Some quick notes I wrote for a meeting on the (mis)use of assemblage theory that took place this afternoon. Read on.
Michael Sailstorfer, ‘Raketenbaum’
‘The end of nature’ is – whether as a concept, term or slogan – much used in both academic and ‘popular’ circles. In its most well-known usage, probably by Anthony Giddens, it has been employed to argue that there is now, in our times, no longer any or, at least, few aspects of the physical world untouched by human intervention. This is not to say that there is no ‘natural environment’, but merely serves to highlight a change in subjective attitudes towards this environment; where people, for hundreds of years, worried about what nature could do to us - catastrophes, floods etc. – ‘somewhere over the past fifty years or so’ (as Giddens remarks) people stopped worrying about what nature could do to us, but what we have done to nature.
In his latest book, Manuel DeLanda – an eminent philosopher-artist-writer – attempts to radically transform (critical) social analysis by proposing a ‘neo-assemblage theory’ which thinks of social complexity as consisting of a constant flux of (stabilized) wholes consisting of heterogeneous parts. A major thread in his attempt resides in his emphasis to think elsewhere (instead of ‘different’): DeLanda introduces a new (social) topology based on a, so called, ‘neo-realist’ social ontology. This post-Deleuzian position enables him to overcome the prominent opposition between micro- and macrolevel analysis (how do, for instance, cities relate to transnational institutions?) by focussing on (im)material indepence of wholes (more…)
This week I handed in an essay on Nikolas Rose’s book The Politics of Life Itself. In the essay I try to comprehend what it means for Rose that we, as biological citizens, understand ourselves in fully somatic terms. Furthermore, I consider the fact if this, as becomes apparant, very liberal or governmentality perspective really ‘exhausts reality’. That is; following Rose’s use of Deleuze, I try to show how there is always something that ‘transcends’ the body inside the immanent, horizontal plane of individuality, politics, science and economics. For Rose, we as somatic individuals more or less have at our disposal the biomedical, genetic facts of science so as to use them to work on ourselves and, consequently, to authorize the knowledge that flows from science and, according to Rose, determine the path and direction of these sciences. With Deleuze, I try to show that, following the example of the altering relation between experts and laymen, there arise new forms of ‘horizontal’ hierarchies and authorities. It’s interesting to see how Rose combines Foucault and Latour to subsequently turn to Deleuze to work out his comprehension of a new 21th century somatic ethics or self-management, but, in doing so, forgets that Deleuze is always ‘more than’ predictable.