Maps of Intensity

Maps of Intensity

Gilles Deleuze, in his beautiful essay, "What Children Say": "Maps should not be understood only in extension, in relation to a space constituted by trajectories. There are also maps of intensity, or density, that are concerned with what fills space, what subtends the trajectory. Little Hans defines a horse by making out a list of its affects, both active and passive: having a big widdler, hauling heavy loads, having blinkers, biting, falling down, being whipped, making a row with its feet. It is this distribution of affects (with the widdler playing the role of transformer or converter) that constitutes a map of intensity. It is always an affective constellation. Here again, it would be abusive to see this as a simple derivation from the father-mother, as does Freud—as if the "vision" of the street, so frequent at the time (a horse falls down, is whipped, struggles) were incapable of affecting the libido directly, and had to recall a lovemaking scene between the parents … Identifying the horse with the father borders on the grotesque and entails a misunderstanding of all the unconscious’s relations with animal forces. And just as the map of movements or intensities was not a derivation from or an extension of the father-mother, the map of forces or intensities is not a derivation from the body, and extension of a prior image, or a supplement or afterword. Pollack and Sivadon have made a profound analysis of the cartographic activity of the unconscious, perhaps their sole ambiguity lies in seeing it as a continuation of the image of the body. On the contrary, it is the map of intensity that distributes the affects, and it is their links and valences that constitute the image of the body in each case—an image that can always be modified or transformed depending on the affective constellations that determine it. A list or constellation of affects, an intensive map, is a becoming." - Gilles Deleuze