(Two Fingers and Kirk 1995: 191)
The increasing ubiquity of sound-recording technologies (essentially diagramming or stratigraphical systems) has, in transforming sound into stored material, deritualized and demystified the experience of music. Increasingly appreciated as much for abstract sonic qualities as for ostensible musical ‘content’, able to employ a vast range of sonic resources, ‘performed’ unceremoniously every day and everywhere, music is drawing nearer to an immanence with general ambient sound. At the same time, we are growing accustomed to the experience of absolutely synthetic sound, sound only made possible by the recording technologies themselves. Analysis of the production of machinic surplus value in such processes and the exact fate of such excess machinic production provides a key cross-section of the abstract machine of capitalist production and its future. On this route through the phylum of the sonic assemblage, abstract matter becomes not only a comprehensible and applicable term but an uncompromisingly tactile phenomenon. Beginning with Capitalism and Schizophrenia’s insistence that the diagram is never simply a tracing, or a representation, the key process of capitalist machinic abstraction and its enslavement to the docilizing powers of consumer capitalism can be approached through the sonic wemblage: the interaction between the human body and the fundamental molecular disturbance which constitutes sound, and the machines which interpose and mediate within it.
Hearing already presupposes a complex of syntheses, biological and mnemotechnical apparatuses of capture. The function of memory in the feedback loops of the simplest humanoid-sonic assemblage introduces the possibility of continually sophisticating circuits of reception and transmission, the exploitation of coded sound. Rhythmic disturbances become interpreted as traits of external phenomena in recognition patterns where meaning can already be analysed into signaletic frequency response:
(Foerster and Beauchamp 1969: 7)
This may primarily be made possible by the production of a reliable method of recording, for a stable storage system is necessary for such a process to take place. That there are biological, even inert, recording technologies is established by Capitalism and Schizophrenia‘s ‘Geology of Morals’. Systems of Stratification, deducting similar elements from a material flow and arranging them in resonantly ordered compounds, produce stabilized, resistant matter. Therefore corporeal reality as such is constituted as a gigantic memory, densely embedded synthetic compounds differing in degrees of plasticity and modes of composition.
Although contemporary recording processes allow us consciously to treat sound as a synthetic assemblage, there have been few attempts to discuss music in terms of its machinic processing. Music would perhaps like to remain the stratified and secretive reserve of soulful artists. Pragmatically, however, the field of sonic production has provided an unparalleled fertility for strata-analytical procedures to emerge and develop. Given the preponderance of interpretative ‘readings’ of all manner of subjects, it is refreshing instead to be able to listen to strata-analysis in action. Writing more often than not provides a system of recording whose ‘object of study’, exploiting it parasitically, nonetheless surpasses it in terms of machinic connectivity (this piece being no exception). The written word proves redundant, disintensified and insufficiently plastic. An effective strata-analysis requires a system of recording which fulfils the required criteria immanently without pretending to a relationship of absolute objectivity, the theatre of representation, thus becoming the writing of the State. A writing is required which operates on vectors directly consistent with other matter. By listening to the strata-analysis achieved in the sonic assemblage, steps can be taken towards such a writing-machine.
* * *
The musical division of sound into pitch and duration (the stave) deducts audible vibrations, and folds the audible continuum at a threshold point (physically about nineteen cycles per second, although the threshold is rarely explored), to form two exclusive time-series which articulate sounds as complicit relations of content and form. Pitch assigns a signifying value (note) to cyclical transformations of molecular compression and rarefaction, and duration gives the metric length of the tone, which positions it in relation to other tones, or ’empty’ spaces.
Even phonography freezes intensive differences into extensive surface inscription, disjoining intensity and duration. The recording made by a phonographic apparatus depicts sound as a waveform etched onto a moving surface, with time and amplitude (amount of molecular displacement) plotted perpendicularly. For any given sound, pitch rises as duration is shortened, and duration is lengthened as pitch is lowered (think of changing the speed of a record-player). Sounds become packaged objects for the clockspace of a mechanical duration, two measures in reciprocal presupposition, biunivocal time-series: one naming (pitch, amplitude), the other counting (time signature, recording speed). Compressive/extensive (content/ expression). Double pincers locking into compensatory homoeostasis.
Vibrations are perceived through rapidly oscillating differences in pressure, the measure of amplitude, and consequently the sensation of acoustic intensity, being relative to a molecular equilibrium. The vibratory continuum plugs into the delta and theta waves of the brain, into bodily sensation and ultimately into temperature, at hyper- and sub-sonic values. Pitch slides into duration as it decreases, as harmony becomes manometric rhythm (the properties of consonance and dissonance result from the factorial resonance of combined frequencies).1 And sound, on its broad peripheries, creeps out of the brain and into the body, then out of conscious sensation altogether. Since mechanical recording apparatuses know no such distinctions, human territorializations of the vibratory continuum on all levels—psycho-physiological, cultural and musicological—can only be relativized by the acute analysis of sound. Stratal schema are transcendentally deduced from experience. They map real memory systems, but these are only guaranteed sovereignty for as long as they are venerated as the final cause of the intensity which is articulated through them: fetishism (Pythagoras: ‘Everything is number and harmony’).
(Deleuze and Guattari 1987: 44)
The reinforcement of material and conceptual stratifications of sound makes Western music a wasteland of redundancy. Sonic technology locking into the song as tragic-orgasmic structure, emotional engineering overlaid by the signifying power of words; the cultural fixing of molar arrangements of specific instruments (orchestra to rock band) with a certain predictable range of musical effects. Harmony and counterpoint limiting the sonic to a grid of resonant points. Harmonic and manometric form itself as Hellenic beauty, right through to the transcendental despotism of Kant’s Stimmung, is endemic in Western art. In the Western tonal musical form, the tension of dissonance is always relieved by a consonant homecoming; this is implied even in the facetious mischief of the avant-garde.
Formed by these resonant coding systems, the reproduction of Westem music has long been a specialized technique, its performance linked to ritualized spectator events and expressions of power and its graphism being the preserve of specialized cognoscenti. Mechanical recording makes these techniques entirely procedural, and the mode of production and reproduction of sound becomes an increasingly dispersed network. At the same time as it immanentizes music, speech and other ‘noise’, mechanical sound-recording potentially flattens the divide between musician and listener, allowing the latter a (perhaps modificatory) hand in the performance.
The digital manipulation of sound accelerates to the point of breakdown the loop between playing and recording, composing and listening and even between composer and sound. Summarized and abstracted in the circuits of digital sound manipulation are the obvious virtues and the incidental features of the entire history of sound-recording technologies. This latest stage of the abstractive vector of the sonic assemblage stands in relation to late 1990s capitalism as the phonograph stood to the industrial era.
The phonographic diagram, given its direct transduction of physical wave to mechanical impulse or electrical signal, provides a code both precisely reproducible and potentially editable. There is no need of specialized knowledge to interpret the phonographic record: where the score represents, phonography simply transduces and can evidently not be described as a system of writing, but only as a diagram, despite its inventors’ wishes:
(Attali 1985: 89)
Sound remains stratified only to the extent that systems of observation and recording are the preserve of the powerful or wise, and their codes and territories appear as the divine presupposition of acoustic phenomena. But if the locking-in and conceptual reinforcement of such coding systems are inevitable, then also a very different process necessarily follows from the increasingly radical analysis and resynthesis of sonic material. The production of a sonic technology implies the construction of principles on the back of a deterritorialization (the production of an interruption or break in the assemblage at a certain point and the arbitrary repetition of redeparture from that point, transforming the conditions of possibility for sound production) and a decoding (rendering any regime of sound-ordering relative within a field of chromatically variable parameters) whose efficacy potentially releases, or releases the potential of, the matter of sound.
They are most clearly understood in information-theoretical terms, namely as a gradual reduction in the redundancy in works of music or, expressed differently, as a continuous increase in the complexity of sound and composition, hence an increase in the amount of auditory information transmitted during a given interval of time. Redundancy reduction has been achieved over the last two millennia by a steady abolishment of constraints on three levels: specificity of waveforms, selection of frequencies, and rules of synchronism and succession.
(Foerster and Beauchamp 1969: 9)
The sciences are incomprehensible apart from their combination with currency (communication): processes are only modelled in order to abstract and reproduce them on a more efficient basis, at will, or in bulk quantities. But concurrently, the street finds its own uses, and always produces strange offspring. In the middle of the processes of analysis and synthesis, the diagram or abstract machine of the assemblage at issue is seized upon by uninvited forces. Instead of simply reproducing, the diagram slowly yields its machinic surplus value.
As soon as the deterritorialization of sonic matter into vinyl abstracts it from the moment, and makes music into this random-access memory available time and time again, the sonic matter is susceptible to temporal mutation, warping, looping. The simple laws of selection and connection of elements within any medium used to store an abstracted signal produce a machinic surplus value anexactly proportional to the differential between its immanent logic and that of the ‘original’ medium, or its derangement of temporal normativity (deterritorialization). The contact between vinyl and hand, the technique of ‘scratching’, is an interface between temporal systems: rendering the abstract tactile (abstract matter is not a figurative or metaphorical term), this unplanned interaction makes audible more about the technology than even its designers were able or willing to realize.
The memory-system of a phonographic record could easily be (and was intended as) a simple archive, exerting a minimal derangement easily counterbalanced by the State-friendly effects of pseudo-propaganda (Edison envisaged us listening to stirring records of political speeches rather than music). Only in materially realizing the temporal derangement—the abstraction—which had taken place, by creating something new out of the record, was the machinic potential of the apparatus unlocked.
Despite the contemporary omnipresence of such abstract matter, a huge amount of energy is spent in preventing this from happening—docilizing consumers into using it simply as archival material, or as negative-feedback entertainment. However technology decodes human experience, redundant forms are tenaciously reaffirmed. Even in the age of digital technology, the production of a gigantic surplus value is suppressed or absorbed by the fetishistic packaging of ever-reproduced classical and ‘classic’ Western forms and the recording industry’s strangely hypocritical (if not surprising) promises of authenticity and faithfulness.
(Deleuze and Guattari 1983: 245)
Bourgeois tragic pop culture revels in a retro-reactive fascination for these archaisms, buUding them back into the system at the level of ironic simulation, or as ‘classics’—further strengthening the reflection-reproduction of a self-satisfied human interiority under the great weight of its own poignant degeneration. Nomads are more interested in migrating, investigating where else technological synthesis can take them, via the abstract, the diagram, the plane of consistency.
* * *
(Deleuze and Guattari 1987: 109)
Likewise the sampler places disparate sonic elements upon a plane of consistency without destroying their particular traits, the intensities produced in the sonic assemblage by their singular complex of rhythmic disturbances. Instead it enables these to be systematically diagrammed, edited, merged, manipulated as virtual entities, then reactualized. Sound becomes a series of partial objects for engineering, rather than an object of admiration for heavenly metaphorics. Even unassuming theorists who provide reconnaissance data for nomadic war upon the strata know to some extent what they’re doing:
(Foerster and Beauchamp 1969: 128)
(Deleuze and Guattari 1987: 69)
It is truly the minority whose experimentation has begun to explore the full potential, the true alien nature of abstract matter. The question will be, what sort of tactics are most efficacious in the releasing of machinic potential (surplus-value)? And how is it that, speaking in terms of the sonic assemblage, the vernacular cybernetics of underground subcultures have already sent such vectors crashing through the strata?
* * *
(Two Fingers and Kirk 1995: 37)
Hiphop, house, techno and jungle (‘Hip hop with the last vestiges of “natural” funk removed+house shorn of all humanist glitz/gospel evangelism+digitized reggae+ … metallic voodoo simulacra+’ (Fisher 1995: 5)) as strains of clandestine anti-music.
(Deleuze and Guattari 1983: 36)
Breakbeats—cannibalized rhythmic segments of soul and funk records, looped and mixed endlessly, becoming dehumanized chunks of sound migrating from their function as a ‘break’ within the song. DJs invaded by turntable logic, forming non-organic circuits to produce another time. MCs overlaying breakbeats and misappropriated soundbites with street neologisms, comic-book mechanismo and afro-blag, and returning them to vinyl.
Planet Rock, Afrika Bambataa’s rerouting of Kraftwerk’s Trans Europe Express through the warzones of the South Bronx, provides the soundtrack to robotics and breakdance—a neo-industrial voodoo-tech somatics of the grey area between the white lines of neo-classical German synth-pop and the legacy of the black heroes of funk and soul.
Hip-hop, together with many other sources, recycled once (many times) more in dance tracks where, de/reterritorialized as digital signal, sound is redesigned and reprocessed and once again returned to vinyl for DJs to mix into complex layers and sequences, melding tracks together. At every stage of this sonic metallurgy, a complex feedback and slippage between the functions of crowd, musician and machine, where sounds produce and execute their own evolutive pressures. New strains emerge faster than you can count.
As LA’s gangsta rap played uncomfortably upon black American youths’ status as ‘niggaz’ and revitalized the memory of soul and funk pioneers, jungle, from the inner cities of the UK, recalls racist taunts, immigration policies, inner-city meltdowns, and the hybridities of dub, rave, jazz, ska and twotone. It synthesizes distorted patois gun talk, horror video samples, dubterranean sub-bass and accelerated razor-sharp rhythms digitally cut into precise flurries. The rhythmic eccentricity, anexact precision, and constant development of jazz lines shot through with the mechanical pounding of funk and house and the cavernous low-end of dub. Africa filtered through Diaspora, alienation, urban decay and techno-virtuality, the supposedly ‘impossible combination of blackness and the future’ (Fisher 1995) lethally injecting the colonial terror of the living jungle and its ‘natives’ with SF future-shock.
Sound is no longer experienced as whole, recognizable and familiar structures, associated with persons or instruments; it doesn’t signify. Sounds could have come from anywhere, and can potentially go anywhere, mutating as they pass through multiple vinylurgical singularities (tracks). They engender their own vast, clandestine plane which is nothing apart from what moves on it but is nonetheless real, transversal, tilting though heaps of bastardized techno-junk, Cubasing across bedroom studios…swerving through clubland, into advertising…sinking back into James Brown and P-funk and Dub and Voodoo…diving through magnetic signal, vinyl, vibration, intensity . transmitting as cultural virus, pirate radio, illegal duplication…opening onto insomniac planes, fashion codes, violence and ecstasy, social disintegrations.
Composition by experimentation: the keys of the synthesizer keyboard have only a machinic relation to the sounds they trigger. Unlike the state-numerical system of the musical scale, the digital sequencer operates nomadically: number systems with no necessary hierarchical relations but available to be assigned for maximum functionality, references and designations reassignable and manipulable on every level, numbers working rather than signifying.
Samplers making time for the future: timestretching, a digital technique commonly used in jungle which elongates sounds without altering their pitch, demonstrates how the speed at which levels of acoustic intensity are digitally recorded (around 44,000 samples/second) means that a certain level of destratification is automatically accomplished. Since magnitudes (of acoustic intensity) are all that each sample bit contains, they can be manipulated so as to operate underneath the stratification of pitch/ duration which depends on the differentiation of the relatively slow comprehensive temporality of cycles per second.2 Designed to tune up samples of musical instruments, timestretching is employed as a means of creating periods of disorientating duration, impossible speeds and slownesses, realizing the temporal disturbance it is capable of. This is only to repeat again that acute analysis of strata presupposes sub-stratic sampling and so is tantamount to their dissolution, and the freeing of machinic potential. This principle also applies to sampling in the more usual sense, as the decontextualized use of pieces of recorded sound (and to similar techniques in other media). Most of the accumulated techniques of today’s sonic engineers were acquired by chance, or as a response to some mechanical or economic limitation. That’s the story of hip-hop, the cyberpunk history of a new sonic assemblage taking shape with neither metanarrative nor progressive urgency. Unexpected convergences during the bricolage of machine-sequenced sound count more than planned outcomes. Following the grain of sound, rolling with the rhythm. Distributed wildstyle jamming, describing polyrhythmic lines of metamorphosis which take in at irregular intervals sample, sequencer, composer, party crowd, DJ.
The much-vaunted connection between avant-garde movements such as serialism and musique concrete and hip-hop techniques needs to take account of the fact that, far from being an intellectual experiment, hip-hop has always been concerned with producing the maximum intensity where it matters: bodily sound, made for dancing, no interpretation necessary.
This reticular phylogenetic webbing of transcodings and deterritorializations marks out hip-hop and its progeny as the sound of superheated anthropo-technic circuitries, where decoded flows begin to leave meaning behind, and escape from molar commoditization by means of a constant flight underground. Uprooted shapes and. mounds merge and rescript, break up and repermutate in the virtual machinery of the sampler whilst social fabric warps into localized chaosmosis. A subterranean diagonal which unconditionally migrates from its habitat: accelerating BPMs (no time to understand), reprocessed percussion (Neither harmony or noise), timestretching (violating the chronogenic homeostat of pitch/duration) and sub-bass (sound becoming uncompromisingly physical) retune the neuro-auditory apparatus to awesomely intricate and dense abysses of sound, and permeate the body as an amnesiac addiction. Becoming-sound.
(Two Fingers and Kirk 1995: 101,109)
But why was it the bass and percussion breaks that set the ghettos alight, that demanded a line of flight out of the song? The operation of rhythm within the African socius involves physicality and communication, rather than signifying sound shut up in the soul of the music-lover, merely an adjunct to the harmony of the spheres. African rhythm is a body technology, a precise component, like African art which is assigned its function by nommo, power of the word (Jahn 1961: ch. 5), and discarded when it bas been used, rather than being retained for eternity in the museum (a scandal which led the ‘art-world’ to have serious doubts about its value). It is the Western art object which is the ‘fetish’; and it is logocentric Western world history which cannot understand the transitive voice of the drum.
Voodoo loa are rhythms, or traits immanent in the social machine, which manifest themselves in response to needs of that machine.3 From where voodoo is, the Christian God is oppressively manometric and dysfunctional. When the Haitian authorities tried to force the slaves to convert to Catholicism, the slaves received a new god into their pantheon, wondering only why the white man lets just one (dull) loa ride him. For the divine nature of the loa is in their immanence and availability, not in a miraculous transcendence at once inutile and terrifying which despotically inscribes its disjunctions onto the social body, allowing no feedback. Even Bon Dieu is neither feved nor praised. ‘Vodou isn’t like that…it isn’t concerned with notions of salvation and transcendence. What it’s about is getting things done’ (Gibson 1993: 111). Voodoo drums call Legba, loa of the pathways, to remove the barrier (the black mirror) which seals the street of the loa off from the human world. Intoxicating polyrhythm calls the loa to ride the initiates, to possess them, to inhabit them with their trances, their traits, their dances. Sound experienced as bodily sensation, rather than spiritual recreation (Jahn 1961: 122) shows how African languages express non-visual intensity as tactile.
(Two Fingers and Kirk 1995: 100–1)
The climatic impracticability of an extensively developed writing system in early African history produced an asignifying semiotic which resisted the vertical flight of interpretability and signifiance. The drum functioned as immanent memory system and transmitter of cultural history, co-intensive with the intonation and percussion of African languages (a coupling still present now in hip-hop). The somewhat repellent modus operandi of the slave trade was to capture tribes, destroy the drums, and then claim disgustedly that Africa had ‘no history’. Not that the ROM-museum of Western history could claim any filiation with the vastly distributed machinery of a communicative social machine whose resilience defies genocidal colonialism.
The virtual history of the drum gradually rematerializes, irrupting into Western music like a long-awaited revenge for its brutal silencing. Speaking for centuries in all outlawed musical forms, those which explored the virtual spaces of sonic assemblages rather than reciting texts, and currently in cyberflux digi-processed afro-futurist, it steals sounds and speaks them back in its own becoming-Creole (nommo is always a becoming-word and a word-becoming which does not signify but (re-)invents what it is applied to), its own complex of rhythms. The meme grinder. Predator, indiscernible jungle warfare. All State authorities, like the Haitian plantation-owners, fear the materiality of sound, and the unintelligible, ungodly rites that surround it (sampled/sequenced music is the first form of music to have its performance specifically proscribed by an Act of Parliament). Again and again the drums are confiscated, but the Black Secret Technology continues. Voodoo, the practice of rhythmic contagion, is the tactile point of contact between the social body and the deterritorialized socius, proceeding by means of decoded sonic affect to reinsert the social into the pulsive maelstrom of matter-flows. Dahomian snake becomings (plunging desiring-machines into the BwO) transform into distributed and refined subsocial programs under ascendant pressure from secured State molarity, travelling unnoticed by icebound damping systems.
* * *
The Critique of Pure Reason’s ‘profoundly schizoid’ (Deleuze and Guattari 1983: 19) theory maps reality as intensive magnitude, ‘beginning in pure intuition = 0′ (Kant 1933: 202 A166/B208), ‘continuous’ and ‘flowing’, the ‘matter’ of experience (Kant 1933: 204 A170/B211). Rational categories supplant the positivity of intensity with the ultimate and empty form of experience, zero intensity as negation, as the miraculous hypnostatic attractor of pure intuition. A complete stasis, an escape from ‘that element which cannot be anticipated’ (Kant 1933: 204 A170/B211), which brings us closer to the god of the disjunctive syllogism. The tautological death of pure form: a favourite trope of philosophy.
Capitalism and Schizophrenia‘s zero intensity is not a zero of absence or negation, but more like the zero of MIDI which designates the establishment of a plane of communication. The surface of a full body where intensity ebbs and shatters. Or think of the way morphing drum patterns glide and trip across the surface of their own momentum.
Disjunctive synthesis as primary is replaced in Capitalism and Schizophrenia by connective synthesis: ‘… and …’. The rational scaffold of Kantianism, the matter/form distinction together with the privileging of the latter, dismantled into the immanence of desiring-production, the machinic unconscious:
(Nietzsche 1973: 11)
Like Nietzsche’s will to power, like Bataille’s general economics, the machinic unconscious is a cipher for the dissembling force of critique whose runaway feedback loop consists of increasingly sophisticated analyses of its own stratification. Capitalism and Schizophrenia is a program for desirevolutionary autocritique, a toolbox for migrating (=) intelligence.
Reality production is described as a process of silting, mnemonic residue, stratification, the freezing, quantizing and subsequent coding and territorialization of sequences of intensities. So ‘the question is not how things manage to leave the strata, but how things get there in the first place’ (Deleuze and Guattari 1987: 56). Pragmatically the simulation or diagramming of strata is always the first task of stratoanalysis.
But reality consists also and contemporaneously in the circuit virtual-actual virtual. The swoop to zero intensity and back, reinsertion into connective synthesis, the unfolding and metamorphosis of machinic potential into the experience of passage through its actualizations. Memory systems provide the spaces between which communication takes place, at the risk of their own dissolution. Schizophrenia-paranoia as the poles of desiring-production, the tensorial polemos which produces intensive gradients as frictional oscillation (Spinozan passion). Stratification is simultaneously cruel persecution and aboriginal reality. Repulsion-Attraction, Paranoia-Miraculation. Transcendental simulation. Reality as black humour (Deleuze and Guattari 1983: 11).
Mobilization: second task. To accelerate virtual-actual circuits; to constantly bring codes and territories as close as possible to their mutation or dissolution, prospecting for a new earth, new planes of communication, whose vast possibilities lie in lurker-space waiting for an escape/invasion. Memory-space is a necessary but not a sufficient condition for social or desiring-production. Intensive machinery is always in play, on transversal circuits.
Technology is an index of social sophistication since diagrammatic recording in the service of replication is precisely this impossible intimacy of stratification and communication. Digital communications technology is a hysterical stage in the history of this tension: its products must at once be invisible data-ducts and carry a trademark. So even ‘late’ capitalism still sees decoding equipment sold as, and in constant desperation to retain its identity as, sedentary consumer goods (digital publishing, home audio and video, communications, consumer credit, the Internet—one of the best examples being the lamentable familial-archival use made of camcorders).
Privatization coupled with deregulation in general involves a decoding of flows contrary to the establishment of a molar social machine. Capitalist social reproduction must domesticate intractable flows, although in the field of technical machines this function becomes almost automatic, the rate of technological dissemination necessitating great standardizations to ensure global compatibility. This techno-miraculative locking acts as a ratchet for intelligence, inscribing progressively sophisticated and autonomous coding systems upon the social body. Revolutionary systems which accelerate communication find commerce already waiting patiently for them, but because they lock into systems of resonance and redundancy under market pressure, their machinic potential is squeezed into sedentary structures which resist the drift of a deterritorializing socius. The embedding of these systems engenders an estrangement between the schizophrenic movements of the social unconscious and its corporeal reality. Darkside operates rhizomatically, 1pontaneoualy digesting complexification into its maelstrom and creating new monsters. Progressive ascendancy operates by heaping systems into functional axiomatics, reconstituting molarity where possible. They approach convergence in lurches, as disordered desiring-machines catalyse the molecularization of the social, reciprocally acquiring new influxes of estranged desire. The bombed-out schizophrenic is the one who takes this diagonal too far too soon, before the socius can digest it: Artaud, binned by society, obsessively decoding vocal and/or logographical systems into the ‘gasps and cries’ of schizonautic BwO burnout, ‘sheer unarticulated blocks of sound’ (Deleuze and Guattari 1983: 9). The alphabet as an object of exploration, of machinic exploitation, an apparatus of migration. Consonants are break-cuts in a vowel-flow. Permutation hunts down potential. Various coding systems, some human, some unknown, emerge and are submerged in turn:
(Artaud 1946: vol. 25: 193/216)
Not ‘mistaking words for things’, but using words as machine parts. Maximwn slogan density—the delirious opus postumum of a psychotic advertising exec, short circuiting the market to testify, alone and already a crowd criss-crossed by nommo, to the incarceration of rnachinic potential in ‘natural’ language. Using the frayed edges of words which connect like a hidden passageway to their milieu of exteriority to irradiate the whole system.
Playing de/coding apparatuses tactically against their fetishistic tendencies (solvent abuse) is a thoroughly schizoanalytic procedure—riding the cusp of cyberpositive commodification without turning into a shopkeeper, or rushing into black-hole deterritorialization. The perversity and ambivalence of capitalist production (exemplified by the advertising industry’s enslavement of orphaned chunks of language-intensity to vapid consumerism) is the key to Capitalism and Schizophrenia, a justification in itself for that untimely coupling of cracked-up heads. But at its outer limit, the capitalist socius is the machinic unconscious. It clicks into desiring-production as decoded language clicks into rhythm.
Capitalization agitates for decoded communication, the abstract general equivalent, whilst performing a gross overcoding which dichotomizes monetary exchange as capital/ cash, one mapping an intensive series, non-linear positive feedback, the other mapping extensive, linear and unproductive circles: investor/consumer. Cash is livestock for the capitalists’ table. Keep the animals stupid, hand them little morsels and reap the profits, consumer spending constructed as an endlessly reconstituted lack expressed in molar units (financial psychoanalysis). Capital as a mysterious flow which is always intensifying, distributing and travelling.
But the double bind is not to be identified with contradiction, and besides, contra Marx, ‘no-one has ever died of contradictions’ (Deleuze and Guattari 1983: 151). The plication (stratogenesis) of capital and cash is a further manifestation of the twin tendencies of capitalism: a ceaseless expansion of its inner limits, and a labyrinthine flight from its outer limit – BwO. The clandestine channel of communication (cataspace) between investment (non-linear complication) and bovlne consumerism (linear compliance) is the escape valve, the diagonal of the articulation: its covert presupposition and its greatest fear. The abstract currency/current which is always imagined as complicit (matter-slave-worker-woman-machine-money-data). But K-circuits inevitably tend towards positive feedback, accelerating each other. The circuits (even those of the black markets) are their own escalation, just as money is its circulation. The technological industries, in their tireless pursuit of efficiency and reproducibility (analysis), must retain increasing margins of decoding, cutting edges of deterritorialization, which are always exploited by vagabond science and guerrilla commerce, speeding reality circuitry into posthuman micro smear-cultures (catalysis—ARPANET becomes Internet, 303 becomes Acid Machine, car becomes ramraider, turntable becomes instrument, spraycan becomes paintbrush). There have always been hackers (because ‘there was ice before computers’ (Gibson 1993: 169)). The capitalist socius has always been (in) the process of disturbing its own striation, just as critique endlessly throws itself on its inner limits. And catalytic microcultures which induce BwO migration (lines of flight) are crucial to the cyberpositive surges which accelerate the process. Anti-Oedipus‘ synthetic process of desiring-production played out in macro feedback turbulence—'(T]he more it breaks down, the more it schizophrenizes, the better it works, the American way’ (Deleuze and Guattari 1983: 151).
Code is viable currency only insofar as it exploits its margins of decoding. Internalism (and the separatism of hierarchized representational schemae) produces poverty. Trade barriers prevent development, and black marketeers always creep put the border guards. Decoding is always possible and usually inexorable. Successively decoded currents sweep through cold circuits, rendering them more conductive as they circulate. The circulation is the conductivity, the surplus value of code produced by/as desiring-production which renders territorial consolidation a volatile subcomponent of the material process. ‘Stages’ of capitalism are nomadic encampments. All currencies float on the full body of capital, and in their mobilization, mutate.
(Deleuze and Guattari 1987: 53)
Will the margin of decoding and deterritorialization (a closed system’s diagonal drip-feed) gradually widen until, as in the State’s worst nightmare, in a cataclysmic spasm, the system is collapsed out of ‘itself’, irradiated by its own conditions of possibility? The nightmare of decoded flows, BwO? Always on the cusp of its own extropy, capitalism is a continually intensifying plateau which sweeps all of history along into its trail. And if it feels like it’s gonna blow…you haven’t seen anything yet… (of course Apocalyptic SF is one essential genre of ‘late’ capitalism).
(Deleuze and Guattari 1983: 140)
The ‘limit’ point which trips the fuse-switches of panoptic power, reterritorializing on all of the BwO’s good work, ancillary State apparatuses trying to arrogate to themselves a share of the surplus value, or absorbing it just in order to endure. Crisis after crisis, the critical ambivalence appears in all its insane glory. The risible panic government of the post-Thatcher /Reagan State. The end of the family, of the social, interpreted by State priests as motives for consolidation, quiescence and/ or despair. Fascist resurgences. Fetish marketing of consumer products under threat of pandemic anonymous black-market replication. Copyright clampdowns on sampling. Revival of the good old-fashioned pseudo-tragic pop-chart song as the response to decoded sub-scene sonic networks.
The tendency of code to drift and the consequent trade-off between migration and security, which at every subsequent stage must necessarily become less an option than an impulsion (hence the plasticity of the axiomatic), means that such Illegitimate policing is a never-ending task requiring huge influxes of energy. Thus not only doe1 a vast pool of machinic potential lie unexplored or become absorbed and neutralized, but regulators are constantly being assembled to prevent anything from escaping, overcoding and reterritorializing in a frenzy of xenophobic activity.
Illegitimate policing, coding to abolish migration, communication, external functionality, is an old story: Plato and the sophists, Kant and the nomads, psychoanalysis and schizophrenia. Confiscation of the drums and ‘fetishes’. Eliminating all but the most impoverished gestalt transmissions, to create autonomous systemic reality-machines.
The State works so hard at its laziness, paying for the luxury of stasis with a general enervation and self-affirming sedentariness, revelling in its disengagement. In philosophy the schism between theory and practice (arithmetica/logistica), the intellectual’s disdain for commerce and business (which is obviously reciprocated), developed into a perennial State trope on the basis of Hellenic slavery. The related love of static and ordered forms extends especially to the marriage of music and mathematics. The Pythagorean scale, which traps music in harmonic redundancy, geometry as a spatial overcoding of the social machine (polis), which freezes mathematics for centuries, deleting the problematic nature of Babylonian ‘algebra’ (nomos).
Such policing is eschewed by Capitalism and Schizophrenia, which instead assembles the tools necessary for micro-engineering stratoanalysis. Capitalism and Schizophrenia is a diagram of the highly schizophrenic assemblage of capitalist reality production, and hints at techniques for exploiting its suppressed potential, its ironic and critical movement, the process of its endless finalities and its artificial realities. Queer Mechanics. ‘The schizoanalyst is a mechanic, and schizoanalysis is solely functional’ (Deleuze and Guattari 1983: 322). Diagonalization invades/escapes stratification by producing apparatus which decouples reciprocal and vicious articulation-series. Finding again the intensities which are split (schiz-), in a process which of course includes further reterritorializations, further codes. A left-handed cartography in which, however, it is the further which takes precedence in a sinister divergence from the straight (State) line made of metric-spatial points.
(Deleuze and Guattari 1987: 505)
In its insistence on the practicality of stratoanalysis (icebreaking), Capitalism and Schizophrenia plugs into the vernacular cybernetics of Gibson’s street-voudu, emphasizing the power of minority microcultures whose pragmatic survivalism precludes for them the bourgeois marginality of the avant-garde or the heroic martyrdom of resistance politicos:
(Deleuze and Guattari 1987: 24)
Theory is already practice at the level of intensity; it is only by a conscientious disintensification that academia sends itself into the woods. Dislike of memetic transfer, popularity, becoming-style. Must keep it precious…Heidegger singing peasant ballads on the folk-dub circuit, the senescent Deleuze and Guattari’s touching concern for the plight of philosophy in the age of advertising (Deleuze and Guattari 1995: 10–12).
Clandestine planes consist of technological (recording and reproductive) systems gradually escaping their instrumental definitions and designator-functionality to communicate through subterranean channels, between marginal non-agents, those excluded from the official processes of social recording and reproduction.
Clandestine planes escape macro socio-theoretlcal and philosophical monitoring apparatuses because they operate transversally, without reference to molar categories or overcodings. No prescribed forms underlie the unfoldings and catastrophes of matter in such processes. No under-standing. Swarm. Hivelocity.
Interference patterns and polymetric disturbances in a strange milieu, weaving, modulating and transcoding: temporary agglomeration and interplay, the track, or plateau. Writing-machine as remix, sample-heavy. If such an assemblage uses Capitalism and Schizophrenia, reactualizing its concepts (replication is not duplication, ‘no genetics without genetic drift’), it is not as an object of veneration. As soon as the concepts ‘deterritorialization’ and ‘decoding’ leave the page they are already doing deterritorialization and decoding. Philosophical personae become irrelevant upon machinic engagement, and any misuse of terminology derives from schizoanalysis’ nature as vague (vagabond) science: don’t try and get it straight—bend it out of shape even more. Use the rough edges of the plateaus to slot them into others, creating new planes of consistency in a process which is not personal any more than hip-hop and jungle are the inventions of a benevolent music-lover.
ROUTES NOT ROOTS
Don’t expect answers or origins, just lines twisting, converging and crossing as well as diverging; not arborescent but rhlzomaniac. No original but always the vershon. Wildstyle like the graffiti that accompanied hip-hop—an unseen and unplanned alliance cross-fertilizing traits through the medium of the wall or the subway train, inciting unknown associates further and further into baroque foldings (aparallel evolution). The glistening surfaces of K-culture, videogames, advertising, twisted into Escher-space, projecting-probing-splitting and joining in unfathomable planes of colour until the word disappears beneath its own superfluity…neither really simple, nor really complex, but desimplified in the course of its production. Overlaid like a second skin onto the subway trains that criss-cross the subterranea of NYC, Wildstyle creates a clandestine cataspace, a mutant topology of unanticipated connections, at the same time eliminating the name in favour of the tag, the offhand flourish of the magic marker that stands for a multiplicity and its traits, something that once passed through here, leaving its art behind…
the urban city…is the cut-up space of distinctive signs…(it) is a ‘body without organs’, as Deleuze says, an intersection of channelled flows.
(Baudrillard 1993: 76-7, 79)
The city is becoming-wildstyle, and wildstyle uses capitalism’s decoding equipment (‘the terrorist power of the media…symbolic destruction’ (Baudrillard 1993: 76-7) against the social and semiological reterritorializations of consumer capitalism.
(Baudrillard 1993: 82)
TRACKS NOT SONGS
The creation of the track as a singular coincidence of a swarmachine of sampled material, filter sequences, abstract gradients and resistances–the engineer tracking an anonymous and collectively constituted sonic phylum, actualizing it in the track as nomadic anarchitecture. Bass has no face, only a machinic probe-head which collects and connects, and is called on by means of a cthulic cipher:
PHOTEK HYPE LEMON D TEK 9 A-ZONE FLYTRONIX SYSTEM X
Urban style music. The city is a jungle.
(Two Fingers and Kirk 199S: 4)
Clandestine in voodoo nights of microcultural mutation. Zero as machinic assemblages mash-up and cross-fade. Diagonal as markets lock into guerrilla commerce, ever-decamping nomad cultures, melting in the heat of the chase. Current.
(Deleuze and Guattari 1987: 190–1)
If it is inevitable that mnemotechnics should take hold of life in such a comprehensive fashion, it is only on the condition of a necessary and immanent indiscipline. The principal component of technological sophistication, analysis, is the progressive disintegration of corporeal machines into virtuality (catastrophe). Darkside influence functions as retroactive non-linearity (anastrophe), catalysing virtual components into new artificialities which reprocess the present through its machinic potential. Clandestine becomings plug the present into the future, looping virtual-actual into RAM-mutation, intersecting the black mirror which chronologizes non-linear temporal plurality. The history of the White Man Face will appear in Count Zero Vodou as a temporary dissipator for labyrinthine convergences, science fiction more alien than it ever dreamt it would be. ‘The dark continent we’re heading towards’ (Fisher 1995). The living jungle, where to survive is to activate mutant lines, become-imperceptible in order to perceive, and follow diagonal paths marked out only by chromatic gradients of intensity (Schwarzenegger in Predator).
Jungle has nothing to do with a fetishistic ‘primitivism’, but signals a twofold movement whereby diasporic flows of abstract matter, alien(ated) forces, activate their potential irrespective of the apparently triumphant system of neutralizing, metabolic molarity. The micro-striation of the capitalist socius tends toward a smooth space whose inorganic zones of machinic detritus overwhelm the State apparatus, short-circuiting modernocratic optimism. Voodoo was already in cyberspace; it was just waiting for the Technics to arrive. Technologies less visible, less obvious than those of the West: forcibly virtualized on the Atlantic passage, ready for reactualization in local conditions, a vernacular cybernetics, a rhythmic contagion, local and specific, functional and asignifiant.
(Two Fingers and Kirk 1995: 190)
Stratoanalytical technique: sampling at substratic speeds and scrambling coding systems, feeding intensificatory experimentation back into the strata to optimize darkside convergence. Stratoanalysis is never distinct from its mode of operation: indeed certain modes of operation ‘accidentally’ invent stratoanalytic lines, or forgotten techniques suddenly resurface as tools of a new stratoanalytic practice.
Preliminary diagonalyses suggest that such so-called ‘spontaneous phenomena’ may result from the clandestine operation of photonic timestretching devices, steering junglist vectors from futurelooped loatronic encampments. Catalytic microcultures stretched across time, rhythms without sense assembling non-organic lives. As they touch us, we are immersed in new sonic assemblages where abstract matter becomes tactile. An into-body experience and a new model for thought that cuts through the grid-lines of acoustic, aesthetic, social and economic composition. The synthetic future, no longer enlightened, with a clear vision of the future and able to shut its eyes against the ‘internal south’, but coming from the dark spaces in the middle, when least expected. Disturbance of equilibrium…vibrations through the body; breaks and cuts.
(Attali 1985, 11)
At a certain threshold, the experimental dismemberment of codes no longer just prevents us from complicitly saying what we didn’t want to say, but arrives at a mobilization or a complication of flows which ‘we’ were never aware of, lines which emerge from another zone and meet in wildstyle on the darkside, in the jungle, in full effect.
It therefore remains for us to see how, effectively, simultaneously, these various tasks of stratoanalysis proceed.
Artaud, A. (1946) Oeuvres complètes, Paris: Gallimard.
Attali, J. (1985) Noise, trans. B. Massumi, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
Bataille, G. (1992) On Nietzsche, trans. B. Boone, New York.: Paragon.
Baudrillard, J. (1993) Symbolic Exchange and Death, trans. I. H. Grant, London; Sage.
Delany, S. R., Tate, G. and Rose, T. (1993) ‘Black to the Future’, in M. Dery (ed.) Flame Wars: The D1scourse of Cyberculture (Durham, NC: Duke University Press).
Deleuze, G. and Guattari, Felix (1983) Anti-Oedipus, trans. R. Hurley, M. Seem and H. R. Lane, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
— (1987) A Thousand Plateaus, trans. B. Massumi, London: Athlone.
— (1995) What is Philosophy?, trans. G. Burchell and H. Tomlinson, London: Verso.
Deleuze, G. and Parnet, Claire (1983) ‘Politics’, in G. Deleuze and F. Guattari, On the Line, New York: Semiotext!e], 1983.
Eglash, R. (1995) ‘African Influences in Cybernetics’, in C. H. Gray (ed.) The Cyborg Handbook, New York and London: Routledge.
Fisher, Mark. (1995) ‘Black Noise’, ***collapse 2.
Foerster, H. and Beauchamp, J. W. (eds) (1969) Music by Computers, New York: Wiley.
Gibson, W. (1993) Count Zero, London: HarperCollins.
Helmholtz, H. L. F (1954) On the Sensation of Tone, trans. A. J. Ellis, New York: Dover.
Jahn, J. (1961) Muntu: The New African Culture, trans. M. Green, New York: Grove Press.
Kant, I. (1933) Critique of Pure Reason, trans. N. K. Smith, London: Macmillan.
Metraux, A. (1972) Voodoo in Haiti, trans. H. Charteris, New York: Schocken.
Nietzsche, F. (1973) Beyond Good and Evil, trans. R. J. Hollingdale, London: Penguin
Two Fingers and Kirk., James T. (1995) Junglist, London: Boxtree.
Dr Octagon, Blue Flowers Remixes, Mo’Wax
Ed Rush, Check Me Out, DeeJay Recordings
HeavyWeight, Oh Gosh, Rogue Trooper
Lemon D, Urban Flava Pt. 1, Metalheadz
Marvellous Cain, Gun Talk, Suburban Base
Raekwon, Only Built 4 Cuban Linx, RCA
Remarc, In Da Hood, Suburban Base
–– Menace, Whitehouse
Various Drum & Bass Selection 1–6, Breakdown
–– Platinum Breakz, Metalheadz
–– Routes From the Jungle, Virgin
–– Techsteppin, Emotif
…Thanks also to Switch, Turbofunk, Zc2 and Cur, who helped mix it.
- This principle explains the Pythagorean discovery that ratios of natural numbers correspond to musical harmony thus: ‘(T)he ear resolves all complex sounds into pendular oscillations…and regards as harmonious only such excitements of the nerves as continue without disturbance’, i.e. tones whose frequencies are in factorial ratios and thus do not disrupt each other’s cycles (Helmholtz 1954; 229).
- This is also the reason one cannot slow down a CD in the same way as one can a record. This lack of tactile interaction explains the endurance (indeed resurgence) of such an apparently obsolete medium as the vinyl disc.
- It is irrelevant to ask, as many sociologists and anthropologists do, whether initiates are really possessed, whether what is involved is mass hysteria, hypnosis, or playacting. This move ignores the fact that the loa have no ‘reality’ apart from their immanence in the social machine, and therefore their desiring-manifestation (or machine-infestation) seeks no authenticating status over and above its active function within the social machine.