More than the Sum of Its Parts, but Not a Whole

Some thoughts about what Deleuze & Guattari mean by an “assemblage.”

1>     It is not a connecting of parts like an art project, because an assemblage acts; it makes it possible to do new things.

2>     It is not like a machine because it produces a qualitative change in its components. They are not what they were before.  To enter into an assemblage is to undergo a kind of phase shift, to transform from water to steam or ice.

3>     It is not a whole. An assemblage is continually connecting with things “outside” of itself, taking in and discarding elements and undergoing qualitative changes as it does so.

4>     Its parts are not wholes either. They, themselves are in continual exchange and movement.

5>     An assemblage is always individual: it has a distinct history tied to local circumstances and initial conditions.

6>     Less sure of this point, but I think an assemblage is always powered by intensive differences. It is all about gradients, movement, rates of change.

Nothing original here (and some things I’m not entirely certain of). But this is a step in the right direction of being able to introduce the concept to students.

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