Massumi, Brian. “Like a Thought.” A Shock to Thought. [Electronic Resource] : Expression After Deleuze and Guattari. Hoboken : Taylor and Francis, 2002.
“For many years in many schools expression has been anathema.The underlying assumption has been that any expressionism is an uncritical subjectivism” (xiii).
“Expression conjures up the image of a self-governing, reflective individual whose inner life can be conveyed at will to a public composed of similarly sovereign individuals—rational atoms of human experience in voluntary congregation, usefully sharing thoughts and experiences. In a word:’communication'” (xiii). ***Berthoff operates against this model based on communication? Is she an “anti-communicationalist” (xiii).
“This is a restatement of the well-known critique of the referential function of language that is presupposed for the communication model and the renunciation of which united foes” (xiii).
This writing suggests that we have no free will; there is no such thing as agency? But there is interiority and exteriority; it’s just all made of the same stuff? (xiv)
“The assertion that expression is actively formative of its content, or its ‘objects’, is a constructivist strategy underpinning most contemporary anti-communicational semiotics. [Not Berthoff’s]. Enabling the semiotically savvy ideology critique. ‘Discourse’, by this account constructs the subject by constructing the objects in polarity with which the subject forms. The subject’s expression is still causally linked to its content but the nature of the link has changed. What traditionally appeared as a one-way determination of expression by a mirroring of or a moulding by its contents (the correspondence or conformity of ‘representing, describing, or averring’) reappears as a formative polarity (a subject– object dialectic)” (xiv). ***This is the ‘dialectic’ he speaks of later, the one under fire.
“It is less that the subject willfully speaks its contents than that is spoken, unwitting, by its discursively orchestrated object-relations” (xiv). ***This seems just the opposite of Berthoff’s pov… typical postmodern dissolution of the self.
“If the spoken subject expresses anything, it is– indirectly– it’s own circuitous determination: the anything-but-transparent dialectic of its orchestrated formation. The ultimate content of all expression is this occulted determinative power incumbent in discourse —which the critic has the counter power, if not political duty, to uncover” (xiv). **but how can ‘the critic’ “have” such a power when it is utterly a product of a “state”?
“When D and G calling to question this dialectical solution, they’re abandoning ideology critique along its communicational nemesis” (xiv). ***Oh… so above Massumi critiques postmodernism via deconstruction? AH!!! “Why throw out baby-ideology with the dirty communicative bath water? If you choose to abstain from both communication and ideology, what’s left? Not postmodernism.” (right? isn’t that what he was talking about? Or was he talking about structuralism? ” From a Deleuze-Guattarian perspective these three approaches, for all their differences, have too much in common philosophically. What they share is an attachment to a concept of determination predicated, in one way or another, despite any protestations to the contrary, on conformity and correspondence.” (xiv)
“Traditionally, for communicational purposes, expression is anchored to a content. The content is viewed as having an objective existence prior and in the exterior to the form of expression. The assumed solidity of the content transfers, across the mirror like correspondence or molded conformity into a trustworthiness of the subjective expression” (xiv-xv). ***”solidity” TRUTH. fixed somewhere ‘out there’… immutable, discoverable…
“The ‘postmodern’ is an image of communication out of control. Seeming to have lost its mooring in objective conformity or correspondence, it appears uncaused, unmotivated, in endless, guaranteed ‘slippage'” (xv).
“The first cuff, ‘Designation’, concerns the faithfulness of the expression to the particular state of things with which it is in conformity or to which it corresponds: it’s objectivity. ‘Manifestation’ is the subjective correlate of designation [why necessarily? or is he just describing how understanding plays out in these terms?]. It pertains to personal desires and beliefs owned up to by the designating I. Signification is founded on the capacity of designation to apply beyond particulars two kinds in other words to general ideas and their implications it is a question of the relation of the word to universal or general concepts of syntactic connections to the implications of the concept [isn’t this AEB? Peirce? or not..?]. If designation concerns the true and the false, signification concerns the conditions of truth and falsehood: ‘the aggregate of conditions under which the proposition’ would be ‘true’. ‘The condition of truth,’ it must be noted, ‘is not opposed to the false, but to the absurd’ (Deleuze, 1990: 14-15). ***MEANING not “truth”?
This is an interesting critique of postmodern thought that echoes (sometimes to the word) AEB.
“The ideological approach is in many ways closer to D and G’s approach then either the communicational or postmodern, in spite of their frequent criticisms of it [freire]. For one thing, it links the workings of language to a problematic power, insisting on the intrinsic connection between language and extra-linguistic forces. It also breaks the symmetry between expression and things ‘as they are’ already. Models of mirroring or molding – in a word, representational models– see the basic task of expression as faithfully reflecting the state of things. They focus on the ‘as is’ [seeing as], as it is taken up by language. Ideology critique focuses on the ‘what might be’. It’s preoccupation is change. To open the way for change, it must break the symmetry between subject-object polarity. It does this by transforming the content-expression correspondence into an asymmetry” (xvi). Or “field”?
“The question is displaced onto what governs their dialectic:How the two come together, or what mediates their interaction. Mediation steel center stage for conformity and correspondence” (xvi.)
“The problem for G and D is that conformity and correspondence sneak back into the back door. The subject formed for the dialectic does not simply mirror its objects. it embodies the system of mediation. It is a physical instantiation of that system. That is the ideological proposition: That the subject is made to be in conformity with the system that produced it, such that the subject reproduces the system. What reproduces the system is not what the subject says per se. The direct content of its expressions do not faithfully reflect the system, since the relation of the system to its own expressed content has been mystified by mediation. The fundamental mystification consists in making the subjects adhesion into the system appear as a choice. Mystified, the subject must be trained to truly express the system it has unwittingly been reproducing. This is the role of critique” (xvi). And this is what’s meant by “critical reflection.”
“The subject does not express the system. It is an expression of the system. The system expresses itself in its subjects’ every ‘chosen’ deed and mystified word—in its very form of life (its habitus, as Pierre Bourdeu (2000:256-85) would say). Where, in the conformity and correspondence between the life form of the subject and the system of power that produced it, has the potential for change gone?” (xv). ***What “system of power” is he talking about? Ideology now? not ‘natural process’?
“Conscious critique seems an unloaded weapon in the face of the relentless acting out of powers of conformity on the preconscious level of habitus” (xv). **HUH?
“The only conscious force strong enough to counter those powers is self-interest: a subject must come to an unmystified consciousness of its own interests as occupying the position it does. But doesn’t that lock the subject all the more firmly into position? And aren’t decisions truly motivated by self-interest a matter of choice?” **But isn’t ‘self’ and ‘choice’ and ‘self-interest’ all ‘the system, expressing”?
“The move to save change by breaking the symmetries at the basis of the propositional view of language has backfired. They return, in confrmity and correspondence, as if in confirmation of the doctrine that production is always actually, systematically, reproduction. If production is reproduction, then life is trapped in a vicious circle: that of the systemic repetition of its own formation (wholesale or in self-interested part)” (xvi). Yeah, but… genetics… isn’t this a discussion i memetics? kind of?
“Still the initial emphasis has shifted from form, as mirrored or moulded, to formation . And it has done so in a framework that broadens the vistas of expression. It is no longer a question of language narrowly defined. It is also a quesiton of extra-linguistic forces operating through language, as well as unspoken systems of signs (what the configuration of objects in the social filed, and their patterns of accessibility, indirectly ‘tells’ the subject-in-the-making of its assigned position)” (xvi). **So instead of “form finds form”; “formations find formations”….?
“The task for a theory of expression is how to account for stability of form, given event [Well isn’t this consonant with ANT!?]. The key is to remember that ’emergence, mutation, change affect composing forces, not composed forms‘ (Deleuze, 1988: 87). ***Okay. Here’s a difference (AEB).