4. Infraphysics of becoming-minoritarian

4.01. postajanje-zemlja, storytelling/re-enactment of mineralizacija. Performance documentation. Photo: Neda Mojsilović. 21 January 2016, Cultural Front GRAD, Belgrade.

This short chapter wraps up the ‘situated-dispersed knowledges’ gathered through the performative encounters described above. This is a statement about the ethico-polytics of posthuman performance of becoming. It comes close to a methodological statement of the research, but methodology would imply smooth transfer from one place to the other without shifts, which would be counter to situated epistemology i work with (see 2.4.). Therefore, this is an apparatus of critical and creative discursive concepts and material affects that together shape a disposition of the theory-practice apparatus, a sensibility of the praxis, a diagram of its capacities to touch and be touched.

The goal of a posthuman eco-aesthetics, set out in Part II, is to invite minoritarian becomings departing from the apparatuses of capture. Andreas Philippopoulos-Mihalopoulos, in his analytics of lawscapes, introduces the concept of ‘tilt’ to indicate a disposition of a given legal-spatial apparatus, the way it distributes majorities and minorities (2015: 192). The re(con)figuration of the ‘tilt’ is called ‘reorientation’ of the apparatus (ibid.: 197-8). Reorientation is not an action of a subject upon (intervention), it entails an immanent intra- or infra-activity, a performative infraphysics. Reorientation is not about bringing to matter what is excluded, which would again be a majoritarian movement of ‘taking over’ control over an apparatus.

Tilting is withdrawal. Withdrawal is not a gesture of exiting, it is a ‘situated-dispersal’ (Gòrska, 2016) toward the minoritised side of the apparatus. It ‘begins’ with the embodied and embedded ‘self’ of the relative majority:

Withdrawal is self-withdrawal: a body withdraws from the space of its own desire, the one that keeps the body atmospherically conditioned. [original emphasis] (Philippopoulos-Mihalopoulos, 2015: 205)

The ‘self’ is the subject of the apparatus, ‘the body of one’s desire’ is its power-knowledge diagram, while ‘atmosphere’ is its territory. Self is shot through by a number of power lines of subjectivation, “the law is carried in bodies, inscribed or even embodied” (ibid.). The body of one’s desire is the relation of the body with the power-diagram, a set of forms, codes, standards, practices, which connects the diagram and the territory through the ‘self’. Self-withdrawal is thus a deterritorialisation of the self from within the apparatus of bodily production. Self-withdrawal is a situated intra-action of pulling against apparatus in an attempt to “cross the line of law’s normative geometry while being inscribed within it” (ibid.: 217-8). ‘Crossing’ here does not mean going-beyond (still a majoritarian move), but to criss-cross or create a transversality in the geometry of im/possibilities. Since the ‘self’ is to an extent plugged into the power diagram and the territory, self-withdrawal is not an individual action. Self-withdrawal draws the apparatus with, it is “a transversal movement” of “sweeping away” (DG, 1987: 25) the organisation of an apparatus.

4.02. postajanje-zemlja. Performance documentation. Photo: Neda Mojsilović. 21 January 2016, Cultural Front GRAD, Belgrade.

Apparatus withdrawal is about standing in the power line, but torquing it away from its sedimented trajectory. This is prefigured in Foucault’s notion of lines of ‘breakage’ and ‘fracture’:

Untangling these lines within a social apparatus is, in each case, like drawing a map, doing cartography, surveying unknown landscapes, and this is what [Foucault] calls ‘working on the ground’. One has to position oneself on these lines themselves, these lines which do not just make up the social apparatus but run through it and pull at it, from North to South, from East to West, or diagonally. [my emphasis] (Deleuze, 1988: 159)

In an apparatus, a body is a nexus ‘run through’ by power lines. However, withdrawal does not amount to establishing a new line. Lineal mode of operativity embodies a network ontology, a linearity of cause and effect, a plan or a project, a technique embedded in the apparatus. Withdrawing is situated within the ontology of the present, but it tends and yearns towards a different mode. Infraphysics for me is about pulling power-knowledge lines away from the line-ing, and not making another line. It is about withdrawing from the power of the point and the line altogether. Ecology needs to leave the domain of modern options that connect or disconnect, include or exclude. This other mode of intra-action is that of becoming, which takes place through assemblage dynamics, an open field of multiplicious (self-)touching of possibilities.

4.03. postajanje-zemlja. Performance documentation. Photo: Neda Mojsilović. 21 January 2016, Cultural Front GRAD, Belgrade.

Let me dwell a little further on this line. Lines, as used in apparatuses, are closely connected with domains of strategy or tactics, which implies a friend and an enemy. In DG terminology, becoming actualises along a ‘line of flight’ or a ‘line of escape’ (ligne de fuite, in French), which has a genealogical affinity with ‘war machines’ (1987: 222-3, 412, 422). A ‘line of flight’ is a nomadic answer to the State, and in itself it can be creative or destructive (ibid.: 423). In Reza Negarestani’s DG-inspired proposal for a ‘polytics’ of ‘radical openness’, the key ‘schizotrategy’ consists in “‘calling here’ (summoning), engineering a line of attraction for the outside” (2008: 202). What i find unsatisfactory in these figurations is that they remain in the realm of oppositional methodologies. These doubts of mine have been given voice in Keller Easterling’s analysis of military metaphors in DG, Paolo Virilio, Hardt & Negri (2014: 121-8). Schizotrategies and lines of flight in important ways remain related to Clausewitz’s logic of warfare, and ultimately, reproduce the logic of the binary, even if from the minor side (ibid.). Polytics of becoming, i believe, has to imagine a radical alternative to the dynamics of the apparatus, it has to withdraw from it and occupy itself differently.

As i described in the analytical part, there is a difference in dynamics between apparatus and assemblage, which has to do with how they enact their differences within and without. In the last instance, apparatuses cannot help but cut the difference together/apart, while assemblages maintain/nurture flows of differentiation. Apparatuses create territories, whereas i claimed that assemblages are fields. Withdrawal from apparatus toward assemblage is thus about turning a line of power into a multiplicity, re-orienting a territory into a field of resonance in which power ‘disperses’. To enact withdrawal is not merely to re-orient the agential cut of an apparatus, to reconfigure inclusions and exclusions, but to institute a plane of collective possibility that is not of territorial sorts. Field of assemblage is the open spacetime of mutation, hybrid indeterminacy, transing or traversing.

In an apparatus, withdrawal can ‘begin’ by ‘facing the inhuman’ (Barad, 2012a): situating performativity ‘anamorphically’ (Dean, 2016) to the dynamics of apparatus. Becoming-plant is not about connecting with a plant to create a larger network of beings [the limitation i have experienced with my dancing ecology, see 3.1.b.]. Minoritarian ecology is about sensitising oneself to what/whom was “always already there” (Dolphijn, 2015), facing us. However, it is not in the possible to ‘see’ or ‘articulate’ the virtual (inhuman) within a given apparatus. Touching ‘anamorphically’ along the ‘cracks’ or transition zones among the planes of the apparatuses is one way of ‘seeking the secluded’ (e.g. peri-capitalist spaces where ‘salvage accumulation’ happens) [or, in cut grow buy sell, see 3.2.a.].

4.04. postajanje-zemlja. Performance documentation. Photo: Neda Mojsilović. 21 January 2016, Cultural Front GRAD, Belgrade.

Another movement is to traverse possibles of multiple apparatuses, because they ‘see’ and ‘articulate’ differentially. By cross-breeding their mutual (mis)translations, axiomatics, and speeds, untranslatable hybrids of signs and gesture may emerge. [For example, the hybridisation of various data practices and bodies in office of ecological labour, see 3.5.b.] These hybrid compositions do not sit well with any of the original apparatuses, they may ‘fit’ better with the inhuman. I call this hybrid apparatus minoritarian. This apparatus is still to a degree connected to the majoritarian diagrams through supple and porous relations, it still responds to a certain logics but it seeks to become-other-than-itself [all that is air melts into city, see 4.3.b.]. Instead of a ‘xeno-call’ (Negarestani, 2008: 203) to the outside in order to turn “the outsider into an insider” (ibid.), a minoritarian apparatus needs to perform a polymorphous call that shouts (back) at the apparatus of capture in a language it partially understands, and to silently gesture (forth) to the cracks in the possible, towards the ‘murmurings’ of the virtual, the inhuman. The inhuman is not mute and it does not speak either (Barad, 2012; 2015). Minoritarian apparatus is a resonance of summoning within and without the apparatus, a withdrawal of the logic of the cut, creating conditions for the occupation of the inhuman. But it is not an assemblage yet.

Assemblage is a common praxis among bodies in difference, a capacity of common intra-action that generates difference. It means an absolute withdrawal from the apparatus dynamics, a ‘rupture’ in its strata (Philippopoulos-Mihalopoulos, 2015). This rupture is not a break, it is an affirmation of dis/continuity of becoming, a quantum leap from the dynamics of the cut into the dynamics of transversal differentiation. Rupture evokes a violent action with a hammer, but this is misleading because hammer can be directed only at the possible. Rupture is a situated touch with ‘anotherness’ (the virtual), but, as Barad explains, in the domain of electromagnetic fields, it is impossible to touch the alterity directly (2015)1. Rupture is thus also a dispersal, an in/determinate proximity to difference, a transmission of resistance. It is a formation of an intimate ‘zone of proximity’ where ‘response-abilities’ disperse and situate, an interplay of ‘(self-)touchings’.

4.05. postajanje-zemlja. Performance documentation. Photo: Neda Mojsilović. 21 January 2016, Cultural Front GRAD.

Rupture―touch is a stream of quantised particles of possibility from the ‘grid’ into the ‘void’, an almost-silent murmuring of yearnings for a quantum field of indeterminate freedoms. Touches―dispersals are content of absolute withdrawal, however expression of this intra-action cannot be known in advance. It affirms an already existing dis/continuity in the fabric of apparatuses, a continuum in “virtual exploration of every possibility” (Barad, 2015: 399), some of which may or may not flash in the intense becomings. Enter-the-secluded-exit-the-subjects: a meeting along a threshold where exit and entrance unfold and agencies enfold. Situated touch―dispersal is a quantum leap in the collective tissue of an apparatus, a group transition from a state of power to a field of freedom.

As Lyotard claimed, ecology is “the discourse of the secluded”. It is not only a question of “listening to and seeking for what is secluded, oikeion” and inviting it into “home”. ‘They’ need not come ‘into’ the family (oikos), they are already here, even if it appears that they are not. Why would anyone want to be inside of an apparatus of capture? Withdrawal withdraws from family, from familiality, in order to “engender conditions for the creation and development of unprecedented formations of subjectivity that have never been seen and never felt” [my emphasis] (Guattari, 1995: 92). The inhuman is the ‘great indoors’ immanent to the apparatus, yet it does not belong to it. ‘Discourse of the secluded’ is not about, for or even with the secluded, it implies a withdrawal of discourse from the secluded. Not for another discourse (as apparatus) to come. To withdraw is to occupy (an assemblage), to become occupied by anotherness.

4.05. postajanje-zemlja. Performance documentation. Photo: Neda Mojsilović. 21 January 2016, Cultural Front GRAD, Belgrade.

Withdrawal is not a goal in itself, but a performative intra-action of undoing the apparatus and inviting the possible. Practically speaking, i see it as a collective creation of an apparatus of minor disposition, an apparatus that withdraws from boundary-making, diagramming, disposing, and, finally, agential cutting [to different degrees, i have attempted this in counting live stock(s), office of ecological labour, #copper #love #maintenance and mineralizacija]. Apparatus withdrawal is turning the cutting-together/apart into (self)touching-other.

Touch can only happen when multiple agencies (self-)touch, therefore the horizon of eco-aesthetic praxis lies in intense dispersals of invitations, thousand tiny touches to touch. These ‘happenings’ may flash through minoritarian apparatuses disposed for the inhuman, territories that intensify response-abilities before a touch happens. Minoritarian apparatus is disposed before the inhuman, it intensifies response-abilites for a touch to happen. ‘We’ don’t see ‘them’, but ‘we’ can feel (by) ‘them’. Other molecular agencies abound, bodies feel their way around. An irreducible curiosity of mattering dwells in-between, within, and without the apparatuses of capture. Touches may come to touch.

[This is what i have attempted, especially in the ongoing we ❤ copper & copper ❤ us. Whether ‘it’ ‘happened’, and to what degree, is not (only) for me to tell.]

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Notes:

  1. As Karen Barad explains, electrically speaking, electrons cannot touch one another, it is only electromagnetic resistance that can be sensed. “Electromagnetic repulsion: negatively charged particles communicating at a distance push each other away” (Barad, 2015: 397).