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Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Rhythms

Deleuze's remark towards the end of Le Pli that Whitehead inaugurated a move from clausure to capture is very interesting. Ontologies of clausure have to do with closed individuals - substantialism as in the postulation of closed monads that subsist in time and substatism according to which individuated units are independent of their actual properties. (To be sure, Leibniz held obviously the first but not the second.) Ontologies of capture postulate signals, broadcasts, transmission, modulators, antennas, satellites, connections and all those things that can contaminate each other and display vulnerability to the way they receive and to how they are received. Tarde prefigured this move towards capture in his analysis of societies: social populations are tied together in a way that they are modulated by other individuals of the same kind - like cellular automata. Molecules are highly social, birds are very social, humans are less social because they capture signals from bacteria, the elements, their inner ecology etc - and these signals affect their rhythms. Planets are social to planets and large masses because few things outside the society of planets and large masses can affect them.

Capture is about rhythms - about entrainement and heterochrony. The more social a population is, less entrained by other, extra-social elements. Repetition gives rise to regularity and if what is repeated is tuned to the same signals, a regularity is maintained. I remember our house in Hove street, Brighton, where lived 4 women and only Mar was taking the pill. Mar entrained the menstrual cycle of all the others while she was entrained by extra-social elements. All this entrainement happen simultaneously. Simultaneity is the nature of chronos, the time of present: things happen at the same time in chronos, the hormonal processes, the digestive processes, the emotional processes, the social processes all at the same and this means all synchronizing each other. Entrainement is the mark of chronos - the mark of the density of the present. Now, events are entrained by the co-existing rhythms but also by the capacities of matter that can be thought in terms of its folds, the folding capacity of each thing. Entrainement is enabled by the capacity of something to fold in a way that the rhythm can be somehow acquired and modulation is possible. Folds and beats. Differences both in folds and in beats can always configure an overall difference - the folding capacities of my body enable my rhythmic entrainement and the folds I'm capable of doing. You could dance like me but have different folds responding to different beats.

Heterochrony, on the other hand, is the introduction of a different rhythm that will change this ontological jam session. This is where I find urges. But difference is tied to repetition - heterochrony comes from entrainement. I tried to explain the constitutive drift of repetition in my introductory class to Deleuze's D&R through Chinese Whisper. We do no more than repeat - and the drift is there. There are too many extra-social elements in the reception and in the transmission. These extra-social elements can be seen as micro-urges to which we are tuned. In fact, it is not about urges that (passive voice!) get recognized but rather about who capture them as such. All receptors are modulated in a matrix of differences and indifferences - a tick can be oblivious to a quake etc. The urge that is effective is the urge that is captured. Shocks and catastrophes are urges that everyone (in a population) captures. Something that intervened in the repetition and that comes from a synchronic process that is happening at the same time. Less sociality (in Tarde's sense) means greater vulnerability to urges. In a rigid society, nothing is taken as a disturbance because receptors are oblivious to where the disturbance could come (Tough Guys Don't Dance). To dance is to expose your antennas - to show what tunes you.

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