Intermedial Relations: A Critique of Reification Theory


I begin with an epigraph from Adam Smith in order to make apparent the structuring conceit of this essay, which is the following: the matter of assemblages are here considered within the context of modern tradition(s) of moral sentimentalism and its considerations of the affective, associational dynamics that dispose of collectivities. At root in these reflections is my inclination to return to the original French term in the work of Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari that sources our English “assemblage”—namely, agencement. As John Phillips shows in an important essay on the topic, the French agencement used by Deleuze and Guattari (and translated as “assemblage”) is more expansive and, indeed, diurnal than our English assemblage: “one would speak of the arrangement of parts of a body or machine; one might talk of fixing (fitting or affixing) two or more parts together; and one might use the term for both the act of fixing and the arrangement itself, as in the fixtures and fittings of a building or shop, or the parts of a machine” (108). Agencement is, in this regard, a compelling word in ways that assemblage is not.

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