Fields of Potentiality: Part 1 – Posthuman Subjects and Dividual Lines

The development of institutional and conversational maps to understand the prevailing discourses and powers in societies tend to produce themselves around a human subject and its collective scales. It is centred around the individual as the indivisible being, that which is unique and dissimilar from its combinations of emotional, cultural and institutional shaping that form a persona. However new configurations and concatenations are developing that resituate being and the individual in new contexts, a-centring them and introducing new users and entities. They are neither “individual parts nor…an imagined whole…community”[1], but rather heterogeneous collections of addressable elements and flows of intercursive knowledge and resources. This then goes beyond a simple cartography of institutions and sovereign claims, going instead to deeper, darker recesses of posthuman existences that bring into question human centrality, and develop methods of alterity and potentiality beyond existing maps.

There exist posthuman users in new diagrammatic configurations that displace our current institutional nexus. Our mapping techniques and conceptual building blocks are quickly falling behind alternative subject-user diagrams that range from accelerated logistical capacities to social media bots and machinic textuality. These new users create their own codes and write their own languages, combining into meta-textual formations that allow for extra-human connections. New addresses and platforms emerge without the human subject as their centre. Bot-farms, autonomous vehicular networks, AI text generators, blockchain-enabled DAOs, algo-trading on logistical-financial flows and other self-managing sensory networks. When combined with new human subject-users such as trillionaire CEOs, stigmergic terrorist groups, social media profiles and platform/brand loyalties, we see an informatic array that is beyond diagrammatic functionality, instead producing multi-scaled relations of their own within new walls and borders.

“The institutional configurations that previously understood the traditional roles of territory, place, scale and network are now fumbling in the dark for some coherence. The conversational maps of political demands and global flows of discourse and information have accelerated past this onticity, producing new cladistics that were never easy to map”[2]. These posthuman configurations are part of this new cladistics, producing new branches of development outside of current societal constructs that place “the logic of property and the primacy of the individual”[3] at their centre. These configurations can be characterised as open-ended dividing lines of multiplicitous singularities i.e. singular elements that begin to constitute subject-users. The drawing of lines envelopes social forces and entities that then can launch forth into wider institutional circles, combining and contrasting their forces against singular entities and combinatory forms.

These dividual elements can be seen as the rational act of measurement and quantification, attempting to measure that which previously was immeasurable. Social relations, emotional dispositions, subjective choices, governmental policies, etc. The basis of big data analytics and leadership/management theories is the attempt at quantifying these various fluid relations, creating singular quantities from interrelated qualities. As are financial markets and logistics, which attempt to quantify economic relations that exist in various markets and organisations. Dividuation means the attempt to rationalise intercursive flows, of knowledge, language and capital so that they are comparable, measurable and thus made legible by dividing their constituent parts and analysing their singular movements and relations. The other method of dividuation is moving beyond this initial logistical logic, instead seeing how these various efforts at measurement produce both pushback and accidental evolutions which further complicate these attempts at quantification.

Virilio notes how the accidents produced by the increase in telecommunications produced forms of teleoptics that complicated the initial reasoning for the spread of telecommunications infrastructure that structured and initiated its further spreading. Telecommunications is rationalised as the attempt to ease our communicative methods, removing the problems of journey and geography from the equation by making people communicable across teleoptic/fibre networks that mean physical presence is unnecessary. However this telecommunicative expansion also produces new forms of relationality to its infrastructure and too each other. It redefines the concepts of transport and public space, as the former becomes the transport of data packets and the latter becomes increasingly virtual, defined by screentime and interfacial interaction. It changes our face-to-face relations. “The paradoxes of acceleration (of telecommunications) are indeed numerous and disconcerting, in particular, the foremost among them: getting closer to the ‘distant’ takes you away proportionally from the ‘near’ (and dear) – the friend, the relative, the neighbour – thus making strangers, if not actual enemies, of all who are close at hand”[4]. It produces new forms of socialisation through electronic communication, through virtual environments and the dispersal of geographic relations in favour of networks and social media. From these technological developments, unknown potentials are birthed and innovated that produce new forms of relationality and sociality. In attempting to map the future as logistical quantification does, attempting to see into the unknowable and predict the accidents and evolutionary developments (which it never will), forms of “logisticality”[5] come forth that sit in-between the paradox of predicting the future and producing its unpredictabilities.

In Deleuze’s society of control, the hard borders and walls of cities and nations are replaced by sensor arrays and technological infrastructure which controls one’s movements and access. One day you can access a part of the city, another day you can’t. Control is ubiquitous and dispersed as dividual units in semi-autonomous governance formats make automatised decisions about how one moves and stays still. However, these control mechanisms “presents a dualistic model, where resistance is possible due to the existence of the technology in the first place”[6]. It is hackable, routable and layered amongst multiple controllers and institutions. In producing dichotomies of inside vs outside, these outsiders can use these dividual elements in different ways, producing alternative mechanisms for access and movement. Property and ownership in these control societies are dispersed and variably defined. Social media both as a tool of control by governments and corporations, and as a field for political subversion and revolt. Data as users vs gatekeepers. These dichotomies suggest a fragmentation into dividuality as the possibilities of these networks and apparatuses are dispersed into singular elements which are modular and participatory across various fields.

Dividual property as that with no clear owner or structure, but rather used in multiple and possibly conflicting ways i.e. public spaces and technological commons. Dividual polities as conflictual sovereignties and multiplicitous governing frameworks of linguistic and intercursive comparison between different ideologies and communities i.e. cloud platforms and infrastructures that produce new sovereign and citizenship claims. Dividual law as a “complex ecology of forms of knowledge and juridical practices”[7] that recognise not just individual perspectives, but the relations between people and communities, the multiplicitous, multi-scalar meanings of jurisprudence in different political contexts, and the posthuman diagrams of subsistences and flows. This goes beyond an institutional cartography that maps various elements and coheres them as individual perspectives and personas endowed with rights and/or responsibilities. This an oceanography of incredible depth and a lack of sight in the black water. Wild machinations are produced and reflected as posthuman and post-political structures concatenate and fragment, creating whole new architectures and meanings. Dividuality then is the production of accidents from fragmentation, as new social and political relations develop into patchworks and fields of potentiality that are both extremely dark and possibly liberating.

In comparison to modern institutions, ideologies and societies that emplace individuality and the solidity of sovereign borders at the centre, these configurations are wild, “incompliant, ill-bred, untamed, they do not want to belong to the community of the governed, but want to live under the motto of division as single, divided, separated, not drawing their lines in the enclosed and enclosing terrain of the herd, but rather in the field of immanence of multiplicity”[8]. They are beyond current institutional understanding and thus produce complexity that breeds flux and systemic crises. These dividual subjects constitute new modes of being that question the innateness of individual-as-norm.

The multiplicity of these flows and the dividual lines that intersect and disperse them can be described as addresses in a computational sense, as relations and things that have existence in some way, either through their relationality or through the space they occupy in logistical/social orders. “For any human or nonhuman User to locate any ‘instance’ (physical or virtual) within this expanded address field requires not only that it has a predictable and available location, but that the career of that thing and the history of its relations must in fact be queryable”[9]. These addresses are not just discrete entities, but also the various relations and meanings that define and contain these subject-entities. “Any object can contain a multitude of contingent layers of logistical trace, including its location in open or proprietary supply chain models, as one instance in a network of metadata, traces, and relations with its own semantic meanings held in relation and association with others”[10]. The containership of the individual is divided and segmented in this addressability as the elements that make it, from semantic meanings to social relations and emotional connections that are themselves addressable and singular substances. They are manipulatable and understandable sections of one’s persona, and are as a result separable entities that have autonomous aspects in relation to the individual whole.

In this sense dividuality and the development of deeper levels of address are similar to the concept of spontaneous disorder. “The disordering characteristics (of spontaneous disorder) come when tacit knowledge that cannot be fully integrated into the many plans disperses, limiting the effectiveness of those very plans. The heat of language and extant knowledge, and the systemic decay this produces, grow beyond current institutional practice”[11]. The deeper levels of addressability are forms of tacit relational knowledge that grows beyond the bounds of current institutional definitions. Thus the individual, as the centre of the existing institutional order, becomes a dividual element in flows of relations. Solidity as defined by property and individual ownership gives way to more fluid systems of interoperability and webs of connections/relations. Addressability is an attempt at mapping these various addresses. “Addressability does not replicate the proximity of those things in the real world (the way a sequential postal address does) but instead organizes them according to a universal indexical simulation that provides a bewilderingly high resolution of possible addresses and even produces new routing geographies and locations in its own image”[12]. Dividual elements evolve and grow from the increasing growth and use of indexes, that map individuals not as whole entities but as combined, constituted things. As these indexes grow and expand, the information they contain is increasingly complex and difficult to originate. Systems of predictability lose their ability to fully map these relations and originations as perspectival lenses and dividual elements (those posthuman users and collective yet individuated forms I mentioned earlier) expand and create disorder. Accidents, such as those that may plague societies of ubiquitous control, create the substances and formats that begin to define life and being in these evolving indexical systems. Battlespaces, markets, communication and other methods and spaces of relationality are warped and redefined as deep addresses produce increasingly complex dividual/dividing lines.

“Distortions emerge that are unknowable in advance, and with them the universality of the Address layer makes it always suspect to idiosyncratic purposes and outcomes. If its network topology is apparently flat and affected by endothermic perturbations from any point, then it is not just a map; it is a medium, an ecology even, and it can and will evolve. Gray goo scenarios of out-of-control molecular manufacturing and discharging entropic sludge in its wake are now best understood less as a real existential risk than as a parable for mindless industrial rapaciousness. Similarly, perhaps federations of the Addressed, across scales, become catalysts of a countercomposition of the world, generating unthinkable new ground and air, and so instead of an Anthropocenic future in which fewer and fewer conglomerates own, license, or otherwise capitalize more and more things, perhaps the evolution of the infrastructure results in an inversion of the ratio, whereby something on the order of 340 undecillian haecceities (in IPv6 address space) come to recompose and govern a vastly smaller number of assemblages. But there is a countervailing scenario (perhaps equally parabolical) in which the unfathomable legion of haecceities lurches not toward entropy but toward a new and more heterogeneous and complex jungle, one that is perhaps mostly unrecognizable and incommunicable for us”[13]. Spontaneous disorder forms from its perspectival blurs new methods of organisation and new subject-users through which these organisations originate and evolve. New methods of being which question the fundamentals of current systems and of the centrality of individuals in communicable fields. This can be seen in multiple intercursive lines and flows, from developments in corporate organisation and capitalist valorisation to internet subcultures, networked tribes and, even further from this, quasi and non-human autonomous systems of computation, logistical organisation and warfare.

[1] Gerald Raunig, Dividuum


[3] Gerald Raunig, Dividuum

[4] Paul Virilio, Open Sky

[5] Gerald Raunig, Dividuum


[7] Gerald Raunig, Dividuum

[8] Gerald Raunig, Dividuum

[9] Benjamin Bratton, The Stack

[10] Benjamin Bratton, The Stack


[12] Benjamin Bratton, The Stack

[13] Benjamin Bratton, The Stack

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