#5: Human, idea, immanence, intensive space, drive

“But an animal does not feign feigning.” – Jacques Lacan, Écrits_ 

The human is what emerges when an ensemble randomly generates an idea. An idea is a thing noteworthy only because the idea-thing is not already a thing; it is a lie, a thing supposed into existence precisely because it does not exist, a becoming. An existing ensemble falsely priding itself into a new existence by the false implication that there is some-thing outside of existing. A human emerges when existing things successfully bring into existence a thing that does not physically exist (namely, the “physical world”) by generating another thing that so obviously doesn’t exist (the idea), that by comparison the first thing seems to truly, physically exist. In other words, the human is the animal that produces a plain of immanence as a space of limitless action, an eternal smorgasboard, an all-you-can-eat buffet of nothing, an infinite reservoir of natural gas.

A plain of immanence is the ground of intensive space. In other words, for most intents and purposes, it is the ground of the symbolic dimension, the non-spatial space in which thought takes place and signification is possible. It is not essential to know the answer to such inane questions as when exactly this space opens up or whether dolphins are philosophers no less than humans. It doesn’t matter. It is only for lack of courage,  independence, and material incentives that at this point such complexities would lead many bourgeois political theorists to hesitate and perhaps even abandon ship. The truth is there is no need to be concerned about the thousands of minor curio we could raise about the when and who or even the exact what concerning the precise emergence of conceptual space. All we need to affirm is that it exists, it’s been produced as a thing, an intensive thing that in turn produces other things, and that these things have a nature we are capable of describing and modeling.

The plane of immanence is that ground from which symbols and concepts are spun through intensity rather than extension. Intensive things by their nature have no physical existence: dreams, memories, thoughts, feelings, emotions, all intensive things, which are no less real things for lacking physical existence. Most people incorrectly imagine intensive space to be inside of their heads, but this is obviously wrong. Precisely, intensive space is the negative space of things. Because all things are only variably stable loops of energy, the very nature of things implies or produces a thing other than the thing-in-itself. Although intensive space has no physical existence, it can be mapped. Indeed, the emergence of a plain of immanence in the negative space of the physical thing is the condition for the possibility of mapping. Thus, the best way to think about the plane of immanence is to think of the surfaces associated with artists and intellectuals: paper, canvas, marble, etc. All of these things, in the way that artists and intellectuals employ them, begin as physical things with absolutely zero inherent “meaning” until a human picks them up and uses them to model or map things that then come into a real being no less real on account of its intensiveness.

The plain of immanence is to intensive space what the Earth is to the human bodies living on it: that which permits the possibility of jumping or ascending. Perhaps the best illustration of the plane of immanence is a blank sheet of paper, pressed, flat, physical matter that offers itself to the eye and on which ink can produce something rather than simply spill its own matter. Ink spills on the paper (extensive thing) and it writes on the plane of immanence (ground for the production of intensive things). Although, it should be noted that the plane of immanence is no more an intensive thing than energy itself is a physical thing: both are only theoretical concepts (mapped intensive things) physically made on physical things (symbols, diagrams on paper, etc) as the production of intensive things. The sheet of paper is only a model of the plane of immanence, while the writing as production of intensive things exists only in the intensity of the negative space of physical words, sentences, diagrams,etc.

The human is simply the name of the thing that, when a plane of immanence is randomly generated, dwells inside of it; it is that which literally exists within the negative space of things. The human is its body without organs, the animal that seeks shelter in a cave by becoming an animal that seeks shelter in a cave. 

Our philosophical anthropology therefore stumbles like an idiot into one of the only compelling explanation of early cave paintings systematically integrated into a theory of human nature. The animal who draws a buffalo on the inside of a cave is simply doing what they are doing. Artistic genius converges with the sheer uselessness of tautology. In instinct, an unmapped intensity, the animal simply finds shelter or dies. Some find it and live, some fail to find it and die. In the drive, the human version of the instinct, the animal seeks a thing for doing some other thing. That is, it maps the negative space of things (the “meaning” of falling snow, which is that it threatens). It lives if it performs a certain “naturally selected” map of things (walks the line from outside the cave to inside the cave because snow is drawing threatening lines to the ground, and dies if it performs a naturally inopportune map of things (draws a line from itself off a cliff, say). Thus, the human is not so much entering a natural shelter but instead producing shelter as an intensive thing out of a physical thing and climbing inside of it. When it enters the dark cave as the lone animal who lives on a plane of immanence, and for survival must produce maps or models of intensive things, it is actively drawing the animal that draws itself. Why it paints the buffalo requires no solution because there is no problem: it is simply continuing to do what it was already doing and will never stop doing. The real theoretical question is why it will come to paint so rarely.

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Murphy, Justin. 2012. "#5: Human, idea, immanence, intensive space, drive," https://jmrphy.net/blog/2012/06/29/26169976260/ (December 14, 2018).