Month: February 2020

“A distinction can always be made between weapons and tools on the basis of their usage (destroying people or producing goods). But although this extrinsic distinction explains certain secondary adaptations of a technical object, it does not preclude a general convertibility between the two groups, to the extent that it seems very difficult to propose an intrinsic difference between weapons and tools. . . . And yet we have the feeling that there are many internal differences, even if they are not intrinsic, in other words, logical or conceptual, and even if they remain approximate. At first approximation, weapons have a privileged relation with projection. Anything that throws or is thrown is fundamentally a weapon, and propulsion is its essential moment.” – Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus (trans. Brian Massumi)

“One of the fundamental tasks of the State is to striate the space over which it reigns, or to utilize the smooth spaces as a means of communication in the service of striated space. It is a vital concern of every State not only to vanquish nomadism but to control migrations and, more generally, to establish a zone of rights over an entire ‘exterior,’ over all of the flows traversing ecumenon. If it can help it, the State does not dissociate itself from a process of capture of flows of all kinds, populations, commodities or commerce, money or capital, etc. There is still a need for fixed paths in well-defined directions, which restrict speed, regulate circulation, relativize movement, and measure in detail the relative movements of subjects and objects.” – Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus (trans. Brian Massumi)

“Let us take a limited example and compare the war machine and the State apparatus in the context of the theory of games. Let us take chess and Go, from the standpoint of the game pieces, the relations between the pieces and the space involved. Chess is a game of State, or of the court: the emperor of China played it. Chess pieces are coded; they have an internal nature and intrinsic properties from which their movements, situations, and confrontations derive. They have qualities; a knight remains a knight, a pawn a pawn, a bishop a bishop. Each is like a subject of the statement endowed with a relative power, and these relative powers combine in a subject of enunciation, that is, the chess player or the game’s form of interiority. Go pieces, in contrast, are pellets, disks, simple arithmetic units, and have only an anonymous, collective, or third-person function: ‘It’ makes a move. ‘It’ could be a man, a woman, a louse, an elephant. Go pieces are elements of a nonsubjectified machine assemblage with no intrinsic properties, only situational ones.” – Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus (trans. Brian Massumi)

“Some people can talk, hide nothing, not lie: they are secret by transparency, as impenetrable as water, in truth incomprehensible. Whereas the others have a secret that is always breached, even though they surround it with a thick wall or elevate it to an infinite form.” – Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus (trans. Brian Massumi)

“There is no social system that does not leak from all directions, even if it makes its segments increasingly rigid in order to seal the lines of flight.” – Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus (trans. Brian Massumi)

“It should not be said that the genius is an extraordinary person, nor that everybody has genius. The genius is someone who knows how to make everybody/the whole world a becoming.” – Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus (trans. Brian Massumi) (emphasis in original)

“The ‘subject’ of writing does not exist if we mean by that some sovereign soliture of the author. The subject of writing is a system of relations between strata: The Mystic Pad, the psyche, society, the world. Within that scene, on that stage, the punctual simplicity of the classical subject is not to be found.” – Jacques Derrida, Writing and Difference (trans. Alan Bass) (emphasis in original)

“It is because we no longer have anything to hide that we can no longer be apprehended. To become imperceptible oneself, to have dismantled love in order to become capable of loving. To have dismantled one’s self in order finally to be alone and meet the true double at the other end of the line. A clandestine passenger on a motionless voyage. To become like everybody else; but this, precisely, is a becoming only for one who knows how to be nobody, to no longer be anybody. To paint oneself gray on gray.” – Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus (trans. Brian Massumi)

“It is not very difficult to determine the essence of the ‘novella’ as a literary genre: Everything is organized around the question, ‘What happened? Whatever could have happened?’ The tale is the opposite of the novella, because it is an altogether different question that the reader asks with bated breath: What is going to happen? Something is always going to happen, come to pass. Something always happens in the novel also, but the novel integrates elements of the novella and the tale into the variation of its perpetual living present.” – Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus (trans. Brian Massumi)

“Forming grammatically correct sentences is for the normal individual the prerequisite for any submission to social laws. No one is supposed to be ignorant of grammaticality; those who are belong in special institutions. The unity of language is fundamentally political. There is no mother tongue, only a power takeover by a dominant language that at times advances along a broad front, and at times swoops down on diverse centers simultaneously. We can conceive of several ways for a language to homogenize, centralize: the republican way is not necessarily the same as the royal way, and is not the least harsh. The scientific enterprise of extracting constants and constant relations is always coupled with the political enterprise of imposing them on speakers and transmitting order-words.” – Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus (trans. Brian Massumi)

“A concept is a brick. It can be used to build the courthouse of reason. Or it can be thrown through the window. What is the subject of the brick? The arm that throws it? The body connected to the arm? The brain encased in the body? The situation that brought the brain and body to such a juncture? All and none of the above. What is its object? The window? The edifice? The laws the edifice shelters? The class and other power relations encrusted in the laws? All and none of the above.” – Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus (trans. Brian Massumi)

“Unlike natural persons, corporations have limited liability for their owners and managers, perpetual life, separation of ownership and control, and favorable treatment of the accumulation and distribution of assets that enhance their ability to attract capital and to deploy their resources in ways that maximize the return on their shareholders’ investments. Unlike voters in U.S. elections, corporations may be foreign controlled. Unlike other interest groups, business corporations have been effectively delegated responsibility for ensuring society’s economic welfare; they inescapably structure the life of every citizen. It might also be added that corporations have no consciences, no beliefs, no feelings, no thoughts, no desires. Corporations help structure and facilitate the activities of human beings, to be sure, and their personhood often serves as a useful legal fiction. But they are not themselves members of We the People by whom and for whom our Constitution was established.” – Justice John Paul Stevens, United States Supreme Court, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission (internal quotes and citations omitted)

“The discourse of art, like any other professional discourse, imposes limitations on the possibilities of the gaze, speech or actions conducted by the spectator. The discourse of art directs us to continue to see the work of art as the source and goal of discourse, and enables the specialist spectator to exercise professional knowledge and to enjoy the fruits of its authority. . . . A civil intention enables the spectator to exceed the limits of professional discourse and to regard the image, not as source and end in itself, but first and foremost as a platform that bears the traces of others, and thus as a junction that articulates between such traces and the spectator who sees them.” – Ariella Azoulay, Civil Imagination: A Political Ontology of Photography

“The photograph is never a sealed product that expresses the intentions of a single player. The photograph does not make a truth claim nor does it refute other truth claims. Truth is not to be found in the photograph. The photograph merely divulges the traces of truth or of its refutation.” – Ariella Azoulay, Civil Imagination: A Political Ontology of Photography

“Over the course of the last 250 years at least, human beings in different locations have thought of themselves as citizens and have debated the essence of citizenship as well as its limitations. Now that so much time has passed, thought concerning citizenship need no longer be bound to the invention of a zero point, a hypothetical moment of inception. It is more productive to see citizenship as an interface that enables humans to create a shared world, one which they will be able to continue to inhabit together in the future, not only because of their actions but because they calculate the effect of their actions on others who share the world. . . . The particular functioning of the modern nation-state, however, which has captured the discourse of citizenship and subordinated it to the logic of sovereignty that dictates who among the governed is a citizen, bestowing status and a package of rights and duties on the citizen that are not allocated to other governed individuals, has created fertile conditions—not for civil intention, but for civil malfunction.” – Ariella Azoulay, Civil Imagination: A Political Ontology of Photography

“Whenever human beings exist together with one another, whether in private or in public space, whether in open or closed spaces amenable to, or hidden from, the surveillance of others, their being together constitutes political existence. This political existence takes different forms characterized by varying degrees of freedom and repression.” – Ariella Azoulay, Civil Imagination: A Political Ontology of Photography

“To historicize visual culture adequately is also to undermine the narrative that presents the history of art as the pertinent field of knowledge for the generation of visual culture in relation to which visual culture stands as a kind of appendix or late variant, possessed nevertheless of loyalty to shared principles. The hegemonic narrative, which accepts the imperialist pretenses of the history of art, presents art as the central channel for visual practice and sees photography as a sub-medium within this. In this account, photography has, since its inception, knocked ceaselessly on the door of art in order to gain admittance into its domain. Within the narrative it offers, the history of photography is indivisible from supposedly key moments when the photograph was admitted into museums of art. Such a narrative erases the infinite richness of photography and the many uses to which it was put outside of the context of art or the museum. It overlooks the fact that most users of photography display no desire to belong to the field of art, nor do they seek the recognition of its resident experts.” – Ariella Azoulay, Civil Imagination: A Political Ontology of Photography

“Whoever appears in a photograph or whoever is glimpsed in its frame always stands in a certain set of relations with others. Neither the photographer who is invested with ownership rights over the photograph as object, nor the work of art constructed as the center of gravity of the discourse of art, are capable of erasing the photographed persons or any other participants in the event of photography from the civil space in which they are present and whose coming into being they demand from those who observe them.” – Ariella Azoulay, Civil Imagination: A Political Ontology of Photography

“The coming together of the photographer with the persons photographed always extends beyond the concrete encounter between them. The photograph serves to increase the chances that the encounter will, in fact, endure, migrating to other spaces and circumstances which, at the very least, evade the photographer’s ability, or that of the persons photographed, to know them in advance.” – Ariella Azoulay, Civil Imagination: A Political Ontology of Photography