Rhizomes: Cultural Studies in Emerging Knowledge
Exogeneity and Control
The philosophy of Gilles Deleuze has, in recent decades, occupied the attention of Anglophone continental philosophy and cultural theory largely in light of the perceived political significance of his work. In particular, his analysis of capitalism in the texts co-authored with Felix Guattari, and his articulation of the logic of control — a logic which, he claimed, could be found emerging in the wake of those societies that Michel Foucault had characterized according to the logic of discipline — have served as the basis of an increasingly large body of extension and commentary. In this essay, I intend to highlight one particularly important aspect of the logic of control: the mechanism by which control captures practices of communication. This mechanism can be described, I argue, by reference to a concept that is familiar to statisticians, economists, and practitioners of ‘numerical’ social sciences: exogeneity. Additionally, I want to challenge the notion that antagonism to the logic of control can coincide with the affirmation of logics of ‘plurality’ or ‘multitude.’ The logic of control, insofar as it relies on exogeneity, is already a logic of radical plurality.
Deleuze only treats the societies of control in a few short texts: the interview “Control and Becoming” and the short treatise “Postscript on Control Societies,” both of which can be found compiled in English translation within the late volume Negotiations; and a brief excursus within his commentary on Michel Foucault. Each of these engagements take the form of a set of theses offered towards a theory of control societies; at most, they constitute a sketch of a theory, rather than a fully-formed engagement on the order of his engagements of psychoanalysis, capitalism-at-large (with Felix Guattari), or the history of philosophy. Nonetheless, these sketches can provide a uniquely fruitful impetus for an analysis of the logic of sociality under the conditions of financialized capital for two reasons. First of all because, under the rubric of control, Deleuze is able to think this financialization in terms of its enactment as a power relation. He is able to avoid, for instance, relying on the persistent fuzziness and the divisions between theory and practice that have plagued attempts to theorize this condition in terms of a generalized concept of ‘neoliberalism.’ Second, the articulation of control marks a particularly pronounced moment when Deleuze’s attention turns towards the production of habits of negativity, and affirmations of nonbeing. Without breaking from his strict attention to thinking according to a logic of pure immanence, Deleuze, in response to control, breaks from the strict identification of immanence and habits of positivity or affirmation.
Neoliberalism, or Control?
In recent theory, the term neoliberalism is often used in order to name not one, but at least three more-or-less distinct notions. First of all, neoliberalism names a set of theoretical positions internal to the discipline of economics. In this sense, it is a position primarily associated with members of the Walter Lippmann colloquium, the Mont Pelerin society, and — most specifically — the ideas of Ludwig von Mises, Friedrich Hayek, and Milton Friedman. In this sense, neoliberalism names a thesis about the operation of markets, but not an economic or political arrangement per se. Secondly, neoliberalism names a set of policies — the dismantling of tariffs and protections, conservative fiscal policies, deregulation, etc. — that are taken to respond to the economic theses that are named by the first sense of the term. Insofar as ‘theoretical’ neoliberalism and neoliberal ‘policy’ form a mutually interlinked political movement, the lines between these first two senses of the term are often difficult to distinguish. Finally, neoliberalism is also used to name a certain logic or diagram of power — a broader neoliberal ‘situation’ — that characterizes contemporary political and economic life. If the first and second uses of the term attribute it to a historically specific set of theories and policies, this third use expands the term to refer to a further sense that is not referred to by the others. In the first two senses, we may refer to neoliberal ‘theories’ and neoliberal ‘policies’ or ‘movements;’ each of which are things that could be said to act ‘on,’ for instance, markets, societies, and institutions. Only in this third sense, however, does it make sense to specify ‘markets,’ ‘societies,’ and so on as themselves neoliberal.
Perhaps the most interesting recent treatment of this generalized, diagrammatic approach to neoliberalism is Wendy Brown’s account in Undoing the Demos: Neoliberalism’s Stealth Revolution. In it, Brown characterizes neoliberalism as “an order of normative reason that, when it becomes ascendant, takes shape as a governing rationality extending a specific formulation of economic values, practices, and metrics to every dimension of human life.” She is careful to differentiate this notion from an older, more classically Marxist position that would treat this shift in terms of the expansion of financial or monetary operators into traditionally non-financial spheres of valuation; rather, for Brown, what is at stake is the application of forms of evaluation that are developed for financial spheres to non-financial valuations:
That is, we may (and neoliberalism interpellates us as subjects who do) think and act like contemporary market subjects where monetary wealth generation is not the immediate issue, for example, in approaching one's education, health, fitness, family life, or neighborhood. […] Thus, one might approach one's dating life in the mode of an entrepreneur or investor, yet not be trying to generate, accumulate, or invest monetary wealth in this domain. Many upscale online dating companies define their clientele and offerings in these terms, identifying the importance of maximizing return on investment of affect, not only time and money.
The trouble with this sort of approach is that it makes it increasingly difficult to track any sort of direct connection to the first two senses of neoliberalism that I’ve outlined above, and this third sense. In, fact, this very lack of direct connection between what I’ve called the ‘diagrammatic’ sense of the term and the other two terms creates a bit of a “paradox” for Brown’s account, to borrow her own terminology. Neoliberalism, if that term bears the weight of all three of the above senses, can only be described as ‘inconsistent’ or ‘nonidentical;’ the consistency that Brown is able to give to the term in her own account of its diagrammatic logic can only be figured once abstracted from these other two senses. It is this problem that leads me to suggest that the logic that Brown highlights under the name ‘neoliberalism’ is best understood as differentiated from, rather than identified with, the economic and political movements identified by the first two senses of the term. The application of numerical and predictive evaluative metrics to non-monetary forms of valuation does not contradict these first two senses, but the attempt to account for all three senses under one name, I argue, confuses rather than clarifies the logics at stake. It is for this reason that I find it more productive to insist on control, rather than neoliberalism as a name for this logic.
Communication and Control
In order to characterize the sort of ‘power relation’ that control names, it may be helpful to connect two of the central theses of the pieces in Negotiations that concern control. Deleuze characterizes control as “control of communication”; there is something about the operation of control that submits communication to capture. Or, more pointedly, there is something about communication that lends itself to control. Speech and communication, according to Deleuze, are “thoroughly permeated by money — and not by accident, but by their very nature.” This essential link between communication and money forms the first thesis I intend to connect. The second is as follows: “man [sic] is no longer man enclosed, but man in debt.” The connection is not intuitively obvious; what does it mean to say that communication and debt are ‘essentially’ linked?
The different internments or spaces of enclosure through which the individual passes are independent variables: each time one is supposed to start from zero, and although a common language for all these places exists, it is analogical. On the other hand, the different control mechanisms are inseparable variations, forming a system of variable geometry the language of which is numerical (which doesn’t necessarily mean binary).
The disciplinary institutions enclose subjects within an architecture of visibility and a confessional discourse — they produce speakable and visible subjects of knowledge — that are specific and local. The paradox of communicative control, however, is that increasingly the factory, the family, and other formerly distinct and relatively enclosed spaces no longer rely on their enclosure for their regulative effect. One is never only at work, one is never only in the family. If the rise of the disciplinary societies coincided with the need to fix movement, to enclose its subjects within archipelagic panoptic apparatuses in order to regulate populations, control maintains this regulation with a decreasing emphasis on locality and fixity. In contrast to disciplinary confinement, the societies of control operate “through continuous control and instant communication.”
Disciplinary power, in other words, produces molds — it produces types of individuals, specific to relatively enclosed institutions that each produce normative subjects of the institution; a disciplinary apparatus incites speech and communication, and what is communicated is related to a norm or mold. The mechanism of the factory, for instance, produces the worker and the ability to diagnose sloth, insubordination, and other parapraxes. Discipline tends to incite communication according to a corresponding apparatus of selection, one specific to a given disciplinary institution. In contrast to these molds or norms, what communicative capital incites is modulation — communication as such. What matters is less and less tied to a norm and more and more tied to the sheer communicability of one’s speech.
It is no coincidence that the shift from societies of control occurs, on Deleuze’s analysis, simultaneously with the rise of new communications technologies, computers, and a world that is increasingly digitally interconnected. It is precisely in light of the fact that disciplinary confinement is increasingly unmanageable that control arises as a paradigm that can organize these new mobilities. A control mechanism, therefore, operates predictively or statistically: “giving the position of any element within an open environment at any given instant.” It does not so much matter where or what any given element is; what matters is that it communicates, that it narrates itself in such a way that this narration is liable to be accounted.
Why is the content of communication less important than the injunction to communicate for a control apparatus? We can examine this question by looking briefly into economics. Specifically, we can proceed by examining the form or practice of economics as such: what is necessary for it to operate. I do not meant to claim here that economics and control are reversible; it is not that economics ‘just is’ control. To do so would be to confuse the practice of economics with the legislative, financial, and police apparatuses that put models to work. Rather, my claim is simply that according to Deleuze’s articulation, control operates upon sociality according to statistical means, and economics, as a statistical science, gives us insight into the operation of statistical science as such. Economics — in its contemporary form — can be characterized as “a science of non-discursive social relations.” This definition, as well as the picture of economics that follows from it, is adopted from Graham Joncas’ essay “There is No Economic World.” My analysis here follows closely the direction of this essay, differing mainly in terms of our conclusions regarding the significance of economics’ ‘worldlessness.’ Simply put, Joncas takes this argument to impute a neutrality to economics as a non-philosophical thought, one which exculpates it from ‘moralizing’ on the part of humanities scholars. While I agree with Joncas regarding the absurdity of critiques of the ‘blind’ or ‘black box’ quality of economics, as well as critiques of economics as ‘reductive,’ or possessing a hidden ‘morality,’ what is key (and non-neutral) to economics’ plurality is that it requires positivity and communication to operate.
Another way to put Joncas’ insistence on the ‘non-discursive’ nature of economics would be to say that economics operates without concepts. This may sound counterintuitive; what, after all, do words like ‘supply,’ ‘demand,’ ‘utility,’ etc. designate if not concepts? A close look at the specific practice of economics, however, reveals that each of these terms is, in the context of economics as a mathematical practice, meaningless in an important sense. The discursive sense of each of these concepts only ever has traction in relation to the specifically discursive fields with which economics is made to interact, but never within the mathematical practice of economics. Putting it in this way helpfully allows us to avoid a number of confusions. Positive economics, in this sense, is a fundamentally different sort of practice from — for instance — ‘political economy,’ or even classical economics, which generally revolve around conceptual argumentation about concepts like ‘value;’ classical and political economy are ‘discursive’ in a way that economics is not.
What an economist actually does, rather, is compose a mathematical model in which discursive elements figure as material, but only insofar as they can be rendered non-discursive. In other words, a numerical value is extracted from these discursive elements that neither is nor pretends to identity with the discursive element. Consider the following example:
To verify the claim ‘oil prices are manipulated by the USA’, a political scientist could (in theory) physically go to each stage of the oil production/distribution process, from oil wells to spot or futures markets, to various nodes along logistical networks, to gas stations, etc. In the above claim, ‘oil price’ is well-defined as a variable; moreover, its role as subject of the sentence makes the former claim ‘economic’ in its genre. […] ‘USA’ is of course vague, but suffices for the problem at hand. The verb ‘to manipulate’ reifies (in this context), but is in principle observable. […] Yet, in the above statement economics acknowledges not the subject, verb, or object, but the preposition ‘by’: in a sort of econo-fiction, it shows the numerical properties that make ‘manipulation’ possible.
In other words, economics moves from a field of discursive questions to a mathematical model, and in the process empties the model of any of its original discursive sense. The numerical model has nothing to say about the concepts of “USA” or even ‘manipulation.’ One will not come to understand any of these things better in the context of economic practice. To be clear, however, this non-knowledge is not a limitation on the part of economics, but rather a strict condition of its functioning; the uniqueness of economic practice is its ability to render discursive material in terms of sheer numerical contingency. Once correlated, this economic model is usually re-discursivized or interpreted, but it’s important to note — as Joncas does — that by re-conceptualizing the economic model, one moves back out of the contingency of the model, losing the specifically economic/mathematical character of the model itself. One moves, in Deleuzian terms, from the coordination of communication in terms of a given protocol back to the level of communication itself — and it is crucial that the difference between these two is observed.
One major contributor to the confusion regarding the relation between economic practice and discursive concepts has to do with just this post-hoc reconceptualization of the economic model. Namely, it is tempting to think of mathematical models (economic or otherwise) as representational; corresponding predictively to a more or less ‘exact fit’ with the reality they claim to describe. Milton Friedman demonstrates both the persistence and the conceptual limits of this (discursive) interpretation of economic modeling in his both Nobel lecture and his 1953 essay on economic methodology. In both essays, Friedman’s concern is to reject the contrast between ‘exact’ sciences and ‘social’ sciences; social sciences, according to what he takes to be the conventional view, differ in some essential way from other sciences precisely in light of the fact that they model human behavior. Because of this, social sciences are taken to be intrinsically less ‘exact’ and to require fundamentally different (read: qualitative) methods to proceed. In contrast to this distinction, Friedman insists upon a unity of mathematical sciences, claiming that for each of them there are “only tentative hypotheses.”
These hypotheses are adjusted or rejected as needed in order to correlate new sets of data. It’s important to note the stakes of this claim, which can easily be taken to have only to do with levels of exactitude. Friedman’s claim entails not only that hypotheses by definition never (or can never be positively known to) map their objects exactly — rather his claim also involves a claim about the objects of mathematical sciences. Namely: the object of mathematical practice is the hypothetical model. The ability to coordinate the data set, rather than any external reference, gives the mathematical sense of the economic hypothesis. The distinction between a discursive concept and its outside is a discursive distinction that can only pertain to a discursive world. In economic practice, however, there are only elegant models that more-or-less correlate a data set “ad infinitum.” We will return to this point later.
The importance of this distinction becomes clear when one remembers exactly what it is that economics models. Returning to Joncas’ above definition — “a science of non-discursive social relations” — we have already discussed both the ‘non-discursive’ and ‘scientific’ character of economics. What is important here is the term ‘social relations.’ What is correlated in an economic model is a whole host of radically inconsummate causalities; discursive, productive, or otherwise ‘human’ relations, but also environmental causalities (especially regarding scarcity and movement) and other non-human factors that impinge causally upon the ‘social relations’ under analysis. Under the conditions of a representational practice, the best ‘economic’ theory would be the one with the highest ‘fidelity’ to each of these causalities. The best model would be the highest resolution, the most complex. To model anything effectively would in essence require that the model be able to also model every single one of these inputs. Economics would also be required to proffer a theory of discourse, a theory of ecology, a theory of politics, and so on. Pointedly, however, this is exactly what economics does not do, and the way it avoids the necessity of this sort of infinite proliferation is what relates it to our discussion of control.
The procedure through which economics commensurates these inputs without creating a discourse of their commensurability is exogeneity. In the simplest terms, exogeneity and endogeneity refer to the causal relations between a variable in a model and other aspects of the same model. A variable can be said to be exogenous if its value is not determined by anything else within the model; if its value is given by something exterior to what is modeled. Conversely, a variable is more-or-less endogenous if its value depends in part or whole upon one or more values given within the model. What is so interesting about exogeneity is that it allows a model to account for causalities that are incommensurate with it without transforming those causalities into a form commensurable with the model. Exogeneity makes it possible, for instance, for biological and econometric models to interact — for a value produced in one model to function in the other — without either model explaining or underlying the other:
Each dimension of the social sphere operates by entirely different rules, but when an economist statistically calculates (for example) a liquidity premium, all of these spheres indirectly figure into the variable’s value (are ‘commensurated’) without being translated in terms of some totalizing/unitary underlying factor (‘without commensurability’).
Each of these inputs is rendered as a single number, determined by econometric means, which can be correlated for the purposes of the model. This single number does not purport to stand for any similarity between the things or causal orders rendered as variables, nor does it purport to stand for the things rendered themselves. Because these values do not ‘stand for’ anything, they can operate in a correlative model without needing to render consummate the causalities from which the values were rendered.
In terms of Deleuze’s sketch of ‘control,’ the concept of exogeneity provides a key to the difference between the injunction to communicate and the content of communication. Control operates, as we mentioned, by specifically mathematico-statistical means. The practice of exogeneity provides the possibility of correlating and commensurating data garnered from fundamentally incommensurate discursive causalities, and — crucially — it does so without needing to render these causalities conceptually commensurate. Exogeneity is the paradigm of knowledge specific to control as a power-relation. More specifically, exogeneity enables a kind of non-knowledge that can operate on and coordinate regionally specific ‘knowns.’ Nowhere in the model, in other words, does any of the knowledge (the stories of cause and effect from which numerical values were extracted) that is modeled need to appear; this knowledge is quite literally forgotten in the process of modeling it; this is why the model can be spoken of as a form of ‘non-knowledge.’
Deleuze hints at this very notion when he differentiates the operation of control in terms of the creation of ‘dividuals.’ The paradigm of disciplinary societies involved the creation of ‘individuals,’ which were then correlated in terms of a ‘mass;’ as a collection of individuals, the mass narrates the individual in terms of a ‘we.’ As a mode of correlation, the individual-mass relation depends on commensurability and agreement; an individual who is not interpellated correctly, who does not articulate herself in terms of the ‘right’ kind of we, or is interpellated as a bad member of ‘we’ threatens the stability of the individual-mass correlative structure. The terms according to which ‘dividuals’ are correlated, on the other hand, are given by Deleuze in terms of a sample, a market, a data-set, or a bank; all statistical or numerical models of correlation. Correlated under the conditions of statistical exogeneity, the fact that communication happens is crucial; communication provides material that can then be rendered statistically correlative. A dividual is thus not a new ‘form’ of individual; it is the numerical value that can be rendered from a given communication. One ‘individual’ may in fact be renderable in terms of any number of ‘dividuals;’ or a ‘dividual’ may correspond to more than one ‘individual.’ What matters is that ‘dividuals’ communicate. That communication agrees, however, is only of concern relative to the extent that control operates imperfectly; the more stable the control apparatus, the less consummate it requires communication to be.
This also allows us to understand what it means that the paradigm of control is “numerical” (or “digital”) but not necessarily “binary.” As a practice of exogenous correlation, control is mathematico-statistical. What this conversely entails, however, is that the logic of control is not worldly; it is non-binary in the sense that it does not operate by the creation of a common language or theoretical practice that could ‘get under’ other practices of knowledge production. To return to Friedman’s thesis that the proper object of a mathematical science is only ever the hypothetical model itself: the mathematical ‘non-knowledge’ that enables control does not require a ‘theory of everything.’ In fact, what allows it to operate is precisely the fact that it is formally opposed to being hypostatized in this way. Mathematical sciences operate without any need for reference to an external ‘world’ in which a model is embedded. Just as a geometric diagram does not require a surrounding ‘world of the diagram’ to make sense, any given model proffered by economics proceeds in its practice without reference to any hypostatized ‘economy’ to reference; it is radically indifferent to the notion of a ‘world,’ and is in fact radically plural in its stance toward any number of discursively constituted ‘worlds.’ In other words, economics — and, by extension, control — must be differentiated carefully from a reduction of the world to ‘economic’ or ‘market’ logics.
There is no ‘world’ of control; control captures and mobilizes plural worlds, but this capture cannot be confused with constituting a ‘world’ itself. Through exogeneity, we may say that control ‘captures’ communication, or that it depends on communication for its material. Thus, the link that Deleuze highlights between control and communication is given by this function of capture. It is in virtue of this that Deleuze, in conversation with Antonio Negri, recommends the creation of “vacuoles of noncommunication” — the refusal of narration — as the most effective response to a control apparatus. If control both requires narration as material, and produces narratives when models are re-discursivized, then to proliferate counter-communications, however ‘wild,’ would seem to coincide with ‘feeding’ the control apparatus. Instead of proliferating communication — even practices of communication counter to the ones that persist — the refusal to narrate involves simply saying ‘no’ to the need to render oneself communicable at all. Not story and counter-story, but simply ‘no’ to remembering the story of oneself, ‘no’ to the demand to place oneself in relation to any narrative at all.
- Gilles Deleuze, Negotiations, 1972-1990, (New York: Columbia University Press, 1995). and Gilles Deleuze and Seán Hand, Foucault, (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1988).
- See, e.g. Daniel C. Barber, “The Creation of Nonbeing,” Rhizomes 29 (2015).
- Ibid., 30.
- Ibid., 31.
- Ibid., 21.: “A paradox, then. Neoliberalism is a distinctive mode of reason, of the production of subjects, a “conduct of conduct,” and a scheme of valuation. It names a historically specific economic and political reaction against Keynesianism and democratic socialism, as well as a more generalized practice of “economizing” spheres and activities heretofore governed by other tables of value. Yet in its differential instantiations across countries, regions, and sectors, in its various intersections with extant cultures and political traditions, and above all, in its convergences with and uptakes of other discourses and developments, neoliberalism takes diverse shapes and spawns diverse content and normative details, even different idioms. It is globally ubiquitous, yet disunified and nonidentical with itself in space and over time.”
- Deleuze, “Control and Becoming,” in Negotiations, 1972-1990, trans. Martin Joughin (New York: Columbia University Press, 1995), 174.
- Ibid., 175.
- Gilles Deleuze, “Postscript on the Societies of Contol,” October 59 (1992), 6.
- Ibid., 4.
- Ibid., 7.
- For reasons that may be clearer at the end of this discussion, I take it that these amount to the same thing.
- Graham Joncas, “There Is No Economic World.” Linguistic Capital. 2014. Accessed June 18, 2015. In a footnote discussion of this definition, Joncas defends his use of the term ‘science’ to describe economics: “If anyone objects to my use of the term ‘science’, let me at least suggest that there needs to be a science of non-conceptual social relations, and that — regardless of its flaws — economics has stepped in to fill this niche.” What is interesting here is the notion of need; what does it mean that there ‘needs’ to be such a science? Who needs it? To do what? While a further exposition is beyond the scope of this paper, I find this notion of need interesting precisely because the disciplinary expansion of economics in the contemporary sense of ‘positive’ economics coincides historically with the expansion of diagrammatic uses of control. Economics is not control, but it is suggestive that the need for economics coincides so strongly with the expansion of control.
- On this distinction, see e.g. Alexander R. Galloway, Protocol: How Control Exists After Decentralization (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2004).
- Milton Friedman, “Nobel Lecture: Inflation and Unemployment,” Milton Friedman on Economics: Selected Papers (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2007) and Milton Friedman, “The Methodology of Positive Economics,” Essays in Positive Economics (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1953).
- Friedman, “Inflation and Unemployment,” 1.
- Ibid., 2.
- Joncas, “There is No Economic World.”
- Deleuze, “Postscript,” 5.: “We no longer find ourselves dealing with the mass/individual pair. Individuals have become ‘dividuals,’ and masses, samples, data, markets, or ‘banks.’”
- It is important not to confuse ‘stability’ with ‘rigidity’ here; rather, stable here must be taken to also entail supple. Control, in other words, depends upon what Deleuze and Guattari refer to as an abstract machine. Following Manuel DeLanda and Jeffrey Bell, I am interpreting the concept of the abstract machine as an attempt to theorize a system which generates relative stability, but whose relative stability depends on continuous variation and novelty. Bell puts it helpfully: “What we propose is that we can best understand Deleuze and Guattari if the abstract machine is understood to be a dynamic system at the edge of chaos. […] For the sake of time, I can say simply that a dynamic system at the edge of chaos is a system that has not settled into a stable, stratified system, or what is also known as a basin of attraction by complexity theorists; nor is it a system that is chaotic, for such a system would not even allow for the emergence of new forms. […] The term edge of chaos was used by Christopher Langton in describing the conditions necessary for the emergence of new life-forms Langton performed through computer modelling. He found that if the mutation rate of life forms were set too low, there would be insufficient evolution and the result would be the extinction of species through a failure to adapt; and if the rate were set too high, stable new forms (i.e., species) would be unable to emerge and the result again would be the extinction of life. Life is most vibrant, Langton found, at the point where there is sufficient variation but not to the point of becoming a self-destructive chaos – life thrives, then, at what Langton, and more recently Stuart Kaufmann and others, have called the edge of chaos. This dynamic state of the edge of chaos is thus not the stable life-forms themselves; rather, it is the condition for the possibility of their transformation, for their becoming other life-forms.” Jeffrey A. Bell, “Deleuze and Analytic Philosophy,” presented at the SEP-FEP Joint Conference, University of Dundee, September 9, 2006. Accessed via Academia.edu
- Deleuze, “Postscript,” 4.
- In François Laruelle’s terms, we might say that economics and control are by nature non-decisional, and thus in an important sense already non-philosophical. Control ‘captures’ decision, mobilizes it in a certain way, but this capture must not be confused with being itself a ‘decision.’
- An interesting question to consider here is the extent to which these gestures toward control sit well with a common Deleuzian theme; that of the ‘plane of immanence.’ What is interesting about the statistical operation of control is that while its conceptual operation is rigorously immanent, it operates without reference to a plane on or as which it might operate. In this respect, I might lightly suggest that it bears more in common with the function of topology in Lacan’s later work; as with topology, there is no economic ‘space,’ not even a ‘plane’ or ‘outside’ that could be folded into regional topologies. “The nature of mathematical language, once it is sufficiently isolated in terms of its requirements of pure demonstration, is such that everything that is put forward there — not so much in the spoken commentary as in the very handling of letters — assumes that if one of the letters doesn’t stand up, all the others, due to their arrangement, not only constitute nothing of any validity but disperse. It is in that respect that the Borromean knot is the best metaphor of the fact that we can only proceed on the basis of the One.” Jacques Lacan, On Feminine Sexuality : The Limits of Love and Knowledge; The Seminar of Jacques Lacan XX (New York: Norton, 1998), 128.
- Deleuze, “Control and Becoming,” 175.
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