Pick any point on the plane. It can be analyzed in terms of pretty much the evolutionary, the environmental, the social, the psychological, etc. One might speculate on the effects of the lack of exercise and poor diet which may have contributed to Fezzy internalizing harmful norms about body weight, thus leading him to act out in ways which Frigate would not have been tempted to. Thus, one may examine this moment in terms of the potentially harmful effects of certain social norms about weight and attractiveness. Each of the variables constituting any of the individual moments can be examined from all sorts of different perspectives. Some of the questions one might ask are:
1) What are the direct neurobiological effects of diet and exercise on one’s brain and behavior?
2) What are the effects of certain environments on the selection of certain genes for certain traits?
3) How might our social realm be altered in such a way that the social support addicts desperately need is given to them?
4) In what ways might our culture benefit from a culture that is concerned more with character, as it once was, rather than of personality, as it now is? What are the psychological effects of this in terms of individual personality? Is it more conducive to narcissistic personality traits?
5) How might our education system be altered in light of values which have come to be seen as toxic?
And so on.
Not only this, but a Deleuzian-Guattarian conceptual framework will allow us to view the dizzying complexity of reality in real-time, insofar as reality consists of a process of endless becomings, connection, etc. Let us look at this narrative in terms of Deleuze’s philosophy, particularly insofar as we have translated it into the language of complexity theory.
Neurotransmitters do not merely serve certain neurobiological functions, but, like all things, from a Deleuzian perspective, envelop a potential. That is, it does not merely exist “actually,” but “virtually,” it possesses certain potentialities which may be actualized. It may end up being put to uses in various ways depending upon the context in which the organism to which it belongs, finds itself, depending upon its relation to other neurotransmitter levels, depending upon whether the individual is eating Frosted Flakes for breakfast vs. a mixed salad of kale and dandelion roots, depending upon whether or not the individual receives direct human contact, and so on. It is dependent upon its relation to everything, and, more exhaustively, the relation of relations to all other relations and the effects of all other relations, etc.
The neurotransmitter is a “contraction” of time. It not only has a future but has a past as well. Its past may involve the neuroactive steroids to which the fetus may have been exposed and the effects of these steroids on serotonin levels. Some researchers think, for example, that low testosterone lowers serotonin. The neurotransmitter’s past also involves on what sorts of allelic variants were present in the human. Some “short” alleles of a gene which regulates distribution of serotonin may produce more or less serotonin, or, in relation to the environment, may cause serotonin levels to be more or less susceptible to environmental influences, both positive and negative. The relation of the serotonin levels to environment will involve the political environment in which the human exists and the various sorts of pressures to which they might be subjected, depending upon whose regime they may be on the side of (they may undergo blows to the head, which will surely affect serotonin levels, starvation, which will as well, or they might eat too much sugar if they are upper, middle class Americans, as opposed to Ethiopians, as will systematic discrimination because of their race, which may relate back to the genes affecting serotonin regulation in such and such a manner, and so on). It is in this sense that the neurotransmitter is “enveloped.”
The neurotransmitter, like any object, possesses meanings insofar as there are forces capable of acting upon it. The neurotransmitter exists within the context of a multiplicity of levels, trajectories, behaviors, actions, materials and circumstances. Insofar as it is enveloped, it consists not only of paths it did take, but one’s which it did not take. The paths which it could hypothetically take are infinite.
The “meaning” of the neurotransmitter is the meeting between forces which governs the sign. It is the result of various actions upon various other actions. As noted before, the degree to which one can analyze the various forces and relations obtaining between them is limitless. We can never systematically complete the picture. The meaning of such and such a set of forces having met in such and such a set of circumstances can be investigated and analyzed for an eternity.
Consider the brain itself. It is not an inert object. It is continually buzzing with all sorts of chemical and physiological activities, such as neurotransmitter reuptake, cell growth, new connections being formed and old one’s broken, action potentials, and so on. Just because we are incapable of observing the molecular level of the brain’s behavior with the naked eye does not mean that it is an inert object.
The meeting of the brain with a cultural norm is the meeting of two substance/form complexes. Forces are active and reactive, with the active dominating the reactive. Perhaps one brain will respond to a cultural norm imposed upon it by defying it, resulting in other brains imitating this defiance, resulting in the eventual dissolution of the cultural norm. A group of brains may overcome a cultural norm and discard it, consuming it. The value of the encounter is the hierarchy of forces which are manifested in it, insofar as it is a complex phenomenon. Thus, for example, the meaning or value of Fezzy angrily spanking a chow chow is the hierarchy of forces which have constituted that action as a complex phenomenon, including the effect the food which Fezzy has habitually eaten through his life on the state of his brain and resulting mood (to say nothing of the political history of the Northeast Asians who may have worked to develop and ship that food to America), his neurotransmitter levels and genes which affected its distribution, the self-image of himself he has internalized, the influence of his parents’ rearing on how he views reality, and so on.
Keep in mind that we are speaking of two substance/form complexes. Fezzy’s brain and the rear end of the chow chow whom he is spanking are both substances and forms. The rear end of the chow chow is the content of Fezzy’s hand. It is dominated by the force which is meeting it. It is what the “sign” of Felipe’s hand envelops. It is the content for the expression of Fezzy’s hand, and Felipe’s hand is itself content for another set of forces. All forces are both content and expression, and the distinction is totally relative (though no less real for its relativity).
Fezzy’s hand is an expression dominating the rear end of a chow chow, but it is also the content of low glucose levels, systematic abuse at the hands of prison guards, a genetic predisposition to irritability, a culture which has no place for an impulsive, novelty-seeking toddler, and so on. It is a dominating agent of expression or a dominated content of another force simultaneously, depending merely upon the angle it is being viewed from. The relativity in mind is not even a subjective relativity (although it may be employed by a subject for pragmatic purposes). It is, more specifically, the “angle” at which forces are being applied. Content and expression are opposite, but they are also mutually dependent and mutually determining. The existence of one necessarily implies the existence of the other. Forces are in continual war with one another, with one trying always to dominate the other. Each power relation is itself the cause or effect of a web of other forces.