Staff | March 23, 2004
In their analysis of war, Deleuze and Guatarri encounter a problem: “Is there a way to extricate throught from the State model?” (374) The question is a demanding one, whose implications extend into every act, every thought. If, as they state, it is a general rule that the “war machine”, that from which war springs, is “exterior to the State apparatus”, the next question is whether thought itself can be exterior to the State. (351, 374) We can see a similar debate within “Willy Wonka and the Chocalate Factory”. The basic premise of the film is that there is a location entirely outside of the limits of the world, a land where “outside thought” is practiced without limits. The allure of the film lies in the possibility of representing a thought outside of known limits – a pure fantasy.
To represent thought outside of the State would necessitate one held a thought image entirely naïve of the State model. D/G, along with Michel Serres, emphasize that this image must be one of fluidity, as opposed to rigidity. Both theorists also emphasize the way in which images of thought express themselves in action. Looking at time, Michel Serres notes that “the usual theory supposes time to be always and everywhere laminar. With geometrically rigid and measurable distances – at least constant. [...] No, time flows in a turblent and chaotic manner; it precolates.” (59) Going further, Serres demonstrates that this idea of time is fundamentally one of war, a notion which D/G will explicate as well. By conceiving of time as rigid, flowing in parallel lines, we have made speed into an object of desire. The result is a war accomplished through speed in which we strive towards a diagram that:
“allows us premanently (yes, permanently, since the present is always the last word on time and truth; “permenantly” - that's a good paradox for the theory of historical evolution) to be not only right but to be righter than was ever possible before. [...] This isn't time, but a simple competition – once again, war.” (49)
D/G trace a similar idea through the parallel lines of “royal science” which are also expressions of war. It is a conceptual model which is marked by “homogeneous space” which “is in no way a smoooth space: on the contrary, it is the form of striated space. The space of pillars. It is striated by the fall of bodies.” (370)
The ability of conceptual models to effect the mundane world is what makes it impossible to totally represent a conceptual model outside of the known State. Instead, we can only observe them by their effects as they “do not meet the visual condition of being observable from a point in space external to them; an example of this is the system of sounds, or even of colors, as opposed to Euclidean space.” (371) Therefore, one cannot just construct smooth space out of mundane objects which doesn't exclude representation of smooth space entirely. Although the walls of the Chocalate Factory are rigid, the interior is constructed of optical illusions that defy law. The entire movie is a conscious comprimise ending in a question mark. The elevator's line of flight, bursting outside of representation, is an attempt to represent the answer D/G are grappling for in their attempts to think outside of the State.
“Because the less people take thought seriously, the more they think in conformity with the what the State wants” we must think in a model based in the antithesis of the state's controlled flows – one of pure nomadic, deterritorialization. But how can we do that when even our “image of thought” is in conformity with the State and actively strenghtens the state? Here D/G expand Nietzsche's thesis on the internalization of man and although agreeing that thought was crafted out of a turning back of forces, emphasize why thought entered into a deal with the State in the first place.
It is the encounter between the flows of the nomadic and the pipes of the State that composes our images of thought. The comprimise was beneficial for both sides. The internalization of man resulted in a thing able to validate the State while at the same time creating a desire to validate a Universal. “The State gives thought a form of interiority, and thought gives that interiority a form of universality.”
The exit strategy is a complicated one. But D/G present several possibilities from the formulation above. If our image of thought is premised on a singular Universal composed of simple binaries, and if the State is only able to validate itself if we believe that it is an expression of the “singular Universal composed of simple binaries”, then holding an image of thought that is fluid and denies the state its “consensus” is revolutionary.
Serres, Michel with Bruno Latour. “Conversations on Science, Culture and Time”.
Gilles, Deleuze and Felix Guattari. “A Thousand Plateaus”