Tuesday, February 12, 2008


Yet another item for the new Dictionary (of sorts)....

[And] / [Is] -- a distinction awoken to me through my reading of Gilles Deleuze. One of those few seemingly small distinctions which tend to topple mountains and trigger earthquakes!!

The conjunction [is] directs our minds and our hearts into worlds wherein multiplicities are condensed and the “one” is produced. We are summoned to ask: “Is it this? Or, is it that?” We narrow something down, make a decision, give a fixed name and definition. We are obliged to place this thing we have now named and defined into its appropriate location within an ordered hierarchy, and ensure it is fixed and unalterable.

It’s not easy to escape such processes. Varied establishments incessantly divide up nature into categories, names are assigned, placements are given, roles are provided. And, of course, people too! Constantly, repetitively our places in the world are defined, our functions and tasks are established, prior to our encountering them. We enter the world of [is]! We are proprelled into identity. We discover something rigid, constricting, little room for movement. It seems that dark and depressive affects often weigh heavy within such a milieu.

I suggest that the Alive, and those rhizome movements of nature, of which we are inescapably part, pay little interest in [is]. Life awakens, not the determining and restricting procedures of [is], but the unending additive processes of [and]. Why need our inquiries into life lead either to a this or a that? Is there not always much, much more? Why not this [and] that, and the other also, as well as that, and that, and that? The [and] continually producing affirmations, producing connections, rhizome lines and nodes, producing movement, a hopping from thing to thing to thing, and creating assemblages -- not organizations. Life swirls and surges within such abundances.
So, why suggest that this distinction might topple mountains, trigger earthquakes? Because religion, science, education, medicine, if not most of our institutional inventions, preoccupy themselves with worlds of [is]. Religious beliefs are determined, named, limited, enforced and made eternal. Science, in its resolve to know what something [is], usually does not add, but subtracts, it isolates variables, removes unwanted influences, reduces a realm of study to its most limited structure. Education, medicine, and a host of other disciplines and hierarchies also follow suit.

Yet, life seems in processes of constant addition! Over and over again, this [and]) that!

A linkage to Gregory Bateson emerges. For Bateson insisted that our questions of life, whether scientific or otherwise, connect to the inescapable plays of relationship and the layered ecologies in which these inquiries are imbedded – the opposite of an isolation of the variables. He repeatedly called for an additive direction in science, and other human affairs. He goes as far to suggest that a disregard for ecologies and relations -- one could say, a disregard for the necessity of the [and] -- creates new, often unliveable and destructive ecologies and relations.

Just a quick caveat – I think of the distinction between [is] and [and] as primarily a metaphorical distinction, more to do with thoughts and actions than mere words. And a note of warning -- It would seem rather silly and impossible to attempt to redeem language by trying to remove or limit the word [is]!! Perhaps, we should just say No to removals -- even the removal of [is]...

Bring on the additions!!

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