[Michelangelo's The Creation of Adam]
In contrast to Deleuze’s intensive ontology, you can look to the hylomorphic model (hylo meaning matter, morph referring to form): form imposed on matter, matter made to conform, form realized in matter, matter exemplifying form, thing corresponding to idea, person measured against standard. Think of Platonic forms, of which things are but imperfect instantiations: You are kind of like this form, but you always fail to live up to expectations (of what this form should be). Which leads—still thinking of these forms—to Aristotelian categorization, where you’re lumped together with all these things that more or less resemble the same form (that similarity then constitutes your identity), where your difference, your uniqueness, your singularity is taken for granted. Stray with Hegel into idealism and say: form is incomplete without matter, matter is needed to embody form, matter realizes form—but matter, in the end, is form. Think of archetypes: models, molarities (generalized and reduced everyday performances), images you see around you (on the streets, on TV, in those fashion magazines . . .) or ideas imbued in your head (“My mother has always wanted me to be . . .”) showing you how to live, which you then try real hard to imitate, copy, transpose in your own life—pose, as Wilde (being earnest), Baudelaire (painting modern life), and Yeats (with a wink) would say—which, ironically enough, turns out to be you after all—but nonetheless not you. Think of the norm, which, thanks to the exercise of bio-power (as Foucault describes in The History of Sexuality), turns individuals, reduces singular Is into monotonous, into the same i: i1, i2, i3 . . .
Sure. You can do that. Think hylomorphic. But why would you want to? Who wants (to be) a hylomorph? Hylomorphism but leads to a great deal of self-consciousness where you’re constantly wondering: “Oh my God, how am I acting?” “Am I conforming to the model in my head?” “Am I conveying a particular image (reputation)?” “What is the role I’m supposed to play? “How perfectly am I portraying it?” It leads to nervousness (like what you feel right before a performance); anxiety (making your life stressful); fear (hence the panic attacks); paranoia (of this big, inevitable disaster about to come: slips, pronounced accents, the uncovering of the mask, the revelation of the secret!); stiffness (where, rather than being discovered, you don’t move at all!); obsessive compulsiveness (as you work in advance, try to secure all grounds, preempt an attack, avert disaster, repeatedly wash your hands), fascism (as, in trying to make sure everything is all right, you try to control everything, every little detail of your life). It makes you too theoretical (you may just lose ground on reality, like Johnny in House of Leaves), such that you plan everything out (“OK. When I get to the bar, what do I do?), think about everything (“How am I gonna dance?”) before you act, prepare every reaction (“If a guy comes by, how will I smile?”), every response (“What will I do if he asks me out?”), for every situation (“If this happens, what then?”) and every contingency (“What about this?”), in every step of the way (“OK. So I hung out with him yesterday. I shouldn’t go too fast. I first need to make sense of the experience.”), such that you’re not really living, you’re in your head all the time, you live in your head—And when it comes time to actually live, well, you botch it (“Why, the music is on, but my body still does not want to dance?”) (“Why, now that I’m with you in bed, how come I’m not aroused?”). Worse: you don’t enjoy it. You get no fulfillment. You don’t desire the life you live.
Who wants a hylomorph? Is a hylomorph (How awful that sounds!) really desirable? Seriously? Some boring, uptight girl sitting rigidly by the bar wearing gray office clothes properly drinking from the martini glass? Or a guy who, when playing sports, needs a plan on how to play, step-by-step instructions, his body stiffening when he no longer recognizes what’s going on? Really? Is that what we(‘re supposed to) desire? What about someone who can just do it, go for it? Play, drink, dance, have at it, no consciousness, no worries, just—immediately and spontaneously—let his/her body move with the flow, feel it out, let free? Isn’t that much more desirable? Isn’t that life, living? S/he feels sad, too, this person, but s/he doesn’t need to remember and analyze every single detail of every single aspect of his/her life, reflect on what had just happened, ruminate on all its possible meanings, its implications, its consequences . . . Rather, just go through life—with all its mess, its disorganization, its senselessness. Just let things be. Leave the sad thing for the moment. It’s sad, it really is. But forget it for a while, leave it, let the unconscious handle it. Take care of other things in the meantime. Then, at some point, yes, feel sad again, but not be despondent or paralyzed. What can I do? That’s life.
Instead of hylomorphism, think of the virtual, the actual, and the intensive—driven as it is by difference. Celebrate difference (in itself). Be different (You already are.). Let your difference come out. Instead of thinking of these molar roles that you have to play (which you hope your everyday performances will add up to), simply perform every day as it comes. Instead of thinking: “Who am I again?” (more precisely: “What consistent image was I trying to impress?”), just play however you feel like it (on that particular day, in that particular situation, with the particular mood you happen to be in; Remember what Massumi (in A User’s Guide) said: “Habit is the ballast that chains the dog to his vomit.”). Instead of doing a constant semiotics of yourself (“Hmm, what does this action mean?” “How does it reflect my personality?” “What does this event say about the meaning of my life?”), think like Deleuze and Guattari (in the “Rhizomes” plateau of A Thousand Plateaus): Things don’t necessarily (always) signify something; rather, they can simply be asignifying: everything is simply a link, from machines to enunciations, words and bodies, with no exclusive distinction between the two realms; the two are not distinct fields linked by signifier and signified; they are mixed together, intertwined; it’s one and the same field! Stop asking “What does it mean?” Simply (immediately) make connections: Be affected, affect other people, let those other people affect yet others in turn . . . Stop thinking (of images). Stop (over-)thinking. Don’t worry. Just live.
So, when you find out (realize? You don’t discover it. You’ve known it all along.) how different you are (more precisely: how different are you), unlike Cal in Middlesex where, when s/he finds out, looking it up in a dictionary, what it means to be him/her, to be a hermaphrodite, and s/he is led to this synonym of the word—monster—s/he gets scared, guilty, afraid . . . When you reconcile yourself with your own difference, you won’t feel the same. Assert it. Be proud of it. Be different. Make all these (new) connections that society has forbidden (most effectively in the form of taboos). Connect your bodies in ways different from how society has molded it (body parts hooking up with only certain body parts and only in certain ways = Oedipus (see Deleuze and Guattari’s Anti-Oedipe)). Don’t be afraid to be the difference that are you. Desire it. Be new. Make friends (with the intensity that Foucault encourages). Be gay (in Foucault’s definition (in the interviews on homosexuality), i.e. not simply someone who has sex with the same sex). (Rather than a hylomorph, which is ew! undesirable,) be a (the) monster (that are you)!
[Monster icons from Hähnel-blog]