I am writing the section of my Street Machining chapter on the emergence of Street Machining and I am currently discussing Panel Vanning. It is going to be a killer section of my thesis and I am having a hard time writing it. Besides the straight history element it also serves as a wonderful opportunity to play out what Deleuze and Guattari call the ‘profound opposition’ between Saussurian linguistics and Hjelmslevian linguistics. This opportunity has presented itself because of John Fiske’s 1983 work on the semiotics of the beach where he briefly discusses panel vans, which contrasts with Sheaver’s 1983 work on ‘custom street vans’ where she offers a very brief discussion of the aesthetics of van art in terms of the event.
In the section of Anti-Oedipus where Deleuze and Guattari talk about this ‘profound opposition’ between Saussurian and Hjelmslevian linguistics they do this with a series of sentences that begin with ‘because’. I am not sure who the translator had to edit the book, but isn’t it a little bit silly having 10 sentences in a row that start with ‘because’? It could be some wierd French thing that doesn’t translate into English very well? I am tempted to approach their text by distilling the 10 sentences into a couple of points and baricading the distilled ‘becauses’ with references to other texts. From ATP:
“Signs are not signs of a thing; they are signs of deterritorialization and reterritorialization, they mark a certain threshold in the course of these movements…”Â
Territorialization is basically the affective field of desire as it flows, couples and connects (desire in the immanent productive sense, not the negative, lack sense). A sign then is a tipping point (singularity) for the formalization of a particular configuration of content and expression on two separate planes of de/reterritorialisation. Flows of desire and affective relations are crucial, and so is their stratification (capture) through the continual repetition and contraction into habit.
Often when a new style or cultural form erupts into a scene, what erupts is not the desire that produce a field of the various elements in an assemblage, or the event of the affects that bind these elements into pre-personal relations, but the ability of a particular discursive weapon to intervene into these flows, perhaps simply through the power of repetition, affective relations are habitualised and a given population is cultivated. The task then would be to ask what are the flows (of desire), what are the elements (of the assemblage), what are the affects (of a territory), what are the repetitions (of statements), and, lastly, what is the population?
The kicker, and this really is a kicker, is that the discursive apparatus must not repeat the coordinates of various sign-expressions in the same way, lest the productive capacity of desire wonder off like a virus out of quarantine. Repetition of the same only produces homogeneity and system death: flatline. Therefore, the actual event is of feedback-to-feedback, the shifting coordinates between actuality and virtually that capture desire through the differential repetition of the sign-expression with the content of affective relations.
Capitalism does this very well, it heads off in pursuit of desire like a looney tunes cat after a mouse. It is in the interests of capital to make sure that populations exist in a state of post-scarcity so they can be deterritorialised from previous assemblages of necessity. If you are starving then you won’t give a shit about buying a new mobile phone, you may wish you could give a shit though. If desire is not resuscitated to its full productive potential then capitalism will not be able to reterritorialise it into new surplus-value producing assemblages; ther you go capitalists, a reason to help people. It is in my interests to with hold not only my labour power, but the restless productive capacity of desire and the disjunctive gap between it and my interests (cars, academia, etc).