“It is not possible to step twice into the same river.
We always get back to this definition: the machinic phylum is materiality, natural or artificial, and both simultaneously; it is matter in movement, in flux, in variation, matter as a conveyor of singularities and traits of expression.
—Deleuze and Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus
For Heraclitus the river fragment is not that all things are changing so that we cannot encounter them twice, but something much more subtle and profound. It is that some things stay the same only by changing. There is something in the process of change that stays with us, that moves even as we move but is stable through all the multifarious motions of time. In this sense Heraclitus believes in flux, but not as destructive of constancy; rather it is, paradoxically, a necessary condition of constancy.1 Shall we call it intelligence?
Deleuze was not a vitalist as some would have you believe, rather as he and Guattari would have it “there is no vital matter specific to the organic stratum, matter is the same on all the strata. But the organic stratum does have a specific unity of composition, a single abstract Animal, a single machine embedded in the stratum, and presents everywhere the same molecular materials, the same elements or anatomical components of organs, the same formal connections.”2 In this sense matter is a form of intelligence rather than a vital vibrancy. It moves, it connects, it thinks… but not in the human sense.