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<nettime> Manuel Delanda - 1000 Years of War
Paul D. Miller on Sat, 5 Jul 2003 00:56:35 +0200 (CEST)


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<nettime> Manuel Delanda - 1000 Years of War


well..., I'm an editor there... I guess I should pass on stuff every once in a
while. Also - if you're looking for a more ummm... abbreviated version of
Manuel on this kind of thing, check 

www.djspooky.com/articles.html

Paul


1000 Years of War:
CTHEORY Interview with Manuel De Landa

Manuel de Landa in conversation with: Don Ihde, Casper Bruun Jensen, Jari Friis
Jorgensen, Srikanth Mallavarapu, Eduardo Mendieta, John Mix, John Protevi, and
Evan Selinger. 


Manuel De Landa, distinguished philosopher and principal figure in the "new
materialism" that has been emerging as a result of interest in Deleuze and
Guattari, currently teaches at Columbia University. Because his research into
"morphogenesis" -- the production of stable structures out of material flows --
extends into the domains of architecture, biology, economics, history, geology,
linguistics, physics, and technology, his outlook has been of great interest to
theorists across the disciplines. His latest book on Deleuze's realist
ontology, Intensive Science and Virtual Philosophy (2002), comes in the wake of
best-sellers: War in the Age of Intelligent Machines (1991), where De Landa
assumes the persona of the "robot historian" to bring the natural and social
sciences into dialogue vis-a-vis using insights found in nonlinear dynamics
to analyze the role of information technology in military history, and A
Thousand Years of Non-Linear History (1997), where he carves out a space for
geological, organic, and linguistic materials to "have their say" in narrating
the different ways that a single matter-energy undergoes phase transitions of
various kinds, resulting in the production of the semi-stable structures that
are constitutive of the natural and social worlds. When Evan Selinger gathered
together the participants for the following interview, his initial intention
was to create an interdisciplinary dialogue about the latest book. In light of
current world events -- which have brought about a renewed fascination with De
Landa's thoughts on warfare -- and in light of the different participant
interests, an unintended outcome came about. A synoptic and fruitful
conversation occurred that traverses aspects of De Landa's oeuvre. 




I. War, Markets & Models
CTHEORY (Mendieta): In these times of "a war against terrorism," and preparing
against "bioterrorism" and "germ warfare," do you not find it interesting,
telling, and ironic in a dark and cynical way that it is the Western,
Industrialized nations that are waging a form of biological terrorism,
sanctioned and masked by legal regulations imposed by the WTO and its legal
codes, like Intellectual Property Rights (IPR). Would you agree that the
imposition of GMO -- genetically modified organism -- through WTO, NAFTA, and
IMF, on the so-called developing world is a form of "legalized biotech and
biological" terrorism? And then, as a corollary, what are the prospects for
global justice and equity in light precisely of the yawing gap between
developed and underdeveloped nations that is further deepened by the
asymmetrical access to technologies like genetic engineering and genomic
mapping? 

Manuel De Landa: Though I understand what you are getting at I do not think it
is very useful to use this label (biological terrorism) for this phenomenon.
The point, however, is well taken. The way in which corporations are
encroaching around the most sensitive points of the food chain is dangerous:
they direct the evolution of new crops from the processing end, disregarding
nutritional properties if they conflict with industrial ones; the same
corporations which own oil (and hence fertilizers and herbicides) also own seed
companies and other key inputs to farming; and those same corporations are now
transferring genes from one species to another in perverse ways (genes for
herbicide resistance transferred from weeds to crops). When one couples these
kind of facts with the old ones about the link between colonialism and the
conversion of many world areas into food supply zones for Europe (from the
creation of sugar plantations to the taking over of the photosynthetically most
active areas of the world by Europe's ex-colonies) we can realize that this
state of affairs does have consequences for equity and justice. The key point
is not to oversimplify: the Green Revolution, for example, failed not because
of the biological aspect, but because of the economic one: the very real
biological benefits (plants bred to have more edible biomass) could only be
realized under economies of scale and these have many hidden costs (power
concentration, deskilling of workforce) which can offset the purely technical
benefits. 

The question of Intellectual Property rights is also complex. We should be very
careful how we deal with this, particularly considering many of us bring old
moral clichés ("private property is theft") into the debate without being
aware of it. I believe this issue needs to be handled case by case (to solve
the inherent conflict between lack of accessibility and incentive to create).
For example, I am completely opposed to the patenting of genes but not of gene
products, like proteins. 

CTHEORY (Mix): In War in the Age of Intelligent Machines you discuss the German
Blitzkrieg of WWII in relation to a synergistic tactic that unified air and
ground troops. If we return to this time period, it becomes noteworthy to
highlight that the synergy fell apart when the machinery, specifically the
ground forces (i.e. tanks, jeeps, personnel transports, etc.) broke down and
the soldiers manning them could not get them operational, and were forced to
get mechanics to do the repairs, or else hope that the supply lines were kept
open to bring in replacement vehicles. By contrast, many of the American G.I.s
were "grease monkeys" and could easily repair their own vehicles. Since many of
the components of the ground vehicles were interchangeable, they could scavenge
usable pieces from damaged equipment, therein being able to fix problems on the
spot and remain operationally mechanized. My question is: Because contemporary
military technology is built on principles that the average G.I. is not
familiar with (i.e. the compatibility between the standard engine and military
ground vehicles no longer exists), do you think that the benefits of the war
machine will be outstripped by the lack of serviceability that probably will
arise in the field under combat conditions? Do you think that we should be
training our soldiers differently or do you think that we should modify the
technologies they use? 

De Landa: One of the themes of the War book was the tendency of military
organizations to get "humans out of the loop." Throughout the book (and in my
only live lecture to the military) I have very strongly criticized this, urging
for the lowering of decision-making thresholds so that soldiers in the field
with access to real time information have more power to make decisions than
their superiors at the Pentagon. (This theme, of course, goes beyond the
military to any kind of centralized decision-making situation, including
economic planning.) The problem you raise is, I believe, related to this. If
all technological decisions are made centrally without thinking of issues of
maintenance in the field, and if there is no incentive for field soldiers to
become "grease monkeys" or "hackers," the army that results is all the more
brittle for that. Flexibility implies that knowledge and know-how are not
monopolized by central planners but exist in a more decentralized form. 

CTHEORY (Protevi): War in the Age of Intelligent Machines came out in 1991,
just at the time of Operation Desert Storm. Do you see any noteworthy
developments in the integration of information technology and artificial
intelligence into US security / military operations from the time of Desert
Storm, through Afghanistan and the Second Gulf War? I have two particular areas
I would ask you to comment on: (1) developments in what you call the
Panspectron in surveillance; and (2) the use of the robot drone plane to kill 6
suspected al-Qaida members in Yemen: is this a decisive step forward in your
history of the development of autonomous killer machines, or is it just more of
the same, that is, AI as an adjunct, without true executive capabilities?
Finally, do you see any utility to the claim (a variation on the old
"technological imperative" idea) that, among many other factors in the Bush
Administration, certain elements of the Pentagon support the war campaign as
providing a testing ground for their new weapons systems? 

De Landa: I do not see the threshold I warned against (the emergence of
predatory machines) as having been crossed yet. The drone plane was being
remotely guided, wasn't it? At the level of surveillance I also fail to see any
dramatic development other than a quantitative increase in computing power.
What has changed is the direction that the migration of "intelligence" into
weapons has taken, from the creation of very expensive smart bombs to the use
of GPS-based cheap equipment that can be added to existing dumb bombs. 

I am not sure the Pentagon has a hidden agenda for testing their new weapons
but I do think that it has been itching for a war against Iraq for years before
9-11, in a similar way they were itching for one during the Cuban missile
crisis in the 60's. It was tough for Kennedy to resist them then, and so Bush
had very little chance to do it particularly because he has his own family
scores to settle. 

CTHEORY (Mix): Medieval archers occupied the lowest rung of the military
hierarchy. They were looked down upon and thought of as completely expendable,
not only because the archers were mostly untrained peasants, but also in part
because the equipment they used was quite ineffectual. At the level of military
ethos, one could say that the archer lacked the romantic stature of the knight
because their style of combat was predicated on spatial distance -- shooting
from far away seemed cowardly, whereas face-to-face sword combat had an aura of
honor to it. The situation changed for the English, however, due to the
introduction of the long bow (a development that was materially dependent on
the availability of the wood in the region, the yew trees). Years of training
were invested in teaching the English archers to use this weapon with deadly
effectiveness. Consequently, their stature increased, and for the first time,
pride could be taken in being an archer. Today, some critics charge that using
unmanned drones is cowardly because it involves striking at a distance. We can
thus see the situation as somewhat analogous to the arrow let loose by the
Medieval archer. My question is: Will the drones let loose by servicemen ever
lose their stigma in the same way as the English archers did? Clearly, the
drones like the English archers proved to be successful in battle. And yet, the
image of the drone controlled by a serviceman does not evoke the same humanity
as the embodied Englishman. 

De Landa: I agree that in military history questions of "honor" have always
influenced decisions to adopt a particular weapon. And distance per se was not
always the main reason: early rifles were not particularly liked due to their
increased precision, and the practices this led to (the emergence of snipers)
were seen as dishonorable. Yet, once Napoleon had changed the paradigm from
battles of attrition to battles of annihilation harassing the enemy via snipers
became quite acceptable. Even more problematic was the effect of the rifle and
the conoidal bullet in changing traditional hierarchies as infantry could now
defeat artillery, forcing the latter to hide behind defensive positions (a
hiding which must have carried a bit of stigma at first but that went away
fast). I think the use of drones will only be seen as problematic from the
"honor" point of view for a very short time. 

CTHEORY (Mallavarapu): In your work you challenge anthropomorphic and
anthropocentric versions of history. What implications does this have for
politics in an increasingly militarized world? More specifically, is there a
danger of the idea of self-organizing systems being used to justify and
celebrate increasing militarization and the growth of so-called "free market"
economies? 

De Landa: I'll begin with the latter. Theories of self-organization are in fact
being used to explain what Adam Smith left unexplained: how the invisible hand
is supposed to work. From a mere assumption of optimality at equilibrium we now
have a better description of what markets do: they take advantage of
decentralized dynamics to make use of local information (the information
possessed by buyers and sellers). These markets are not optimizing since
self-organizing dynamics may go through cycles of boom and bust. Only under the
assumption of optimality and equilibrium can we say "the State should not
interfere with the Market." The other assumption (of contingent
self-organization) has plenty of room for governments to intervene. And more
importantly, the local information version (due to Hayek and Simon) does not
apply to large corporations, where strategic thinking (as modeled by game
theory) is the key. So, far from justifying liberal assumptions the new view
problematizes markets. (Let's also remember that enemies of markets, such as
Marx, bought the equilibrium assumption completely: in his book Capital he can
figure out the "socially necessary labor time," and hence calculate the rate of
exploitation, only if profits are at equilibrium). Now, the new view of markets
stresses their decentralization (hence corporations do not belong there), and
this can hardly justify globalization which is mostly a result of corporations.
And similarly for warfare, the danger begins when the people who do not go to
war (the central planners) get to make the decisions. The soldiers who do the
actual killing and dying are never as careless as that. 

CTHEORY (Selinger): On a number of occasions, we have discussed different
aspects of computer modeling. In fact, you just brought up the topic of
modeling in connection with war-games. I remain unclear on the following. To
what extent should we use evidence from computer modeling in artificial
societies to get us to rethink traditional notions about human behavior? For
example, the standard metaphor that used is to think about mass violence is
contagion; this is because the violence seems to spread so quickly from person
to person and neighborhood to neighborhood. Yet, Joshua Epstein's simulation of
artificial genocide suggests that the view that a collective mind (or some sort
of infectious hysteria) underlies mass violence is illusory, perhaps even folk
psychological. Specifically, his work suggests that the origin of genocide
might be a series of individual decisions whereby people turn violent as a
result of their responses to local conditions. Thoughts? 

De Landa: All models, by definition, simplify things. Contagion models can be
very useful to study certain propagation effects, whether these are fads,
fashions or ideas. Can they also be useful to study the propagation of affect?
We can't tell in advance. What is important to see is that even if they turn
out to be useless to study violence that does not affect their usefulness in
other areas. Also, contagion models differ in the detail with which they
portray agency, from completely mechanical models with no agency at all (a
homogeneously socialized population) to models in which some form of virtual
agent is included. But the key problem is that no one agrees what agency is:
must it include some form of rational choice, and if so optimizing or
satisfying rationality? Should all psychological effects be eliminated and only
inter-subjective effects taken into account? How socialized and obedient should
we assume agents to be, and should these qualities be modeled as homogeneously
or heterogeneously distributed? Most of these issues have nothing to do with
computers and will haunt any modeling effort however informal. 

CTHEORY (Selinger): You have often questioned what is at stake, socially,
politically, and conceptually, when intellectuals engage in criticism. Simply
put, you are all too aware of the ease by which putatively "Critical Theorists"
are easily swayed by dogmatic convictions and too readily cognitively stymied
by uncritical presuppositions. One might even say that in so far as you
characterize yourself as a philosopher -- even if in the qualified sense of a
"street philosopher" who lacks official credentials -- you believe that it is
the duty of a philosopher to be critical. By contrast, some of the more
avant-garde STS theorists seem -- albeit perhaps only polemically and
rhetorically -- to eschew criticism. For example, Bruno Latour's latest
writings center on his rejection of criticism as an outdated mode of thought
that he associates with iconoclasm. He clearly sets the tone for this position
in We Have Never Been Modern in connection with acknowledging his intellectual
debt to Michel Serres, and he emphasizes it in Pandora's Hope, War of the
Worlds, and Iconoclash. Succinctly put, Latour claims that for six reasons
ideology critique (which he implicitly associates with normative critique as
such) is a faulty and patronizing form of analysis: (1) ideology critique fails
to accurately capture how, why, and when power is abused, (2) ideology critique
distorts how authority comes to be overly esteemed, (3) ideology critique
imputes "extravagant beliefs" onto whatever group is taken to be oppressed, (4)
ideology critique leaves the group that is perceived to be oppressed without
adequate grounds for liberation, (5) ideology critique distorts the relation
between critic and the object of criticism, and (6) ideology critique
accusatively "destroys a way of arguing." What do you think of this position? 

De Landa: First of all, I agree that the labels "critical" and "radical" have
been overused. In the last analysis one should never apply these labels to
oneself and wait for history to decide just how critical or radical one's work
really was (once its consequences have been played out). Latour's problem seems
to be more with the concept of "ideology" than that of "critique," and in that
I completely agree: to reduce the effects of power to those of creating a false
consciousness is wrong. But here is where the real problem is, since one cannot
just critique the concept of "ideology," the real test of one's radicality is
what one puts in its place. Or, to put it differently, how one
re-conceptualizes power. And here one's ontological commitments make all the
difference in the world. Can a realist like myself trust a theory of power
proposed by a non-realist, for example? Can a realist ever believe in a theory
of power developed, for example, by an ethnomethodologist, when one is aware
that for that person everything is reducible to phenomenological experience?
The same point applies to normativity: if one is a realist defending a
particular stance will depend on developing a new ethics, not just critiquing
old moralities. Here a Spinozian ethics of assemblages that may be mutually
enhancing versus those that are degrading may be the solution, but developing
this idea will also imply certain ontological commitments (to the
mind-independent reality of food and poison, for example). 

CTHEORY (Jensen): A similar question could be raised in relation to your work
on markets and anti-markets. In contrast to Empire by Hardt and Negri, which
explicitly hopes to have a political impact, your position is much less
straightforwardly normative. If, in a realist vein, you take your analysis to
be descriptive, how then do you think people might act to reap the benefits of
your description? 

De Landa: No, not at all. Remember first of all that a realist never settles
for a mere description. It is explanation that is the key and the latter
involves thinking about real mechanisms which may not be directly observable
(or describable). The disagreement with Empire is over the mechanisms one
postulates and the details of their workings. I do not accept the Marxist
version of these mechanisms (neither those through which markets are supposed
to operate nor those for the State) and believe the Marxist version leads to
practical dead ends regardless of how ready to be used in social interventions
the analysis seems to be. (To be blunt, any idea for social intervention based
on Marxism will be a failure). I do take normative positions in my books (such
that decentralization is more desirable than centralization for many reasons)
but I also realize than in an ethics of nourishing versus degrading assemblages
real-life experimentation (not a priori theorization) is the key. To use an
obvious example from environmental ethics: a little phosphorous feeds the soil;
too much poisons it. Where exactly the threshold is varies with type of soil so
it cannot be known a priori. But the normative statement "do not poison the
soil" is there nevertheless. Similarly for society: too much centralization
poisons (by concentrating power and privilege; by allowing corruption; by
taking away skills from routinized command-followers etc) but exactly how much
is to be decided by social experiments, how else? 




II. Competing Ideologies & Social Alliances
CTHEORY (Protevi): A Thousand Years of Nonlinear History (1997) and your talk
"A New Ontology for the Social Sciences" (2002) propose a "nested set" of
individual entities in a "flat ontology." Like all your works, both pieces use
nonlinear dynamical concepts to discuss the morphogenesis of these individuals.
However, your social ontologies seem largely to begin with adults as their
lowest level, notwithstanding some mention of children in the section on
linguistics in A Thousand Years of Non-Linear History (norm-learning and
creolization). Do you avoid discussing child development, about which a lot of
research has been done using nonlinear dynamics in studying brain development,
motor learning, and so forth, simply for space and time constraints, or is
there another reason? Would you agree that adding such discussions would be
useful in demonstrating several areas of interlocking top-down constraint by
family, institutional, civic, national, and perhaps even larger units? 

De Landa: The key to the ontology I defend is the idea that the world is made
out of individual entities at different levels of scale, and that each entity
is the contingent result of an individuation process. Clearly, and despite the
fact that I have ignored it so far, the individuation of a social agent during
childhood, and even the biological individuation of an adult organism in that
same period, are two crucial processes. Without these social and biological
individuations we would not be able to account for adult individuals. If I
placed less emphasis on this is because through the work of Freud and Piaget
(and others) we have a few models of how these processes could be conceived,
but we have much less insight on how institutional organizations or cities
individuate (in fact, the very problem is ignored in these two cases since both
those entities are conceptualized as structures not as individuals). I will get
to the questions you raise in due time, when I finally tackle the question of
subjectivity. At this point in time, when everyone seems obsessed with the
question of subjective experience at the expense of everything else, it seems
the priorities must be reversed: account for the less familiar forms of
individuation first returning to our own psyches later. 

CTHEORY (Selinger): In Chapter 4 of Intensive Science and Virtual Philosophy
you discuss the implications that acknowledging the notion of "quasi-cause"
brings with regard to the debates surrounding the D-N model of explanation. As
is well-known, in the context of "modifying" and "supplementing" Hempel and
Oppenheim's account, Mary Hesse argues that scientific explanation is
metaphoric. Specifically, by appropriating Max Black's Interaction account of
metaphor, Hesse claims that scientific explanation is a metaphoric
redescription of the domain of the explanandum. In this account, it is not only
metaphoric to say that "class struggle is the motor of history," but also to
say that "gases are collections of randomly moving massive particles." Using
the terms 'metaphor' and 'model' synonymously, one of Hesse's main points is
that although scientific (unlike, she claims, poetic) metaphors must resemble
what they refer to (which is why the history of science is filled with failed
metaphors e.g. heat fluid or the classical wave theory of light), they are not
strictly identical either. To this end, do you view the concepts you
appropriate from complexity theory to be metaphors? If so, what does this mean
to you? 

De Landa: Well, although I do not question the idea that metaphors play a role
in scientific thought I certainly do not think this role is central. In the
book of mine you mention I make it very clear that a mathematical model is not
just a formal version of a linguistic metaphor. Not to approach mathematics in
its own right, reducing it to logic or to semiotics, seems to me the main error
in most accounts of physics. (Remember that I do not believe there is such a
thing as "science" in general, or a "scientific method" in general, so my
remarks now apply only to physics). The key ideas of complexity theory (the
ideas of "attractor" and of "symmetry-breaking bifurcation") come from real
properties of mathematical models. They are not just linguistic "concepts." And
more importantly, they have turned out to be properties of many different
models, that is, they are independent of the specific mechanisms in which they
are actualized. It is this "mechanism-independence" which makes it promising
they will be useful elsewhere (in social science, for example) since this
independence may be evidence of a deeper isomorphism underlying very different
processes. Deleuze's conception of the "virtual" is precisely an attempt to
think this underlying reality. 

CTHEORY (Selinger): What, then, is your account of reference? How does it
relate to Deleuze's claim in the Logic of Sense that: "The genius of a
philosophy must first be measured by the new distribution which it imposes on
beings and concepts"? 

De Landa: Unlike Hesse, I'm interested in the question of how reference is
established non-discursively. So instead of metaphor, topological isomorphism
is more important for a Deleuzian realist. In Difference and Repetition Deleuze
starts with Foucault's analysis of the Cartesian episteme as having four
dimensions -- similarity, identity, analogy and contradiction (opposition).
Deleuze sets out to create a philosophy that does not use any of these four
dimensions, except as derivative concepts. He uses the concept of intensity to
develop a new way of theory of difference. Deleuze is moving away from
similarity -- resemblance is the enemy for him. For Deleuze, there is a virtual
entity that is topological and as realists we have a commitment to it. To
return to the soap bubble example -- it is an example of a single equilibrium
obtained by minimizing surface tension. A salt crystal is another example
obtained by the minimizing of bonding energy. Both are actualizations of the
same topological point even though they have no resemblance to one another: one
is a cube and the other a sphere. Topological isomorphisms are fine when we
talk about soap bubbles and salt crystals, but what about society? Deleuze's
book on Foucault is in my opinion the best application of these ideas to
society. 

CTHEORY (Mallavarapu): To ask a related question... In your introduction to War
in the Age of Intelligent Machines, you take care to point out that your use of
the idea of self-organization is "more analogical than mathematical." What are
the problems and possibilities that arise from the use of analogies from chaos
science to describe social phenomena? 

De Landa: That remark is a disclaimer to draw attention to the fact that one
does not have the legitimate right to postulate an "attractor" until one has
some mathematical evidence one may be lurking there. (This, by the way, does
not imply possession of a formal model. One can infer the presence of an
attractor from an analysis of time series, such as those we have for production
prices in economics, or voting patterns in political science). The remark in
that book was to the effect that I did not model warfare either directly or
through time series. That's the only way one can use these ideas
non-metaphorically. (Then, of course, one has to show evidence that the actual
physical or social system has an attractor by giving it a push, for example,
injecting some energy or spending some money, and checking whether the system
returns to its previous state after a while). 

CTHEORY (Ihde): I would like to raise two questions that are organized around a
single theme. (1) While it is fashionable these days to be "posthuman" or
anti-anthropological, I remain curious about what would motivate such moves? If
the problem is that all positions imply some sort of "metaphysics" and
"humanism" in a postmodern era shows its implicit humanist bias as linked to
early modern epistemology, isn't a counter-move just as likely to have similar
"metaphysical" tones? (2) Similarly, is a post-human position possible? and if
so, what would its advantages be? It seems to me, in spite of efforts to the
contrary, that even the most rigorous scientific claims imply the human since
they have to be made in language and/or shown in perceivable images. (3) And,
finally, while I deeply appreciate your moves to show that wholes and
non-linear processes are more complex and richer than older notions of totality
and linearity, isn't a move to notions of "self-organization" also just as
metaphysical as earlier notions? 

De Landa: First of all, the questions here are not so much "metaphysical" (a
word which seems to have become an insult losing all its real content) as
ontological. When one is not a realist, when one operates within an ontology of
appearances, for instance, any claim about a mind-independent reality is
labeled as "metaphysical" (as an insult). But of course, one can turn the
insult around and call all Continental philosophy "metaphysical" as the logical
positivists did. Either way it's all a waste of time. The real question is
whether it is legitimate to have an "anthropocentric ontology", that is, to
draw the line between the real and the non-real by what we humans can directly
observe. What makes our scale of observation, in space or time, so privileged?
Why should we believe in the Mississippi river (as Andrew Pickering does) but
not in oxygen or carbon (as he does not)?. Why should we study things in "real
time" (that is, at our temporal scale) instead of at longer periods (to capture
the effect of "long durations")? I have always thought the word "post-human" is
very silly and never used it. It is not a matter of a "post" here, but a matter
of getting rid of all the non-realist baggage that is slowing us down, such as
the Humean view of causality (as observed constant conjunction) instead of
thinking of causes as real relations in which one event produces another event.
The fact that in order to communicate these ideas one must use language is not
an excuse to retreat to an idealist ontology. At the end of the day, Pickering
is not a "post-humanist." It takes guts to say that oxygen does not exist, as
someone coming from the constructivist tradition like Pickering does. But then
I want to know: What happens then to the table of elements and the surrounding
theories that allow us to predict how oxygen behaves and manipulate it? I'm
willing to concede that quarks might have a questionable epistemological
status, but what about electrons? As Ian Hacking says, if we can spray them,
they are real. We have proof o . Both the positivists and the constructivists
who are traditionally seen as having nothing in common with one another end up
somehow assuming that only the observable is the real: the Mississippi is real,
while oxygen is seen as having a problematic epistemological status. The
underlying problem with these positions is that they are anthropocentric; they
are limited to what we can see as human observers. What about telescopes and
microscopes? They open up realms to us that we cannot verify through unmediated
observation. 

CTHEORY (Ihde): I agree with you here that we have to take technologically
mediated ways of seeing into account. In my version of instrumental realism,
experience is mediated through technology. This is why I differ from my
phenomenological predecessors. I am critical of the subjectivist position that
limits itself to individual experience. 

De Landa: I don't want to say that human experience is not real, but you cannot
make it the entire context of your ontology. This is what I find happening,
often implicitly, in a wide variety of theoretical positions. The question of
time that Pickering raises is also significant here. Pickering advocates a
"real-time" approach to studying emergence that is limited precisely because it
is anthropocentric. 

CTHEORY (Ihde): This formulation makes Pickering seem like Bas van Fraassen,
the analytic philosopher of science whose views on "constructive empiricism"
limited his commitment to truth to that which is observable. 

De Landa: Of course he wouldn't like to be characterized that way, but there is
some truth to it. My point is that every filmmaker knows that there are
non-real time phenomena. For example, shoot one frame every hour in front of a
budding flower and play it back faster the next day. Or shoot hundred frames
per second of a bullet hitting a target and slowing it down. A broader time
scale is required which is not limited to the human time scale of observation. 

CTHEORY (Ihde): But doesn't the film example essentially show how time can be
translated into what we can see, what is visible for us? 

De Landa: Again, the point that I am trying to make is that we should not
privilege the viewpoint of the human observer. We need to acknowledge that
realism is about what is out there, irrespective of whether we see it or not.
Deleuze is interested in exteriority and assemblages, the relationship between
bodies, not individual subjectivity. Deleuze is such a daring philosopher
because he creates a non-essentialist realism. Once you divorce ontology from
epistemology, you cannot be an essentialist. 

CTHEORY (Mallavarapu): To return to the epistemological status of oxygen, could
we not tell a Latourian story of competing networks (oxygen and phlogiston),
with one network (oxygen) winning over the other because it is able to mobilize
a larger set of allies in a complex network including human and non-human
actants? It then makes sense to say that oxygen exists on the basis of the
strength of the network. 

De Landa: The story of competing networks seems much more fruitful when one
looks at controversial science, science which is emerging. I'm also concerned
about how network theories often amount to stories of competing ideologies and
social alliances, even though I'm aware that Latour does include a lot of
non-human elements in his actor-network theory. Latour acknowledges Deleuzian
influences on his work, but it is hard to pin down where exactly he stands with
regard to Deleuzian realism. In any event, a realist would certainly not be
comfortable attributing the existence of oxygen to the outcome of network
interactions. 

CTHEORY (Jorgensen): In light of this answer, I would like to pose two
questions that bring your work further into dialogue with Latour. One of your
main claims associated with this call for a new ontology is that there are no
essences -- at least as traditional philosophy defines them. Rather, you insist
that ontological analysis should focus on historically constituted, individual
entities that operate on different scales, but yet still interact to form
wholes. To account for these emerging wholes, you argue that the interaction
between the groups of individual entities has to be accounted for. To some
extent, this approach resembles Latour's style of investigation, according to
which the analyst is required to give an account of the different actants being
studied, and their relations, in order to give an account of the network they
constitute. Can you elaborate on this connection? 

De Landa: The claim I make (similar to the one Roy Bhaskar makes) is that to be
ontologically committed to emergent wholes is to assert that these wholes have
causal powers of their own. (And these cannot be Humean causes but real
causes). It is not just a matter of examining a network of interacting causal
agents, but of also showing the emergent whole is a causal agent on its own. I
do not know what Latour's position relative to causal relations is, but without
a realist account of causality his work and mine can only be superficially
related. 

CTHEORY (Jorgensen): You continually stress the need to conceptualize wholes
without appealing to traditional notions of totality. Indeed, you argue that
the historical processes that give rise to the wholes has to be laid out by
analysts who are interested in the problem of becoming. My question concerns
stabilization, the moment when something becomes a whole. When something
becomes a whole, such as an institution or a city, you might then say it
becomes a "black box." Can you elaborate on the relation between individual
entities, interaction, and emergent wholes in relation to Latour's theory of
blackboxing? 

De Landa: Blackboxing is something we humans do when we do not understand the
mechanism through which an effect was produced, but do not wish to be bothered
by that. For many purposes it is enough to understand that if something comes
in as input, then we will always get this output (regardless of whether we know
exactly how). Most claims in social science (to the extent that they do not
specify concrete mechanisms) are of the blackbox type. So are many in the
physical sciences (Newton basically blackboxed the mechanism through which
gravity acts at a distance). Many scientists in their laboratories have no idea
how exactly their tools work (they know the inputs and outputs only) so these
tools are blackboxes. To the extent that we do not know the mechanisms through
which organizations or cities operate, they are blackboxes. But as a realist,
since I refuse to remain at the level of description and demand explanations, I
have to open as many blackboxes as I can. I have to give accounts in terms of
mechanisms. I believe that Deleuze "machinic" philosophy is partly about that:
opening black boxes and understanding their inner machinery. 

CTHEORY (Selinger): Getting off the topic of Latour... A few weeks ago I heard
Stephen Wolfram give a lecture based on his book A New Kind of Science. There
was a performative element to this talk which I found striking. Unlike the
recent STS work on distributed cognition and distributed expertise, Wolfram
reveled in depicting himself as essentially an isolated researcher who spent
more time contacting historians of science and technology than current
practitioners. This narrative served as the rhetorical basis for his claim to
be a renegade scientist who inaugurated a paradigm shift. Have you read this
recent book or any of his published material? If so, do you find his claims
about cellular automata and complexity theory to correlate with unique insights
on his part, or is it more the case that he is synthesizing ideas that have
been well-known to researchers in the field of complexity theory for some time? 

De Landa: Though I have not read his recent book, I think his claims have to be
wildly exaggerated. In fact, it would seem that each famous scientists in this
field would want his own theory or model to be the center of it all. Ilya
Prigogine wants everything to be "order through fluctuations"; Roy Bhaskar
wants it all to be about self-organized criticality (his sand piles with
fractal avalanches); Stuart Kauffmann wants it all to be about "the edge of
chaos", and now of course Wofram wants it all to be about this one CA rule. To
me this denies the basic insight of nonlinearity, its plurality of effects.
Enrico Fermi once said that to speak of "nonlinear mathematics" made as much
sense as to speak of "non-elephant zoology." In other words, the dichotomy
linear-nonlinear is a false one: there are many nonlinear effects and linear
ones are one special case of it (so the word nonlinear should eventually
disappear). Whenever one opposes chaos and linearity one is bringing back the
dichotomy. And so one does when one favors one particular phenomenon at the
expense of the large variety of others. Wolfram has done very good work
(classifying cellular automata, for example) and his claim to have discovered a
special rule is probably serious. But so are the claims by the other scientists
I just mentioned. 

CTHEORY (Mix): Considering how much of your work focuses on computers, it seems
appropriate to end this section by bringing up an Internet oriented question.
In your essay "Markets and Anti-Markets in the World Economy" you follow
Fernand Braudel in analyzing the flow of capital towards and away from
"universal warehouses," defined as dominant commercial centers where one can
purchase "any product from anywhere in the world." You not only note that
historically cities such Venice, Amsterdam, London, and New York have served
this function, but you further suggest that we may be: (1) "witnessing the end
of American supremacy" and (2) that Tokyo may be the next "core." In this age
of advanced Internet use, when one can now shop for global goods and services
from almost any city of origin, how important is it to think in "warehouse"
terms? 

De Landa: The preeminence of the cities you mention was always contingent on
the speed of transport: for as long as sea transport was faster than by land,
not only goods but people and ideas flowed faster and accumulated more
frequently in maritime metropolises. But the advent of steam motors (and the
locomotive) changed that relation, allowing landlocked capitals (such as
Chicago) to become universal warehouses. Hence, any technology that changes the
speed of the circulation of goods and information (the internet plus Federal
Express) will have an effect like this, maybe even making cities irrelevant as
accumulation centers. 


III. "I think Marxism is Deleuze and Guattari's little Oedipus, the small piece
of territory they must keep to come back to at night after a wild day of
deterritorializing." (Manuel De Landa, CTHEORY Interview) 

CTHEORY (Selinger): My question here concerns your sense of the value of
phenomenological analysis. Deleuze was a staunch critic of phenomenology. He
saw it as a subjective style of philosophy that reduced the plane of immanence
to that which appears for consciousness. However, I recently found a reference
that struck me as interesting in light of your work. In order to explain to
those who are not familiar with self-organizing processes how essences are
created, you point to how it is not possible to explain the coming into being
of the spherical form of a soap bubble with appealing to
"endogenously-generated stable states." In other words, without appealing to
the science of self-organization, it is impossible to explain how the essence
of "soap-bubbleness" is not constituted by way of an ideal geometric form
imposing itself upon an inert collection of molecules from the outside (i.e.
hylomorphic schema). Let me use this example to initiate a dialogue with
phenomenology. In Maurice Merleau-Ponty's early work, The Structure of
Behavior, he tries to explain how an organism's preferred mode of behavior is
constituted, such that what is experienced as "the simplest" and "most natural"
is that mode of behavior that gives the organism a feeling of balance and
facility. Merleau-Ponty writes: 

Is the orientation toward these preferred modes of behavior comparable to the
formation of a spherical soap bubble? In the latter case, the external forces
exerted on the surface of the soap bubble tend to compress it into a point; the
pressure of the enclosed air on the other hand demands as large a volume as
possible. The spherical solution which is realized represents the only possible
solution to this problem of minimum and maximum. Can it be said in the same way
that the preferred modes of behavior of an organism are those which, in the de
facto conditions in which it finds itself, objectively offer the greatest
simplicity and the greatest unity?  In his article, "The Current Relevance of
Merleau-Ponty's Phenomenology of Embodiment," Hubert Dreyfus claims that
Merleau-Ponty responds to this latter query in the affirmative: 

The bubble starts as a deformed film. The bits of soap just respond to the
local forces according to laws which happen to work so as to dispose the entire
system to end up as a sphere, but the spherical result does not play any causal
role in producing the bubble. The same holds for the final gestalt of body and
racket in my example. Indeed, I cannot represent how I should turn my racket
since I do not know what I do when I return the ball. I may once have been told
to hold my racket perpendicular to the court, and I may have succeeded in doing
so, but now experience has sculpted my swing to the situation in a far more
subtle and appropriate way than I could have achieved as a beginner following
this rule.  What do you think of the phenomenological appeal to the
self-organized process of a soap-bubble in order to explain the relation
between perception and skill acquisition? Do you think that this example
suggests there may be a richer relationship between phenomenology and
Deleuzeian ontology? 

De Landa: There have been many people who have tried to come up with some kind
of "soap bubble" explanation for aspects of human behavior: the bubble
minimizes surface tension, so we "minimize effort" or something like that. This
is fine with me as long as it is clear this is just a hypothesis that needs
testing. But to assume that there is some "law" that everything in the world
must be governed by a "least principle" is wrong. (It assumes the only virtual
multiplicities are those characterized by a single steady-state singularity).
It very well may be that aspects of the stability of perceptual fields do in
fact depend on least principles (or steady-state stability: the famous Necker
Cube or the duck-rabbit illusion of Wittgenstein surely indicate our vision can
jump from one to another stable state). But now, is there a way of discovering
these stable states from within (phenomenologically)? Or do we have to use
psychophysics and other disciplines (neural networks, for example, which do use
steady states) in order to approach the question? And, at any rate, why only
steady states, why not periodic or other singularities? And why a unique one
(as in the soap bubble) as opposed to a multiplicity with broken-symmetry
levels (to account for the fact that our experience changes if we ingest
alcohol, or psychedelics)? 

CTHEORY (Ihde): I agree. I have long been critical of Merleau-Ponty's
interpretation of Necker Cubes vis-a-vis my notion of multistability. Like a
number of psychologists, Merleau-Ponty mistakenly thinks that the reversibility
of the cube is what is unique about the cube. In my version of phenomenology,
the structures of perception are best discovered through variational method;
this allows one to investigate the whole range of possibilities from those of
ordinary sediments to the most extreme horizontal possibilities. 

CTHEORY (Jensen): A different but related question arises from the fact that
even though you take your analysis to be realist, this does not delimit the
interpretive flexibility of readers -- that is, their abilities to take your
accounts as supporting their specific projects regardless of whether you would
approve of that use or not. For instance, in a recent talk at Duke, Zizek
invoked your understanding of Deleuze as the only correct one. Nevertheless, my
feeling is that his psychoanalytically informed way of evaluating the
correctness and plausibility of Deleuzian interpretations, including yours, is
something you would vehemently oppose. As you espouse the idea of a "correct
understanding," how do you think about and/or handle readers who misunderstand
or otherwise misuse your work? 

De Landa: Well, it would all have to be handled case by case. As long as Freud
can be taken to have given us a process of individuation (via the Oedipal
drama) his ideas fit the ontology I propose. A philosopher can only specify
that a historical individuation process must be given but not what exactly
those processes are (which is a question for the specialists). The part of
Freud where he gives an account of personal individuation may be right or wrong
in reality, but it is compatible with my ontology. The part where he attempts
to define society as a kind of projection from these mental structures violates
the ontology: institutional organizations and norms are individuated following
another real historical process and are not just mental projections. So that
part has to be rejected. A similar treatment would have to be given for each
concrete individual entity. Now, to the extent that many proposed processes are
compatible with the basic ontology (while they may be incompatible with one
another) there can be many interpretations of it. Yet this does not mean any
reading will be compatible: I still wonder how a phenomenologist would find my
ideas compatible or even useful. 

CTHEORY (Protevi): Intensive Science and Virtual Philosophy accepts Deleuze's
use of axiomatics to analyze major or Royal science. Yet you are critical of
Deleuze and Guattari's use of axiomatics as a way to conceptualize capitalism
(e.g., ATY 331n7), which you see as an example of a top-down positing of a
whole. I certainly would agree with you that far too much Marxist work has been
simplistic, historical determinist, reductive, totalizing, functionalist,
top-down, etc., but I wonder if you aren't being too harsh with Deleuze and
Guattari's attempts to define a theory of capitalism that avoids each of these
dangers? They certainly adopt a notion of "machinic surplus value," moving
beyond a simple labor theory of value (machines as "congealed muscular energy,"
as you put it at ATY 79). Don't they also consistently deny any historical
determinism of stages of development by emphasizing the contingency of
capitalist formations, as well as conduct a sustained polemic against reductive
base-superstructure models of society? Don't their constant reminders that the
line of flight is primary prevent any totalizing accounts? Isn't their use of
axiomatics an attempt to see capitalism as an adaptive meshwork of economic,
state and quasi-state (IMF, WTO, etc.) institutions, rather than as a
homeostatic organismic whole, as in crude functionalist accounts? In other
words, haven't they, at least in principle, given us the outlines of a
bottom-up account of a complex, open-ended, adaptive world capitalist system? 

De Landa: I agree that if I had to choose among all the Marxist accounts of
economic history I would probably pick theirs. It does have all the advantages
you mention. Yet, I believe they would have benefited greatly from a better
reading of Braudel. They seemed to have read only volume one of his history of
capitalism and not the other two volumes, which are really the most radical
part. This is clear when in A Thousand Plateus in one page thet quote Braudel's
stress on the role of cities and yet in the very next page Deleuze and Guattari
go on to define capitalism as a "market economy", an idea which Braudel attacks
as historically false. So I wonder what would have happened to their theory had
they understood the last point: that there is no such thing as "the market" in
general and no such thing as a "logic of exchange" in general (doesn't the idea
of an capitalist axiomatic depend on the idea of a logic of exchange?). Once we
separate oligopolies from the market (they are strategic not primarily
exchangist entities) and identify capitalism with oligopolies (as Braudel does)
we can still use some of Deleuze and Guattari's ideas since markets have always
caused "lines of flight" to pass among societies, particularly closed societies
(it's in the marketplace that we meet outsiders; that foreign objects and ideas
enter a city; that heterogeneity is injected etc). 

CTHEORY (Protevi): Yes, you're completely right that Deleuze and Guattari
overlook Braudel's distinction between market and anti-market and use an
abstract sense of capitalism as a "market economy" whereby "market" means "any
exchange system whatsoever, whether it is composed of atomic producers and
consumers who must act as price-takers (the Braudelian sense of 'local market')
or whether it is composed of producers and consumers with varying degrees of
power to be price-setters (the Braudelian sense of 'anti-markets')." Even
though it's sometimes hard to make that distinction clearly all the time (for
instance, when you say in your answer "it's in the marketplace that we meet
outsiders; that foreign objects and ideas enter a city" I think Braudel would
attribute this to long-distance trade dominated by anti-market corporations,
even if it occurs in the same physical location as local market exchanges), I
agree we should by all means incorporate that distinction into our analysis of
the economies (note the plural) operating today worldwide. Here the neo-Marxist
notions of formal and real subsumption (roughly speaking, the relations between
capitalist and non-capitalist economies, and the tendency of the former to
replace the latter) would have to be brought to bear, notions that Hardt and
Negri use often in Empire. (Just to be clear before I continue: I completely
agree with you in everything you say about Marx himself in the 19th century
being wed to equilibrium analyses, about the complete bankruptcy of top-down
and centralized social and economic planning, about the necessity of using
non-linear analyses of economic processes that show the inadequacy of
equilibrium and optimizing models, and so forth.) 

Here is my question to you: I wonder if Deleuze and Guattari ignore the
Braudelian distinction because, like Marx, they locate the important element to
be examined in capitalism to be production rather than exchange? Recapitulating
what they say in both Anti-Oedipus and A Thousand Plateaus, what they call in
What is Philosophy? "Marx's concept of capitalism" (97) is the conjunction of
the deterritorialized flows of labor and capital, and these meet in production,
not in exchange. 

De Landa: Well, no, not really. I agree that the dichotomy "market/antimarket"
does give that impression, hence I probably won't use it again. But the same
distinction applies to production: it's the difference between economies of
scale and economies of agglomeration. That is, between oligopolies using
managed prices, routinized labor, hierarchical structure, vertical integration
etc. and networks of small producers using market prices, skilled labor,
decentralized structure and functional complementarities. You must remember the
study that compares Silicon Valley and Route 128 as production systems
(mentioned in A Thousand Years of Nonlinear History) or what I have written
about Emilia-Romagna. Braudel (and Jane Jacobs following in his steps) places a
great emphasis on this distinction (though he does not use the terms) and views
it as applying across history for at least a millennium (hence economies of
agglomeration would not be a late stage of capitalism as some Marxists have
tried to argue using the term "flexible specialization" or the ridiculous one
of "post-Fordism") but an alternative to economies of scale (also much older
than the Industrial Revolution) which has been there for a while. 

CTHEORY (Protevi): What about the emphasis on production as the key ontological
concept in Anti-Oedipus (the whole world, nature and humans together, is
composed of interlocking series of connected machines that produce materials
that are fed into other machines)? 

De Landa: This is correct. I myself add to this when I attack the Humean notion
of causality (as perceived constant conjunction) and define it as a real
connection in which one event produces another event. And more generally, when
I stress that to get rid of essences one must always give the intensive process
of production that yields any individual entity (atoms, organisms or
commodities). Intensive thinking in general is about production. 

CTHEORY (Protevi): From this productivist perspective (which I think is
amenable to a nonlinear dynamics analysis of the material and energy flows that
keep the open production systems far-from-equilibrium), the key issue is the
productive conjunction of capital and labor (here machinic surplus value
vitiates a pure labor theory of value), whether or not the products of that
labor flow into markets or anti-markets. And the key to coercing labor into
exploitative production processes is to threaten the production of labor power
with interruption of the flows that sustain it. 

De Landa: Well, but the same point applies here: the conjunction of capital and
labor can take place in different forms (scale, agglomeration) and it is clear
that only the economic power of the former allows the kind of threat of
withdrawal you are talking about: only if a firm is very capital intensive
(large machines, large start-up costs functioning as barriers to entry) and if
the process is based on routinization (the less skills a worker brings the less
bargaining power he/she will have when it comes to set wages) can this form of
coercion work. I am not saying that power relations are absent from networks of
small producers but there the ability of workers to bargain for a fair wage
(particularly if unions exist) is much greater and the permeability of the
division between classes is greater too (if a typical firm has less than 100
employees and it is not capital intensive, it's much easier for a motivated,
creative worker to start his/her own business). The point is that all of this
is obscured (if not made invisible) by the blanket concept of "capitalism." 

As to theories of value: we need to go beyond the very notion of surplus value.
(It's not enough to simply add the "machinic" type to escape the labor theory).
Why just adding machines to "abstract labor" (read, routinized labor)? Why not
also fossil fuels, starting with coal? And what of knowledge, skills and
organizational procedures? And then, the main defect of labor theory here is to
include supply factors and not demand factors, but the latter also matter, and
so marginalist approaches to this side of the equation must be added. (Over the
objections of Marxists who would rather die than include bourgeois marginalism
in a theory of value). 

CTHEORY (Protevi): Okay, but even if the shift from an exchangist to a
productivist perspective doesn't work for you, does it at least seem to you a
fruitful way of explaining Deleuze and Guattari's tenacious loyalty to (some
suitably modified) form of Marxist analysis, as well as their insistence on a
systematicity to capitalist production? Or do we have to change so much in Marx
to reach what Deleuze and Guattari say in analyzing things that their
insistence on calling what they do a form of Marxism simply the result of their
social position in the "gauchiste" (non-Communist) left of France in their
lifetimes? In other words, their Marxism is a way of thumbing their noses both
at neo-liberals and at party loyalists? 

De Landa: Well, frankly, I think Marxism is Deleuze and Guattari's little
Oedipus, the small piece of territory they must keep to come back at night
after a wild day of deterritorializing. Who could blame them for needing a
resting place, a familiar place with all the reassurances of the Marxist
tradition (and its powerful iconography of martyrs and revolutionaries)? The
question is whether we need that same resting place (clearly we need one, but
should it be the same? Shouldn't each of us have a different one so that
collectively we can eliminate them?). 

I believe that the main task for today's left is to create a new political
economy (the resources are all there: Max Weber, T.B. Veblen and the old
institutionalists, John Kenneth Galbraith, Fernand Braudel, some of the new
institutionalists, like Douglass North; redefinitions of the market, like those
of Herbert Simon etc) based as you acknowledged before, on a non-equilibrium
view of the matter? But how can we do this if we continue to believe that
Marxists got it right, that it is just a matter of tinkering with the basic
ideas? At any rate, concepts like "mode of production" do not fit a flat
ontology of individuals as far as I can tell. But then, this is the part of my
reconstruction of Deleuze that I am the least sure he would accept: in
Difference and Repetition he cheerfully talks about the "virtual multiplicity
of society" (using Marx as his example, of course) a term I would never use
(since my ontology explicitly rejects totalities like "society as a whole"). 

CTHEORY (Mallavarapu): In your new book Intensive Science and Virtual
Philosophy, you point out Deleuze's relevance not just to continental
philosophy but to analytical philosophy as well. There have been significant
differences between continental and analytical approaches to fundamental
epistemological questions. This has formed the background to the so-called
"Science Wars" debates between the realists and social constructivists. Does
the Deleuzian concept of materiality offer a way out of the Science War
debates? 

De Landa: Absolutely. You have to remember that constructivists have more in
common with scientists (who are positivists, not realists) than with realists.
Larry Laudan has explored the ways in which relativism (of any type) overlaps
with positivism. Both make heavy use of conventions; both ignore mathematics
and focus on language etc. Deleuze offers an alternative to both of them, and
in my view, allows us to rescue the objectivity of science without accepting
the myth of its achievements. (For example, we can accept that classical
physics did get it right, within a limited sphere of reality, but not that it
discovered the eternal laws of the universe). 

CTHEORY (Jensen): Finally, a question about your way of reading Deleuze about
which it could be argued, rightly, I think, that it is highly selective.
Deleuze, of course, wrote at great length about Kafka, Proust, and numerous
other writers. He also wrote two books on cinema. And he has been received with
considerably more interest in American literature departments than in their
philosophical counterparts. But to you Deleuze's discussions of
self-organization, the differential calculus, morphogenesis, and other
scientific concepts and ideas have been much more consequential than his
invocation of artistic ones. Can you elaborate on your way of reading Deleuze
and its almost unilateral stress on aspects of his works relating to the
natural sciences rather than the arts? How do you think these aspects hang
together? And, finally, could it not be argued that your systematic selectivity
is imposing on the Deleuzian corpus an interpretation, which not only could but
effectively would have been quite different if other aspects of his work had
been emphasized at the expense of those of your preference? 

De Landa: I agree that my reading of Deleuze is highly selective. The idea was:
once we know how his world works (a virtual space becoming actual via intensive
processes) aren't we in a much better position to understand the other parts?
For example, in the theory of memory he takes from Bergson, one does not
retrieve a memory trace from the brain, one literally jumps to another space
(the virtual with its own always-past temporality). Now, without a realist
ontology this would be a useless theory (if there is no virtual space where do
we jump to?). But isn't it the same with his other uses of Bergson (e.g. in the
Cinema books)? Or take for example his affirmation that all great art involves
a becoming-animal of one sort or another. What would this mean if we cannot say
what in reality these becomings are? (They are transformations not of
organisms, like werewolves, but of the virtual multiplicities underlying the
organisms). Or take the line of flight (also called the quasi-causal operator):
this is the entity that builds the plane of consistency out of multiplicities.
But without this definition (and the rest of the ontology) could we understand
what it means to follow a line of flight in painting or music? 




-------------------- 

Participants 

Don Ihde is Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at Stony Brook University and
author of thirteen books, most of which address issues in the philosophies of
science and technology. 

Casper Bruun Jensen is a doctoral candidate in Information and Media Studies at
the University of Aarhus, Denmark. His research concerns the controversies
surrounding the development and implementation of the electronic patient record
in Denmark with an STS- perspective. 

Jari Friis Jorgensen received his MA from the Institute of Information and
Media Studies, at the University of Aarhus, Denmark. His thesis is titled:
"Cyberculture, Science and AIBO -- a Non-modern View on Collectives, Artificial
Life and Playful Quasi-objects." 

Srikanth Mallavarapu is a doctoral candidate working on STS and postcolonial
theory in the English Department at Stony Brook University. 

Eduardo Mendieta is an Associate Professor at Stony Brook University. His
latest book is The Adventures of Transcendental Philosophy: Karl Otto Apel's
Semiotic and Discourse Ethics. 

John Mix, a consultant to non-profit organizations in Manhattan, is an
independent researcher with interests in technoscience, particularly
aquaculture. 

John Protevi is an Assistant Professor in the Department of French Studies at
Louisiana State University. His latest book, co-authored with Mark Bonta, is
Deleuze and Geophilosophy: A Guide and Glossary. 

Evan Selinger is an Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Rochester Institute of
Technology. His latest book, co-edited with Don Ihde, is Chasing Technoscience:
Matrix for Materiality. 




-------------------- 

Bibliography 

Braudel, Fernand. On History, trans. Sarah Matthews (Chicago: University of
Chicago, 1982). 

Braudel, Fernand. The Perspective of the World: Civilization and Capitalism
15th-18th Century, trans. Sian Reynolds (University of California Press, 1992). 

Braudel, Fernand. A History of Civilizations, (New York: Penguin, 1995). 

De Landa, Manuel. War in the Age of Intelligent Machines (New York: Zone Books,
1991). 

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