—for stratification, strata—says: the way is “the line to the plane (plateaus)” of becoming, which is to say, to submolecular Matter, anorganic life. And the guiding question is how to “follow,” follow the path or the itinerary of disarticulation and destratification, operations or concrete rules of which must be observed with “extreme caution.” We also know that with ‘plane,’ in French they play with the ‘plan’ as well as ‘plane,’ so there is a plan, also, of plateaus. How does one “follow” an “itinerary”? Would not the ‘iter’ of iterability—the strange block of alterity-and-iteration—make following an itinerary an impossible task, futile, to which only a still naïve follower would believe. The naïve believes in the possibility of naivety, in being born again and again, each time from time zero, or rather: ‘one has just been born.’

‘A’—for assemblages—says “unformed matter,” “destratified forces,” effectuated abstract machines.” “[A]ssemblages swing between a territorial closure that tends to restratify them and a deterritorializing movement that […] connects them with the Cosmos.” (ATP, 337) There is involved a progressive rule from s to a, to r, to c.

‘R’—for rhizomes—says that here the diagonal forces frees themselves from the vertical and the horizontal, passing, passing between things, between points, in smooth space, a place with as many dimensions as what crosses it, and it is therefore said to be no longer subordinated to the One.

‘C’—for Plane of Consistency, Body without Organs—says the plane of consistency, or planomenon on which is inscribed haecceities, namely “modes of individuation proceeding neither by form nor by the subject.” Consistency is something that “concretely ties together heterogeneous, disparate elements as such; it assures the consolidation of fuzzy aggregates, in other words, multiplicities of the rhizome type.” And: “We will say that a body without organs, or bodies without organs (plateaus) comes into play in individuation by haecceity, in the production of intensities beginning at degree zero.” This is: “A powerful nonorganic life that escapes the strata, cuts across assemblages, and draws an abstract line without contour, a line of nomad art and itinerant metallurgy.” And they ask: “Does the plane of consistency constitute the body without organs, or does the body without organs compose the plane? Are the Body without Organs and the Plane the same thing? In any event, composer and composed have the same power. […] What is retained and preserved, therefore created, what consists, is only that which increases the number of connections.” This cosmology is a sole solitary monad perfectly capable of subsisting itself, an ever more intricate meshwork of ever more connections of growing rhizomes inside the One unformed Matter-Brain of the Plane of Consistency: it is the transcendentally or immanently—here it has become irrelevant which—secured solipsism of speeding roots. What wrong can happen here? It is self-satisfied wherever and whenever, except for manners of speed; the meaning of Cosmos is the speeding up to the unformed Matter of a Body without Organs: the egg “egging”—if I may allow myself to make use of a certain Heideggerian trope.

Even if ‘D’ says deterritorialization, the “movement by which “one”leaves the territory, […] the operation of the line of flight.” From formed to unformed; this is the line of flight. Because: the earth is said to be D par excellence, “why it belongs to the Cosmos, and presents itself as the material through which human beings tap cosmic forces.”

‘M’—for Abstract Machines (Diagram and Phylum)—says that an Abstract Machine draw the cutting edges of decoding and D, and that it therefore is confined, and also that since it constitute becomings it is always singular and immanent. This to avoid the traps of transcendentalism. I am not sure if they have enabled themselves to hold that territory.

Insofar as A Thousand Plateaus reveals transcendental functions, and I do think I have given some examples now, then these reveal what I have called radicalist motivations. I cannot either see that the last pieces Deleuze wrote changes anything, for instance his piece on the actual and the virtual, or his Immanence: A Life. There is a telling sentence in Immanence: A Life, telling in the sense that the distance between Plato and himself is still very measurable—to quote it again: “What is immanence? A life . . . No one has described what a life is better than Charles Dickens, if we take the indefinite article as an index of the transcendental.” This is a very self-assured ontologism; another name for what Deleuze writes down as ‘index of the transcendental’ would be ‘radicalism.’

To end I would like to quote certain passages, none of which I really think shows forth any “untimeliness” on D&G’s part:

Thus it is not surprising that the distinction we were seeking was not between assemblages and something else but between the limits of any possible assemblage, in other words, between the system of the strata and the plane of consistency. We should not forget that the strata rigidify and are organized on the plane of consistency, and that the plane of consistency is at work and is constructed in the strata, in both cases piece by piece, blow by blow, operation by operation. (251)

[…] [Talking of the why as to the use of the enormity of ‘Cosmos,’ they continue:]

Klee says that one “tries convulsively to fly from earth,” and that one “rises above it . . . powered by centrifugal forces that triumph over gravity. (251)


The only question is: Does a given becoming reach that point [of the plane of consistency that brings “into coexistence any number of multiplicities, with any number of dimensions]? Can a given multiplicity flatten and conserve all its dimensions in this way, like a pressed flower that remains just as alive dry? Lawrence, in his becoming-tortoise, moves from the most obstinate animal dynamism to the abstract, pure geometry of scales and “cleavages of division,” without, however, losing any of the dynamism: he pushes becoming-tortoise all the way to the plane of consistency. Everything becomes imperceptible, everything is becoming-imperceptible on the plane of consistency, which is nevertheless precisely where the imperceptible is seen and heard. It is the Planomenon, or the Rhizosphere, the Criterium (and still other names, as the number of dimensions increases). At n dimensions, it is called the Hypersphere, the Mechanosphere. It is the abstract Figure, or rather, since it has no form itself, the abstract Machine of which each concrete assemblage is a multiplicity, a becoming, a segment, a vibration. And the abstract machine is the intersection of them all. (251-2)

I will just say here that ontology, be it oontology, as in the case of the BwO-ontology of D&G, or not, is always the possibility of a terrarium, that box containing different living beings inside glass sides, and that all such terrariums reveal radicalist wishes. Becoming-tortoise-egg, perhaps we could say, in, or at, the mechanosphere, is “[t]he immanent event […] actualized in a state of things and of the lived that make it happen.” (PI, 31) The virtual of which past possible actualizations not actually actualized plays a vital part, is here supported, again by reference to past, namely by the lived that make it happen. Actual past and virtual past, then: a nice, little terrarium.



By the way, such terrariums have grown popular in those self-acclaimed busy businesspeople, the only difference being that now the box has taken the shape of an egg and that it is construed as a self-regenerating ecosystem.

We have seen some examples—some because there are more, many more, all over the “publiglobe”—of radicalism in texts both of Rancière and Deleuze and Guattari. The root politics is imminently immanent, resting secured in its self-assured unfolding where the only critical criteria is being flat or not flat enough, in effect representing a closed immanentism where the eternal recurrence of the same/different digs up the same transcendental radicalism. A recently published book by Rancière’s hand is entitled: The Hatred of Democracy: it says, I would allow myself to say, that there are those that would like to hinder the arbitrary needs of the egg of the conflictual flat masses to be actualized as still being not hatched.[4] If democracy is flat in the sense here already outlined in the writings of Rancière and Deleuze and Guattari—and a great many other contemporary writers—then I would not really hesitate in saying that we need to try to find other political concepts that are able to hatch that egg of democracy, that BwO, that blaberon, and let not so much past or present indulge as future, or future futures; there is no “futurity” given us, nothing is less certain; perhaps we rather should concentrate our efforts to try experiment forth a “futuricity,” creating those conditions that lets the possible future’s “futuring” still be lived by human beings? Future is neither 1 nor n. A future futures, a possible future as well as a possible human race, but all this depends on how we meets this “futuring”—futurence—from a possible future.

When it comes to a writer like Badiou I think it pretty easy to find not so much scattered examples of radicalism here and there as radicalism en bloc marking his very politico-philosophical oeuvre. His oeuvre is well written in his recent Manifesto for Philosophy.[5]

To my taste and “under”standing Badiou writes very well on a variety of topics, including, for instance, his critique of Heidegger—we say without too much ado that Heidegger is certainly more of a radicalist than any of our writers here in this little study; the point, however, is to irradically rupture a certain line of thought—yes, indeed a certain line of flight—that remonstrates Plato in Nietzsche as much as in Rancière and Negri and Deleuze and Guattari and Badiou and Nancy and Agamben, to name but the perhaps most prominent of contemporary politico-philosophical writers: they all writes an ontology where nothing really can happen, where nothing is really at risk, however much is written on topics such as the event, singularity, difference, immanence, multiplicity, et cetera: all terms secured and re-secured by an (o)ontology. Ontology is an egg; but an egg is fragile, it may easily, when it first happens, crack. This crack is what necessitates a farewell to any ontology. Ontology is naivism en masse, its true name: the belief in being born anew, today, tomorrow, and the next days. In this sense, Kant and Spinoza are not very different: for Kant the new is operated by a critique of the machinic; for Spinoza the new is what is: the machine perhaps. When, however, criticizing the naïve from an irradicalist perspective as is suggested here in this study the motivation is not to say that we are all very old and that our nature is this oldness, an oldness that is forever condemned to be put on trial by youthful ignorance and hubris, but to say that one is never born but always given from that split in time and space that iterability speaks of, that has us live from future on: more history and historical than history itself is the history and historicity of future, a future that is fragility itself, never assured, ensured and insured by some immanentism, transcendentalism or whatever suchwise radicalism, “the thorough and the root.”

The antique oontology suggested by Plato on is on all sides surrounded by a cotton sausage softening eventual humps and bumps: an egg stretches out, rolls on, and lasts from Plato on, and today this is a luxury of thought. This egg and oontology roots itself in its never being cracked, never being hatched and thrown into wobbly existence. Now, with Badiou I think it rather plain that he is Platonist, no matter how much the ‘multiple’ is celebrated; at some places he gets terribly close to D&G’s n – 1, as D&G approaches Badiou’s “Multiple Platonism.”

There is an outspoken need of a return of philosophy itself. In Badiou this means: set philosophy to take up from where philosophy degenerated into a variety of constellations of “sutures” that history of philosophy itself articulates, degeneration not only being what came after Plato but also what came even within Plato, after a certain Plato, in Book X of the Laws, where Plato’s battle against the sophists unleashes the “catastrophe” of thought. To “suture” philosophy means to tie philosophy to one or more of Plato’s four generic truth procedures, namely the matheme, the poem, political innovation, and love, and then step back and rely on such suturing. Descartes is given as example of one of the few that actually managed to avoid suturing. The generic truth procedures are something that philosophy must not be tempted to suture to, but that out of which it seizes not the truths of this or that generic procedure but the Truth with a capital T.

Bluntly stated: Badiou’s massive radicalism consists of the belief that something of vital importance—Plato and Descartes and Husserl’s “Cartesian Meditation”—has got lost on the way, that it is possible and desirable to go back past picking these or those conceptions up, that it is possible that ancient philosophy still can have something to teach any future time, that its conditions are easily numerable—4 (eggs?)—, and that philosophical Truth cracks every “mirror of language”—and those beliefs that beyond these matters of possibility of radicalist access, dignity, and acuity posits a necessary radicalism: philosophical thought seizes its event of Truth insofar as it is constructed on the basis of four pillars of an architectonics that raise the house of a human being. Methodology may possibly turn back to past, “reflect,” “retain,” and “remember,” it—the naïve “re-start” of naivety, as if we could be born anew anytime; ontology is necessarily radicalist, whether the root is articulated in temporal or spatial metaphors and terms.

Perhaps the very frequent recurrence of Badiou’s invocation of Husserl’s Cartesian Meditations bespeaks the very difficulty of being naïve, starting anew, back there, at recurrent rebirths?

Of course, what Badiou calls ‘suture’ is also an instance of radicalism: philosophy has no need of rooting itself in neither politics nor art nor science nor love. But there is neither a need for philosophy to balance itself on top of these four, as if these four truth-procedures made possible—“generated”—philosophy’s crowning Truth. Philosophy’s “gathering” of truths is strictly conditioned by the generic truth production accomplished in a quadruple architectonics.

Here are a few examples from MP demonstrating what already stated. From the chapter “Conditions” we read: “A truth contains the following paradox: it is at once something new, hence something rare and exceptional, yet, touching the very being of that which it is a truth, it also the most stable, the closest, ontologically speaking, to the initial state of things. This paradox must be developed at length, but what is clear is that the origin of a truth is of the order of the event.” (MP, 36) Being initiates thing; the event originates truths. In the chapter “Questions” we read: “[O]ne cannot subtract oneself so easily from the imperative, even misunderstood, of the conditions, for what founds the imperative has taken place.” (MP, 89) Why has the figure of ‘has taken place’ such power to even found imperatives? Where does it come from, really? How is it really that what ‘has taken place’—whatever that may be, and there are truly many things that have taken place—founds imperatives and constitute conditions, so easily forgot, impossible to regain?

In “Platonic Gesture”:

Recognizing the end of the Age of Poets, summoning contemporary forms of the matheme as the vector of ontology, thinking love from the point of view of its truth-function, inscribing the directions of a beginning of the political: these four gestures are Platonic. Plato must also keep the poets, innocent accomplices to sophistry, out of the project of philosophical foundation, incorporate the mathematical processing of the problem of irrational numbers into his vision of the ‘logos,’ do justice to the suddenness of love in the ascension toward the Beautiful and the Forms, and think the twilight of the democratic Polis. […] The diagnosis Nietzsche [the great ‘inventor’ of contemporary anti-Platonism] established in the preface to Beyond Good and Evil is well known: “Indeed, as a physician one might ask: ‘How could the most beautiful growth of antiquity, Plato, contract such a disease?’” Plato is the name of the spiritual disease of the West.[6]

To which is added: “The century and Europe must imperatively be cured of anti-Platonism.” Radicalism unites Deleuze&Guattari, Badiou, and Rancière.

We could also suggest to Nietzsche—or the “Nietzscheans”—that any physician would tell you to try avoid eating shit, no matter how beautiful that shit once perhaps was, alas, before becoming shit.

Deleuze’s statement on the index of the transcendental—describing ‘immanence’ as ‘a life…’—in what came to be his last full text, may very well be linked up to something enunciated some years before, in Negotiations. 1972-1990, in the short essay “On Philosophy”:

On the question of progress in philosophy, you have to say the sort of thing Robbe-Grillet says about the novel: there’s no point at all doing philosophy the way Plato did, not because we’ve superseded Plato but because you cannot supersede Plato, and it makes no sense to have another go at what he’s done for all time. There’s only one choice: doing the history of philosophy, or transplanting bits of Plato into problems that are no longer Platonic ones.[7]

Plato is the root, the rex radix, the entity you cannot possibly supersede, but only transplant into problems that are no longer Platonic ones: the rhizomatization of Plato.


Some closing remarks

No existence is not caused by what we in shortage of a nicer term may call ‘a possible but fragile future that futures’; what we call ‘past’ can certainly not cause. Past does nothing but get caused, effects fading away, less and more distant. If we grants it the powers of causality, there would be the ineffable lost trace of an ur-root distancing the distant back past, making it hopeless to act, decide, chose, will, anything which we are proud of saying ourselves capable of; we outplays ourselves by such a archeological and inevitably monarchical thought. Would what we call ‘present’ be able of causality? This would be a cosmo-naivism, at each instant reborn, an endless series of points of mass-creation. Here there would be no future at all, not even the future that pastish causality forces itself into, onto. Our planet-wide languages seem all to be harnessed, buttressed, distressed, aggressed, and stressed by these “unlikelities.” So it would also probably be wise not to even make use of this or that conception of ‘future’—for the very same reason. Perhaps it will be said that it is not possible to simply create new languages? In that case there is nothing new about even the most advanced thought of today; for all its celebration of difference and multiplicity, it would hardly be anything more than a Wittgenstein’s language games fed into the ongoing roulette-mouth of Nietzsche’s eternal recurrence of the same. What is to come, some tries. Now, that is a first, very rudimentary breaching out of the languages of the roulette-Cosmos. One says: one must try to affirm what is to come. That would be very difficult, too, well, depending on how one “adstands.” But there is nothing “firm” about this. There are no firmaments. And one can neither stand on the side of what comes; what comes hits us whether we like it or not, and whenever it hits it strikes with surprise, or even with terror; this depends on where one reconstructs ones language, according to radicalist principles or what not. In these waves waving our lives we are never simply passive, awaiting, expecting, knowing in advance, preparing, programming. Perhaps here we could have an understanding of D&G’s diagramming?




As to choice of terms: one could easily have picked and construed other terms, so when I have chosen ‘radicalism’—an old term with Greek origin…—this is so because I primarily tries to talk to those commonly called ‘radicalists,’ or ‘leftists.’ It is surely a sad fact what has happened to the left and radicalist side of politics and thought. And as long as one still picks the right and the conservatists, e.g., as ones adversaries, there is no hope whatsoever to get further. Only quarrel is left, both sides sharing the same basic principle of radicalism, from the inside and the outside of the same root, however “different” these positions may claim to be.




One could build new words from older ones until the older ones are no longer recognizable; that would be the method, and the method would not really be a method, since it would have to go on and on, in accordance with what we here have chosen to call: Irradicalize to-come!




There are divisions of concepts developed around difference to battle the same. But this does not mean that the battle is won, that difference won out over sameness. Making the myriad divisions of difference immanent in some or other way does neither help. As with Rancière as with Deleuze and Guattari and Badiou—or, as is also the case, in a certain sense, with Nancy and certain other highly influential writers of today—, we have in this study seen that the guerilla wars of “conflictual-as-rhizomatic-as-re-Platonic-as-inoperative” immanence still falls back to the same, where we have taken ‘still falling back to the same’ to mean ‘radicalism.’ Perhaps all those operations betray a naïve conception of language? It seems these writers presuppose a language that unavoidably, programmatically, falls back into the root? Perhaps the battle to be fought is one of language, inside language? Perhaps, for instance, the distinction D&G makes between the war machine and the State must be made in/of/a/for/as language, in the gramma? Because even how immanent and different, they always fall back into an auto-assured being that exists on in infinity; differences may be infinite, but still the infinite gathers them into the one, for instance the Deleuzoguattarian one that must be subtracted, but that for that very reason continues to ensure the reign of the one and the transcendental and the ground out of which everything blossoms. These writers are still captivated by an ontology or a cosmology that says life is one and infinite. We must irradicalize all notions of ontology and cosmology and politology and psychology, as much because no one is ever granted access to such sizes, as such a belief blocks the possible experience that for human existences we approach the infinite destruction of the finite human existence. Human existence—beyond or forgotten of all cosmontopolitopsychology—is finite, where the copula also must be thought beyond or forgotten of all cosmontopolitopsychology. In this sense there gives no meaning whatsoever to talk of immanence or transcendence. Observing recent environmental history we do have to acknowledge the other-and-self-destruction that human beings exert on each other and nature in general, increasingly generalized. And the neglect or ignorance of this fact is what, of course, conditions the very possibility of those maneuvers we have studied here; had these writers acknowledged the “hypo”thesis—‘hypothesis’ is just another radicalist hyperventilation—of the factuality of anthropogenic nature destruction in general, those written texts would never have been the same, even if only acknowledging the discreetly possible status of this “hypo”thesis; they would have had to be written unrecognizably otherwise. This is the blind spot which opens those maneuvers as they are performed. And even how different those texts are, we cannot any longer overlook this possible fact, where ‘possible’ increasingly gets affirmed as actual through the history of the last century. And so we must ask why it is that so many “great” texts are being written and published by so many “great” writers are so mostly consistent in this respect—performing a truly uncanny “plan(e) of consistency.” We have no need whatsoever here of a theory of conspiracy. This is indeed all too plain—if not, then, we, for fun, yes, just make use of the more technical meaning of that term: a gathering spiraling of theories. There is an immense resistance to irretrievable anthropoid death and degradation. In the present context, theories of immanence might be our worst enemy: there is “a” “life,” open-ended in at least two meanings. It is truly phantastic that we still do not see thematizations and problematizations of this more published and distributed. If I here use easily recognizable terms and concepts from D&G it is so not because I think them the worst and most dangerous, but because I think they advanced the most that thought that many other struggled to articulate and that many embraces and will embrace. In a sense all the writers we have read here writes beautiful and moving texts—if only we had been living in another world or another time. The point could be taken further by saying that we do not actually write or work for ourselves, an “us,” a “we,” or a “now”; the ‘we’ has by our time become absolutely obsolete. Democracy is always already—‘always already’ as of future and not past causality—absolutely obsolete. The anachronicity of time, systematized by a series of shitted-out-us, presses on an ultimatum: either the series of shitted-out-us is done with, once and for all, or humans try to conceptualize new ways of living that allows the allos, the other to-come. This is where we could, as I will suggest, for a start, irradicalize radicalisms and irradically substitute allocracies for democracies. The “start point” of the flower is not the root or the seed but the colored petals and the bumble bees, for instance. The root and the rhizome are the shit in the distance that soon is beyond any smell-mneme. No ideality, idealiter, of the text can escape this; the text is rather what collides with and confronts the future alone.




Thinking says, still: I comprehended, ascertained, that and I comprehend, ascertain, this: it is still radicalist. It is tying itself to a known shore: re-re-re-representing past pre-pre-pre-presentations. It is frenetic tying; at sea there are no sure iter, road, to Rome. Even in the form of the conjunctive synthesis of and . . . and . . . and, it is tying, perhaps even tying like nothing else: all about tying there. Affirming any tie coming there. This is thought as radicalist in the most general of senses. Virtually everything will get tied, somewhere sometime; at least this is its declaration, beyond any critique. Would the others of this manner of thought be utopian? It would have and exert no topology and typology; no place, no space—and no time. If, then, we do not operate conceptions of time and space that are not of ontology nor of metaphysics. Space and time would then never exist in givens, past or present, or in the given that future is given when accommodated to models, present or past. Present is always past anyway; presence is what is just about to be past, because when thought it is already past anyway. Thought must wrest itself of such radicalism to effectively constitute the possibility of politics, thinking, and the like. We do see the immensely vast hold radicalism holds on politics and thought—as long as we can remember, as long as our history, it would seem. Past propels presence propels future; such is that manner of thought: a tergo. This is, however, utterly problematic: it is not the case. What gives past and presence their existences is precisely future, or rather, futurity. Past can’t accomplish a thing; it is dead and done; the same is just about to happen with all of our presences, the limit between what is and what is no more. What is, is precisely not, yet that is; what is, is what comes, what is in the coming, from that instant right before the thought manage to grasp it to the abyssal futurity that is infinitely far away from it in time and space: this stretch, indefinable, unknowable, way beyond even undecidability, is what is, and only this and such. Radicalist thought is what already is dead, without the least imaginable power to affect something at all. All this thought effects is blocking thought from effectively put itself to risk and think; its action is completely passive, however much this thought for itself posit itself as master over the world capable of this and that. Its only accomplishment—if we still chose to call such for accomplishments—is obstruction of life and power and activity.


♥   As for “Root Politics” it is urgent to undertake an analysis of prominent radicalist motifs in contemporary political thinking. Let me start with a long parenthesis: (Let me first try to embroider some high-speed interpretative threads so as to just have the “wrider╫reater” triggered, from an assemblage I as of now think would facilitate the most, and from an assemblage I believe I am in fact somewhat capable of reproducing.[1] I hope this the most. But as hope is marked by a structural impossibility, the always imminent possibility that what happens may not come forth as I hoped, it may not be up to me, here, or there, to determine whether I succeeded. And perhaps even the reader must ask hermself this same question there, or here. (Only a “tere” can determine this.)

♠   First thread, terminological: ‘Radicalism’ is to be understood as an assemblage of modes of thought whose ism consists of constituting a ‘radix’ as its sole orientating factor, whose operations allow for, on the one hand, what is expected and claimed to grow out from this or that radix—constituting the programmed law, reality, actuality, etc.—but also, on the other hand, what for this thought necessarily appears as deviation, failure, perversion, etc., namely what somehow does not seem to follow the rules of this or that radix—“para-programs.” Therefore, ‘radicalism’ is used as a general technical term denoting ways of thought and action devoted to the quest for, and the discovery, maintenance, and growth of a radix that is, to use other familiar terms, an archeologically constituted monarchy and a monarchically constituted archeology. I use ‘radicalism’ to steer the conceptions of monarchy and archeology—but we could have mentioned other neighboring conceptions—into the realms of the living and life, what is firmly terrestrial, or rather sub-terrestrial since radicalism involves what is hidden beneath or behind or past.

♣   Second thread, terminological: The ‘radix’ is understood either in spatial metaphors or in temporal, or in both at once. First embroidering of second thread: In the spatial metaphor, there are variations of a radicalism that posits a hierarchy of stratified planes, planes that will have to be assigned strict differences in dignity, force, and right. This form of spatial-botanical political thought will have to assign most dignity, force, and right, to what is envisaged to be the root, the principle that everything rests upon, then certain measures to what envisaged to be the stem, then least to the petals, those things that witness to the full presence of the root. In fact, as radicalism is strictly bound by the figure of the program, we could even say that the totality of dignity, force, and right is assigned the root alone, and that what follows simply witnesses to the glorious truth of the root. For, the root programs what will follow: there is the arche, the root, the principle as the beginning, that is to say, the proper beginning, and there is the stem, the painful and gradual actualization through work, to break through the dark soil, then there is the flower in its sun-beamed beauty, where history all at once may be acclaimed to be whole, firmly resting on and in the root in the ground. Second embroidering of second thread: In temporal terms, there are variations of a radicalism that posits yet again a hierarchy of temporal modalities, modalities that yet again will have to be assigned differences in dignity, force, and right. This temporal form will follow the same scheme as that of the spatial. Past is assigned the principal dignity, force, and right, of course; presence is what flows from this past, and future is an empty receptacle of the continuation of that present flowing from that past. And, thirdly, there are those ways that combine the two metaphorics.

♦   Third thread, historical, mythical: The programmatic nature of these two forms reveals, the now well known fact, that still writing is easily condemnable; the gramma is something of an eventuality, a secondary deviation, a subject to various moralisms,  hostilities, ostracisms, etc., a subject that need be eradicated by all means, it seems. In Western thought this condemnation and degradation has a long history, at least from Plato’s pharmakon on—with roots in the Egyptian mythology of the figure of Thoth: whether it prominently is in spatial or temporal metaphorics, memory is at stake, and its substratum, its substance, and the thereafter wisdom gained. Now, as Socrates says in Plato’s Phaedrus, Thoth says to his king Thamus: “This discipline, my King, will make the Egyptians wiser and will improve their memories: my invention is a recipe [pharmakon] for both memory and wisdom.”[2] Besides of other types of indications, even a quick glance at our linguistic operations and figures indicate that our thought is still heavily informed by a vast variety of radicalist wishes; how many words, and how many vital words, are not bent back in radicalist fetishisms! And how is the repression of new forms of language not felt!

♥   Fourth thread, territorial: The “territorialization”[3] of language, to make use of one of Rancière’s terms from The Names of History—and perhaps a terminology in solidarity with Deleuze and Guattari’s writings—, seems always immense, and where it discovers and haunts down be it lucky or unlucky de-territorializations, it makes use of its long omphalic cords—not necessarily to be identified solely with those definable as of a state apparatus—to re-territorialize. These omphalic cords will surely not understand the workings of what Derrida’s Glas reminds us of the mourceau: a bit, piece, morsel, fragment, but also a musical composition, snack, or mouthful, that is, writes Derrida, always detached with the teeth. Ulmer writes that these teeth refer to “quotation marks, brackets, parentheses: when language is cited (put between quotation marks), the effect is that of releasing the grasp or the hold of a controlling context.”[4] The mourceau bites and chews and shits out every territory and will always cut the root of the omphalos, and so surely in other terms than those pragmatic ones of Freud’s Analysis Terminable/Interminable, where the in principle interminable analysis at some point just has to be cut, terminated. This is so with the mourceau because it is always a matter of shitting well, besides of eating well: when the mourceau cuts off the omphalos, indefinitely regenerating its own tissues and threads leaving the cutting trace behind as it traces anew, it eats and shits well at the same time and at the same place. Moralisms, hostilities, ostracisms, etc., are the very weapons of radicalist re-territorialization.

♠   Fifth thread, re-territorial: But what happens when one re-territorializes? Derrida’s Dissemination writes like this:

There is always a surprise in store for the anatomy or physiology of any criticism that might think it had mastered the game, surveyed all the threads at once, deluding itself, too, in wanting to look at the text without touching it, without laying a hand on the “object,” without risking—which is the only chance of entering into the game, by getting a few fingers caught—the addition of some new thread. Adding, here, is nothing other than giving to read. One must manage to think this out: that it is not a question of embroidering upon a text, unless one considers that to know how to embroider still means to have the ability to follow the given thread. That is, if you follow me, the hidden thread. If reading and writing are one, as is easily thought these days, if reading is writing, this oneness designates neither undifferentiated (con)fusion nor identity at perfect rest: the is that couples reading with writing must rip apart.[5]


I am here making a perhaps strange use of this mouthful of text from Derrida’s hand. Really not, since I cannot not have a few of my fingers caught. There is no need here of postulating a certain sex the sole holder of such threads, even as much my use here of the metaphors of the omphalos and the root might seem to invite so. One can easily imagine other, less simplistic, ways: to live, all life gets cut off from their roots, and this is one of the joys of playing the game of creating more and more threads. Derrida wrote about this, in the figure of the ‘assemblage,’ already early in his writing, as for instance in Speech and Phenomena,[6] or somewhat later, as in “Signature, Event, Context.”[7]

♣   Sixth thread, (opening the) ending: I also want (in parenthesis) to put forth the hypothesis that radicalism is not restricted to the West, as it is not restricted to the political; it makes its presence felt all over the world. There are, however, differences in implementing radicalist political thought, more or les effective, according to this or that set of axiomatic. In this study, then, I will only analyze a few exemplary politically affectative texts written in the contemporaneity of what is still called the “West”—another radicalism, to be sure, or, to borrow another of Rancière’s terms from the same book, “geographicization.”[8]

♦   Seventh thread, (ending the) opening: Before I end the long parenthesis, I would like to sew the seven threads so as to let your reading not be assured by some self-organized root, but let it open itself for a tremendous violence, and a chance, for a causality of futurity that, hopefully, with the quietest conscience shits out, for instance, Gods, Big Bangs, Irreversible Times, Logics, Transcendentalisms, Immanentisms and Radicalisms alike. First two threads were simple ‘terminological’ ones, explaining the way I would hope two of the terms could be read, the one— which in fact were number two, namely that of the radix and the root—nested in the other—which in fact were number one, namely that of radicalism. What is a root if not an ism, the jubilationary of a generalized recurrence? In fact, this makes the term ‘radicalism’ superfluous, so to speak. The third thread, the ‘historical, mythical’ one, nested a conception of the program into that of the root, by way of a speedy backward referral to mnemotechnicalized thoughts by, presumably, Plato. His dislike, if not immediate ostracizing, of course, of grammas seems to be well established, if we shall believe Derrida and others. The Thoth—which is not the same as the those singular tooth, tooth, tooth, tooth, that makes up the quotation jaws of the mourceau—delivers the recipe, or was it the poison? (not surprisingly, perhaps, the different translations of ‘pharmakon’ render different words for the term) of memory and wisdom. Wisdom must come from a root, a memory of what lies behind, beneath, in the most archaic of our grand humankind footsteps; so it is thought, from at least Thoth on, be he (I am not sure for my part if Thoth had clear and distinct sexual attributes) an imaginary, mythical entity or not. The fourth thread, the ‘terrestrial,’ nested all of the ones before it inside itself, on safe terra, in the safe ferry of the root of omphalos, the compulsive urge to bring all things back to its proper origin, re-territorialize, but to an origin that—luckily for some, whatever the reason, not so for others, whatever the reason—simply is no more, nor traceable except as a general cut that is repeated through all living history, which is what makes (differential) repetition (and de-territorialization) essential to life. This omphalos is then nested into the question of shitting well. The fifth thread, the ‘re-territorial,’ was in a sense meant to allude to the bitter fact that the ‘again’ of the re-territorializing will split its wish to eat its own shit with just more shit, shit that will make its urge even more urgent to it. It nested all the former threads into a certain concept of shitting well, a concept that must be seen in analogy with Derrida’s “Eating Well,” for instance. Sixth thread, that of the ‘(opening of the) ending,’ was put there just to let it have been said that I do not believe in that other radicalism that says that Evil, in this case radicalism, is White, European, or Caucasian. Radicalism is anyway nothing of evil, as the very conception of ‘evil’—be it in its popular form ‘radical evil’ or not—itself pertains to one of radicalisms favorite exercises. Radicalism is just an auto-aggrandizing complex of unlucky circumstances that happened to the earth we all inhabit. As Haver writes, a concept such as ‘evil’ presupposes that history gives meaning, that it is on the side of meaning, which, he writes is today all too unsure, problematical:

[h]ope and despair, like good and evil, are not historical or political concepts, because they necessarily assume the possibility of making sense; they are predicated on the assumption that the world can make sense. But that possibility, today, is not self-evident, and to the extent we might assume that self-evidence, we are not yet thinking.[9]

I would just add that the concept of ‘meaning’ itself, too, often is radicalist, as is, needless to say, the concept of ‘concept.’ Reference is tainted with radicalist figures, tropes, inflections, modulations, etc., and all it does, its sole inquisitory mission, is to make sure a movement of identification by way of a perfectly circular return; whether the root is transcendental or immanent is strictly irrelevant since there is a motivational force involved that unites both camps by a certain “sensus communalis.” It is this common sense, common source, “common radicalicity” that makes the distinction into transcendent and immanent possible, of course. Therefore we will ask, “rhetorically,” what happens with thought when it hides from dangers that always and everywhere threats to jump at it? What happens with thought when it refuses risks, the horror of being completely sollicitated? Such a thought is no longer a thought; it has other names. Or could it even be said that it might be that it does not have a name at all, essentially? Anyway, I am not sure whether this makes us “not yet thinking,” as Haver puts it. At least, I want to ward off every “thought”—the thing that never lets itself be caught by surprise—in thought that re-marks and re-territorializes it—living on values of sheltering, proximity, tradition, living presence, remembrance, “history,” concreteness, etc.—as of the root; how can ‘yet’ not be of the root, a thing behind, lurking? Now, why could it not just as well be that what happens, in the “presence,” what at a given time is presencing, is not the pushing forward, making space for it, into a supposed always uncritical welcoming future that welcomes anything, absolutely anything that a past dictates it a tergo, but comes by way of what is to come, by way of what may be called ‘futurity,’ for which what we call past is what is pushed back, out, shit out, as new things—to speak with two of Derrida’s terms—“spaces” and “temporizes”—two terms that are reducible neither to the simply spatial nor the simply temporal?

[1] With the prefix ‘re-’ we often see a tendency to make it “pastish.” Instead, in line with Derrida’s writings, I try think it—according to the workings of iterability—of future.

[2] Jacques Derrida, Dissemination, trans. Barbara Johnsen (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000), p. 75. (Hereafter abbreviated as D.)

[3] The Names of History: On the Poetics of Knowledge, p. 66.

[4] Gregory L. Ulmer, Applied Grammatology : Post(e)-Pedagogy from Jacques Derrida to Joseph Beuys (Baltimore : John Hopkins University Press, 1977), p. 58.

[5] Op.cit., pp.63-4.

[6] Jacques Derrida, Speech and Phenomena, trans. David B. Allison (Evanston, Ill.: Northwestern University Press, 1973), ff. 131.

[7] Jacques Derrida, “Signature, Event, Context,” Glyph 1: John Hopkins Textual Studies (Baltimore : John Hopkins University Press, 1977) ff. 185.

[8] Op.cit., ibid.

[9] William Haver, “The Ontological Priority of Violence: On Some Really Smart Things About Violence in Jean Genet’s Work.”

[1] Gilles Deleuze, Pure Immanence:Essays on A  Life, trans. Anne Boyman (Urzone, Inc., 2002), p. 29, my emphasis added except for the “a.” Hereafter referred to as PI.

[2] Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia, trans. Brian Massumi (University of Minnesota Press, 2000), chapter 1. Hereafter referred to as ATP.  Originally published (as one says) as Milles Plateux: Capitalisme et Schizophrénie (Paris: Les Editions de Minuit, 1980).

[3] We say circumstances in compliance with the knowing that that term is vital to D&G’s argument.

[4] Rancière, Jacques: Hatred of Democracy, trans. Corcoran, Steve (Verso, 2006). I think, nonetheless, that in this book he moves away more effectively, leaving certain linguistic tropes behind, from earlier radicalist habits. What is astonishing is its complete neglect of historical and contemporary eco-political urgencies, still! And so his conception of democracy is flat in a way that the world once was said to be flat when it indeed seemed to be proved beyond doubt to be round. Democracy is today flat as a pancake. My suggestion is that a futural democracy is what is called for, allocracy, this so even how allergic today’s democracy is to such a notion, whether you are a worker, student, politician, lobbyist, capitalist, etc.

[5] Alain Badiou, Manifesto for Philosophy, trans. Norman Madarasz (SUNY Press, Albany, 1999). Hereafter abbreviated as MP.

[6] Ibid., p. 97-101.

[7] Deleuze, Negotiations: 1972-1990, trans. Martin Joughin (Columbia University Press, 1995), p. 148.

[1] Jacques Rancière, On the Shores of Politics, trans. Liz Heron (New York: Verso, 1995), p. 94.  (Hereafter abbreviated as OSP.)

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid., p. 95.

[4] Jacques Rancière, The Names of History: On the Poetics of Knowledge, trans. Hassan Melehy (University of Minnesota Press, 1994): see especially first chapter “A Secular Battle,” and the last “A Heretical History?”, for a somewhat clear cut definition of what ‘poetics’ means in Rancière. He will, for instance, try to demonstrate that the transitions from Hobbesian “royal-empirical” school of historiography to the Lucien Febvre initiated Annales school, and further from this to the mode of historiography opened by Jules Michelet, is best understood in terms of revolutions in the “poetics of knowledge.”

[5] Thucydides, History of the Peloponnesian War, trans. Rex Warner, revised edition (Harmondsworth, 1972, II), p. 65. Quoted in OSP, p. 93.

[6] Op.cit., p. 95.

[7] Here it would be easy to set in with an analysis of ‘radical otherness,’ showing that what that “Aristotelian figure”—another root—shows is not what it thinks it shows. How would a figure be other if also radical? An other with a definable, locatable, knowable root is definitely not other, but comprehensive in all its rootedness. The allocratic is surely not radicalist; it is rather, if I may say so, irradical.

[8] Here I think we could undertake an analysis of radicalist swirls even in Derrida’s writings. See, for instance, Jacques Derrida and Bernard Stiegler, Echographies of Television, trans. Jennifer Bajorek (Polity Press, 2002), especially chapter 3 and 4. Let this be said even how much I think Derrida’s thought opens up, in an as of yet unheard of manner, another way of thinking time and future.

[9] Gilles Deleuze and Claire Parnet, Dialogues II (Paris : Flammarion, 1977), but here we use Dialogues II, trans. Hugh Tomlinson and Barbara Habberjam, “The Actual and the Virtual,” trans. Eliot Ross Albert (New York: Columbia University Press, 2002). (Hereafter referred to as D.) As for the succinct style in this short piece, 4 pages as it is, Eliot Ross Albert and Eric Alliez agrees that it was a series of notes, a draft, or “aides-mémoires for a paper.” But this is for the style; as for what Deleuze says—for this is not Claire Parnet—it should suffice, here, for our purposes; it also lets me read it closely in minutiae and read closely what is the last piece he wrote before he went away, therefore being his last piece of what is considered his increased political involvements (Negri, terrorism, etc.). Anyway the reading will be supported by other writings by D&G’s hands as well.

[10] Already in Gilles Deleuze, Différence et répétition (Vendome: Presses Universitaires de France, 1968), trans. by Paul Patton as Difference and Repetition (London : Athlone Press, 1994) we see this written : “Every object is double without it being the case that the two halves resemble one another, one being a virtual image and the other an actual image.” A double image, but without resemblance, then.

[11] Op.cit, p. 148.

[12] Gilles Deleuze, Expressionism in Philosophy: Spinoza, trans. Martin Joughin (New York: Zone Books, 1990). Hereafter abbreviated EPS. “The doctrine of ‘univocity of Being’ was an ontological theory developed in the thirteenth century by Duns Scotus, following Henry of Ghent, in his magnus opus entitled Opus Oxonience, which Deleuze calls ‘the greatest book of pure ontology.” The exclamation is done in EPS. See Deleuze and Religion, ed. Mary Bryden (New York: Routledge, 2001), “The Doctrine of Univocity: Deleuze’s ontology of immanence.”

[13] Quoted in D, p. 158n. The book quoted from, by Deleuze as well as Eliot Ross Albert, is Henri Bergson, Matière et la memoire (Paris: Èditions du centenaire), trans. by N. M. Paul and W. S. Palmer as Matter and Memory (New York: Zone Books, 1991), p. 250/104. Hereafter referred to as MM, English paging.

[14] “Well known but, as yet, inadequately explored,” writes the translator, op.cit., p. 159n.

[15] Ibid., p. 158, translators note, where the translator claims that besides of referring to Bergson’s work, the conceptual basis for the present piece “The Virtual and the Actual,” where elaborated already in Cinema 2.

[16] Gilles Deleuze, Negotiations : 1972-1990, trans. Martin Joughin (Columbia University Press, 1995), p. 200, n. 1.

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