Literary/Aesthetic Cliché-Probes



The second to jump into the post-McLuhan arena was the publishing enterprise of the New York school of media ecology, SEMIOTEXTE, edited by Sylvere Lotringer (1938-). But with a twist. Ignoring the comprehensive approach of Nevitt, Lotringer (miming willy-nilly the strategies of the postmodern tetrad-managers) savored ambivalently the Menippean surface of the postmodern beachhead and sponsored an anti-postmodern debate between

  • Michel Foucault

[Interviews, 1966-84], 1989),

  • Jean-Francois Lyotard


  • Jean Baudrillard


  • Paul Virilio

(PURE WAR, 1983 and SPEED AND POLITICS: An Essay on Dromology, 1986), and

  • Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari

(ON THE LINE, 1983 and NOMADOLOGY: The War Machine, 1986).

French intellectuals irritated by McLuhan’s iconic status in the postmodern sixties, they danced on the toes of the “culture” side of the McLuhan dialectic by foregrounding “technological” products of the seventies and early eighties and some of their effects.

For example, while rehearsing the Menippean stance of McLuhan, post-nominalist Jean Baudrillard preferred to emphasize how the telematic society bypassed the Global Theater:

“This is our problem, insofar as this electronic encephalization, this miniaturization of circuits and of energy, this transistorization of the environment condemn to futility, to obsolescence and almost to obscenity, all that which once constituted the stage of our lives.” –

Jean Baudrillard,
1988, p.17.

Before, in the late sixties and early seventies, in his quest for a methodology that bypassed the “archetypal” McLuhan, Baudrillard had intuited the tetrad and its phatic, tactile manager (McLuhan’s discovery of the late fifties as the Global Theater was inaugurated):

“From this perspective, in which the production of signs seen as a system of exchange value takes on an entirely different meaning than in the naive utopia of their use value, design and the environmental disciplines can be considered as one of the branches of mass communication, a gigantic ramification of human and social engineering. From this moment on, our true environment is the universe of communication. It is in this that it differs radically from the 19th century concepts of ‘nature’ or of ‘milieu’. While these latter referred to physical, biological (determinism of substance, of heredity and of species) or ‘socio-cultural’ (the ‘milieu’) laws, environment is from the beginning a network of messages and signs, its laws being those of communication.

The environment is the autonomization of the entire universe of practices and forms, from the everyday to the architectural, from the discursive to the gestural and the political, as a sector of operations and calculation, as sending-receiving of messages, as space-time of communication…. Nothing is more false than the limits that a ‘humanistic’ design wishes to fix for itself; in fact, everything belongs to design, everything springs from it, whether it says so or not: the body is designed, sexuality is designed, political, social, human relations are designed, just as are needs and aspirations, etc. This ‘designed’ universe is what properly constitutes the environment….” –

Jean Baudrillard,
1972, pp.200-201.

Later, as the hologrammic effect of the Global Theater “crystallized” and became for Baudrillard “the Object”, he retained McLuhan’s perception of the Menippean character of the tactile interplay of the mixed corporate-media (the “telematic”), which he termed “seduction”:

“Seduction is the world’s elementary dynamic. Gods and men were not separated by the moral chasm of religion: they continuously played the game of mutual seduction; the symbolic equilibrium of the world is founded on these relations of seduction and playfulness. All this has changed significantly for us, at least in appearance. For what has happened to good and evil, to the true and the false, to all these great distinctions which we need to decipher and make sense of our world? All these terms, torn asunder at the cost of unbounded energy, are ready at any moment to extinguish one another, and collapse *to our greatest joy*. Seduction hurls them against one another, and unites them beyond meaning, in a paroxysm of intensity and charm.” –

Ibid., p.59,

and mixed it with the reversibility of McLuhan’s tetrad:

“The principle of reversibility, which is also the one of magic and seduction, requires that all that has been produced must be destroyed, and that which appears must disappear. We have unlearned the art of disappearance (art as such has always been a powerful lever of disappearance – power of illusion and of a denegation of the real). Saturated by the mode of production, we must return to the path of an aesthetic of disappearance. Seduction is party to this: it is that which deviates, that which turns us away from the path, that which makes the real return to the great game of simulacra, which makes things appear and disappear.” –

Ibid., p.71,

and McLuhan’s interest in the phatic

(see the top third of p.8 in Marshall McLuhan [edited by Eugene McNamara], THE INTERIOR LANDSCAPE: The Literary Criticism of Marshall McLuhan, 1969, and the bottom of p.198 in Marshall McLuhan [with Wilfred Watson], FROM CLICHÉ TO ARCHETYPE, 1970):

“If the phatic has become hypertrophied in all our communications systems (i.e., within the media and information processing systems), it is because tele-distance ensures that speech literally no longer has any meaning. One says that one is speaking, but by speaking one is only verifying the network and the fact that one is linked up with it. There is not even an ‘other’ at the other end, for in a simple reciprocation of signals of recognition there is no longer an identifiable transmitter or receiver, but simply two terminals. The one terminal’s signal to the other is merely an indication that something is going through and that, therefore, nothing is happening. Perfect dissuasion.” –

Jean Baudrillard,
SEDUCTION,1990, pp.164-165

(Baudrillard used McLuhan’s old theme of the “rear view mirror” to amplify the above pattern as it affected linguistics:

“Language has no need for ‘contact’: it is *we* who need communication to have a specific ‘contact’ function, precisely because it is eluding us. That is why Jakobson was able to isolate it in his analysis of language, while both the concept and the terms to express it are absent from other cultures. Jakobson’s grid and his axiomatics of communication are contemporaneous with a change in language’s fortune – it is beginning to no longer communicate anything. It has thus become urgent to analytically restore the functional possibility of communication, and in particular the ‘phatic’ function that, in logical terms, is a simple truism: if it speaks, then it speaks. But in effect it no longer speaks, and the discovery of the ‘phatic’ function is symptomatic of the need to inject contact, establish connections, and speak tirelessly simply in order to render language possible. A desperate situation where even simple contact appears wondrous.” –

Ibid., p.164).

With his concept of the “Object”, Baudrillard had again arrived at McLuhan’s doorstep and intuited the pentadic environment

(as spelled out by Frank Zingrone in Volume One, No. 1, of McLuhan Studies [1991], the pentad adds the syncretic, or fusion, factor to the tetrad)

where the digital “Object” subsumes, resumes, and cancels the “designs” of the electronically-based tetrad-manager

(“*The object itself takes the initiative of reversibility*, taking the initiative to seduce and lead astray. Another succession is determinant. It is no longer that of a symbolic order (which requires a subject and a discourse), but the purely arbitrary one of a rule of the game. The game of the world is the game of reversibility. It is no longer the desire of the subject, but the destiny of the object, which is at the center of the world.” –


and ignores the mass’s stance of irony and disconnection. The inevitable fate of Baudrillard’s “silent majorities” requires them to respond by engaging reflexively in Menippean phatic communion (“perfect dissuasion”):

“Yet immanence left to itself is not at all random. It deploys a connection of events or disconnection of events altogether unexpected, *in particular this singular form which combines connecting and disconnecting*, that of the exponential…. Moreover one finds this connected/disconnected form in the mythic form of challenge and seduction, of which we know that it is not a dialectical relation, but an escalating power expressed by a potentialization of the stakes, and not at all by an equilibrium. In seduction we re-encounter this exponential form, this fatal quality whose destiny sometimes chances upon us, as it does for things when they are left to their own devices.” –

Ibid., pp.55-56.

At this point it may serve as a relevant hint to remind the lurker that McLuhan’s “doorstep” always already included Baudrillard’s concept of the “rule of the game” as determinant in the pentadic situation. This is shown in

chapter 24 of Marshall McLuhan, UNDERSTANDING MEDIA: The Extensions of Man, 1964,

where the topic “Games” is given the same definition as “Media” – “the extensions of man” – the only other occasion in the book.

This leads naturally to the work of Michel Foucault. As a figure in the debate presented by Lotringer, Foucault replays the concerns in McLuhan’s writings for the effects of “visual space” during the

Gutenberg Galaxy (1500-1750) and their internalization at the beginning of the

Marconi Galaxy (1850-1950).

“It is not a mode of language, but a hollow that traverses like a great movement all literary languages.” –

Michel Foucault,
FOUCAULT LIVE (Interviews, 1966-84), 1989, p.22.

“My procedure at this moment is of a regressive sort, I would say; I try to assume a greater and greater detachment in order to define the historical conditions and transformations of our knowledge.” –

Ibid., p.79.

McLuhan’s methodology focused on making an inventory of these effects by providing a mosaic of a wide range of activities and notions in diverse fields during a large span of time

(see the “Centennial Metaphor” section in FROM CLICHÉ TO ARCHETYPE, pp.35-41).

The following statements by Foucault illustrate the parallels with McLuhan’s approach:

“It’s why I have tried to make, obviously in a rather particular style, the history not of thought in general but of all that ‘contains thought’ in a culture, of all in which there is thought. For there is thought in philosophy, but also in a novel, in jurisprudence, in law, in an administrative system, in a prison.” –


“I wanted to do an historian’s work by showing the simultaneous functioning of these discourses and the transformations which accounted for their visible changes.” –

Ibid., p.29.

“I wanted to displace it; to analyze the discourses themselves, that is, these discursive practices that are intermediary between words and things; these discursive practices starting from which one can define what are the things and mark out the usage of words.” –

Ibid., p.51.

(In this last quotation, Foucault seeks to make the “interval” of the discursive practices a transparent manifest in the style of McLuhan and Nevitt’s writings.)

“By archeology I would like to designate not exactly a discipline, but a domain of research, which would be the following:

In a society, different bodies of learning, philosophical ideas, everyday opinions, but also institutions, commercial practices and police activities, mores – all refer to a certain implicit knowledge (*savoir*) special to this society. This knowledge is profoundly different from the bodies of learning that one can find in scientific books, philosophical theories, and religious justifications, but it is what makes possible at a given moment the appearance of a theory, an opinion, a practice. Thus, in order for the big centers of internment to be opened at the end of the 17th century, it was necessary that a certain knowledge of madness be opposed to non-madness, of order to disorder, and it’s this knowledge (*savoir*) that I wanted to investigate, as the condition of possibility of knowledge (*connaissance*), of institutions, of practices.” –

Ibid., pp.1-2.

Foucault substitutes *savoir* for McLuhan’s “ground” or “medium”, and *connaissance* for “figure” or “content”. The effect of their interplay Foucault designates as *episteme*:

“When I speak of *episteme*, I mean all those relationships which existed between the various sectors of science during a given epoch. For example, I am thinking of the fact that at a certain point mathematics was used for research in physics, while linguistics or, if you will, semiology, the science of signs, was used by biology (to deal with genetic messages). Likewise the theory of evolution was used by, or served as a model for historians, psychologists, and sociologists of the 19th century. All these phenomena of relationship between the sciences or between the various scientific sectors constitute what I call the *episteme* of an epoch. Thus for me *episteme* has nothing to do with the Kantian categories…. I simply noted that the problem of order (the problem, not the category), or rather the need to introduce an order among series of numbers, human beings, or values, appears simultaneously in many different disciplines in the 17th century. This involves a communication between the diverse disciplines, and so it was that someone who proposed, for example, the creation of a universal language in the 17th century was quite close in terms of procedure to someone who dealt with the problem of how one could catalog human beings. It’s a question of relationships and communication among the various sciences. This is what I call *episteme*, and it has nothing to do with the Kantian categories.” –

Ibid., pp.75-76.

Like McLuhan

(see bottom half of p.31 in Marshall McLuhan [with George Thompson and Harley Parker], COUNTERBLAST, 1969),

Foucault sees this episteme as a cultural “unconscious”:

“Very schematically, it consists of trying to discover in the history of science and of human knowledge (*des connaissances et du savoir humain*) something that would be like its unconscious…. These laws and determinations are what I have tried to bring to light. I have tried to unearth an autonomous domain that would be the unconscious of science, the unconscious of knowledge (*savoir*), that would have its own laws, just as the individual human unconscious has its own laws and determinations.” –

FOUCAULT LIVE, pp.39-40.

“One can say with confidence that we are not speaking of an individual unconscious, in the sense that psychoanalysis generally understands that notion. Yet neither is it a collective unconscious, which would be a kind of collection or reservoir of archetypes at the disposition of everyone. The ‘structural’ unconscious is neither of these things.” –

Ibid., p.81.

“My problem is essentially the definition of the implicit systems in which we find ourselves prisoners; what I would like to grasp is the system of limits and exclusion which we practice without knowing it; I would like to make the cultural unconscious apparent.” –

Ibid., p.71.

Miming Belinda the Hen who found the letter in the middenheap of Finnegans Wake, Foucault plunders the “archive” of what McLuhan designated as visual space to produce an “archeology” of this unconscious:

“… it’s the analysis of discourse in its modality of *archive*.” –

Ibid., p.25.

“This other thing I have called therefore ‘archeology’. And then, retrospectively, it seemed to me that chance has not been too bad a guide: after all, this word ‘archeology’ can almost mean – and I hope I will be forgiven for this – description of the *archive*. I mean by archive the set (*l’ensemble*) of discourses actually pronounced; and this set of discourses is envisaged not only as a set of events which would have taken place once and for all and which would remain in abeyance, in the limbo or purgatory of history, but also as a set that continues to function, to be transformed through history, and to provide the possibility of appearing in other discourses.” –

Ibid., p.45.

This form of pattern-recognition and insight allows Foucault to intuit McLuhan’s tetrad:

“The ‘archive’ appears then as a kind of great practice of discourse, a practice which has its rules, its conditions, its functioning and its effects.

The problems posed by the analysis of this practice are the following:

  1. What are the different particular types of discursive practice that one can find in a given period?

  2. What are the relationships that one can establish between these different practices?

  3. What relationships do they have with non-discursive practices, such as political, social or economic practices?

  4. What are the transformations of which these practices are susceptible? –

Ibid., pp.58-59.

“I’m not looking underneath discourse for the thought of men, but try to grasp discourse in its manifest existence, as a practice that obeys certain rules – of formation, existence, co-existence – and systems of functioning. It is this practice, in its consistency and almost in its materiality, that I describe.” –

Ibid., p.46.

“I have tried to do something else, to show that in a discourse, as in natural history, there were rules of formation for objects (which are not the rules of utilization of words), rules of formation for concepts (which are not the laws of syntax), rules of formation for theories (which are neither deductive nor rhetorical rules). These are the rules put into operation through a discursive practice at a given moment that explain why a certain thing is seen (or omitted); why it is envisaged under such an aspect and analyzed at such a level; why such a word is employed with such a meaning and in such a sentence. Consequently, the analysis starting from things and the analysis starting from words appear at this moment as secondary in relation to a prior analysis, which would be the discursive analysis.” –

Ibid., p.52.

“I tried to define the transformations: to show the discoveries, inventions, changes of perspective and theoretical upheavals that could occur starting from a certain system of regularities.” –

Ibid., p.54.

Knowing that the “materiality” of visual space continues to circulate in the contemporary mixed-media dance, Foucault, like McLuhan, uses a Menippean strategy by presenting the past (“visual space”) as a probe of the present:

“Placing himself at the exterior of the text, he [the contemporary critic] constitutes a new exterior for it, writing texts out of texts.” –

Ibid., p.21.

“I try to show, based upon their historical establishment and formation, those systems which are still ours today and within which we are trapped. It is a question, basically, of presenting a critique of our own time, based upon retrospective analyses.” –

Ibid., p.64.

“My book is a pure and simple ‘fiction’: it’s a novel, but it’s not I who invented it; it is the relationship between our period and its epistemological configuration and this mass of statements.” –

Ibid., p.20.

“My title THE ORDER OF THINGS was perfectly ironic. No one saw it clearly; doubtlessly because there wasn’t enough play in my text for the irony to be sufficiently visible.” –

Ibid., p.51.

“I dream of the intellectual destroyer of evidence and universalities, the one who, in the inertias and constraints of the present, locates and marks the weak points, the openings, the lines of power, who incessantly displaces himself, doesn’t know exactly where he is heading nor what he’ll think tomorrow because he is too attentive to the present;…” –

Ibid., p.155.

Also, Foucault defines his strategy apropos of the “game” quality of present-day cultural generation and regeneration

(see the first ten lines at the top of p.174 in THE MEDIUM AND THE LIGHT, 1999):

“To make a truly unavoidable challenge of the question: what can we make work, what new game can we invent?” –

Foucault, FOUCAULT LIVE, p.209.

And he presents this with an emphasis, like McLuhan, on a fuller understanding of “techne”:

“The disadvantage of this word *techne*, I realize, is its relation to the word ‘technology’, which has a very specific meaning. A very narrow meaning is given to ‘technology’: one thinks of hard technology, the technology of wood, of fire, of electricity. Whereas government is also a function of technology: the government of individuals, the government of souls, the government of the self by the self, the government of families, the government of children, and so on. I believe that if one placed the history of architecture back in this general history of *techne*, in this wide sense of the word, one would have a more interesting guiding concept than by considering opposition between the exact sciences and the inexact ones.” –

Ibid., pp.276-277

(see LETTERS OF MARSHALL McLUHAN, Selected and edited by Matie Molinaro, Corinne McLuhan, and William Toye, 1987, last paragraph on p.461 and first paragraph on p.541).

Other examples of their similar interests and tentative conclusions about the effects of the Gutenberg Galaxy:

  1. “Hence two problems. Power – how does it work? Is it enough that it imposes strong prohibitions in order to function effectively? And does it always move from above to below and from the center to the periphery? –


(see “From the time I came back from Fordham I was studying the corporate and political world, and paying very little attention to media.” – LETTERS, p.505, and pp.4, 5, 15, 20, 60, 80, 129, 145, 182, 213, 217, 231, 255, 259, 263, and 268 in Marshall McLuhan [with Barrington Nevitt], TAKE TODAY: The Executive as Dropout, 1972).

  1. “Sex was, in Christian societies, that which had to be examined, watched over, confessed and transformed into discourse.” –


“In any case, what I would like to study for my part, are all of these mechanisms in our society which invite, incite and force us to speak about sex.” –

Ibid., p.139

(see “The theme of sex happens to be funny at the moment because sex is dead. Vietnam is *not* dead and, therefore, it is not funny.” – Marshall McLuhan, letter to Playboy Magazine, December, 1969 or January, 1970, p.24. And see interview with McLuhan in Miss Chatelaine Magazine, September 3, 1974, pp.58-59, 82-87, 90-91).

  1. “I tried to pose another problem: to discover the system of thought, the form of rationality, which since the end of the 18th century has underlain the idea that the prison is in sum the best means, one of the most efficient and most rational, to punish infractions in a society.” –


(see THE MEDIUM IS THE MASSAGE, 1967, p.61, and McLUHAN, HOT & COOL: a primer for the understanding of & a critical symposium with a rebuttal by McLuhan, edited by Gerald Emanuel Stearn, 1967, p.300 [bottom third on p.290 of paperback], and Marshall McLuhan, CULTURE IS OUR BUSINESS, 1970, p.332).

  1. “What I tried to do was a history of the relationships that thought maintains with the truth, the history of thought insofar as it is thought about the truth. All those who say that for me the truth doesn’t exist are simple-minded.” –


“I have sought to analyze how fields like madness, sexuality and delinquence could enter into a certain play of the truth, and how on the other hand, through this insertion of human practice and behavior into the play of the truth, the subject himself is effected.” –

Ibid., p.310

(see bottom third of p.163 in FROM CLICHÉ TO ARCHETYPE, and top of p.388 and middle of p.492 in LETTERS).

  1. “In the first place, I don’t think there is actually a sovereign, founding subject, a universal form of subject that one could find everywhere. I am very sceptical and very hostile toward this conception of the subject. I think on the contrary that the subject is constituted through practices of subjection, or, in a more anonymous way, through practices of liberation, of freedom, as in Antiquity, starting of course from a certain number of rules, styles and conventions that are found in the culture.” –


“I would call subjectivization the process through which results the constitution of a subject, or more exactly, of a subjectivity which is obviously only one of the given possibilities of organizing a consciousness of self.” –

Ibid., p.330

(see p.458 in LETTERS, and Chapter One in LAWS OF MEDIA).

Ignoring the technological causes of visual space as proposed by McLuhan, ironically Foucault still finds the same patterns of cultural effects in his inventories.

However, isolating and highlighting the effects of military technologies and organization that accompanied the Revolutionary circumstances in France at the end of the eighteenth century, Paul Virilio chooses to archetypalize the kinetic vectors in McLuhan’s historical phase of “visual space” (the period of the phonetic alphabet up to and through the Gutenberg Galaxy and stopping at the inauguration of the Marconi Galaxy)

(see pp.241-243 in THE GUTENBERG GALAXY: The Making of Typographic Man, 1962, first half of p.136 in FROM CLICHE TO ARCHETYPE, and p.31 in TAKE TODAY)

as the *primum mobile* and primary effect in the history of Western media up to the electric telegraph and other contemporary accelerations of the Industrial Revolution:

“Commerce comes after the arrival of war in a place, the state of siege, the organization of a *glacis* around an inhabitated area, etc. It doesn’t need the city – the city in the sense of sedentariness, the mineralization of a building. Mercantilism is even the opposite of sedentariness: it’s the stop-over, the rest between two flows.”

Paul Virilio and Sylvere Lotringer,
PURE WAR, 1983, p.5

(see middle of p.343, Marshall McLuhan, UNDERSTANDING MEDIA: The Extensions of Man, 1964 [all page numbers for this text refer to the MIT edition, 1994]).

“But no one yet suspected that ‘the conquest of the freedom to come and go’ so dear to Montaigne could, by a sleight of hand, become an *obligation to mobility*. The ‘mass uprising’ of 1793 was the institution of the first *dictatorship of movement*, subtley replacing the *freedom of movement* of the early days of the revolution.”

Paul Virilio,
SPEED AND POLITICS: An Essay on Dromology, 1986, p.30.

“The military class, making sure to keep the proletariat under control, will thus allow it the illusion of being able to dominate, to submerge the bourgeois fortress.”

Ibid., p.97.

“The time has come, it seems, to face the facts: revolution is movement, but movement is not a revolution. Politics is only a gear-shift, and revolution only its overdrive: war as ‘*continuation* of politics by other means’ would be instead a police *pursuit* at greater speed, with other vehicles.”

Ibid., p.18.

“Military science, like History, is but a persistent perception of the kinetics of vanished bodies; inversely, bodies can appear as vehicles of history, as its dynamic vectors. Napoleon the Third claimed that ‘for the man of war, the ability to remember is science itself.’”

Ibid., p.34.

Subsequently, Virilio notices a change at the dawn of the Marconi Revolution and whereas before he could substitute *glacis* for McLuhan’s “ground” or “medium”, and the latest weapon for “figure” or “content”, now he sees the implosion of their dialectical interplay. This post-kinetic, or proprioceptive and tactile, condition Virilio designates as the “Total War” stage of the “dromocratic revolution”, his phrase for the phases of his archetypalized “speed”

(see bottom of p.77 and top of p.78, middle of p.170, and bottom of p.257 in TAKE TODAY):

“For ten years I looked for elements of the ‘European Fortress’, and that’s how I became aware of the space of war, of the spatial dimension of Total War.”

Virilio and Lotringer,
PURE WAR, p.2.

“In fact, history progresses at the speed of its weapons systems.”


“Let’s not forget that World War One was the first truly technical war in Europe (in the United States, of course, there had been the Civil War, which was already a Total War).”

Virilio and Lotringer,

(see Marshall McLuhan and Quentin Fiore, WAR AND PEACE IN THE GLOBAL VILLAGE: An Inventory of Some of the Current Spastic Situations that Could Be Eliminated by More Feedforward, 1968, p.36).

In the “Cold War” phase of Total War

(see Chapter 6, “Old Wars and New Overkill”, of TAKE TODAY, pp.149-185, where McLuhan and Nevitt anticipate many of the themes Virilio raises),

kinetic energy becomes an obligatory, programmed art form for the tetrad-manager in Virilio’s “military class”:

“*After the war of the domestic market, the war of the military market*. It is no longer a system of consumption/production aiming at a democratic alliance, but the system of objects seeking to directly elect the military class or, more accurately, a technological and industrial development in the area of weaponry.”

Virilio, SPEED AND POLITICS, p.128.

“Once more, the market was created not by the object of consumption but by its vector of delivery!”

Ibid., p.109.

“In short, the revolutionary figure of the worker, sketched less by the industrial system than by the military one, fills the kinetic disparity between slow war and rapid war. The ‘full steam ahead through the mud’ of the nihilist Nechaiev, apostle of systematized terrorist warfare, is not a rhetorical figure but a serious technological proposition: compensate for the distortion born of the destructive assault’s necessary brevity by accelerating the rhythm of attacks. Historical evolution is then kept moving literally *by a combustion engine*!”

Ibid., p.113.

“With the supersonic vector (airplane, rocket, airwaves), penetration and destruction become one. The instantaneousness of action at a distance corresponds to the defeat of the unprepared adversary, but also, and especially, to the defeat of the world as a field, as distance, as matter.”

Ibid., p.133.

“*Citizen Kane*, the most accomplished product of American civic culture (later baptised ‘pop-culture’!), is less William Randolph Hearst, the newspaper magnate who served as Orson Welles’ model, than Howard Hughes, the invisible citizen. Hearst still delivered information; Hughes was content to speculate indifferently on whatever delivered it. He singlehandedly constituted the most radical critique of Fuller’s and McLuhan’s global theories. This completely desocialized man, who vanished from the earth, who avoided human contact for fear of germs, who was terrified by the very breath of his rare visitors, nonetheless thought only of the media, from the aerospace industry to the cinema, from gasoline to airfields, from casinos to the star system, from the design of Jane Russell’s bra to that of a bomber. His existence could be considered exemplary. Hughes cared only about that which passes in transit. His life rebounded from one vector to another, as has, for two hundred years, the power of the American nation he adored. Nothing else interested him. He died in the open sky, in an airplane.”

Ibid., pp.108-109.

“To the heavy model of the hemmed-in bourgeoisie, to the single schema of the weighty Marxist *mobil-machung* (ostensibly planned control of the movement of goods, persons, ideas), the West has long opposed the diversity of its logistical hierarchy, the utopia of a national wealth invested in automobiles, travel, movies, performances… A capitalism that has become one of jet-sets and instant-information banks, actually a whole *social illusion* subordinated to the strategy of the cold war. Let’s make no mistake: whether it’s the drop-outs, the beat generation, automobile drivers, migrant workers, tourists, olympic champions or travel agents, the military-industrial democracies have made every social category, without distinction, into *unknown soldiers of the order of speeds* – speeds whose hierarchy is controlled more and more each day by the State (headquarters), from the pedestrian to the rocket, from the metabolic to the technological.”

Ibid., pp.119-120

(see bottom of p.170 in TAKE TODAY and pp.110-111 in the Spring, 1971 issue of Explorations [insert in University of Toronto’s Varsity Graduate], No.30, titled The Hijacking of Cities, Nations, Planets in the Age of Spaceship Earth, written by Marshall McLuhan).

“In the 1960s a mutation occurs: *the passage from wartime to the war of peacetime*, to that *total peace* that others still call ‘peaceful coexistence’. The blindness of the speed of means of communicating destruction is not a liberation from geopolitical servitude, but the extermination of space as the field of freedom of political action. We only need refer to the necessary controls and constraints of the railway, airway or highway infrastructures to see the fatal impulse: the more speed increases, the faster freedom decreases.

The apparatus’ self-propulsion finally entails the self-sufficiency of automation. What happens in the example of the racecar driver, who is no more than a worried lookout for the catastrophic probabilities of his movement, is reproduced on the political level as soon as conditions require an action in real time.”


(see middle of p.149 in TAKE TODAY).

In the resonance of Total War/Total Peace

(see middle of p.83 and pp.158-159 in TAKE TODAY)

Virilio sees consequences for diverse practical areas of social and economic life similar to those noted by McLuhan:

  1. “The union functions, relayed by mob associations, are entirely supplanting the administration and services of the old bourgeois employer. Order reigns in the Bronx thanks to the Mafia, which is itself becoming international, aiming now at a direct collaboration with the military class, as was revealed by a recent scandal that called into question the relations between the Israeli generals and members of international crime.

    … The military class, increasingly distanced from its bourgeois partner, abandons the street, the highway, those outmoded vectors, to the small and middle-sized business of the protection rackets. The city unions in New York are starting to replace their members’ productive activity with simple crisis management, by becoming administrators and bankers.”


(see pp.49, 94, and 211 in TAKE TODAY).

  1. “It is enough to hear the speeches of today’s Chinese leaders about ‘consumer goods’ to know that the old thinker [Mao – ed.] did no more than delay the institution in China of the West’s fearsome system of intensive growth, and whether it is conveyed by orthodox Marxism or liberalism is of little import!”


(see p.3 in the May/June, 1970, issue of The McLuhan DEW-LINE, Volume 2, No.6, titled An Interview: McLuhan on Russia).

  1. “The pacifists of the 1930’s opposed real war, a war inscribed in its practical execution. Pacifists today oppose the tendency toward war, in other words *the war for preparation for war*. Not a hypothetical war which could begin in France, China or elsewhere, but war as scientific and technological preparation.”

Virilio and Lotringer,
PURE WAR, p.139

(see p.152 and middle of p.153 in TAKE TODAY, and last sentence of first paragraph of p.37 in UNDERSTANDING MEDIA).

  1. “In any case, the apocalypse is here. It could happen at any moment, but the interesting argument is that apocalypse is hidden in development itself, in the development of arms – that is, in the non-development of society.”

Virilio and Lotringer,
PURE WAR, p.139

(see last sentence of penultimate paragraph of p.153 in TAKE TODAY).

  1. “The military class is turning into an internal super-police. Moreover, it’s logical. In the strategy of deterrence, military institutions, no longer fighting among themselves, tend to fight only civilian societies – with, of course, a few skirmishes in the Third World (the role of the police played here and there by Europe – particularly France, and elsewhere by the United States at the time of Vietnam.)”

Virilio and Lotringer,
PURE WAR, p.94

(see last sentence of p.31 in TAKE TODAY, p.138 in THE MEDIUM IS THE MASSAGE, and penultimate paragraph of McLuhan’s op-ed column in The New York Times, September 23, 1976).

  1. “In a social configuration whose precarious equilibrium is threatened by any ill-considered initiative, security can henceforth be likened to the absence of movement. The extended proletarianization of the suppression of wills can be likened to the suppression of gestures, for which the rise in unemployment is the best and most obvious image. We redistribute social work; we spotlight the performances of the physically and mentally handicapped, their records in olympics for the disabled; we impose the new belief that a body’s inability to move is not really a serious problem.”


(see p.33 and middle of p.261 in TAKE TODAY).

  1. “For in reality, Walesa is the priest’s man. He’s not so much a union leader as a man of faith recognized by the Pope. Glemp-Walesa form a couple and the warrior, Jaruzelski, stands alone. Thus, the conflict is between two supremacies: an imperialistic and military supremacy (Jaruzelski’s) and an imperialism in the cosmic or mythical sense, which is Catholicism. If we look at recent events, the fall of Lebanon, the fall of Iran – how is it that hyper-powerful armies such as Iran’s, or at least solid ones such as Lebanon’s, could suddenly fall, with almost no resistance? Because they crumbled precisely from within, because of a religious conflict…. Thus, in my opinion, the Polish affair is especially original in the importance it gives the religious question with respect to the military question.”

Virilio and Lotringer,
PURE WAR, pp.150-151

(see the second column on p.33 in McLuhan’s ‘80s: Living at the speed of light, MacLean’s, January 7, 1980).

  1. “The moon and the stars are all part of the Western imperialist illusion: ‘The world is not finite, we have conquered America, tomorrow we’ll conquer the moon, etc., etc….’ It’s absurd.”

Virilio and Lotringer,
PURE WAR, p.71

(see bottom of p.126 and top of p.127 in WAR AND PEACE IN THE GLOBAL VILLAGE).

  1. “Speed allows for progress in space, only progress in space has been identified with progress in time, in history. And that is really an abuse of language. We know very well that progress in space is not necessarily progress in time. The fact of going faster from Paris to New York doesn’t make the exchanges any better. It makes them shorter. But the shortest is not necessarily the best. There again it’s the same illusory ideology that when the world is reduced to nothing and we have everything at hand, we’ll be infinitely happy.”

Virilio and Lotringer,
PURE WAR, pp.68-69

(see last paragraph of p.110 in TAKE TODAY).

  1. “This is why the airport today has become the new city. At Dallas-Fort Worth they serve thirty million passengers a year. At the end of the century there will be one hundred million. People are no longer citizens, they’re passengers in transit. They’re in circum-navigation.”

Virilio and Lotringer,
PURE WAR, p.64.

  1. “For a long time the city existed just where it was. Paris was in Paris and Rome in Rome. There was a territorial and geographical inertia. Now there’s an inertia in time, a *polar* inertia, in the sense that the pole is simultaneously an absolute place (for the metaphor), absolute inertia which is geographically locatable, and also an absolute inertia in the planet’s movement. We’re heading toward a situation in which every city will be in the same place – in time. There will be a kind of co-existence, and probably not a very peaceful one, between these cities which have kept their distance in space, but which will be telescoped in time. When we can go to the antipodes in a second or a minute, what will remain of the city? What will remain of us? The difference of sedentariness in geographical space will continue, but real life will be led in a polar inertia.”

Virilio and Lotringer,
PURE WAR, pp.61-62

(see pp.33-37 in Edmund Carpenter, ESKIMO REALITIES, 1973, p.72 in THE MEDIUM IS THE MASSAGE, pp.23-25 [pp.38-40 in paperback], top of p.280 [bottom of p.272 in paperback] in McLUHAN: HOT & COOL, last sentence of p.156 in TAKE TODAY).

  1. “We must take hold of the riddle of technology and lay it on the table as the ancient philosophers and scientists put the riddle of Nature out in the open, the two being superimposed.”

Virilio and Lotringer,
PURE WAR, p.30

(see pp.429 and 431 in LETTERS).

  1. “I’m saying that there’s work to be done, the epistemo-technical work we were talking about before, in order to re-establish politics, at a time when technology no longer portions out matter and geographical space (as was the case in ancient democratic society), but when technology portions out time – and I would say: the depletion of time.”

Virilio and Lotringer,
PURE WAR, p.28

(see McLuhan and Nevitt’s op-ed column in The New York Times, September 21, 1974),

  1. “No, but in fact, the Second World War never ended. Legally, furthermore, it’s not finished. It hasn’t been put out. There is no state of peace. It isn’t over because it continued in Total Peace, that is in war pursued by other means. You know Clausewitz’s statement: ‘War is politics by other means’. I would say that the Total Peace of deterrence is Total War pursued by other means.”

Virilio and Lotringer,
PURE WAR, p.25

(see middle of p.152 and headline at top of p.153 in TAKE TODAY).

As the Cold War is eclipsed, Virilio intuits the pentadic stage for the global military class where the Present is necessarily programmed as an art form:

“If over thirty years ago the nuclear explosive completed the cycle of *spatial wars*, at the end of this century the implosive (beyond politically and economically invaded territories) inaugurates *the war of time*. In full peaceful coexistence, without any declaration of hostilities, and more surely than by any other kind of conflict, rapidity delivers us from this world. We have to face the facts: today, speed is war, the last war.”


“History as the extensiveness of time – of time that lasts, is portioned out, organized, developed – is disappearing in favor of the instant, as if the end of history were the end of duration in favor of instantaneousness, and of course, of ubiquity.”

PURE WAR, p.46.

“What we call *azimuthal equidistant projection* is the geography of time. Geography of the day by speed, and no longer a geography of the meteorological day. Already now, when you come back to Paris from Los Angeles or New York at certain times of the year, you can see, through the window, passing over the pole, the setting sun and the rising sun. You have dawn and dusk in a single window. These stereoscopic images show quite well the beyond of the geographical city and the advent of human concentration in travel time. This city of the beyond is the City of Dead Time.”

Ibid., p.6.

“We thus find ourselves facing this dilemma:

The threat of use (the second component) of the nuclear arm prohibits the terror of actual use (the third component). But for this threat to remain and allow the strategy of deterrence, we are forced to develop the threatening system that characterizes the first component: the *ill omen of the appearance of new performances for the means of communicating destruction*. Stated plainly, this is the perpetual sophistication of combat means and the replacement of the geostrategic breakthrough by the technological breakthrough, the great logistical maneuvers.”


(see first paragraph of p.31 in COUNTERBLAST, and the penultimate paragraph of p.156 in TAKE TODAY).

“… The continental translation that, curiously enough, we find both in the geophysician Wegener, with the drift of land masses, and in Mackinder, with the geopolitical amalgam of lands, has given way to a world-wide phenomenon of terrestrial and technological contraction that today makes us penetrate into an artificial topological universe: *the direct encounter of every surface on the globe.*

The ancient inter-city duel, war between nations, the permanent conflict between naval empires and continental powers have all suddenly disappeared, giving way to an unheard-of opposition: *the juxtaposition of every locality, all matter*. The planetary mass becomes no more than a ‘critical mass’, a precipitate resulting from the extreme reduction of contact time, a fearsome friction of places and elements that only yesterday were still distinct and separated by a buffer of distances, which have suddenly become anachronistic. In The Origin of Continents and Oceans, published in 1915, Alfred Wegener writes that in the beginning *the earth can only have had but one face*, which seems likely, given the capacities for interconnection. In the future the earth will have but one interface…

If speed thus appears as the essential fall-out of styles of conflicts and cataclysms, the current ‘arms race’ is in fact only *’the arming of the race’ toward the end of the world as distance, in other words, as a field of action*.”


“At the close of our century, *the time of the finite world is coming to an end*; we live in the beginnings of a paradoxical *miniaturization of action*, which others prefer to baptize *automation*.” – Ibid., p.140.

“… Contraction in time, the disappearance of the territorial space, after that of the fortified city and armor, leads to a situation in which the notions of ‘before’ and ‘after’ designate only the future and the past in a form of war that causes the ‘present’ to disappear in the instantaneousness of decision.”

Ibid., pp.140-141

(see last sentence of p.94 in TAKE TODAY).

“Here we have the fearsome telescoping of elements born of the ‘amphibious generations’; the extreme proximity of parties *in which the immediacy of information immediately creates the crisis*; the frailty of reasoning power, which is but the effect of a miniaturization of action – the latter resulting from the miniaturization of space as a field of action.

An imperceptible movement on a computer keyboard, or one made by a ‘skyjacker’ brandishing a cookie box covered with masking tape, can lead to a catastrophic chain of events that until recently was inconceivable. We are too willing to ignore the fact that, alongside the threat of proliferation resulting from the acquisition of nuclear explosives by irresponsible parties, there is a proliferation of the threat resulting from the vectors that cause those who own or borrow them to become just as irresponsible.”


(see pp.149-151 in TAKE TODAY, and p.334 in CULTURE IS OUR BUSINESS).

So, since he doesn’t ignore McLuhan as much as Foucault does, Virilio is able to forge a larger canvas which perceptively rebuilds and expands on the house that McLuhan constructed for clarifying political anti-environments to the global warlords.

Turning to Jean-Francois Lyotard, we find a writer who, paralleling McLuhan, celebrates non-specialist perception in art as the appropriate political mentor for revealing the crude maintenance of the centralized, industrial, hardware environment in the face of the services (not the disservices) of contemporary fragmented poly-sensuality, the product of a tactile, decentralized, software environment that Lyotard calls “drift”:

“… Everyone knows that socialism is identical with kapitalism. Any critique, far from transcending the latter, reinforces it. What destroys it is the drift of desire, the withdrawal of cathexis, not at all where the economists look for it (the kapitalists’ reluctance to invest), but the libidinal relinquishment of the system of kapital and of all its poles, is the fact that for millions of young people (irrespective of their social origin), desire no longer invests the kapitalist set-up; is that they no longer consider themselves or behave as a labor-power to be valorized with a view to exchanges, i.e. consumption, is that they locate what kapital persists in naming work, modern life, consumption, nation, family, State, ownership, profession, education, all ‘values’ that they perceive as so many parodies of the one and only value, the exchange-value. *That* is a drift, affecting all civilizations on a worldwide scale.”

Jean-Francois Lyotard,
DRIFTWORKS, 1984, p.14

(see middle of p.84 and pp.259-261 in TAKE TODAY, penultimate paragraph in the letter to H. A. Innis on p.222 in LETTERS, and p.224 in ESSENTIAL McLUHAN, edited by Eric McLuhan and Frank Zingrone, 1995 [all page numbers for this text refer to the House of Anansi edition]).

“Driftworks in the plural, for the question is not of leaving *one* shore, but several, simultaneously; what is at work is not one current, pushing and tugging, but different drives and tractions

(see last paragraph of p.4 in UNDERSTANDING MEDIA, and last sentence of p.56 in THE MEDIUM IS THE MASSAGE).

Nor is just one individual *embarking* here, or even a collective of individuals, but rather, as in Bosch’s Ship, a collection of fools, each fool being an exaggerated part of the normal subject

(see bottom third of p.155 in FROM CLICHE TO ARCHETYPE, and last page of Edmund Carpenter [with Ken Heyman and Marshall McLuhan], THEY BECAME WHAT THEY BEHELD, 1970),

libido cathected in such and such a sector of the body

(see first 14 lines of p.124 in FROM CLICHE TO ARCHETYPE),

blocked up in this or that configuration of desire

(see last paragraph of p.13 in Ibid.),

all these fragments placed next to each other (the category of *neben*!) for an aimless voyage

(see p.100 in THE MEDIUM IS THE MASSAGE, and the middle of the second column of the last page of THEY BECAME WHAT THEY BEHELD),

a collection of fragments impossible to unify for it drifts with the Ship

(see last sentence of p.173 in TAKE TODAY),

its very drift giving the advantage of the strongest resonance now to one *Trieb*-fool, now to another, in accordance with the diversity of the times and sceneries wafted through

(see last sentence of first paragraph of p.145 in Ibid.).

Not at all a dislocated body, since there has never been anything but pieces of the body and there will never be a body, this wandering collection being the very affirmation of the non-body

(see middle of p.144 in Ibid.).

The plural, the collection of singularities, are precisely what power, kapital, the law of value, personal identity, the ID card, responsibility, the family and the hospital are bent on repressing.”


(see p.109 and pp.238-239 in TAKE TODAY, especially concerning medical institutions).

“And we don’t want to destroy kapital because it isn’t rational, but because it is. Reason and power are one and the same thing. You may disguise the one with dialectics or prospectiveness, but you will still have the other in all its crudeness: jails, taboos, public weal, selection, genocide.”


(see pp.78-83, 211, and 213 in TAKE TODAY, and Marshall McLuhan’s Forward to Donald DeMarco, ABORTION IN PERSPECTIVE: The Rose Palace or the Fiery Dragon, 1974, pp.iv-v).

Lyotard continues McLuhan’s project of pointing out that the artist’s traditional anti-environmental role has been replaced by the Global Theater’s programmed tactile environment

(see p.224 in ESSENTIAL McLUHAN):

“The poet who does no more than ‘express himself’ is completely bound by his phantasy, and being always bound by the same elements, he is not a poet. He produces a falsely figural text, the figural traces of which are but those of his phantasies.”


(see bottom third of p.11 in THE INTERIOR LANDSCAPE, and bottom of pp.58 and 204 in FROM CLICHE TO ARCHETYPE).

“Such are thus the fundamental modes of the connivance that desire establishes with figurality: transgression of the object, transgression of form, transgression of space.”


(see last sentence of p.205 in FROM CLICHE TO ARCHETYPE).

But Lyotard reveals his awareness, as McLuhan also never stopped reminding us in his printed presentations, that his project’s translation into print requires a corrective maneuver vis-a-vis the printed form:

“The drift must go beyond the anchorage where this book arbitrarily interrupts it. If reason, which has been handed over to the air-conditioned totalitarianism of the very disputatious end of this century, is not to be relied upon, then its great tool, its very main-spring, its provision of infinite progress, its fertile negativity, its pains and toiling – i.e. critique – shouldn’t be given credit either. Let it be said very clearly: it is untrue that a political, philosophical, artistic position is relinquished through *sublation*; it is untrue that the experiencing of a position entails the complete development of its content, its exhaustion, and thus its transcrescence into another position which preserves-suppresses it, it is untrue that, in experience and discourse, the occupation of a position necessarily leads to its critique and impels you to adopt a new position which will negatively include the former one and sublate it. This description of the dialectic of Spirit by Hegel, is also that of the capitalist’s getting richer and richer by Adam Smith, it is the good student’s vision of life, it is in addition the thick string on which the political jumping-jacks hang their promises of happiness and with which they strangle us.”

Lyotard, DRIFTWORKS, pp.11-12

(see last sentence of p.190 in WAR AND PEACE IN THE GLOBAL VILLAGE, and first sentence of Marshall McLuhan’s Forward to the 1972 edition of Harold A. Innis, EMPIRE AND COMMUNICATIONS, p.v).

“What is forgotten in dialectic is that one forgets and that forgetting implies the preservation of everything, memory being but a selection.”


(see bottom of p.viii, and pp.100-101 in LAWS OF MEDIA).

Similarly to McLuhan’s emphasis on the arts as meteorology, Lyotard advocates studying the arts as “figures” revealing the contours and rim-spins of the new pressures, or “ground”-shifts:

“Something is always happening in the arts – now the theater, now painting, or music, or the cinema (the latter being more directly placed on the orbit of kapital, however) – which incandesces the embers glowing in the depths of society. It is depressive and nihilistic to consider the region of unreality where the forms flare up as a mere deportation camp or as a cozy shelter for irresponsible elements, socially neutralized, hence politically null; the opposite is to be understood, namely that ‘artists’ want society as a whole to reach this unreality, want the repression and suppression of libidinal intensities by the so-called seriousness, which is only the torpescence of kapitalist paranoia, to be lifted everywhere, and show how to do it by working and removing the most elementary obstacles, those opposing to desire the *No* of the alleged reality, the perception of times, spaces, colors, volumes.”

DRIFTWORKS, pp.15-16

(see Marshall McLuhan [with Harley Parker], THROUGH THE VANISHING POINT: Space in Poetry and Painting, 1968, pp.29-31).

But such study is not guided by the specialized critic, in any field:

“Critique as well is a selective activity:… This activity is deeply rational, deeply consistent with the system. Deeply reformist: the critic remains in the sphere of the criticized, he belongs to it, he goes beyond one term of the position but doesn’t alter the position of terms. And deeply hierarchical: where does his power over the criticized come from? he *knows* better? he is the teacher, the educator? he is therefore universality, the University, the State, the City, bending over childhood, nature, singularity, shadiness, to reclaim them? The confessor and God helping the sinner save his soul? This benign reformism is wholly compatible with the preservation of the authoritarian relationship. Multiplying the overturns and reversals leads nowhere. The transforming activity is underhandedly privileged in all this repair shop machinery, which is the reason why the ultra-leftist revolutionary groups and micro-groups have failed: they had to display their maleness, their brawn, they had to keep the initiative. But the same idea of efficiency drives the bosses – high-level bureaucrats, business executives, decision-makers and officers. Do not say that unlike them, *we* know the desire of the ‘masses’ (the criticized object): no one knows it, for desire baffles knowledge and power. He who pretends to know it is indeed the educator, the priest, the prince. Nothing will have changed, therefore, if while claiming to serve the desire of the masses you act according to your alleged knowledge and assume their *direction*. Where do you criticize from? Don’t you see that criticizing is still knowing, knowing better? That the critical relation still falls within the sphere of knowledge, of ‘realization’ and thus of the assumption of power? Critique must be drifted out of. Better still: *Drifting is in itself the end of all critique.*



Just as McLuhan discovered tactility as the prime component in most of the arts of the twentieth century, so Lyotard features those artists who mime tactility, which he names the “figural”, as of primary political importance:

“In fact, the criteria of reality are those of communication – objects are real to the extent that they are communicable on two levels: on the level of language and on that of practice. It is obvious, although not always explicitly stated, that Freud considers reality to be fundamentally social, while he at the same time always keeps it in quotation marks. This reality is the little, even the very little ‘reality’. Which means that this bound set of perceptions, signifiable in words, exchangeable by gestures, has gaps, is lacunary; there are regions that remain outside reach, that cannot be approached, that are utterly unrecognized. There are words that are unpronounceable because they lack ‘signification’, perceptions that are impossible, things that cannot be seen: thus, there are screens. This is the aspect I would call ‘Dada-reality’: reality insofar as the fabric that holds it together is missing. It is obviously in these regions where something is lacking, either the transformative experience or the words to exchange (because they are impossible to say), that works of art can take place. Figures, in Freudian terms, (not only image-figures in the plastic sense, but also three or one-dimensional figures; a movement can be a figure, so can a music) – that is to say objects that do not exist according to the two criteria just stated, that are not transformable, or at least whose reality is not measurable by their transformability – are essentially not linguistically communicable. (The commonplaces I am running through rapidly underlie Freud’s characterization of dreams and the primary process, even if they are not explicitly stated.) These objects can be characterized as figures precisely to the extent that they belong to an order of sense – to an order of existence – which is neither that of language, nor of practical transformation. I tentatively suggest calling this order an order of figure, not in the sense of figurative, but in a sense I would like to call figural.”

DRIFTWORKS, pp.69-70

(see top of p.95 in “The Emperor’s Old Clothes”, an essay by Marshall McLuhan in VISION + VALUE SERIES, Gyorgy Kepes, ed., 1966, and bottom of p.199 and top of p.200 in FROM CLICHE TO ARCHETYPE).

“What struck me in May 1968 was this: something happened precisely to the extent that this type of discourse, if it kept on being produced, at least had absolutely no relation whatsoever with the real unsettling of things; it even had an inverse relation to it. The people who believed in their own political awareness continued to hold this kind of discourse, and it was easy to see that their utterances, very far from promoting the real transformation of things, helped to keep them as they stood. The true problem, politically as well as from an ‘artistic’ point of view (and only anti-art is possible), is the inverse. The system, as it exists, absorbs every consistent discourse; the important thing is not to produce a consistent discourse but rather to produce ‘figures’ within reality. The problem is to endure the anguish of maintaining reality in a state of suspicion through direct practices; just like, for example, a poet is a man in a position to hold language – even if he uses it – under suspicion, i.e. to bring about figures which would never have been produced, that language might not tolerate, and which may never be audible, perceptible, for us.”


(see middle of first paragraph of p.448, bottom of p.460, and last sentence of first paragraph of p.517 in LETTERS).

“An ‘artist’ is someone who presents problems of forms. The essential element, the only decisive one, is form. Modifying social reality is not important at all if it aims at putting back into place something that will have the *same form*. What is important, above all, is to cease sympathizing with artists, what must be understood is the true problem they are putting before political people. There is more revolution, even if it is not much, in American Pop art than in the discourse of the Communist party.”


(see bottom of p.1 in THE GUTENBERG GALAXY, p.65 in UNDERSTANDING MEDIA, top of p.224 in ESSENTIAL McLUHAN, middle of p.243 in THROUGH THE VANISHING POINT).

“It is on this very level that junctions can occur between students and workers, on this level of an absolutely practical art which consists, precisely, in deconstructing not the material, plastic screen of representation – not an automobile as in the case of pop artists – but the ideological screen of representation, a subway station as a social space, for example, people’s relation to the public transport system taking them to work, their relation to subway tickets, their relation with one another, or with the hierarchical organisation of a workshop, a factory, or a university, etc. This has a direct connection with art, not with the avant-garde, but with anti-art, with that capacity to seek out and to maintain forms that are neither realist forms at the level of perception, not signifiable within an articulated discourse.”


(see Marshall McLuhan [with Kathryn Hutchon and Eric McLuhan], MEDIA, MESSAGES & LANGUAGE: The World as Your Classroom, pp.xix-xxv, and bottom third of p.100 in TAKE TODAY).

Following in McLuhan’s footsteps as a phenomenologist

(see top of p.540 in LETTERS, and pp.60-66 in LAWS OF MEDIA),

Lyotard does not propose tactility, or silence, *per se* as an aesthetic program for seduction:

“I believe that the true art-phantasy relation is not direct; the artist does not externalize systems of internal figures, he is someone who undertakes to free *from* phantasy, *from* the matrix of figures whose heir and whose locus he is, what really belongs to the primary process, and is not a repetition, not a ‘graphy’.”


(see “Fantasy News, Psychedelic TV” section of Marshall McLuhan’s interview with Mark Gerzon in WORLD PAPER, Volume 1, No. 1, January, 1979).

“When this is resorted to, you have a work that is no longer jammed by phantasy, that is no longer blocked in a repetitive configuration, but on the contrary one that opens upon other possibilities, that *plays*, that sets itself up in the ‘inner-world’: this is not the world of personal phantasy (and neither, obviously, is it that of reality); this is an *oscillating* work, in which there is room for the play of forms, a field liberated by the reversal of phantasy, but which still rests upon it. This has nothing to do with aesthetics and it does not necessarily produce hermetic works.”


(see middle of p.223 in LETTERS).

Citing Freud as a media analyst, Lyotard limns McLuhan’s method of “corporate psychiatry”:

“Freud tells the hysteric: you are seeing things, you are fantasizing, tell me what you see, as you tell me about it, the consistency of the images will melt away. So there is a theater of images, of which the hysteric is the spectator, on the couch. Upon this, Freud constructs a second set-up where the hysteric is an actress, and the analyst, the invisible listener; radio comes after theater, more precisely, a radio hooked up to the auditorium, the listener not seeing the stage himself, as in radio commentary of boxing matches, football games. The charges invested in images will be *spent*, but in words. These words (the patient’s, the commentator’s) will butt against the analyst’s silence: energizing silence, of course – these words given as a request for love will remain unanswered. If the analyst were to reply, it would be as if he himself had stepped out onto the stage. Far from dissolving the phantasy, this would reinforce it, which is what happens in everyday ordinary life, where the hysteric has eyes and does not hear. But here, in Doctor Freud’s office, what is keeping silent in and being kept silent by the phantastic mise-en-scene must be heard. The analyst’s silence *must* put an end (?) to the silence of the hysteric. Obliteration of the operations of production in the symptom, exhibition of these same operations in the analysis: two silences with inverse functions; the silence of noise, of the imaginary, the silence of structure, of the symbolical; and like a springboard from one to the other, the silence of the analyst. All three the complementary elements of a single device, that of analysis. The words the patient addresses to the analyst carry the murmur of the affects; they meet with the doctor’s silence, thanks to which they will be distributed throughout the ‘pure’ silence of *ratio*, which separates distinctive units (phonemes) and allows us to recognize the verbal signifier and to communicate. This is why the scene described to the analyst under these conditions will be ‘freed’, put back into circulation, liquidated, ‘redeemed’, says Freud. The phantom-phantasy that shackled it will be removed; the true God, Logos, will triumph.”

DRIFTWORKS, pp.102-103

(see bottom of p.45 in THE GUTENBERG GALAXY, and p.225 in ESSENTIAL McLUHAN).

Lyotard is writing at the beginning of the pentadic phase of technology’s evolution when there is complete fusion between our bodies (“first nature”) and our technological extensions (“second nature”), creating the circumstances of an ersatz autonomy for the after-image of one or the other. Earlier, McLuhan wrote from this vantage but emphasized the autonomous movements of second nature (the “media”) and consciously suppressed first nature, as Baudrillard did later, because the printed medium dictates an arbitrary choice, or “figure”. Lyotard emphasizes the metamorphoses of an autonomous first nature (“desire”) as his necessary printed figure:

“There is in every text a principle of displaceability (*Verschiebbarkeit*, said Freud), on account of which the written work induces other displacements here and there (within authors and readers both), and can thus never be but the snapshot of a mobile, itself a referred, secondary unity, under which currents flow in all directions. By collecting texts and making them a book, one encloses them in a protective membrane and they become part of a cell which will defend its unity; my aim, in presenting the essays collected here, is to break up this unity.”


“The desire underlying and informing institutions composes set-ups which are energetic investments in the body, in language, in the earth and the city, in the difference of sexes and ages, etc. Kapitalism is one of these set-ups.”

Ibid., p.13.

“Art, in the critique factory, is not a workshop for the making of tools. The most modern trends – American abstracts, pop and hyper-realism in painting and sculpture, poor and concrete musics (Cage’s above all), free choreographies (Cunningham’s), intensity theaters (if they exist) – place critical thought and negative dialectics before a considerable challenge: the works they produce are affirmative, not critical. They aver a new position of desire, the traces of which have just been referred to. The philosopher and the politicist (whose thinking you are about to consider) would have been content, after Adorno, with using the arts as formal reversal matices; they are nonetheless required to have an eye and an ear, a mouth and a hand for the new position, which is the end of all critique. They might find this difficult: what if it were their own end as well.”

Ibid., pp.16-17

(see bottom third of p.243 in THROUGH THE VANISHING POINT, and last quote from Marshall McLuhan in TIME magazine, August 9, 1968, p.40).

Lyotard also intuits McLuhan’s expose of the tetrad-manager:

“Possibility of the incompossibles, occupation of a single space by several bodies or of a single body by several positions, simultaneity of the successive, consequently, approach of a timelessness which will be the chronical pendant of this ‘topological’ space.”


“A critical political party also inhabits the silence of the signifier, the silence of domination; it considers the surface of experience as appearance, mere symptom, and even if it decides not to take power, power is already taken by it to the extent that it repeats this device of appearance and effacement, of theater, of politics as a *domaine*. Even should ‘tonal resolution’ be deferred endlessly, this party will be a tragic political party, it will be the negative dialectic of the *Aufklarung*; it is the Frankfurt School, demythologized, Lutheran, nihilistic Marxism.”

Ibid., pp.108-109

(see p.22 in THE MEDIUM IS THE MASSAGE, and bottom of first column in McLuhan’s op-ed in The New York Times, July 29, 1973).

“Transposed to *Kapital*: it is *produktion* no longer of products, but of productions; *konsumption* no longer of objects, but of consumptions; *musikke* no longer of sounds, but of musics. So that the question is: the silence heard in noise, *immediately*, *suddenly*, is it not still dominated by the unheard silence of the Komposer-organizer, capital? *Kapital*, is it not the stage director of noises and silences themselves, as mise-en-scene? Destroy the work, but also destroy the work of works and *non-works*, kapitalism as museum, as memory of everything that is possible. De-memorize, like the unconscious.”

DRIFTWORKS, pp.109-110

(see bottom third of middle column of p.89 in THE CoEVOLUTION QUARTERLY, Winter 1977/78, bottom of p.186 to top of p.188 in THE INTERIOR LANDSCAPE, and middle of p.145 in TAKE TODAY).

“I would be tempted to say that what pleases us now is what disconcerts us, and in this sense we are really in Freud’s ‘death drive’. What we are interested in is the dimension of otherness, alteration. There is a constant displacement and this displacement as such is what we are interested in, the fact that we are disconcerted, put out of time, caught on the wrong foot… Yes, the absence of a locus. Pontalis spoke of a Freudian utopia in the strong sense of the word. He meant that there was a non-locus. Well, what pleases us disconcerts us because it points to a non-locus.”

DRIFTWORKS, pp.32-33

(see last sentence of p.71 in the interview with Marshall McLuhan, Toronto Daily Star, May 6, 1967).

And this brings us to the vortex of Deleuze and Guattari. They are not timid in confronting the pentadic features of the miniaturization of the post-Global Theater hologram and recognize the ambivalence it creates for all institutions, new, old and future ones, including the medium of print itself.

“A book has neither subject nor object; it is made up of variously formed materials, of very different dates and speeds. As soon as a book is attributed to a subject, this working of materials and the exteriority of their relations is disregarded

(see middle of p.33, top of p.37, and pp.56-59 in THE INTERIOR LANDSCAPE).

A beneficent God is invented for geological movements. In a book, as in everything else, there are lines of articulation or segmentation, strata, territorialities; but also lines of flight, movements of deterritorialization and of destratification. The comparative rates of flow along these lines produce phenomena of relative slowness and viscosity, or alternatively of precipitation and rupture. All this, these lines and measurable speeds, constitute an *arrangement* (*agencement*). A book is such an arrangement, and as such unattributable. It is a multiplicity – but we still don’t know what the multiple implies when it ceases to be attributed, that is to say, when it is raised to the status of a substantive. A machinic arrangement (*agencement machinique*) is oriented toward the strata that undoubtedly make of it a kind of organism, either a signifying totality or a determination attributable to a subject, but it is oriented no less toward a *body without organs* that never ceases to break down the organism, causing a-signifying particles to pass and circulate freely, pure intensities, and causing the attribution to itself of subjects to which it allows no more than a name as trace of an intensity.”

Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari,
ON THE LINE, 1983, pp.2-3

(see bottom of p.36, bottom third of p.144 in TAKE TODAY, and top of p.479 in LETTERS).

“Writing has nothing to do with signifying, but with land-surveying and map-making, even of countries yet to come.”

Deleuze and Guattari,

(see top paragraph in last column of p.4 in CAMPUS MAGAZINE, Volume 6, No. 3, October/November 1973).

“The map does not reproduce an unconscious closed on itself; it constructs it. It contributes to the connection of fields, the freeing of bodies without organs, and their maximal access onto the plane of consistency. It becomes itself part of the rhizome. The map is open, connectable in all its dimensions, and capable of being dismantled; it is reversible, and susceptible to constant modification. It can be torn, reversed, adapted to montages of every kind, taken in hand by an individual, a group, or a social formation. It can be drawn on a wall, conceived of as a work of art, constructed as a political action or as a meditation. Perhaps one of the most important characteristics of the rhizome is that it always has multiple entrances.”

Deleuze and Guattari,
ON THE LINE, pp.25-26


“The ideal for a book would be to display everything on such a plane of exteriority, on a single page, on the same shoreline: lived events, historical determinations, received concepts, individuals, groups and social formations.”

Deleuze and Guattari,

(see bottom third of p.121 to top third of p.126 in FROM CLICHE TO ARCHETYPE).

“Evolutionary schemes are no longer restricted to models of arborescent descent that go from the least to the most differentiated, but may follow a rhizome that operates immediately within the heterogeneous and jumps from one already differentiated line to another.”

Deleuze and Guattari,

(see second paragraph of p.427, and p.428 in LETTERS).

Understanding the *ad hoc* nature of the constantly improvised features of a networking crucible, Deleuze and Guattari cite the “rhizome” as the appropriate model for the digital environment’s inveterate simultaneous embrace of the centralizing and decentralizing characteristics that McLuhan stigmatized for the previously programmed, automated society

(see MacLEAN’S magazine, Volume 87, No. 1, January, 1974, p.27).

“To be a rhizomorph is to produce stems and filaments that look like roots, or better still, to connect with roots by penetrating into the trunk, even if it means having them serve strange new functions. We are tired of the tree. We must no longer put our faith in trees, roots, or radicels; we have suffered enough from them. The whole arborescent culture is founded on them, from biology to linguistics. On the contrary, only underground stems and aerial roots, the adventitious and the rhizome are truly beautiful, loving, or political. Amsterdam, a city not rooted at all, a rhizome-city with its canal-stems, where utility is linked to the greatest folly, in its relationship with a commercial war machine.”

Deleuze and Guattari,

(see middle of p.49, and middle of p.94 in TAKE TODAY, and middle of second column of p.69 in FORCES magazine, Hydro-Quebec, No. 22, 1973).

“Arborescent systems are hierarchical systems comprised of centers of significance and subjectivization, of autonomous centers like organized memories. The corresponding models are such that an element receives information only from a superior unity, and a subjective affect only from pre-established connections. This is easily seen in current problems with data processing and electronic computers, which still retain the oldest models of thought insofar as they confer power on a central organ or memory…. The authors contrast these centered systems with a-centered systems, networks of finite automata, where communication occurs between any two neighbors, where channels or links do not pre-exist, where individuals are all interchangeable and are defined only by their state at a given moment, in such a way that local operations are co-ordinated and the final overall result is synchronized independently of any central authority.”

Deleuze and Guattari,
ON THE LINE, pp.36 and 38

(see top of p.110 in TAKE TODAY, and pp.356-357 in UNDERSTANDING MEDIA).

“The margin for manoeuvre in psychoanalysis is thus very limited. There is always a General or a boss in psychoanalysis (General Freud), as there is in its object. Alternatively, by treating the unconscious as an a-centered system, that is, as a machinic network of finite automata (rhizomes), schizo-analysis reaches another state altogether of the unconscious.”

Deleuze and Guattari,
ON THE LINE, pp.39-40

(see middle of p.223 and top third of p.239 in UNDERSTANDING MEDIA, top half of p.86, middle of p.99, pp.161-162, bottom of p.199 and top of p.200 in FROM CLICHE TO ARCHETYPE, bottom third of p.22 in TAKE TODAY, and pp.67 and 83 in THE GLOBAL VILLAGE: Transformations in World Life and Media in the 21st Century [with Bruce Powers], 1989).

“More still, it is American literature, and before that English, that has indicated this sense of the rhizomatic, that has known how to move between things, to institute a logic of *and*, to overthrow ontology and to dismiss the foundations, to nullify beginnings and endings. It has known how to be pragmatic. The middle is not at all an average – far from it – but the area where things take on speed. *Between* things does not designate a localizable relation going from one to the other and reciprocally, but a perpendicular direction, a transversal movement carrying away the one *and* the other, a stream without beginning or end, gnawing away at its two banks and picking up speed in the middle.”

Deleuze and Guattari,

(see pp.6-7 in The McLuhan DEW-LINE, Volume 1, No. 4, October, 1968, top third of p.136, bottom third of p.155, and photograph on p.156 in FROM CLICHE TO ARCHETYPE, middle of p.81 in TAKE TODAY, and first full sentence at the top of p.371, bottom half of p.392, p.461, and p.504 in LETTERS).

“America should be considered a place apart. Obviously it is not exempt from domination by trees and the search for roots. This is evident even in its literature, in the quest for a national identity, and even for a European ancestry or genealogy (Kerouac sets off in search of his ancestry). Nevertheless, everything of importance that has happened and that is happening proceeds by means of the American rhizome: the beatnicks, the underground, the subterranean mobs and gangs – all successive lateral shoots in immediate connection with an outside. Hence the difference between an American book and a European book, even when the American sets off pursuing trees. A difference in the very conception of the book: ‘Leaves of Grass’.”

Deleuze and Guattari,
ON THE LINE, pp.42-43

(see pp.74-75 in THE MEDIUM IS THE MASSAGE, middle of p.457 in LETTERS, p.44 and top of p.45 in TAKE TODAY, p.66 in FORCES magazine, Hydro-Quebec, No. 22, 1973, and first column of p.87 in THE CoEVOLUTION QUARTERLY, Winter 1977/78).

“The law of the State is not the law of All or Nothing (State-societies *or* counter-State societies), but that of interior and exterior. The State is sovereignty. But sovereignty only reigns over what it is capable of internalizing, of appropriating locally. Not only is there no universal State, but the outside of States cannot be reduced to ‘foreign policy’, that is to a set of relations among States. The outside appears simultaneously in two directions: huge worldwide machines branched out over the entire *ecumenon* at any given moment, which enjoy a large measure of autonomy in relation to the States (for example, commercial organization of the ‘multinational’ type, or industrial complexes, or even religious formations like Christianity, Islam, certain prophetic or messianic movements, etc.); but also the local mechanisms of bands, margins, minorities, which continue to affirm the rights of segmentary societies in opposition to the organs of State power. The modern world can provide us today with particularly well-developed images of these two directions, in the way of worldwide ecumenical machines, but also a neoprimitivism, a new tribal society as Marshall McLuhan describes it. These directions are equally present in all social fields, in all periods. It even happens that they become partially merged. For example, a commercial organization is also a band of pillage, or piracy, for part of its course and in many of its activities; or it is in bands that a religious formation begins to operate. What becomes clear is that bands, no less than worldwide organizations, imply a form irreducible to the State, and that this exteriority necessarily presents itself as that of a diffuse and polymorphous war machine. It is a *nomos* very different from the ‘law’.”

Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari,
NOMADOLOGY: The War Machine, 1986, pp.15-16

(see pp.120-124 in THE GUTENBERG GALAXY, pp.60-61 in FROM CLICHE TO ARCHETYPE, bottom half of p.318, top of p.360, bottom of p.361, top half of p.368, p.468, and bottom of p.515 in LETTERS, and pp.38-43 in TAKE TODAY).

“The State-form, as a form of interiority, has a tendency to reproduce itself, remaining identical to itself across its variations and easily recognizable within the limits of its poles, always seeking public recognition (there is no masked State). But the war machine’s form of exteriority is such that it exists only in its own metamorphoses; it exists in an industrial innovation as well as in a technological invention, in a commercial circuit as well as in a religious creation, in all the flows and currents that only secondarily allow themselves to be appropriated by the State. It is not in terms of independence, but of coexistence and competition *in a perpetual field of interaction*, that we must conceive of exteriority and interiority, war machines of metamorphosis and State apparatuses of identity, bands and kingdoms, megamachines and empires. The same field circumscribes its interiority in States, but describes its exteriority in what escapes States or stands against States.”

Deleuze and Guattari,
NOMADOLOGY, pp.16-17

(see The McLuhan DEW-LINE, Volume 1, No. 8, February, 1969, and p.68, top third of p.112, p.180, and top third of p.322 in CULTURE IS OUR BUSINESS).

“One no longer goes from the straight line to its parallels, in a lamellar or laminar flow, but from a curvilinear declination to the formation of spirals and vortices on an inclined plane: the greatest slope for the smallest angle. From *turba* to *turbo*: in other words from bands or packs of atoms to the great vortical organizations. The model is a vortical one; it operates in an open space throughout which thing-flows are distributed, rather than plotting out a closed space for linear and solid things. It is the difference between a *smooth* (vectorial, projective or topological) space and a *striated* (metric) space: in the first case ‘space is occupied without being counted’, while in the second case ‘space is counted in order to be occupied’.

Deleuze and Guattari,
NOMADOLOGY, pp.18-19

(see pp.214-216 in ESSENTIAL McLUHAN, bottom quarter of p.7 in CULTURE IS OUR BUSINESS, and middle of p.5 and middle of p.273 in TAKE TODAY).

In the style of McLuhan, Deleuze and Guattari offer nine dialectics as exercises to prepare their readers for a surprise:

1. “Chess is indeed a war, but an institutionalized, regulated, coded war, with a front, a rear, battles. But what is proper to Go is war without battle lines, with neither confrontation nor retreat, without battles even: pure strategy, while chess is a semiology. Finally, the space is not at all the same: in chess, it is a question of arranging a closed space for oneself, thus of going from one point to another, of occupying the maximum number of squares with the minimum number of pieces. In Go, it is a question of arraying oneself in an open space, of holding space, of maintaining the possibility of springing up at any point: the movement is not from one point to another, but becomes perpetual, without aim or destination, without departure or arrival. The ‘smooth’ space of Go, as against the ‘striated’ space of chess. The *nomos* of Go against the State of chess, *nomos* against *polis*. The difference is that chess codes and decodes space, while Go proceeds altogether differently territorializing or deterritorializing it (make the outside a territory in space; consolidate that territory by the construction of a second, adjacent territory; deterritorialize the enemy by shattering his territory from within; deterritorialize oneself by renouncing, by going elsewhere…). Another justice, another movement, another space-time.”

Deleuze and Guattari,

(see top half of second column of p.263 in ESSENTIAL McLUHAN, and first two sentences at top of p.227 in TAKE TODAY).

2. “Packs, bands, are groups of the rhizome type, as opposed to the arborescent type which centers around organs of power. That is why bands in general, even those engaged in banditry or high society life, are metamorphoses of a war machine that differs formally from all State apparatuses or their equivalents, which, on the contrary, structure centralized societies. One certainly would not say that discipline is what defines a war machine: discipline becomes the characteristic required of armies when the State appropriates them. But the war machine answers to other rules. We are of course not saying that they are better, only that they animate a fundamental indiscipline of the warrior, a questioning of hierarchy, perpetual blackmailing by abandonment or betrayal, and a very volatile sense of honor, all of which, once again, impedes the formation of the State.”

Deleuze and Guattari,

(see p.239 in CULTURE IS OUR BUSINESS, and bottom third of p.20 in TAKE TODAY).

3. “But it needs it in a very different form, because the State needs to subordinate hydraulic force to conduits, pipes, embankments which prevent turbulence, which constrain movement to go from one point to another, and space itself to be striated and measured, which makes the fluid depend on the solid, and flows proceed by parallel, laminar layers. The hydraulic model of nomad science and the war machine, on the other hand, consists in being distributed by turbulence across a smooth space, in producing a movement that holds space and simultaneously affects all of its points, instead of being held by space in a local movement from one specified point to another. Democritus, Menaechmus, Archimedes, Vauban, Desargues, Bernoulli, Monge, Carnot, Poncelet, Perronet, etc.: in each case a monograph would be necessary to take into account the special situation of these savants whom State science used only after restraining or disciplining them, after repressing their social or political conceptions. (p.21)… This opposition, or rather this tension-limit between the two kinds of science – nomad, war-machine science and royal, State science – reappears at different moments, on different levels. (p.22)… What we have, rather, are two formally different conceptions of science, and, ontologically, a single field of interaction in which royal science is perpetually appropriating the contents of vague or nomad science, and nomad science is perpetually releasing the contents of royal science. At the limit, all that counts is the constantly moving borderline. (p.28)

(see first column of p.5 in TV GUIDE, September, 1978)…

In any case, if the State is always finding it necessary to repress the nomad and minor sciences, if it opposes vague essences and the operative geometry of the trait, it does so not because the content of these sciences is inexact or imperfect, or because of their magic or initiatory character, but because they imply a division of labor opposed to the norms of the State. (p.30)… In the field of interaction of the two sciences, the ambulant sciences confine themselves to *inventing problems* the solution of which is linked to an entire set of collective, nonscientific activities, but the *scientific solution* of which depends, on the contrary, on royal science and the way it has transformed the problem by introducing it into its theorematic apparatus and its organization of work. This is somewhat like intuition and intelligence in Bergson, where only intelligence has the scientific means to solve formally the problems posed by intuition, problems that intuition would be content to entrust to the qualitative activities of a humanity engaged in *following* matter…” (p.40)

Deleuze and Guattari,
NOMADOLOGY, pp.21-40

(see bottom third of p.27 and top third of p.28 in THE INTERIOR LANDSCAPE, p.271 in THE GUTENBERG GALAXY, and top third of p.119 in FROM CLICHE TO ARCHETYPE).

4. “In modern States, the sociologist succeeded in replacing the philosopher (as for example when Durkheim and his disciples set out to give the republic a secular model of thought). Even today, psychoanalysis lays claim to the role of *Cogitatio universalis* as the thought of the Law, in a magical return. And there are quite a few other competitors and pretenders. Noology, which is distinct from ideology, is precisely the study of images of thought, and their historicity. In a sense, it could be said that all this has no importance, that thought has never had anything but laughable gravity. But that is all it requires: for us not to take it seriously. Because that makes it all the easier for it to think for us, and to be forever engendering new functionaries. Because the less people take thought seriously, the more they think in conformity with what the State wants. Truly, what man of the State has not dreamed of that paltry impossible thing – to be a thinker?

But noology is confronted by counterthoughts, which are violent in their acts, discontinuous in their appearances, and the existence of which is mobile in history. These are the acts of a ‘private thinker’, as opposed to the public professor: Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, or even Chestov… Wherever they dwell, it is the steppe or the desert. They destroy images.”

Deleuze and Guattari,
NOMADOLOGY, pp.43-44

(see bottom half of p.247 in THE GUTENBERG GALAXY, and middle of p.184 in FROM CLICHE TO ARCHETYPE).

5. “The *nomos* is the consistency of a fuzzy aggregate: it is in this sense that it stands in opposition to the law or the *polis*, as the backcountry, a mountainside or the vague expanse around a city (“either nomos or polis”). There is therefore, and this is the third point, a significant difference between the spaces: sedentary space is striated, by walls, enclosures and roads between enclosures, while nomad space is smooth, marked only by ‘traits’ that are effaced and displaced with the trajectory. Even the lamella of the desert slide over each other, producing an inimitable sound. The nomad distributes himself in a smooth space, he occupies, inhabits, holds that space; that is his territorial principle. It is therefore false to define the nomad by movement. Toynbee is profoundly right to suggest that the nomad is on the contrary *he who does not move*. Whereas the migrant leaves behind a milieu that has become amorphous or hostile, the nomad is one who does not depart, does not want to depart, who clings to the smooth space left by the receding forest, where the steppe or the desert advance, and who invents nomadism as a response to this challenge. Of course, the nomad moves, but while seated, and he is only seated while moving (the Bedouin galloping, knees on the saddle, sitting on the soles of his upturned feet, ‘a feat of balance’). The nomad knows how to wait, he has infinite patience. (p.51)… The nomad is there, on the land, wherever there forms a smooth space that gnaws, and tends to grow, in all directions. The nomad inhabits these places, he remains in them, and he himself makes them grow, for it has been established that the nomad makes the desert no less than he is made by it

(see middle of p.443 in LETTERS, first italicized sentence at bottom of p.82, and last sentence on p.205 in TAKE TODAY).

He is a vector of deterritorialization. He adds desert to desert, steppe to steppe, by a series of local operations the orientation and direction of which endlessly vary. The sand desert does not only have oases, which are like fixed points, but also rhizomatic vegetation that is temporary and shifts location according to local rains, bringing changes in the direction of the crossings. The same terms are used to describe ice deserts as sand deserts: there is no line separating earth and sky; there is no intermediate distance, no perspective or contour, visibility is limited; and yet there is an extraordinarily fine topology that does not rely on points or objects, but on haecceities, on sets of relations (winds, undulations of snow or sand, the song of the sand or the creaking of ice, the tactile qualities of both); it is a tactile space, or rather ‘haptic’, a sonorous much more than a visual space…” (p.53)

Deleuze and Guattari,
NOMADOLOGY, pp.51-53

(see top half of second column of p.71 in the interview with Marshall McLuhan, Toronto Daily Star, May 6, 1967, and p.198 in FROM CLICHE TO ARCHETYPE).

6. “It is in State armies that the problem of the treatment of large quantities arise, in relation to other matters; but the war machine operates with small quantities that it treats using numbering numbers. These numbers appear as soon as one distributes something in space, instead of dividing up space or distributing space itself. The number becomes a subject. The independence of the number in relation to space is not a result of abstraction, but of the concrete nature of smooth space, which is occupied without itself being counted. The number is no longer a means of counting or measuring, but of moving: it is the number itself that moves through smooth space.”

Deleuze and Guattari,
NOMADOLOGY, pp.65-66

(see bottom half of p.109 in UNDERSTANDING MEDIA).

7. “Weapons and weapon handling seem to be linked to a free action model, and tools to a work model. Linear displacement, from one point to another, constitutes the relative movement of the tool, but it is the vortical occupation of a space that constitutes the absolute movement of the weapon. It is as though the weapon were moving, self-propelling, while the tool is moved. (p.79)… What effectuates a free action model is not the weapons in themselves and in their physical aspect, but the ‘war machine’ assemblage as the formal cause of the weapons. And what effectuates the work model is not the tools, but the ‘work machine’ assemblage as the formal cause of the tools. When we say that the weapon is inseparable from a speed-vector, while the tool remains linked to conditions of gravity, we are claiming only to signal a difference between two types of assemblage, a distinction that holds even if in the assemblage proper to it the tool is abstractly ‘faster’, and the weapon abstractly more ‘weighty’. The tool is by essence tied to a genesis, a displacement and an expenditure of force whose laws reside in work, while the weapon concerns only the exercise or manifestation of force in space and time, in conformity with free action. The weapon does not fall from the sky, and obviously assumes production, displacement, expenditure and resistance. But this aspect relates to the common sphere of the weapon and the tool, and does not yet concern the specificity of the weapon, which only appears when force is considered in itself, when it is no longer linked to anything but the number, movement, space or time, or *when speed is added to displacement*. Concretely, a weapon as such does not relate to the Work model, but to the Free Action model, with the assumption that the conditions of work are fulfilled elsewhere. In short, from the point of view of force, the tool is tied to a gravity-displacement, weight-height system; the weapon to a speed-*perpetuum mobile* system (it is in this sense that it can be said that speed in itself is a ‘weapons system’.” (pp.80-81)

Deleuze and Guattari,
NOMADOLOGY, pp.79-81

(see bottom of p.87 to top half of p.90 in LAWS OF MEDIA, and bottom half of p.510 in LETTERS).

8. “*Metallurgy in itself constitutes a flow necessarily confluent with nomadism.* (p.90)… Matter and form have never seemed more rigid than in metallurgy; and yet the succession of forms tends to be replaced by the form of a continuous development, the variability of matters tends to be replaced by the matter of a continuous variation. If metallurgy has an essential relation with music, it is not only by virtue of the sounds of the forge, but of the tendency within both arts to bring into its own, beyond separate forms, a continuous development of form, and beyond variable matters, a continuous variation of matter: a widened chromaticism sustains both music and metallurgy; the musical smith was the first ‘transformer’. In short, what metal and metallurgy bring to light is a life inherent to matter, a vital state of matter as such, a material vitalism that doubtless exits everywhere but is ordinarily hidden or covered, rendered unrecognizable, dissociated by the hylomorphic model. Metallurgy is the consciousness or thought of the matter-flow, and metal the correlate of this consciousness. As expressed in panmetallism, metal is coextensive to the whole of matter, and the whole of matter to metallurgy. Even the waters, the grasses and varieties of wood, the animals are populated by salts or mineral elements. Not everything is metal, but metal is everywhere. Metal is the conductor of all matter. The machinic phylum is metallurgical, or at least has a metallic head, as its itinerant probe-head or guidance device. And thought is born more from metal than from stone: metallurgy is minor science in person, ‘vague’ science or the phenomenology of matter. The prodigious idea of *Nonorganic Life* – the very same idea Worringer considered the barbarian idea *par excellence* – was the invention, the intuition of metallurgy. Metal is neither a thing nor an organism, but a *body* without organs.” (pp.102-103)

Deleuze and Guattari,
NOMADOLOGY, pp.90-103.

9. “*War does not necessarily have the battle as its object, and more importantly, the war machine does not necessarily have war as its object, although war and the battle may be its necessary result (under certain conditions).* (pp.109-110)… This explains Clausewitz’s vacillation when he establishes at one point that total war remains a war conditioned by the political aim of States, and at another that it tends to effectuate the Idea of unconditioned war. In effect, the aim remains essentially political and determined as such by the State, but the object itself has become unlimited. We could say that the appropriation has changed direction, or rather that States tend to unleash, reconstitute, an immense war machine of which they are no longer anything more than the opposable or apposed parts. This worldwide war machine, which in a way ‘reissues’ from the States, displays two successive figures: first, that of fascism, which makes war an unlimited movement with no other aim than itself; but fascism is only a rough sketch, and the second, post-fascist, figure is that of a war machine that takes peace as its object directly, as the peace of Terror or Survival. The war machine reforms a smooth space which now claims to control, to surround the entire earth. Total war itself is surpassed, towards a form of peace more terrifying still. The war machine has taken charge of the aim, worldwide order, and the States are no longer anything more than objects or means adapted to that machine. This is the point at which Clausewitz’s formula is effectively reversed; to be entitled to say that politics is the continuation of war by other means, it is not enough to invert the order of the words as if they could be spoken in either direction; it is necessary to follow the real movement at the conclusion of which the States, having appropriated a war machine, and having adapted it to their aims, reissue a war machine that takes charge of the aim, appropriates the States and assumes increasingly wider political functions.” (pp.118-119)

Deleuze and Guattari,
NOMADOLOGY, pp.109-119

(see p.152 in TAKE TODAY, bottom half of p.12 to top half of p.13 in FROM CLICHE TO ARCHETYPE, and last sentence on p.xi in Canadian National Bank [Montreal] 100th Annual Report Publication, December, 1974).

Deleuze and Guattari collapse the dialectic to reveal they had been playing with the tactile interval all along, and then put the post-tactile observer in the bull’s-eye position on the rhizome’s dartboard:

“Undoubtedly, nothing is more outmoded than the man of war: he has long since been transformed into an entirely different character, the military man. And the worker himself has undergone so many misadventures…

And yet men of war reappear, with many ambiguities: they are all those who know the uselessness of violence, but who are adjacent to a war machine to be recreated, one of active, revolutionary counterattacks. Workers also reappear who do not believe in work, but who are adjacent to a work machine to be recreated, one of active resistance and technological liberation. They do not resuscitate old myths or archaic figures, they are the new figure of a transhistorical assemblage (neither historical, nor eternal, but untimely): the nomad warrior and the ambulant worker. A somber caricature already precedes them, the mercenary or mobile military instructor, and the technocrat or transhumant analyst, the CIA and IBM

(see p.257 in TAKE TODAY, and top half of back-cover book flap of TAKE TODAY).

But a transhistorical figure must defend himself as much against old myths

(see pp.140-141 in FROM CLICHE TO ARCHETYPE)

as against preestablished, anticipatory disfigurations

(see bottom of first column and top of second column in McLuhan’s op-ed in The New York Times, July 29, 1973).

‘One does not go back to reconquer the myth, one encounters it anew, when time quakes at its foundations under the empire of extreme danger.’ Martial arts and state-of-the-art technologies only have value because they create a possibility of bringing together worker and warrior masses of a new type

(see first paragraph of p.31 in COUNTERBLAST).

The shared line of flight of the weapon and the tool: a pure possibility, a mutation. There arise subterranean, aerial, submarine technicians who belong more or less to the world order, but who involuntarily invent and amass virtual charges of knowledge and action that are usable by others, minute but easily acquired for new assemblages. The borrowings between warfare and the military apparatus, work and free action, always run in both directions, for a struggle that is all the more varied.”

Deleuze and Guattari,
NOMADOLOGY, pp.89-90

(see pp.117-130 in FROM CLICHE TO ARCHETYPE).

“We can now better understand why I said that sometimes there are at least three different lines, sometimes only two, and sometimes only one, all very entangled. Sometimes there are actually three lines, because the line of flight or of rupture combines all the movements of deterritorialization, precipitates quanta, tears off accelerated particles that cross into each other’s territories, and carries them onto a plane of consistency or a mutating machine. And then there is a second molecular line, where the deterritorializations are now only relative, always compensated for by reterritorializations which impose on them so many loops and detours, equilibria and stabilizations. Finally there is the molar line, with well-defined segments, where the reterritorializations accumulate in order to constitute a plane of organization and to pass into an overcoding machine.

Three lines: the nomad line, the migrant line, and the sedentary line (the migrant and nomad lines are not at all the same). Or there might only be two lines, because the molecular line would only appear in oscillation between the two extremes, sometimes swept away by the combination of deterritorializations, and sometimes contributing to the accumulation of reterritorializations (sometimes the migrant allies himself with the nomad, sometimes with the mercenary or confederate of an empire: the Ostrogoths and the Visigoths). Or perhaps there is only a single line, the primary line of flight, the border or edge that is relativized in the second line, and allows itself to be stopped or cut in the third. But even then, it can be conveniently presented as *the* line born from the explosion of the other two. Nothing is more complicated than a line or lines. This is what Melville is concerned with: the dingys tied together in their organized segmentation, Captain Ahab on his molecular line, becoming animal, and the white whale in its mad flight.”

Deleuze and Guattari,
ON THE LINE, pp.93-94.

“Doubtless, the present situation is highly discouraging. We have watched the war machine grow stronger and stronger, as in a science fiction story; we have seen it assign as its objective a peace still more terrifying than fascist death; we have seen it maintain or instigate the most terrible of local wars as parts of itself; we have seen it set its sights on a new type of enemy, no longer another State, nor even another regime, but the ‘unspecified enemy’; we have seen it put its counter-guerilla elements into place, so that it can be caught by surprise once, but not twice… Yet the very conditions that make the State or World war machine possible, in other words constant capital (resources and equipment) and human variable capital, constantly recreate unexpected possibilities for counterattack, unforseen initiatives determining revolutionary, popular, minority mutant machines. The definition of the Unspecified Enemy testifies to this… ‘multiform, maneuvering and omnipresent… of the moral, political, subversive or economic order, etc.,’ the unassignable material Saboteur or human Deserter assuming the most diverse forms. The first theoretical element of importance is the fact that the war machine has many varied meanings, and this is *precisely because the war machine has an extremely variable relation to war itself.*”

Deleuze and Guattari,
NOMADOLOGY, pp.119-120

(see pp.140-143 in THE GLOBAL VILLAGE).

Deleuze and Guattari skillfully refresh the implications for autonomy that McLuhan first articulated when he recognized the discarnate “animal” stalking our tiny neighborhood.

So, in retospect, it appears Sylvere Lotringer astutely mimed the pentadic when he offered five slippery pillars to establish the foundations for the New York school of media ecology.

And, Sylvere Lotringer recently commented on the origins of his SEMIOTEXTE project:

“If you compared theorists like Gilles Deleuze and Michel Foucault to John Cage and William Burroughs, you could see a connection between what the French were doing with concepts and what the Americans were doing with perception.”

Time Out New York magazine,
March 7-14, 2002, p.73.

The parallels to the earlier project of the Toronto school of media ecology are obvious, including especially the playful, satirical aspects.

Pages: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7

About Sleeper!

Speak Your Mind