Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari's utopian project outlined in Mille Plateaux (1980), translated as A Thousand Plateaus (1987). The origin of the word ‘nomad’ is not, as many have assumed, a romanticized image of actual nomadic peoples, such as the Bedouins, but rather Immanuel Kant's disparaging claim that the outside of philosophy is a wasteland fit only for nomads. The immediate origin of the concept would seem to be Deleuze and Guattari's discussion of the despot in L'Anti-Oedipe (1972), translated as Anti-Oedipus (1977). The despot is an intermediate figure between the primitive society without a state on the one hand and the so-called civilized imperial state on the other. What is crucial about the concept of the despot, however, is the fact that in Deleuze and Guattari's description it refers to a latent state of being, meaning it is virtual and presupposed, but never actual. Like the despot, then, the figure of the nomad stands for the power of the virtual, or what they call the war machine. The nomad is a tendency towards deterritorialization, Deleuze and Guattari argue, that can be found to some degree in all phenomena. Their project consists in identifying this tendency wherever it can be located and finding ways of amplifying it. Deleuze and Guattari distinguish between a royal science and a nomadic science, and though they freely admit that nomadic science creates structures that collapse, they also celebrate its ability—when juxtaposed with royal science—to open a creative line of flight.
Subjects: Literary Theory and Cultural Studies.