Mixing takes many forms. Forms are mixed bodies. We’ve seen this heterogeneity at both micro and macro scales, and have considered several examples of how things come into being together. Following Deleuze, we might speak of molecular versus molar configurations. Bennett’s term for any configuration, small or large it seems, is the assemblage. I think one of the recurrent questions we need to address now is this: if things are so mixed up, do they form only temporary or tentative arrangements or assemblages? Does this view of individual things evacuate them of any identity?
One of the advantages of surveying a collection of recipes is that it reminds us of how many words there are for mixing. Cooks grind, strain, steep, boil, beat, stuff, sprinkle, and dress food. In one case they stiffen jelly or thicken a stew. Elsewhere, they are frothing, clarifying, straining out different constituents. Over here they are making a spumy compote; over there they remove the lees from wine. The kitchen is a dynamic scene of becoming where many of the ideas we’re exploring are enacted and embodied, and I will leave it to next week’s presenters, should they desire to say more, to elaborate.
My point is simply to note that some entities (a compote, jelly, stew) are constitutively mixed up. That is, they only acquire identity in the mix. Judging by present-day critical parlance, we prefer to focus on sedimented or saturated things (i.e., ideologies, discourses, cultural formations), privileging the relatively homogenous or stable kind of identity. Some identities are not at all stable — yet they are not weakened by the fact. Consider any medieval recipe that calls for vinegar and oil: one must keep stirring in order for the fluid suspension to become a new thing we call vinegar-and-oil. Stirring allows the thing to become the thing it is. So while all things may be subject to flux in the assemblage, it does not follow that an assemblage is a weak form of identity. Volatility is a form of vitality.
The question should be, not whether matters are assemblages, but how powerful and perdurable is any given assemblage? What’s it do? How long does it last?