All entries for Monday 11 July 2005
July 11, 2005
As a break from Deleuze and Guattari, and as input for a proposed research network on virtuality and performance, i've been reading the collection of essays by Antonin Artaud, The Theatre and its Double. This contains some fascinating schizoanalysis of theatre and its Body without Organs, biological life. Here's some killer lines from the essay on Theatre and the Plague:
Above all we must agree that stage acting is a delirium like the plague, and is communicable. p.18
…conditions must be found to give birth to a spectacle that can fascinate the mind. It is not just art. p.18
The plague takes dormant images, latent disorder and suddenly carries them to the point of the most extereme gestures. Theatre also takes gestures and develops them to the limit. Just like the plague, it reforges the links between what does and does not exist in material nature. p.18
For theatre can only happen the moment the inconcievable really begins, where poetry taking place on stage, nourishes and superheats created symbols. p.18
Like the plague, theatre is a crisis resolved either by death or cure. The plague is a superior disease because it is an absolute crisis after which there is nothing left except death or drastic putrification. In the same way, theatre is a disease because it is the final balance that cannot be obtained without destruction. It urges the mind to delirium which intensifies its energy. p.22
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:
- The break has an irreversibility. In fact it is the irreversible – about as real as real time can be.
- A break can be repaired, but only with the addition of something to the closed system of that which is repaired.
- The loss of the originary state is therefore irreversible.
- But the break also originates the new individuation, which may be the synthesis of the broken and the repaired.
- 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