Sub-representative Domain (Part 2):  Deleuze-Spinoza

by Beth Metcalf         

In Part 1, I spoke of two planes that intersect and vice-dict to form two kinds of multiplicity.  I have referred to these two planes as the plane of representation and the plane of sub-representation.  But they may also be referred to by other terms, such as respectively, the planes of…..  negative ouk on and problematic me on, extensity and intensity, transcendence and immanence-consistency-composition, homogeneity and heterogeneity, bare repetition and covered repetition, diversity and disparity, surface and subterranean depth, empirical and transcendental.  Depending on the context I will need to use different terms, but the reader should keep in mind that I am not introducing more than two planes.  Deleuze’s whole process occurs on the sub-representative plane and merely shows surface effects that cover or disguise difference on the other plane.  But the two planes have no negative oppositional relation to each other.  The process is one of vice-diction where the sub-representative virtual is actualized in representations that never close into a fixed form.  So, there is no dualism between the planes.  The two planes are really two ways of conceptualizing one plane.    

I believe that it is best to approach an understanding of Deleuze through his reading of Spinoza. Deleuze understands Spinoza by way of the middle.  Between substantial forms and determined subjects there is a whole sub-representative composition of individuations that do not resemble the forms and subjects that are actualized through them.  The plane of representation, when it is cut off from its sub-representative source, always excludes the middle.  We need to re-include that sub-representative transcendental source --- that excluded middle.  (‘What is Philosophy’ p. 151-2) “There must be at least two multiplicities, two types, from the outset.  This is not because dualism is better than unity but because the multiplicity is precisely what happens between the two.” (Italics added.) 

Deleuze-Spinoza sees one Substance for all attributes, one Nature for all bodies, one Nature for all individuals (A Thousand Plateaus 254).  This ‘one Nature’ is still often misunderstood to mean that there is one diverse concept.  But Deleuze tells us that difference is not internal to conceptual identity, so we must be careful to never fall into that confusion.  Therefore, when Deleuze-Spinoza says that ‘one Nature’ is itself Individual, it must not be taken to mean that Nature is one Universalizing Concept.  It does not totalize individual substances or essences into a generalizing concept.  Rather, the ‘one Nature’ is Spinoza’s ‘One Substance’.  The ontologically One Substance is one plane of Immanence for all bodies, minds, and individuals.  Far from being one conceptual identity on a plane of Representation, it is the transcendental source of conceptual/modal difference on the sub-representative plane.  The ‘concept’ is no longer difference that is internally related to one diverse coupling of formed-matter.  The ‘concept’ is now modal difference of external relations on the sub-representative plane.  All disparate modal intensity is ontological singularity without any relation to a prior conceptual form.  Spinoza’s intensive difference is modal individuation.  Concepts are modal, not substantial.  Difference is external relations of modal intensity on the sub-representative plane. 

On the sub-representative plane, all numerically distinct modes, in whatever degree of intensity, say the whole of ontologically singular Substance in one sense. This means that unformed matter fills space to modal degrees of intensity.  These degrees of spatio-temporal dynamism are the transcendental source of differently actualized spatialized-times on the other plane.  The two planes are open to each other, intersecting in two kinds of multiplicity.  The actualized representations have nothing to do with substantial essences that we find when the plane of Representation is cut off from its sub-representative source.  A life of pure immanence is the continuous fluidity of modal assemblages that may be actualized as new creative uses on the other plane.           

How does Deleuze-Spinoza avoid substantial essences in order to reach singular (modal) ones?  The process is pre-individual, impersonal, and aconceptual.  It is a process on the transcendental plane, because the transcendental must not be a tracing from the possibilities of the individual, personal, or conceptual on the empirical plane.  A body is composed of an infinite number of particles in a relation of movement and rest, speed and slowness.  But this ‘body’ and this ‘relation’ must not be confused with extensive bodies and relational structures on the plane of representation.  The process has a sub-representational transcendental source.  We must think in terms of Spinoza’s heterogeneous coupling (attributes) that qualify unformed Substance in real distinction.  All real distinction, qualified in the attributes, is ontologically One Substance.  The individuated body is not defined by form or function.  It is a differential relation between decelerating and accelerating particles composed on a plane of immanence.  This relation in the attributes is called ‘longitude’ (Deleuze's term is 'differentiation').  Also, a body affects other bodies, and is affected by other bodies.  Bodies (and thoughts) have a capacity for affecting and being affected.  We do not define bodies (or minds) by form, organs, functions, substance, or subjects.  That would merely restrict us to the plane of already extensive formed matter.  Bodies and minds are not substances or subjects on a plane of representation.  They are modes.  This affective capacity or power in the modes is called ‘latitude’ (Deleuze's term is 'differenciation').  Bodies and minds are intensive (modal essences) or extensive (existing modes) depending upon the plane.  But they must never be confused with formed substances that would only cut the plane of Representation off from its source.

Deleuze-Spinoza does not define an individual by its form, organs, functions, substance, or subject on a closed plane of Representation.  The individual is defined by a cartography on the sub-representative plane.  The whole process of individuation is pre-individual and sub-representative.  Individuation must never be confused with a process by way of genus and species that merely tries to find individual singularity on the plane of already actual formed substances.  But actualization, also, is not a process that finds substances of genus and species.  Rather, there is modal actualization into species and parts.  We must remember that the process of sub-representative individuation, and its actualization on the other plane, is always a modal process. Modal essences are found in a sub-representative process of disparate, intensive individuation. Modes are not substances on a plane of already formed matter.  If the process is seen as internal to already formed substances, then the sub-representative source is left out. 

An individuated body is inseparable from its longitude and latitude.  Each intersection of longitude and latitude gives us a qualitative content of quantity.  In dividing, it changes its nature, its ‘internal difference’.  A cartography of longitude and latitude is Individuation in fluid assemblages of variety in variation (which must never be confused with variation on a theme that occurs on the other plane).  Therefore, this cartography on the sub-representative plane is a singular affect of unformed matter --- ‘haecceity’.  It is the individuating difference that comes up through the middle to actualize temporary forms on the other plane.  Longitude is actualized in species and latitude is actualized in parts.  Each actualization insinuates a new ‘becoming’ between forms and subjects.  Now, the plane of representation is open to the fluid assemblages of the sub-representative plane.  There is actualization of new form-matter variability --- new spatialized times --- a different extensive structural relation each time.  Neither plane is a process of formed matter (formed substances).  The representational plane is now open to a sub-representative modal process.

When the Representational plane is cut off from its sub-representative source, then there can only be essential forms (of form-matter coupling --- a variability of constant relations in extensity) and determined subjects.  Then “intensity” is mistaken to be a degree of an essential quality on the plane of already formed extensity.  However, Deleuze-Spinoza’s singular individuation of longitude (relations of unformed elements) and latitude (non-subjectified affect) on the sub-representative plane now opens the other plane to new singular difference each time.  The planes intersect in two forms of repetition --- two types of multiplicities. 

The plane of Immanence has no form, but only relations between infinitesimal particles of unformed matter.  There is no subject, but only individuating intensive affect.  A degree of intensity is an individuated singularity that is distinct from forms and subjects of the other plane.  A singular individuation is a ‘haecceity’.  There is a fluidity of the intensive haecceity that, in changing its intensive degree, changes the relation of its cartography, thereby changing its nature.  The fluid individuated haecceity is actualized in a succession of ‘species’ and ‘parts’.  Representation itself is no longer a rigid plane of either structure or genesis.  Now, actualization is open to the plane of both structural simultaneity and genetic succession.  It is open to the changing intersection of two multiplicities in repetition with difference.  We reach a virtual that is not actualized as a substantial unity, but as a modal singularity incommensurable with any other actualized plane of extensity.  Then there can be no duality between individual and collective, because each individuated singular mode is actualized as divergent collective world each time.   

Singular individuation is pre-individual.  An intensive field of individuating factors is prior to the actualizations of I (form) and Self (matter).  Individuation (Spinoza’s modal essence) is prior to actualization.  Qualities and extensities of formed matter (actualized species and parts) are not primary.  They depend on the fluid individuating intensity of the sub-representative, transcendental source.  Actualized species and parts do not resemble the individuation of the sub-representative plane.  Movement does not go from actual to actual, but from virtual to actualization.  We now reach a sub-representative plane that does not trace the transcendental from the empirical.  We have reached a virtual that is not already actual-possible --- a virtual that does not resemble its actualizations.  An actualized temporary use of form-matter composition is open to the fluid assemblages of subterranean depth. 

Therefore, Deleuze-Spinoza escapes substantial or essential forms to reach a sub-representative, modal process.  Essences are modal, not substantial.  Unformed elements are without form or function, but they are real.  Attributes are nomadically distributed relations of unformed elements into heterogeneous series.  These unformed elements are infinitely small parts of an actual infinity, all overlapping on the same plane of consistency.  Depending on their longitude and latitude, they belong to overlapping individuations on the sub-representative plane.  Unformed elements enter into an individuated assemblage depending on the intensive degree of their relation.  Any relation can come about on the sub-representative plane of unformed matter.  The Whole of Nature is an Individual composed of overlapping and intersecting individuals.  This Whole has no form or function.  It is the intersection of all forms, the machine of all functions.  It is the Univocity of a single Individual for all the modalities of singular difference.  Neither plane is a unity of formed substances.  Rather, there is the modal difference of ontological singularity (haeceeity), said in one sense. A singular temporary use may rise to the surface.

Therefore, both planes must be included.  But we must not think of a “dualism” between the two planes.  If the plane of Representation is cut off from the sub-representative source, then we mistake reality for an already conceptualized possibility.  Then, essences are thought to be substantial and oppositional.  However, when the two planes are said in the sense of ontologically singular Substance, their difference is modal.  We are nothing but haecceity of longitude (unformed elements in relations of speed and slowness, movement and rest) and latitude (non-subjectified affect).  We can reach this modal lived experience if we do not cut off the sub-representative source.  The forms and subjects of the other plane are no longer essential substances.  Now, we see both planes as two modes of haecceity.  Haecceity is singular difference on the sub-representative plane that does not resemble its actualization in an I/Self system of reference on the other plane.  On the plane of representation, a singular haecceity may be covered by quality and extensity.  It is only a temporary modal use of represention.  However, an actualized use of a reference system must not be confused with a substantial essence.  Haecceity is a rhizome that is the sub-representative singularity coming up through the middle to be actualized in a new modal use each time.  A haecceity, a life of pure immanence, is both the sub-representative virtual and its modal actualization on the other plane each time.  When an individuated difference is actualized, it comes up through the middle between the forms and matters on the plane of representation to create a new extensive system.  But nothing on the plane of representation is an essential substance.  It is a singular mode covered and disguised on an extensive surface. 

So, Deleuze’s two planes are really two modes of immanence (although one plane gives us modal uses of transcendent representation).  There is vice-diction between these modes where one comes up through the middle of the other.  There is new modal use of representation each time.  We will understand nothing of Deleuze’s Spinozism until we understand that everything is haecciety that reaches a new lived reality.  The danger is that we become cut off from the sub-representative source of difference.  That is, we may forget to live modally.

(DR 69) “The simulacrum is the instance which includes a difference within itself….It is in this direction that we look for the conditions, not of possible experience, but real experience….It is here that we find the lived reality of a sub-representative domain."


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