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A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia Paperback – December 21, 1987
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But: should you choose to dive in anyway, you'll need to know a few of the basic concepts first. D&G set up a cosmology (and yes, despite its being a po-mo classic, it IS a work of metaphysics, so don't let your professors tell you it isn't) in which two planes are opposed to each other (although, of course, it's not quite that simple): the Plane of Organization vs. the Plane of Consistency (of multiplicities). The Plane of Organization is basically the entire physical world, including the human cultural world, which D&G term, respectively, assemblages of bodies and assemblages of enunciation (i.e. the semiotic world of the various sign regimes of human culture). It is organized into a series of hierarchical strata, the three main ones being the physico-chemical stratum, the organic (i.e. plant & animal) stratum, and the anthropomorphic (human) stratum. The strata are the means whereby flows (of particles, multiplicities, redundancies, etc.) are captured and organized. But the key to their organization is something which D&G term "Abstract Machines" which function in a sort of similar way to Platonic Ideas. They are embedded in the strata and function as metaphysical principles organizing them.
But in contrast to Plato, these Abstract Machines are not transcendent, but immanent. Yet they do, in a sense, pre-figure the physical world of assemblages, since they function on the metaphysical plane called the Plane of Consistency, where they draw the diagrams that code for the assemblages. On the Plane of Consistency, there are no substances or forms, only Matter and Functions, although by "Matter" they mean what Deleuze meant in "Difference & Repetition" by intensivities, which are various kinds of differential flows of energy (UNCODED flows of energy, that is), such as stretching, speed, temperature, rates of change, etc. These Abstract Machines are then translated into Substances and Forms on the Plane of Organization by means of "machinic assemblages" which effectuate, or realize, them. Substances are formed matter, but matter on the Plane of Consistency is composed of unformed flows or in other words, Bodies Without Organs (once these flows are coded by organs, then they are captured into the organic stratum in an organized way, but on the Plane of Consistency they have no organized form as such). Functions, meanwhile, are like tensors which are effectuated by machinic assemblages into the realm of semiotics.
The strata are organized into both Content and Expression, a double articulation. Both Content and Expression have their own substances and forms, but Content has to do with WHAT kinds of particles, or molecular multiplicities, are assembled together, while Expression has to do with the molar aggregates that result from the morphogenetic processes of formation. Content is concerned with micromolecular multiplicities (that's fun to say), while Expression is concerned with molar multiplicities. Multiplicities, by the way, are the basic ontological unit in D&G, which are held together by assemblages that function in a way not too different from holons.
That's the basic metaphysical model and once you get that, the rest is easy (it took me three read throughs to figure this out). I won't go over rhizomes vs. arborescent models here, since those have been so recycled through the various political literature of the Left (i.e. "Empire") that I will assume the reader's familiarity with them.
And don't forget to check out my YOUTUBE video series on "A Thousand Plateaus" which will come up under the title of DELEUZE & GUATTARI'S A THOUSAND PLATEAUS PART 1 BY JOHN DAVID EBERT 1/2
--John David Ebert, author of "The Age of Catastrophe" and "The New Media Invasion" (McFarland Books, 2011 & 2012)