Saturday, October 3, 2015

The Story of Multiplicity

Let us return to the story of multiplicity, for the creation of this substantive marks a very important moment. It was created precisely in order to escape the abstract opposition between the multiple and the one, to escape dialectics, to succeed in conceiving the multiple in the pure state, to cease treating it as a numerical fragment of a lost Unity or Totality or as the organic element of a Unity or Totality yet to come, and instead distinguish between different types of multiplicity. Thus we find in the work of the mathemetician and physicist Riemann a distinction between discrete multiplicities and continuous multiplicities (the metrical principle of the second kind of multiplicity resides soley in the forces at work within them). Then in Meinong and Russell we find a distinction between multiplicities of magnitude or divisibility, which are extensive, and multiplicities of distance, which are closer to the intensive. And in Bergson there is a distinction between numerical or extended multiplicities and qualitative or durational multiplicities. We are doing approximately the same thing when we distinguish between arborescent multiplicites and rhizomic multiplicities. Between macro- and micromultiplicities. On the one hand, multiplicities are extensive, divisible; conscious or preconscious- and on the other hand, libidinal, unconscious, molecular, intensive multiplicities composed of particles that do not divide without changing in nature, and distances that do not vary without entering another multiplicity and that constantly construct and dismantle themselves in the course of their communication, as they cross over into each other at, beyond, or before a certain threshold. The lements of the second kind of multiplicity are particles; their relations are distances; their movements are Brownian; their qualities are intensities, differences in intensity.
- Deleuze & Guattari, "A Thousand Plateaus"

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