Schizoanalytic Cartographies: A Very Short Introduction
The present text is a leftover from a chapter on theoretical background which had to be reduced to a single sentence for reasons of economy (the Occam's Razor reduced to a word limit). It explains Felix Guattari's analysis of assemblage domains as an applicable methodological tool for qualitative research. Moreover, due to its "rejected" origin and in strict alignment with Deleuzoguattarian fractaloid thinking, the text itself stands as a proof of this type of thinking. One sentence of a forthcoming paper can be unfolded into this text, ergo, each sentence of this text can be unfolded into other texts... ad infinitum.
While A Thousand Plateaus is a long dense text which requires a relatively intense engagement on behalf of the reader to schematise its conceptual structures mentally, a couple of years after its publication, Guattari released his solo book Schizoanalytic Cartographies, which, as the title suggests, includes precise maps and concrete definitions of fine detail of all the Deleuzoguattarian terms. The book emphasises on the processes which bring an assemblage into existence. In our contemporary societal, individual, environmental, and psychological structures, phenomena are extremely complex, interwoven with other phenomena. Hence, they form admixtures of agencies, agencements, translated as assemblages. To map an assemblage is to help one's navigation in a sea of multilayered ontological traits. An assemblage, thus, consists of four interconnected domains, which can be synopsised in the following initial diagram:
Figure 1 The matrix of cross-relations of the four categories (Guattari 1988: 28)
I will not go into great detail as Guattari does in his book for it would be irrelevant to the scope of this paper, but I will attempt to render this description of assemblages accessible to the non-accustomed reader for the purposes of the specific context. An assemblage thus, consists of the following:
(a) Fluxes or Flows F of the fixed territorialised row below, which are the material realisation of entities. If we speak of a human, a machine, a plant, an insect, a computer, it is not a sharply defined entity, but a conjunction of various elements which come from the other domains, a projection.
(b) Abstract Phyla Φ of the deterritorialised row above. Phyla are the rather abstract ideas we have about things, so that, while there are no actual real fixed humans or machines, the Phylum of a “human,” a “machine,” an “horse” is there. Apparently, this resembles the Platonic world of immutable ideas, but the main difference here is that Phyla (like Flows) change during the course of time, according to the impact of other domains (one can think of extinct animal species, or social divisions which are irrelevant nowadays). As said, the shaping of Flows in turn shapes Phyla, but also, it is with reference to Phyla that Flows are affected in order to change toward the possible Other. “Between this same domain of Flow and that of deterritorialized Phyla, a form of smoothing that opens onto the possible is established” (Guattari 1989: 117).
(c) Incorporeal Universes of reference U (sometimes referred to as Constellations of Universes ΣU) in the deterritorialised plane. A collection of Phyla forms a Universe of reference. We may think of an ideology like Marxism, a religion, the colour pallet, or the totality of animal kinds. Again, Flows refer to them like in Φ to become loaded with becomings. There might be a difference, for instance in the becoming-tiger (Φ) or the becoming-animal (U) of a human.
(d) Existential Territories (T) of the territorialised row below. Each Universe tends to have a certain materialised area of interactions for the Flows and Phyla referring to it. One can think of a laboratory setting (T) and its relation to science (U), the scientist, the experiment, the publications (Φ), and a temporary intern student, an employee, the specific organisation funding the laboratory (F).
The four domains have specific forms of “smoothing” (Guattari 1989: 79, 87) and through various processes (the moments which the researcher analyses) they affect each other either in a circular manner (from Φ to U to T to F to Φ and vice versa; already explained above) or a criss-crossing one (from F to U, from Φ to T and vice versa; eg an ideology U informing a follower F, or many followers shaping an ideology, or a parliament T giving rise to the formation of specific human categories like voters of certain parties and reversely, the existence of certain ideologists necessitating the constitution of a parliament in a non-democratic land). We need to remember (as shown in the figure below) that the right columns of Universes and Territories are unary and bring together their Phyla and Flow components which are countable and plural; also, the territorialised plane of Flows and Territories is finite and limited due to its material form, whereas the deterritorialised plane of Phyla and Universes is infinite as being an area of the possible.
Finally, it is important to notice the time qualities (or “intermediate temporalities”) which connect the four domains, something which is found very helpful in studying a phenomenon, since the different types of time in a given situation indicate the domains in play. Hence, between Phyla and Flows we find processes counted with measures of objective time. Between Flows and Territories we find processes that are perceived as durations. Between Territories and Universes we find processes which give the impression of subjective temporalisation. And between Universes and Phyla we find these instantaneous “fecund moments” which Guattari relates to moments of delirium, Zen Satori, or gestalt switches (Guattari 1989: 174-177). In a nutshell, this typology of temporalities is very helpful in the analysis of many different types of social interaction - especially if that interaction involves many different types of traditionally assumed Phyla, such as human-machine, human-animal, animal-plant, and so on - in a twofold manner: (a) In a given case study of a newspaper article, or during an ethnography, when analysing a specific type of temporality but the domains of the assemblage are unclear, we have indications as to which are the domains in play. (b) When the domains are clear, we lack the answer to the question “what is going on there,” we can infer the temporality of what is happening and extract some conclusions according to the temporal function of the phenomenon.
Figure 2 The axes of deterritorialisation and relative discursivity (Guattari 1989: 54)
The arrows pointing towards the centre signify a general tendency of the assemblage to remain as such, however, never reaching absolute unification, since the arrows pointing towards the outer directions signify the assemblage’s tendency to form rhizomes with other assemblages, Phyla, Flows, Territories, and Universes.
Having these said, a brief explanation of Deleuzoguattarian “inter-entitarian dimensions” of an assemblage (Guattari 1989: 90) has been given.
Guattari, F. (1989 ). Schizoanalytic Cartographies. Trans. Andrew Goffey. London, New Delhi, New York, Sydney: Bloomsbury.