... in our most expansive threads yet (catalytic manifesto here, provocation and dilation here, suturing point here, buggy follow up question here). Brandon Hawk also offers some good thoughts on what's at stake at Point of Know Return.
(If you've been reading along, you do not need the famous image reproduced here explained. If you are puzzled, then you are waaaaay behind in your reading, my friend).
We believe in the existence of very special becomings-animal traversing human beings and sweeping them away, affecting the animal no less than the human.
-- Deleuze and Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus
I feel like a latecomer to a vivacious party. Everyone has formed their mingle groups, the discussions have a long history behind them, and no one wants a parvenu arriving who needs to be brought up to date.
Actually it's not that bad, since I have been reading along during infrequent moments of freedom. What interests me are the middle spaces that Eileen, Karl, and our legions of commentators have in common. From Nicola's first reaction to Karl's post to MKH to Eileen to dan remein -- and many others in between -- what has been constantly observed is the violence that strong categories and forceful demarcations entail. Eileen is our most eloquent proponent of the guarding of difference (of the difference that difference must make, if you will), but even she has been quite detailed in her articulation of those intermediary geographies where the differences brush against each other and -- I would think, intermingle, interact, transform. Like many others, I like very much Eileen's idea of the human as portal.
I wonder if within these multiple imaginings of multiplicity -- helped along by theorists as diverse as Caputo, Derrida, Deleuze, and so on; helped along by poster-theorists as diverse as Nicola, MKH, dan, laudine, Dr V, and so on -- I wonder if these imaginings haven't already offered Karl and us a way out of the bind of domination and the crimes of humanism. As I pointed out at the BABEL humanisms panel, if Karl's position is to be taken seriously, then much of what we are saying here and what the panelists said there must be discarded. If there is also another way of formulating the identities he speaks of, though (not human versus animal in frozen domination so much as human and animal and world in mutable encounter) then perhaps all is not so utterly lost. To take this position means giving up on something dear (stability, boundedness, perdurability for human and animal identity). It potentially glosses over or at least distracts from the violence/lack of love that Karl is emphasizing in the relationship he articulates. It doesn't actually even challenge that relationship, at least not on the level of social wholes and discrete cultural phenomenon. But it does allow the possibility that on a microlevel there is another narrative being told, a story that has a little more room for becoming, for movement, for desire, for love.
Sincere both Eileen and Karl reference it, here's what I wrote in Medieval Identity Machines about such an assemblage, in the chapter on "Chevalerie":
The chivalric assemblage -- problematic, masculinist, too violent, too medieval -- nonetheless offers this line of flight: it necessarily acknowledges that a body is not a singular, essential thing but an inhuman circuit full of unrealized possibility for rethinking identity. The knight and horse united in the charge are the consummate figures of war, the expression of a "will to destruction, a judgment of God that turns destruction into something 'just.'" Yet the knight and the horse as a potentially open, potentially explosive circuit is what Deleuze calls a combat-between: "a combat against judgment" in which "it is the combatant himself who is the combat," a disaggregation and conjoining of human and nonhuman forces which erupt into "a becoming":
The dominant force is tranformed into the dominated forces, and the dominated by passing into the dominant -- a center of metamorphosis. This is what Lawrence calls a symbol: an intensive compound that vibrates and expands … It resolves the combat without suppressing or ending it. ("To Have Done with Judgment" Essays Critical and Clinical 132, 134)
Deleuze suggests "the horse, the apocalyptic beast" as a particularly good symbol of combat-between, of amalgamating force to surpass the destitution of singular subjectivities, of apprehending "what is new in an existing being" as well as sensing "the creation of a new mode of existence" (134-35).
This is not a topic new to this blog; follow this link, for example, and see a preview of some of what Michael Uebel shared with us as he was thinking about his K'zoo paper. Yet I could have put it more simply than I have, as Deleuze and Guattari themselves do: we always make love with worlds.
Unlike Eileen in her BABEL manifesto, I don't fear that this means that human identities (or animal identities) are abandoned completely. To return to D&G, no matter how radical your becomings, you need a place to sleep at night. But that doesn't make it an all or nothing proposition. It's a both/and.