plateau (pl. plateaus or plateaux) noun. 1. a land area having a relatively level surface considerably raised above adjoining land on at least one side, and often cut by deep canyons. ETYMOLOGY: French, from Old French platel, platter, from plat, or flat.
1. From an essay by Gregory Bateson on Balinese culture, in which he found a libidinal economy quite different from the West’s “orgasmic orientation” [see Steps to an Ecology of Mind, p.112]. Deleuze and Guattari (158) report in A Thousand Plateaus that Bateson used the term plateau for “continuous regions of intensity constituted in such a way that they do not allow themselves to be interrupted by external termination.” This thought is carried over by Bateson’s observation that Balinese “music has a [formal] progression…it does not have the sort of rising intensity and climax structure characteristic of modern occidental music.”
2. Brian Massumi (xiv), who edited and wrote the introduction to Deleuze and Guattari’s A Thousand Plateaus, explains that each plateau is “an orchestration of crashing bricks extracted from a variety of disciplinary edifices.” A plateau is “reached when circumstances combine to bring an activity to a pitch of intensity that is not automatically dissipated in a climax. The heightening of energies is sustained long enough to leave a kind of afterimage of its dynamism that can be reactivated or injected into other activities, creating a fabric of intensive states between which any number of connective routes could exist.”
3. The plateau symbolizes the static, unresolved conditions of missing and restricted information within the administrative state, a tension, state of uncertainty, secrecy, and general incompleteness associated with citizen engagements with government over freedom and restriction of information. Jacques Ellul (1957: 62) writes “in the opinion of most writers, when difficulty concerning the organization of information are resolved, everything will be resolved. This is an illusion because nothing will be resolved.”
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