Geophilosophy

Geophilosophy

Then tell me, what is the Material World, and is it dead?… 
— William Blake, Europe a Prophecy

For Deleuze and Guattari the purpose of philosophy, as a discipline “involves creating concepts” on the plane of immanence (Deleuze and Guattari 1994: 5). The plane of immanence being an “image of thought” on which all “idols have been cleared” (43) an irreducible and contingent “formless and fragmentary” (36) “[c]oncepts” … like multiple waves” rise and fall as “events” on the “formless” plane which is “the single wave that rolls then up and unrolls them” (36). “The concept is the beginning of philosophy, but the plane is its instituting” (41) for it is the plane that matters, a “thinking,” and acting (for concepts are events) that “takes place in the relationship of territory and the earth” (85) and has the earth as its subject. What Braudel, who was very influential of D&G’s geophilosophy, calls a “rich zone” a “layer covering the earth” which he calls “material life” (1983: 23).

To think geophilosophically is to think the "milieu" “It is not immediately clear why immanence is so dangerous but it is. It engulfs sages and gods (1994: 45). Which is why, write D&G, religious authorities, are, to a point, happy to tolerate it but “only locally or at an intermediary level” (45). But this tolerance is not total acceptance — of course it cannot be — and thus “like a terraced fountain where water can briefly immanate on each level but on condition that it comes from a higher source” a transcendent source which gradually trickles down (45). The plane of immanence is a plane of pure immanence, no trap doors and no slight of hand tricks, for “whenever immanence is interpreted as immanent to something, we can be sure that this Something reintroduces the transcendent” (45).

Thinking geophilosophically, still concerned with abstract philosophical concepts “consists in stretching out a plane of immanence that absorbs the earth” (88), but it does not view these concepts “as generalizations detached from site-specific, messy materialities” (Woodward 2016: 1). D&G “have not sought to settle the world down into an explanation, but to enter into dialogue with it” (Jacobs, 1996: 380) to “rediscover the slow unfolding of structural realities” and “to see things in the perspective of the very long term,” attuning ones senses to “the almost imperceptible movement of history” (Braudel, 1972:23). “Philosophy is a geophilosophy in precisely the same way that history is a geohistory from Braudel’s point of view” (Deleuze and Guattari, 1994: 95). 

Like the interconnectedness of Braudel’s geohistory used as “a means to an end” to critique capitalism (1972: 23), Deleuzoguattarian geophilosophy “attends to the multiplicity of possibilities which are produced by things folding together in specific settings, the irreducibility of sociospatial events” (Jacobs, 1996: 380). Geography is not “physical and human, but mental, like the landscape.” It “wrests history from the cult of necessity in order to stress the irreducibility of contingency” (1995, 96) and thus “presents the earth as a plane upon which concepts and materials arrange themselves, create systems, solidify, create new arrangements, or simply explode” (Woodward, 2016: ?). Just like the geographer as a cartographer maps territories so D&G’s Geophilosphy is a mapping of spatial territories. But unlike the geographers map, D&G want to distinguish between mapping as “tracing” and mapping as a cartography, that is ”... open and connectable in all of its dimensions”. That is “detachable, reversible, susceptible to constant modification.” A mapping that “can be torn, reversed, adapted to any kind of mounting, reworked by an individual, group, or social formation … drawn on a wall, conceived of as a work of art, constructed as political action or as a meditation”. This kind of map they say “has multiple entryways". This they oppose to a tracing “which always comes back ‘to the same’” (1987: 12).

Deleuzo-guattarian Geophilosophical maps comprise of lines which do not “pin things down and cut things off—they are lines which mark an unfolding, a form of mobility and, always, an optimism” (Jacobs, 1996: ? ). This is the rhizomatic "AND ... AND …AND" of Geophilosophy. To stumble across the surface of existence and remember that “only if nothing matters can urban theory be unsituated. Geophilosophy is a dirty discipline, that “exploits the strategic deracination of ordinariness”, it’s beginning is and must always be in the middle of experience. “Things do not begin to live except in the middle”. This task does not begin and it does not end — it is and it insists. It does not “assume the possibility of unmediated experience. To begin in the middle is to accept that beginnings are always crowded with images, ideologies, histories, fictions, literatures, and other diverse discursive practices; and at the same time, crowded with bodies, rocks, crystals, dogs, and other pressures of organic and inorganic flux. The entanglements of nature, history, and culture dispel and illusions of a conceptual purity based in excessive appeals to nature, history, or culture. There is no knowledge of nature or history uncontaminated by the ideological imagination and there is no free play of culture uncontaminated by natural forces and historical events. Fantasies of purity of thought, univocal and unambiguous language, or unmediated experiences are sullied by interference from the other of exclusion. The methodological dilemma is not where to begin (we have to begin in the middle of experience).”

Geophilosophy knows that “[things] do not begin to live except in the middle” (41). “When Deleuze and Guattari identify the philosopher’s task with the creation of concepts, they are once again describing a spatial process. Each concept, they argue, consists of multiple internal elements (for example, “geo” and “philosophy” or “geo” and “psychiatry”) that operate in proximate relation to one another and create a novel concept whose meaning, as we saw above, is constituted by those interacting elements. Thus, on the one hand, a concept is a “multiplicity,” a system composed of complex entries, exits, and intersections (much like rhizomes or maps). On the other hand, a concept is a “singularity”: its meaning is specific to its particular constitutive elements” (Richardson et al, 2017: ?).

… I’ll sing to you to this soft lute, and show you all alive The World, when every particle of dust breathes forth its joy. 
— William Blake, Europe a Prophecy

 

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2 Blake. William, Europe a Prophecy, Accessed 10th December 2014 <http://www.bartleby.com/

235/258.html>. Of course Deleuze and Guattari would reject Blake as a prisoner of

transcendence.

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Deleuze, G., Guattari, F., Tomlinson, H. and Burchell, G. (1994). What is philosophy?.

London [etc.]: Verso.

Doel, M. (1999). Poststructuralist geographies. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.

Félix Guattari. (1990). Unpublished text of October 1990, published in the journal

Chimères, n.28, spring/summer1996.

Jacobs, Jane. 1996. “Always Speaking as Geographers.” Environment and Planning D:

Society and Space , 14: 379–494.

Malabou, C. (2016). Before tomorrow. Cambridge: Polity.

Richardson, D. Castree N. Goodchild, M. Kobayashi, A. Liu, W. and Marston, R. ed (2017)

The International Encyclopedia of Geography. JohnWiley & Sons,

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