Other Concepts


The state of exception is the suspension of the rule of law. The concept was important to the political theology of Carl Schmitt and many thinkers influenced by him including Giorgio Agamben. The law can be suspended in places (concentration camp), at times (emergency), for lives (undocumented migrants), and by situational sovereigns (police).

Lines of flight

Lines of flight is a translation of philosopher Gilles Deluze's concept of ligne de fuite. Fuite does not have to do with flying, but with fleeing, leaking, or vanishing in the distance. Lines of flight create other types of lines:

  • Lines of rigid (or "molar") segmentarity: "What makes these lines rigid is not what they contain but what people think they contain…. They are infused with the dogmatic image of thought. 'Relax, you're not at work now, you're on vacation,' or, 'Do you think you're still on vacation? Get focused; you're at work now.'"
  • Molecular ("more supple") lines: "The Palestinian [and] the Corsican [are] are molecular figures. They cut across the divisions of the old political structure of East and West. They are representatives neither of Democracy and Capitalism nor the Triumph of Socialism. In some sense their politics is not foreign to us. After all, what Palestinians want involves things like autonomy and a separate state. However, their activity and their demands do not fit neatly into the geopolitical vision of East and West. Which is why, during the Cold War, they were often ignored or marginalized[…]. Molecular lines do not have the same rhythm as our 'history.' Our 'history': the one we tell ourselves, the one we are taught to tell ourselves. Our 'history' is the story of our names, our families, our jobs, our nation. Molecular lines have a different history, a history that runs within and across the official one[…]. Molecular lines, those drawn by the Palestinian or the Corsican, are still beholden to some traditional categories: the individual and the state. Beneath these lines, there is another set of lines: lines of flight."
  • Lines of flight: "A society is defined by its lines of flight. Lines of flight do not escape from anything, or do not do only that. They are also constitutive. They define whole societies[…]. They are not themselves constituted — or imprisoned — in specific identities. But they provide the material that will be actualized into those identities[…]. These lines are creative. They create territories and they create within territories. They are the element of [rigid] segmentary lines and molecular lines[…]. Seen from another perspective, they are the material of our living together, a material that forms and reforms itself in our living. It is a material that is at once the earth, the individual, the group, and the masses that flow within and across the earth, the individual, and the group. Together with molecular and segmentary lines, lines of flight are the stuff of our being and the proper focus of political thought."

Quotations from Todd May (2005). Gilles Deleuze: An Introduction. Oxford University Press, pp 135—139.


Form-of-life is philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein's matrix that gives language meaning for a given group. It is something like a discourse community. Wittgenstein: "Human beings…agree in the language they use. That is not agreement in opinions but in form of life." Wikipedia: "We do what we do because we assume a given form of life, which gives any understanding I might have of it or myself or the world meaning. Form of life makes meaning itself possible."

The term is also used to describe a politicized relationship between people who want something and the law. Tiqqun: "'My' form-of-life relates not to what I am, but to how I am what I am[…]. Empire demands […] not that each conforms to a common law, but that each conforms to its own particular identity[…]. Unfortunately for Empire, the form-of-life animating a body is not to be found in any of its predicates — big, white, crazy, rich, poor, carpenter, arrogant, woman, or French[…]. The experience one form-of-life has of another is not communicable to the latter, even if it can be translated[…]. Every attempt to grasp a 'people' as a form-of-life — as race, class, ethnicity, or nation — has been undermined by the fact that the ethical differences within each 'people' have always been greater than the ethical differences between 'peoples' themselves."

Quotations from: Ludwig Wittgenstein (1958), Philosophical Investigations, 3rd ed. Macmillan, para 241. Tiqqun (2010), Introduction to Civil War. Semiotexte, para 5—9.


"The body is not only the site where power is exerted or resisted, it is also the site where truth is sought or denied[…].If power leaves traces on bodies, what sort of truth does the state — and more generally society — extract from them? I describe power and truth as mirror images since they are intimately but symmetrically related around the body, respectively on the side of causes and consequences."

Didier Fassin (2011 Summer). The Trace: Violence, Truth, and the Politics of the Body. Social Research 78(2):281-298 (quotation from p 284).

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License