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A New Body: Super-Molecularity and Embodied Difference

Brian Massumi identifies “super-molecularity” as those instances when molar aggregates are unfurled in a social field, releasing the molecular flow of intensities to create new “possibilities for unheard-of, inhuman (superhuman?) bifurcations on both global and local levels (A User’s Guide to Capitalism and Schizophrenia, 77).” This inhumanizing is the tactic of those in Disability Studies that insist on the ubiquity of impairment. For in that performative there is a critique of that which is assumed to be “human.” The “normal,” the “able-bodied”: these are designations used by a social system to retain control and knowledge over the excessiveness of “a life…”. But universal impairment is a signpost beyond control and knowledge: it is an expression of nomadic thought.

The relationship between nomadic thought and super-molecularity is one of co-causality. Neither has a place of primacy. Nomadic thought just may be the intensive motor that fuels the engines of super-molecularity, but the latter is presupposed in the activity of nomadism. Deleuze finds in the work of Nietzsche the first and greatest expression of nomadic thought. He writes that Nietzsche’s task lies “beyond all the codes of past, present, and future, to transmit something that does not and will not allow itself to be codified. To transmit it to a new body, to invent a body that can receive it and spill it forth; a body that would be our own, the earth’s or even something written [emphasis added] (Deleuze, “Nomad Thought,” 142).” This new “body” would not be identifiable in terms of molar conceptualization; it would exceed all attempts at codification and as such would be the schizophrenic thought that Deleuze and Guattari claim is required to issue in revolutionary socio-political praxis. It would be embodied difference.

Embodied difference would proceed in much of the same way that Bergson’s mystic receives the anterior wave of creative energy and rides it to new horizons (Bergson, The Two Sources of Morality and Religion, ch.3). This wave is the flow of difference that inheres in the social sphere at any given time, in any given location. Therefore, unlike the paranoia of the despot or the axiomatic of capitalism, the super-molecular embodied desiring-machine receives its charge of power from Life itself and saddles it in order to both ride this surge forward and to appropriate it intensively. The latter dyad of riding/appropriation is crucial to maintain the affective Actualism of Deleuze — to have riding without appropriation would result in Virtualism, and to have appropriation apart from riding would result in static molarization. But the retained duality results in affective embodied difference.

Death and Awakening: Post-Humanizing Politics

The great difficulty of realizing embodied difference in a social field is the competing power of social-production. With the advent of neoliberal globalization, the capitalist machine has become a super-molarity. There is no (molar) limit to is capacity. Through its axiomatic of endless decoding and deterritorialization, all would-be bodies-of-difference, all potential super-molecularities, are scattered within the full body of capital. As such, molecular-machines are assigned a place within the system only to the extent that they appropriate (embody) the axiomatic of decoding and refuse the absolute limit of schizophrenia. The result of this appropriation of capitalism is what Marx identified as exchange value (an item is valued only to the extent that it is exchangeable in the market). Thus, even human life, or perhaps especially human life, is only valorized in proportion to its appropriation of market logic. However, rather than exclusively having value according to its “exchange” value, human life is valued in terms of labor-capacity. But we must go one step further: for human life is not merely valued in terms of labor-capacity; human life is constituted by labor-capacity. This means that for those who do not “fit” into the capitalist schema of marketized production there is no place in social life; for they are not constituted under the “proper” logic. They are thus the abject of the social field — the walking dead.

Those who are considered “dis-abled” are these “walking dead.” By their “inability” to contribute to the flows of economic normalcy they are considered burdens (at best) and are more often ignored on the whole. However, their very presence, as those outside the bounds of the system, serves as an aesthetic glow, reminding the systems of social production of the variance of Life. We can thus affirm with Nietzsche that to affirm death (in this case the “walking dead”) is the only way to affirm Life. And through this affirmation of death an awakening of the beating heart of schizophrenic reality will ensue.

Postscript

The goal for this post-human political theory is not to resignify what the human essentially “is.” Rather, the tools of schizoanalysis break down the codes of social production but do not recode; instead they open up the plane of immanence and the myriad of flows contained within this consistent plane, allowing them to flow freely, making new connections endlessly with other machines, stopping and starting, configuring and reconfiguring, breaking down and rebuilding, in an unbounded line of flight of eternally recurring difference. Thus, there is no definition of the human. Nor is there a post-human identity. There is only a “post-humanizing” of the molar identity of bodies.


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