2 Nov 2008

Scott Wollschleger’s Inquisitive Connection between Engineering and Positivity (From Comments to the Summary of Welchman’s “Machinic Thinking")

Corry Shores
[Search Blog Here. Index-tags are found on the bottom of the left column.]

[Central Entry Directory]

[Scott Wollschleger Entry Directory]

Scott Wollschleger insightfully wonders (in the Welchman post):

"thanks,this is great. can you say more about engineering? also would it be ok to say that what matters is also something positive by nature?"

Scott raises the perfect questions, because they connect two of the most essential ideas in the Welchman article.

Engines are production machines: they produce force. Thermodynamics is the study of changing heat (thermos) to motion or power (dynamis). The first law of thermodynamics is the law of the conservation of energy: no more energy can leave a system than has entered (or "Energy can neither be created nor destroyed. It can only change forms"). The second principle of thermodynamics is entropy: differences in forces tend to equalize in a system. When you put hot coffee in a mug, the mug cools the coffee and the coffee warms the mug, and slowly they tend towards about the same temperature.

Deleuze is a more revolutionary thermodynamicist, because he is a “Difference Engineer”: in the first place, what matters in Deleuze’s thermodynamics is positivity, as Scott insightfully observes. We might consider a certain machine, let’s say a music-composer-machine, who designs on his drawing board intricate musical pieces that themselves are little machines, which then produce performances and recordings that produce listenings, which then produce new ideas and viewpoints in other minds, and so forth. This composer – this engineer who is himself an engine that produces more engines – this composer-engineer has a net positive of force (hence creative dynamics does not obey the law of conservation of energy) because, this music engineer does not become less productive and effective as a composer, rather, his composing powers become greater with time. His internal creative forces do not cancel each other over time, resulting in stasis, rather they build upon themselves so that he actually gains more creative power (and thus creative dynamics does not obey the principle of entropy).

The reason for these broken laws is that thermodynamics is not a matter of science for Deleuze, but instead a matter of engineering. Scientists want to isolate consistent principles that describe the way things work. Engineers want to produce things. Engineers discover principles of reality, but they do so by making things which perform a function that responds to a real and immediate problem. There are concrete forces in the world – needs, desires, wars – that fuel ingenuity. The sciences tend to be too abstract; they do not touch ground. Hence for Deleuze, we must be engineers of reality, we must produce machines and be machines, rather than think of ourselves as distinct from machines and study them impartially. Machines in Deleuze are not mechanisms that stay the way they are, but are a part of a larger machine that itself is changing according to intense forces.

So the fuel for machines are intensive forces. The reason that the world around us changes is because there are competing forces whose outcomes have to do with given conditions combined with pure chance, the dice throw. This is partly why machinization cannot be a science. It must be engineering, because engineers work on the battlefields, responding constantly to changing unpredictable conditions of war.

The positivity of course then is the absence of entropy and of the conservation of energy. The intensive forces do not decrease but instead continue raging. Although intensive forces cancel when they explicate into extensity, as when a hammer hits hot steel to produce weapons, intensive forces nonetheless are always implicated within each other, which means you can take one away, but there is forever another one left-over self-expressing from within it. So forces continue, and productions forever add reality to reality. There is no principle of destruction or dissolution, merely additive becoming.

No comments:

Post a Comment