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This failure to specify has meant that elements of a very American psychological subjectivity can be found in many discussions of what purports to be a pre-subjective, pre-linguistic affective register. This piece, which seems to have grasped presciently much of the first-world present, has been well received, particularly by anthropologists interested in deploying Foucauldian concepts of discipline and biopower to contemporary neoliberal societies see, e. These discussions, which often also invoke the language of becoming, have been particularly fruitful when addressing creative endeavors see Pandian Others have highlighted the clashing constituent elements of Deleuzian temporality, with cyclic temporalities of habit, a temporality of continual fissure with the present already yet continually being sundered into the past and future or, to put it differently, the present always consisting entirety and only of the past and of the future , and a disruptive temporality of the event which consists of series of breaks with extant states of affairs see Williams ; see also Bialecki Like temporality, virtuality is another Deleuzian conceptual tool that has received more rigorous amounts of attention.

For Deleuze, the virtual is a concept that is meant to replace the possible. The problem with the possible is that it seems to be indicating states of affairs that were already complete, but simply lacking reality. This makes the possible, in essence, a static lack. Instead, Deleuze wanted to underscore the virtual as something that is real, albeit in way different from more conventional modes of existence. Rather than lacking existence, the virtual is an extant, open set of potentials that are always ready to be actualised.


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But the actualization of some virtual form may look quite different in different places and different times. This is not only because the actualizations may happen in different places and different times, and thus be part of different ecologies of sense. It is also because the virtual can be actualised in different manners, through using different material. Rather, the virtual could be thought of as a series of variables set in a determinate relation to one another, or, as Deleuze put it, a series of multiplicities that are effectively topological, and thus capable of quite different instantiations, in the same way that a donut and a coffee cup are both actualizations of a torus, a purely mathematical entity.

Again, there are several ways to understand what Deleuze meant by this discussion of virtuality. It is clear that the virtual included the conceptual, or at least involves it. To some, this makes the virtual in effect ideational, or at least a prelude to the experience of thinking particular thoughts. For others, though, this suggests that virtuality is a way to speak not merely of human ideational processes, but of all phenomenon Delanda The open nature of the concept of the virtual has again catalyzed different anthropological uses of it as a core idea.

Virtuality and the virtual is also being used by anthropologists to account for variation and difference without having to adopt pure nominalism that is, a mode of thought characterised by the rejection of universalisms and abstractions; see Bialecki This includes using virtuality to think of the sort of variation and potential inherent in either a particular practice or a mode of religiosity Bialecki , or variation that results when similar abstract forms or operations are expressed in different material Bialecki Another use of virtuality is to account for the effectiveness of religious and ritual practice.

The claim here is that much of ritual and religious activity can be understood as an attempt to work back to the virtual through practice or sensual experience instead of thought, and thus open up ethical, social, or even ontological possibilities that are currently blocked by the arrangement of the current state of affairs see, e. It has also been proposed that the engine of religion, if we can speak of such a thing, lies in a virtual pliability found in modes of religiosity that allows for it to take on an infinite number of expressions, all with different material entailments and therefore different effects as they combine with other assemblages Bialecki b, This conversation does not exhaust discussions of Deleuze in anthropology.

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While shot through with a host of self-invented or repurposed terminology, the logic of each of these terms resonates with each other. The second aspect of the pattern is that anthropology has, for the most part, had a cafeteria approach to Deleuze, taking just an element or two that is to their liking, rather than the whole set of mechanisms. This has created an interesting phenomenon.

Both assessments may be right. This may be for the best: Deleuze, interested in creativity, would honor sly theft over dutiful exegesis. But while such redeployments may be fruitful, they also run the risk of being glib, or of not even understanding how the pilfered tools work at all.

It remains to be seen which anthropological borrowings of Deleuze are the pollinated flower, which uses some alien presence to perpetuate its own being, and which borrowings are the wasp, pointlessly copulating with an alien other due to an act of complete misrecognition. The author would like to both thank and lay blameless Ian Lowrie and Razvan Amironesei for their contributions on some technical matters. The author, of course, owns all breaks from the image of thought.

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Subjectivity | Immanent Terrain

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