The Apotheosis of Nullity

A Transhistorical Genealogy of Human Subjectivity

by Bartosz Łubczonok (Author)
Monographs XVI, 1028 Pages
Series: American University Studies, Volume 226


This massive book is an intensive inquest into the fate of the human subject as it passes through the primitive, despotic, passional and capitalist regimes found in Deleuze and Guattari. Emphatic, acerbic, loquacious, impassioned, and marshaling a considerable array of theoretical and literary frameworks—from Schelling, Kantorowicz, Agamben, Hegel, Nietzsche, Badiou, Rosenzweig, Lévinas, Derrida, Blanchot, Kierkegaard, Marx, Lazzarato, Berardi, Žižek and Plotinus to Solzhenitsyn, Pessoa, Fuentes, Dostoyevsky, Kafka, Beckett, Mann, Schreber, Dante, Milton, Shakespeare, Sade, the Midrash and Kabbalah—and cavorting through vast expanses of world history, Bartosz Łubczonok scrutinizes the maladies of pain, resentment, bad conscience, ideology, immiseration, torture, death, depression and suicide that have and continue to afflict humanity, and the possibilities of its vertiginous liberation. All is here: the auto-genesis of God, the Crucifixion, the Holocaust, September 11. The Apotheosis of Nullity is a searing indictment of all forms of oppression and despotism, inclusive of neoliberal capitalism, and far surpasses any usage of Deleuze and Guattari to date. It is relentless.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author(s)/editor(s)
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Contents
  • Acknowledgements
  • Prologue: Eternity
  • 1. The dark ground of the existence of God
  • 2. The self-begetting of a second eternal will
  • 3. The quandary of the second will and God’s contraction of Being
  • Intermezzo 1: Eternal divine nature as Deleuzoguattarian desiring-production
  • (a) Organs-partial objects and the connective synthesis
  • (b) The body without organs (BwO) and the disjunctive synthesis
  • 4. The incessant rotary motion of eternal divine nature
  • 5. The emergence of the third potency as spirit amid the rotary motion
  • 6. The third potency as traversing the entire ladder of future formations
  • 7. The Ent-Scheidung: the emergence of God as subject
  • Intermezzo 2: From the larval to the fully-fledged subject
  • (1) Toward the “larval” subject
  • (2) Toward the “fledgling” subject
  • (3) Toward the “fully-fledged” (molar) subject
  • 8. The immediate consequences of God’s upsurge as subject
  • (i) The emergence of time from the deadlock of eternity
  • (ii) The degradation of the eternal affirmative will into a negative will
  • (iii) The denuding of God as subject of actuality
  • (iv) The emergence of space, nature, the organism, and molar machines
  • (1) Extension and molar machines
  • (2) The erection of the socius and the move to social production
  • Notes
  • Part One: The Primitive Regime
  • Chapter 1: A Cruel Mnemotechnics
  • 1. The BwO of the Earth
  • 2. The erection of the full body of the earth as socius
  • (i) Corporeal and sexual disambiguation
  • (ii) From intensive germinal filiation to extensive somatic lineage
  • (iii) The forging of alliance
  • (iv) From biocosmic to somatic and lexical memory
  • (v) Emergence of primitive forms of capital
  • 3. Coding of flows, collective investment of organs, marking of bodies
  • (i) The coding of flows
  • (ii) The collective investment of organs
  • (iii) The marking of bodies
  • 4. Cruelty, alliance, debt, lexical memory
  • (i) Debt
  • (ii) Lexical memory
  • 5. The primitive semiotic: a savage theater of cruelty
  • (i) The phonographic couple
  • (ii) The beholding eye
  • (iii) The savage triangle
  • (iv) Activity
  • Notes
  • Chapter 2: Toward an Ethics of the Primitive Regime and Beyond
  • 1. Debt, pain, and the absence of ressentiment
  • (i) The absence of ressentiment and revanchism
  • (ii) The cruel Nietzschean equation
  • 2. The Nietzschean conception of the body
  • (i) Force
  • (ii) Active and reactive
  • (iii) Will to power
  • (iv) Affirmative and negative
  • (v) Sense and value
  • (vi) Sensation and sensibility
  • 3. The becoming-reactive of force
  • (i) The perverse ascendancy of reactive force
  • (ii) Negativity of the will to power
  • 4. The forestalling of ressentiment
  • 5. The reactive unconscious and the positive faculty of active forgetting
  • 6. Dereliction of the reactive unconscious-consciousness system
  • (i) Atrophy of the faculty of active forgetting
  • (ii) Ressentiment 1: topological and typological aspects
  • (iii) Ressentiment 2: the spirit of revenge
  • 7. Toward a savage ethics of the primitive regime
  • 8. The sovereign
  • 9. History’s hijacking of generic species activity
  • 10. The demise of the primitive regime
  • Notes
  • Part Two: The Despotic Regime
  • Chapter 3: Emergence of the Despotic Machine
  • 1. Bronze-eyed artists
  • 2. Double incest
  • 3. The despot-deity filiation
  • (i) The Hittites
  • (ii) Vedic India
  • (iii) Zoroastrian Persia
  • (iv) Shang China
  • (v) Ancient Mesopotamia
  • (vi) Ngũgĩ’s “Marching to Heaven”
  • (vii) Kantorowicz’s Norman Anonymous
  • 4. Infinitization of debt and the ruinous consumption of the despotic caste
  • (i) A debt of the existence of the subject himself
  • (ii) The subject sucked dry by the despot
  • (iii) The Vedic aśvamedha
  • (iv) Monotheism on the horizon
  • 5. The full body of the despot as socius
  • (i) The Vedic King
  • (ii) The Egyptian pharaoh
  • (iii) Plowden’s Reports
  • 6. The despotic State-formation
  • (i) A hierarchical State formation
  • (ii) Transmogrification of the three syntheses, from geodesy to geometry
  • (iii) Denigration of lineage 1: Chinese Legalism, Mao Zedong
  • (iv) Denigration of lineage 2: Catholicism, widowhood, spinsterhood, celibacy
  • (v) Denigration of lineage 3: Plato, Ottomanism and military slavery
  • 7. The despotic semiotic
  • (i) The loss of independence between voice and graphism
  • (ii) From polyvocal graphism to linearized writing
  • (iii) The biunivocalization of the sign
  • (iv) The endless deferral of the signified
  • (v) Faciality
  • 8. Despotic paranoia
  • (i) Canetti and the poetics of paranoia
  • (ii) Semelin and the politics of paranoia
  • (iii) Fromm and the psychopathology of paranoia
  • 9. The impossible lust of corporeal dismemberment: Sade
  • 10. Infinite suffering: Dante and Milton
  • Notes
  • Chapter 4: Transhistorical Sadeo-Deleuzian Fugue, 1. Despotic Paranoia
  • 221–210 B.C. (Qin Shi Huangdi)
  • 14–37 A.D. (Tiberius)
  • 211–217 A.D. (Caracalla)
  • 527–565 A.D. (Justinian I)
  • 996–1021 A.D. (Al-Hakim bi-Amr Allah)
  • 1209–1242 A.D. (Albigensian Crusade)
  • 1547–1584 A.D. (Ivan the Terrible)
  • 1873–1874 A.D. (Robespierre)
  • 1915–1916 A.D. (Armenian Genocide)
  • 1928–1953 A.D. (Stalin)
  • 1933–1945 A.D. (Hitler)
  • 1949–1976 A.D. (Mao Zedong)
  • 1975–1979 A.D. (Khmer Rouge)
  • 1979–2003 A.D. (Saddam Hussein)
  • 1949–? A.D. (Kim Dynasty)
  • Notes
  • Chapter 5: Trial by Ordeal and Homo Sacer
  • 1. The fusing of desire to the Law and the Law’s essential vacuity
  • (i) Desire as the desire of the Other
  • (ii) The fusion of desire to Law
  • (iii) The Law’s essential vacuity
  • 2. The eye that forewarns
  • 3. Preemptive vengeance of the despotic caste
  • 4. Trial by ordeal
  • 5. The eternal ressentiment of the subjects
  • 6. The Damocles’ sword of death and homo sacer
  • (i) The savage dread of dying
  • (ii) The despotic fear of death as terminal annihilation
  • (iii) The sovereign and homo sacer
  • (iv) Homo sacer and becomings-animal
  • Notes
  • Chapter 6: Despotic Dialectics of Subjective Self-Immural, 1. Hegel
  • 1. The life and death struggle
  • 2. The vanquishment of the proto-slave
  • 3. Enslavement of the vanquished and the master’s life of sovereign plenty
  • 4. The paradoxical advantage of the slave and the master’s near atavism
  • 5. The self-justificatory ideologies of the slave
  • (1) Stoicism: Solzhenitsyn and Beckett
  • (2) Skeptical nihilism: Pessoa
  • (3) The unhappy consciousness
  • (a) Motions of the heart: monotheistic self-immolation in the Godhead
  • (b) Work and desire: deification of the world through labor
  • (c) Self-surrender: night of anguish and monotheistic masochism
  • Notes
  • Chapter 7: Despotic Dialectics of Subjective Self-Immural, 2. Nietzsche
  • 1. The mode of evaluation of the artist-master
  • 2. The mode of evaluation of the slave
  • 3. The development of ressentiment and “Judaic” consciousness
  • 4. From ressentiment to bad conscience
  • 5. The hypermultiplication of pain
  • 6. The development of bad conscience and “Christian” consciousness
  • Notes
  • Chapter 8: Exit Strategies from the Structures of Despotism, 1. Against Hegel: The Mosaic Revolution and St. Paul
  • 1. The Mosaic Revolution
  • 2. St. Paul
  • Notes
  • Chapter 9: Exit Strategies from the Structures of Despotism, 2. Against Nietzsche: Job and St. Paul
  • 1. The defiant Job: no Hegelian slave, no man of bad conscience
  • 2. St. Paul
  • (i) Against ressentiment and bad conscience
  • (ii) Toward affirmation
  • (iii) Against the Law
  • (iv) Against sin
  • (v) Toward a transliteral law of the spirit
  • (vi) Love
  • Notes
  • Chapter 10: Exit Strategies from the Structures of Despotism, 3. Kafka as St. Paul
  • 1. The transcendent Law
  • 2. The transcendent Law and the astronomical state of architecture
  • 3. The astronomical state of architecture and the three possibilities in the Law
  • 4. The subterranean state of architecture
  • 5. The subterranean state of architecture in relation to the transcendent Law
  • 6. From the transcendent Law to the immanence of desire
  • 7. The Sadeian movement: indefinite postponement
  • 8. The proliferation of series along a line of escape
  • 9. Toward a Kafkan ethics
  • 10. The Don Juanian movement: anti-conjugality
  • 11. Beyond Don Juan: indexical homosexuality and homosexual effusion
  • 12. Beyond homosexual effusion: the bachelor
  • 13. Suicide: the self-willed damnation of Don Juan
  • 14. The collective liberation of all imbeciles
  • Notes
  • Chapter 11: Demise of the Despot
  • 1. Toward regicide
  • 2. Exodus
  • (i) The death drive
  • (ii) The war machine
  • (iii) Kengir, May 1954
  • (iv) Moses
  • Notes
  • Part Three: The Passional Regime
  • Chapter 12: The Vertiginous Foray into the Passional Regime
  • 1. The art of monotheistic desertion and the Great Theophany
  • 2. The etiolation of personality and the solitudinous upsurge of Rosenzweigian “Character”
  • 3. Character as unworldly defiance and unconditional will
  • 4. Transmogrification of political defeat into moral triumph
  • Notes
  • Chapter 13: Essential Features of the Passional Regime
  • 1. Foundation via a non-ideational exposure to an exterior
  • 2. The face-off: concealing-revealing countenances
  • (i) Osarsiph and Mutemenet
  • (ii) The world of Carlos Fuentes
  • (iii) God, Christ and man
  • 3. Secrecy
  • (i) Joseph and his brothers
  • (ii) Joseph and Jacob
  • (iii) Joseph, Mutemenet and Potiphar
  • 4. Necessary betrayal and fulfilment only in betrayal
  • (i) Jacob, Laban, Rachel, Leah, Joseph, Dudu, Mutemenet, and God
  • (ii) God, Christ, Judas, and man
  • 5. Subjectification: the doubling of subjects and the subject as double
  • (i) The God-man subjective double
  • (ii) The point of subjectification
  • (iii) Syntagmatic axis of consciousness and paradigmatic axis of passion
  • (iv) Jacob, Rachel, and Joseph
  • (v) The black hole of stochastic death
  • (vi) The Badiousian obscure amorous subject and death
  • (vii) Lévy: haematology, haematomania
  • (viii) Eagleton: the self-immolatory freedom of the void
  • (ix) Jacob, Rachel, Joseph and Mutemenet
  • (x) The Mad Lady, El Señor, Juan Agrippa, La Señora
  • 6. Segmentarity of the regime
  • (i) Joseph and his brothers
  • (ii) The Puritan line to the New Jerusalem
  • (iii) Miscegenation with countersignifying and despotic regimes
  • (iv) Imbrication of passional and despotic regimes in Christianity
  • (v) Canetti, despotic-passional regimes, and stagnant crowds
  • 7. Existence under reprieve
  • (i) Rosenzweig and the immortality of Character
  • (ii) Badiou and the immortality of the subject of a truth-event
  • (iii) Heidegger and the imperishability of Dasein as Dasein
  • (iv) Lévy and the aversion of death by animal cunning
  • (v) The Freudian death-drive and immortality
  • (vi) Jewish survival
  • 8. Aphasia of the prophet and discernment of the puissances of the future
  • (i) Aphasia
  • (ii) The aphasia of Abraham, Jacob and Mutemenet
  • (iii) Discernment of the puissances of the future
  • (iv) The puissances of the future in Abraham, Isaac and Jacob
  • Notes
  • Chapter 14: Transhistorical Sadeo-Deleuzian Fugue, 2. The Black Hole of Stochastic Death
  • c.4004 B.C. (Adam and Eve)
  • c.1078 B.C. (Samson)
  • c.1007 B.C. (Saul)
  • c.975 B.C. (Ahithophel)
  • 399 B.C. (Socrates)
  • c.160–167 B.C. (The Maccabees)
  • 33 A.D. (Jesus Christ)
  • 73 A.D. (The Jews of Masada)
  • March 7, 203 A.D. (Vivia Perpetua)
  • October 10, 680 A.D. (Imam Husayn)
  • March 26, 922 A.D. (Mansur al-Hallāj)
  • October 14, 1092 A.D. (Hassan-i Sabbah’s Assassins)
  • March 16, 1244 A.D. (Esclarmonde de Foix)
  • May 30, 1431 A.D. (Jehanne d’Arc)
  • 1555 A.D. (Protestant martyrs in England)
  • November 26, 1872 A.D. (Kirillov from Dostoyevsky’s Demons)
  • February 28, 1936 A.D. (Mishima’s Shinji Takeyama and his wife Reiko)
  • November 25, 1970 A.D. (Yukio Mishima)
  • November 18, 1978 A.D. (Rev. Jim Jones and Peoples Temple)
  • 1980–1981 A.D. (Khomeini’s “Basiji” or child soldiers)
  • April 19, 1993 A.D. (David Koresh and the Branch Davidians)
  • July 1, 1993 A.D. (“The Giants of al-Qassam” of the first Intifada)
  • September 11, 2001 A.D.
  • Notes
  • Chapter 15: Transhistorical Fugue, 3. From Jewish Survival to the Survival of Humanity
  • 1. Jewish Survival
  • c.4115 B.C. (Cain)
  • c.2588 B.C. (Noah)
  • c.2191 B.C. (Isaac)
  • c.2006 B.C. (Joseph)
  • c.1576 B.C. (The Mosaic Exodus)
  • c.538 B.C. (The Babylonian Captivity)
  • 70 A.D. (The Roman destruction of Jerusalem)
  • 1492 A.D. (The Marranos under the Spanish Inquisition)
  • 1656 A.D. (The Chmielnicki Massacres in Poland)
  • May 8, 1945 A.D. (The Sho’ah)
  • 2. Universalization of the Jewish survival of the Sho’ah to the survival of all humanity under Alexander’s “progressive” narrative
  • 3. Universalization of the Jewish survival of the Sho’ah to the survival of all humanity under Alexander’s “tragic” narrative
  • 4. Universalization of the Jewish survival of the Sho’ah in terms of the Badiousian event
  • (i) Propaedeutic: Badiou’s ontology
  • (ii) Badiou’s ontology, socio-historical situations and the State
  • (iii) The Badiousian singular multiplicity, the Nazi State and the Sho’ah
  • (iv) The collective of Muselmanner as a Badiousian evental site
  • (v) Evental site and Muselmann in Beckett’s Worstward Ho
  • (vi) From Beckett’s production of the Muselmann to the Badiousian event
  • (vii) The Sho’ah as Badiousian event and the universalization of Jewish survival
  • 5. Survival of various human collectives in the wake of the Holocaust-event
  • (i) The survival of the Kosovars
  • (ii) The survival of the East Timorese
  • (iii) Reprieve from and survival of the death penalty
  • Notes
  • Chapter 16: From the Violence of Divine Love to the Redemption of the World: Rosenzweig, Lévinas, Derrida, Blanchot, Kierkegaard
  • 1. The quandary of Character
  • 2. The violence of divine love
  • 3. Le visage
  • 4. Illeity
  • 5. Diachrony, visage, illeity
  • 6. Judgment, sinfulness, shame, surrender and the birth of the Soul
  • 7. From defiance to humility, faithfulness, diachrony
  • 8. Il y a, dying
  • (i) Isaac’s dying words
  • (ii) Jacob and Joseph
  • (iii) King Philip II of Spain
  • 9. Sprechende Sprache
  • 10. Toward the Neighbor
  • 11. Le tiers, distributive justice
  • 12. The Akedah
  • 13. Law, force and justice
  • 14. The aporias of justice
  • 15. Justice as à venir
  • 16. El Señor
  • Notes
  • Part Four: The Capitalist Regime
  • Chapter 17: The Eviscerations and Entrapments of Capital
  • 1. Gargantuan deterritorialization
  • 2. The immiserations and eviscerations of neoliberalism
  • 3. Conjunction of deterritorialized flows
  • 4. The capitalist socius
  • 5. Reconfiguration of filiation and alliance
  • 6. The capitalist axiomatic
  • 7. Purely economic extraction of productive surplus
  • 8. The capitalist State apparatus
  • 9. Social subjection and the recrudescence of machinic enslavement
  • 10. The recrudescence of sovereignty at the heart of governmentality
  • 11. The return of homo sacer
  • 12. Neoliberalism and extra-judicial murder
  • 13. The return of trial by ordeal
  • 14. Decoding-deterritorialization/recoding-reterritorialization
  • 15. The strange concomitance of cynicism and piety
  • (i) Capitalism’s “cynical” tendency
  • (ii) Capitalism’s “pietistic” tendency
  • 16. The coincidence of decoding and recoding within a single subject: Daniel Paul Schreber
  • 17. The subsumption of productive labor by capital and the collective disinvestment of working organs
  • 18. Machinic enslavement in the information age
  • 19. The production of the ascetic capitalist subject
  • 20. Nihilism
  • Notes
  • Chapter 18: From the Self-Crucifixion of the Capitalist Subject to the Empyrean
  • 1. Suicide
  • 2. Micro-manifesto: the refusal of work
  • 3. Toward a global suicidal State
  • 4. Cybernetic machinic enslavement, cynicism, depression, passive nihilism, and the Last Man
  • 5. Cybernetic machinic enslavement and the Man Who Wilt Perish
  • 6. Midnight: transmutation in the quality of the will to power
  • 7. Dionysus and Ariadne: full affirmation
  • 8. Eternal return, Schellingian Godhead, BwO, Plotinus’ One, and the self-crucified ego’s immolation in Dante’s Empyrean
  • Notes
  • References
  • Index

| xvi →

To enumerate the sheer number of people to whom I am indebted for their either direct or indirect assistance and support in allowing me to bring this manuscript to completion and into print would be a daunting enterprise. I would like to express my deep gratitude to Mieczysław Omyła, Professor Emeritus in the Department of Philosophy and Sociology at the University of Warsaw and a good friend, for his kind generosity in facilitating institutional support for my project. I likewise extend thanks to Professor Marcin Poręba, of the same institute, and Professor Adam Lipszyc, of the Polish Academy of Sciences, for their painstaking review and positive appraisal of this manuscript, as well as Professor Michał Herer for his affirmative review of my PhD thesis which mutatis mutandis comprised the first half of this final work.

This project would likewise not have been brought to fruition without the wonderful helpfulness and patient assistance of the editorial and production team at Peter Lang Academic Publishing, of whom Michelle Salyga, Jackie Pavlovic, Michael Doub, Meagan Simpson, Stephen Mazur, and Sophie Appel are but a few of the staff to whom I would like to express my most sincere gratitude.

Lastly but certainly not least, I extend thanks to my family and friends whose unflagging support and loving kindness in all things I cherish as the greatest of all divine gifts.


| 1 →

I have of late—but wherefore I know not—lost all my mirth, forgone all custom of exercises, and indeed it goes so heavily with my disposition that this goodly frame, the earth, seems to me a sterile promontory; this most excellent canopy, the air—look you, this brave o’erhanging firmament, this majestical roof fretted with golden fire—why, it appears no other thing to me than a foul and pestilent congregation of vapors. What a piece of work is a man! How noble in reason, how infinite in faculty! In form and moving how express and admirable! In action how like an angel, in apprehension how like a god! The beauty of the world. The paragon of animals. And yet, to me, what is this quintessence of dust? Man delights not me.

William Shakespeare, Hamlet, Act 2, Scene 2

| 3 →

1. The dark ground of the existence of God

For the Schelling of the Weltalter fragments, the anteriority of all anteriorities is the eternal and primordial ground of the existence of God. The ground hereto referred, an ultimate and groundless ground (and as such an Ab/Ungrund), is the Godhead—an eternal freedom, a pure will. This will’s purity consists in its not being a will to something that it could apprehend as outside of itself, nor is it even a will that wills its own revelation. It neither covets what would otherwise be external objects destined for its apprehension, nor does it desire its own actuality. Rather, it is a will devoid of obsession or craving, a will that in fact—does not will.1 More precisely, it does not will in any prosaic, mundane, or quotidian sense. Slavoj Žižek describes this groundless ground as “an abyss [Ungrund]—that is to say, ‘absolute indifference’ qua the abyss of pure Freedom which is not yet the predicate-property of some Subject but, rather, designates a pure impersonal Willing [Wollen], which wills nothing.”2 The absolutely primordial Ab/Ur/Ungrund of God’s existence—that is, the Godhead—is thus a willing devoid of both subject and object. For Alberto Toscano, this purely vertiginous abyss is “the absolute, itself conceived as the unconditioned ground of indifference, the coincidence of producer and product, affirmation and affirmed, intuition and intuited, natura naturans and natura naturata.”3 Toscano obviously has Spinoza in mind here. Jürgen Habermas glosses the Schellingian Godhead as the Ein-Sof of Lurianic Kabbala that the mystics considered “above God himself, pure joy, absolute bliss, grace, love and simplicity,” ← 3 | 4 → a stratospheric freedom expressible only as “literally All and Nothing, the absolutely inaccessible.”4

As Gershom Scholem notes, the very term Ein-Sof—as coined by the early kabbalists of Provence and Spain—is the unknowable aspect of the Divine and translates inter alia as “Infinite.” It refers to the infinity of God or of his thought that “extends without end” (le-ein sof or ad le-ein sof). According to those in accord with Azriel of Gerona, Ein-Sof, rather than standing for “Him who has no end,” points expressly to “that which has no end.” This neutrality suggests that the attributes or personal epithets attached to the God of Scripture could not possibly appertain to the Godhead as such. Nor would Ein-Sof be subject to eulogies such as Burukh Hu or Yitbarakh.5 Scholem goes on to delineate Ein-Sof as an absolute perfection entirely devoid of distinctions and differentiation, and even volition; avering moreover that Ein-Sof falls short of revealing itself in a way that would make knowledge of its nature at all possible, being itself inaccessible even to the most introspective thought (hirhur ha-lev) of contemplatives.6 To the extent that—at least for the author of Ma’arekhet ha-Elohut—even the entirety of biblical Revelation and the Jewish Oral Law combined bears not a single reference to it, implying that Ein-Sof therefore cannot be an object of religious thought, and that only a vanishing handful of mystics have received the slightest hint of it. In the writings of inter alia the Gerona kabbalists, Ein-Sof is variously glossed as mah she-ein ha-mahshavah masseget (“that which thought cannot attain”), ha-or ha-mit’allem (“the concealed light”), seter ha-ta’alumah (“the concealment of secrecy”), yitron (“superfluity”—conjectured by Scholem to be a translation of the neoplatonic term hyperousia, which refers to the Beyond of Being itself), ha-ahdut ha-shavah (“indistinguishable unity”—in the sense of a unity devoid of opposition and differentiation), or as ha-mahut (“the essence”).7

But let us forthwith return to Schelling. Here, from the outset, we must be careful: that the Godhead as pure will does not will in any prosaic sense does not in the least identify it with the Nietzschean will to nothingness—let alone with the nothingness of the will that the latter formally assumes in the case of the passive nihilism characterizing existential etiolation, leaden exhaustion and well-nigh sempiternal desuetude.8 Instead, and quite in consonance with Habermas’ characterization, this pure willing is at once nothing and everything. More precisely, on the one hand, it is nothing in the sense of its being entirely unbeknowst to itself—indeed, unknowing tout court—and also, in that it is bereft of Being (in the sense of not possessing the latter as a predicate); on the other hand, it is everything inasmuch as it is itself an unsullied happiness, a perfectly composed bliss that—by virtue of the foregoing (and in the absence of all anthropomorphism)—may ← 4 | 5 → be described as perfectly self-fulfilled. That the “emptiness” and seeming nullity of the Schellingian pure willing nowise arrays the latter with the yonder side of affirmation is expressed by Andrew Bowie as follows: “‘the will which wills/wants nothing’ can remain negative, in that it is absolutely within itself, because it does not entail any sense of possibility or development, but as such also does not entail any lack in itself, which is the highest affirmation.”9 Neither is this pure will (that is, the Godhead) a substance or a nature—though, as we shall later find, there does indeed devolve from God as eternal willing an eternal divine nature.

Schelling conjures the pure willing that is the Godhead as “the devouring ferocity of purity” in whose midst all that which bears Being as an attribute is instantly immolated.10 It is “the most spiritual spirit, pure, inscrutable breath, the spirit of all spirit, so to speak.”11 This evocation chimes with some of Deleuze’s more effusive thoughts on aspects of German expressionism, musings the tenure of which the less circumspect will readily confuse with a rupturous theological paean to the abysmal pure willing’s ferocious incandescence: that the latter is an intensity “raised to such a power that it dazzles or annihilates our organic being, strikes terror into it,” an intensity that “culminates in a fire, which burns us and which burns all of Nature,” that “unleashes in our soul a non-psychological life of the spirit, which no longer belongs either to nature or to our organic individuality, which is the divine part in us, the spiritual relationship in which we are alone with God as light.”12

Let us proceed with Schelling’s further characterizations of the abyssal Godhead. The latter—one is reminded—is not stricto sensu eternal; for it is itself its own eternity, and thus—is eternity itself. It is not conscious, since it is consciousness itself. It cannot be said to have Being—that is, to possess Being as an attribute. Rather, it is Being itself. More precisely and moreover, it would notwithstanding be preferable to aver (as Schelling indeed does subsequently go on to do) that the Godhead neither has nor does not have Being, and is therefore “a sublimity beyond Being and Not-being”13—or, in Deleuze’s expression, “the sublime, non-psychological life of the spirit.”14

But there is more: for Schelling, the Godhead is outside of both the realm and reach of necessity and of what merely is. It is also, one may add, outside of nature: since nature (in the more prosaic and quotidian sense) is what of necessity belongs to that which possesses Being as attribute; whilst that which is outside of either having or not having Being is, in clear contradistinction, outside of all predication and, therefore, devoid of nature—or “the frightful non-organic life of things” alluded to by Deleuze.15 The Godhead—devoid of necessity, Being, non-Being, and nature—remains thus ultimately, concludes Schelling, in its essence “the eternal freedom to be.”16 ← 5 | 6 →

This eternal subjectless and objectless pure willing, also goes by the name of the Absolute—and, more specifically, as Absolute Indifference. Christopher Groves alludes to Schelling’s 1799 averment that, “Absolute Indifference considered in its natural aspect, as the in-itself of nature, that is, as the supra-temporal, non-conscious, ontological condition of our experience of natural objects, is somewhat like Spinoza’s natura naturans, being an ontological unity which Schelling calls ‘absolute productivity’ or primordial life.”17

Now, this gives us reason for pause—as the implications here are potentially vast. However, there is here also—at least ostensibly—a stumbling block, for we have only a few moments ago declared the Absolute (the Godhead) to be devoid of nature. How then may the Absolute be declared the in-itself of nature, let alone be possessed of a natural aspect? We shall only be in a position to resolve this aporia when our delineation of Schelling’s theogony has progressed a little further. For the moment, let us rest content with the following anticipation: the Absolute, Godhead or eternal pure willing—owing to its being inhabited by an orginary and inherent dissonance—precipitates a (non-organic) nature within itself. It shall also emerge that, though the Absolute is anterior to the (non-organic) nature that it spawns within its own ambit, the strictly non-chronological character of the said anteriority will be seen to imply that the Absolute has always already generated the said nature (non-organic nature as such) from out of itself. Indeed, it will come to light that this non-organic nature has been begotten of the originary dissonance at the core of the Absolute from all eternity. But what is this originary dissonance that inhabits the Absolute?

It is the originary self-begetting of a second eternal will at the very heart of the Absolute. And it is to this that we presently turn.

2. The self-begetting of a second eternal will

The pure eternal willing that is the Godhead and eternity—as we have already asseverated—rests blissfully within its own plenitude. Yet, avers Schelling, “the more this composure is profoundly deep and intrinsically full of bliss, the sooner must a quiet longing produce itself in eternity, without eternity either helping or knowing. This is a longing to come to itself, to find and savour itself; it is an urge to become conscious of which Eternity itself does not become conscious.”18

This primordial internal dissonance within the Godhead finds poignant expression in the thought of the kabbalist Israel Sarug. Like Schelling, Sarug also conceives of the originary bliss of Ein-Sof as at once the source of its primordial ← 6 | 7 → and inexorably burgeoning endogenous unrest. As Scholem maintains apropos of Sarug, this paradoxically wrought dissonance within the Godhead is the case since primordially Ein-Sof pleasured in its own autarkic self-sufficiency, and this latter “pleasure” produced a sort of tremulous “shaking” (ni’anu’a) as the movement of Ein-Sof within itself.19

Returning to our Schellingian theogony, we may want to enquire as to the precise form which the primordial unrest, or the ni’anu’a of Sarug, within the Godhead as eternal willing assumes? Here Schelling avers that, in the very ambit of eternity’s silent and completely unconscious seeking after itself, another will—a will other than the pure willing and entirely unbeknowst to it—begets itself. This latter will is self-sufficient and creates itself wholly independently of the first will. That is to say: the first will is eternity insofar as it—eternity—is a pure willing, whilst the second will is a will in eternity. It does verily stand to reason that the second will must be independent of the first: for inasmuch as eternity’s self-seeking is entirely unconscious, such a purblind onanistic groping can only assume precisely the form of the said independent autogenesis of an entirely separate will that searches the eternity that the first will itself is. Put more succinctly: the unconscious seeking by the first will/willing is of itself identically its being sought by a second will that arises and seeks the first will independently of this first will/willing. That the second will’s genesis is entirely autonomous and that it produces itself out of itself and from itself, means that this second will begets itself not out of eternity, but rather—and as indicated a little earlier—in eternity. From this, Schelling is able to conclude that the second will “is itself an eternal will” and indeed “the eternal will per se” whereas, on the other hand, “the will that wills nothing [the first will] was only the pure willing of eternity by itself.”20 That is to say: the first will is eternity insofar as it—eternity—is a pure willing, whilst the second will is a will subsisting or insisting within eternity’s bosom. Yet, it is hereby nowise less eternal.

We have mentioned that this second will remains unbeknowst to the first will/willing. Notwithstanding, the second will—though it searches after eternity (the first will/willing) blindly and (at least initially) entirely unconsciously—nonetheless does have a certain modicum of awareness of the first will.21 Schelling appears here to be—at least at first blush—contradicting himself. But let us follow him nonetheless. The said second will, he contends, “seeks eternity, driven not by knowledge but rather by divination, presentiment, and inexpressible longing.”22 The second will, moreover, “wills that the will that wills nothing [the first will/willing] become active and perceptible to itself as such”—whilst it itself (this second will) is “eternally only a will that wills and desires eternity.”23 On the other hand, the first will/willing—taken by itself (and as we already know)—is simply eternity itself. ← 7 | 8 →

3. The quandary of the second will and God’s contraction of Being

The second will’s quest (which is identically also that of the first will) shall, however, fail. Or, rather, it will only succeed on terms other than its own. This is so because the second will, though indeed the will toward eternity, never finds or attains the latter. It therefore “posits itself as the mere willing of eternity, and to that extent as negated. But in positing itself as negated, it is at the same time the self-negating will.”24 The second will negates itself in the sense of forthrightly positing itself as not eternity, as not Being, and thus as that which is not affirmation. It is, nevertheless, only able to do so by at the same time positing itself as lack. However, as essentially lacking (indeed as want itself), it cannot but desperately seek to satiate itself with Being—which latter it moreover inevitably fails to find either outside itself or inside itself. More precisely: on the one hand, it is unable to find Being outside itself in that, being essentialy a blind groping with scantly the merest presentiment of eternity (and thus of Being), it is—to begin with—unable to apprehend Being; on the other hand, it fails to find Being inside itself since a turning toward itself is at once and necessarily a turning away from eternity (and thus a turning away from exactly what is here being sought—Being). Thus, the second will—hungering and lusting as it does after Being—only succeeds in running itself into the direst quandary. Therefore, the only way out of this thankless dilemma is for the second will to actively posit Being (eternity, pure affirmation) as completely outside of (and moreover as opposed to) itself.25

Furthermore, through a curious reversal, the second will not only posits Being in the said manner, but in fact unconditionally (and in the manner of an autochthotonous force) generates Being—for lack of a better expression—“for the first time.” That is to say, it is only with the second will’s deadlock-resolving positing of Being as outside of and opposed to itself that—contends Schelling—Being is posited as such.26 The second will posits Being by opposing it—at once positing itself as not-Being. Since Being is affirmation itself, the second will—in essentially positing itself as Being’s opposite—is negation.

This positing by the second will is the movement through which negation injects itself in the midst of untrammeled affirmation. But this negation interposes itself solely to the ends and for the sake of affirmation. It is thus a recourse taken by affirmation to affirm itself in the first place—and certainly not the same as the inverting and perverting vicissitudes whereby the Nietzschean affirmative will to power finds itself irretrievably degraded to a negative will to power. In the latter Nietzschean scenario, negation obstinately interjects itself so as to thereupon ← 8 | 9 → serve as the ground of subsequent affirmations—thereby reducing these to mere pseudo-affirmations, runtishly obsequious redoublings and confirmations of a resounding and fundamental “No” whose tenure they merely serve to entrench in the mendacious guise of its antipode. In the Schellingian theogony, whose exposition we are here following, the exact opposite is the case: affirmation in the first will is grundstimmung whilst the desperately negating gesture of the second will is its handmaiden or adjunct. Indeed, put this way, the internal dialectic unearthed here between the first and the second eternal wills—is far closer (if not well-nigh identical) to Nietzschean double-affirmation: wherein pure becoming (Werden) as the first affirmation finds itself necessarily redoubled with a second affirmation that affirms the Being of becoming as becoming’s return.27 (The Nietzschean eternal return, which entails at its basis precisely this sort of double-affirmation, shall insinuate itself once more in our ongoing Schellingian discussion—and will in fact return again towards the very end of this book.)

But, for now, let us forge ahead and dwell more upon the second will itself. Since the second will’s very action is to negate itself, the originary positing of Being herein effected—transpires by way of and as a contraction.28 At the very start we described Being at its purest as the eternal Godhead—the most spiritual of spirits. The positing of Being by way of the second will’s auto-contraction, insofar as this latter self-limitation is the manner in which the first will affirms itself, is therefore the movement whereby the Godhead (as precisely this first will/willing that wills nothing) assumes Being—and does so, likewise, by way of a contraction, i.e. by contracting itself. God contracts Being by way of an auto-contraction of himself. For indeed: “what is altogether first in God, in the living God, the eternal beginning of itself in itself, is that God restricts itself, denies itself, withdraws its essence from the outside and retreats into itself.”29 This contraction is a self-negation, a concealment of itself, a withdrawal, foreshortening and recession into the obscure. Anterior (though not in the chronological sense) to this, God—as the pure Godhead and thus indeed Being itself—had not yet found himself, had thus far not yet positively taken up the Being that he eternally is and was.

The Schellingian doctrine of the divine contraction derives from the kabbalistic thought of Isaac Luria. The latter’s notion of the imum (“contraction”) in fact antedates Luria himself and is tracable to an earlier fragment from the circle of the Sefer ha-Iyyun. This contraction—conceived of as an anterior condition of the possibility of the creation of the world—is that by which God “gathers in and contracts (meamem) his breath” “so that the smaller might contain the larger; so He contracted His light into a hand’s breath, according to His own measure, ← 9 | 10 → and the world was left in darkness, and in that darkness He cut boulders and hewed rocks.”30

Luria likewise conceives of the imum as the enabling condition for creation. (In Schelling’s theogony, the creation of the world itself only transpires with God’s upsurge as subject in the so-termed Ent-Scheidung. Nonetheless, the imum still serves as a precondition for the Ent-Scheidung itself. Thus, it is not remiss to dwell upon Luria for a few moments.) This is so because Ein-Sof in its very essence leaves no space whatsoever for creation, for there is at this point no area which is not already God, as this would entail a limitation of his infinity.31 From this Scholem adduces that the act of creation is solely possible by way of “the entry of God into Himself,” that is, via an act of imum through which God contracts himself and thereby enables the coming into existence of something which is not Ein-Sof. Some part of the Godhead must therefore withdraw and leave room for an ensuing creative process. Moreover, the imum is in fact nowise the concentration of God’s power in a place, but rather its withdrawal from a place.32 The place from which God makes his retreat is actually a mere “point” in comparison with his infinity. From the human point of view, it however comprises all levels of existence—spiritual and corporeal alike. This place is primordial space, something which the Zohar terms tehiru.33 For Luria, the actual coming to pass of the imum is explained as follows. Prior to the imum all the forces of God were contained and absolutely balanced within his infinitude sans separation. Even the forces of Din (“judgment”) were stored in the Godhead without being as such distinguishable. The actual occurrence of imum took place when Ein-Sof concentrated the roots of Din previously concealed within him in one place—the place at once vacated by the power of mercy. imum was for this reason an act of judgment and self-limitation on the part of Ein-Sof.34

But let us return to Schelling. The eternal self-negation by which God contracts Being is at once that by which eternal divine nature begets itself. God’s auto-contraction of Being through the second will’s self-negation is the generation of eternal divine nature. Put another way: we thus see here in retrospect that “this will [the second will], generated out of itself in the tranquillity of eternity, was the eternal will to nature [my emphasis],” and that eternal divine nature—as well as nature tout court—“is only built upon the ground of an eternal, self-negating will that returns into itself.”35 In regard of the generation of an eternal divine nature by way of God’s self-withdrawal, Habermas avers: “God draws himself together, which means that he includes what he is as love within himself as nature.”36 Stéphane Mosès describes this auto-contraction of God (or Lurianic imum) as “a return of God unto himself, a limitation imposed on his original ← 10 | 11 → expansion impetus, a tightening of his infinite essence that causes the appearance of a nature inside himself.”37 The latter nature that appears in God is eternal divine nature, or the Absolute or God as eternal divine nature.

Now, regarding this latter, we have already noted Schelling’s assimilation of God’s natural aspect to Spinoza’s natura naturans, this latter being christened “absolute productivity,” or primordial life. This would serve to suggest that the primordial dissonance at the very heart of the Godhead, or the Absolute, resolves itself as the begetting within God of something akin to Spinozan natura naturans. The latter—also termed Absolute Substance—is conceived by Spinoza as the in-itself of God, natura being God as nature in the evident and tangible sense. Comparing this configuration to the state of the Absolute/God anterior to the precipitation of divine nature within God by way of God’s auto-contraction (imum), it is evinced that only here does the distinction between natura naturans and natura naturata come into existence (bearing in mind Alberto Toscano’s previously alluded to remark that the state of the Absolute anterior to this point was that of the perfect coincidence of these two).

However, in that the dissonance within the Absolute or God is truly originary, the precipitation into existence of the natura naturans/natura naturata distinction is likewise absolutely primordial. We may, thus, aver that the primordial dissonance within God/the Absolute is as the orginary appearance of the said distinction between natura naturata and natura naturans, these two appearing as (at least conceptually) separable not substantially but by way of a mere parallax shift. This is the case because all the relations of anteriority thus far espied are strictly non-chronological. Indeed, time as temporal succession has not yet emerged at this stage of the Schellingian theogony. For this, we must await the Ent-Scheidung.

But let us return to the eternal divine nature, or natura naturans, spawned here. According to Groves, Schelling has described the latter as “absolute productivity.” This allows us to arrive at a crucial proposition: the primordial dissonance within the Absolute/the Godhead has always already resolved itself as absolute productivity.

Intermezzo 1: Eternal divine nature as Deleuzoguattarian desiring-production

(a) Organs-partial objects and the connective synthesis

It is this latter assertion which allows us to make our first sally into properly Deleuzoguattarian territory. But first, a swift propaedeutic. Natura naturans is Spinozan Absolute Substance (the “in-itself” of nature, God as immanent to ← 11 | 12 → nature), that which Groves earlier alluded to as “absolute productivity.” However, natura naturans is inextricable from the infinite number of attributes through which it explicates itself—which attributes are its immediate powers/potencies/forces. This is where the link between Schelling, on the one hand, and Deleuze and Guattari, on the other, avails itself—inasmuch as the Spinozan attributes are wagered by these latter to be what they term “organs-partial objects.”38 And the foregoing “absolute productivity” is a characteristic of Deleuzoguatarrian “desiring-production.” Bonta and Protevi define the organs-partial objects of Deleuze-Guattari as “mere points of intensity of matter-energy,” each such organ also being termed “a ‘desiring-machine,’ that is, an emitter and breaker of flows” of production.39 Each organ-partial object or desiring-machine is thus at once a “point” of intensity and an emitter/breaker of the flow of matter-energy.

However, though described as inter alia an intensive “point” (as we shall see, it is, in fact, a purely dispersive multiplicity), an organ-partial object is by no means hereby deemed to belong to Cartesian or Euclidean space. Indeed, at the level of Schellingian eternal divine nature and that of Deleuzoguattarian desiring-production alike, each here considered for itself, one may not yet speak of space in the sense attributed to res extensa. Space conceived in this latter manner has thus far not even emerged, and must await the Schellingian Ent-Scheidung whereby God emerges as subject. Notwithstanding, Schellingian eternal divine nature, Spinozan natura naturans, and the ambit of Deleuzian desiring-production, can all be said to “transpire” within space as spatium, as intensio. As Miguel de Beistegui avers, spatium differs qualitatively from extended space. More precisely, spatium is a quantity that is distinguished qualitatively from other spatial quantities. It is, however, not a quantity in the extensive sense—but rather a purely intensive one. In fact, it is the more quotidian extensive/numerical quantities such as length, height, width, that devolve from this intensive spatium. The latter itself is an originary “depth,” the “absolute” in relation to which space-as-extension is merely relative.40 This original depth is, as Deleuze expresses it, “space as a whole, but space as an intensive quantity: the pure spatium.”41

Regarding intensity itself, in the formulation of Constantin V. Boundas, “an” intensity is a difference in itself.42 Intensity is a pure differential quantity, difference here being internal to intensity—and the very essence of intensity as such. The foregoing observation renders cogent Deleuze’s own asseveration that, in fact, the “expression ‘difference of intensity’ is a tautology”—for indeed every “intensity is differential, by itself a difference. Every intensity is E-E′, where E itself refers to an e-e′, and e to ε-ε′ etc.”43 We thus have an infinitely ramified difference of intensity and may thus “call this state of infinitely doubled difference which resonates to infinity disparity.”44 ← 12 | 13 →

Returning now to spatium itself, one may cursorily surmise this latter as a space anterior to and likewise subtending space-as-extension, possessed of intensive ordinates (as opposed to the extensive co-ordinates of Euclidean or Cartesian space). And it is in this latter sense that any given organ-partial object may be described as a “point” of intensity. In Deleuzoguattarian desiring-production, these organs-partial objects are related to one another by way of the so-termed “connective synthesis.” Looking ahead a little to later stages of our present exposition, we may note that desiring-production consists of three interlaced and inherently inseparable syntheses—of which the said connective synthesis is but one. The other two are the disjunctive synthesis and the conjunctive synthesis.45 These latter shall insinuate themselves into our discussion in due time. Presently, however, we move to dwell upon the connective synthesis. This latter synthesis is that of the production of production. Though, as we shall see, the three syntheses are merely aspects of desiring-production taken integrally, it is the connective synthesis that serves to foreground Deleuzoguattarian desiring-production (the equivalent of Schellingian eternal divine nature) as “absolute productivity” in the clearest manner. The connective synthesis entails the connection of desiring-machines (organs-partial objects) in an open paratactic linearly transverse formation. One machine emits a flow (hyle) of matter-energy into which another machine cuts, interrupting the flow and itself serving as a flow that is itself interrupted by a still further machine, and so on ad infinitum.46 Hence, the continuity of the flows is paradoxically ensured by the breaks (coupures) in the latter. This is so because every machine is always already a machine of a machine. Deleuzoguattarian desiring-machines, or organs-partial objects, are thus systems of breaks-flows.47 As intimated earlier, what is produced in the connective synthesis is production itself. That is, the connective synthesis is that of the production of production, in which producing and product are indistinguishable since the process of producing is endlessly grafted onto the purported product allegedly produced.48

Now, let us be reminded that, in that this all happens within spatium and not extensio, the organs-partial objects or desiring-machines caught up in the roiling ambit of this incessant desiring-production are “not partial (partiels) in the sense of extensive parts, but rather partial (‘partiaux’) like the intensities under which a unit of matter always fills space in varying degrees.”49 It is incidentally for this reason that Deleuze and Guattari characterize the connections between them as passive, or indirect.50 Organs partial-objects refer not in the least to an organism that would otherwise function as a phantasmatic lost unity or coming totality.51 In contradistinction, the extensive parts of integral wholes are merely pre-existing unities caught up within a still higher and ← 13 | 14 → more comprehensive unity. The emergence of such unities requires spatial circumscription. But within the ambit of Deleuzoguattarian desiring-production (Schellingian eternal divine nature) considered in and of itself, there is no extension. Thus, the organs-partial objects (desiring-machines) must constitute entirely open and dispersed multiplicities, that is, pure positive multiplicities entirely devoid of unification or totalization.52

The dichotomy partiaux/partiels, moreover, refers to a fundamental distinction made by Deleuze and Bergson between continuous (or non-metric) multiplicities and discrete (or metric) multiplicities. Bergsonian continuous multiplicities are effectively what Jonathan Roffe describes as intensive multiplicities, whilst discrete multilpicities are extensive. Crucially, discrete/extensive/metric multiplicities may be divided up indefinitely into parts (Bergson: “we may carry the division as far as we please; we change in no way, the nature of what is divided”); whereas continuous/intensive/non-metric multiplicities cannot be divided without at the same time changing in nature (Bergson: since they “are one with the successive moments of the act which divides” them).53 This last-mentioned inherent change in the nature of a continuous (or intensive) multiplicity is an alteration in its intensive state—something we shall return to in due time.54

Manuel Delanda avers that continuous-intensive multiplicities fall within the ambit not of the analytical geometry of Descartes and Fermat but rather within that of the differential geometry of Friedrich Gauss and Bernhard Riemann—and moreover share certain of the traits of what the latter term a manifold: the most important of these common traits being that of “the absence of a supplementary (higher) dimension imposing an extrinsic coordinatization, and hence, an extrinsically defined unity.”55 Indeed, as Toscano observes, the internal differences that consistute intensive multilpicities are not measured externally or determined by a supplementary principle (whether objective or subjective), but instead entirely immanently.56 More precisely, and in accordance with de Beistegui, their characterization as “non-metric” must not be seen as implying that continuous/intensive multiplicities are completely outside of measure; rather, each such multiplicity is “susceptible to measurement only by varying its metrical principle at each stage of the division.”57

But let us return to the earlier point concerning the change in intensive state effected by the division of a continuous/intensive multiplicity. A change in the nature/intensive state of the latter triggers a new individuation.58 And individuation as conceived here is a becoming (devenir); that is, intensive multiplicities are in essence marked by the imminence as well as the perpetual immanence of such becomings.59 This stands to reason in that, insofar as intensive multiplicities are by ← 14 | 15 → definition bearers of internal difference and inasmuch as internal differences are marked by intensive individuality, continuous/intensive multiplicities are necessarily subject to constantly novel individuation—that is, becoming.60

But let us rephrase this conversely. Indeed, what is becoming? Cliff Stagoll’s formulation is more than adequate: becoming (devenir) is “the continual production (or ‘return’) of difference immanent within the constitution of events, whether physical or otherwise.”61 This we may couple with Boundas’ observation that intensities are “virtual yet real events.”62 Thus, an event is at once an intensity—or, more precisely, a pure intensive quantity. And, as already observed, the latter is internal difference—and, as shall presently be seen, what Deleuze terms a mobile individuating factor.

An individuating factor of this Deleuzian sort is a pre-individual singularity; and it is precisely the reprise of such pre-individual individuating factors that is entailed in becoming. Each such reprisal is an event. These pre-individual individuating factors, in the implacable and vertiginous movement that is called becoming, serve to engineer—but likewise break up—intensive multiplicities (organs-partial objects). Each such multiplicity is the individuation (or individual) wrought by the pre-individual individuating factors. But, since becoming is perpetually immanent to intensive/continuous multiplicities, the entailed constant reprise of mobile pre-individual individuating factors implies that these multiplicities are incessantly subject to categorically novel individuation. Thus, the very essence of continuous/intensive multiplicities is that they are perpetually becoming other such multiplicities, perpetually being re-individuated as these latter. This constant unfolding or becoming (devenir) of multiplicities Deleuze calls differentiation—a term that shall in due time be distinguished from its near-doppelgänger: differenciation. Otherwise stated, the process of differentiation is, self-identically, that of individuation. The latter, as already contended, is effected by intensive quantities (pre-individual individuating factors). Deleuze: “The essential process of intensive quantities is individuation. Intensity is individuating, and intensive quantities are individuating factors.”63

Now, the mercilessly unremitting character of the differentiation of intensive multiplicities allows Delanda to contend/conclude that continuous/intensive multiplicities are fundamentally meshed together into a continuum, that they “blend into each other, forming a continuous immanent space very different from a reservoir of eternal archetypes.”64 This continuous and immanent space is precisely the purely intensive spatium mentioned earlier. The latter is the field of individuation as such, an extensionless depth in which—as Deleuze maintains—every “individuating factor is already difference and difference of difference,” and ← 15 | 16 → in which individuating factors “endlessly communicate with one another across fields of individuation, becoming enveloped in one another …”65

At this point we are able to, and indeed must before proceeding forth, draw a crucial distinction: that between the pre-individual individuating factors, on the one hand, and the continuous/intensive multiplicities, on the other. The former serve, in their infinite plasticity, to engineer (differentiate) the latter as the multiplicities that they “are” and are becoming. Each such evanescent (and interiorly split) instant of engineering of “an” intensive multiplicity is an individuation, whilst the multiplicity itself thus wrought is an “individual.” Obviously, in that Deleuzian becoming (devenir) implies the incessant return of pre-individual individuating factors, an intensive multiplicity is—in its very essence—constantly being individuated and re-individuated. Now, in that each individuation is a reprisal of pure intensive quantity (difference of difference, differentiating difference), each such individuation may be viewed as a splitting or division of the multiplicity “subjected” to re-individuation. Continuous/intensive multiplicities, as we have observed, change in kind under the influence of such individuation/differentiation/division. The perpetual immanence of becoming herein entailed, moreover, means that such multiplicities are nothing beside their constant re-individuation or differentiation. In other words, over and above their constant change in kind, they are their own incessant transmogrification as regards kind. Thus, continuous/intensive multiplicities are conceivable as ipseities in constant breach of their very own ipseity, or always other ipseities, or never the same ipseities, or never their own ipseity, or multiple/disparate as regards ipseity. “Each” ipseity is a particular kind/nature. Intensive multiplicities are, in this sense, qualitative (this must however not be conflated with the qualities attributable to objects subsisting within extended space; that is, objects as arising and enduring within the volumetric space ushered in by the emergence of discrete/extensive multiplicities). Their being unremittingly re-individuated thus entails their incessant “re-qualification”; that is, the fact that they are always already of a different kind to their own singular kind.

On the other hand, with respect to the mobile pre-individual individuating factors, this very characterization (that of nature/quality/kind) has no purchase to begin with. Pre-individual individuating factors are purely intensive quantities (again, this must be clearly distinguished from quantity as associated with measure at the level of objects in extended space). They are infinitely ramified difference, differenting difference; and this latter differentiation is precisely that which incessantly generates and re-generates, by individuation and re-individuation, intensive (qualitative) multiplicities as the singular individuals—perpetually ← 16 | 17 → becoming (devenir) other individuals—that these latter fundamentally are. However, the pre-individual individuating factors, though the infinitely plastic engineers of differences in kind, are themselves of no kind whatsoever. They are not even of a kind which at base perpetually changes in kind. They do not, therefore, attain the level of ipseity—even for the evanescence of a fleeting instant. Pre-singular individuating factors, as the pure differentiating intensive quantities that they are, are therefore not ipseities but—in actual fact—aseities.

There it is. But let us now also include into consideration discrete/extensive multiplicities—for we are about to surmise. One recalls that the foregoing presuppose space as volumetric extension: that as multiplicities the latter are possessed of parts of integral wholes, that their nature remains unaltered by any amount of division since such division transpires within the fixed metric that governs such extensive multiplicities. Changes in discrete/extensive multiplicities effected by division and such like give rise merely to changes in degree—and not in kind. Extensive multiplicities are sempiternally of their own kind—or they are not at all. Contrarily, as pertains to the pre-individual individuating factors, these latter skirt the very arena of kind and of degree alike.

We thus have three distinct (though nowise unrelated) “tiers”: (1) Continuous/intensive multiplicities, (2) discrete/extensive multiplicities, (3) pre-individual individuating factors. The first-mentioned are internal differences in kind that constantly change in kind. The second are multiplicities individuated from a vantage-point supplementary/external to them; herein implying that they are sempiternally of one and only of one kind, subject to perturbations whose affects can impinge upon these discrete/extensive multiplicities solely as regards degree. The third-mentioned subsist/insist “underneath” the level of the first two, repeatedly individuating intensive/continuous multiplicities as what the latter evanescently “are,” are becoming (devenir), and will be.

Deleuze will break this supposed Gordian knot (if there is one). It is, after all, his. One proceeds as follows. On the one hand, there are continuous/intensive multiplicities: they are differences in kind. On the other hand, there are discrete/extensive multiplicities: they are differences in degree. Beneath/between these two, and more fundamental/originary than they, are “all the degrees of difference—beneath the two lies the entire nature of difference—in other words, the intensive. Differences of degree are only the lowest degree of difference, and differences in kind are the highest form of difference.”66 Anterior to (though not chronologically so), more primordial, more subterranean, more fundamental, and subtending the differences of kind and differences of degree, as Deleuze maintains, is “the spatium, the theatre of all metamorphoses or difference in itself which envelopes ← 17 | 18 → all its degrees in the production of each”—and whose ambit is “a world the very ground of which is difference, in which everything rests upon disparities, upon differences of differences which reverberate to infinity (the world of intensity).”67

We have thus investigated three levels. These, notwithstanding, are nowise mutually barricaded from one another. They are as follows. (a) Pre-individual individuating factors are at the most “subterranean” level: they are aseities, differentiating (individuating) differences, outside of measure and of quality/kind. (b) Continuous/intensive multiplicities are purely dispersive, incessantly re-individuated, qualitative multiplicities whose very individuality and metric change at each re-individuation incessantly effected by the foregoing mobile pre-individual individuating factors. (c) Discrete/extensive multiplicities, devolving from continuous/intensive multiplicities (through the process of differenciation), are self-identically and sempiternally of their own kind alone, change only in degree under the pressure of division, and are possessed of a unique and enduring metric which prosaically measures their volumetric properties.

Each of these three ontological “tiers” is, moreover, possessed of its own idiosyncratic temporality—or synthesis of time. These three distinct temporal syntheses, as shall become pellucid in good time, both presuppose and compromise/outflank one another. But we will not dwell upon this at this precise point in time.

(b) The body without organs (BwO) and the disjunctive synthesis

We have thus discussed the connective synthesis of production. What it produces is production itself. Indeed, all of desiring-production is the “absolute productivity” that Schelling attributed to the eternal divine nature that had precipitated itself into being with God’s originary self-withdrawal or Lurianic imum (attendant upon the likewise-originary dissonance that was the self-alienation of the supposedly tranquil eternal willing that was/is the Godhead).

We must, however, discuss the remaining aspects of this “absolute productivity”; that is, the other two (always mutually imbricated) syntheses that make up the cycle of desiring-production. The former we shall dwell upon presently, whilst the latter will inevitably insinuate itself into the Schellingian theogony before long.

Presently we proceed to discuss the disjunctive synthesis. In the course of the connective synthesis, suddenly—it is contended by Deleuze and Guattari—all production reaches a standstill for a vanishing fraction of a moment and spawns “an enormous undifferentiated object”: this is the glorious and most hallowed body without organs, or BwO.68 Immediately hereupon, however, the connective synthesis resumes.69 Now, the BwO is not literally a body devoid of organs, but ← 18 | 19 → rather a body bereft of any form of organization (organ-ization). Also, like the organs-partial objects and unlike the organism, it is not extended spatially—does not “reside” within space as extensio. Rather, it “resides” in spatium; that is to say, in space conceived as a pure material density, the sheer intensity of unformed matter—the “space” of the aforementioned mobile pre-individual individuating factors and of the ceaselessly re-individuated qualitative-intensive multiplicities that these former incessantly engineer via differentiation.

Matter fills up space to a given degree of intensity. Deleuze and Guattari asseverate that the BwO is matter at zero intensity, with all varying intensities of matter deriving from this null-intensity of the BwO. Indeed, they maintain that the BwO is comprised solely of the intensities that occupy, populate and circulate through it.70 More precisely, the BwO is the very passing through itself of the intensities that it itself produces and distributes in spatium. The BwO is neither space, nor in space: it is matter occupying space to a particular degree, the degree corresponding to the intensities it produces. It is unstratified, unformed, intense matter, and in fact the very matrix of all intensity commencing from zero intensity onward. It is notwithstanding the case that there is naught negative concerning this “zero.” That is to say, there are no negative or dialectically opposed intensities. They are all purely positive. For here matter and energy are exactly the same. The BwO is simply the production of the real itself as an intensive magnitude arising from zero intensity.71

Moreover, the BwO is not itself opposed to the organs-partial objects, but is rather produced as a part additional (supernumerary) to the said organs-partial objects. The BwO cannot be said to be the opposite of the organs. They are not its enemies. The enemy of the BwO is the organism. What the BwO is opposed to is not the organs, but the organization of the organs that one calls the organism.72 That is to say, the BwO and its organs-partial objects are conjointly opposed to the organism, the latter being the “organic organization of the organs.”73

In a particular modality of the body without organs known as the “full” or “catatonic” BwO, the interaction between the organs-partial objects of the connective synthesis and the BwO is such that the process of production itself is recorded on the BwO. More precisely, heterogenous chains of organs-partial objects enter into disjunctive syntheses on the surface of the BwO. Here, organs-partial objects attach themselves to the BwO as points of disjunction. They mark the surface of the BwO into a grid of co-ordinates.74 The foregoing disjunctive synthesis is termed inclusive, in that all terms entering into the synthesis are simultaneously affirmed in their very difference from one another. Deleuze and Guattari maintain that this grid of disjunctive syntheses is one in which the disjoined terms are ← 19 | 20 → affirmed despite and even because of their mutual distantiation. This distance nowise entails an exclusion of one term from the other, or of the latter from the former. A massive paradox.75

This may all be so. It is, however, possible—and necessary—to characterize the BwO more pointedly, relating it to becoming (devenir), intensity, singularity, individuation, and absolute deterritorialization. In this connection, Peter Hallward maintains that the BwO is a virtual intensity that has nothing to do with space or place and all to do with pure potential and becoming.76 For Keith Ansell-Pearson, the BwO is a “body” of energies and becomings that is constantly “permeated” by highly unformed and unstable matters—these latter describable as free intensities and nomadic singularities. The BwO is, moreover, the immanent field of desire effecting alike the production and distribution of these intensities. The becoming that is the BwO entails a play of individation through haecceity and singularity, an incessant production of intensities starting from degree zero.77

Moreover, the BwO is nowise pre-existent (such a notion would be the greatest error)—but rather constructed, and always in the process of being constructed. Responsible for the foregoing are processes of absolute deterritorialization. These latter may be described as movements of becoming that, vertiginously sweeping away (or transmogrifying) all individuals (continuous-intensive multiplicities), precipitate the reprise of pure intensities, that is, pre-individual individuating factors.78 Related to this, movements of relative deterritorialization are those whereby individuals (continuous/qualitative multiplicities or organs-partial objects) are (re-)engineered. One does note, however, that there is nonetheless a perpetual immanence of absolute deterritorialization to relative deterritorialization. This makes perfect sense, in that the engineering of continuous multiplicities (organs-partial objects) by pre-individual individuating factors (via relative deterritorialization) is at once the reprise of these factors (via absolute deterritorialization). Otherwise put: absolute deterritorialization is the reprise of the pre-individual individuating factors; relative deterritorialization is the event of the individuation/re-individuation of continuous multiplicities (organs-partial objects). The former is in incessant immanence with regard to the latter.

There appear to be contradictions here. They do not need to, however, amount to such. The BwO is, on the one hand, said to be a becoming (devenir): which, as we know, entails the incessant reprise of pre-individual singularities (individuating factors) with which latter the BwO is “permeated.” On the other hand, the BwO, is maintained to be a collection of purely distributed organs-partial objects (continuous/intensive multiplicities). From the just-discussed perpetual ← 20 | 21 → immanence of absolute to relative deterritorialization, however, it cannot but be concluded that the BwO is indeed the former and the latter.

Now, the approximate analogue in Schelling’s Weltalter to the Deleuzoguattarian BwO has gradually come into increasingly clearer view. We have already regaled ourselves with Schelling’s explicit assimilation of the natural aspect of the Absolute or God (i.e. eternal divine nature) to Spinozan natura naturans; that is, to the nature generated within God (or the Godhead) through his/its auto-contraction (Lurianic imum). Schellingian eternal divine nature and, by implication, Spinozan natura naturans—were here both deemed the in-itself of nature (this latter term deployed presently in the prosaic and quotidian sense). Both are thus Spinoza’s Absolute Substance. Now, for Deleuze and Guattari, it is precisely the BwO that is none other than the latter. For they contend that the BwO is indeed the fully Spinozan immanent substance (Absolute Substance or natura naturans), and that the organs-partial objects are the latter’s attributes. These two terms do not, as said, exclude or oppose one another.79 For the BwO is the pure potentiality of raw unformed matter, whilst the partial objects are its immediate powers or working parts.80

Spinoza’s conception of substance, though possessed of the characteristics of immanence and causa sui, is—notwithstanding—fundamentally ossified by a certain intractable immutability, replete with intimations of stasis.81 Therefore, whilst assimilating the BwO to Spinozan immanent substance, one must heed Claire Colebrook’s qualification that substance in the usage of Deleuze and Guattari, far from being a noun, is indeed an infinitive; not some sort of ultimate being or supreme entity, but rather a power of creating.82

Let us take stock. We have thus far described the precipitation into existence of a nature (eternal divine nature) by way of God’s auto-contraction (Lurianic imum), this nature being closely assimilable to Spinozan natura naturans, affirmed by Schelling to be “absolute productivity,” and wagered above to be akin to Deleuzoguattarian desiring-production (whose immanent principle is the BwO). The last of the three productive syntheses—that is, the conjunctive synthesis—comprising the latter remains to be discussed. However, we must presently return to our Schellingian theogony; that is, more specifically, to God’s self-withdrawal.

4. The incessant rotary motion of eternal divine nature

The negation/contraction of God is merely the generative force by which eternal divine nature is initially posited. Yet, “this force never appears for itself alone, but only ever as the bearer of another essence [or force], fastening it down and holding ← 21 | 22 → it together. This other essence [or force] is expansive by nature, and it is thus volitilizing and spiritualizing.”83 Indeed, “without this overflowing and communicative essence [force], the attracting [and thus negating and contracting] force would be empty and genuinely ineffectual, unfulfilled and unbearable [unleidlich] to itself.”84 On the other hand, however, if “there were no negating force, then this other essence [force] would have nothing against which it could externalize itself and through which it could be put into effect.”85

The immediate upshot of this is that a tension develops between the contracting-negating and the expanding-affirming forces (or powers/potencies), respectively. What now occurs, avers Schelling, is that the “negating power [or force] dislocates itself from itself in order to be, so to speak, its own complete being”—as does the expanding-affirming force—in such a way that a tension results in the two potencies (forces) arraying themselves in mutual opposition.86 Eternal divine nature as the contracting force of negation stands in stark opposition to the same as the expansive force of affirmation—both claiming Being solely for itself to the reciprocal and wholesale exclusion of the other, both claiming to be indeed divine. Taken together, the resulting process of eternal divine nature is homologous to what Lurianic Kabbala describes as the dialectical “double beat of the alternately expanding movement of Ein-Sof and its desire to return to itself, hitpashtut (‘egression’) and histalkut (‘regression’), as the kabbalists call it. Every movement of regression toward the source has something of a new imum about it.”87

One may conjure up a striking parallel here between the reciprocal antagonism between these forces of contraction-negation and expansion-affirmation of Schellingian eternal divine nature, on the one hand, and the tension that arises between what Deleuze and Guattari term the paranoiac and the miraculating machines at the unconscious level of desiring-production, on the other. These latter two are spawned as the result of two different modes of interaction between the Deleuzoguattarian body without organs (BwO) and its organs-partial objects. For Deleuze and Guattari, when the BwO experiences the organs-partial objects as a form of persecution wherein the partial objects seem to be attemping to break into the BwO, the latter repels the organs and thereby spawns a paranoiac machine. Here, the BwO can no longer tolerate the organ-machines. “In order to resist the organ-machines, the body without organs presents its smooth, slippery, opaque, taut surface as a barrier. In order to resist linked, connected, and interrupted flows, it sets up a counterflow of amorphous, undifferentiated fluid.”88 Clearly, the BwO’s presenting of itself as a barrier to the organs-partial objects is its becoming taciturn in a movement of self-enclosure. In this sense, it is akin to the Schellingian contracting force (the first potency of eternal divine nature). ← 22 | 23 →

Now, on the other hand, in a different mode of interaction with the organs-partial objects, the BwO attracts these latter and appropriates them to itself, functioning as quasi-cause of the said organs—in which they appear to emanate from the BwO, seem to be miraculated by it.89 Since the machine herein spawned—that is, the miraculating machine—is so by way of exactly the opposite process to that by which the paranoiac machine arises, the miraculating machine is hereby akin to the Schellingian second potency of divine nature: the force of expansion.

5. The emergence of the third potency as spirit amid the rotary motion

Presently, we return to Schelling’s theogony itself. We ended up claiming that the contracting-negating and the expanding-affirming potencies stood in a relation of mutual antagonism, each alike arrogating to itself the dignity of alone being possessed of Being to the reciprocal exclusion of the other. Yet, eternal divine nature is in fact both of these—as it is also their “unity.” That is to say, God—in his nature—is all of these foregoing three at once. And, in that eternal divine nature is that which in God is unavoidable, God is likewise separately all of the three necessarily.90

At this point, a confusion must not result: when it is said that God is alike all three divine potencies, this is not to say that the Godhead itself has been in wholesale fashion assimilated to these. For, most emphatically, the Godhead is devoid of nature. The three divine potencies are separately and conjointly God only insofar as God has contracted Being—that is, has acquired his eternal divine nature, the latter itself spawned by the generative force of the second eternal will (although, its genetic element is, more accurately, the dissonance within the first eternal willing that is at once this first willing’s self-alienation as the quasi-duality of itself and another will: the second will). God as Godhead, meanwhile, is—for Schelling—wholly transcendent of the eternal divine nature that God contracts. (We will see soon enough whether this transcendence may still be allowed.) Moreover, whereas eternal divine nature is what God is of necessity, God considered as pure eternal Godhead is completely and utterly outside the realm of necessity, since it is quite contrariwise (and as priorly espied)—the eternal freedom to be. This will likewise be subject to subsequent scrutiny.

But let us now dwell specifically on the third divine potency. The latter is generated out of the mutual antagonism of the contracting force (the first potency) ← 23 | 24 → and the expansive force (the second potency) by way of an inner necessity, and moreover—as spirit. Despite its being thus characterized here by Schelling, the third potency is not to be conflated with the Godhead itself—for, though less corporeal and indeed a higher potency than the first and the second potencies, this third potency is nonetheless decidedly lower (more corporeal) than the absolutely pure spirit, the eternal and vertiginous “abyss of freedom” of the Godhead.91

Moreover, it is important to be mindful that the generation of the third potency out of the reciprocal opposition of the first potency and second potency—is precisely the manner in which the second eternal will continues to strive after eternity (which is, as we saw earlier, merely the way in which eternity unconsciously strives after itself), how the will in eternity (the second will) seeks to find the eternal willing that is the Godhead (the first will), or—most succinctly—how eternal divine nature strives in its relentlessly psychotic rotary motion to resolve the originary dissonance within the pure willing from whence it had always already arisen in the first place. And it is precisely due to the foregoing incessant and tireless quality of the second will’s striving toward the Godhead, that the third potency calls forth again and again the mutual antagonism of the first two divine potencies—such that it (the third potency) may ever be generated anew from the latter.92

It is also by virtue of the third potency’s fundamentally voluptuous nature that it finds itself repeatedly soliciting the renewal of this blind contraction-expansion antagonism. Indeed, for the third potency “the opposition serves as an eternal pleasure [Lust], since spirit [the third potency] only becomes sensible to itself in the opposition, and far from sublating this opposition, spirit seeks instead to constantly posit and confirm it.”93 The said antagonism is not only enjoyed by the third potency that arises from it, but is indeed consumed by the latter. That is to say: it is consumed by that which arises from it. Yet, though consumed by spirit, the antagonism between the first potency and the second potency reappears. In point of fact, the antagonism eternally “produces itself, in order always again to be consumed by the unity [the third potency] and the antithesis is eternally consumed by the unity in order always to revive itself anew.”94 Schelling is thus entirely within his wits to describe this incessant circulation that is eternal divine nature as “an unremitting wheel, a rotary movement that never comes to a standstill,” as the “life that continually incinerates itself and again rejuvenates itself from ash.”95

This blind rotary motion, moreover, is bereft of beginning. Certainly, in positing itself incessantly, it does begin—and repeatedly so. However, a beginning that begins again and again without extending itself into a duration that could thence in turn come to serve as “the ground of a steady progression,” at least for ← 24 | 25 → Schelling, does not qualify as an authentic beginning. Indeed, in eternity, such an authentic beginning would be entirely impossible—for eternity as such is bereft of duration.96 In eternity, within the ambit of eternal divine nature, one instead finds “time, eternally commencing, eternally becoming, always devouring itself and always again giving birth to itself.”97 Thus, in eternity every emergent instant fails to hold onto itself—a failure that precludes such an instant from serving as one of a series of obdurate present moments whose sequential arraying would otherwise ground a temporal succession. Self-incinerating eternal divine nature partakes of precisely such a (subtemporal) temporality: the antagonism between the contracting force and the expansive force is instantly consumed by the spirit (the third potency) generated out of the latter, this consuming spirit itself vanishing out of existence in the very instant of its emergence from the antagonism that it so voluptuously devours. The third potency is, therefore, a pure evanescence constantly being born and reborn from the eternally returning opposition twixt the first potency and the second potency—a birth and rebirth that neither presupposes nor produces time in any chronological sense.

As such—that is, as a pure evanescence generated out of the antagonism that it consumes in the very instant of itself at once being extinguished from existence—the Schellingian third divine potency bears a remarkable resemblance to what Deleuze and Guattari call the nomadic subject at the level of desiring-production. This latter Deleuzoguattarian nomadic subject or nomadic self is, moreover, produced in a strongly homologous fashion to the mode of generation of the Schellingian third potency. The generation of the nomadic subject/self occurs as follows. The moments of generation of the paranoiac and miraculating machines give rise to an alternating movement whose oscillatory tension spawns the so-called celibate machine. This pulsating motion constantly being effected by the forces of attraction and repulsion between BwO and organs-partial objects gives rise to an open series of pure “intense nervous states that fill up the body without organs to varying degrees.”98 It is these intensive states, taken together, that precipitate the Deleuzoguattarian nomadic subject into emergence.

One must, however, immediately be alerted that the nomadic subject is nowise a fully-fledged autonomous agent. It is, in truth, far less than this. Indeed, it is at most an “excremental” subject that is born of each intensive state of the BwO and incessantly reborn of each ensuing state. In this procees, the nomadic subject consumes and consummates the intensive state from whence it arises (consumption-consummation). The crucial thing here, is that each intensive nervous state is primary in relation to the nomadic subject that lives it.99 This vertiginous and abyssal ambit is one in which “at each moment, everything tends to be spread out ← 25 | 26 → into an instantaneous, indefinitely divisible continuum, which will not prolong itself into the next instant, but will pass away, only to be reborn in the following instant, in a flicker or shiver that constantly begins again.”100 The evanescent sub-ontology of the nomadic subject is thus somewhat analogous to what Sartre maintains of the utterly protean existence of Jean Genet, in the sense that its life is always already its own death and that it incessantly “dies its own life.” It feels its own sub-sentient self to be both itself and that of another. Eternity is present in the “atom” of its sub-duration, in its own repeatedly fatal flitting instant. “Born of nothingness,” its “being has the substantiality of nonbeing.”101 Here I have of course been paraphrasing Sartre on Genet.

Thus, and moreover, the nomadic subject—like the Schellingian third divine potency—is essentially evanescent and voluptuous. Indeed, in consuming and consummating each state through which it passes and of which it is incessantly born and reborn, the euphoric exclamation of the nomadic subject is “So that’s what it was!”102 It identifies with the emotional and delirious intensive states through which it passes (this is, of course, not in the least to be confused with an ego-identicification). Alphonso Lingis may be seen as glossing the fundamentally voluptuous nature of the Deleuzoguattarian nomadic subject in the following passage: “The excitation intensifies, is supported by its own substance, and explodes into itself. Forming the incandenscence of a reflection, an ipseity. This ipseity is not produced by a mirror-effect. It is produced by an intensity effect with itself, a pleasure tormented by itself, a torment complacent in itself, voluptuous, a lust luxuriating in itself.”103

This evanescent quality of the nomadic subject appears also to belong to the Leibnizian monad. Here Leibniz avers that “all created or derived Monads are products and have their birth, so to speak, through continual fulgurations of the Divinity from moment to moment …”104 This divinity (God), much as is the case with Spinoza’s Absolute Substance or natura naturans—asseverates Leibniz—is the sole “primary unity or original simple substance” from whence the monad is generated.105 Furthermore, much like the Deleuzoguattarian nomadic subject, the Leibnizian monad also surges up into existence ex nihilo: it “can only come into being or come to an end all at once; that is to say, it can come into being only by creation and come to an end only by annihilation …”106 This reminds one of the observation made in quantum physics of subatomic particles suddenly coming into existence and similarly being instantaneously voided out of existence. Other aspects in which the Leibnizian monad and the nomadic subject are homologous are that they are both devoid of extension and form; and, moreover, “spiritual”: Leibniz, in at least one instance, describes monads as inter ← 26 | 27 → alia “incorporeal automata.”107 Finally, in that the nomadic subject is perpetually being born, extinguished, and reborn of each intensive state of the BwO; it is never the same/self-same subject—and is therefore multiple. More precisely, it is at once all of its evanscent upsurges. That is to say, “the” nomadic subject is always already all nomadic subjects at once. Indeed, in his reading of Leibniz, Deleuze maintains that “the monad does not exist outside of other monads,” that singularities “proper to each monad are extended as far as the singularities of all others and in all senses.”108 The nomadic subject and the Leibnizian monad are thus both fundamentally multiple in the most essential sense.

6. The third potency as traversing the entire ladder of future formations

In Schelling, the unremitting rotary motion of eternal divine nature, it is moreover averred, serves to incessantly generate “images,” these latter ascending from the lowest to the highest potencies and from there on in unto the still concealed Godhead itself; that is, from the first through to the third potencies unto the Eternal itself, in an endless profusion.109 These “images” are “the possibilities or spirits of things” that spirit (the third potency) runs through in its constantly being born and reborn, and which the Godhead itself beholds reflected in this spirit as “the visions of future spirits that are determined, along with the being of nature, for creation”—as indeed “everthing that someday should become actual in nature and then everything that someday should become actual in the spirit world.”110 In fact, the Godhead beholds herein “the entire ladder of future formations” that the eternally evanescing spirit (the third potency) itself traverses.111 Nonetheless, all of this passes “before the eye of the eternal [the Godhead] only as a glimpse or a vision”—since eternal divine nature “has no actuality” and thus instead passes “again into becoming” with “nothing abiding, nothing stable,” everything being therefore “in incessant formation.”112 Indeed, although Schelling describes the images generated by eternal divine nature as “archetypes,” he deploys the latter term in a strictly non-Platonic sense: for these pseudo-archetypes are neither physical substances, nor vacuous genera, nor static or complete forms; but rather “eternally becoming and in incessant movement and generation.”113

A comparison with aspects of kabbalistic thought invites itself at this point. The Schellingian quasi-archetypes—effectively pure becomings—tranversed by the envanescing third divine potency come to bear—upon closer inspection—a tantalizing proximity to the theory of the Sefirot, or divine attributes of God, as ← 27 | 28 → refined and transmogrified by the thought of inter alia Moses Cordovero. The Sefirot are said to subsume the archetype of every created thing. They are contained within the Godhead and impregnate each and every being outside the latter. In its original and more archaic forms, the theory of the divine Sefirot presents these latter as something akin to stases: static, atemporal forms. In this more archaic theory, there are precisely ten fundamental divine attributes, namely: Keter Elyon (“supreme crown”); Hokhmah (“wisdom”); Binad (“intelligence”); Gedullah (“greatness”) or Hesed (“love”); Gevurah (“power”) or Din (“Judgment,” but also “rigor”); Tiferet (“beauty”) or Rahamim (“compassion”); Nezah (“lasting endurance”); Hod (“majesty”); Zaddik (“righteous one”) or Yesod Olam (“foundation of the world”); and Malkhut (“kingdom”) or Atarah (“diadem”).114 Such a rigidly immobile conception of the Sefirot will, however, not do.

This earlier theory of the divine attributes, notwithstanding, undergoes considerable intrication with Moses Cordovero. The first complication here is that each Sefirah henceforth comes to be viewed as comprising all other Sefirot. The inherent ramification is that of an infinite reflection of all Sefirot within themselves—a mise en abyme. But Cordovero will exacerbate this initial complexification. For in addition to the foregoing notion of an unlimited embeddedness of all Sefirot within all other Sefirot, comes that of behinot. The behinot are the infinite number of aspects of each given Sefirah. Each Sefirah is infinitely internally divided into and by its behinot. Cordovero’s insight on this point is, moreover, that every Sefirah’s division into a bottomless regress of endlessly ramified behinot, is at once each Sefirah’s internal connection to all other Sefirot. In Scholem’s formulation, each and every behinah effects the rousing and manifestation of the next ensuing behinah—and so forth in infinitely ramified profusion.115 In fact, each Sefirah falls into itself, precipitating an infinitude of internal reflections. In this process, the infinite regress of each Sefirah into itself at once causes the begetting and ushering into being from within itself of another Sefirah.116 This infinite internal fracturing of the Sefirot and its immediate ramification as the genesis of supplementary Sefirot implies that any “given” Sefirot is mutatis mutandis a pure disparity—that is to say, a difference-in-itself. Differences in themselves, as already observed apropos of Deleuze, are simply pure becomings (devenir). Moreover, like Schelling’s “possibilities or spirits of things,” Cordovero regards the Sefirot to be the elemental structures of all beings whose process of emanation within the Deity the Zohar terms istakluta le-fum sha’ata, or the “fleeting vision of the eternal.”117

A still more striking kabbalistic analogue to Schelling’s mobile archetypes of future formations may be found in Israel Sarug’s particular conception of the primordial Torah. Sarug seems to differ from Schelling in that he traces the ← 28 | 29 → emergence to these archetypes to a point genetically and logically prior to the imum. Firstly, he avers that the primordial dissonance within Ein-Sof produces—or “engraves”—“primordial points” in the “power of Din,” which points become the first forms to leave their marks in the fundamental essence of Ein-Sof.118 Next, Sarug contends that the potency of these “engraved” points is “activated” by the “light” of Ein-Sof. This process produces and weaves the “primordial Torah” into the very substance of Ein-Sof itself. Scholem describes the primordial Torah as a sort of fundamental “linguistic” movement of Ein-Sof within its own self, and moreover as a malbush (“garment”) completely inseparable from the divine substance—for it is woven within Ein-Sof in the same manner in which the clothing of a grasshopper is, as the Midrash has it, inextricably part of itself. For Sarug, the “length” of this divine garment comprises all the possible combinations of the letters of the Hebrew alphabet conjointly comprising the “archistructure” of divine thought, whereas its “breadth” is an elaboration of the Tetragrammaton according to the numerical value of the four possible permuted spellings of the names composed of the latter’s letters—the foregoing being the “threads” and the “weave” originally placed in the very “hem” of the garment. The primordial Torah contains potentially everything that could possibly be revealed through the Torah that was subsequently to be given to humans on earth.119 Scholem maintains it to be mutatis mutandis the kabbalistic equivalent of the platonic realm of pure forms.

Apart from the Schelling-Cordovero parallel here unearthed, one yet again glimpses another congruence between Deleuzoguattarian desiring-production and Schellingian eternal divine nature. As we have seen, the “images” generated by the incessantly renewed antagonism between the first potency and the second potency that the Schellingian third potency traverses are fluid “archetypes” in eternal becoming. Now, as has already been discussed in connection with Miguel de Beistegui apropos of Deleuzian onto-hetero-genesis, pure becoming (devenir) is the incessant reprise of pre-individual individuating factors; that is, the reprisal of differentiating difference: the resurgence of pure intensities in and of themselves. The generation of images by the anatagonism between the two lower potencies is thus a production of such pure intensive states. The constantly evanescing third potency can therefore be said to perform a vertiginous—though purely intensive—journey through (likewise intensive) states generated by the opposition/oscillation between the forces of contraction-negation and expansion-affirmation. And it is precisely such a journey that is undertaken by the Deleuzoguattarian nomadic subject: for this latter passes through all the degrees of intensity in an endless migratory movement along the “surface” of the BwO. This journey in intensity is moreover, as Deleuze and Guattari go on to aver, one in ← 29 | 30 → which the nomadic subject “identifies” the states through which it passes with all the “names” of history: “every name in history is I …”120 The foregoing vertiginous passage of the nomadic subject—the authors contend—is thus a veritable Nietzschean eternal return.121

In what sense may this be maintained? Firstly, it is paramount to urgently discard any notion of the eternal return as a return of the Same, of Being, or of the Identical. Such a conception—vacuous as it no doubt is—would leave us with nothing. Therefore, what returns in the eternal return is not Being, but indeed becoming (Werden). In fact, there is as such no Being—that is, no Being “in and of itself”: for the only Being that may be cogently alluded to is Being inasmuch as it is affirmed of becoming. “Affirmed” in what sense? In the sense that Being is the return of becoming. Otherwise put: “Returning is being, but only the being of becoming.”122

We have already observed that becoming (devenir) is the incessant production of events, each event entailing the upsurge of pre-individual individuating factors, that is, pure intensive quantities spawning categorically novel continuous-intensive-qualitative multiplicities. As the return of becoming, the eternal return would thus entail the return or reprisal of the said pre-individual individuating factors; that is, the return of differentiating difference—or, more succinctly, of difference tout court. It therefore stands to reason that “eternal return does not cause the same and the similar to return, but is itself derived from a world of pure difference.”123 This implies that the eternal return entails “the assignation of difference as the origin, which then relates different to different in order to make it (or them) return as such”; and is hereby furthermore intimately imbricated with none other than the will to power in the precise sense that “the eternal return is indeed the consequence of a difference which is originary, pure, synthetic and in-itself (which Nietzsche called will to power)”—an infinitely taut recto-verso in which “difference is the in-itself, [and] the repetition in the eternal return is the for-itself of difference.”124 If will to power is the in-itself of difference, difference in its most pure and originary sense, the pure difference herein being alluded to can only be the purely intensive differentiating difference of the pre-individual individuating factors. These latter, as repeatedly maintained, are pure intensive quantities. The reprisal of the said free intensive quantities (these latter comprising the vertiginous subterranean world of the will to power) inherent to the eternal return, implies that the latter entails not merely becoming (Werden)—but indeed an intensive becoming (devinir). (Indeed, all becomings—entailing as they do the recrudescence of pure intensive quantities—are inherently becomings-intense.) And it is in such an intensive becoming that the nomadic subject finds itself incessantly ← 30 | 31 → embroiled. As Deleuze maintains, this abyssal world of the nomadic subject is that of the eternal return and, at once and equivalently, that of the will to power: “the flashing world of metamorphoses, of communicating intensities, differences of differences, of breaths, insinuations and exhalations: a world of intensive intentionalities, a world of simulacra or ‘mysteries.’”125

Belonging to and passing through this vertiginous world of pure intensive states, the nomadic subject is in many respects quite like the Schellingian third potency, which traverses “the entire ladder of future formations”—for the Deleuzoguattarian nomadic subject’s intensive migratory movement is one in which “everything conmingles in these intense becomings [devenir], passages, and migrations—all this drift that ascends and descends the flows of time: countries, races, families, parental appelations, divine appelations, geographical and historical designations, and even miscellaneous news items.”126 And all of these things which conmingle on the BwO “designate regions on this body—that is, zones of intensities, fields of potentials. Phenomena of individualization and sexualization are produced within these fields. We pass from one field to another by crossing threshold: we never stop migrating, we become other individuals as well as other sexes, and departing becomes as easy as being born or dying.”127 This world of the eternal return and the will to power, of desiring-production whose immanent principle is the BwO—very much like Schellingian eternal divine nature—is unremitting in its evanescence, incessant in its sempiternal auto-incineration: for, as Deleuze maintains, repetition “in the eternal return never means continuation, perpetuation or prolongation, nor even the discontinuous return of something which would at least be able to be prolonged in a partial cycle (an identity, an I, a Self) …”128 This is so because “eternal return, affirmed in all its power, allows no installation of a foundation-ground. On the contrary, it swallows up or destroys every ground,” hereby making “us party to a universal ungrounding.”129

Ungrounding indeed. But let us pause briefly. For during the course of this elaboration a certain inconsistency has insinuated itself into our exegesis of the Weltalter. At almost the very outset, we assimilated the Schellingian pure willing (Wollen) to the Nietzschean will to power, contending that the very tranquility, non-striving, and subjectless and objectless character of the former—far from standing for complicity with the will to nothingness or a nothingness of the will—in fact, coincided with the highest affirmation. It has, however, emerged that will to power is originary difference. Therefore, it appears more correct not to directly identify will to power with the pure willing of the Godhead, but instead to assimilate the former to the originary dissonance (the independent emergence of the second will at the heart of the first which internally cleaves the said ← 31 | 32 → first will) that has always already disturbed the self-coincidence/tranquility of the latter willing. Moreover, the fact that eternal return is affirmed of the will to power—implies that this originary dissonance in the pure willing is incessantly produced and re-produced. And it is alike this latter perpetual reprisal (of pure intensive quantities, of differentiating difference) that is at the basis of the unremitting pulsation of Schellingian eternal divine nature.

7. The Ent-Scheidung: the emergence of God as subject

As observed, eternal divine nature’s incessantly reproduced opposition between contraction and expansion and its relentless pulsation—is precisely the form that the second will’s seeking of the eternal Godhead assumes. This unremitting pulsation of eternal divine nature, when considered from its (eternal divine nature’s) vantage point, is none other than eternal divine nature’s mode of striving after Being: it is “not a true existence but only an eternal drive and zeal to be, without actual Being.”130 But, from within its own circumscribed ambit, eternal divine nature is utterly incapable of attaining Being, just as the second will cannot find eternity and just as—equivalently—eternity cannot find itself; instead, divine nature runs itself “to a standstill in desire, as an unremitting striving, an eternally insatiable obsession [Sucht] with Being.”131 Eternal divine nature is pure necessity and there is “nothing in that first nature except [its own] irresistible drive and insensate movement,” a mad and maddeningly blind oscillation which—by itself—it can nowise thwart, resist, let alone transcend.132

Thus, the only manner in which it can possibly escape from this monotonous pulsation, to be brought outside its own insane ambit, is to be drawn out of itself by that which is in essence completely external to the blind rotary motion of eternal divine nature. That is to say: its “liberation and deliverance can only come through an Other that is outside of it and wholly independent of it and exalted above it.”133 Whilst still trapped within its own relentless rotary movement, eternal divine nature may be described as mere Being—but not as having Being (which latter it perpetually fails to attain in its incessant repetition of abortive beginnings). And it is only in and through such an “incontestably higher” Other that divine nature can come to eventually possess Being.134 Now, this much elevated Other is precisely the Godhead itself. And quite certainly, “through its simple presence, without any movement (since it is still pure conation itself),” the Godhead already “rouses in that life [that of eternal divine nature] the yearning for freedom.”135 Indeed, this must be so: for eternal divine nature’s “distress of ← 32 | 33 → pining” after Being is at once inter alia—as has already been mentioned—also eternity’s searching for itself; that is, the pure willing’s sisyphean ordeal at overcoming the originary dissonance by which it is always already inhabited (causing its, the pure willing’s, self-alienation—a primordial self-estrangement at the very basis of the entire Schellingian theogony itself). Thus, contends Schelling, the pure presence of the Godhead induces in eternal divine nature the transmogrification of the latter’s former headlong and wild obsession into a quiter yearning: that is, a yearning to ally itself with the Godhead “as if it were its own true or highest self, with the will that wills nothing [the first will], with eternal freedom.”136 Now, the only manner in which eternal divine nature is able to ally itself with a pure spirit (in this case, the purest and most spiritual of spirits), is through that which within itself is the most spiritual—that is to say, through the third divine potency.137

And this is what indeed occurs. Eternal divine nature’s highest potency is drawn upward by the sheer mute presence of the Eternal (the Godhead) and “is elevated to [be] the immediate subject [my emphasis] of the pure Godhead.”138 Through this latter movement, eternal divine nature itself “becomes Being with respect to the highest [the Godhead].”139 The obverse of this same movement is that the Godhead, until this crucial point a pure sublimity beyond the ambit of Being and thus outside of having or not having Being, comes to have Being in eternal divine nature by subjugating the latter to itself—herein rendering eternal divine nature a substrate in which it directly recognizes this same eternal divine nature as its own.140 Moreover, that the third potency is elevated to the dignity of divine subject, means that God himself also emerges as subject.

There is more. We have here been speaking of God’s coming to subjecthood from the vantage point of eternal divine nature’s own liberation from its incessant oscillatory movement. From the purview of self-incarcerating eternal divine nature, the pure mute presence of the Godhead appears as liberator via something analogous to magnetic induction. (We must allow Schelling his foibles.) But let us now look at this liberation conversely: from the perspective of the Godhead itself. As seen, the Godhead is—at its most fundamental—the eternal freedom to be. The liberation of eternal divine nature from its unremitting cycle of contractions and expansions through which the Godhead also acquires Being, not in itself (not as such) but as it (Being) comes to be reflected in the eternal divine nature liberated by it, is accomplished through an absolutely (and vertiginously) free decision (Ent-Scheidung) on the part of the same Godhead. As Scholem contends apropos of Moses Cordovero’s Elimah, the Godhead’s decision to emerge from its own concealment into manifestation and creation—far from being “in any sense a process which is a necessary consequence of the essence of Ein-Sof”—must be maintained to be “a free ← 33 | 34 → decision which remains a constant and impenetrable mystery.”141 As shall moreover be seen, this decision is at once God’s pronunciation of the Word.

The latter is also that by which the seemingly sempiternal repetition of abortive beginnings is finally terminated by a Beginning that truly begins. Indeed, as Žižek surmises apropos of Schelling, the “Beginning occurs when the Word is pronounced which ‘represses’, rejects into the eternal Past, this self-enclosed circuit of drives [the unremitting pulsation of eternal divine nature].”142 The Slovene adds, moreover, that this “true Beginning is the passage from the ‘closed’ rotary motion to ‘open’ progress, from drive to desire—or, in Lacanian terms, from the Real to the Symbolic.”143 Furthermore, the Ent-Scheidung is that by which God for the first time discloses himself to himself, appears to himself.144 The pronunciation of the Word by God is, thus, the primordial act by which God—as eternal pure willing, pure spirit—transforms himself from a mere “In-itself” into a “For-itself.”145 As we shall see more comprehensively later on, Žižek demonstrates that the mode of God’s coming to subjecthood in the Schellingian Ent-Scheidung is strictly homologous to that of the Lacanian human subject as split subject ($).

Intermezzo 2: From the larval to the fully-fledged subject

What is of even greater interest to us here is, however, the Deleuzoguattarian genesis of human subjectivity (molar subjectivity). The latter is precisely a point of interest, in that we have already seen the striking homology between the Schellingian third divine potency and the Deleuzoguattarian nomadic subject—in both mode of generation and in nature. This homology, however, spawns further homologies.

(1) Toward the “larval” subject

How then do Deleuze and Guattari proceed from the nomadic subject to the fully-fledged human subject? Certainly not—that is, at least not in the primary sense—by way of any form of Ent-Scheidung imposed by that which purportedly transcends the purely immanent ambit of the said nomadic subject’s endless precipitation. Let us begin by recalling that the nomadic subject, spawned by the oscillation between the paranoiac and miraculating machines, is generated as a pure evanescence born of the open series of intensive states produced in the BwO by the said oscillatory movement. An entire slew of ramified vicissitudes shall, however, insinuate themselves within this ambit.

In his creative exposition of the Deleuzoguattarian mode of genesis of human subjectivity, Brian Massumi contends that, in due course, a process of etiolation ← 34 | 35 → gradually besets the incessant engendering of the nomadic subject—whereby fewer and fewer intensive states are produced in the BwO. More precisely, certain of the BwO’s intensive states are in fact amplified whilst the remaining ones are diminished almost to the point of extinction. Notwithstanding, this is the movement in and by which the overall degree of intensity of the BwO falls. In tandem, the evanescing nomadic subject hereby traverses increasingly fewer intensive states. Massumi avers that this etiolation reaches the point where the intensity of “all the states [traversed by the nomadic subject] but the one just left and the one about to come are muffled to the point that they are almost imperciptible.”146

In that the intensive states produced in the BwO are consumed by the nomadic subject incessently born of them and that this latter subject is essentially voluptuous, this multiplicity of intensive states (of pure, communicating intensive quantities) taken together may at once be viewed as a sensation—and likewise termed a perception. Although, given that these latter are thus far not being referred back to a fully-constituted subject, it would be more accurate to use Deleuze’s word “percept”—or at least “microperception.”

We have already seen how—though with some hesitation—the nomadic subject may be assimilated to the Leibnizian monad. This shall help steer our ensuing discussion. Leibniz defines a monad as a simple substance—by which he means one devoid of extented parts.147 We have already expressed our reservations about the use of the term “substance” in such a connection. The unextended character of the monad is notwithstanding the first point of convergence. Moreover, Leibniz proceeds to asseverate that “multiplicity in the unit [unite] or in the simple substance, is nothing but what is called Perception” and furthermore that “nothing but this (namely, perceptions and their changes) can be found in the simple substance.”148 Thus, the Leibnizian monad turns out to be—in a crucial sense—multiple. And this multiplicity in/of the monad concerns the latter’s being a microperception/sensation. As seen, the nomadic subject is likewise multiple—its multiplicity consisting in it itself being at once all such upsurges from intensive states of nomadic subjects. Thus, instead of speaking of “the” nomadic subject/self, if would be far more accurate to refer to the “teeming plethora of nomadic subjects/selves.” Crucially, this multiplicity of the nomadic subject is also its being a percept/sensation. This is the homology between the Deleuzoguattarian nomadic subject and the Leibnizian monad that we have sought here to establish.

But we may elaborate this still further. Leibniz goes on to contend that, as a perception, “each created Monad represents the whole universe,” that it effectively “expresses the whole universe through the connexion of all matter in the plenum,” and that thereby every “Monad is, in its own way, a mirror of the universe” in ← 35 | 36 → its entirety.149 Apropos of Leibniz, Deleuze avers in this connection that every monad, though it indeed “expresses the entire world,” does so only “obscurely and dimly because it is finite and the world is infinite”—that, though the microperceptions of monads are in truth “representatives of the world,” they remain “minute, obscure, confused perceptions” that are in actual fact “lacking an object, that is, hallucinatory microperceptions.”150 Such characterizations therefore permit Leibniz to aver that (bare) monads are perpetually and literally “in a state of stupor.”151

But, bare monads are not all stupor. Each monad, though it perceives—jointly and indissolubly with all other monads—the entire universe very indistinctly, is possessed of what is termed a “zone of clarity” or “clear zone” within whose compass its perceptions are distinct. Here, Leibniz contends that monads “all strive after [vont à] the infinite, the whole; but they are limited and differentiated through the degrees of their distinct perceptions”; and furthermore that, “although each created Monad represents the whole universe, it represents more distinctly the body which specially pertains to it, and of which it is the entelechy …”152 This nonetheless bears no salutory consequences for what are here being described as bare/naked monads and their state of effective eternal damnation, “their only single and clear perception being their hatred of God.”153

The Leibnizian bare monad, conveying the entire universe through an inebriated haze, therefore resembles the Deleuzoguattarian nomadic subject traversing the abyssal and crepuscular world of the eternal return, and likewise the Schellingian third divine potency vertiginously running through the entire ladder of future formations (becomings) in its self-incinerating circular gauntlet. Since supposedly God does not survive the test of the Nietzshean eternal return and is thus included in it only as purportedly dead, whilst the unremitting wheel of Schellingian eternal divine nature is the carceral ambit within which God—desperate to supercede his own originary self-alienation—has ensnared himself; this thankless realm inhabited by the bare monad is truly that of the reprobate, which reprobate—for thinking God deceased—groans eternally under the wrath of the self-entrapped Deity he so offends with his mediocre and slavering hatred. But God shall survive this death: not only upon the ignominious gibbet at Golgotha—but (and prior to this and in a still more fundamental sense) in his very coming to subjecthood; that is, in his creation of the world.

But let us, right at this moment, return to Massumi. We have observed that the overall intensity of the BwO falls. The process of etiolation whereby a selected number of intensive states is amplified in tandem with the diminution of the remaining states—Massumi views as at once entailing a contraction whereby the ← 36 | 37 → “veritable infinity of impulses [intensive states/sensations], is contracted into a restricted set of higher order sensations.”154 He moreover adds that this restricted set is in turn itself contracted “into a single retrospective sensation [my emphasis].”155 This latter higher-order sensation effectively constitutes a level of sensation/perception that superimposes itself onto the contracted sensations (or microperceptions).156

We noted earlier how the nomadic subject always consumed and consummated the intensive states of which it was continuously born. Homologously, the higher level retrospective sensation here effectuating itself is likewise a consumption-consummation—except at a level superimposed upon that of the teeming plethora of nomadic subjects. To this higher-level sensation/perception there must therefore accord a higher-level subject/self. Let us call it the “larval” subject or self.157

Now, as are the consumptions-consummations (sensations/perceptions) of the panoply of nomadic subjects recorded as intensive states on the BwO, so too is the higher level consumption-consummation (sensation/perception) of the larval subject likewise recorded. The recording of the consumption-consummation of the larval subject in conjunction with the fact that it contracts into itself a myriad of lower-level sensations/perceptions, implies—however—that a feedback level of sensation has been instituted. This also means that the circuit of states to be tranversed by the larval subject may now be—to an increasing extent—anticipated. And an anticipation leads to a recognition, in the sense that the anticipation is the protention of which the recognition is the retention.158

This all being the case, the larval subject/self may be assimilated to a higher-order Leibnizian monad than the bare/naked monad. This is the so-called soul or remembering monad. Leibniz contends that souls exist at a higher level than do bare monads since they “act according to the laws of final causes through appetitions, ends, and means.”159 In terms of the larval subject, on the one hand, “appetitions” and “ends” would conjointly refer to the assuagement vouchsafed by the privileged organs selected into the said subject’s anticipation-satisfaction circuit; whilst “means” would, on the other hand, consist in the bare fact of this assuagement having been protended. Moreover, Deleuze may be seen as in effect elaborating on the foregoing Leibnizian passage when he maintains that, in contradistinction to bare monads, remembering monads are possessed of “a zone of clear expression that is both more extensive and increasingly hermetic,” whereas each of the “perceptions that comprise the zone is associated with others in the infinite process of reciprocal determination.”160 Here, when translating the nomenclature of the remembering monad or soul to that of the larval subject/self, ← 37 | 38 → “more extensive” would alike refer to, on the one hand, the fact of the privileged organs (on the anticipation-satisfaction circuit of the larval subject) more closely approaching the condition of actual objects than did the organs-partial objects associated with the nomadic subject (bare monad); whilst the implied move from the crepuscular dusk of a purely intensive spatium in the direction of the greater incandescence of extensio, on the other, refers to the larval subject’s inhabiting an ambit of greater microperceptive clarity than that of the nomadic self. We may read “increasingly hermetic” to mean that, though the larval subject’s zone of clear perception is broader than that of the nomadic subject, that which it perceives only a little less dimly is narrower than what the monadic subject perceives but obscurely. (Indeed, this stands entirely to reason, in that the very move from nomadic to larval subject had been effected through the superposition in the BwO of fewer intensive states than was formerly the case.) Finally, “reciprocal determination” may be seen as consonant with the instantiation of protention-retention circuits associated with larval selves. (Note: the coming into existence of such a protention-retention circuit, immediately presupposes the coextensive (or at least anterior) emergence of time as succession (of which more later). Thus, the scenario of the higher-level larval subject has already exceeded the ambit of Schellingian eternal divine nature and its rotary motion, as in the latter the chronological time of temporal succession has not yet emerged and must indeed await the Ent-Scheidung in order to come into existence. With the Ent-Scheidung, as has been established, God comes to subjecthood. Within the ambit of Deleuzoguattarian desiring-production, however, the larval subject certainly is not such a fully-fledged subject. More must happen in order for this to be the case.)

The emergence of each such anticipation-recognition circuit harbors a crucial corollary. This corollary is as follows: that a transition from the level of resonance to that of redundancy has taken place.161 The resonance referred to here is that pertaining to the open series of purely intensive states traversed and at once spawning the evanescent nomadic subject. Since intensity is always already difference in intensity, talk of a purely intensive state is immediately that of a—likewise pure—intensive multiplicity. Thus, one speaks of a resonance of compossible intensive states—or one speaks of intensity naught at all. This is at the level, of course, of the nomadic subject whose temporality—that of Aion (of which more later)—is anterior to, or “beneath,” the time of temporal succession (Chronos).

Now, the above move from resonance to redundancy entails the transition from the level of difference-in-itself of a purely intensive spatium (that of the incessant reprisal of the mobile pre-individual individuating factors entailed by the eternal return) toward one in which intensive states come to follow one ← 38 | 39 → another in a temporal succession, certain of which may be said to recur with an ever greater degree of probability. And it is precisely this ever more predictable recurrence of intensive states on the protention-retention circuit that Massumi refers to as redundancy.162 Nonetheless, it must not be forgotten that beneath this level of redundancy of the larval subject, although submerged, there continues to subsist a vast miasmal plethora of nomadic subjects in resonance.

We must also recall that the multiple conjunctive syntheses out of which the nomadic subjects arose presupposed anterior connective syntheses of organs-partial objects. Anterior to the emergence of the anticipation-recognition circuit, the connections between the organs-partial objects were nonlocalized, passive, transversal and indirect. The foregoing connective synthesis was inclusive. (In general, avers Massumi, a synthesis is inclusive when it “multiplies.” In particular, an inclusive connective synthesis concatenates the terms or repetitions that pass into it. Its logic is thus strictly additive.163) Organs-partial objects are themselves pure dispersions, continuous/qualitative multiplicities. The disjunctive syntheses (whereby part of the energy of the connective synthesis is siphoned off so as to record disjoined chains of organs-partial objects upon the zones of intensity of the BwO) were likewise inclusive—this latter meaning that any given disjunctive synthesis gathered together all heterogenous chains of connected organs-partial objects in such a way that the garnered chains all entered into synthesis sans exclusion. (Massumi asseverates that an inclusive disjunctive synthesis is one which spawns divergent series of individuals (organs-partial objects) that hereby coexist despite their heterogeneity. Its inherent logic is “this and/or that.”164) To complete the picture of the three inclusive syntheses at the level of the seething plethora of nomadic subjects/selves, we must also not fail to omit the inclusive conjunctive synthesis. (Here Massumi’s formulation is that an inclusive conjunctive synthesis assumes the and of the inclusive disjunctive syntheses’ and/or so as to join individuals in potential mixtures wherein no given individual is a priori excluded. The logic of this synthesis is “both this and that.”)165

Now, as already observed, the movement toward the emergence of the anticipation-recognition circuit of a resonance that has become redundancy entails a superposition of increasingly fewer intensive states. It is this movement away from the compossibility of intensive states that marks the process whereby the disjunctive synthesis becomes increasingly less inclusive and ever the more exclusive. (Broadly speaking, and in accordance with Massumi’s able formulation, a synthesis is exclusive when it “subtracts.” In particular, a disjunctive synthesis is exclusive when it engineers series of diverging individuals whose sole mode of coexistence remains abstract.166 An increasingly exclusive disjunctive synthesis, ← 39 | 40 → in fact, insinuates itself into rendering the connective synthesis more exclusive as it serves to limit the number of ways in which individuals that may coexist and concretely connect with themselves.167)

The corollary of the becoming-exclusive of the disjunctive synthesis is that it selects ever-fewer organs-partial objects, whilst—by implication—the conjunctive synthesis features a lesser and lesser profusion of teeming subjects (whilst, notwithstanding, beneath every single larval subject a plethora of nomadic subjects remain in endless upsurge and infinitely ramified proliferation). This means that the emergence of the larval subjects entails a partitioning out of the anterior myriad of nomadic subjects. The point is: the conjunctive synthesis becomes increasingly more segregative. The conjunctive synthesis generative of the larval subject is thus associated with a disjunctive synthesis featuring fewer organs-partial objects than in the case of the nomadic subject. That is to say, certain organs are privileged whilst the remainder, being “degraded,” fall outside the ambit of the anticipation-recognition circuit associated with a given larval subject/self. This movement of privileging is the obverse of the process by which the organs-partial objects find themselves submerged in the wake of the emergence of ones which ever more closely approximate the status of organs in the more prosaic sense (that is, the condition of more closely resembling extensive parts of an integral whole).

(2) Toward the “fledgling” subject

The anticipation-recognition circuit reaches the point where, as Massumi avers, each larval subject is “associated with a[n] [intensive] threshold state featuring a privileged organ on the way to satisfaction through connection with another privileged organ. On the feedback level of recognition, there are always at least two organs in play, usually nominally belonging to distinct bodies: mouth and breast.”168

Yet, the fall in the overall degree of intensity of the BwO shall continue. In the wake of this etiolation, the connections of organs-partial objects shall become increasingly more localized and direct; the disjunctive syntheses, all the more exclusive; the conjunctive syntheses, ever more segregative. At the level of the larval subjects, the number of corresponding anticipation-recognition circuits is still fairly vast. Each such circuit is at once what Massumi terms a drive (not to be confused with the Lacanian definition of the same word). Each drive is associated with a privileged partial object. Now, however, certain anticipation-recognition circuits come to predominate whilst the remaining ones find themselves relegated. Meanwhile, on each predonderant circuit, the privileged organs herewith associated themselves give away to one single metaphysicalized organ which now ← 40 | 41 → “seems to stand alone, the final cause of satisfaction, its end and origin in one, the preeminent image of a joyful future-past.”169

Let us quickly pause to take stock of the present configuration. On the one hand, at the most dissipative level, one finds a vast plethora of purely evanescent nomadic subjects associated with organs-partial objects—or pure dispersive (continuous-qualitative) multiplicities. At this level, there are no privileged organs, no anticipation-satisfaction circuits, no drives. At the next (somewhat less dissipative) level, one may glimpse a somewhat less vast profusion of likewise fairly evanescent larval subjects—each associated with a few privileged organs within their anticipation-recognition circuits. At this level, though a small collection of organs have been exclusively selected into the circuit, no single organ among these latter is privileged so as to single-handedly substitute for all others. Nonetheless, any given anticipation-recognition circuit does de facto constitute a drive. However, in some of these circuits it happens that one single organ comes to be extolled—that is to say, metaphysicalized or sacralized—to the extent of standing in for all the organs within its anticipation-recognition circuit.

Now, it is this latter move that presages the emergence of a still higher (less dissipative) level. The precipitation into existence of this third level occurs as follows. Massumi avers that the organs-partial objects from the level of the teeming nomadic subjects/selves, in addition to the organs from the level of the larval subjects whose anticipation-recognition circuits thus far feature no sacralized organs, taken together, comprise what he terms a nonlimitative BwO. On the other hand, the sacralized organs-partial objects conjointly come to constitute a limitative BwO. A tension immediately develops between the nonlimitative BwO and the limitative BwO in which the “nonlimitative body without organs repels the sacred organs, and the limitative body without organs attracts them back, inducing rebel vibrations [intensive states] to recontract into a tame satisfaction,” with the inevitable result that the sacralized/metaphysicalized organs “always manage to reimpose their supremacy—with the aid of reinforcements from even more powerful reactive forces.”170 In this latter process of reimposition/reinforcement, the intensive states produced within the nonlimitative BwO and those produced within the limitative BwO enter into resonance with the intensive states of the exterior milieu. Those of the limitative BwO inevitably resonate consonantly with those of the exterior milieu, whilst the more mutant and purely intensive states of the nonlimitative BwO clash with those of the said milieu and are in the process greatly attenuated. Massumi contends that the intensive states of the limitative BwO—that is, those that resonate consonantly with those of the surroundings—in fact “come back amplified into virtues (the genealogy of morals),” and that hereby ← 41 | 42 → these “sensations of the first feedback loop [anticipation-recognition circuit] are bumped up a level, contracting into sensations of pride or shame or guilt. Overflying the larval selves are new fledgling selves [my emphasis].”171

We have thus moved from the level of recognition to that of self-recognition; that is to say, to the level of reflection. Here, the anticipation and recognition of a sacred organ gives way to—or is transmogrified into—the anticipation and recognition of oneself. Objective anticipation becomes moral reflection. The moral level of reflection entails the introduction of a further redundancy: the anticipation of oneself necessarily doubles this self into a moi and a je. These two are held together by a proper name.172

We have thus far observed two orders of Leibnizian monad: naked/bare monads (first order) and remembering monads/souls (second order). The fledgling subject/self, on the other hand, closely resembles a third and still higher order of monad: the rational soul or mind (also termed the reasonable or reflexive monad). The latter are none other than human beings themselves: humans, avers Leibniz, “rise to acts of reflexion, which make us think of what is called I, and observe that this or that is within us”—differing as they do from souls or remembering monads furthermore in that “souls in general are living mirrors or images of the universe of created things, [whereas] minds are also images of the Deity or Author of nature Himself, capable of knowing the system of the universe, and to some extent of imitating it through architectonic ensamples [échantillons], each mind being like a small divinity in its own sphere.”173 The zone of clear perception of this third species of monad is still more extensive than that of souls/remembering monads, whilst its dim plethora of hazy microperceptions is yet further diminished than that of the latter. Our present Leibnizian intermezzo ends here.

(3) Toward the “fully-fledged” (molar) subject

Now, we progress to what Massumi maintains as a still higher order of subject—one who for the most part feels himself to be quite literally divine. Massumi proceeds as follows. The exterior milieu with whose intensive states the nonlimitative and limitative BwOs resonate/clash is the social field itself. More precisely, it is the socius. The socius is the societal correlate of the BwO. It is to social production what the BwO is to desiring-production. (We shall delineate the socius and social production more incisively in due time.) And, much as at the level of the BwO (over and above the more originary oscillation between the paranoiac and miraculating machines) there arises the tension between nonlimitative and limitative BwOs; likewise does the socius (as the BwO of the social field) comprise ← 42 | 43 → an analogous tension between its own nonlimitative and limitative BwOs. The nonlimitative BwO of the socius consists of the intensive states of the nomadic and larval subjects of all human bodies, whilst the socius’ limitative BwO consists of the intensive states “proposed by a society for its individuals, the better to exploit their habit-forming potential.”174 The latter constitutes a “grid of abstract categories [that] systematizes images of suggested attractor states and maps the patterns of reproduction action and consumption they authorize.”175 The said grid is a “proliferating series of exclusive disjunctive syntheses adding up to a system of value judgment.”176 It is the application of this grid of value judgment that makes of the fledgling self a fully-fledged subject. Hereby, the somewhat tenuous correlation between the fledgling self that redoubles itself in the mode of reflection—now acquires the full obduracy of smug self-satisfaction.177 We have entered the human, all too human arena of subzoology.

8. The immediate consequences of God’s upsurge as subject

Thus, only now have we glimpsed the emergence into the light of day of the subject/subjectivity in the fullest sense. As shall become evident, it is approximately to this sense of subjecthood that the Schellingian God can be said to raise himself with the Ent-Scheidung. To be certain, the mode of coming to subjecthood of God and that of the Lacanian subject, on the one hand, and the mode of emergence of the Deleuzoguattarian fully-fledged subject (molar subject), on the other, appear quite different. However, in spite of their ostensibly dissimilar mode of generation; the Schellingian, Lacanian and Deleuzian subjects do (as shall be demonstrated soon enough) share strikingly similar features; whilst the divergence in the respective modes of genesis of the Schellingian-Lacanian and Deleuzoguattarian subjects shall likewise be seen to (at least for our overall purposes) come to naught, in the sense that the former mode of genesis may be explained from within the ambit of the latter.

But let us return to Schelling. With the Ent-Scheidung, God has acceded to subjecthood. We shall now explore the consequences of this colossal seismic jolt.

(i) The emergence of time from the deadlock of eternity

With the emergence of God as subject through the Ent-Scheidung (the decision whereby the Godhead takes up Being), eternity gives way to an entire “succession of eternities (eons) or times. But this succession of eternities is precisely what we, ← 43 | 44 → by and large, call time. Hence, eternity opens up into time in this decision.”178 In the incessant and abortive gesture of beginning enacted by the blind and haywire oscillationary movement of eternal divine nature, all that we had was merely an infinity of purely evanescent instants adding up to no duration whatsoever. In fact, there is no such “adding” to speak of to begin with. This is so because: since each beginning, in failing to establish itself as the inception of a duration, is de facto abortive and since in each such abortive beginning eternal divine nature incinerates itself completely, each such evanescing instant of abortive beginning is likewise all such evanescent instants taken together. We may thus view eternity (that of eternal divine nature’s incessant rotary motion) as an uncountably infinite set of measure zero. It is uncountable, since the purely evanescent nature of each of its instants does not allow any such instant to be counted (it can never stricto sensu be said to be available for anything even remotely resembling a count). It is of measure zero, in that each instant—being evanescent—fails to extend itself into a duration. Moreover, since each instant is at once all instants, it is therefore infinitely internally fractured and thus pure dispersion itself.


XVI, 1028
ISBN (Hardcover)
Publication date
2019 (April)
New York, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Frankfurt am Main, Oxford, Wien, 2016. XVI, 1028 pp.

Biographical notes

Bartosz Łubczonok (Author)

Bartosz Łubczonok holds a Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of Warsaw, and a M.Sc. in mathematical statistics from Rhodes University. He lectured mathematical statistics at Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University for 15 years.


Title: The Apotheosis of Nullity
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1046 pages