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24 Order-word and Redundancy
Seoul National University of Technology
‘Order-word’ is the central concept of Deleuze/Guattari’s linguistic theory shown in A Thousand Plateaus. They argue that, in a nutshell, all languages are essentially order-words. The word 'it's hot!' contains an order-word to turn on the air conditioner, and the word 'would you like a cup of coffee?' contains an order-word to go out with me. Of course, these order-words are not spoken directly but in a way of ‘indirect discourse’. But what you really need to catch from someone's word is this order-word that is said indirectly. If you didn't catch this order-word, it can be said you didn't actually get what was said even if you understood the sentence itself. If you answer, "I don't drink coffee" when someone says, "let's have a cup of coffee, or "me too" when someone says, “I feel hot,” you didn't get what was said. Oh, those answers might be given after one fully understood what was said. In this case, the answers were returned with order-words of refusal.
This concept of language goes against its usual proposition that language is 'what delivers information' or 'something for communication.' It tries to say that language is not about delivering information or meaning to the other person but rather about getting the other person to do a particular action. Information or communication is transmitted to get the desired action done. Even the teacher's word that teaches '1+2=3' doesn't just deliver or inform mathematical knowledge but conveys the order-word, "answer 3 when asked what '1+2' is." So, the schools that teach this take tests to make sure the students properly execute this order. That is why numerous exercises to be solved using theorems and proofs are more important than the theorems and proofs themselves that 'inform' knowledge in mathematics textbooks. As with training for soldiers, training is conducted in a variety of situations to ensure that orders are properly executed.
Although Deleuze/Guattari didn’t directly cite this idea of language, there was someone who had suggested this earlier. Wittgenstein is that person. In his earlier work, Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, he determines the meaning of word and proposition by the concept of ‘fact’ and ‘picture,’ but, in his later work, he changes his position significantly. He says that the meaning of a word is not the referent but the use, that teaching a language is not an explanation but a training; that language is for us to influence other people in such-and-such ways(Philosophical Investigations § 3-4; 491). In linguistics, this position is commonly referred to as pragmatics. Deleuze/Guattari also see pragmatics as a theory that accurately expresses the essence of language. “Linguistics is nothing without a pragmatics to define the effectuation of the condition of possibility of language and the usage of linguistic elements.”(TP 85) Furthermore, through the equation of “rhizomatics = schizoanalysis = stratoanalysis = pragmatics = micropolitics,”(TP 22) they give pragmatics the same status as that of ‘schizoanalysis,’ which previously expressed their overall enterprise.
It is when the incorporeal thing of language is related to the corporeal that it is better shown that the pragmatics of language is micropolitics. ‘Order-word’ is mot d’order in French, which means ‘directive,’ ‘action guideline,’ or ‘slogan.’ They state that this word was taken from Lenin’s writing On Slogans[A propos des mot d’ordre](1917)(TP 83; MP 105). A slogan is an order-statement related to a social situation created by physical forces. A slogan is an order to do something in a given situation, but it usually accompanies a corporeal transformation. The hijacker's order-word "everybody put your hands up!" turns the airplane-body into a prison-body. Of course, changes in corporeal condition can also change the meaning of enunciation. The same word can have different senses. The word "be honest!" can have very different senses depending on whether it is said by a friend in a cafe or by a detective in a police station.
Order-word is in itself incorporeal, but is an utterance aimed at the transformation of a corporeal state. Marx’s slogan “proletarians of all countries, unite!“, for example, is in itself a incorporeal enunciation, but it is said to be an excellent example of utterance that caused an corporeal transformation in that it invented a new type of class of proletariat(TP 83). You may ask back if Marx invented a new class. Yes, he did. Before then, there were workers, but there was not an independent working class that is distinguished from other classes, that is, the class of ‘proletariat.’ This slogan of Marx extracted workers as a class from the masses called ‘sans-culotte’ after the French revolution. It created another class that should ‘unite’ and act separately from other classes or the masses.
Language theory has long been dominated by the view that language is a general means of information delivery or communication. This is also expanded to ‘communication’ or ‘information theory.’ Classical theory of communication is based on a frame in which the sender sends the receiver a message on a medium and the receiver receives and decodes it according to a given code. However, the sent message may be erased or lost due to noises during the delivery process. It is said that redundant information is added in order for the message to be understood in case this kind of situation happens. Let’s say that the received message is “it was cold, but I ate......” The blank space is the part erased due to noise. However, you can see that the word for this blank is an object because the word ‘ate’ is a transitive verb, and that it is something to eat because the verb is ‘ate.’ Taking the word ‘it was cold’ into consideration, you can guess the word for this blank would be something similar to ‘cold food.’ As such, the redundant information that ‘allows you to see’ it even when the information is erased due to ‘noise’ is ‘redundancy’ in information theory.
Explicitly criticizing this position based on the 'exchange' of messages, Deleuze/Guattari translate the concept of 'redundancy' into a totally different one. They say the redundancy is not the redundant information but the order-word that is indirectly carried with and in the spoken sentence. It is 'redundant' in that it is added to direct words or information, but the redundancy is the indispensable 'gist' in that what is meant to be delivered is the redundancy itself. To speak to someone is to send an order-word that is carried indirectly in the form of redundancy.
The purpose of information or meaning is to inform what the desired action is. What is the most important in delivering information or meaning is not grammar, langue, word, or signifier but the tone of voice. When we sometimes just shout 'hey!' without a single meaningful word, it is the tone that delivers what we mean to say. Theatre director Stanislavski is said to have asked the applicants to express thirty 'senses' with one word 'tonight' at an audition. Can you guess how? That's right, you can use tones and expressions. The word 'tonight' gets to have various different senses depending on the tones in which it is spoken.
In acoustics, pitch or timbre is expressed in the form of 'frequency.' Simply put, a high-frequency sound produces a higher pitch, and a low-frequency sound produces a lower pitch. Tone is expressed in timbre including pitch. Timbre is expressed as a 'graph' of composite function created by the mixture of various sine waves in harmonics relationship. You must have seen it on a media player. In short, all the tones of timbres are expressed in the form of frequency. Changing the tone is modulating the frequency. It is voice frequency that determines the sense of speech. This is also a viewpoint that parole that has different frequencies each time is essential in language, as opposed to the traditional linguistics where the universality of grammar or langue is emphasized and individual parole is not the subject of science.
However, in order to properly execute the received order, one has to accept it as something he needs to or wants to do. Even if one understood the meaning of the order, he can ignore
it or refuse it. To accept the meaning delivered to me means that I will obey the order which I understood and that I answer the word which interpellates me. To answer God’s interpellation ‘Moses!’ means to obey God’s order and to become the ‘subject’ that God demands, the subject that converts the order into his own will and executes it. That is why it is referred to as ‘subjectification.’ Being subjectified as such can be paraphrased as resonating with the frequency of the word sent to oneself. When a tuning fork is struck, the adjacent tuning fork vibrates at the same frequency, which is referred to as resonance. Subjectification is resonating with the frequency that delivers meaning to me. Therefore, it can be said that signification corresponds to frequency, whereas subjectification that accepts the meaning transmitted through it corresponds to the action of resonance.
They call the position of linking the essence of language to the timbre of tone as such 'chromatic linguistics' or 'generalized chromaticism'(TP 95). This is a concept from music. Diatonic scales such as major and minor usually use seven fixed sounds such as Do, Re, Mi,...,etc. Chromaticism is the method in which the semitones between those whole notes are used harmonically. For example, using sounds such as Fa# or Sol# is the case. Using semitones in this way changes the color of music hugely, producing sounds that are not originally in the harmony of a certain key. After Wagner, post-Romanticists continued to expand this chromaticism, which had been used only on a limited basis in tonal composition, and pushed it to the point of deconstructing the tonality, making the timbre very colorful. Deleuze/Guattari imports this method of utilizing tonal diversity into the name of their language theory. They name their linguistics, in which they see that a sign is signified through the effect of the timbre and, thereby, the sense of a sign is changed, 'chromatic linguistics' or 'generalized chromaticism.'
In summary, language has order-word as its essence and the order-word is the redundancy that is indirectly carried in the words, and the redundancy leads to action through signification and subjectification. Signification corresponds to frequency that expresses the timbre of tone, whereas subjectification corresponds to the resonance that is attuned to the frequency. “Redundancy has two forms, frequency and resonance; the first concerns the signifiance of information, the second concerns the subjectivity of communication.”(1, 85; TP 79)
However, Here's one more to be added. What signifies and subjectifies is the tone, which is the timbre of word, but face expressions are added here to deliver it more clearly. For an actor who wants to express different meanings or situations with the word 'tonight', for example, tone alone will not be enough. So he expresses the meanings with his face and body. An actor's performance is made up of tones, face expressions, and gestures. The reason talking over the phone is often misunderstood is that words are ‘exchanged’ without seeing each other face to face. That is because the senses are not fully transmitted. ‘To read one's mind’ means to read his face to catch what he really means by what he says. The face also is a redundancy that delivers order-word as much as the tone. “The face itself is redundancy. It is itself in redundancy with the redundancies of signifiance or frequency, and those of resonance or subjectivity.”(TP 168) If you want to send the order-word clearly, you wear a solemn and fierce face even when speaking the same word. Therefore, Deleuze/Guattari say “the signifier [is] reterritorialize[d] on the face(TP 115; MP 144). As, like when acting, the movement of the body expressing the senses is the extension of this facial expression, it is referred to as 'facialization of body.' In this respect, the face is an 'expression machine' that plays a very important role in signification and subjectification.
Language is not personal but collective. When using language, we signify and subjectify it according to a particular rule. Moreover, language activity is a process in which power operates because it is essentially a process of giving and receiving order-words. There are patterned modes in which order and response are made, and there are assemblages in which they are forced to be executed. In the relationships between parents and children, teachers and students, employers and employees, or women and men, we speak and act according to the dominant patterns on each occasion. “There is no signifiance independent of dominant significations, nor is there subjectification independent of an established order of subjection. Both depend on the nature and transmission of order-words in a given social field.”(TP 79)
However, even though language is social and collective, there is no one universal rule, no one universal language. There are only rules and languages that vary depending on the society, group, or situation. Social rules are not fixed but incessantly variable even when enforced in the form of ‘universality.’ Wittgenstein would have said that there are different rules and different language games that vary depending on the situation or lifestyle. This rule, of course, can vary even within the same group by creating or carrying out different types of language games. For example, new words and language games are created on the Internet, and new language games are created again as they enter the offline world. Thereby, new uses and rules of language are invented. Every society has many languages rather than one language. As we know, American English and British English are different, and there are many Englishes even in the US. History tells us that even the grammar we know emerged as the result of the expansion of a certain literary style that gained people’s favor at certain times.
That pragmatics is 'micropolitics' can be understood in this context. When we say that language is essentially order-word and has a collective rule to be obeyed when using it, it means language is a field of power. However, we can use even the same word differently with various tones, and sneak out of the field of signification and subjectification by using similar words. We can break away from the operation of power by inventing a new language game in which the existing dominant meaning can no longer work. As we know well, new language games and languages are being invented and changing so fast in schools and online. Attempts to resist or neutralize the dominant power are in there. As such, language is a field of micropolitics in that it is both a field in which power works and a field where power is resisted and fought against. Pragmatics is said to be a micropolitics in that it attempts to invent new language games and languages of new rules by using redundancy against the power trying to signify and subjectify through order-words.
translated by Jung Ki Lee