Archive for the ‘Double Articulation’ Category

Hjelmslev’s Net

November 29, 2010

“God is a lobster, or a double pincer, a double bind.”

— From A Thousand Plateaus by Deleuze and Guattari


Linguist Louis Hjelmslev developed a semiotic model which elaborated Saussure’s two part signifier and signified into the double dual of the substance of content, the form of content, the substance of expression, and the form of expression. Contents are “formed matters”, and expressions are “functional structures”. Both are further separated into a substance and a form. The original signifier can be considered the form of expression, while the original signified can be considered the form of content. The two types of forms are like a net of warp and woof (why else a net?), dividing an undifferentiated unformed matter (Earth, purport) into two types of substances.

Deleuze and Guattari cast this net from Hjelmslev’s use in language into universal application by way of examples in geology and biology: sedimentation/folding and molecular genetics. The two planes of content and expression are the First Articulation and Second Articulation, respectively, the first of which “chooses or deducts”, and the second of which establishes “functional, compact, stable structures”. In their geology example, the First Articulation is the process of sedimentation, and the Second, folding. Generally, the two substances deal with territorialization, deterrritorialization, and reterritorialization, and the two forms are concerned with coding and decoding (and recoding?).

Additionally, there is talk of the molar versus the molecular (as continuous/discrete or unity/multiplicity?) but the molar is not form, nor is the molecular substance, nor vice versa. The First Articulation moves from molecular substances to molar forms; the Second Articulation moves from molecular forms to molar substances. How confusing! What does it all mean? One could spend a lifetime lost in these fun-house reflections!

I propose that the four basic logical operators of Linear Logic are in correspondence to the double articulation of Hjelmslev’s Net.  Content is Conjunction, Expression is Disjunction, Substance is Additive, and Form is Multiplicative. Content and Expression is Substance or Form; Conjunction and Disjunction is Additive or Multiplicative.


Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari / A Thousand Plateaus: capitalism and schizophrenia

Manuel De Landa / The Geology of Morals: a neo-materialist interpretation

Luke Feast / The Science of Multiplicities: post-structuralism and ecological complexities in design

[*3.170, *4.46, *4.88, *4.112, *4.146, *5.70, *5.174, *6.10]