Quora answer: What’s the relation between affects and intensities in Deleuze and/or Brian Massumi?

Apr 07 2013

See Gilles Deleuze by Claire Colebrook section Affect and Disorganized Perception p. 37-40  also 86, 89, 93-94, 114, 137, 167

What must be understood is that Deleuze is working to create a philosophy at the level of Wild Being, which is very difficult to think. The analogy of Wild Being is the Mandelbrot Set. That set exists in the complex plane, where every point is iterated on with an equation, and the color of the point is set by the acceleration of that recursion to infinity. In the complex plane there is no continuum. Each point in the plane is independent of all others. Yet when we do this recursion on a point in the plane with an equation, we get an acceleration of that point toward infinity which is different from all others around it, and which when colored makes visible a pattern in the region of the set.

So intensity is this acceleration, and the affect is the recursion which gives the effect of the coloration. The acceleration of the point toward infinity via recursion is under our synoptic glance turned into a two dimensional pattern which is infinitely deep and always changing, but always comprehensible as a pattern. The pattern is made up of differences of color from different lines of flight exhibited in the recursion. And recursion is repetition. The rule of Deleuze is that Repetition is that which cannot be repeated. Although the entire ediface of the Mandelbrot set comes from repetition of recursion, because it is infinite it is beyond all our repetitions that produce glimpses of it and make it impossible to repeat again due to minor errors in starting point that would cause different results to be obtained in successive iterations. We wont be able to explore the same Mandelbrot set in exactly the same way twice.

So if we focus on this analogy for Wild Being that Deleuze is trying to approximate, then we can see that affect is recursion, repetition, but the result, i.e. the coloration in principle can only be repeated if we have exactly the same starting point each time. In general the mandelbrot set as a whole is impossible to explore exactly the same way twice unless you leave breadcrums of some sort. It is a maze or rhizome. It is what Castoriadis calls Magma. For Castoriadis there is the Imaginary Institution of Society, where the process of instituting is frozen into the Institution that results. Sartre calls this the ‘fused group’ in Critique of Dialectical Reason. What Colebrook above calls proto-perception where we react viscerally prior to an organized perception and response. This is what is called the genetic gestalt, which has been experimentally shown to be quite different from the resulting gestalt. John S. Hans calls it the Play of the World.

Now it is interesting that Wild Being itself has three manifestations, as Complexnion Mandelbrot set, Quaternion Quaterbrot set, and Octonion Octbrot set. When we think about motion there is stillness, motion, acceleration, acceleration of acceleration, and then jitter. So the motion has to do with our panning about the Mandelbrot set at some level of magnification. What is static is all the isolated points in the complex plane. Acceleration squared appears at the Quaterbrot set level, and jitter at the Octobrot set level. And there are no hypercomplex algebras beyond this and so the series comes to an end.  So not only is there a intensification there are different planes of immanence, which are turned into plains of consistency by our viewing of them through the coloration process.

It is interesting that a lot of what Deleuze and Guattari say can be mapped to the structure of the Mandelbrot and higher sets. And this is because these sets exemplify Wild Being which is chaotic and fractal. Good explanations of this is in Delanda on Deleuze who concentrates on what Deleuze means by the virtual putting it in the context of Complex Systems Theory. Wild Being was defined by Merleau-Ponty in The Visible and Invisible. It is a state of Being beyond Hyper Being, i.e. Differance of Derrida.  Each kind of Being is harder and harder to think, its intelligibility becomes harder to attain. But a few theorists like Deleuze have set out to pose their philosophies at that level of Being. And it turns out that Being itself becomes chaotic, and fractal and exemplifies complex system dynamics at that level of thinking.

Affect concentrates on what Merleau-Ponty calls the chiasm of sensation within perception that renders it opaque to itself. This is the level where everything is reduced to propenities, dispositions, tendencies, etc. And those are the intensities which are the proto-seeds of perceptions and actions that exist in Wild Being as what Freud calls Treib, or Schobenhauer calls Wille. At this level there are only what Melenie Klein calls partial objects, and what Deleuze and Guattari call Desiring machines, and what Foucault calls practices. Actually there are at least four kinds  of these mechanic practices which are desiring, avoiding, disseminating, and absorbing which form a rhizome across bodies within the field of the socius.

Let me recommend: The Multivoiced Body: Society and Communication in the Age of Diversity By Fred Evans


Fred Evans corrects the idea of the Univocal nature of Being in Deleuze which is the weakness of his philosophy and the hidden monolith behind the celebration of diversity that Batille complained about in the Clamor of Being. http://books.google.com/books?id=pzuhRy_aoq8C&lpg=PP1&dq=the%20clamour%20of%20being&pg=PP1#v=onepage&q=the%20clamour%20of%20being&f=false



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