What is a God-lobster? (quick note)

To get a clear picture of what Deleuze is saying here concerning the dark precursor that is nature, suppose God is a lobster, “a double pincer, a double bind.”[1] There is a bit of Schellingian aura here, apropos the Deleuzian double articulation (of matter or nature), which states: ‘articulate twice, B-A, BA.”[2] The bi-polar nature of nature, however, as John Protevi annotates this aspect of the Deleuzian theory of nature, has to have something consistent within to hold on to, “a relative consistency” even as nature, in its double bind, “is plugged into a network of other flows.”[3] In this sense, a body of nature is defined by both “what overpowers it,” such as a God-lobster capable of stratifying territories and spatiality, and overcoming temporalities into “a bio-political organization,” a geology of morals, so to speak,[4]and what escapes it,”[5] such as a deterritorialization in the form of a critique that “exposes the illusion of the organism as the judgment of God.”[6]  When God is not a God-lobster, as Protevi describes, “he is the name of a transcendental illusion.”[7]

Meanwhile, in Schellingian terms, what overpowers and escapes nature in the sense as mentioned earlier of doubling concerns a third form of judgment. This relates to propositional deduction (linguistic portmanteau, in Deleuzian terms) concerning A and B, for instance, which are both “posited as Being in all potencies.”[8]In the Ages of the World, Schelling elaborates this quite complicated syntax:

Therefore, a doubling already lies at the bottom of the simple concept: A in this judgment is not A, but ‘something = x, that A is.’ Likewise, B is not B, but ‘something = x, that B is,’ and not this (not A and B for themselves) but the ‘x that is A’ and ‘the x that is B’ is one and the same, that is, the same x. There are actually three propositions contained in the above cited proposition. The first, ‘A = x,’ the second, ‘B = x,’ and, following first from this, the third, ‘A and B are one and the same,’ that is, ‘both are x’.[9]

A Thousand Plateaus has a linguistic counterpart to this Schellingian paradox of the indifference of the third judgment: “We … call it the plane of Nature, although nature has nothing to do with it, since on this plane there is no distinction between the natural and the artificial. However many dimensions it may have, it never has a supplementary dimension to that which transpires upon it. That alone makes it natural and immanent.”[10] Also called the plane of consistency in which Nature is out of the question, that is to say, nature conceived either as a discourse of production or a discourse of products, each taken separately in a dualistic framework, the plane of Nature is similar to a geometric plane. Ironically, it is also a non-consistent plane in the sense that it is no longer a mental design, apropos the critique of the dualism of universal and particular, infinite and finite, etc., but rather an indifferent abstract design.[11] The consistent plane, the plane of Nature, is where ‘proliferation’ and becomings happen, where people people themselves in the manner of contagion. Or rather, a plane that hosts “an involution, in which form is constantly being dissolved, freeing times and speeds.”[12]

Now, suppose that plane of consistency is the Anthropocene.

[1] Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus, trans. Brian Massumi (Minneapolis and London: University of Minnesota Press, 1987), 40.

[2] John Protevi, “The organism as the judgment of God,” in Deleuze and Religion, ed.  Mary Bryden (New York and London: Routledge, 2001), 41.

[3] Ibid., 38.

[4] Ibid., 37.

[5] Ibid., 36.

[6] Ibid., 39.

[7] Ibid.

[8] F.W.J. Schelling “Further Presentations from the System of Philosophy (1802) [Extract],” in The Philosophical Rupture Between Fichte and SchellingSelected Texts and Correspondences, 1800-1802, edited by Michael Vater and David Wood (New York: State University of New York Press), 160.

[9] F.W.J. Schelling, The Ages of the World(Fragment) from the handwritten remains, Third Version (c. 1815), trans. Jason M. Wirth (New York: State University of New York Press, Albany,2000), 8..

[10] Deleuze and Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus, 266.

[11] Protevi, “The organism as the judgment of God,” 31.

[12] Deleuze and Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus, 267.


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