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Episode #128 ... Gilles Deleuze pt. 4 - Flows

2019-03-15 | 🔗

Today we continue our discussion on the work of Deleuze. 

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This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
Hello everyone. I'm Steven W. This is philosophize. This thank you to everyone that supports the show on Patreon, and it's a big thinking this week to people on Patreon 'cause. I got an email from Amazon saying that when it comes to the Amazon banner they're, shutting it down, It's no longer a way that you can support the show, don't know exactly what I'm going to do, but I'm going to options moving forward. I really want to show to continue to be solely crowdfunded. I like that but on the other hand, I was in the hospital four times last year and have medical so I'm going to figure it out. Thank you for your patience, moving forward one thing that's never going to change is the quality of the show will always do my best there. Speaking which today we're releasing two new episodes of the show, try to listen to them back to back. If you can, they kind of go together, but this one is part four in our series on Gill Deleuze. I hope you love this show today. So all throughout this series, we've talked
different ways to lose, and whatever you want to get us out of thinking about things in the traditional rigid ways, we've approached things in the past. They've asked us to think about ontology differently. Politics differently question the individual humanistic perspective. We typically view everything through they've even asked us to question things like nature of time and the linear way that we typically view history is so it's been this straightforward crescendo of progress. It's all been leading to this moment right now, so it will probably come. Surprise it in the second volume of capitalism and schizophrenia. Titled, one thousand plateaus using water we're going to want to do the same thing in other areas. They want to offer a completely different way to think about the questions surrounding social theory or if you want to get Websters dictionary on people's social theory, meaning the analytical frameworks or paradigm that are used to study and interpret social phenomenon. Delusion. Guattari want to offer a different way of thinking about all this. And by different what I mean is different from the four or five
These philosophers have always approached these questions. In the past I mean just on this. Show we've already seen tons of examples of officers trying their hands at social theory and almost every time they seem to fail miserably. We've seen people try to actually design the entire society from the ground up. Think Plato's republic social engineering on a massive scale to the point of carving out and actually designing social classes, even grooming, and designing the minds of all future leaders from the moment, they're born, Think St Augusta. The city of God in the fifth century. Think Thomas more hope you in the 16th century, we seen tons of examples of this, but we've also seen other attempts at social Right, I mean we get to the renaissance in the enlightenment. The focus is Sun, coming up with some sort of grand design and more on seeing things through the lens of the individual and subjectivity, and what this leads to is social contract theory through the work of Hobbes Locke, Rousseau and many others basic roman society are structured around an agreement signed at birth between the
visual citizen and the sovereign. This agreement lays out parameters for how many of the relationships between things within that society are going to function. Social theory has been talked about extensively from a variety of different angles. But even still delusion watery think that we're still missing out on a lot when it comes to other way is that elements of society connect and work together and they're going to ask us to instead take a look at society through the lens of what they refer to as flows general theory about society to delusion Guattari can be understood in terms of the theory of what they call flows and how they relate to each other. So obviously First thing we to talk about is: what's a flow, I mean. Why do we need some new term to talk about the waste social phenomena unfold? Well, the It is fairly similar to what we talked about last episode in the realm of politics see in the same way, it would be a mistake to only it ourselves to the long tradition of looking at political change from the perspective of the individual and how
broadening that perspective by seeing the world as a complex laboratory of machines, using machines and making connections actualising the political reality look one of the main points. The last episode was set by seeing political change from this broader, more versitile angle, we see perspectives and potential solutions that we just can't possibly see when we look at things solely from the perspective of the classical liberal tradition of individualism. Well, so too, when it comes to social theory and the broader perspective losing watery want us to consider when looking at things in terms of flows. Let's talk about flows, we all already have a frame of reference to sort of understand what they mean by flows, because we all already use the word flow in a bunch of everyday situations to describe the way. Sort of move along in the world we live in seat. Delusion watery first developed this idea of looking at everything in terms of flows when they're stuck economics.
But then once you see, flows in the context of economics, the concept of a flow just kind of expands outward from there. And it seems to apply to all the other different areas of society as well dead, on TA in his analysis of Deluz, describes a pretty good starting point for thinking about flows. From this economic perspective, he says quote from the economic point of view, We can call flows the values of the quantities of goods and services or money that are trans it from one pole to another, in quote now, when it comes to these two poles that are being talked about, think of them as two bookends, where, between these two bookends there are some economic flow occuring whatever that may be, for example, the flow of economic transactions between an employer and employee or between eight hundred or in a manufacturer, these economic flows. Alternatively could extend into the realm of finance, think of the movement of transactions or the flow between a bank or invest
and some machine trying to actualize a new business venture there are even echo. Like flows, going on internal to businesses or people's personal finances. Think of the term cash flow thing, of the flow of material resources are inventory, based on what's being received or sold. The large point here to understand, and the reason this is going to apply to all these other areas of society as well, is that in all of these cases, movement is occuring. And we seem to be able to see this movement or flow at all different levels of analysis, just like means when we were talking about political change. Last episode, remember by looking at things Terms of machines we aren't just looking at through the lens of the individual. Yes, indeed, levels are machines, but again so we're groups, sewer companies, organizations, spiritual movements and it's, but it goes the other way as well. We can think of parts of our bodies as machines. We can think of bodily processes as machines.
Every collections of cells that make us up. Like we talked about last time. Political change can be understood by looking at this interaction between confluence of machines at all levels in the same way, we can understand social phenomena in terms of these flows and how they interact with each other at all levels. Can flows are not just economic right, just where to losing watery, identify them for the first time, so probably good idea to expand on that. Okay, we've talked about economic flows. You know the the movement of money between parties, the movement of cash, it'll in finance, but in another area, aflow flow could easily be the flow of immigration. You know the movement of new citizens into a country. That's a social phenomenon. Another example could be a flow of commodities. You know the movement of oil or electricity or coffee or any commodity. For that matter, that's another aspect of society. We could look at the flow of traffic. The flow,
ideas from person to person the flow of how citizens live their lives within a particular city. We can even think of flow In terms of the raw human excrement flowing through the sewage facilities of a city- and this is not me- making some sick joke here- this is chilean example they use in the book because flows like machines, are extremely varied in terms of their definitions and exist at what seems to be all levels of a society. Now, in the interest of understanding what flows? Are I want to point out some similarities between all these examples of flows that we just laid out, and I think the best way to do that is through a metaphor. Let's compare all of these flows to the flow of water in a river okay. So, if we think of a river as a metaphor for what a flow is we can analyze that river, as philosophers have traditionally done in the past. There are, of course, ways to break down that river into a bunch of different parts, give each of those parts and identity and then study the identities of all those different parts. To try to understand the river better, but there's a
in which, if you were to only look at the river in this way, you'd be potentially missing out on entire layer of understanding about that river that you only have access to if you were looking at the entire river as a whole process or movement or flow. This has been one of the big mistakes of so many great philosophers of the past when looking at social They pay way too much attention to prescribing identities, to the things that are moving and not enough attention to lots of other important factors such as Why is the river moving in the direction? It is at all what is responsive for that movement, why is there a flow between these two poles in particular. Another thing that often gets overlooked by philosophers that are over really concerned with the identity of things. Is that just like the case of our river human intervention, often fund, mentally changes, the nature of the flow, and so often in the past. This is store. Did our ability to see things in the world clearly just declare
I want to losing water we're getting out here. Let's return back to the example of a river as a flow, and as we talk about this, remember we're not just talking about large scale cultural movements here again Those exist at all levels down to things that might seem completely insignificant to older, outdated ways of looking at social phenomenon, but back to the river. So a river almost never just some uninhibited dream of liquid that sort of meanders anywhere that it happens to go? No there's a specific reason that river is moving in the direction that it is at the speed that it is, for example, a glacier melting on the top of a mountain, an gravity pulling water to its lowest point. What this means is just like flows, we can spot in society. There is always, some sort of force responsible for why this flow exists between these two poles WHI is the flow of immigration into a particular country. Why is there a flow of traffic to this part of the city at this particular time? What for
is driving the flow and spreading of ideas among members of a culture or from Jenner the generation. What force determines ideas, have the most movement and at what speed those ideas move also pictured the river again. You know water flowing between two poles in a specific direction. Well, if at any point that flow of water, because. Inconvenient to us when it comes to any activity we want to engage in as human beings. What do we do? We intervene? We fund mentally change the nature of that flow. So that course, with some demand, we have we put up a damn and stop the flow of the river all together, we redirect the flow of water into a different direction. We change the read of the riverbed to adjust the speed in certain areas. We build a bridge, so we cross the river in a particular place. So, in the case of the river human intervention plays a vital role in determining how that flow looks and functions, and this is exactly the case when it comes to all the other flows. We've talked about
we have immigration laws and procedures to regulate levels of citizenship? We have market regulations to govern economic flows. We have traffic laws and ST lights and signs to regulate the flow of traffic We have sewage systems and processing facilities to carry out whatever it is, we side? It needs to get done with the miss river of human excrement that would otherwise be flowing down the street mom, regulations to economic flows are like the dam is to river. In our metaphor, traffic laws are to the traffic flow as directing the course of the river is. In our metaphor, these, in turn, tensions in the language of delusion Guattari, as we talked about last time, are the effects of a constant process. That's going on of territorial territorialization D Territorialization and then re Territorialization by machines, interacting with these flows the key to a new level of understanding about how society functions to lose lies in understanding these flows, these forces of movement that exist, between polarities, how these flows interact with each other and how they
shaped and changed by this constant territorialization by machines. Delusion watery give an example of this interaction that occurs between flows and the machines that are making connections and territorializing those flows. And it's through this example that they illustrate an extremely important point. If we want to view social phenomenon by thinking of it in terms of flows, these machines seeking connections and creating this territory. They in a sense become part of the flow. The flow becomes part of their identity. In that moment, the same a damn becomes part of the river, and it dictates several critical aspects about how that flow looks. In other words, the damn becomes part of the flow machines, often become critical parts of what makes other flows of social phenomena possible I mean just imagine how complicated and rhizomatic these flows within society get when they have this many moving parts. Apple, delusion, water, give is of a particular kind of wasp. The plays
crucial role in the reproductive process of orchids, so the price of an orchid fertilizing and reproducing with other orchids can be thought of in its own right as a flow between those two orchids. This specific type, WASP that the losing water be right about carries the pollen from one orchid to another, which, in this context, makes that wasp an absolutely crucial part of this flow of reproduction there's a sense in which this wasp, become a machine. The wasp doesn't have a fixed identity. Identity of the wasp in this moment as its transporting the pollen is defined by the connections. It has in this moment, whatever goals or connections that a week ago or what the wasp doesn't only after it doesn't really matter. In this context, the wasp has become d territory, realized there's no sense of identity given to that was from the outside
using watery say that for all intents and purposes that WASP has become a verb. Something in motion that WASP has become part of that flow of function, which is to say in some capacity that wasp cannot be thought of as just a wasp anymore. That wasp has become part of the orc the wasp, an orchid themselves forming a rhizome, a rise on with countless It's connecting them with other route networks around them, You can imagine what this means when it comes to our views on society. If we replace the wasp in the orchids reproduction with some other machine and some other flow say, an visual in their car and their impact as part of that flow of traffic say a group of lobbyists and their impact is Out of that flow of commodities, like oil within a society say a cultural movement and the role it plays in the flow of ideas that dominate thought, leaders and media. Just like the wasp becoming the orchid
Jeans are often engaged in a process of becoming becoming part of these flows. Maybe the state or government as a machine, is coming what it is in relation to the flow of history. Maybe an individual is becoming they are in a given moment in relation to the flows of advertising on television, to see what's going on in the world. From the broader perspective of machines and flows is potentially revolutionary. Now we could talk for an entire series What exactly changes in a worldview! When you see everything in terms of flows, you know there have been several I'll, just through the end of the 20th century that have dedicated their entire lives to studying flows and have developed the concept far beyond what the losing lottery ever did, but the most important takeaway here I think, it comes to understanding the work of Deleuze is that by looking at things in terms of flows, you see the world from a crucial vantage point. If what you
is a comprehensive picture of the world and how it works. In that vantage point, is this: the world is fundamentally a world in motion Deluz, seeing the world as a collection of static identities. Objects to studied and understood for lose. That certainly gives you one perspective, but it's far from the full story. See if we want to understand social phenomena, we can't make the same mistake. We talked about when it comes to under getting political change occurs and we can't make the same mistake. Philosophers have made for centuries when trying to understand ontology. There is a way of in the world that is miss from our thousands of years of discourse. This is an alternative picture. It's four episodes to prepare the vocabulary for the Well, we live in to lose is a world of difference. It's a world, That is constantly in motion a rhizome of different flows, forming networks connect together, sometimes in chaotic ways, networks of machines and their connections with
themselves, create further rhizomes these machines when realizing their political realities, territorial guys in regulate these flows, which are themselves always changing. This picture of a massive, ever changing enormously complex. Rhizome is only available to us when we get out of the business of identity and in adopt, the broader delusion perspective of machines, flows and apology of eminence and by the way, You can see here how tempting it would be in the interest of I understand the complexity of this rhizome to try to break it down, into one thousand, smaller rhizomes, or to try to break each of those down to one hundred different trees of hierarchical systems. Maybe an entire lifetime as a philosopher playing this game of trying to find static identities for things and, at the end, we have to show, for it is the
many of a single hierarchical system of thought. It seems to be the fate of many of the philosophers that have existed throughout history with this world, but the concept of identity is no. Where near this simple, you know we started this whole Arkham to show on post structuralism by talking about how thinkers wanted to get away from what they saw as naive enlightenment era, is about a lot of different topics, including identity. Well, this is a perfect example of how post structuralist name, Deluz tries to move past that and show how these outdated. Ways of looking at identity often have real negative effects on people's lives. Not to mention the opportunity cost of thinking in the same rigid ways for hundreds of years see the thinking is always been among philosophers that identity must exist prior to difference the logic's always been that if you're talking about two different things say a table and a chair. Well, if there's a difference between a table and a chair that
this means that they have an identity as a thing before a difference between their identities could ever be pointed out. That's a table. That's a chair. There are clearly different. They must have two separate identities that informed that distinction but this is led to is a long tradition of philosophers. Trying to get to the bottom of these identities that seem to exist but to lose is going to come along and turn this entire thing on its head. What he's going to say Is that there's no reason we have to assume that identity must be prior to difference. There is no ultimate form of chair sitting up in a world of forms, actually there's no stat identity of chairs in the universe. There's no scientific cat or either really spells out the identity of a chair. What we have thought of as identity to lose. It's not us touching something written into the fabric of the universe about chairs identity is
always derived from difference to truly grasp identity. Is to understand that fact. No two things are exactly the same, and if we want to stay honest when identifying thing We have to understand that what we traditionally thought of as identity, is in reality the contrast between something and all the things that it's not in other words difference is prior to identity for to lose, not the way around once again. This is another example of how this is fundamentally a world of difference. What Deleuze is also calling into question here is the long standing dichotomy. That's existed in western philosophy of being versus becoming and origins of this criticism go all the way back to the work of Nietzsche and to lose his own unique interpretation of one of his most famous ideas. The eternal recurrence Duluth thinks that You read Nietzsche one way, his concept of the eternal recurrence actually making a very similar point to what the lose tried
following the work of Spinoza and Bergson that we talked about earlier in the series. So, if you remember, we mention the eternal recurrence, very briefly, back in our episodes on Nietzsche, we sort of reference the most popular or practically useful side of it. The idea is that you should think of your life, every living situation, every relationship, every job, every single choice that you make you should do so with the policy that the moment you die, your life will restart and you'll have to live the exact same life precisely as you did the first time over and over again for Ali, need to describe it here. Quote what if some day or night a demon were to steal after you into your loneliest loneliness and say to you? life is you now live it and have lived it? You will have to live once more and innumerable times more and there will be nothing new in it, but every pain and every joy and every thought and cyan everything on probably small or great in your life, will have to return to you all in the same succession and sequence, even the spider and this moonlight between the trees and
in this moment, and I myself, the eternal hourglass of existence is turned upside down again and again, and you with it speck of dust. Would do not throw yourself down and gnash your teeth and cursed the demon who spoke thus, or would you so once experienced a tremendous moment when you would've answered him, you are a god and never have I heard anything more divine in quote, so the idea is that we often do things That are self destructive or stay in situations that are clearly causing us a lot more pain than the benefit were getting from it and it's easy when you're in one of those situations to say the sufferings. Temporary uh it's going to be over soon, but how different would we look at things new. The complacency we had in that moment was going to just to suffer for the rest of time and uh, level of suffering you're going to endure
only limited by your willingness to take action right now. This idea from Nietzsche just raises the stakes, I think and puts things in perspective, but this isn't the only take away from Nietzsche and his work on the colonel recurrence and a loose things, what this idea leads to is entirely new perspective about along, tradition throughout the history of philosophy, dividing the world up in terms of being versus becoming we're going to talk about it. First thing next episode by the way is out for you to listen to right now. Thank you for listening I'll talk.
Transcript generated on 2019-10-30.