Politics as the orientation of every assemblage (New Formations 68, Autumn 2009)

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Publication date: March 1, 2010

Veronique Bergen

This essay is concerned with the question of where politics, as Deleuze understands it, resides. Vitalism dictates an understanding of politics as, in fact, the correlate of every assemblage (of thought or desire, individual or collective), and affiliates it to the ethical question of an affirmation of the powers of life. Every assemblage is ipso facto political in that it manifests a particular orientation to life, enriching it or mutilating it: it being understood that the consistency to be given to it is perpetually under construction, without any a priori guarantees. The article shows the ways in which the task of politics is cartographic, pragmatic -charting the composition of lines, and their consequences -and not hermeneutic. In the first section, we unpack the conceptual operators which Deleuze and Guattari make use of to develop their understanding of the political (the types of lines and the molar/molecular schema); in the second section we consider their triple impact (politics understood as an index of the bearing a body, situating itself in the paradox of a passive volition and shattering the distinction between the resignation of the beautiful soul and voluntaristic engagement). We conclude with an analysis of Bartleby as singular figure of an ethical-political orientation.

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