erin manning

Always More Than One

Individuation’s Dance

Erin Manning

Always More Than One

Individuation’s Dance

Prelude by Brian MassuMi
DukE univErsity PrEss Durham and London 2013

© 2013 Duke University Press All rights reserved Printed in the United States of America on acid-free paper ♾ Designed by Amy Ruth Buchanan Typeset in Quadraat by Tseng Information Systems, Inc. Library of Congress Catalogingin-Publication Data appear on the last printed page of this book. All images in chapter 8 originally appeared in Oeuvres by Fernand Deligny, edited by Sandra Alvarez de Toledo © 2007 Editions L’Arachnéen.

To DJ Savarese for leading the way toward fresh thinking


PrEluDE By Brian MassuMi * ix acknowlEDgMEnts * xxv

1. Toward a Leaky Sense of Self * 1 2. Always More Than One * 16 3. Waltzing the Limit * 41 4. Propositions for the Verge * 74 5. Choreography as Mobile Architecture * 99 6. The Dance of Attention * 133 7. An Ethics of Language in the Making * 149 8. The Shape of Enthusiasm * 184
notEs * 223 BiBliograPhy * 257 inDEx * 267

interlude || When Movement Dances * 13 interlude || Dancing the Virtual * 31

interlude || What Else? * 91 interlude || Fiery, Luminous, Scary * 124

interlude || Love the Anonymous Elements * 172 coda || Another Regard * 204

Brian MassuMi


“A thousand smiles, a thousand getting- out- of- chairs, a thousand variations of performance of any and all behaviours.” With these words, tinged with wonder at the richness of the everyday, Daniel Stern underscores the multiplicity of every single act composing our lives (Stern 1985, 56; cited in chapter 1 below). Always More Than One, as the title conveys, is dedicated to that wonder: of the ever-varying manyness of all that comes as one. Any sense of contradiction this wording may be taken to imply is quickly sidelined by observing with A. N. Whitehead, another key theoretical resource for the book, that as an “ultimate notion” for process oriented philosophy “the term ‘one’ does not stand for the ‘integral number one.’” It stands for the general idea underlying alike the indefinite article “a” or “an,” and the definite article “the,” and the demonstratives “this” or “that,” and the relatives “which or what or how.” It stands for the singularity of an event. The term “many” presupposes the term “one,” and the term “one” presupposes the term “many.” (1978, 21) In Always More Than One, Erin Manning starts from the reciprocal presupposition of the one and the many. This is what she means when she says, echoing Gilles Deleuze, that she begins in the middle. She does not pause to worry over contradiction. She takes this reciprocal presupposition as a launching pad and dives right in. She does this by approaching the problem from the outset as a question of composition. That what comes as one comes a many loses any sense of a sterile conundrum when it is taken

in this matter- of-fact way: as a coming-together (com-position). A many enter in one coming-together. And comings-together come in many variations on each theme. When it comes to the one and the many, the wonder should attach more to this immediate implication of serial iteration than to any supposed contradiction. No sooner do we dive into composition than composition launches itself into a process of iteration offering a bounty of variations, thousands and thousands, on any and all behaviors or events. Add the notion that the iteration of the process can be inflected, and composition finds the double connotation it has in everyday language: not just a coming-together, but a one (-many) bountifully susceptible to technique. Manning’s diving in, past contradiction straight to composition and with process to technique, gives the writing in Always More Than One a remarkable velocity. It speeds past preliminary considerations as to the nature of the one that many may expect. The most available readymade categories for the one are the subject, the object, and the totality. They make unpropitious starting points. Given the habitual ways we have of speaking and thinking about these categories, to start with them would be to begin with the assumption that the term “one” did in fact stand for the integral number one, in lonely opposition to what counts as many. For the unity of the one not to stand alone, it would have to be opened up to reveal a hidden multiplicity. But the multiplicity, Whitehead insists, isn’t hidden. It comes immediately and manifestly with every one. There are significant disadvantages to taking the subject or object as the starting point even if it is only in order to deconstruct or decenter their counting only for one. The disadvantage is that it activates, as an inaugural gesture, the very habits of thought it is designed to undermine. Once activated, they are difficult, if not impossible, to shake off. The alternative adopted by Manning is neither to deconstruct nor decenter, but to defer. The speed with which she launches into process is designed to hold at bay the issue of the status of the subject and the object until concepts for the reciprocal presupposition of the one and the many are sufficiently in place for subject and object to be grasped as a function of process rather than the reverse: process falling under the province of subjects and objects. The concept charged with holding the status of the subject and object in processual suspense is individuation, adapted from Gilbert Simondon. Simondon’s premise is simple: individuals, whether subjects or objects according to the traditional categories, come to be. They are results of an ontogenetic process: they are products.
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It would seem obvious that a process is different in principle from its products, and that this difference calls for concepts tailored specifically to it. One of the most evident ways a process differs from its products is in the span of its activity. A process brings together the factors that go into bringing about a result by drawing on a different, always wider, field of activity than the product once arisen will entertain. Processually speaking, a making is always bigger than the made. The making includes, in germ, the form of what will come to be, as well as the functions its being, once arisen, will afford. In addition, it includes the under-formation and the clinchinginto-operation of the functions-to- come. Formation is more inclusive than form-and-function. The span of a becoming is broader than a being. An individuation is more encompassing than an individual. To understand individuation, this more-than of becoming can never be lost from sight. However obvious it is that a process is different in principle from its products and deserves accordingly different concepts, this is rarely taken to heart. If the concepts of subject and object are not deferred, their forms and functions backcast on process, overshadowing the conceptual complexion of the under-formation. This is what Deleuze and Deleuze and Guattari analyze as the “transcendental error” of “stenciling” (décalquer, trace) the empirical characteristics of constituted being onto the formative process of its constitution. Manning’s foregrounding of the notion of individuation is a way of advancing the account of the reciprocal presupposition of the one and the many in a way that avoids this transcendental error, never losing sight of the ontogenetic differing of process from its products, of constitution from the constituted. The error of understanding the constitutive process of individuation in the image of its constituted product is actively maintained by the accumulated cultural and philosophical connotations of the term “individual.” Its avoidance requires follow-up and follow-through. Manning will accordingly supplement the Simondonian concept of individuation with terms of her own. One is fielding. When an individual comes to stand out as one from a broader field of activity from which it arises, we can say that it has been formatively fielded. The error of “stenciling” over this broader field of activity is called “transcendental” because what it papers over is precisely that. The formative field is transcendental in the sense that it does not coincide with the being whose becoming it harbors. It outspans it, overspills its limits, extends “beyond” it. It is not beyond in the sense of “outside” and radically “other,” or alternatively in the sense of a deeper inside (a radically
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intimate other). Either option would make it “transcendent” as opposed to transcendental. The difference is that the notion of the transcendent includes the idea of an a priori totality. Totality was the third figure of the one in need of deferral. Despite the abstractness of the notion of totality, its deferral is the one that comes most easily. The fact that process is always moving on to a further iteration is itself a deferral. Process is process because it is forever deferring its own completion in the dynamic form of more becoming. Process is always in the process of exceeding itself in its own carrying forward. This makes it transcendental not only in relation to its determinate products, but in relation to itself. It is always moving into its own beyond. Process is the transcendental in person. Or, more precisely, in movement. It is what moves across iterations of being, across the subjects and objects that come to be through its movement (and are left in its wake). If process “as a whole” can be characterized, it is as a constitutively open totality: an everything-always-moving- on that wraps itself up into being each of its iterations as it unrolls itself forward through them. Its openness cannot be assigned to an inside or an outside, coming as it does as an always moving-across of becoming. The best word for it is “immanent.” The transcendental field of individuation is immanent not to a subject (Kant, phenomenology) but to its own phasing into and out of being, as becoming. It is nothing less than the world’s “worlding,” its fullness of oneness and manyness, as William James would say, in respects that iteratively vary. Another word Manning uses for the transcendental field is milieu. The word, often qualified by “associated,” is a favorite of both Simondon and Deleuze and Guattari for its double entendre in French. In French milieu means both “middle” and “surroundings.” To put the two meanings together without falling back into an outside/inside division that calls for a subject or object to found or regulate it, you have to conceive of a middle that wraps around, to self-surround, as it phases onward in the direction of the “more” of its formative openness. In a word, you have to give the precept of beginning in the middle a topological twist. All of the concepts that are mobilized to work with individuation, and to work it through, will then have to similarly twist. In Always More Than One the transcendental field of individuation is the philosophical planet in the vicinity of which concepts bend like passing light, creating a refractive pattern that alters the spectrum of even the most familiar terms. No term passes unswerved. But once swerved from their habitual path, any term is free to return, philosophically reoriented, up to and including the strategically deferred subject and object
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(which return in a splendor of Whiteheadian colors diffused throughout this book). It is the work of the first chapter to initiate the reader to the reorientation of individuation’s swerve, taking off from Daniel Stern’s rethinking of the psychological self and psychoanalytic subject. The writing in this chapter is already at speed, launching into the invention of new concepts specifically tailored to the reciprocal presupposition of the one and the many in formative belonging to a shared process of becoming, and plotting the conventional notions with which we are in the habit of thinking into their twisting vicinity. The velocity of the writing and the sheer number of new concepts set in motion may prove at times disorienting for the reader, as a result of swerve fatigue. Received assumptions or previously arrived at conclusions the reader inevitably brings to the reading, concerning the individual, insides/outsides, and subjects/objects, are sure to return at moments of conscious or unconscious need for conceptual repose. These moments are part of the process. If they are selectively focused on, however, they will place the reader at a remove from the text, defaulting them, for example, to a posture of critique. At these moments the movement of the text continues while the reader holds to position. This can lead to a disconnect. Just as Manning herself takes the plunge, so too must the reader be prepared to replunge into the current of the writing. The concern of the book is the more-than of any objective or subjective resting place of process that counts as one. It is only fitting that the writing itself perform a more-than of any one concept upon which the reader’s attention might arrest. Like the process it follows, the writing folds into and out of its own iterations. Conceptual variations unfold from each other to stand out for themselves, then fold back together to express their belonging to the same fielding of thought. This gives a rhythm to the writing as an ongoing process of the individuation of a movement of thought. There are refrains and motifs designed to slip a reader who falls out of step back into the rhythm. The processual nature of the writing as it performs the more-than of any one concept gives it a beauty approaching poetry. But it is not poetry, it is philosophy, “nothing but philosophy,” as Deleuze once said of his own writing, alone and with Guattari. The difference is that in philosophical writing, concepts, however many there are and however fast they turn over on each other, however complex the rhythm of their movement, do crest into an individuation where they are fully determined and rigorously stand out in their individuality from the field of their emergence. In a sense, this
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is true of all philosophical writing. What distinguishes process- oriented philosophical writing such as Manning’s from other kinds is that the individuation of the determinate concepts crests into their precision like a wave on a sea of thought. They do not plinth themselves into solitary prominence on a supporting structure of solidly planted first premises. Rather, they rise from a swell of their formative conceptual field, and fold back. They are rigorously composed in the flow of liquid writing, to which they return to recompose, in a continuing tide of conceptual invention. Like poetry, this takes utmost technique, but to different ends. A poem is fully and finally composed. It is an expressive end in itself. It asks to be reread, but not to be rewritten. Processual philosophical writing is also expressive, and also invites rereading. It is fully composed as well, but without the standing claim to finality, instead with a horizontal openness of process that extends an invitation to further. It would like nothing more than for its concepts and their momentum to forward into a different writing process, toward other individuations of thought beyond itself, in new iterations and variations, in rewriting upon writing, in waves of thought, each “one” in company of an iterative “many,” in a kind of processual quilting of thinking-with. This is philosophy practiced as a concept- creative endeavor that performs in writing the larger process it concerns. It gives the gift of a movement of thought, again as Deleuze and Guattari would say, to a “people to come.” It sets going a concept-creative momentum for a coming thought community. A reader bent on holding to position, or to standing rigid in critical remove, will risk missing the boat. Best to read as Bertrand Russell advises: In studying a philosopher, the right attitude is neither reverence nor contempt, but first a kind of hypothetical sympathy, until it is possible to know what it feels like to believe in his theories, and only then a revival of the critical attitude, which should resemble, as far as possible, the state of mind of a person abandoning opinions which he has hitherto held. (1996, 47) Always More Than One, as an endeavor in creative philosophy, dedicates itself to the invention of new concepts. This is just the half of it. What a reader who enters the text in an attitude of hypothetical sympathy will immediately understand is that in order to dedicate itself to the invention of new concepts, it must compose new kinds of concepts. This is signalled in the opening quote from Whitehead on the reciprocal presupposition of the one and the many.
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Whitehead says that the process-oriented idea of the one is not the integral number one but a “general idea” that “stands for the singularity of an event.” A general idea standing for a singularity? Again, Whitehead is not being contradictory. He is pointing us in new conceptual directions. What Whitehead means by “general idea” is not what traditionally goes by that name. A general idea in the normal sense is an empty category that subsumes a set of particulars. It is an abstract schema used as a standard for judging the identity of particulars and for assigning them membership in a predefined class. The general idea is a lofty “The” subsuming the ground level “a” of each particular that fulfills the schema. Whitehead turns this traditional logic on its head by pointedly putting the “the” and “a” on the same level. The general idea, he says, “underlies them both alike.” It straddles the definite and the indefinite articles. Even more, it takes into its fold demonstratives like “this” or “that” and the relatives “which” or “what” or “how.” Whitehead’s general idea stretches all the way from “the” to “how.” In other words, it is a span of modal variation, a range of kinds or degrees of definiteness inflected by differences in manner (“how”). Although it is all about definiteness, it is not about mutual exclusion. Without the hierarchy of the “the” over the “a,” there is no a priori way of ensuring noncontradiction. This is a logic of mutual inclusion: a logic for the many’s “underlying” belonging-together. To mark the difference between this kind of “general idea” and the traditional kind, a change of name would help. Call it, for example, the “generic.” In what way is the logic of the generic immediately a logic of singularity? In what way is the genericness and singularity of an event so intimately entwined that it does not even occur to Whitehead in this passage to comment on the transition from one term to the other? Daniel Stern shares this logic, and a comment of his can help explain what is at stake. What is at stake for Whitehead is the very nature of philosophical thinking. For Stern, it’s the richness of everyday experience. For Manning it is both: philosophy, nothing but philosophy, toward the enrichment of life. “When you suck your finger,” Stern observes, “your finger gets sucked— and not just generally sucked” (1985, 80). There is no “the” finger-sucking that isn’t inflected by the “how” of “a” sucking. “Which”? “This” one or “that.” And that’s the “what” of it. “Not generally sucked”: a thousandsuckings- of-fingers. No one suck. Where there is one, there are more to come. A one after another. The point is a serious one, even for finger-weaned adults. It is that events
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come in populations, and the populating takes the form of a serial iteration. From the point of view of their populating multiplicity, events are generic. But each event is utterly singular. “Each one presents a different vitality affect” (Stern 1985, 56). In other words, there is a life-feeling, a quality of life, upon which each iteration is a unique variation. The uniqueness of the event is not in spite of its belonging to the generic population. It is at least in part because of it. A first suck is a revelation. A fifth suck is a comfort. Suck six is its own satisfying variation on comfort. Depending on exactly how each event transpires and what else is present that may inflect it (a glance at a caregiver’s face, the soft brush of a blanket on the cheek), each sucking in the series will take on its own unique vitality affect. It is this vitality affect that makes “the” event definitively what it will have been. In other words, the definition of the event includes as determining factors both its generic populousness and the irreducible uniqueness that comes with the contingent “what elses” of its occurrence. The generic populousness is a multiplicity of belonging not to a class, but to an event-series. Across the series run any number of variations on the theme. The “what elses” are accidents of place and time. This means that in this processual logic the definition of an event mutually, necessarily, includes as codetermining factors what would in the traditional logic be judgmentally separated out from each other as essential properties and accidental qualities. It replaces this dichotomy with a distinction between a continuing variation (seriation) and its dosing with contingency (accident; the unforeseeable intervening variable). This is not a dichotomy, it’s a co-implication: the iterative variation and the variable intervention of contingency are codetermining. Neither could make sense—or make vitality affect—without the other. Even more radically, time (serial order, but also in this case things like time of day and time between iterations) and place (the matrix of copresence ensuring that any number of “what elses” will have the opportunity to leave their contingent trace) cannot be abstracted away. The singularity of the event is not only logically, but genetically, inseparable from its genericness. They are “one”: the singular-generic. As a “general idea,” the singular-generic includes spatial and temporal coordinates, working together, to bring seriation and contingency together into the unfolding of the event. “The” event cannot be thought apart from the co-implication of space and time: spacetime. A philosophy of experience, then, has to do with singular-generic spacetimes of experience, in relation to which the most relevant questions are not “what” but “what else” brought together “how.”
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These are some of the signature concepts of Manning’s original take on process philosophy, as it develops toward Always More Than One from the closely allied earlier volumes, Politics of Touch (2007) and Relationscapes (2009). The qualitative difference of the “how” of an event. The continuum of variation running across iterations of experience. The processual openness of the “what else.” The question of composition of the manner in which codetermining factors are brought together toward a unique mutual inclusion in the event defining the newness of a next iteration: the question of creativity. The impossibility of thinking creativity without factoring in proliferating series of life-forming events and their corresponding spacetimes of experience. Experience: it is significant that Stern underlines that each of the “thousand variations” on a generic life-event carries a different affect, and that he qualifies the affect as a “vitality” affect. But we must be careful here. The words “experience” and “affect” can easily lead back to the conceptual repose of the subject and interiority. This would be to stencil over the singular-generic with the traditional categorical logic again. Stern is clear: none of the thousand-gettings-out-of- chairs of his first example are subsumable under “a specific category of affect” to which an internal state of a subject would correspond (1985, 56). A vitality affect is not a category of affect, and it is not personal. It’s a uniquely generic life-feeling of activity. Each getting- out- of-a- chair and each sucking- of-a-finger comes with “a burst of determination” (Stern 1985, 56). They are incidents of determination; determining occurrences. However small and everyday they may be, in their determination they are still life- defining events. The feeling they come with defines what life has been like. This feeling of vitality, or vitality affect, is not in the subject, and is not just personal (unless accidents and populations can be considered personal). It is in and of the world. It is in and of the world’s serial ongoing and the contingent surprises met along the way. It is in the way in which the ongoing and the surprise come punctually together to determine a burst of life. Process philosophy is how we burst with life, in and of the world. It’s about our worlding. How the world populates us, and we the world, in a reciprocal presupposition of oneness and manyness determining a richness reaching all the way down to the most furtive suck of the finger and rising all the way back up from there to tinge the most generic and regularized events with a feeling of singularity. Manning’s word for the singular-generic burstability of life a-worlding across the scales is “a” life (a term adopted from Deleuze). “A” life does not
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exclude the “this” and the “that” and the “which” and the “what” and the “how.” It doesn’t even exclude the “the.” Emphasizing the “a” is a way of saying that the “the” is not the categorical “The” but the potential for definiteness that comes of the processual mutual inclusion of the definite with the indefinite article, the demonstrative, and the relative. Manning’s word for the variation across iterations of singular events generically belonging to the same populating series is speciation. It is as crucial for an understanding of Always More Than One to avoid stenciling species back into a categorical concept as it is to avoid committing this transcendental error with regard to affect. A species is not a set of beings having certain properties generally defining them as members of the same class. A species for Manning, as her term (speciation) implies, is a species of event. A speciation occurs when two or more constituted individuals come back together singular-generically in a way that produces a new vitality affect. The defining trait of the speciation is the uniqueness of the vitality affect arising from the burst of determination of such a coming-together. This is not a property of either of the individuals coming together. It comes between them. It is in the event of their coming-together, at the crossroads where a line of continual variation meets the unforeseeable variable of a what-else. In the thousand-sittings-in- chairs, backside and cushion speciate. In the thousand-suckings-of-a-finger, mouth and finger speciate. The species, in each case, is the vitality affect (comforting). The speciation is the difference each one of the thousands brings to the vitality affect. Speciation rises up in scale to take on broader significance at levels we would term macropolitical, in the bursts of determination of the kind, for example, with which Israelis and Palestinians come together to populate the world with events of their (anything but mutually comforting) betweenness. Even at this level, the events in question determine speciations of vitality affect that are not subsumable under any logic of mutual exclusion, in spite of the conflictual nature of the events. Not: Israeli or Palestinian. Rather: what passes between. “A” life (not excluding many deaths; mutually including the “how” they come about and the asymmetries of all kinds that come with their coming about). What is the politics of “a” life? Chapter 3 of Always More Than One asks that question, with full cognizance of the complexity and sensitivity of reposing the question of the political in these terms, in connection with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The risk of reformulating the question of politics in mutually inclusive terms is one that the philosophy the book dexviii PrEluDE

velops cannot avoid. It is necessarily entailed by the logic it must deploy in order for its writing to be equal to the thinking of process. The force toward mutual exclusion exerted by the traditional-logic categories with which we are accustomed to using is perhaps at its strongest in political thinking. This can even be the case in political approaches dedicated to fighting exclusion, to the extent that they lend themselves to the exercise of moral judgment. What form of political judgment does “a” life imply, as a function of speciation, factoring in the continually varying and contingently variable “one” (-manyness) of the transcendental field of singular-generic events whose cresting from that field compose it? What might an ethics of the singular-generic involve, as against a morality of categorical judgment? For Manning, answering these questions effectively requires unstenciling the transcendental field of becoming of politics. It requires following in that field what outspans, overspills, and extends vitally-affectively beyond the backcast form of constituted groupings. It requires a thinking of group individuation, what Simondon (2005, 293–316) calls collective individuation, in terms specifically tailored to its constitutive movement. In order to accomplish this, Manning generates another topological twist. The transcendental field as earlier described as a middle that wraps around to self-surround flattens itself into a surface—a metaphysical surface doubling the surface of the screen upon which Waltz with Bashir, the film being analyzed, is projected, and from which the vitality affects its movement-images produce stand out. It is essential to remember that the way in which the problem of politics is posed by the project of Always More Than One requires a metaphysical response. Traditional political reasoning, and its habit of stenciling constituted distinctions onto the constitutive movement of their becoming, must be deferred, long enough for its categories to be refracted when they do return—as they inevitably will—through the conceptual force-field of a political metaphysics of becoming. One thing that Manning argues is not involved from her perspective in ethical thought on the political level is the human/subjective face-to-face. She quotes Levinas’s troubled statement following the Sabra and Shatila massacre to the effect that there are some who are not eligible for the ethics of the face-to-face because they are simply “wrong.” This statement, so out of place with the tone of Levinas’s work in general, demonstrates that there is a limit to the ethics of the human face-to-face. There is a point at which it turns its back, reorienting toward a posture of moral judgment justifying exclusion. That limit is when the “other” is no longer greeted as other
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but looms as inhuman. Manning’s reformulation of the political question is designed to disable this limit in order to preserve a political ethics of engagement. Her process philosophy in fact recognizes no such limit, for the simple reason that the betweenness of human being as it conceives it is not itself human. It is more than human: human plus many- one singular-generic spacetimes of experience; human plus the eventful improvisation of new and emergent vitality affects; human plus contingencies belonging to any number of categories; human plus more than currently human potential, collectively individuating. The more than human of the political and the ethical is a constant concern throughout Always More Than One. It is here that Manning’s thought reaches its most far-reaching, original, and potentially controversial extension. The coda returns to the political and ethical question as it concerns speciation in a different connection. The context is one that might pass as more “natural” as regards the issue of the more than human of the more than one. The individuals between which the event of speciation passes are assignable as two different species in the traditional sense of the word (as categories of being defined by divergent sets of inherent properties). There is a bonobo and a human, in encounter. The danger of transcendental error is extreme here, precisely because the traditional logic would seem so logically called upon for service. Manning’s account of a singular event passing between a bonobo and a human moves the discussion of the more than human onto the kind of territory normally staked out by current discourses of the “nonhuman.” The very term “nonhuman,” which cannot but reverberate with categorical thinking, marks the difference in approach. Manning’s approach here makes much of the fact that the coming-together between the individuals in encounter is oddly triangulated by the question of what constitutes not a human or a bonobo but, surprisingly, a gorilla. The singular-generic field that enters into the constitution is already inhabited by the manyness of the more than one or two. The vitality affect that eventuates is not one-or-the-other of the two, but an unexpected thirdness of both-and bursting with gorilla-like determination. This is because oneand-the-other are not subsumable under their categorical species without remainder. The bonobo is not reducible to the figure of “the” bonobo. In the constitution of his life are factors that from the traditional logic would be considered mere contingencies: domestication, an apprenticeship with language. In Kanzi’s oneness is already a unique manyness. He is a variation on bonoboing. If you wanted to hold to the traditional logic, you would
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have to say he was a subspecies. But even this would not be enough to grasp “what” he is. He is utterly singular-generic: “a” life serially determined by events. As is the human, Dawn Prince, on the other side of the fence. Prince in this encounter is not “the” human. She also is “a” singular-generic life. It would be reductive and insulting to specify her categorically as a “subspecies” of human: “the” autistic. She is no more “the” autistic than she is “the” human. She is “this” autistic human, only and exactly “how” she comes to that encounter: a primatologist-autist whose seriation of “a” lifemaking events have given her a unique talent for cofactoring with apes. No general ideas about humans and animals and interspecies relations are adequate to grasp the richness and inventiveness of the speciation that transpires between them. Two lives come into encounter across the species barrier of the fence in a zoo, bringing into play the thirdness of a joint event of speciation: “a” life co- composing. Assessing the politics and ethics of such encounters from a processual perspective respectful of how both participants and their coming-together burst with life- determination requires a retooling of the concepts with which we think the “nonhuman” and the variation of the human, and these in the same event: a “more than human” logic of life-making events, immanent to their occurring. Significant portions of Always More Than One concern autism, following on from the final chapter of Relationscapes. To understand the role of the autistic, and the centrality of autism to the philosophy of the book, it is necessary once again to hold categorical judgment at bay. It must be borne in mind that in none of the sections in which it is a question of autism (chapters 1, 7, and 8 and interludes 4 and 5, in addition to the coda) is there a “the” autist. There is the autistic/writer, the autistic/drawer, the autistic/videographer, the autistic/neurodiversity activist, the autistic/facilitated communicator. These are not subspecies of “the” autist, any more than the autistic is a subspecies of “the” human. These are lives living on the “spectrum”: on a generic continuum of variation, ranges of which the conventional category carves out as pathological and in need of “curing.” These are lives determinedly living, each in its singularly variable way, on a generic continuum, including all of us. Manning insists on this: we are all on the autistic spectrum, including “neurotypicals” who do not carry the diagnosis. This is not an empty gesture of lazy solidarity. And it is in no way meant to deny the reality of autism or to disregard the very real challenges and often extreme conditions of social, familial, and health care system oppression many diagnosed auBrian MassuMi  xxi

tistics struggle with. What Manning attempts is to acknowledge the reality and the challenges without surrendering any ground to the pathologization entailed by the conventional category. What if autism were approached not in terms of pathology but from the angle of speciation? That is to say, from the mutually inclusive angle of the more than human in us all, in its continuing variation? From the angle of what cuts eventfully, variably across the barriers? From the angle of the emergent vitality affects, qualities of bursting-with-life- determination associated with different degrees on the spectrum, as well as improvised in encounters-between? Manning argues that there is a mode of perception that attends to the more-than of experience (as always in process philosophy, it’s all about modal distinction, as mentioned earlier). She describes “autistic perception” as a field perception directly apprehending the complex relational patterning of spacetimes of experience, in their teeming with contingencies, and in all their uniqueness: a direct perception of the transcendental field of becoming. The countervailing mode of perception “chunks” experience. It immediately divides it into subject- and object-oriented affordances readymade for the traditional either/or logic and its categorical judgments, primarily in this case of usefulness (form-and-function redux, ready for stenciling duty). We all chunk. We are all categorizers and users. Life’s conventional elements demand that of us. But we are all also transcendental-fielders. After all, a chunk is only a chunk against the contrasting background of the field as singular-generic spacetime of experience. Chunky ones come in serial iteration, against the many-more-than-one of a continuum of variation backgrounded by traditional logic and conventional use. We all chunk, and we all field, but to different degrees, in varying ways. Manning’s assertion is that the direct perception of the singular-generic, of relational spacetimes of experience, predominates over chunking in those who are pathologized as autistic, and this comes as a result of the very same factors that create the challenges and oppressions of their lives. These factors notably concern neurological variations that express themselves in difficulty activating movement in ways that are conventionally useful as based on pre- chunked affordances (basically, an involuntary deferral of stenciling). What Manning calls “autistic perception” is not an inherent property of a subclass of the human category. It is a mode of perception that is a necessary factor in all human experience, but is lived in different ways to different degrees. It is the field perception no one can live without, precisely
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because it brings the more than human into experience. The refrain of the more than human: human plus many-one singular-generic spacetimes of experience; human plus the eventful improvisation of new and emergent vitality affects; human plus contingencies belonging to any number of categories; human plus more than currently human potential. What could neurotypicals, we on the spectrum who pass unpathologized, learn from those who field before or more than they chunk? Wouldn’t our lives be enriched by upping the degree of fielding we consciously perceive? Can we learn to bring our experiential differences into creative play across the barriers and run with it? Manning is not interested in judging autism. She is not interested in curing it. She is not interested in charity toward it or pitying those who “have” it. She is interested in co- composing with it, collaboratively, toward the more-than- currently-human-potential that may arise from the encounter. While the neurodiversity movement fights for integration, Manning is suggesting that neurotypicals consider the complementary but inverse move of what might be called reverse integration: living-with, together in creative co- composition. Coming-together in such a way that the “properties” of “logically” mutually exclusive categories of being collude, across their differences and because of them, toward the improvisation of new vitality affects, new burstings with life, toward new speciations, new “a” life-living the one and the many in reciprocal presupposition. In each domain through which it passes, Always More Than One dedicates its writing to the wonder of the ever-varying manyness of all that comes as one, and always more. Everywhere it is a question of invention: relational techniques for performing events of co- composition qualifying as speciations. Everywhere, individuation in the fielding of singular-generic. As for the primacy of movement that it is necessary to posit for thinking individuation, the reader will be left to discover it on their own. How movement moves individuation, and in the process makes that ultimate chunk we call our body an event requiring a verb—bodying—will likewise be deferred. A final observation will suffice: this is unabashedly a philosophy of life. Not, of course, as a category mutually exclusive of nonlife. Rather, as a quality of bursting-with. Life- quality—vitality—affect. The vital affective refrain, repeated in all of Manning’s books, is from Nietzsche: “If this is life, then once more!” Or: if this is life, then more than one already!

Brian MassuMi  xxiii


Thinking-with is a practice difficult to cite. For it happens in the between of writing, at the thresholds where the work takes on new direction, breathes into consistency, falters. Where the writing thinks beyond where it has been able to think before. It is with this practice of collective thinking that a book begins to take form. Thank you to those who are often invisible in the writing but everywhere felt in the process. Andrew Murphie, for the ethos that is at the core of your practice—be it writing, or thinking, or organizing, or publishing. This project was moved by the force of thought you embody. Lone Bertelsen, for your work on wonder, a concept that, though not foregrounded here, is at the core of what I think life can do. For wonder is before the subject, beyond the form, in the interstices where life-living is at its most intensive and its most ineffable. Bill Connolly, for always bringing Nietzsche back and inviting his refrain—“Was that life? Well then! Once more!”—to frame the question of the political. Tom Lamarre, for your true infradisciplinarity, that insatiable curiosity that takes you far afield into other peoples’ thinking. Pia Ednie-Brown, for being of the middling, and for crafting from that environment of the more-than. Yours is an ethos of research- creation. Sher Doruff, for your inventive practice of diagrammatic thinking. And, in the spirit of diagramming, for always keeping the conversation going. William Forsythe, Elizabeth Waterhouse, and Christopher Roman, for

informing my work on movement, and for showing the world that philosophy and movement dance together. Catherine de Zegher, for intuitively knowing that curating is a kind of choreographic thinking. And for knowing that art’s intervention takes form in the field of relation. Ralph Savarese, for the writing, the talking, the jumping, the singing, all in the name of neurodiversity. And for honoring the voices of the poets. Mireille Painchaud, for a long-standing commitment to experimentation with relational movement. And for being my best friend. Steven Shaviro, for always taking the time for philosophy. Yours is truly a practice of thinking-with. Isabelle Stengers, for answering my muddled question, years ago, about Whitehead’s concept of the proposition. I have not stopped thinking about it since. The SenseLab—Nasrin Himada for pushing me harder on questions of violence and politics; Christoph Brunner for insatiably inventing techniques for research- creation; Leslie Plumb for living and designing the transversal; Mazi Javidiani for your quietly insistent curiosity, and that laugh; Bianca Scliar for always knowing how to activate things and keep them moving; Felix Rebolledo for taking on the task and making something of it; Andreia Oliveira for making the link between art and philosophy felt; Charlotte Farrell for enlivening, and for tending; Andrew Goodman for caring for relations in the making (and making sure we are fed); Jondi Keane for understanding the force of practice for thought in the crafting; Mike Hornblow for sustained experiments on how movement diagrams; Paul Gazzola for being a free radical; Jonas Fritsch for thinking between the lines and designing beyond the object; Sean Smith for always knowing how to make a game out of it; Philipa Rothfield for making movement the philosophical question; Derek McCormack for attending to how space moves; Jaime DelVal for always being willing to take risks; Nathaniel Stern for composing with the event; Luciana Parisi for being the most speculative thinker I know; Stamatia Portanova for taunting me with the idea that there is movement without a body; Anna Munster for not taking for granted that we know what a network can do; Thomas Jellis for having the intuition that labs are experiments in the making; Iain Kerr and Petia Morosov for the next collective experiment; Ronald Simon for giving me back my work from a new angle; Alanna Thain for the care you give to the relation; Toni Pape for the artistry

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you bring to all tasks; and Troy Rhoades for making the imperceptible perceptible (and for never being too old to play). Brian Massumi—you are everywhere here, cited and uncited, with my thinking and across it, between the words, as Amanda Baggs would say. To think in such a collective moreness is what this book is about. A project I could never have carried out without you, and without the thinking that becomes us.

acknowlEDgMEnts  xxvii


Toward a Leaky Sense of Self

In Esther Bick’s psychoanalytic theory, the infant’s relation to the world is mediated by the skin’s capacity to serve as a container for experience: “In its most primitive form, the parts of the personality are felt to have no binding force amongst themselves and must therefore be held together in a way that is experienced by them passively, by the skin functioning as a boundary” (1987, 114). Before there can be introjection or projection,1 Bick argues that the infant must become “able to hold himself together in his own ‘skin’ in the absence of the external holding object, without spilling out and falling to bits” (2002, 209). As the infant develops, containment increasingly expresses cohesion of self, as fostered by the continued interaction with the caretaker: “if the caregiver is meaningfully present, then the infant’s mind will likely be experienced as integrated—as bound and held together, while if the caregiver is meaningfully absent, then the infant’s mind will likely be experienced as unintegrated—as broken and falling to pieces” (Lafrance 2009, 7). Through an emphasis on particular forms of interaction—forms that specifically involve skin-to-skin touch2—an infant is given the receptacle necessary for eventual interactive self-sufficiency. With the skin closed by a sense of self- containment, the infant will not later risk the deterritorialization caused by leakage, a deterritorialization that, in true psychoanalytic form, will come with myriad symptoms associated with the necessity of creating “second skins.”3 What if the skin were not a container? What if the skin were not a limit at which self begins and ends? What if the skin were a porous, topological surfacing of myriad potential strata that field the relation between differ-

ent milieus, each of them a multiplicity of insides and outsides? Following psychoanalytic theory such as that posited by Bick, skin- as- container reinforces feelings of aliveness and existence,4 whereas the lack of containment fosters a state of incoherence associated with anxiety and annihilation. Without self-containment, “the infant fears that its self will dissolve and, ultimately, leak into a limitless space” (Lafrance 2009, 9). To posit skin-as- container as the starting point for the notion of interactive selfsufficiency is to begin with the idea that the well- contained human is one who can actively (and protectively) take part in self-self interactions. Selfself interactions depend on a strict boundary between inside and outside.5 They occur within the realm of clearly bounded selves, including the clear boundedness of objects. Interaction is understood here as the encounter between two self- contained entities (human-to-human or human-to- object). What if, instead of placing self-self interaction at the center of development, we were to posit relation as key to experience? Relation, understood here in a Jamesian sense,6 is a making apparent of a third space opened up for experience in the making. This third space (or interval) is active with the tendencies of interaction but is not limited to them.7 Relation folds experience into it such that what emerges is always more than the sum of its parts. Finally, what if neither skin nor self were the starting point for the complex interrelational matrix of being and worlding? Being and worlding depend on the activity of reaching-toward.8 Reaching-toward foregrounds the relationality inherent in experience, a kind of feeling-with the world.9 This tending-toward is a sensing-with that does not occur strictly at the level of the sensory-motor. It happens across strata, both actual and virtual.10 A looking becomes a touching, a feeling becomes a hearing. But not on the skin or in the body. Across strata, both concrete and abstract, that constitute an assemblage. This assemblage is a sensing body in movement, a body-world that is always tending, attending to the world. In equal measure, the world also tends toward the becoming-body. Bodyworlding is much more than containment, much more than envelope. It is a complex feeling-assemblage that is active between different co-constitutive milieus. It is individuation before it is self, a fielding of associated milieus that fold in, on, and through one another. For the associated milieu is never “between” constituted selves: the associated milieu is the resonant field of individuation, active always in concert with the becomings it engenders. Becoming-self is one of the ways in which this folding (body-worlding) expresses itself, but never toward a totalization of self—always toward con2 chaPtEr onE

tinued individuation.11 “To think individuation it is necessary to consider being not as substance, matter or form, but as a tensile oversaturated system beyond the level of unity” (Simondon 1995, 23). Self is a modality— a singularity on the plane of individuation—always on the way toward new foldings. These foldings bring into appearance not a fully constituted human, already- contained, but co- constitutive strata of matter, content, form, substance, and expression. The self is not contained. It is a fold of immanent expressibility. Daniel Stern’s account of infancy expresses this in psychological terms. For Stern, relation is always the first principle of worlding: “How we experience ourselves in relation to others provides a basic organizing perspective for all interpersonal events” (1985, 6). Stern’s argument makes relation primary, constituting the relational as the very core through which any kind of sense of self is constituted. While Bick’s and later Ogden’s psychoanalytic theories make interaction a necessity, their matrix is not relational: it always presupposes a constituted, bounded self and other (or self and self ). Stern, on the other hand, treats the relation as the node of creative interpersonal potential, shifting, I would argue, from a self-self model of interaction (where the relation is posited as passive between active subjects) toward a radically empirical notion of immanent relationality where relation is considered as “real” as the terms in the relation. Stern begins in the preverbal realm, suggesting that “several senses of the self do exist long prior to self-awareness and language” (1985, 6). With the assertion that there are “several senses of self,” Stern emphasizes that tendencies outlined in early infancy do not build toward a contained view of self, but rather lead toward the creation of a multiplicity of strata, each of them differently expressive under variable conditions.12 For Stern, a core sense of self involves a non-self-reflexive awareness (1985, 6). Preverbal awareness is linked by Stern to direct experience. Direct experience is of the order of the event. Similar to William James’s concept of “pure experience,” defined as the virtual (nonconscious) edge to all lived experience, direct experience is a form of immanent fielding (Stern calls this organization) through which events become experienced as such. Direct experience takes place not in the subject or in the object, but in the relation itself.13 The associated milieu is active with tendencies, tunings, incipient agitations, each of which are felt before they are known as such, contributing to a sense of the how of the event in its unfolding. According to Stern, events in early infancy lead toward the creation of modes of orgatowarD a lEaky sEnsE of sElf  3

nization. These modes of organization do not preexist experience—they are immanent to it. Through the fielding of relations (in the associated milieu of organization), the infant develops. Contrary to psychoanalytic theory, development for Stern does not come in discrete stages: “development occurs in leaps and bounds; qualitative shifts may be one of its most obvious features” (1985, 8). Quantum leaps of development occur in a fractal mode of relation where events build on events, each of them affecting at once the infant and the environment, altering what Stern calls the “social feel” of the infant. In a direct critique of a system that would seek to contain experience and development, Stern writes: “I question the entire notion of phases of development devoted to specific clinical issues such as orality, attachment, autonomy, independence, and trust. . . . The quantum shifts in the social ‘presence’ and ‘feel’ of the infant can . . . no longer be attributed to the departure from one specific developmental task-phase and the entrance into the next” (1985, 10). New senses of self are key to Stern’s model of development. Unlike the idea that the self rests in a containment of skin, Stern proposes that selves build onto and through one another in intimate relation with a changing environment. These senses of self are defined as the emergent, core, subjective, and verbal selves, none of which is strictly successive. Stern’s senses of self are less bounded phases than fractal phase-spaces composed of interweaving strata. “Once formed, each sense of self remains fully functioning and active throughout life. All continue to grow and coexist” (Stern 1985, 22). No stratum is ever completely disarticulated from another in the creation of emergent senses of self. Rather, strata veer through and across one another in the associated milieu’s intensive fielding. As the infant ages and becomes verbal, for instance, their sense of being a coherent, willful, physical entity—foregrounding strata phasing toward organization—may intermesh with the frustration of not being able to express the feeling-vector of intensity that remains a key aspect of the tending toward coherence—foregrounding the strata phasing toward the virtual or immanence. Every becoming is tinted with this double articulation. There is no stable pre- and postverbal state. There is no stable identity that emerges once and for all. Becoming-human is expressed singularly and repeatedly in the multiphasing passage from the feeling of content to the content of feeling, a shift from the force of divergent flows to a systematic integration. This is not a containment toward a stable self. It is a momentary cohesiveness, a sense of self that always remains colored by the interweav4 chaPtEr onE

ing of forces that both direct and destabilize the “self ’s” proto-unification into an “I.” With all apparent cohesiveness there remains the effect of the ineffable that acts like a shadow on all dreams of containment. For double articulation reminds us that singular points of identification always remain mired within the complex forces of their prearticulation, prearticulation not strictly as the before of articulation, but the withness of the unutterable, the ineffable—the quasi-inexpressible share of expressibility—within language. There is no self that is not also emergent, preverbal, affectively oriented toward individuation. Affect is central to Stern’s analysis of how senses of self develop. Seeking to move beyond the limiting realm of the sensory-motor schema, which proposes direct linkages between organs and objects, Stern develops the idea of “vitality affects.” More than any other aspect of his work on preverbal senses of self and emergent individuations, it is the concept of “vitality affect” that undoes the notion of self as containment. Affect in this context can be understood as the preacceleration of experience as it acts on the becoming-body. Preacceleration refers to what has not yet been constituted but has an effect on actualization.14 In the context of a movement, it is the virtual experience of a welling into movement that precedes the actual displacement. Affect moves, constituting the event that, in many cases, becomes-body. Vitality affects are a range of affect “elicited by changes in motivational states, appetites, and tensions” (Stern 1985, 54). To understand vitality affects and the role they play in emergent infant processes, Stern’s concept of amodality is key. In a departure from the idea of sense-presentation— where a sense is located on the skin, associated directly to touch, for instance—Stern foregrounds the research that shows that newborns operate by cross-modal transfer. Cross-modal transfer—the feeling of touch that occurs in the seeing, for example—happens without a discrete learning curve. “No learning is needed initially, and subsequent learning about relations across modalities can be built upon this innate base” (Stern 1985, 48). Cross-modal correspondence, and, even more so, amodality (the idea that perception does not locate itself in a sense modality but courses between in rhythms that build correspondences rather than rely on already-occurring sites for sensation), Stern argues, transcends the sense “channel.” This causes a shift toward a supra-modal in-betweenness where sense- events take form that are neither directly associated to an organ nor to an object. Amodality foregrounds not the sense itself but its relational potential. “It is
towarD a lEaky sEnsE of sElf  5

not, then, a simple issue of a direct translation across modalities. Rather, it involves an encoding into a still mysterious amodal representation, which can then be recognized in any of the sensory modes” (Stern 1985, 51). Amodality makes apparent that the infant functions comfortably in the abstract concreteness of the radically empirical: the relation. The infant is not a passive slate (or a proto- container) into or onto which the world can be written. The infant is itself an emergent experience (an experiment in emergence), an individuation of interweaving strata active in the creation of ontogenetic worldings. These worldings are affective. They meet the infant halfway, transforming, at each level of the coconstitutive strata of experience, being and worlding as they come together. This coming-together is not based on cognitive confirmation. It is preconscious, situated in a pure experience of proto-awareness. It is an immanent becoming-present of experience in experience, the feeling of a “déjà-vu” in a nowness without, as yet, a past or a future. In preconscious pure experience of ontogenetic worlding, we have not yet succumbed to the promise of linear time, living instead in the active topology of spacetimes of experience that many adults spend their lifetimes resisting. At the heart of these experiential topologies is vitality affect. Affect can be thought of as supra-modal. It operates across registers: “an affect experience is not bound to any one modality of perception” (Stern 1985, 53). Preconscious, affects alter the force of the event, shaping it beyond its actual constitution. Affects exceed the realm of the modal, tending toward the edge of experience where amodality takes shape. Think of vitality affect as a species of affect, an affective tuning that operates as a kind of virtual event across myriad actualizations, creating dephasings in experience. If, for Stern’s core sense of self, the organizational stratum is the dominant mode toward which direct experience unfolds, vitality affect can be understood as a co- constitutive qualitative infrastratum that provides a tending-toward immanent feeling in the constitution of the event. Organization is therefore always also experiential and affective—a fielding of relations. According to Suzanne Langer, this quality of life-living accompanies us through “all the vital processes of life, such as breathing, getting hungry . . . , eliminating, falling asleep . . . , or feeling the coming and going of emotions and thoughts” (qtd. in Stern 1985, 54). We are never without the presence of vitality affects. The associated milieu where the force of lifeliving agitates is first of all a fielding of affective incipiencies. From its birth, the infant is immersed in feelings of vitality that trans6 chaPtEr onE

duce into vitality affects (Stern 1985, 54). These feelings double-articulate the relation between content and expression. They make palpable that content and expression are two aspects of the same stratum, “expression having just as much substance as content and content just as much form as expression” (Deleuze and Guattari 1987, 44). Vitality affects express, shading into and out from content. Experience is, from the beginning, infested with this double articulation. Vitality affects are infinitely multiplicitous. They cannot be pinned down or associated with any finality to the content of an act. Stern speaks of “a thousand smiles, a thousand getting- out-ofchairs, a thousand variations of performance of any and all behaviors . . . each one present[ing] a different vitality affect” (1985, 56). Vitality affects function in the associated milieu of relation: they merge with experience’s tendings-toward feeling and emerge as the feeling of the event. Stern writes: “The social world experienced by the infant is primarily one of vitality affects before it is a world of formal acts” (1985, 57). Vitality affects color immanent events. Not yet experienced as such, immanent events are the nexus through which experience begins to form. Stern’s core sense of self is based on how these experiences veer the becoming-self toward new forms of relation. These new forms of relation in turn feed the process through which the infant becomes differentiated. Difference does not occur through the stratification of self and other or inside and outside. Difference emboldens processual shiftings between strata that foreground and background modes of experience, each of them affected by incipient reachings-toward, a reaching-toward not of the subject, but of experience itself. Senses of coherence emerge that unfold as feelings of warmth, intensity, texture, anguish. Coherence in the realm of the constitutive event. The event, fed by vitality affects, prompted by amodal relays, and rerouted by senses of coherence (affective tonalities dephasing), takes the form not of discrete “things seen, heard or touched” but of “qualities of shape, number, intensity level” (Stern 1985, 57). Preconscious experience is pure and direct in the sense that it fields virtual events at the cusp of their becoming-actual. In this entwinement with the qualitative, a living of feeling creates a taking-form of expression. This taking-form of expression is the dynamic of becoming-selves. For Stern affective attunement is key to interpersonal becoming. Affective attunement is another mode of immanent relation where the relation radically precedes the purported unity of the self. Attunement is a mergingwith of vitality affects across experiences toward emergent events. Not a
towarD a lEaky sEnsE of sElf  7

feeling- of but a feeling-with. In affective attunement, a relational merging occurs that creates a dephasing of vitality affects around new affective contours. This dephasing is as much a shift in process as a shift in level. It activates what Simondon calls a transduction, a redistribution of processes in the making. This experience is not reducible to the poles of the event, mother and child. It happens in their interval and is co- constitutive of a becoming that always exceeds their “selves.” In early infancy, Stern argues, “interpersonal relatedness does not yet exist as distinct from relatedness to things” (1985, 63). An infant is not poised to respond to a human more than she is to respond to the quality and texture of light or to the touch of sound. This does not mean that the infant is necessarily on the autistic continuum, as suggested—pejoratively— by Ogden.15 In the early period of a child’s life, relational potential is at its most extreme. This hyperrelationality has not yet found the means to subtract singularities from the virtual web of the associated milieu, a subtraction that will later allow a foregrounding of discrete events to be separated out from the complex relational bombardment of their backgrounds. For the infant, experience is always first a qualitative merging of edge and contour, intensity and affect. “The infant is asocial, but by virtue of being indiscriminate, not by virtue of being unresponsive, as suggested by psychoanalytic formulations of a stimulus barrier that protects the infant for the first few months of life” (Stern 1985, 63). This asociality is not against the social. It is a suprasociality, a relationality activated at the very interval of relation itself, not yet having landed on individualization. This is relationality at its most intensive, an opening to the complex fielding of multiplicity as yet undifferentiated. To posit this quality of relationality as “autistic” is both to radically misrepresent suprasociality (by negating its relational force) and to simplify autism (by assuming that autism and the asocial are one and the same). Understanding how this suprasociality works will allow us to better understand the relationship between vitality affects, affective tonality, and affective attunement. This will in turn lead to a better understanding of autism. Intensive relationality—a lived experience of affective attunement at its preconscious limit—gets backgrounded in most adults. This results in a more limited capacity to feel the force of preacceleration, to hear and engage with the betweenness of prearticulation, with the more-than of experience in the making. As this book will seek to demonstrate, autistics,
8 chaPtEr onE

on the other hand, do not lose this quality. In her video In My Language,16 Amanda Baggs (2007) emphasizes this fundamental difference. In this twopart video Baggs first creates a sounding-sensing environment by moving through space while activating and being-activated by the welling environmentality of the milieu. She moves slowly and carefully, touching, smelling, sounding the environment. Then, in part two, she challenges the notion that by “translating” this experience into spoken language she will make it more “complex” or more “real.” Through the juxtaposition of two ways of engaging the environment, Baggs foregrounds the inadequacy of concepts that apply hierarchical dichotomies to experience (like language versus sensation, cognition versus the preconscious). In My Language does not reject language outright. What it does is use first movement and sensation and then language to inquire into our tendency to place language as the determinant of experience. Why would we assume that language can touch every aspect of experience, and why are other ways of sensing or expressing the environment sidelined? Through an intense dance of the environment in its co- composing of a body, the video shows the emergence of an associated milieu that cannot solely be addressed in verbal language. The milieu is hyperrelational, every act calling forth a dephasing, a transduction, a welling of an environmentality that constitutively challenges the oneness of the self separated from the milieu of interaction, its skin intact. Her hands moving through running water, Baggs (2007) explains: “It is about being in a conversation with every aspect of my environment, reacting physically to all parts of my surroundings.” There is no standard interaction or containment here, no privileging of the word over the activity, no sense of subject and object, body and milieu, or self and self. It is not, as Baggs (2007) emphasizes, about symbolizing experience: “In this part of the video the water doesn’t symbolize anything. I am just interacting with the water as the water interacts with me.” In My Language is about foregrounding the rich field of relation activated through multiple interweaving strata in a continuous double articulation of content and expression. In much of the literature, autism is associated with a developmental incapacity to create meaningful (empathetic) relations.17 In My Language counters this claim with a strong political statement. Too often, Baggs says, personhood is directly associated to verbal interaction, which is then posited as relationality. Proposing a different model entirely, backed by an ethics of difference, Baggs’s video forecasts a milieu of the most intense relationality,
towarD a lEaky sEnsE of sElf  9

one of sound and light, smell and touch, active not simply for the human but in a withness of body-worlding that challenges the very notion that the human is at the center of (relational) experience. Baggs moves through the environment and it moves through her, feeling-with its forms and forces, expressing it as it expresses her. With and without language,18 Baggs is at pains to demonstrate that relation is the how of the world’s co- emergence. There is nothing but relation. It is precisely this intensive relationality, the video suggests, that often makes it difficult for autistics to interact with others. For autistics do not as easily subtract containment from the experience of relation. They do not tend to first and foremost abstract themselves—their “self ”—from the emergent environment. This is precisely a neurotypical tendency, as proponents of neurodiversity would say.19 When containment is no longer the endpoint (and the starting point) of experience, subtraction from the hyperrelation of synesthetic and crossmodal experience lags behind. The unified verbal self is no longer the first to emerge. Baggs (2007) explains, citing a social context where she would be assumed to be “nonrelational”: “I mean that when I am around a group of people, their voices may turn into the sound of water, their movements may all sort of blend together, but in their movements I see patterns not only of individuals but of the people interacting within a group, and the individual’s place within the group, and their effect on the group and the group’s effect on them, and on each other. I see this particularly well when not trying to understand what they’re saying to each other.”20 The complexity of vitality affects and how they create fields of intensity is apparent in Baggs’s statement about the challenge of facing social environments. As she makes clear, it is not that she “withdraws” or that she can’t engage. It is that the feeling of the event—its vitality affect—takes over to such a degree that she cannot extricate a “contained self ” for interaction from the event’s dynamic emergence. Amanda Baggs directly experiences the event’s vitality, the force of its taking-form. This experience shapes her bodying, calling forth a field of relation through which she emerges as a multiplicity rather than a static, interactive self. To interact in a selfcontained verbal way would involve parsing this multiple taking-form into a single activity of form-taking. For Baggs, it would mean parsing one very minute aspect of actual experience from the wider and richer realm of pure experience. Infants bathe in pure experience. This state of quasi- consciousness is of the edge, not the center. It is only of the skin if the skin is considered in
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its topological foldings with and through the associated milieu that is the world’s becoming. Pure experience is a relational, amodal state. It reachestoward experience in the making. In this state, worlding is perceived directly. Qualities are foregrounded, and through the double articulation of content and expression, individuating senses of self begin to emerge. Feeling-vectors predominate, not cognitions, actions, or perceptions as such. These feelings are co- constitutive of being and worlding, invested, always, in the milieu and its associations, never deliberately linear or causal. “The elements that make up these emergent organizations are simply different subjective units from those of adults who, most of the time, believe that they subjectively experience units such as thoughts, perceptions, actions, and so on, because they must translate experience into these terms in order to encode it verbally” (Stern 1985, 67). The infant-world relation affectively tunes to the force-field of events informing. Affective attunement is a preconscious tuning-with that sparks a new set of relations that in turn affect how singular events express themselves in the time of the event. Subtle and ongoing, affective attunements “give much of the impression of the quality of the relationship” (Stern 1985, 141). Affective attunement makes felt the activation contours of experience, the intensity, as Suzanne Langer would say, of virtual feeling.21 This links affective attunement to affective tonality rather than either to empathy or to the matching of behavior. Stern defines this as a matching of feeling. If feeling is not secondary to experience but is the very activity of relation that makes up experience, affective attunement need not be solely located on a human scale. If conceived beyond human interaction, affective attunement might well describe the relational environment co- created by movement and sound in Amanda Baggs’s video In My Language. Affective attunement: an open field of differentiation out of which a singularity of feeling emerges and merges. A tuning not of content but of expression-with. Singularities such as emergent selves are co- constituted in a field of experience. They reach-toward in a worlding that becomes them. This worlding is intensified by vitality affects that themselves tune to the world, calling forth landing sites.22 These landing sites are less a specific node of spacetime than the conditions for the propelling of the event’s actualization. In Baggs’s In My Language, we feel the emergent landing sites every time a contour begins to sound, taking-form in the event of its expressibility. A threepart scene makes this felt. The scene begins with Baggs facing the window, her back to us. A tonal sounding accompanies the movement of her hands
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fluttering at her sides as she rocks back and forth. We are lulled by the movement, which then shifts quite seamlessly to the movement of a metal implement scraping against a surface. This scraping continues to move with the rhythm of the tonal singing, adding to it, but on another plane of experience. Now, we see only the hand, the implement and its shadow on the wall: a tonal rhythm in scraping movement. Then, another shift, this time to fingers moving along a computer keyboard, creating a softer, plushier sound, aligned, still, with the sound of the voice. There is no cut here: the video continues this way. This three-part transition makes felt how the landing occurs. It’s not that these are discrete sites—they are continuities in the sounding through which certain qualities of shift of resonance are foregrounded. Each contour stands out for itself as a remarkable point precisely because of the movement carrying-across. These remarkable points are landings, but landings only in the sense that they activate the force of transition that is the carrying-across. Landing sites are force-fields tending toward relational form. Through the eventness of force taking form, landings site the environment bodying such that it coalesces into a singularity to which we can attach content. This becoming-event of worlding or landing is first and foremost a feeling, a way of relating, a mode of engagement. Subtracted into an actual occasion, the event folds the infinity of potential landings into a singular iteration, an iteration poised, always, to individuate again, under different and new conditions. Individuation happens at the surface, not of the skin, but through a surfacing multiplicity, “a smooth, amorphous space . . . constituted by an accumulation of proximities, . . . each accumulation [defining] a zone of indiscernability proper to ‘becoming’ (more than a line and less than a surface; less than a volume and more than a surface)” (Deleuze and Guattari 1987, 488). When the skin becomes not a container but a multidimensioned topological surface that folds in, through, and across spacetimes of experience, what emerges is not a self but the dynamic form of a worlding that refuses categorization. Beyond the human, beyond the sense of touch or vision, beyond the object, what emerges is relation.

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One. Toward a Leaky Sense of Self
1 As Marc Lafrance points out, Bick is critical in this instance of Melanie Klein’s suggestion that all infants are capable of introjection and projection. In the psychoanalytic literature, these are considered to be defense mechanisms. Introjection refers “to an unconscious process of incorporating the attitudes or attributes of an absent person—such as a father or a mother—into the self. Through this process of incorporation, the self is able to feel closer to he or she who is absent and, as a result, its anxiety is arrested. . . . Projection refers to an unconscious process of expelling the self ’s undesirable thoughts and feelings into someone else. Through the process of expulsion, the self is able to get rid of that which it cannot bear about itself and, as a result, its anxiety is allayed” (Lafrance 2009, 20n5). A more nuanced reading of psychoanalysis, and especially object relations, could have been done in this chapter to more clearly differentiate Bick’s position from that of Klein and to explore variants that are less dogmatic about the skin-as-envelope (see, for instance, Ettinger 1999). My point, however, is less to critique psychoanalysis than to propose a different perspective on the body and on affective processes. 2 Lafrance writes, “According to Bick, the infant’s sense of being held together by the skin does not occur automatically. This sense must be achieved, and it can only be achieved if the infant’s body is stimulated in a way that gives rise to an enduring experience of epidermal envelopment. If all goes well and the infant is provided with regular and reliable experiences of skin-to-skin contact with its caregiver, then it will over time be able to internalize—or, as Kleinians like Bick put it, introject—the experience of the skin as a container” (2009, 8). 3 Bick describes second skins as formations “through which dependence on the



6 7

8 9

10 11


[containing] object is replaced by a pseudo-independence, by the inappropriate use of certain mental functions, or perhaps innate talents, for the purpose of creating a substitute for this skin container function” (1987, 115). Throughout, “feeling” is used in the Whiteheadian sense and is allied to affect (and affective tonality) more than to emotion. For Whitehead, feeling is never a secondary experience. The world is made of feeling. This will be discussed more thoroughly in chapter 2. Lafrance writes: “For Esther Bick, the experience of the skin as a binding and limiting membrane must be achieved, and that this achievement is vitally enabled by contact with the binding and limiting membrane of a caregiver. Once this experience has been achieved, the infant will gradually begin to make sense of itself as a being with insides and outsides and, as a result, will gradually begin to introject and project” (2009, 8). Lafrance further explains that this differentiation between inside and outside “must be learned through embodied engagements with a caregiving other,” providing the psychoanalytic example of the child’s relation with the nipple: “The concept of a space inside that holds the parts that make up his “self ” is developed through sensing the mouth, a hole in the boundary of the skin, being closed with the arrival of the nipple. This space inside is thus felt as one into which the object can be introjected” (Lafrance qtd. in Briggs 2002, 10). See James 1996. The concept of relation as used throughout this book is developed in more detail in Relationscapes (Manning 2009). In Relationscapes, I suggest that the interval is the metastable quality through which the relation is felt. For a more detailed exploration of the interval in relation to movement, see “Incipient Action: The Dance of the Not-Yet” in Relationscapes (Manning 2009). For a development of the concept of reaching-toward in relation to a politics of touch, see Politics of Touch (Manning 2007). In Politics of Touch (Manning 2007) I argue that sensing is always imbricated in the activity of reaching-toward, an activity that is never restrained to a single body or self, but that takes place in a complex relational field of its own making. The virtual here is not opposed to the real. It is always an integral aspect of the actual, if inexpressible and inexperiencable as such. Simondon writes: “We would like to show that the principle of individuation is not an isolated reality turned in on itself, preexisting the individual as an already individualized germ of the individual. The principle of individuation, in the strict sense of the term, is the complete system in which the genesis of the individual takes effect. And that, in addition, this system prolongs itself in the living individual, in the form of an associated milieu of the individual, in which individuation continues to evolve; that life is thus a perpetual individuation, a continuing individuation across time that prolongs a singularity” (1995, 63). Psychoanalytic theory’s desire to limit behavior to distinct phases suggests, as

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Stern notes, that processes are not explored ontogenetically (at the level of their emergence) but ontologically (in their matrix of being or having become). Stern asks: “what about the process itself—the very experience of making the leaps and creating relations or consolidating sensorimotor schemas. Can the infant experience not only the sense of an organization already formed and grasped, but the coming-into-being of organization?” (1985, 45). Stern’s criticism of psychoanalytic theory is that it does not tend to explore the processual complexities of development/emergence as a fractal phase-space that contains interweaving strata. “The traditional notions of clinical theorists have taken the observer’s knowledge of infants—that is, relative undifferentiation compared with the differentiated view of older children—reified it, and given it back, or attributed it, to infants as their own dominant subjective sense of things” (1985, 46). Following the philosophical lineage of thinkers such as Alfred North Whitehead, Gilles Deleuze, and Félix Guattari, an actual occasion or event is conceived throughout as that through which experience coalesces into actuality. I take the liberty to align event and occasion despite the fact that some readings of Whitehead see the occasion rather as a micro-event. In my reading of Whitehead, occasions are not classified according to scale. An occasion is always an event in its own right. This usage conforms to Whitehead’s own in Science and the Modern World (1925) and Modes of Thought (1938). See also Deleuze 1992; Massumi 2011b. I define preacceleration as the felt experience of the not-yet in the moving, particularly noticeable in the beginning of a displacement. For a more detailed reading of the concept, see “Incipient Action: The Dance of the Not-Yet” in Manning 2009. Ogden makes the assumption here that autism is directly associated with a lack of empathy. This notion that autistics cannot establish relations is allied to the concept of mindblindness (Baron-Cohen 1995), a view that I believe is completely unwarranted. I discuss this in detail in chapter 7. Suffice it to say for now that this view presupposes that autism involves the impossibility of sensing the acuteness of the world in its activity, human and nonhuman, a view that has been challenged by many autistics and writers on autism. In discussing his autistic son, for instance, Ralph Savarese talks of DJ being a “seismograph” who feels every aspect of his environment so fully that it deeply affects how he interacts in the world. See Savarese 2007 and Ogden 1989. To view Amanda Baggs’s video, In My Language, visit watch?v=JnylM1hI2jc. See, for instance, Baron-Cohen 1995; Baron-Cohen and Wheelwright 2004; Charman et al., Simon Baron-Cohen, John Swettenham, Anthony Cox, Gillian Baird, Auriol Drew “Infants with Autism: An Investigation of Empathy, Pretend Play, Joint Attention and Imitation” in Developmental Psychology 33, no. 5 (1997): 781–89. For a more complex reading of empathy in relation to autism, see R. J. Blair, “Responding to the Emotions of Others: Dissociating Forms of EmpanotEs to chaPtEr onE  225

thy through the Study of Typical and Psychiatric Populations,” at http://www18 psych/9_ToM/BlairEmpathy.pdf. In this piece, Blair differentiates between different kinds of empathy, making the point that “motor empathy is likely to be impaired in autism” (9) and questioning the claim that “there is any evidence of impairment for emotional empathy” (10). By motor emphathy, Blair is directing his attention to the fact that many autistics are not capable of using their voices or bodies in a way that clearly demonstrates what they are feeling. Sue Rubin, for instance, talks about how her echolalia often gets in the way of what she really means to say. The example she gives is of a visitor ringing her doorbell and her greeting the visitor with an emphatic “go away” when she is actually happy to see them. She speaks of feeling taken over by the echolalia. Within the autistic spectrum I am calling “classical” here, there also tends to be a lot of difficulty with activation (making a decision about an action and immediately following through with it). I have written more extensively about motor activation issues in the context of a Parkinsons-like condition called Encephalitis Lethargica in a chapter entitled “Touch as Technique” in Relationscapes (Manning 2009). Motor activation issues make it difficult to operate on a neurotypical time-line. Anticipated sequences of events such as extending the arm to reach for a pencil or a keyboard to communicate are often severely impeded, which can give the neurotypical the impression that the autistic does not want to respond, with the undesired effect that he or she will either ignore them or speak for them. “Freezing” also happens regularly for some autistics, making it difficult for them to reactivate themselves without assistance. All of these issues can also have important social consequences. Tito Mukhopadhyay (n.d.) explains: “There is the social pressure of performing those social gestures—like organizing the muscles of the face and beam out a social smile of acknowledgment to a face that is waiting with expectation, ready to get hurt or disappointed when the smile fails to happen. It does fail to happen with my face under that pressure. This ‘not being able to smile socially’ is not a universal fact. For I do not represent the whole Autism community. I have seen many people with Autism smile impartially at friends and strangers, happy faces and sad faces. But I don’t because I can’t.” Activation issues surrounding motor impairment are often the reason classical autistics are assumed to be unintelligent or “low-functioning.” This is of course completely false. 18 In a weblog-based dispute with well-known “high-functioning” autistic Temple Grandin, Amanda Baggs takes umbrage at Grandin’s categorical separation of so- called low-functioning autistics from high-functioning autistics. Grandin writes: “I would think in an ideal world, you don’t want to have people who can’t talk, but on the other hand, you definitely don’t want to get rid of all of the autism genetics because if you did that, there’d be no scientists. After all, who do you think made the first stone spear back in the caves? It wasn’t the really social

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people. . . . A little bit of the autism trait provides advantages but too much creates a low-functioning individual who cannot live independently. The paradox is that milder forms of autism and Asperger’s are part of human diversity but severe autism is a great disability. There is no black-and-white dividing line between an eccentric brilliant scientist and Asperger’s. . . . In an ideal world the scientist should find a method to prevent the most severe forms of autism but allow the milder forms to survive.” See this interview at asperger.html?name=News&file=article&sid=295. Amanda Baggs responds: “Note that I think the division between low-functioning and high-functioning is completely artificial. I do not regard myself as either one because I do not think it is possible to divide up autism that way. I do not think there is a straight continuum from Asperger’s to ‘full-blown autistic.’ I think that there are too many aspects of autism, that can be different in each person, for it to be possible to just draw a neat line as if autism is one trait that varies in ‘severity.’ I say this because sometimes people get the impression that I consider myself lowfunctioning. I don’t. I don’t consider myself high-functioning either” (see the post “Temple Grandin, displaying near-textbook ‘hfa/as elitism,’” at http:// Note also Melanie Yergeau’s comment on the category: “If one can speak but can’t work, can cook but can’t drive, can read existential philosophy but can’t add single digits, can hug on demand but can’t stop a head-banging binge, can mimic small-talk but can’t modulate the volume of her voice, can pass in short bursts but can’t refrain from hand-flapping, is she high-functioning?” (2010). For stimulating and incisive reading on neurodiversity, disability politics, and writing, see Melanie Yergeau (2009, 2010; Yergeau and Duffy 2011). In her 2010 essay titled “Circle Wars: Reshaping the Typical Autism Essay,” she writes, “Of course, this is what the typical autism essay leads us to believe: the genre—and the authors who have painstakingly constructed this genre, a genre that is rife with painful history—has constructed autism just as neurological difference— which it is—yet fails to account for the social construction of neurological difference—which it also is—instead lumping the difference circle with that of deviance” (Yergeau 2010). See Amanda Baggs’s post from November 20, 2010, titled “Doing Things Differently,” See Langer 1977. For a more detailed exploration of landing sites, see Arakawa and Gins 2002.

interlude: When Movement Dances
The epigraph for this interlude is from Gil 2001.

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Erin Manning is a University Research Chair
in the Faculty of Fine Arts at Concordia University in Montreal. She is director of the SenseLab and author of several books, including Relationscapes (2009) and Politics of Touch (2007).

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Manning, Erin. Always more than one : individuation’s dance / Erin Manning ; prelude by Brian Massumi. p. cm. Includes bibliographical references and index. isBn 978- 0- 8223-5333-1 (cloth : alk. paper) isBn 978- 0- 8223-5334- 8 (pbk. : alk. paper) 1. Individuation (Psychology)—Social aspects. 2. Group identity. 3. Individuality. 4. Movement (Philosophy). I. Title. Bf175.5.i53M36 2012 128—dc23 2012011643

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