Deleuze & Guattari, “Micropolitics and Segmentarity”

D&G begin by discussing multiple types of segmentarity: binary, circular and linear; supple (associated primarily with “the primitive”) and rigid (associated mostly with modern life; 210).  Supple, binary segmentarity is the result of “machines and assemblages that are not themselves binary” whereas rigid binary segmentarity, in “State societies,… bring into their own duality machines that function as such, and proceed simultaneously by biunivocal relationships and successively by binarized choices” (210).  Supple, circular segmentarity is characterized by many “knots, eyes, or black holes [that] do not all resonate together.”  Under rigid (again, characterized by State societies), circular segmentarity, all centers “resonate in… a single point of accumulation that is like a point of intersection somewhere behind the eyes.”  State societies “behave as apparatuses of resonance” (211).  However, it is important to note that these modes overlap (213).

224—state is a resonance chamber for all points

I was really interested in this idea of the state as a resonance chamber, and the contrast of a series of overlapping circles that form nodes or knots—and by implication, a certain dissonance or palpable reverberations.  What are the segments, or how could we best put that concept of segments to work?  It seems as though cities could be segments, with their local governments.  But it seems as well like they’re talking about more abstract “segments” as well.  I was thinking along the following “lines”:

In the case of administration of gender, I think we can see the work of the state as a rigid, binary-making, resonance machine.  All forms of state documentation must “resonate” with each other.  However, for many reasons, it seems as though (some) trans configurations continue to elude this resonance machine (for example, if a requirement of the resonance around sex is that all transpeople be sterilized, state agencies require a letter from a surgeon/doctor attesting that the transperson has had “irreversible sex reassignment surgery”.  However, many female-to-male transpeople, at least, take in a vaguely-worded letter after having a mastectomy.  This could be a “mutant flow” or some sort of dissonance-making device.)  It seems as though the new State Dept policy (that one can change sex on one’s passport with a letter from any doctor attesting that one is under trans-related treatment) could be an attempt to “reterritorialize” the “line of flight” previously open to transpeople (that is, the state can now capture more people within the apparatus of sex administration, even if the state has to give a bit on the terms of what constitutes eligibility for legal sex change).


213—introduction of macro/micropolitics

216—“From the viewpoint of micropolitics, a society is defined by its lines of flight, which are molecular.  There is always something that flows or flees, that escapes the binary organizations, the resonance apparatuses, and the overcoding machine: things that are attributed to a ‘change in values,’ the youth, women, the mad, etc.”

217—“The issue is that the molar and the molecular are distinguished not by size, sclae, or dimension but by the nature of the system of reference envisioned.”  The same could be said of macro/micropolitics? “In short, the molecular, or microeconomics, micropolitics, is defined not by the smallness of its elements but by the nature of its ‘mass’—the quantum flow as opposed to the molar segmented line.”  I’m thinking of molecular-micropolitics and molar-macropolitics similarly to supple vs rigid segmentarity, respectively.

218—“In every case, it is evident that the segmented line (macropolitics) is immersed in and prolonged by quantum flows (micropolitics) that continually reshuffle and stir up its segments.”

Ex: The micropolitics in “Doing things with Illness” might be the patients’ discourse, operating underneath and against the rigidly segmented line of the clinicians’ discourse.  (But I’m still unclear about how “segments” work, or what the segments would be in this case.) As D&G note, though, “molecular escapes and movements would be nothing if they did not return to the molar organizations to reshuffle their segments, their binary distributions of sexes, classes, and parties” (217).  Maybe we see this in the way Banks and Prior note that the physicians mobilize a language of brain chemistry to mediate the conflict between physical and psychiatric causal explanations.

Additional notes

220—connection and conjugation.  Connection is “the way in which decoded and deterritorialized flows boost one another, accelerate their shared escape, and augment or stroke their quanta; the ‘conjugation’ of these same flows, on the other hand, indicates their relative stoppage, like a point of accumulation that plugs or seals the lines of flight, performs a general reterritorialization, and brings the flows under the dominance of a single flow capable of overcoding them.”

221—“The task of the historian is to designate the ‘period’ of coexistence or simultaneity of these two movements (decoding-deterritorialization and overcoding-reterritorialization)… The rigid system does not bring the other system to a halt: the flow continues beneath the line, forever mutant, while the line totalizes.”

222—three lines: 1: “so-called primitive segmentarity,” supple.  2: rigid, state apparatus.  3: “several lines of flight, marked by quanta and defined by decoding and deterritorialization (there is always something like a war machine functioning on these lines.)” …  The three lines of flight are not related in a chronological sense.  Rather, “It would be more accurate to say that there is a space in which the three kinds of closely intermingled lines coexist, tribes, empires, and war machines.”

230—fascism vs totalitarianism, relationship to the war machine.



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