- ---- by Alberto ToscanoThe concept of capture is used by Deleuze and Guattari to deal with two problems of relationality: (1) how to conceive of the connection between the state, the war machine and capitalism within a universal history of political life; (2) how to formulate a non-representational account of the interaction between different beings and their territories adequate to a thinking of becoming. In the first instance, capture defines the operation whereby the state (or Urstaat) binds or 'encasts' the war machine, thereby turning it into an object that can be made to work for the state, bolstering it and expanding its sovereignty.Apparatuses of capture constitute the machinic processes specific to state societies. They can be conceived as primarily a matter of signs. Whence the figure of the One-Eyed emperor who binds and fixes signs, complemented by a One-Armed priest or jurist who codifies these signs in treaties, contracts and laws. Capture constitutes a control of signs, accompanying the other paradigmatic dimension of the state, the control of tools. The principal ontological and methodological issue related to this conception of capture has to do with the type of relation between capture and the captured (namely in the case of the war machine as the privileged correlate of the apparatus). Deleuze and Guattari's notion of universal history evades any explanation in terms of strict causality or chronological sequence. It turns instead to notions drawn from catastrophe theory and the sciences of complexity to revive the Hegelian intuition that the state has always been there - not as an idea or a concept, but as a threshold endowed with a kind of virtual efficacy, even when the state as a complex of institutions and as a system of control is not yet actual.The logic of capture is such that what is captured is both presupposed and generated by the act of capture, at once appropriated and produced. Deleuze and Guattari return to many of the key notions in the Marxian critique of political economy to affirm the thesis of a constructive character of capture, arguing, for instance, that surplus labour can be understood to engender labour proper (though it can also be understood as the attempt to block or manipulate a constitutive ﬂight from labour). Capture is thus an introjection and determination of an outside as well as the engendering of the outside qua outside of the apparatus. It is in this regard that capture is made to correspond to the Marxian concept of primitive accumulation, interpreted as a kind of originary violence imposed by the state to prepare for the functioning of capital. Deleuze and Guattari are very sensitive here to the juridical aspects of the question, such that state capture defines a domain of 'legitimate' violence, inasmuch as it always involves the affirmation of a right to capture. In its intimate link with the notion of machinic enslavement, the apparatus of capture belongs both to the initial imperial figure of the state and to full-blown global or axiomatic capitalism, rather than to the intermediary stage represented by the bourgeois nation-state and its forms of disciplinary subjectivation.The notion of capture can also be accorded a different inﬂection, associated with the privileging of ethological models of intelligibility within a philosophy of immanence. Here the emphasis is no longer on the expropriation and appropriation of an outside by an instance of control, but on the process of convergence and assemblage between heterogeneous series, on the emergence of blocs of becoming, as in the case of the wasp and the orchid. What we have here is properly speaking a double capture or intercapture, an encounter that transforms the disparate entities that enter into a joint becoming. In Deleuze and Guattari's Kafka, such a process is related to a renewal of the theory of relation, and specifically to a reconsideration of the status of mimesis, now reframed as a type of symbiosis.Under the heading of capture we thus encounter two opposite but entangled actions, both of which can be regarded as schemata alternative to a dominant hylemorphic mode of explaining relation: the first, understood as the political control of signs, translates a coexistence of becomings (as manifested by the war machine) into a historical succession, making the state pass from an attractor which virtually impinges upon non-state actors to an institutional and temporal reality; the second defines a coexistence and articulation of becomings in terms of the assemblage of heterogeneous entities and the formation of territories. What is paramount in both instances is the affirmation of the event-bound and transformative character of relationality (or interaction), such that capture, whether understood as control or assemblage, is always an ontologically constructive operation and can never be reduced to models of unilateral causation.Connective
The Deleuze dictionary. Revised Edition Edited by Adrian Parr . 2010.