Deleuze loves him his dualisms. He undoubtedly caught this love from Henri Bergson, perhaps Deleuze’s primary philosophical influence. In a way, this love bespeaks a Platonic inspiration: an exaptation of the Socratic “method of division.” Maybe Guattari caught the dualism fever from Deleuze or maybe not. I need to read more of Guattari’s solo stuff to find out. I need to read more of his stuff, period.
In any case, ATP is larded with dualisms, oppositions, polarities. As noted last go-round, the strata betray a double articulation. In any stratum, one finds a disjunctive synthesis of content and expression. In the alloplastic stratum of human societies, content can be characterized as a pragmatic system (machinic assemblage of desire) and expression as a semiotic system (collective assemblage of enunciation). But we’re getting ahead of ourselves.
In the opening sentences of the “Geology of Morals”
chapter plateau, the strata themselves are opposed to the BwO, the body without organs, a.k.a. the plane of consistency. This dualism or opposition is the one that encompasses all the others. It’s the primary division of DG’s ontology, which can be characterized as an ontology of process and an ontology of immanence. The strata and the plane of consistency constitute the two sides of absolute immanence. There is nothing outside of or transcendent to them, no supplementary (n + 1) dimension that contains them. Saying that the strata and the BwO are immanent to one another is like saying that absolute immanence is immanent only to itself. (This is indeed something DG say in What is Philosophy?). Hence this ontology can be characterized as “flat.” It’s the plane of immanence, not the cube or house or pyramid of immanence. Still, there may be a “depth” proper to such flatness. A secrecy if not mystery inherent to things as they are. Deleuze loved Nietzsche’s saying that the Greeks were superficial out of profundity.
Of course, there is a temptation to moralize the opposition: to say that the strata are bad and that the BwO is good. There is a temptation to sneak transcendence back into the mix by making the BwO that supplementary dimension that exists “above” the strata. DG themselves do the tempting when they say stuff like the BwO lies “outside” the strata. They do the tempting when they give instructions on how to attain the plane of consistency or how to make yourself a full BwO. But only a careless reader will give in to such temptations. There is no program to abolish the strata. The BwO is not a destratified Heaven that is to be instituted on a previously stratified Earth. We are not dealing with (an unconscious) secularized theology. There is no evolutionary progress from the strata to the BwO. There is no evolutionary progress from one stratum to the next (from, say, the inorganic to the organic or from the organic to the alloplastic). DG really wanted their readers to keep in mind that the strata are beneficial in many respects and that in many respects they are indispensible for life.