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[Deleuze-Invented Concepts] 7. multiplicity

compost 2021.06.14 15:00 조회 수 : 96


7. multiplicity


Yi-Jinkyung, Professor

Seoul National University of Technology


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Multiplicity. It seems to be a concept related to diversity. Of course, it does. The ‘philosophy of difference’ is a philosophy for ‘diversity.’ Correct! However, it should be equally said that it’s not correct; all the more so if the word ‘diversity’ is based on good sense. That’s because the term multiplicity was born from the incongruity with the word diversity. Multiplicity is rather a concept that emerges at the place where the question ‘which diversity’ gets rid of the conventional view on diversity.

First, we may take the notion of diversity in contrast to wholeness or unity. This is what the criticism of totalitarianism takes as a basis. “If the party decides, we do!”--This slogan, which is totalitarian by any standard, was derived from Lenin’s democratic centralism theory. However, this theory too accommodates diversity of opinion, discussion, and debate. It only requires obedience to the decisions made as the result of discussion or debate. On the contrary, liberalism is said to regard the guarantee of diversity as the utmost value. When something important should be done, even liberalists go through a collective decision-making process by the means of discussion and vote. The one that gains the support of the majority is chosen as a decision. The virtue of the loser is to ‘accept’ and obey the decision. How different is this from Lenin’s argument that values discussion and obedience? The Communist Party Central Committee also makes decision by voting. Whether the general public turns out to vote or not is not grounds for distinguishing the two. The representative system in which decisions are made by ‘repersentatives’ is the invention of the liberalists.

Even more bizarre is when we see unity in people who get their way at their own will without garnering opinions. Go look at the street when the black cloth is in fashion. Even the people of distinct personalities all wear similar black clothes. Everyone envies a similar commercialized one while asserting diversity of desire, and sees the same soap opera that others see and listens to the same music that others do while stressing the uniqueness of taste. Even an artist pursuing his own world paints and crafts following the trend. This astonishing unity without any consensus or vow of acceptance is closer to uniformity than to diversity.

How about those who are making the trend at the cutting edge of fashion? Though they push ahead making differences from others, Their order-word is never “you too pursue something unique!.‘ ’Cool? just follow me!‘ is their order-word. In this case, difference is nothing but a fickle bait that instigates identification. Those fashion leaders, who in the old days served kings at the center of court society, nowadays became the limbs of the capitalist. Rather, they themselves became capitalists.

There’s a word often mentioned by the criticizers of the philosophy of difference: “it is capitalists that love difference.‘ They seem to think this is a weak point about the philosophy of difference. They say that capitalists are endlessly trying to make money by creating ’new things.‘ Thereby, they seem to think they proved that the philosophy of difference is the ideology of capitalism. However, the capitalist’s new commodity is made on the premise of mass consumption and mass following. What if people are going their own way of making difference, following the capitalist as a role model? ”Oh my god!“ The production of new product just stops. What matters to them is not difference but the consumption and following of the masses, namely, the identification of the masses. Therefore, even when they try to make difference endlessly, the first criterion is whether people will easily follow them. This is exactly ‘the difference that capitalists love.’ If a difference is not likely to be received by the masses, it’ll be rejected and disregarded no matter how cool and good it is. Do you think this belongs to ‘the philosophy of difference?’

The way in which a diversity of opinions and a single decision are integrated is called by philosophers ‘the unification of the many and the One.’ In either of the above cases, difference or diversity comes down to the dominant One. Diversity in this kind of unification, in fact, is only the servants of ‘the One.’ Criticizing the dialectical proposition of “the One is the many, and the many is the One.‘ Deleuze says that it is a wide-mesh net that can’t catch what’s really important. To put it more strongly, it’s a bad net that catches the many and gives it the One using the word ‘unification’ as a bait. Multiplicity is a concept to think about diversity with, but just for this purpose, it is a concept that wants to break up with this kind of diversity.

To proceed to the concept of multiplicity, we should go through another gate. That’s because multiplicity is not related to the diversity of 'the given' but to the action of 'the difference that makes.' It might be worth comparing two English words; diversity and variety. As you know, variety is a derivative of the verb vary. On the other hand, as a noun without verbal nuance, diversity is derived from the word diverse. Deleuze explicitly says that ‘difference is not diverse.’ That’s because diverse is a word meaning that ‘the given’ is abundant, whereas the interest of the philosophy of difference is not the abundance of ‘the differences made’ are but the difference that makes the current state different. In this sense, the word variety that implies verbal nuance is much closer to multiplicity than diversity. Important about the word multiplicity is not how many different opinions or properties are there but what is in the process of variation. What matters is not a long list of differences but whether it’s in a state of variation or not even if a tiny one.

It was Bergson that elaborated this philosophically. He contrasts between quantitative multiplicity and qualitative multiplicity, extended multiplicity and durational multiplicity. When we count the bell strike listening to the bell sound, we divide the duration of the sound by adopting spatial interval to the sound. Only the number of strikes is counted whether the sound is big or small, high or low. Changes in the quality or volume of the sound too go unheard. Only numbers are counted while sounds being in a state of homogenization. That’s why this is said to be quantitative multiplicity. On the other hand, when listening to Bach’s fugue, we don't separate sounds. We listen to it by pulling even past sounds and combining them with present ones. Sound becomes melody only if sounds with different pitch and note value are contracted together into ‘one sound’. Important is not the number of sounds but the quality of the melody made by the mix of sounds. Therefore, this is said to be qualitative multiplicity. A rendition itself is a multiplicity in which variety is alive.

The pitch, length and tone of the sound of qualitative multiplicity change durationally. Depending on these changes and the ability of the player who creates them, a piece of music becomes a different multiplicity. Both the piece of music and the sound are all durational multiplicities. On the other hand, the multiplicity homogenized regardless of height and length is a extended multiplicity. This means it is the multiplicity in which homogenized parts are extended because change aspects are erased. On the contrary, the durational multiplicity is the one that can’t be separated because the disparate continuously change and intermix. Besides, When separated, each part can never be homogeneous.

However, the contrast between quality and quantity, space and time(direée) is not enough for Deleuze. For he thinks that quality is made by the distribution of intensities, namely quantities. Space too has intensive space as well as extensive space. The surface of a fertilized egg is the case. To deal with even the space that is quantitative and intensive, Deleuze introduces Riemann's concept of multiplicity.

Riemann created multiplicity theory by generalizing non-Euclidean geometry. Euclidean space that is expressed with Cartesian coordinate system is homogeneous everywhere. Whether it’s length or area, 20 equals 2 times of 10, 4 times of 5. We get 2 identical figures of size 10 when divided by 2 and 4 identical figures of size 5 when by 4. The coordinate system that uses identical unit element as its measure makes everything within itself a homogeneous extension. Based on this, The lengths, areas, and volumes of figures and solids are calculated and compared.

However, this isn’t applicable to curved space. The calculation method for the flat surface can’t be applied to the calculation of a square on a globe. The degree of the curving of space is called curvature. If the curvature changes, the degree of the curving of the coordinate axis also changes. In case the curvature increases, the deviation from that calculated in the orthogonal coordinate system gets even bigger. More difficult than that would be the case of various curvatures. A calculation in this kind of space requires the change of calculation measure so that it changes in a microscopic scale. In other words, the measure of calculation itself changes continuously, A microscopic measure of differential scale is used here. By changing Riemann’s term a little, Deleuze named these two kinds of multiplicities as follows: ‘discrete multiplicity’ that has a single measure and every part of which is homogeneous like the Euclidean space; ‘continuous multiplicity’ whose microscopic measure changes continuously.

If numbers or kinds just increase while the measure remains the same, they all remain confined in that measure. It’s a diversity that has little difference. As long as you are stuck in the measure of money, kindness too is nothing but a kind of commodity--‘service.’ If the measure of choice is the same, every choice leads to the same result whether the number of choice is 3 or 300. Even though choices are qualitatively different, they too are the ones confined in ‘the already given’ as long as their quality doesn’t change any more. What matters is that the measure has to varies whenever division, addition or subtraction occurs. Important is that change occurs whenever choice is made, and choice itself ‘makes’ change. What the concept of multiplicity aims at is that the change at the end invades the ‘center’ and changes even the measure, and every change encroaches on the measure itself. In which multiplicity do you choose, desire, and decide?--You must question this.

Deleuzian concept of multiplicity is born at the point where the durational multiplicity of change that is not homogenizable meets the continuous multiplicity whose measure itself is variable. Intensity is very important for this concept of multiplicity. That’s because the change in intensity can unknowingly change the measure and even change its nature. The intensity of the sound created by the performer makes a piece of music into a totally different one. The intensity of salty or bitter flavor mixed in cooking makes the difference between excellent and terrible dishes. Very high velocity(=intensity) makes the time-measure in a flying object pass slower. ‘The principle of relativity’ refers to the assumption that gravity and acceleration are equivalent, which is the redefinition of gravity as the intensity of acceleration. Stars or black holes with big gravity cause the space to curve. Intensity changes the measure and changes extensive space into intensive space.

Only when liberated from homogenized extended multiplicity and from centralized multiplicity that submits the many to the One, diversity becomes true diversity, namely multiplicity. To this end, Deleuze proposes to reduce ‘the One’ to differential size(<Difference and Repetition>), or even get rid of it(<A Thousand Plateaus>). It is the Multiplicity that is formed in various ways through the microscopic One called ‘Idea,’ or the rhizomic multiplicity in which, by removing a single center or the One, the whole changes every time something is added or subtracted.

Deleuze thinks about everything through the concept of multiplicity. “Everything is a multiplicity...Even the many is a multiplicity; even the one is a multiplicity.”(Difference and Repetition 182) The universe, the earth, and our body too are multiplicities. Geoffroy Saint Hilaire saw animal body as a multiplicity composed of microscopic osselets. Lynn Margulis would say that all organisms are multiplicities of microbes of bacterial origin. Antonin Artaud would say it is an intensive multiplicity of forces coming and going between the surface and depth of the body. Our soul also is a multiplicity. It is a multiplicity in which decision criteria, way of thinking, and judgment are affected and changed by books, unexpected experiences, or other people. Unconsciousness, books, and cultures too are all multiplicities.

You may as well say that multiplicity is the ‘unification of the One and the many.’ In this case, the One is the microscopic vector that permeates the disparate many and determines their forces and directions rather than the gigantic hidden heavyweight that brings the many together into a ‘whole.’ It is a rhizomic network that makes the many connect and communicate with each other moving in there rather than a single whole composed of the many gathered together. It is a field of flux where the many gathers and disperses. It is a consistency that doesn’t eliminate the heterogeneity each has even when holding the heterogeneous many together and making them work as one in resonance with each other.



translated by Jung Ki Lee