A Blog by Virgilio Rivas

On Power and Monadic Assemblage

If any power is an assemblage of bodies or passions, and our desire is to forge a new assemblage,  then power has to encourage participation by mutual mutation of bodies. With this, power can also help us actualize only one thing (by of course first willing only one thing) and that is the joyful passion of the monad that by nature always tends to assemble as a way of expressing its allergic nature to stasis.

And so, we need a gymnastic expression of joyful passions by first willing to exercise by of course first willing to assemble into a series of rehearsals. With repetition, rehearsals become a joyful necessity; it becomes music in the sense that the micro-fascism of drills and line formations becomes negligible. It is in rehearsals that bodies touch each other, monads in action, connecting, conjugating where the affects that get produced in the process make bodies forget about their smell, the complexion and texture of their skins, their bad breaths, etc. Monads only will one thing—to conjugate, to develop a line formation of both/and, not either/or which rather entails discrimination by demarcating boundaries. Monads are inherently democratic.

But necessity tends to terminate in boredom, and so, the key is to change the music which will affect a change of body rhythms, moods and temperament, a temporal and spatial change, a change in frequency, duration, the aesthetics of motion. The change in music is also expected to change perceptive capabilities—capabilities become differential, breaking the unilateral movement of perception in a linear way (from subject to object) in favor of whatever movement, whatever duration, whatever angle, perspective, etc., which disrupts perception. Since music can affect the body, it follows that it also affects its sense of self-coherence. Changing music is like changing the pull of gravity, or tilting the surface plane. If the ground tilts to 45 degrees, the body adapts to a different posture than it used to. With variations in grades the body becomes versatile.

Keep in mind that we are referring only to musicality. So far everything here is a rehearsal. Nature can tilt the ground someday to which bodies can respond differently in the same manner as climate change is now changing body response to diseases. Our musical rehearsal is actually a rehearsal ‘in form’ of the kind of habituation that we will have to get used to when entropy becomes stronger and stronger in time. This is crucial. The waiting for Godot is over.

With Leibniz’s principle of sufficient reason which actually forms the best case for Monadology, the days of miracle are over.[1] In a nutshell, what is the principle of sufficient reason? Owing to the nature of monads to look for the best possible connection that will enhance its existence, it suffices to say that even the laws of nature are contingent. They change as monads change. If today we have a gravity that makes us stand upright, someday we may have one that will compel us to stand in oblique formation. It only takes a super earthquake to tilt the earth’s balance. Lest we forget, human beings are not the only monads. Nature is full of nonhuman monads which can in fact tilt that balance as material, physical, and chemical elements of Nature are now forming a hostile assemblage to human habitation.

But we cannot permanently settle with musicality. We cannot dance forever. And there is the floor. In this light we need a technicity in the sense Gilbert Simondon describes it—“a practical inventive engagement.”[2] (Simondon is another figure besides Tarde who influenced Deleuze who, as a way of acknowledging, is the main theoretical influence behind our conjugational, that is to say, ‘both/and’ approach to other disciplines vis-à-vis philosophy).

If Simondon was actually describing our relations to nonhuman entities like machines or technical objects,[3] our approach would be like understanding the analytic of the floor or the ground which as with Simondon’s notion of technicity which encourages technical participation between and among objects (a hammer is not a hammer unless it is always already related to something it can be used for, say, to nail a nail, which is not what a hammer is for absolutely, hence, a hammer is also related to something beyond its known practical use which makes a hammer available even for non-utilitarian purposes, like in art installations, etc.) encourages participation between the dance and the floor or the ground. In ‘dance floor’ two words (monads) conjugate to form a meaning (an assemblage that accommodates action not only on the part of the dance, which we are taking here in its active sense, but also on the part of the floor—the floor’s molecular assemblage is affected by the movement on the surface). The key to understanding this analytic is in its non-reductionist relation. In the case of the word ‘dance floor’ the conjugation is not reducible to a pre-arranged conjugation like economy, for instance. What actually brings the ‘dance floor’ to an expression (linguistic) is an active conjugation of bodies which do not anticipate the word ‘dance floor’. Bodies encounter the floor. In turn, the floor encounters bodies. What is produced in the process is not subject to the exchange-value (between body and the floor or ground) of any pre-arranged conjugation. The encounter between these two bodies is in principle aleatory.

What are we driving at here? We mentioned about rehearsals. One of the reasons we need to change the music in rehearsals is that we can be stuck in its necessity, stuck in the sense that we may ignore the true purpose of the rehearsal (hence, the lack of inventive engagement) and that is to encourage the ground to open which would technically ‘ground’ the activity to a halt, or silence any kind of music. We can say here that the music changes because the ground remains firm. While it is true that the rehearsal makes the body versatile, as long as the ground is sturdy and dense, versality can turn into vice. This is what happens to post-modernism. The acceleration of capital compels the individual to become proficient, to learn how to dance, and dance to different tunes. As long as acceleration does not hit a highpoint versality has no other purpose than individuation and thermo-release which creates the false necessity of autonomy, of more forced hybrid expressions. For Simondon, this is an example of succumbing to adaptationism.[4] In other words, the ground must gape open to interrupt necessity.

We do not mean to invite entropy to do the work of opening the ground. We can imagine a catastrophe. Today, earthquakes are becoming stronger. Rather, we mean to invite ourselves to break our own grounds, to question even the necessity of the musical, the rehearsals as they too can turn into vices.

This is where research comes in—one looks into holes (our vulnerability to adaptationism) to see what’s happening. Is there no better way to express this kind of investigation than as another step towards immunizing ourselves against adaptation, against necessity, against the reticularity of the system, against complacency, naivety which can nurture fanaticism, especially now that necessity comes in the guise of entropy? What is ironic about entropy is that while it encourages the release of heat energy from bodies that translate to activity and the passion for individuation (such as the dancing we mentioned and the liberty of changing the music) it is also indifferent to the ground like Deleuze’s joyful typhoon.[5] As monads that express the best of their existence, typhoons are simply expressing their potencies when they pour down on human lives which, meanwhile, are stuck with necessity.


[1] Gabriel Tarde, Monadology and Sociology, ed. and trans. Theo Lorenc (Melbourne; re.press, 2012), 78.

[2] See Muriel Combes, “Afterword,” in Gilbert Simondon and the Philosophy of the Transindividual, trans. Thomas LaMarre (Cambridge, Massachusetts and London: England; MIT Press, 2013), 98.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid., 101.

[5] See Leopold Lambert, The Funambulist Pamphlet. Spinoza, Vol. 3, ed. Leopold Lambert (Brooklyn, New York: The Punctum Books, 2013), 19.

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