Intensity


In my development of the ontology of objects within the framework of onticology I have tried to argue that objects are not their local manifestations or actualizations, but rather a virtual endo-relational structure composed of relations among attractors, singularities, powers, or generative mechanisms. It is this virtual dimension of the object that, in my view, constitutes the proper being of an object. This virtual dimension of the object, I argue, constitutes its substantiality. Consequently, it follows that no object ever directly encounters another objects, but rather objects only ever encounter one another as local manifestations of their virtual proper being. The proper being of the object, its virtual structure, is always in excess of any of its local manifestations.

This model of objects is proposed, in part, to account for the identity of an object throughout its variations. Objects continuously vary or change as their conditions change, yet there is something of the object that remains the same. But what is this something? Certainly it can’t be the local manifestations or actualizations of the object because those local manifestations change with shifting conditions or changes in exo-relations to other objects. It is this insight that leads many, I think, to overmine objects by reducing them to their relations to other objects. Yet as Harman has compellingly argued, this line of thought fails to provide the conditions for the possibility under which these variations are possible. As a consequence, it follows that the identity of an object cannot be something in the appearance (to the world, not to humans), local manifestation, or actualization of an object, but must reside in another dimension of the object. And because the object can undergo variations while remaining that object, it follows that the proper being of the object, its substantiality, must be something that does not manifest itself. It is there everywhere in the object, without ever becoming present in the world. It is the “principle” of the object, its “essence”, its “style of being”, without being something that we could ever find in the local manifestations of the object.

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newssmokeThe word “object” derives from the Latin prefix ob, meaning “against”, and the word jacere, meaning “to throw”. Presumably there is a relationship between objects, on the one hand, and existence on the other hand. To be an object is also to exist. The term “existence” comes from the Latin term existere (ex and sistere) meaning “to stand forth”. It would thus seem that to be an object is “to be thrown against” or “to stand forth”. Here, then, would be a first reason for conceiving objects in relation to difference. If to be an object is to stand forth or to be thrown against, then it follows that to be an object is first and foremost to differ. On the one hand, we here see why objects must always be attached to a field. If objects stand forth or are thrown against, there must be something from which they stand forth or against which they are thrown. Minimally, then, it must be said that there are not just objects, but object-field relations. There is nothing for the object to stand-forth from if there is no field against which the object stands. This field could be anything and the question of what constitutes a field would be a central question of ontological speculation. Is the field in question the void, as in the case of Lucretius? Is it other objects? Is it a background-foreground relation as in the case of the Gestaltists? Is it the One substance of Spinoza? The question is open. All that can be said is that minimally objects are a differentiating. For this reason objects are necessarily attached to a world; or rather, there are no worldless objects.

125The second notable feature of the etymology of the terms “object” and “existence” is that both contain verbs. “Object” contains the verb jacere, meaning to throw. “Existence” contains the verb sistere, meaning “to stand forth”. The term “object”, of course, is a noun. When we think of nouns we tend to think of something fixed and established. Something that presides. Yet the etymology of the terms “object” and “existence” suggests a verb or action at the heart of objects and existence. If objects stand-forth or are thrown, then there is an activity at work in the object or the existent. In this respect, the Greek concept of φύσις or phusis as that which emerges, grows, or is born would be at the heart of objects. When the Ontic Principle claims that there is no difference that does not make a difference, we get one sense in which objects are. The difference of an object is a difference that is made and constantly remade, emerging from out of a field. Consequently, objects should be thought as events.

g002_pllck2_she_wolfIt is unfortunate that we so often use “difference” as a noun. The differences that constitute an object should not be understood as the properties by which an observer distinguishes two objects from one another, but should instead be understood as difference internal to the object, presiding over the process of how it stands forth from a field or throws itself. Difference should be understood in the sense of “to differ” or “differing“, as the activity by which the objects unfolds, blooms, or emerges against a field. Perhaps the term “differentiating” would be preferable to “difference”, so long as differentiating is understood as what objects do, not what minds do in distinguishing objects from one another. While we do indeed make distinctions, so long as difference is understood primarily as distinction, difference becomes a negative term describing relations between identicals. When we speak of difference as distinction, we here speak of difference in terms of what something is not, rather than affirmatively as the differentiating taking place in the heart or volcanic core of objects. “This cat is black, that cat is not.” Hence Deleuze will remarks that,

The difference ‘between’ two things is only empirical, and the corresponding determinations are only extrinsic. However, instead of something distinguished from something else, imagine something which distinguishes itself– and yet that from which it distinguishes itself does not distinguish itself from it. Lightning, for example, distinguishes itself from the black sky but must also trail it behind, as though it were distinguishing itself from that which does not distinguish itself from it… Difference is this state in which determination takes the form of unilateral distinction. We must therefore say that difference is made, or makes itself, as in the expression ‘make the difference’. (Difference and Repetition, Columbia University Press, 28)

As I argued in a previous post, the epistemic and the ontological are deeply intertwined due to the philosophical tradition, such that we must perpetually struggle to untangle the two if we are to get anywhere. Difference-between is a relation between three terms where, on the one hand, we have two objects that differ from one another (black and white cats) and a mind contemplating that difference or distinguishing these two terms. Such would be difference epistemically conceived. Implicitly this form of difference would involve an observer or mind distinguishing the two objects. However, difference as Deleuze here conceives it would be ontological and strictly an affair of the object itself, regardless of whether any minds were about to distinguish the object from other objects. Here we would have the object distinguishing itself through some sort of internal force or power– an internal difference –rather than objects being distinguished.

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In my last post I introduced the Ontic Principle as the ground upon which any object-oriented philosophy must be based. On the one hand, the Ontic Principle states that “there is no difference that does not make a difference.” On the other hand, in Latour’s formulation, it states “there is no transportation without translation.” The ontic, of course, is the domain of entities or beings, as opposed to the ontological which deals with being qua being or what can be said of being independent of any reference to specific objects (here I strongly suspect that ontology has very little of interest to say, but more on that later). Consequently, if the Ontic Principle states that there is no difference that does not make a difference, then this entails that being a being or entity consists in producing a difference.

Entity is power and act: The power to produce difference and activity, the actuality, of making difference. I suspect that there are two further principles lurking behind this first formulation: The Principle of Reality and the Principle of Actuality. The Principle of Reality would state something along the following lines:

The degree of power or reality embodied in a being are a ratio of the extensiveness of the differences the entity produces.

In other words, the more real an entity is the more difference that entity produces. Clearly this principle is indebted to Latour’s understanding of the reality of an entity in terms of the extensiveness of its relations, Badiou’s most recent work on worlds, entities, and intensities with respect to appearing, and Deleuze-Spinoza’s understanding of entity as power. Reality and power would thus be co-extensive and defined in terms of act, as I gropingly tried to outline in a previous post.

The Principle of Actuality, by contrast, would be formulated roughly as follows:

Entities only are insofar as they are act-ual

ba1fa211-d1e8-d704-796509f20de29fae_1In other words, there is no entity where there is no act-uality. Here the hyphen must be observed to underline the essence of entity as act. To be act-ual is not to be still and complete, but rather to be in act. If it is true that there is no difference that does not make a difference and that entity is difference, then it follows as a consequence that there can be no being that is not act-ual. Consequently, I banish any entity that does not act or produce a difference. A purely possible or potential entity is, under this model, no entity at all. I also set aside the vexed question of the Deleuzian virtual. As I understand it, the Deleuzian virtual refers not to some mysterious extra-actual form of being but rather refers to relations among actualities. The virtual is not something other than the actual, but refers to relations of acting between actualities. In this respect, the Deleuzian virtual would be a variation of Whitehead’s Ontological Principle which states that the reason for any entity is to be found in another actual entity or in that entity itself. For example, genes are purely virtual in relation to my body but are entirely actual at any point in time for themselves. Nonetheless, this raises a number of questions about causality and potency that I am not yet prepared to tackle.

london-after-people-jj-001It is of crucial importance to note one point. Clearly the Ontic Principle is a variation of Bateson’s famous definition of information:

Information is that difference that makes a difference.

This connection might give the impression that the Ontic Principle is epistemological, pertaining to autopoiesis, systems theory, or some similar theory of operational closure where systems constitute their own elements. Certainly I have written often about autopoiesis and systems theory on this blog. However, it is important to note that the Ontic Principle is strictly ontological in nature. To properly envision the scope of the Ontic Principle we must imagine, after the fashion of Roy Bhaskar (without necessarily sharing his ontology) a world without humans, or, after the fashion of Quentin Meillassoux, a world without thought. This is not because entities independent of the human are the real differences that make a difference– certainly humans fulfill the Ontic Principle and the Principle of Act-uality –but rather because this thought experiment allows us to think ontologically and in terms of beings entirely independent, where the question is not one of whether or not we register a difference but whether a differences is produced in and among entities regardless of whether humans are there to register them. Such is the ruin of Parmenides and his equation of being and thought.

In an article for the New York Times, Mark Edmundson writes:

Late in life — he was in his 80s, in fact — Sigmund Freud got religion. No, Freud didn’t begin showing up at temple every Saturday, wrapping himself in a prayer shawl and reading from the Torah. To the end of his life, he maintained his stance as an uncompromising atheist, the stance he is best known for down to the present. In “The Future of an Illusion,” he described belief in God as a collective neurosis: he called it “longing for a father.” But in his last completed book, “Moses and Monotheism,” something new emerges. There Freud, without abandoning his atheism, begins to see the Jewish faith that he was born into as a source of cultural progress in the past and of personal inspiration in the present. Close to his own death, Freud starts to recognize the poetry and promise in religion.

A good deal of the antireligious polemic that has recently been abroad in our culture proceeds in the spirit of Freud’s earlier work. In his defense of atheism, “God Is Not Great,” Christopher Hitchens cites Freud as an ally who, he believes, exposed the weak-minded childishness of religion. Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins come out of the same Enlightenment spirit of hostile skepticism to faith that infuses “The Future of an Illusion.” All three contemporary writers want to get rid of religion immediately and with no remainder.

But there’s more to Freud’s take on religion than that. In his last book, written when he was old and ill, suffering badly from cancer of the jaw, Freud offers another perspective on faith. He argues that Judaism helped free humanity from bondage to the immediate empirical world, opening up fresh possibilities for human thought and action. He also suggests that faith in God facilitated a turn toward the life within, helping to make a rich life of introspection possible.

You can read the rest of the article here. I wont say too much about this article, beyond pointing out that it is one of the most creative arguments by omission (the author makes no mention of the account of God and the experience of the sacred as developed in Totem and Taboo, The Future of an Illusion, and Civilization and Its Discontents, and speaks of Freud’s late life “turn”, as if Freud had somehow changed his position on these matters), I’ve ever come across. Note the way the author hints that Freud was undergoing some sort of “death-bed” conversion due to his cancer. The author’s argument is a bit like suggesting that Marx later had a change of heart with respect to capitalism and the bourgeois because he often spoke of the emancipatory potentials of these things. Moreover, he conmpletely ignores the nature of genetic and immanent critique that strives to account for how some phenomena came to be on the basis of immanent devlopment and historical conditions. These sorts of sophistries seem increasingly common… Or perhaps they’ve always been about. It would appear that rightwing media spin has now even entered academia.

Adam Kotsko has written an interesting post about hostility towards high theory over at An und fur sich.

I have noticed a phenomenon that seems to be particularly intense at CTS, but I’m sure happens elsewhere. This is the phenomenon of being impatient with scholarship and theoretical work that does not appear to have an immediate practical application or to be immediately communicable to “common people.” Today this did not come up in class, since we were talking about a very topical book of Judith Butler’s (Precarious Life), but when discussing the idea of how an identitarian “we” very often ends up excluding some of those that it by all rights should include, this issue came to mind.

It seems to me that various types of activist movements, identitarian or not, and also religious movements tend to marginalize or exclude their more “intellectual” members. Hence when we get the impatient question, “But how does this play to the people on the streets/in the pews?,” it may represent a certain defensiveness among people who are seeking to be intellectuals who are faithful to the movements with which they identify. In rhetorically identifying with the “common person” — which the speaker, who is in this case enrolled in an advanced degree program, simply no longer is, whether they want to admit it or not — the speaker can make a double assertion:

1. The common people are right to be suspicious of some intellectual work, which really is useless at best or counterproductive at worst.
2. I, however, do not do that kind of intellectual work and am very suspicious of it myself.

This identification and distancing, then, can be a means of expiating a certain type of guilt for enjoying “useless” intellectual pursuits for their own sake. It is difficult for me to imagine that anyone would enter a PhD program without enjoying intellectual work for its own sake, even if the primary goal is, for instance, to document a neglected aspect of one’s cultural heritage or history, or to develop specific programs to help people, etc., etc. Even if one really is a “movement intellectual” in sincere solidarity with an activist or religious group, one is still an intellectual, which is always going to include at least some minimal slippage between one’s intellectual pursuits and the immediate needs (strategic of propagandistic) of the movement. One may take theological stances that one’s church body takes as disruptive of the training of ministers, or one may ask questions about sexuality that are experienced as attacking the unity of one’s identitarian movement — in any case, one’s identification is not complete. Even if that must necessarily be true for every member of a movement, it is much more of a “public” issue for the intellectual, whose role makes it much less easy to hide misgivings than is the case for a “private individual” in the rank and file.

I confess that I’m increasingly guilty of this. In the realm of political theory I increasingly find myself feeling that high theory seldom leads to any genuine action, and is often remote from the living struggles of its day. As such, it finds itself in a sort of performative contradiction. At the level of its content it espouses a radical agenda of change, yet the form of its discourse and the way it is addressed to other academics ends up withdrawing it from the social sphere and allowing the very things it claims to struggle against to persist. The academy can be thought as a way of containing more public forms of engagement and cutting them off in advance.

With regard to theology my suspicion is that high theology is often a rationalization of much more basic religious phenomena. Here the situation is not unlike the Heidegger affair. Heidegger comes up with all sorts of nuanced and sophisticated grounds to explain the world-historical significance of the Nazi party, but at the end of the day the Nazi party is a very stupid, very vulgar, very ugly social phenomenon that possesses none of the saving power he suggests at the level of its concrete practice. Heidegger ends up supporting the very thing promoting the forgetfullness of being he decries. The theologian ends up supporting, in action, the very things they decry by virtue of how religious politics objectively functions.

At any rate, I’m continuously being told that I don’t recognize the diversity of religious belief so I cited some statistics:

Here in the states 59% of Protestants voted for Bush, 52% of Catholics voted Bush, and 78% of Evangelicals/Born-Agains voted for Bush. 64% of people that attended church more than once a week voted Bush, as did 58% of those that attend church weekly.

http://www.cnn.com/ELECTION/2004/pages/results/states/US/P/00/epolls.0.html

These are numbers that can’t simply be brushed aside or ignored, and I think they underline why Adam’s allusion to this variety of religious believers is a disingenious argument to make. The numbers for Catholics and Protestants are heartening as they’re almost split down the middle. Consequently, for me the interesting question would be one of how to push those numbers in the other direction. Is high theology going to do this? I don’t see how any of you, however, can reasonably deny that as it stands now there’s a strong coalition between conservatives and religion in the United States.

You can imagine the response from Adam:

Show me an atheist Mother Theresa and we’ll talk. Show me that doctrinaire atheism promotes anything other than stupid pride and other than that just totally going along with the capitalist system, and we’ll talk. Until then, just fucking shut the fuck up.

It’s interesting that Adam believes there haven’t been any atheist benefactors of mankind. It’s even more interesting that he so readily accepts the stories about Mother Teresa and doesn’t look into her own relationship with capitalism (i.e., the way she was perhaps making the condition of the lepers worse due to a religious mission). But the most astonishing claim is the idea that atheists are somehow alone in going along with the capitalist system. If anything, religion in the United States seems to systematically function as one of the central promotors of capitalism. In the end, however, I think Adam’s call to shut up says it all and reveals his true nature. This is the whole problem.

UPDATE: Apparently I’ve been banned from the Weblog and An und fur sich for my remarks. It is good to see Christlike behavior alive and well. I think a not so careful examination of Adam’s mode of speaking to others reveals the true nature of how he feels about discussion concerning religious belief. He’s completely open to such discussion so long as no one disagrees or criticizes the religious. It’s interesting how this company immediately resorts to invectives and attacks the moment they feel questioned. Who knows what else they might do (they certainly did some unkind things to Rich Pulasky over at the Weblog). In his response to this post he refers to me as a doctrinaire, fundamentalist atheist. I wonder if Adam understands that I, and most other atheists, would never speak up about their atheism at all if it weren’t for folk like Adam brutalizing our positions and religious zealots enacting legislation in the United States. We’d much rather discuss ways of solving political problems, social problems, engage in philosophy and science, and discuss an interesting novel or film. At any rate, Adam’s banning performatively re-enacts the history of the church with regard to dialogue. I’m just glad he doesn’t have the institutional power to burn me at the stake or torture me like Galileo.

At long last we now have a source that gives us genuine, reliable, and unbiased knowledge! I present to you the Conservapedia.

Finally a reference source that cuts through all the bs! Take, for instance, this courageous observation about global warming:

The theory is widely accepted within the scientific community despite a lack of any conclusive evidence, though that is not to say there is no evidence at all.[1][2] On February 2, 2007, an internatonal panel of hundreds of scientists and representatives of 113 governments issued a report concluding:

The observed widespread warming of the atmosphere and ocean, together with ice-mass loss, support the conclusion that it is extremely unlikely that global climate change of the past 50 years can be explained without external forcing, and very likely that is not due to known natural causes alone.”[3]

It should be noted that these scientists are motivated by a need for grant money in their field of climatology. Therefore, their work can not be considered unbiased, though no more than any scientist in any other field .[4]. Also, these scientists are mostly liberal athiests, untroubled by the hubris that man can destroy the Earth which God gave him.[5]

I encourage all of you to make use of this terrific resource in your own research. It is of vital importance that we overcome reality’s leftwing bias. And finally, a source free of hubris that brings God back into science.

Some Thursday night silliness when I should be working: I came across a slime mold simulator here. It allows you to discern the emergence of different patterns based on the number of cells in the environment and the rate at which the pheromones released by the cells evaporate. Play around with it a bit and see how collective formations are correlated with rates of evaporation. For my previous discussion of the intriguing properties of slime molds, you can go here.

Now in the spirit of such silliness, compare the ridiculous with the sublime, by comparing this to what Badiou has to say about intensity in his most recent work. Hallward expresses the drift of Badiou’s work very nicely in Badiou: A Subject to Truth. I quote at length:

…Badiou insists, that ‘a being qua being is, itself, absolutely unrelated. It is a fundamental characteristic of the purely multiple, as thought in the framework of a theory of sets. There are only multiplicities, nothing else. None of these are, by themselves, linked to any other. In a theory of sets, even functions should be thought as pure multiplicities, which is why we identify them with their graph… Which excludes that there be, strictly speaking, a being of relation. Being, thought as such, in purely generic fasion, is subtracted from all relation” (Court traite, 192). What Badiou calls “the world of appearances” or phemomena, by contrast, “is always given as solid, related, consistent. It is a world of relation and cohesion, in which we have our points of reference and our habits, a world in which being is, in sum, captive of being there.” (Through Badiou’s current work, “appearing” seems to obey quasi-Kantian rules of intelligibility, compatibility, and coherence.) The goal now is to understand “how it is possible that any situation of being is both pure multiplicity on the border of inconsistency, and instrinsic, solid relation of its appearing” (CT, 200). Whereas the pure being of being is inconsistent– and thus wildly anarchic, disordered, free…– the appearing of being is itself a certain ordering of being (Logiques des mondes, chapt. 1, pg. 2). We might say that the shifting of Badiou’s attention from the being of being to the appearing of being already implies a shift in priorities that bring him closer to Deleuze than ever before: from now on, the ultimate reference to ontological inconsistency or “chaos” will always be mediated by the exploration of precise ontic strata or “complexity,” in roughly the sense made current by complexity theory.

What does Badiou mean by “appearing,” exactly? He proposes to “call the appearing of a being that which, of a being, is linked to the constraint of a local or situated exposition of its multiple being, that is, it’s “being there.” Appearing appears here neither in Heidegger’s phenomenological sense nor as a function of time, space, or the constituent subject. It appears as an “intrinsic determination of being” (CT, 191-92), a direct consequence of the impossibility of any totalization (or all-inclusive set) of being. In the absence of any Whole, “appearing is that which ties or reties a being to its site. The essence of appearing is relation.”

Thought it is an intrinsic determination of being that it be there (that it appear), nevertheless it is not exactly pure being qua being as such that appears: what appears of pure being is a particular quality of being, namely existence [hence Badiou draws a distinction between being and existence, as I alluded to in a previous post on whether Badiou's ontology is genuinely consistent with materialism]. Thanks to the equation of ontology and set theory [this is not accurate, Badiou equates ontology with mathematics, not set theory alone], pure being qua being is essentially a matter of quantity and univocal determination: something either is or is not (with no intermediary degree). Existence, by contrast, is precisely a “quality” of being, a matter of intensity and degree. Something is if it belongs to a situation, but it exists (in that situation) always more or less, depending on how clearly or brightly it appears in that situation (L’etre-la: mathematique du transcendental, 3-5). We might say, for instance, and very crudely, that while a great many things belong to the American situation, that situation is arranged such that certain characteristic things (free speech, pioneers, private property, baseball, freeways, fast food, mobile homes, self-made men, and so on) appear or exist more intensely than other, dubiously “un-American,” things (unassimilated immigrants, socialists, opponents of the National Rifle Association, etc.). (296-7, my italics)

I have quoted this passage at length as it provides a nice summary of Badiou’s most recent work for those who are not familiar with his project with regard to appearing. As I have said, I have reservations about his account of being-qua-being as pure multiplicity without relation as I don’t see how it is possible to make a transition from such pure multiplicities to being-there or related being. As Deleuze puts it,

It is strange that aesthetics (as the science of the sensible) could be founded on what can be represented in the sensible. True, the inverse procedure is not much better, consisting of the attempt to withdraw the pure sensible from representation and to determine it as that which remains once representation is removed (a contradictory flux, for example, or a rhapsody of sensation. Empiricism truly becomes transcendental, and aesthetics an apodictic discipline [!], only when we apprehends directly in the sensible that which can only be sensed, the very being of the sensible: difference, potential difference and difference in intensity as the reason behind qualitative diversity. (DR, 56-7)

So long as we conceive the transcendental field as pure chaos– as Badiou apparently does with his inconsistent multiplicities –we are unable to account for how anything could emerge at all. Deleuze makes a similar point about chaos in The Logic of Sense that I need to track down, taking great care to caution against equating the transcendental field or immanence with chaos. As Hegel might have put it, that which reason draws asunder, it is powerless to put back together. There must be something at work within being or the transcendental field that renders emergence possible… Something that is not yet a being, but something also that is not pure disorder. Nonetheless, Badiou’s thought of being as pure inconsistent multiplicity without relation is a provactive conceptual beginning point or axiom of thought (like Parmenides’ beginning), inviting us to surrender the residual assumptions of substance metaphysics that might inhabit our thought. Here I’m in agreement with Hegel in his Lectures on the History of Philosophy, that philosophy only genuinely begins when we start from the notion, freeing ourselves from common sense empirical requirements. This is very different from saying that philosophy should be rationalist or non-empiricist in a more rigorous sense. Rather, the point is that the world of “everydayness” is already a world of recognition, resemblance, representation and that the (un)ground must be sought prior to this field. Moreover, I have also expressed reservations about the descriptive nature of Badiou’s enterprise regarding the processes presiding over appearing or being-there, or the manner in which he fails to give us an causal mechanism by which these complex related organisms emerge. Deleuze does a far better job with regard to these issues. All the same, I think there’s a lot to be gained by thinking the two systems together.

What interests me in the passage above is Badiou’s conceptualization of existence in a situation, appearing, or being-there in terms of degrees of intensity. Clearly intensity here is being conceived very differently here by Badiou than by Deleuze, as for Deleuze intensity is an energetic factor presiding over actualization, whereas for Badiou it pertains to presence in a situation. Indeed, Deleuze’s account of intensity works nicely with the slime mold, as there’s an inverse ratio between the rate at which the pheromones evaporate (i.e., the temperature of the environment) and the emergence of slime mold colonies. Thus we have both uses of intensity at work in the example of slime molds: On the one hand, the emergence of slime mold colonies relates to Badiou’s use of the term “intensity”, where slime molds become more apparent, are more there, in a situation. On the other hand, shifts in temperature or Deleuzian intensive factors preside over this production of individuated slime mold colonies.

The questions I have been raising recently with regard to the formation of collectives and the materiality of communications pertain precisely to these issues. Here Hallward’s examples from the American situation at the end of the cited passage are entirely apropos. What, for instance, would it take to make socialists more apparent in the American situation? What are the intensive factors in Deleuze’s sense that contribute to a production of such collectives? Why do group formations suddenly pop in and out of existence? I am not suggesting that there is one answer to this question– we would have to look at the group formations in question, or at their specific material and semiotic conditions for emergence and continued existence. Nonetheless, the slime mold provides a nice analogy to the formation of collectives. Okay, so I know that I’m working with very facile analogies here, but I find that privileged examples are fruitful in rhizomatically generating connections between disparate phenomena. Here, again, Hegel is useful, as he demonstrates the manner in which the universal must always be thought through the particular.

Perhaps the ultimate absurdity of these posts about slime molds is that I’ve been getting all sorts of web traffic from people researching slime molds.

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