Anglossic-Qabbalistic Explorations: The Geology of Morals (Part I)


Judgments of God, I

The first AQ equivalence appears almost right off the bat:


We thus have a distinct and direct connection between Plateau 3 (10,000 BC: The Geology of Morals) and Plateau 13 (7,000 BC: Apparatus of Capture) . It goes without saying that elements throughout each plateau of Deleuze and Guattari’s book resonate with one another, connecting with one another and spiraling out fractally across its pages – yet if the AQ is to be taken as any sort of ‘guide’ (a debatable proposition in itself), there seems to be a particularly sharp resonance to be found here.

The “Apparatus of Capture” proceeds quite straightforwardly from the plateau previous to it, “1227: Treatise on Nomadology – The War Machine”. In this plateau, Deleuze and Guattari discuss wild and freely mobile intensities, swarms, packs, rhizomatic flows, etc. that blaze out on lines of flight – i.e., the model that is generalized as the titular war machine. The war machine is self-organizing and nomadic, bound up in becoming, making itself into a force capable of moving freely over and through space. At the same time, however, it constantly risks being captured and subverted by the apparatus of capture. Deleuze and Guattari follow this line through the operations of the state, which seizes that which is outside itself and codes and territorializes it.

“The Geology of Morals” is the great plateau of stratification (that is, the production of strata from the flux of the plane of consistency), making use of the theory-fictional figure of Professor Challenger to explore the double articulation of unformed matter that had been captured and processed by the ‘Abstract Machine’. This is, of course, precisely the same sorts of processes being analyzed at the socio-political and economic levels across the “Apparatus of Capture” plateau; furthermore, there exists a direct correspondence between the deployment of double articulation in “The Geology of Morals” (explicated by Challenger through the linguistics-derived framing of “content” and “expression”, as well as “form” and “substance”) and the act of coding (correlated to form) and territorialization (correlated to substance) – which itself sets into process the reciprocal movements of decoding/recoding and deterritorialization/reterritorialization.

Compare, also, the following from the “Geology of Morals”:

Territorialities… are shot through with lines of flight testifying to the presence within them of movements of deterritorialization and reterritorialization… In short, the epistrata and parastrata are continually moving, sliding, shifting, and changing on the Ecumenon or unity of composition of a stratum…

with the following from “Treatise on Nomadology”:

It is a vital concern of every State not only to vanquish nomadism but to control migrations and, more generally, to establish a zone of rights all over an entire “exterior”, over all of the flows traversing the ecumenon.

Judgments of God, II

“God is a lobster, or a double pincer, a double bind”, write Deleuze and Guattari in the third paragraph of “The Geology of Morals”. The next AQ equivalence, intimately connected to first, proceeds from here:


In the “Apparatus of Capture” plateau, Deleuze and Guattari draw upon Lewis Mumford’s hypothesis of the megamachine to describe the primordial apparatus of capture:

Following the Marxist description: a State apparatus is erected upon the primitive agricultural communities, which already have lineal-territorial codes; but it overcodes them, submitting them to the power of a despotic emperor… This is the paradigm of the bond, the knot. Such is the regime of the State: overcoding, or the Signifier. It is a system of machinic enslavement: the first “megamachine” in the strict sense, to use Mumford’s term. [Emphasis in original]

This same line was followed previously in Anti-Oedipus:

While the ground can be the productive elements and the result of appropriation, the Earth is the great ungendered stasis, the element superior to production that conditions the common appropriation and utilization of the ground. It is the surface in which the whole process of production is inscribed… the territorial machine is therefore the first form of the socius, the machine of primitive inscription, the “megamachine” that covers a social field… The social machine… has men for its parts, even if we view them with their machines, and integrate them, internalize them in an institutional model at every stage of action, transmission, and motorcity. Hence the social machine fashions a memory without which there would be no synergy of man and his (technical) machines.

There are striking parallels between this latter passage and “The Geology of Morals” (AO’s depiction of the earth as “the great ungendered stasis” and ATP’s description of it as “the Deterritorialized, the Glacial, the giant Molecule.. a body without organs.”), but what is of most interest here is precisely how the megamachine itself is the apparatus of capture, seizing the free flows moving across the smooth space and stamping them with the double articulation.

But what of the double bind?

In the “God is a lobster” sentence, Deleuze and Guattari explicitly connect the double pincer movement – the claws of the lobster, which form the abstract diagram of the apparatus of capture itself – to the double bind. A concept used by Gregory Batesont to describe states of negative homeostasis in familial communication systems, Deleuze and Guattari in Anti-Oedipus link the double bind to Oedipus itself:

Double bind is the term used by Gregory Bateson to describe simultaneous transmission of two kinds of messages, one of which contradicts the other… Bateson sees in this phenomenon a particularly schizophrenizing situation… It seems to us that the double bind, the double impasse, is instead a common situation, oedipalizing par excellence… the “double bind” is none other than the whole of Oedipus. It is in this sense that Oedipus should be presented as a series, or an oscillation between two poles: the neurotic identification, and the internalization that is said to be normative. On either side is Oedipus, the double impasse. [emphasis in original]

Oedipus, then, takes on form of the double pincer itself, which is confirmed elsewhere in Anti-Oedipus when Oedipus is described as being Janus-faced: Oedipus-as-crisis and Oedipus-as-structure, which together act as “a correlative double impasse… [a] double pincer action that crushes the unconscious caught in its exclusive disjunction.” It is here that the operations of the apparatus of capture, detailed in A Thousand Plateaus, begins to come together.

The schizoid descent to the Body without Organs – described by Bateson as a sort of initiatory voyage beyond the impasse of the double bind – was described by Antonin Artaud in his work “To Have Done with the Judgment of God”. Consider the following from the first paragraph of “The Geology of Morals”:

Strata are belts, layers. They consist in giving form to matters, of imprisoning intensities or locking singularities into systems of resonance and redundancy… Strata are acts of capture… They operate by coding and territorialization upon the earth; they proceed simultaneously by code and territory. The strata are judgments of God; stratification in general is the entire system of the judgment of God (but the earth, or the body without organs, constantly eludes that judgment, flees and becomes destratified, decoded, deterritorialized). [emphasis added]