GVB and the Three Lines of D+G

Some preliminary notes theorizing basketball, written after reading Deleuze and Guattari's A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia:

Three lines of D+G related to basketball

The Molar or Rigid Line of Segmentarity

This is the hierarchy along which modern sport is constructed, formalized in basketball through FIBA, the various national basketball federations, the NBA and its professional basketball franchises, the other international basketball leagues and the professional basketball clubs that comprise them, the NCAA and other scholastic sporting bodies, etc. The competition structure is segmented in an arborescent fashion, such that winners — who are determined by a proposed objective truth result in the contest — advance up the hierarchy, from local to regional to national to international. Basketball in the molar sense is further stratified by identities (skill levels, gender, bodies and their dis/abilities) and by position (coach, star player, role player).

The Line of Molecular or Supple Segmentation

The molecular refers to the myriad pickup basketball games that occur around the world at any one time. Indeed, at any quasi-public sporting facility, such as a YMCA, university gym, community recreation centre, or outdoor court, there is bound to be a pickup game that essentially continues to be played all day, with various players moving on and off the court, or from one team to the other. While this meta-game may be segmented into smaller measured segments ("Game to seven, ball's in!"), this segmentation is supple at the local level. The suppleness continues in the cracks between the identity categories outlined earlier: male and female basketball players routinely play together in pickup games, and those from different levels of the skill hierarchy (pro, college, high school) are often found on the court at the same time.

Generally speaking, pickup games have an uneasy relationship with the more formal basketball hierarchy: on the one hand, they are necessary for players to improve their skills in the "off-season" so that they are of greater value to the hierarchy when season resumes again in the fall; on the other hand there is a perception that the skills acquired on the "playground" may be at odds with the instrumentalism of formal hierarchical basketball competition. Thus, it is no surprise that "playground-style" basketball has become racialized: AND1 becomes the ICD code for a disease meme that contaminates pure basketball — one that must be eliminated with a discursive campaign of hygiene that declares the stylistic excesses of the playground game as "too black" and to be avoided.

The Line of Flight

Global Village Basketball is the line of flight. It ruptures the existing hierarchy by networking together the molecular pickup games that exist around the world into one meta-game. It is a collective, yet distributed, net performance of improvised pickup basketball located on a smooth patchwork of hardwood, asphault, terrazzo, concrete and dirt; the backboard is syncretic plexiglass, aluminum and wood; the rims iron, milk crate and peach basket; the mesh nylon and chain-link. The virtual setting of the meta-game becomes the means of deterritorializing the basketball court space.

Global Village Basketball attempts to undermine the instrumentalist perspective by eliminating coaches/referees/discursively-created stars from the mix and allowing for improvisational (and democratic?) composition by every athlete. Or, more correctly, I have put myself in the role of composer (following in the experimental music tradition of John Cage and others) and given explicit directives guiding improvisation by the performer. In doing so, score ceases to be an output of manufacturing tendencies, but rather becomes an accumulation of revealing through sport. We shift the focus from basketball-the-product, to basketball-as-production.


4 responses to GVB and the Three Lines of D+G

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  1. sportsBabel » Abstract Diagrams says:

    [...] village basketball is the line of flight. it ruptures the existing hierarchy by networking together the molecular pickup games that exist [...]

  2. sportsBabel » On Massumi's Logic of Relation: Field says:

    [...] "field" of basketball is the court, or at least that space of play in the proto-game that may be deemed a court. It, too, is a field of potential that is induced by [...]

  3. sportsBabel » The Imagined Architecture of Homo Transludens says:

    [...] a smooth patchwork of architectural spaces. In this sense we may consider it to have existed as a line of flight from the privileged structures and spaces of state-organized basketball, temporarily allowing for [...]

  4. sportsBabel » When is Finitude? says:

    [...] village basketball is the line of flight. it ruptures the existing hierarchy by networking together the molecular pickup games that exist [...]