Marek M. Wojtaszek Negotiating the virtual. The matrix, the internet and a New Techno-logic
This text deals with the Deleuzian notion of virtuality that disrupts the distinction between ontology and epistemology, between the original and the copy, between the real and the virtual. Virtuality in Deleuze and Guattari’s sense is not a space, nor an ‘unreal image’ and not necessarily depending on technologies such as the cyberspace. It is not created by human beings, but creates, produces itself everything. Virtuality exists from the beginning of time and produces the actual. It thus constitutes the real and is not opposed to it. We could consider technologies as ‘virtual forces constitutive of the real’ (Wojtaszek 11) and not as tools that we use to imitate or reflect on a real. If we consider technologies and the body as connecting instead of opposing, we might be able to fully use the critical potential of the internet.
Much Longer Outline:
Virtuality is a concept that fundamentally challenges the western binary assumption that there is a real opposed to a virtual. Wojtaszek discusses in his article D&G’s response to this dualism. Traditional western thought, originating from Plato’s philosophy of images, makes a distinction between a real or original and a copy of the real that imitates the real, and does not contain the real as such. This copy has been considered secondary to the original. Technology has had a negative stance as it is seen as producing the copy. (Wojtaszek: 4)
Wojtaszek locates a change in this perception of technique in the second half of the twentieth century. Technology gains a more positive position because it is no longer seen as opposing or imitating a real, but creating what we perceive as real. ‘Technology found itself freed from the constrictive corset of rationalistic explanations and was given new space for selfexpression and experimentation.’ (Wojtaszek: 3) D&G’s concept of virtuality also goes beyond this distinction between a real and a copy and they argue that only “an image without resemblance” (Deleuze qtd. in Wojtaszek 4) or a ‘pure image’ (Wojtaszek: 4) exists. Deleuze and Guattari seem to agree with Baudrillard that there exists only simulation. But, they cannot make this distinction between the simulacrum and the real that in Baudrilard’s theory has ‘ceased to exist’. On the contrary, all there has ever existed is an unendless production of new copies. “Reality in all its difference and complexity cannot be limited to extended images humans have form-ed of it.” (Wojtaszek: 5) The ontology of the simulacrum is chaos and not anything original. “In-formality means that since the simulacrum begins with the formless (chaos), its repetition is always unformable (different), subject to events.” (Lawlor qtd. in Wojtaszek 5).
The idea that there is a chaos that continuously creates and produces does away with the idea of an original, but also gives up stable identities. It gives up a stable ‘being’, for a constant ‘becoming’ (Wojtaszek: 8). The body should be seen as constantly in motion, as ‘millions of machinic processes and connections which are productive and repetitive’ (Wojtaszek:6). This makes every human body a unique assemblage. And this brings us to the concept of virtuality. Virtuality is a constant production of interacting images. Human beings emerge from a certain ‘Mechanosphere’ and are in a proces of constant becoming. This involves also another idea of experiencing. Deleuze opposes the idea that human beings have a Kantian consciousness that allows them a stable identity and recognize and categorize sensations. According to Deleuze, sensations are not firstly filtered by the subject’s brain (Wojtaszek:12) and seen as if they exist out of the subject, acting upon the subject or being other then the subject. The conditions of experience differ. On a virtual level human beings are encountering virtual sensibilities that are immediately affecting the nervous-system, and therefore produce thought. On this level, there is no such thing as the other anymore, because there is no stable idea of a self and there exist only a constant production, a constant becoming. Technology is thus constitutive of the real. It produces interacting images, and not images that serve reflection and representation. If we think with Deleuze beyond images as representation of a reality, we could see the images as something that constantly creating reality. In this respect, an uncountable amount of possibilities can be created. ‘Actualization of the virtual always takes place by difference, divergence or differentiation’ (Wojtaszek 10)
The danger that the cyberspace is used to expose the binarized framework is very much present in our current use of technology. Instead, we could consider a human being on the virtual level as a constant production of images, in constant relation to other images. We could use the technologies that cyberspace provides to expand our experiences. “ a world where everything is possible.”
-How ‘virtual’ do you think the cyberspace nowadays is (being thought of). (or: when did you feel posthuman (or merging with the technological) on the internet for the last time?)
- Do you think that technology a prerequisite to think virtual, to think of such a thing as posthumanism?