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May 16, 2006

Research Notes: The double event, force and the will to power

Reading Ronald Bogue's Deleuze on Literature. In the first chapter he uses Nietzsche and Philosophy to show how literary texts are constituted from forces, of memory and forgetting, of continuity and differentiation.

But forces would never enter into relation with each other if there were no dynamic element within forces that engendered relations. That element Nietzsche calls "will to power". The will to power "thus is added to force, but as the differential and genetic element, as the internal element of its production. Bogue, Deleuze on Literature, p.11

In the first instance, a force is a naked event, experienced as an absolute loss. But a force has two aspects:

  • Differential – quantity – dominant/dominated – discontinuous multiplicity – nothing shared – can be divided without changing.
  • Genetic – quality – affirmative/negative – feedback loops – continuous multiplicity – virtuality – that which changes in being divided or in adding novelty, must have been there, shared from the start – memory – hence genetic.

Bogue – interpretation concerns the differential, evaluation concerns the genetic.

July 11, 2005

Research Notes: Singularity/continuum, a multiplicitous event

Follow-up to Overman, creativity and beyond transcendental recognition from Transversality - Robert O'Toole

The second chapter of Germinal Life contains some brief commentary on Badiou`s critique of the concept of event in Deleuze and Guattari. I've not succeeded in reading Badiou yet, but can understand the need for a clarification, as the concept of 'singularity', Deleuze and Guattari's event, can be misleading.

Keith writes that for Badiou:

the event does not come into being from the world, whether ideally or materially, but from not being attached to it. The event is an 'interruption' that is always separate from the world. Instead of a world defined by 'creative continuity` there is the 'founding break'.

I had, at one point, a confused concept of singularity that privileged the 'interruption' or 'coupure' (Foucault's cut/break). It worked like this:

  1. The break has an irreversibility. In fact it is the irreversible – about as real as real time can be.
  2. A break can be repaired, but only with the addition of something to the closed system of that which is repaired.
  3. The loss of the originary state is therefore irreversible.
  4. But the break also originates the new individuation, which may be the synthesis of the broken and the repaired.
  5. It then acts as the singular fact of the event of that individuation.

In this model, the break is the singularity around which an individual is oriented. It is the missing, the irrecoverable, the inaccessible that prevents the individual from becoming other. We can then say that the individual is a response to the break, its activity copes with the break, with its history, its singular specificity. That coping is its function, its telos. And its tendency to either simulation or creation, simulacra or originary form, defines its authenticity. The break is the singular first and final cause.

But as Keith states, this:

fails to understand the work being done with Deleuze's conception of the event, namely that, it seeks to provide an account of how rupture and discontinuity are explicable and possible.

This is the very meaning of "schizoanalysis": looking into the specific conditions for each schizm or discontinuity, and considering how those conditions form a continuum with that which is broken, carrying it across the break.

In this way, Deleuze and Guattari run counter to phenomenology and its bracketing-out. In schizoanalysis, as for Nietzsche, everything is implicated in the event. Nothing can be bracketed out, only moved in and out of focus (or folded and un-folded). They say: look at chaos, death and by implication life, right in the eyes, get to know each individual chaos, each death and each life on its own terms…

…to look into the break is in fact to look towards a horizon in which detail disappears into confusion, into chaos. It is to look into a Body without Organs, through which one may deterritorialize by relative degrees, moving around to gain further clarity and to provoke a response, to feel its unique texture and possibilities.

This is not to deny irreversibility or real time. Or indeed that individual A may never become individual B because in doing so individual B is destroyed (which amounts to saying that there is no possible world in which A = B, the difference being absolute). Rather, we can say that there are different kinds of irreversibility. Each exchange with the Body without Organs, the horizon, is itself a different recipe of irreversibility. There are as many such recipes as there are events. In some cases they tend towards entropy. In other cases they provoke outbursts of creativity. Even the individual that seeks never to enter into the exchange, that seeks isolation in the safety of its refrain and turns chaos away with large blocks of redundancy, in fact engages in a brutal interchange with the Body without Organs and provokes a response. In all cases, whether convoluted or relatively direct, the interchange between individual and Body without Organs operates an eventual non-linear effect throughout, resulting in complex but irreversible involutions specific to each unique assemblage. Singular and multiplicitous continua of disappearance.

Importantly, we shouldn't deny the possibility of the kind of 'foundational break' described above as a confused concept of singularity. Rather, consider that such behaviour may occur in certain types of system, such as those in which large blocks of redundancy create highly isolated individuals. This is not however typical, merely one specific type of event. It is interesting to speculate about why philosophy, and so many other aspects of modern Capitalism should raise such a rare case to the level of a universal. We seem obsessed with apocalyptic events, with foundational breaks.

In what sense is the notion that philosophical concepts perform an absolute deterritorialization (D&G What is Philosophy?) also an expression of this fascination with destruction?

And in what sense does the statement "we never deterritorialize alone" (D&G ATP) – provide a model for passing into the BwO with concepts and artworks (monuments) as catalysts and helpers?


If you have something interesting to contribute to this, please contact me

May 16, 2005

Spirit and the virtuality of concepts and their personae

I am making some progress at last, and feeling a small sense of recovery. Deleuze does make sense from where I am.

I will start with a simple fact: my friend has gone, and that has left me feeling that something immeasurable is missing. It is an overwhelming sensation. Disorientation. There is no way in which that can be repaired. She is irreplaceable. That is why she was so valuable, as a totality. Vividly and quite obviously a unique person.

But out of that singularity, traits can be extracted, picked up and carried onwards. That is what a vivid and unique person offers. There is something about them that makes a difference, and carries on making a difference. It is very much part of them, but at the same time is powerful enough to continue, to travel, to live on. These traits are the virtuality within the ever disappearing present, persisting beyond its immediate and constant passing and differentiation. Memory, an active memory. Or what before Nietzsche we called a soul or a spirit. They are traits that give a sense of the possible, a future, a continuity, a return.

As Deleuze would say, a trait can be taken up by a concept. It is as such the tool or weapon that is carried to guarantee survival, to re-orientate after the event, to regenerate, to carry the person onwards as a conceptual personae. Irreducible to a simple procedure or rule, a concept nonetheless carries (expresses) an arrangement (content) that sees the repetition of a local equilibrious state from a far from equilibrium event. A return.

So at least I have an idea, a concept out of which a future can grow. Some possibility of survival.

March 04, 2005

Difference and Repetition, Nietzsche and the creative turn

Follow-up to Freeing the concept of creativity from the concept of possession from Transversality - Robert O'Toole

The answer, for Deleuze at least, is yes. Or rather, the concept of the new or difference (in its composite with repetition), is one of these 'helper concepts' – Nietzsche's best friend, saving him from the interminable closed cycle of Cartesian recognition or Kantian good-sense.

The Image of Thought chapter in Difference and Repetition states it quite plainly. The really big question for philosophy is not how recognition (clear, distinct, true or otherwise) is possible - that's trivial. Rather it is the question of how we break out of the everyday, the familiar. It is the question of how difference is possible. But not in some abstract sense, but genuinely how we go beyond the algorithms of our constitution. So it is the case that Deleuze is not Kantian (or as Keith Robinson has said, perhaps he is re-activating a pre-Kantianism). He was out to engineer a creative turn rather than fixing the critical turn.

In Difference and Repetition, as in Logic of Sense, we see Deleuze dealing with the metaphysical question of how creativity, difference, is metaphysically possible: what is its ontology? In this domain the question concerns the possibility of time itself.

Nietzsche's distinction between the creation of new values and the recognition of established values should not be understood in a historically relative manner… In fact it concerns a difference which is both formal and in kind. Difference and Repetition p.136

But it takes an involvement with Guattari to give Deleuze a chance to answer the really useful problem of creativity. Guattari the psychotherapist involved on a daily basis with dislodging people from the viscious circle. This engagement combines with Deleuze's fascination with painting and with cinema to establish, following on from the ontology of difference and repetitiion, a practical approach to creativity.

February 08, 2005

Methodology – what is a concept? what is philosophy?

What difference does the concept make? What becomes inevitable when the concept is available? And further, what becomes inevitable when the concept is used? (which is not the same question). A concept is not understood by its potential to exist or not, but rather by what it makes inevitable, what it determines. The choices are components in the concept, but the scope of those choices is already determined as the intension of the concept.

In considering a concept, consider the life of the concept – its sustainability. Can the concept stand on its own, permanently? Or does it inevitably carry the seeds of its own destruction, its own subjugation to a higher concept, of which it is only a component? For example, the way in which a badly analyzed concept of 'free speech' results in a babble of opinion. If what the concept of 'free speech' makes inevitable is a meaningless babble, then it is actually just a component in the 'higher' concept, meaningless babble.

The extension of a concept – its portability. This makes a concept more than just a raw event. What is the limit of a concept's extension? – the point at which it becomes a component? No, it is the point at which it fails to engage at all, and leaves a void into which a search for a new concept becomes necessary?

The 'over' of Nietzsche's 'overman' does not indicate that man as a concept becomes subservient to a new order, for example a component in the National Socialist program. Rather it indicates the point at which the extension of the concept of man is reached, and at which point it no longer engages. A new concept must be found.

The tasks of philosophy:

  1. finding the concept, going beyond the components to the absolute field that holds them together, the sustainable concept;
  2. testing the extension of the concept;
  3. forming new concepts when the extension of a concept is surpassed.

And when we pass through the void, are there special concepts that help us to generate new concepts? Is the concept of creativity one of those concepts?

November 13, 2004


…the unhistorical vapour that has nothing to do with the eternal, the becoming without which nothing would come about in history but that does not merge with history? WiP? p. 112

The actual is the trajectory through chaos, the virtual, and out again. Not present as a loci, and lost in the determination of the loci. The intensive cartography, rising and falling.

…distinuished from every present: the Intensive or Untimely, not an instant but a becoming. Again, is this not what Foucault called the Actual? ...The Actual is not what we are but, rather, what we become, what we are in the process of becoming - that is to say, the Other, our becoming-other. WiP p.112

Present being the loci. The actual is always already somewhere else.

An actual pathway (becoming) is a form. In virtuality all possible (in relation to the past) forms are considered. A form is as much its relation/consideration of other forms, of incompossible and compossible.

Eq. Nietzsche: inactual, untimely, – What is Philosophy? p 111–112

October 01, 2004

Klee and the separation of painting and music

Follow-up to Van Gogh and painterly diagrams from Transversality - Robert O'Toole

Note – this is academic work. If you know about Deleuze's aesthetics, Klee, Bacon etc, you are very welcome to comment.

Painting, as with Van Gogh, establishes a rhythmic pattern. Through an additive synthesis, painting intensifies the body, leads it into chaotic relations with the rest of the material world, provides it with a depth of simultaneous connections, nearing chaos.

For some time painters have been concerned with the relationship between the rhythmic essence of painting and that of music. Deleuze, in a consideration of Cezanne and Bacon, attempts to clarify this relation:

Rhythm appears as music when it invests the auditory level, and as painting when it invests the visual level. Francis Bacon:Logic of Sensation, Continuum, 2004, p.44
Certainly music traverses our bodies in profound ways, putting an ear in the stomach, in the lungs, and so on. It knows all about waves and nervousness. But it involves our body, and bodies in general, in another element. It strips bodies of their inertia, of the materiality of their presence: it disembodies bodies. In a sense, music begins where painting ends, and this is what is meant by the superiority of music. It is lodged in lines of flight that pass through bodies, but which find their consistency elsewhere, whereas painting is lodged farther up, where the body escapes from itself. ibid p.54

Music then acts to disembody, make abstract, deterritorialize onto a distinct plane. As if pulling the spirit out of the body . The incessant seriality of music acts to concentrate and overwhelm the body in anticipation of perception.1

Paul Klee was concerned with this distinction. As both an accomplished violinist and a painter it would necessarily be an issue. Duchling seems to claim some connection between Klee and the ideas of Nietzsche and Bergson on rhythm in fine arts. Did Klee read Bergson? Anyhow, in the face of attempts by critics to say that Klee's painting was musical, used the same structure as music, Klee responded strongly by emphasising that both arts are rhythmic, but in entirely different ways. Deleuze also had an interest in Klee (will look into that more).

This is the starting point for Duchling's book on Paul Klee, Painting Music. I've just discovered this, and it seems to be fascinating.

In comparison to the Romantics, Klee sought the actual basis for the analogy in the most inner being of music – rhythm – which in his opinion not only marks the movement of time in music, but also in art. Paul Klee: Painting Music, Hajo Duchting, Pegasus, p.14


1Consider here Klee's rejection of Hausenstein's Kantian analysis of finality and purposiveness in Klee - Paul Klee: Painting Music, Hajo Duchting, Pegasus, p.12.