Lines of Flight: The War Machine as Nomadic Art

…the nomads do not hold the secret: an “ideological,” scientific, or artistic movement can be a potential war machine, to the precise extent to which it draws, in relation to aphylum, a plane of consistency, a creative line of flight, a smooth space of displacement. It is not the nomad who defines this constellation of characteristics; it is this constellation that defines the nomad, and at the same time the essence of the war machine. If guerrilla warfare, minority warfare, revolutionary and popular war are in conformity with the essence, it is because they take war as an object all the more necessary for being merely “supplementary”: they can make war only on the condition that they simultaneously create something else, if only new nonorganic social relations. The difference between the two poles is great, even, and especially, from the point of view of death: the line of flight that creates, or turns into a line of destruction; the plane of consistency that constitutes itself, even piece by piece, or turns into a plan(e) of organization and domination. We are constantly reminded that there is communication between these two lines or planes, that each takes nourishment from the other, borrows from the other: the worst of the world war machines reconstitutes a smooth space to surround and enclose the earth. But the earth asserts its own powers of deterritorialization, its lines of flight, its smooth spaces that live and blaze their way for a new earth.1

This sense of performative art as a ‘war machine’ –  a tool of the nomad through which capture by the State or Cultural apparatus can be avoided and smooth space preserved. If as D&G will tell us the State apparatus appropriates the war machine, subordinates it to its “political” aims, and gives it war as its direct object. (D&G 420) The artistic war machine escapes the State apparatus through nomadic forms of absolute deterretorialization = accelerationism through speed and secrecy, metamorphosis and transformation. Unhitching itself from the political machine it is free to move in the smooth spaces of the exterior, chameleon like as a disruption of all those striated spaces of capture, producing lines of flight and escape. The martial dimension of the war machine consists in the power of invention, in the capacity for change, in the creation of other worlds.

“Whereas the migrant leaves behind a place, the nomad is one who does not depart, who clings to the smooth space left by the receding forest. The nomad moves, but while seated, and he is only seated while moving. He knows how to wait with infinite patience. He is a vector of deterritorialization.” (TP)

In this sense the nomadic artist is invisible to the State apparatus, moves in-between territories within the non-human zones of rhizomatic darkness, where the freedom of events explodes the armature of the striated spaces of the deadly capture systems of the Iron Prison of State control. In the non-human zones of absolute deterritorialization the artistic war machine produces its guerilla strategies of infestation and disruption, always moving in secret and with speed through the enemies territory seeking its weak points, exposing its edges to the fractal escape hatches from the Outside.


  1. Gilles Deleuze; Felix Guattari. A Thousand Plateaus (Kindle Locations 8858-8868). A&C Black. Kindle Edition.

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